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Canon, Nikon Top User Surveys

Nikon D7000

The Nikon D7000 gets very high marks in user satisfaction

The big names in the photography business are there for a reason and that reason is because they have consistently produced some of the best cameras in the history of photography. All the same, the question I get a surprising number of times is, “What is the best camera on the market?” That’s not a question anyone can answer. Best in what terms? Best for studio work? Best in a combat zone? Best family camera? Best value for the money? Best for a professional? Best for a beginner? There are different answers for all of those questions and sometimes a different answer between one person and the next.

A quick look around at 10 camera web sites will yield 10 different rankings with a bit of overlap. With so much variation in the rankings, how do you figure out which camera is right for you?

A survey by PC World does present some broad conclusions. An aggregate of other rankings, including here at  Snapsort, does outline some interesting trends.

Canon and Nikon Are The Big Kids On The Block

The data taken together supports the perhaps obvious conclusion that Canon and Nikon are the big two, though the reasons for their popularity are quite different and challengers are evolving. Canon cameras are rated as being more reliable, with Nikon coming in 5th in the reliability survey, behind Canon, GE, Panasonic and Casio. Seriously, if you’re losing to Casio in reliability, maybe you need take a hard look at your QA/QC methodology.

Nikon ranks number one when it comes to owner satisfaction with their camera features, just edging out Canon for the number one spot. Yet Casio and Panasonic both score high marks and end up in the top five in both categories.

With their domination of the video market, it’s likely Canon will stay on top. Nikon was slow to react to the DSLR video trend and Canon carved out a nearly exclusive domain in the video space. Nikon has since improved their support for features like 24p, but with so many wedded to Canon glass and shaping their work flow around Canon, making headway into the video market is going to be slow going for any of the challengers. If Nikon has an edge to elbow into the video market it’s their lenses.

One thing to keep in mind is that one of the reasons it may be so hard to pick a “best” camera is that there are so many good contenders out there these days.  If you have the talent, you can take almost any camera and take fantastic photos.  Truly it’s little things that will make the biggest difference.

As you can see there are no easy answers when it comes to choosing a camera. Take your time, compare a lot of models, ask a lot of questions, and focus on the features most important to you.

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Little Known Digital Camera Tricks

Canon 7D

The Canon 7D has menu tricks many people don't know about - by Canon

There’s a good reason for spending time with your camera’s instruction manual, because that’s where all the interesting tidbits of camera operation hide. A good 90% of people new to digital photography never take their cameras off the auto mode. Those people are missing out on a lot of interesting features.

Professional photographers are sometimes similarly unaware of features in their own cameras. Manufacturers get requests for features from users all over the world and accommodate those requests as often as they can.

Canon 7D

Many 7D users don’t realize their 7D has some interesting tricks buried in menu options and behind buttons.

If you push the Info button on the back three times, you’ll find a digital level with both pitch and yaw readings. You never need a spirit level with a 7D, it’s already built in.

While most people know the digital zoom button on the back zooms the LCD screen when focusing video, many don’t know the same button allows you to digitally zoom still pictures in playback mode and then use the menu control button to pan around still images in the camera.

Canon 5D

The 5D has a Camera Settings menu option that will record all your camera’s current settings and link those to the “C” mode on the menu dial. So, if you have a detailed camera setup for a specific type of shot, you can record all those options and call them back in an instant.

Nikon D7000

The D7000 has several interesting menu options. There’s the “Q” for quiet release mode that flips to the mirror up to get the shot, but leaves the mirror up until you release the shutter button to minimize noise.

Under the remote control settings there’s an option to raise the mirror before taking the shot for use with ultra-long zoom lenses where shutter mirror vibration might be an issue. In this setting the first step allows the mirror to flip up first, gives the camera time to stabilize, then fires the shutter.

The D7000 also has a 2nd IR receiver on the back when operating with the IR remote control.

Sony Alpha Nex 5

Several models of the Nex have a featured called Smile Shutter, which triggers the shutter when the face detection feature sees everyone smiling. While it sounds hokey, more often than not people have more fun aping for the camera, trying to get the smile shutter to work.

Those gems and more await in your camera’s user manual. Find it, read it, enjoy, and share the tricks that you find with us.

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Picking a Beginner Camera

Nikon D7000

Nikon D7000 - by Nikon

The question I get most often is, “What kind of camera should I buy?” That’s a big question and a lot depends on your budget and what kind of photography you’ll be pursuing and at what level.  The word beginner comes in many contexts: are you a beginner to shooting for money or using a camera period. Different options apply.

Professional and Semi-Professional

You’re planning on making money with your camera or plan to do a lot of shooting as a semi-pro or amateur. You have $1,800 to $2,500 in your budget.

