By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter
There’s always a lively debate about which new camera is best for you. It’s a bit like buying a car — nearly everyone has an opinion, usually strongly held and vigorously asserted.
Preferring a particular camera brand makes sense if you’ve already purchased several good (read: expensive) lenses for an existing body. Generally, once you’ve bought lenses, you’re locked into a particular brand.
That’s because nearly every manufacturer uses its own proprietary lens mount that may, or may not, be supported by quality third-party lens makers like Tamron, Tokina and Sigma. Only Olympus and Panasonic share common lens mounts, the Four-Thirds (4/3) and Micro-Four-Thirds (M43) standards, and can use any lens made for the 4/3 and M43 mounts. Choosing a particular camera system is thus a long-term decision that should be made carefully.
So, this week, let’s take an admittedly biased and idiosyncratic tour of the major camera systems. First, though, I’ll be candid — my preferred camera system brands are currently Nikon, Pentax and Olympus. I’ll explain why a bit later.
There are always a few hundred small-sensor camera models on the market at any one time. Most are point-and-shoot or long-zoom models that are adequate for casual photographs displayed on a computer monitor screen or made into letter-size or small prints, but that’s it. These me-too models are updated at least once a year, primarily for marketing reasons. Major year-to-year improvements are no longer common, although some recent Sony long-zoom models are a welcome exception.
Although sales of these me-too cameras remain relatively steady in the U.S., they’re dropping by the wayside elsewhere in Europe and Asia. As cell phone and iPod cameras improve over the next few years, sales of lower-end point-and-shoot cameras will probably decline further. Continue reading