‘Tis the season folks. We’re barely into our Thanksgiving leftovers and Christmas is looming large. The shopping season is in full swing, and as luck would have it, there are some PHENOMENAL DEALS to be had on some equally phenomenal cameras – even some of the newest releases. Some of the things that factored into our picks were Image Quality, Video Quality, Build Quality, Handling, Ease of Use and whether or not the camera is equipped with Wi-Fi, which we believe is becoming a “must have” feature on the Hybrid Camera of today. With that in mind…
Here are Our Selections for the Best Camera Deals
(In varying price ranges)
Top Tier Cameras
Although it was released about a year ago, the Lumix GH3 is our pick for best micro 4/3 camera, as no other camera can match it in both still photo and video quality. It has all the Pro level features that anyone would want, and when you couple it with one of the Panasonic Lumic Pro Zoom Lenses (12-35mm 2.8 and 35-100 2.8), you get one of the most powerful combinations around today. For less than $900 bucks, this is a STEAL!
Panasonic’s newest offering has not failed to impress in any of our key categories. It’s a solid, well laid out and easy to use camera that has been blowing us away with the quality of the images it produces (both stills and video), and it’s low light capability is impressive, to say the least. The GX7 stacks up very nicely when compared to Olympus’ new OM-D E-M1, but it comes in at almost $600 USD less. It doesn’t have the all out video capabilities that the GH3 has, and we would’ve liked to have seen a mic input jack, but the GX7 remains a serious Hybrid Camera, and another steal at $828!
Our pick for the Best of the NEX Cameras, the NEX 6 delivers in both still photos and video, thanks to those powerful Sony APS-C sensors. The NEX 6 features a 16 MP APS-C sensor with up to 10 fps shooting and Full HD video. It’s Fast Hybrid AF includes phase-detection for lightning quick autofocus. The NEX 6 also has a bright XGA OLED viewfinder for 100% coverage and is loaded up with Wi-Fi® sharing and downloadable camera apps. This is a top level camera at a mid level price, with or without the lens.
Olympus’ popular and highly acclaimed former flagship camera is still one of the best cameras on the market. It doesn’t have the wi-fi capabilities and some of the other goodies found on it’s successor, the OM-D E-M1, but this camera is a still shooter’s dream that still delivers some of the best Image Quality around, and it’s 5 Point In Body Image Stabilization is unmatched. At roughly half the price of the E-M1, it’s another steal!
Another great deal on last year’s model. It wasn’t too long ago that this little beauty would’ve set you back $1.200 USD or so, but the release of it’s successor has allowed for a significant price reduction of this first generation X-Series camera. Image Quality is where your Fuji cameras will shine – the files produced by the cameras just have that little something extra – but the 1st generation X-Series cameras have no wi-fi and do lag a bit behind the competition and 2nd generation cameras, like the Fuji X-E2 (which comes in at $999 USD), where autofocus speed is concerned. At this point, there aren’t a lot of Fuji lenses, but the ones they have are stellar. This one’s geared straight toward pro shooters who demand the best in IQ and aren’t afraid of manual control.
Mid Level Cameras
This camera is loaded up with a 16mp X-Trans Sensor and EXR II Processing Technology to give you top tier IQ at a mid level price. It also features a tiltable touch screen, wi-fi and full 1080p video.
Like it’s G-Series predecessor, the Lumix G6 has flown mostly under the radar, primarily due to subsequent marquis camera releases from Panasonic (in this case, the GX7). But make no mistake about it, the Lumix G6 is not to be overlooked (and at $534, it’s one of the best deals available today). This baby is loaded up with a 16MP Digital Live MOS Sensor and all new Venus Processing Engine, 3-Inch fully articulating Touch LCD, One Touch Picture Sharing, Wi-Fi, NFC Near Field Communication, Full 1080p HD Video at up to 60fps – including Full Auto or Manual Video Controls and Mic Jack, Focus Peaking and comes with the 14-42mm II Lens (which is a major improvement over it’s predecessor and a darn fine lens). The G6 will deliver in both still and video, so if you can’t afford a GH3, steal this one for $534.
