Northumberland Camera Club

Good high ISO performance is important for those who need to shoot in extreme low light. Picture by Ivor Rackham.
Good high ISO performance is important for those who need to shoot in extreme low light. Picture by Ivor Rackham.

I took months to decide. My main DSLR still takes fantastic quality pictures, but it’s six years old and technology has moved on. I needed performance beyond its capabilities for my work.

Researching the market, I found a bewildering array of models. The reputable manufacturers produce fantastic cameras throughout their price ranges.

Publishers won’t win advertising revenue by featuring unfavourable reports of their sponsors’ latest shiny new kit so I’m sceptical of professional camera reviews.

I read separate reviews of the same camera in two photography magazines. One reckoned the camera was a technological wonderment, the second gave it a mediocre rating. The first review was adjacent to an advert for that manufacturer, which didn’t advertise in the other magazine.

Reviewers also fuss over tiny performance differences. It makes good reading, but the small variances within similar price brackets make little difference to the majority of photographers.

I asked other photographers for advice and was met with vigorous promotions of the brands they invested in. You’ll never hear a photographer saying, “I bought X, but made a terrible mistake and wish I had got Y instead”.

They endorse the brand they use with an enthusiasm that puts sales staff to shame. They’ll also decry rival brands with equal gusto.

I made a list of my priorities: exceptional low-light performance for photographing events without a flash; a fully articulating LCD screen to view when I use a low-set tripod and for macro work; lightweight, so not to suffer a neck injury from carrying it all day; and robust enough to take hiking or cycling in all weathers.

If possible, the camera could be made compatible with my existing equipment.

I also set a budget.

Ergonomics was really important; some cameras are just too fiddly for my large hands.

After numerous trips to shops trying different models, I rejected plenty. My fingers couldn’t comfortably release the shutter on some without hitting an incorrect button. Others I could not hold to my eye without my nose getting in the way.

High pixel count is a marketing ploy. Twelve megapixels is more than enough to produce high quality A3 prints. Wedding album photos are far smaller and many images I sell end up online, reduced in size to around two megapixels.

Larger image files also take more time to upload and use up valuable storage space.

I did find and buy a camera perfect for my needs. I chose a mirrorless, compact system camera (CSC), and, for me, it’s perfect.

CSCs are smaller, lighter and can perform as well as similarly priced DSLRs. The electronic viewfinder displays all the information about the image you are about to take, including the histogram, and it shows the depth of field without darkening the preview. They are almost silent in their operation.

I do wonder if they will make DSLRs obsolete.