Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014 Midyear Camera Recommendations

The first half of 2014 is already gone, and I thought a mid-of-the-year recommendations article is in order. Before writing this article, I made a bit of research, asking photographers in forums and twitter* whether they are happy with the camera they currently own. The results were revealing. About 50% answered they are happy with their current camera, and don't plan to upgrade soon. Another 30% answered they are happy, but they might upgrade in the near future. 18% answered they are unhappy and they plan to upgrade soon, and only about 2% replied that they are unhappy but can't or won't upgrade yet.

*(By the way, if you haven't followed me yet,
click here and do so! You'll be getting plenty of good updates, information on Nikon deals, etc.).

10 years ago, getting a DSLR meant you had to spent well over $1000. Nowadays, we thankfully have more options.

So, what does that tell us? Neither was the sample large (~400 people) nor the research scientific in strict statistical terms. Still, in my opinion, the conclusions are:

  • The vast majority of people are happy with their current camera
  • The percentage of those who would like a new camera and can't get it is very small
  • 1 in 3 camera owners who are happy with their camera, still consider upgrading!

The first item on the list is a result of us having more options than ever when it comes to photography and Nikon cameras and lenses. Surely, there are still things missing (gosh, where do we start? D400? DX primes?) but all-in-all, the options are there - particularly for the low- and the upper level of the continuum. Entry-level consumers and high-end full frame users have every reason to be happy. It's only the advanced amateurs (basically the advanced DX crowd, the D300 crowd) that are cranky.

The second item is also not surprising. With so many options, prices have gone significantly down - especially in refurbished and used products. Long gone are the days that you had to pay $1000+ for a DSLR.

The third and by far the most important item indicates that camera owners want to buy new stuff just because they can! Even if you belong to those who chose that option, you must surely consider it a bit weird, now, objectively looking at this, that you're happy with your current camera yet still you want something else.

In any case, I'm here to help! Whether you're simply upgrading, or making the huge step from a phone or compact camera to mirrorless or a DSLR. In this article I'm offering you some concrete recommendations on capable cameras that are suitable to your individual needs. Of course, I can't know what you are after, but I'll try to offer you some food for thought.

Basically, the first thing you must know is which system you want to invest into. Is it mirrorless, DX, or FX? It can be a complex issue (particularly if you already own some camera/lenses), but I will try to simplify it as much as possible.

Low light live-music photography is one of the most demanding kinds
of photography for equipment and photographer alike.

Read Carefully the Following Sets of Statements:


  • I want to travel as light as possible, without much compromise in image quality
  • I am interested in good image quality, but I'm not into pixel-peeping. 
  • I am not too interested in fast action photography. I'm interested mostly in portraits, landscapes, macros, these kinds of things

  • My budget is not limitless, I am looking for a good, capable camera, without spending a fortune
  • Basically, I want a camera that I can grow with. Something easy to use, cheap, but which can ultimately help me produce great photos (after I learn more about photography)
  • I am interested in all kinds of photography (or I'm not sure yet, we'll see). 

  • I've already used Nikon DSLRs, I'm looking for something extra. I know quite a bit about photography, and I wanna take the next step
  • Money is not an issue. 
  • I take plenty of low light photos, and low light image quality is the absolute top priority.

Which of the above sets felt more describing of your situation? There is gonna be some inevitable overlap, but you should try to decide on just one.

When travelling, size & weight is very important

OK, results time!
  • If you identified more with SET A, you should look into mirrorless cameras.
  • If you identified more with SET B, you should look into DX cameras.
  • If you identified more with SET C, you probably already know you need an FX camera. If you didn't, then look for high-end DX models, like the Nikon D7100

I have put together the slideshows above with my personal recommendations from each category. Nothing is set in stone, of course, and you should always do your own research and see which camera fits your individual needs before committing. However, having said that, everything I recommend to you is equipment I would use myself without any qualms. If it's listed above, it means it's good!

What about used options?
If money is an issue, you should definitely look into used options. Especially refurbished, very slightly older models can be a very good option for you. They are perfectly capable cameras that can deliver great images.

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