This is the NEX 6’s little brother, and while it may lack some of the top tier camera’s bells and whistles, as well as an EVF, the NEX 5R is packed with performance and power. It’s loaded up with the same 16 MP APS-C sensor as the NEX 6, and can capture up to 10 fps in burst mode. It also shares the NEX 6’s lightning quick Hybrid AF (includes phase-detection). The NEX 5R also includes full HD movie shooting at 60p/24p with full exposure control, as well as Wi-Fi® sharing and downloadable camera apps. A great option for those who have their heart set on a Sony, but can’t quite afford the top tier cameras.
When this camera came out a year ago, many were calling it the “OM-D Lite” as it is loaded up with the same sensor and image processor as Olympus’ former flagship camera, the OM-D E-M5. There’s now EVF or wi-fi on this camera, but it does have the OM-D’s aforementioned 16 megapixel Live MOS Image sensor and TruePic VI Image Processor that deliver fast AF with Touch screen shooting. Most importantly, you’ll get delicious image quality and it’s compatible with the arsenal of tremendous micro 4/3 lenses.
Fixed Lens Bargains
Selected by Time magazine as one of the “best Inventions of 2012” – this fixed lens camera is known for it’s small size, but big power in both photo and video. The Sony RX100 is loaded up with a 20.2 MP Sony Exmor CMOS Sensor which produces top quality images, and the gift set includes a Sony 32GB Class 10 Memory Card, a Sony Soft Carry Case, Lens Pen Cleaning Tool, Extra Wasabi Power Battery and External Charger, 25 Free Prints, Deluxe Screen Protector, a Professional Wrist Grip Strap for Digital and Film, Focus Card reader, Focus mini Tripod and MORE. Total savings of over $125!
The little brother to Fuji’s vaunted X100s, which became the darling of the Pro-Tog circuit after it was launched earlier in the year. The X20 has a few less megapixels than it’s bigger brother, but it comes loaded with a 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II image sensor (with primary color filter), a Fujinon f/2.0-2.8 4x optical zoom lens, 2.8-inch advanced optical viewfinder, Intelligent hybrid AF – TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF, and 1920 x 1080 movie recording capabilities. Great Fuji image quality at a great price!
Don’t get caught up in the battle of megapixels (which is basically just marketing hype), because this baby has it where it counts (and I should know… I own one and LOVE it!). The Lumix LX7 is one of the best bargains you’ll get in a fixed lens compact camera. It has a gorgeous F1.4-2.3 Leica DC vario SUMMILUX 24mm Wide Angle Lens with 7.5x Intelligent zoom, there’s less ghosting because of the Nano Surface Coating on the lens, a new 10MPhigh sensitivity MOS sensor, 60p Full HD Video Recording with Stereo Microphone in AVCHD Progressive /MP4, 9fps High Speed Continuous Shooting. This little baby is feature rich and easy to use, and you’ll be amazed by the quality of the images it produces. BTW – It has an INCREDIBLE Macro Mode and can easily take the place of a very expensive macro lens.
The MX-1 pretty much became a sleeper camera after it was released during the trade shows in early 2013, but it has proven to be a capable little performer, especially in THIS price range (it cost nearly twice as much only a few months ago). It has a 1/1.7-Inch 12 mega pixel back -illuminated CMOS sensor for exceptional performance, a 4X optical zoom (28-112mm in 35mm format) at f1.8-2.5 lens for outstanding depth of field control and beautiful bokeh, a large – hi resolution 3 inch 920k pixel LCD screen can be tilted up or down for easy viewing and shooting from difficult angles, a Dual PENTAX body based sensor shift & pixel track shake reduction stabilization system to ensure sharp, blur free images and video, even in dim lighting, and full 1920 x 1080 HD video with h.264 compression, complete with an HDMI out port. For this price, you can’t go wrong!
These are just some of our picks for the kick off of the Holiday Shopping Season. As always, there will be plenty of steals and deals as the season progresses, so be sure to check back often for the latest updates!
Happy Holidays! ヅ
(video comparison of the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and Lumix GX7 above courtesy of Blunty)