Cameras: Nikon D300s , Nikon D7000Nikon D700, Canon 5D MKII, and Canon 7D.

If you’re shooting stills, go with Nikon. If you think you’ll be doing a lot of video go with Canon. Nikons have video recording capability, but most of the video accessories are made for Canons.

Advanced Hobbyist

You are really serious about taking pictures, but you have a day job in another field. Photography is a serious hobby. There’s an outside chance you’ll be taking a paying job, or filling in for friends who can’t afford a professional photographer. You have a budget from $800 to $1,500.

Cameras: Canon 60D, Canon T3i, Nikon D3100, Nikon D5100

It’s pretty much just which ever camera you like in this range.

You Just Want To Take Good Pictures

You want to take great pictures, but mainly of your family and friends. You want something better than a pocket camera and you might want to experiment with manual controls once in a while.

Your budget is $400 to $800.

Cameras: Sony NEX-5N, Canon S100, Nikon P7000, Samsung NX100

Remember you can always use Snapsort to get the latest and best camera recommendations, including beginner DSLRs, semi pro DSLRs and small high quality cameras.  Our system will produce slightly different results from our editorial coverage as it allows you to define your exact personal criteria.

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Mirrorless Cameras Cut Into Canon, Nikon

Mirrorless cameras take a bite out of Canon and Nikon markets - by Samsung

Figures from Bloomberg indicate that Sony, Panasonic and Samsung may be scoring market share gains from Canon and Nikon with their mirrorless camera models. The trend is most obvious in Japan where Canon and Nikon’s combined share of that market has fallen an eye-popping 35%.

The losses for Canon and Nikon have been a boom for Sony, as their market share has doubled.  Panasonic and Samsung also scored gains, but not as significant.

Mirrorless cameras have a smaller physical frame and lower weight, while keeping the larger sensor sizes and interchangeable lenses.  The big chips behind good glass are getting results comparable to larger DSLRs at closer to half the weight of their bigger DSLR cousins.

If you’re tempted to dismiss the trend as one confined to Japan, keep in mind that the smart phone and tablet trend also started there before spreading to more distant shores.

No surprise that rumors have surfaced that Canon is coming out with mirrorless models in 2012, it’s not much of a stretch to think Nikon is engaged in similar efforts.

It’s my opinion that Panasonic and Olympus stumbled with the 4/3 sensor format.  I just don’t see professionals investing in that format when full size and APS-C sensors are superior and proven technologies.  For consumer cams, it’s less of an issue because the average buyer doesn’t really understand the difference in chip sizes.

As the trend in SLRs moves to mirrorless, expect Canon and Nikon to claw back some of the market share lost to Sony.  But I don’t expect to see any significant growth from Panasonic or Olympus until they abandon 4/3.

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Sony Launches NEX-7 and NEX-5N

Sony Nex-7

Sony NEX-7 - More proof good things come in small packages

Sony announced two new models to their growing mirrorless, small-frame camera line.

The NEX-7 and NEX-5N both sport APS-C sensors, support interchangeable lenses, and video with the new AVCHD Progressive codec.

The NEX-7 carries the new 23.4 MP APS-C sensor backed up by the Boinz image processor, capable of writing 10 full-resolution images per second in burst mode.

Most of the external controls in the NEX-7 have been migrated to menus in their Tri-Navi menu system, which uses a combination of two unmarked physical dials and scroll wheel on the back to access camera functions.

The ISO rating is an eye-popping 100-16000, making that a significant leap over the NEX-5.

Video mode offers 1080p HD at 60 fps and 24 fps along with full manual control over exposure along with a selection of creative effects.

Also new to the NEX-7 is the built-in viewfinder, which is an add-on for the NEX-5N that also happens to block the port used by the flash, an unfortunate design choice.

The NEX-7 is almost the same size as the NEX-5, maybe a bit taller, and sports a redesigned grip which adds quite a bit to the stability.

Price for the NEX-7 is expected to be around $1,350 with an 18-55 f/3.5 kit lens, delivery in November.

Nex 5N

NEX-5N - Small frame, big features

The NEX-5N is fitted with the new 16.1 MP APS-C CMOS sensor that features the ability to select electronic first curtain to speed up capture times.

The 5N offers the same AVCHD 1080p video modes in 60 fps and 24 fps.

Menu options are similar to the NEX-7, except the 5N adds touch screen capability to the LCD back screen.

The ISO range is rated from 100 to 25,600, which means we should be able to expect some mind-blowing low light performance.

The NEX-5N offers a lot of features for $600.  Add the 18-55mm zoom for another $100.  Not exactly a pocket camera with the interchangeable lenses, but a sweet camera loaded with a lot of attractive features in a small frame.

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