Visualizing the world of Digital SLRs with Open Source Software

People have now compared over 20,000 different combinations of cameras at!  
We’ve been keeping track of which cameras get compared the most often, as seen on snapsort’s homepage. This weekend I spent some time trying to use this data to visualize cameras and their relationships to one another, the premise being that if two cameras are compared to each other a lot they’re likely very similar.
Here are two pictures of all of the DSLRs from the last two years, and their relationships to each other based on comparisons made at
  • Each dot is a camera, cameras are color coded by brand (NikonCanonPanasonicSonyOlympusLeicaOthers)
  • Lines between cameras represent comparisons made, the thicker the line the more comparisons made between those two cameras
Low res without labels:
High res with labels:
(be sure to click and view at 100% zoom)

  • The visualization seems to go from low end at the left to high end at the right
  • Nikon and Canon are the center of the world 🙂  You can see tight competition between the Nikon D90 and the Canon Rebel T1i, and the Nikon D700 vs Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • The bottom left is occupied by Sony, you can see their line up from low end to high end, all competing with Nikon and Canon SLRs but not a lot
  • At the top you see the micro four thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 and the Olympus PEN E-P2, competing with each other and sometimes the bigger SLRs
  • To the far right there are a couple of Leicas mostly on their own
  • Top left corner you see a number of Olympus cameras, a low end Sony, and a couple Pentax
How these were made
  • Created graph files in GML format
  • Imported them into Gephi and rendered using their layout tools
  • Exported to SVG
  • Rasterized to PNG using Gimp updated: discussions, pricing from amazon and other retailers, and more

We updated last night, the new release includes: discussions/comments on comparisons and cameras, prices from more retailers including and B&H; Photo Video, more detailed comparisons, and new cameras.


Every comparison page and camera page now hosts a discussion forum powered by Disqus!

For example, you could discuss the Canon T2i vs T1i (two of the hottest SLRs from Canon), or discuss the Nikon Coolpix P100 vs. the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 (two super zoom compacts that record HD video).

Individual cameras also get discussion pages, so you could for example discuss the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 (a great travel zoom feature 12x zoom in a compact body).

As our discussion pages mention: the intention is that these be used to discuss the cameras (your opinions on them), and but not for feedback on Snapsort, please discuss Snapsort itself at our support community.

Improved Prices

Snapsort now includes prices from, the marketplace (e.g. 3rd party stores selling through Amazon),  B&H; Photo Video, Calumet Photographic and more.

We’re excited to have these great stores on  Having more options means you can find the best place to buy your camera for you, whether that means a store you trust, or a store that has good shipping and/or return policies, or just the store with the best price.

Our pricing pages for SLRs now give some indication as to what lenses each kit includes or doesn’t include, by showing an illustrative graphic.

Finally, through and their marketplace, we now have a fair number of used and refurbished listings. These are clearly marked.  Buying used can be a great way to buy an older camera or get a great deal on a new camera.

More Detailed Comparisons

Our comparisons now consider a few more features including: the size of the camera, the frames per second they record video at and for digicams their best aperture at full zoom.

For example, when comparing the Canon Rebel T2i vs T1i Snapsort tells you that “The Rebel T2i records at a slightly higher frame rate” pointing out that the T2i does 1080p video at 30fps where as the T1i only does 20fps.

As another example, when comparing the Canon Powershot SX1 vs the Panasonic Lumic DMC-FZ38 Snapsort tells us that “At full zoom the Panasonic DMC-FZ38’s lens captures slightly more light (0.7 f-stops)”.

New Cameras

As with most of our updates we’ve included new cameras that have been recently announced or released.

Snapsort now includes a link from the main page to show you some of the most recent cameras.

New Logo

We’ve also got a new logo now! Updated: Prices, new cameras, and more

Today we released an update to  It includes: prices for most cameras currently available for sale, links to buy those cameras, recently announced cameras, and a few small updates.

Pricing now integrates pricing data from a few retailers, allowing us to do two things:

  • Include current street prices in camera comparisons
  • Give links to buy cameras at online retailers

For example, if you compare the Canon Rebel T1i to the Nikon D90 will tell you that the best price we’ve seen for the T1i is $146 less (as of today).

