photo by Maxime Sawicki
FIRST THINGS FIRST
SHARPNESS is a matter of contrast, good focus and camera-shake on subject with lenses made today… There is no such thing as a lens that is soft or that can’t resolve a high-megapixel sensor.
REVIEW SITES like DPreview only give you the geek technical part of a camera. You have to be the one using the camera and figuring out if the user experience of it suits you.
CANON USERS will usually be the first ones to brag superiorly about using a Canon camera (rarely a 5dmkII, mostly Rebel) and L lenses sharpness even before the Nikon users even begin to talk about the time they found themselves surviving a shoot in hardcore lighting and weather conditions. Good Canon 5dmkII users are a rare breed and rare are the people who witness Nikon dSLR pwning the other side at things like dynamic range (because online reviews never do those tests) because Canon users will always try to expose to the subject (like normal people would do).
What cameras do I own?
Nikon D80, D90, D7000, FE2, F90x, Sony TX10
What lenses do I own?
Nikkor 35 1.8G, 50 1.4D, 85 1.8D, 105 2.8 VR, 18-105 VR, 70-200 2.8 VR
Tokina 11-16 2.8
Tamron 17-50 2.8
RAW or JPG?
RAW, clearly, but I must factor the processing time in the mix. Today’s JPG engines on cameras are more than adequate for digital uses like facebook, blog, HDTVs up to giant projector screens. Some JPG engines can even be tweaked in camera!
Canon or Nikon dSLR?
Canon, for the 5dmkII (nothing else, not even the 1dmkIV or APS-Crap sensor cameras)+ prime L lenses (very important, cuz non-L lenses all give u pink low-contrast crap), for high resolution, low-dynamic range or controlled lighting situations as it gives out some of the most beautiful images ever when you overexpose your pictures +1EV. Nikon for everything else, because if you expose for the highlights, you can recover pretty much any images in any light.
Compact or dSLR?
Compact for on the fly daily life photography, HD video recording and location scouting. dSLR for pictures I really want to keep and admire (when I go on a trip or create my artwork). Bringing a dSLR to a hang out is just asking your friends to brand you as the photo-geek, making you take hundreds of pictures (that you probably shot in RAW) then later spend hundreds of hours processing them…
DSLRS: Cheap body + Expensive lens or Expensive body + cheap lens?
None of them. BALANCE, PRACTICALITY and VERSATILITY is the key to any FIRST PURCHASE. You get the body you can carry with you mostly all the time and you get the lens that is the most practical and versatile (low light or good range) depending on the times you usually use a camera (if you say all time, get the good range :) ).
Prime or Zoom lens?
Prime lens if you want to carry a light dSLR or you know what you want out of your pictures (and master composition on your frame). Zoom lens if you need versatility. A zoom lens’s depth of field will never be as shallow as a prime lens.
BEST AND WORST
Best camera I ever shot with: Hasselblad 500
Best compact camera I ever owned: Lumix LX3 on tie with Coolpix p300 (LX3 for RAW, p300 for everything else)
Worst compact camera I ever owned: Fuji F70EXR
Most Favorite lens: Tamron 17-50 2.8 (light portable versatile sharp)
Least favorite lens: 70-200 2.8VR (heavy shit I bought only for work)
Best dSLR brands: Canon, Nikon and Sony
Worst dSLR brands: Pentax
Best compact camera brands: Canon, Sony
Worst compact camera brands: Pentax, Samsung, Olympus, Kodak, Fuji
IFS, TO BUY CAMERAS
If you are buying a beginner dSLR today, get a Sony NEX, it’s small and has a dSLR sensor inside. There is no point in getting a bigger Nikon or a Canon unless they go “mirrorless” because you can’t toss those cameras in a bag without feeling them on your shoulders.
If you are into the passion of photography, get a Nikon D90 if you still can. Great in any light. If you feel you need more low-light, learn how to shoot in it and get a better lens. (or get the D5100)
If you are already good at photography, get a Nikon D7000 because I expect you to master what the D90 can shoot… else you’re just wasting cash.
If you buy a fullframe digital camera, you either are using it a lot or you are a rich kid who likes to shoot like a BOSS whenever he feels like it.
If you are tempted by a Pentax camera, NEVER GET A PENTAX. Even though their cameras are full featured and well advertised online, the whole system is just a recipe for epic disaster: dated lenses, dated autofocus system, dated image-processing engine, dated menus, dated metering system, dated sensor-shift stabilisation system, dated video mode, unpolished interface, everything stopped evolving by the year 2005… pretty much retarded.
If you shoot portraits, get a Canon 5dmkII (or even a 5DmkI) with L prime lenses (especially the 35L).
If you are buying a full-auto compact camera today, get a Canon ELPH HS or a Sony WX/TX/HX