Welcome to my latest blog of Photography Bluff.
It’s December and Christmas is only around the corner. This is time for all of us to wind down, see some friends and family members, and enjoy the festive season. It’s also bring an exciting year to an end.
So as I am in the photography industry, why not I start wrapping things up by announcing my top 5 pro cameras of the year in 2015? This is the first year I do such a list and it should be quite interesting as the list are only my favorites and of course yours may differ from mine but I will list out a summary of why I choose each one.
I guess choosing such a list can be quite difficult as there are absolutely tons of choices out there now. So I have had a hard time looking at them.
In the pool, I have these five cameras: Sony A7RII, Sony A7S II, Canon EOS 5DsR, Leica Q and Leica SL.
With all due respect, these are all fine cameras on their own and if you choose any of these cameras, you will not be disappointed. They are all different with different target markets. So let me start the list by revealing the first camera.
#5 – Canon EOS 5DsR
Without any significant announcement in the pro arena for a few years, Canon stunned us by announcing this ultra high pixel count monster. As it has such high resolution and with an AA cancelling filter on, you will be shocked with the amount of details it’s capable of capturing. But once my favourite camera manufacturers has not done fairly well in recent years. This new camera has essentially a modified version of the aging Canon EOS 5D Mark III, with updated processors and a new high res sensor, it’s not quite the ‘next generation’ that many was hoping for. Also, upping the sensor resolution can be good and bad at the same time, to utilise and maximise the sensor’s capability, you will need the best lens you could get (or find for that matter). Most of Canon’s current lenses are not capable of resolving enough details. Even at Canon’s own launch event, they said there’s a list of ‘recommended’ lenses to see the upgraded results. That’s not quite nice isn’t it. Another problem is that it’s slow in operation due to slow processing and write speed.
However, despite its shortcomings it remain in my top five list simply because it has the highest pixel count for a full frame digital camera. It may not be a field cameras as its older brother, the 5D Mark III, but it will find its place well amongst landscape and studio photographers.
#4 – Sony A7S II
Ok people will disagree with me but I place the A7S II here for a reason. Yes, it’s a monster camera that triumph in low light. As a photographer, I concentrate in stills taking. This list is also compiled with stills in mind. I now have plenty of clients printing large canvas and the modest 12MP sensor may not be sufficient for such tasks. Yes, it’s plenty for most but as a paid professional, I am not opting for a minimum of 16MP and optimal of 24MP.
While the A7SII is not doubt the king of video at the moment, it may not be a wise choice for still photographers. Most pros out there use fast primes and zooms anyway and in my own experience, I rare go past ISO3200 with the work I do, so that extended range is absolutely redundant. Therefore, I rather have more pixels and lower peak ISO performance. But it will have its use if ultra low light performance is what you need, such as Safari night scouting, then this camera, together with its rugged built, will satisfy most tasks.
#3 – Leica Q
This is the ONLY fixed lens camera here. But I had a hard time deciding between the Leica Q and the latest Sony RX1RII. Both are aimed at the same market but I chose Leica due to is better lens and EVF.
Leica has a 28mm Summilux with a maximum aperture of 1.7 versus the Sony’s 35mm Zeiss Sonnar with a maximum aperture of 2.0. This may not sound a lot but I often prefer faster lens in any given day. With similar build quality and prices, they are almost inseparable. Yet Leica has many tricks up its sleeve as it has one of the best EVFs around and that fluid and silky focusing ring is just a joy to use when you want to do things manually. The slick macro mode is fantastic. As with other Leica cameras, all the controls are direct and simple. It’s a image capturing machine!
Another thing is that now Sony has upped the resolution from 24 to 42 MP, this is way too high for my liking. As said, I prefer something between 16-24 MP. It’s much easier to deal with the files after a shoot or long travel.
In terms of out right image sensor performance, Sony may be a little ahead with slightly less noise in the shadows but these won’t matter if you do prints. So overall, I think the Q is a little more versatile and because of the red dot, it will be more desirable and probably retain its value better than Sony in a few years time.
#2 – Leica SL
I really want to put the SL on the top spot in my list because of its super cool and minimalistic design, high tech EVF and sensor and massive but super sharp zoom lenses. But, and it’s a BIG but, its super high price really drags it down. Ok, I am a Leica M photographer so I know the value of the red dot. But as its feature and functionality is so similar to the Sony’s A7RII, only shy on the megapixel count.
As a camera, the SL is fantastic. It certainly performs. I’ve tried its focusing and it’s really snappy, probably only just a tad slower than DSLR. 24MP is just right for my use and build quality is second to none. It’s also back by the legendary Leica name and service, there really isn’t anything to complaint about the camera. But at current time, there’s only one native lens available and even though it uses the same T-mount from the Leica T system, T lenses can only be used in cropped mode. While you can adapt other Leica lenses via adaptors, there simply isn’t enough to win the pro photographers over, just yet. I would be interested to see its development in years to come. I am hoping to see more lenses in the system and also see how they perform.
The SL is in second place and not because of its lack of capabilities, quite the opposite in fact, but it’s its colossal price and only one native lens that really hinder the professional minds in adapting this magnificent system.
#1 – Sony A7RII
Right, here it is, the top spot goes to Sony!! I don’t know what to say about Sony to be frank. I just couldn’t believe how Sony has reinvented itself into a serious camera manufacturer, after it bought out Konica-Minolta a few years ago. They did the bravest thing by ditching the DSLR market and focus on mirrorless. Then they pour in resources in producing some of the most exciting and capable image sensors in the world! Amazing!!!! But still, when people mention the name Sony, I just keep thinking about TV, Walkman and Hi Fi.
Yet, this is fact, Sony is now a camera manufacturer and what a fine one it is too. Since the original A7, Sony has slowly taking market shares from the big boys namely Nikon and Canon. There’s no doubt, even a few of my fellow photographers have finally abandon these well established systems and went for Sony or other mirorrless manufacturers. Another fact is that mirrorless cameras has lots of benefits over traditional DSLRs, namely size and weight. With its recent advancement in terms of focusing speed, one thing that stopped professionals moving away from DSLR before, it finally catches up to just about as good.
A7RII is a monster. Faster focus speed, 5-axis stabilization, full metal and weather-sealed body are just awesome. There are little to wonder just how good the 42-MP sensor is. Ok, I said 42 was too much for my liking but hey, as a camera just as good as the Leica SL but costs only half! I can’t argue with that. The price is so attractive that many professionals will definitely consider the A7RII as either an alternative or complete replacement to their current setup. If I have nag about something, perhaps it has only one memory card slot instead of two and also short battery life, but this is common to all cameras which use EVF or back screen anyway. Just have to bring a few more on your shooting day.
So, the A7RII has my top spot for 2015. It does almost everything right and I have many reasons to buy one. But, as a dedicated M shooter, I still prefer to photograph the old school way. If I need the speed and convenience, I have my OM-D. But 2016 is coming, I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner, may be a new M?? That will be great!
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