You can now click through to a page about any specific camera, so if you look at the page about the Rebel T1i you’ll see that we have pricing for the camera body only, and in kits, from a few different retailers!

Recently Announced Cameras now includes a number of new cameras released in 2010.  It can be interesting to compare new releases against the previous year’s model to see what has changed! For example:

Camera Pages

As I mentioned above, now has individual camera pages – previously we had only comparison pages.

These pages are fairly bare bones at this point, and we’ll be filling them out over time.  They include a brief overview of the camera, specifications, prices, and competitors.

Small Improvements

We’ve made a few other small improvements.

Camera comparisons now include a few more features in the differences and similarities section: widest aperture, RAW shooting capability, price and annnounced date.

For example, if you compare the Panasonic DMC-ZS3 to the Canon S90 you’ll see that Snapsort points out that the S90 has a wider aperture (f/2 vs f/3.3) which lets in 1.4 f-stops more light!

Other small improvements include a couple bug fixes and image improvements pointed out by users at our support community.

Stay in touch

If you’d like to hear about future improvements, there’s a whole ton of ways to stay in touch with us including: following @snapsort on twitter, subscribing to our blog, or becoming a fan at facebook.

We’d also like to hear from you! Reflecting on our launch went live about three weeks ago. We thought we were launching such a small set of features that not many would be interested in. Our goal was to see if we could get some organic google traffic. Somehow we attracted thousands of visitors!


Our vision for is a site that gives personalized unbiased camera recommendations, we imagine it being a bit like a conversation with a good friend who knows a lot about cameras (see my blog post).

Instead of spending ages building this incredible site and then releasing it all at once, our plan is to release little pieces of it at a time, and get feedback as we go. On January 6th we started by launching a camera comparison feature.


We didn’t expect many people to visit our site. We thought the camera comparison feature was slightly interesting, but didn’t really think anyone else would find it useful on its own, to us it was just a step along the way to our vision.

We hoped we might start to get some traffic from Google, and we thought our friends and family would visit. And on the first few days it was just friends and family visiting. But a few days later, a few photography sites found the site, and blogged about it, sending us thousands of visitors over night!

We’ve now had over 49,000 visits to our site according to Google Analytics. Now many sites receive way more visits than that every day, but its way more than we thought we’d have at this point.

Traffic has since died back down, but we’ve now gained a small audience of interested users, and found out that if you build something interesting and useful that people love they will tell others about it.

Usage and Feedback

During those 49,000 visits, we’ve had over 6,000 separate combinations of cameras compared!

Shortly after launch we added a feature to show the most popular comparisons on the our home page, and on each comparison page shows a list of other popular comparisons for each of those cameras.

Whats Next

We’re still working away on new features for the site, so stay tuned!  Feel free to join in the conversation at our support site, or follow us on facebook or twitter. Updated: Popular Comparisons and More

We’ve made another minor update to today!

Here’s what’s new:

1. Popular comparisons on the main page

The welcome page on now features the 6 most popular comparisons by users!

Right now it looks like its quickly become dominated by SLR-SLR comparisons, though for a while the Canon G10 vs Canon G11 was quite popular, and you can see the Canon G11 vs Canon S90 on this screen shot.

2. Popular comparisons for each camera on comparison pages

On each comparison page, we now show 6 popular other cameras that each of the two has been compared against, so you can see what other people have been comparing that camera to.

Here is a screen shot showing the current popular cameras that people have compared against the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1.

3. Quick access to launch a new comparison

We’ve added a comparison search on the top right of the comparison screen, which we hope will make it faster/easier for you to change one of the cameras in the comparison, say you’re comparing one particular model against a number of other models.

4. A laundry list of small fixes including:

5. Small tweaks to the SnapRank algorithm

Point and shoots used to have an unfair advantage against SLRs, that has been improved now, but it still needs work.

6. Added a slightly humorous page to show you if you try to compare a camera against itself 

Try it!