Welcome to Have Camera Will Travel.
My adventures in photography from the edge of the map.
White-tailed deer at daybreak
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
My first article of the new year, woo hoo.
I've just published a comparison of Nikkor kit lenses. The Nikkor 24-120mm, common kit lens on full frame bodies and the Nikkor 18-140mm, a common kit lens on the DX bodies.
My new article. Mean Time Between Failure has been published. You can find it here.
My new article. Single Point of Failure has been published. You can find it here.
More thoughts on camera values
New or used digital SLR camera values like most other commodities are based on market conditions at any given point in time. Not having the luxury of simply buying what I want, when I want, solving problems by throwing money at them isn’t my first choice. Being a small business owner, I have to weigh the cost/benefit and return on investment for all my photography equipment purchases.
Once I’ve defined my photographic technical requirements for how I wish to run the business, I have to identify the items that meet my technical requirements and also fit within the budget I have for purchasing those items.
A simple and effective tool I use is math. I calculate the cost per retail megapixel and use that result as part of my selection process. You’d be surprised at how closely these costs relate across competing and similar products. I’ll give you a few examples. Keep in mind, my research is based on market conditions from mid-October, 2016. Prices may have changed, but the math stays the same.
Crop sensor bodies
Nikon D7200: $42 per megapixel
Canon EOS 80D: $49 per megapixel
Nikon D500: $95 per megapixel
Canon EOS 7D Mk II: $74 per megapixel
Full Frame Bodies
Nikon D610: $61 per megapixel
Canon EOS 6D: $74 per megapixel
Nikon D750: $78 per megapixel
Canon EOS 5D Mk IV: $115 per megapixel
Nikon D810: $77 per megapixel
Canon EOS 5DSr: $73 per megapixel
Sony A99ii: $75 per megapixel
Now of course, megapixels aren’t everything that defines a camera, but the higher the pixel count, the higher the price and that is not disputable. The market has stratified to a certain extent around megapixels. One has to weigh all factors when deciding which gear to purchase, but once the technical requirements are defined, you can use the cost per megapixel to help you decide which body is a better buy. I’m lucky enough that I can choose any brand of camera, but this little analysis exercise will give you a better idea of what you’re throwing your money at vs what it’s true value may be.
Using this analysis, I’d be looking hard at Nikon D7200’s right now if I was looking for a good Nikon crop body or a completely new kit. It’s by far the best deal on the market now. The Canon 80D is a good camera and competitive but the price per mpix is higher and the image quality is not as good compared to the D7200.
Look at the Nikon D500! You’re paying a premium for those cropped sensor images that aren’t as good quality wise as it’s older and smaller brother the D7200. The selling point of the D500 isn’t pixel counts, it’s performance.
Moving on to the full frame sensor bodies.
Best image quality bang for the buck is the Nikon D610. It’s an entry level full frame body but makes a great photograph. Performance doesn’t stack up to the other bodies in the list. You’re paying for a very good sensor with basic controls.
The Canon 6D is a bit like the D610, but with less image quality and much better low light focusing.
The Canon 5D Mk IV is over the top with pricing at $115 per megapixel, it provides nothing that is best in class performance except for price tag. I’d keep checking these prices until they were in the $75-80 per megapixel range where they will most certainly end up by analyzing past prices. Even if it commanded $80 per megapixel, it would be priced at $2400. Canon is raking people who aren’t willing to do the math in my opinion.
The two big resolution DSLR, Nikon D810 and Canon 5DSr are both relatively inexpensive based on price per megapixel, with the Canon 5DSr being a bargain at $73 per mpix.
I threw the Sony A99ii DSLT in just for comparison. A camera that by all measures is a full generation ahead of Nikon and Canon offerings in the same range. It's priced quite competitively with the other full frame offerings at $75 per megapixel.
One can use this same approach when looking at used equipment as well. I would caution you though, the used market fluctuates a lot more than the retail market. In addition, changes in the retail market often times have large effects in the used market.
Your mileage may vary.
Digital SLR's, best bang for the buck.
I've taken a look at the current market offerings of Canon and Nikon, specifically the higher end cameras, full frame and crop sensor bodies.
Based on my analysis of the current market, here are the best bang for the buck cameras as rated by me.
1. Nikon D7200 24 megapixel, crop sensor, weather sealed body, 6fps. Brand new running less than $1000, deals on used cameras can be found between $700-800. Best image quality of any crop sensor body in either Canon or Nikon lineup.
2. Canon 5Dsr. 50.6 megapixels, improved weather sealing, 5fps. Best resolution on the market. Price is hovering around $3,699 new. Best value above $3,000
3. Nikon D810. 36.3 megapixels, 5 fps weather sealed. Best all around body on the market at $2,800 new.
4. Nikon D750. 24.3 megapixels, 6.5 fps, weather sealed. Outstanding camera with outstanding image quality, more features than the D810. $1,897 new.
Are there other good cameras out there? Of course there are.
We're talking bang for the buck here, meaning some cameras are simply over priced for what you get.
The best example of that would be the Canon EOS 5D MK-IV. By all reports, it's a hell of a good camera. At $3,500 new, is it a better camera than the D810 or D750? For a thousand dollars less, you can get better resolution and a better image quality sensor with the Nikon D810. No brainer in my opinion. The new 30 megapixel Canon body is a slight improvement in resolution over the 24 mpix D750 with an additional .5 fps in max shooting speed. Virtually no noticable difference. Again though, there's a $1,500 price gap between those two cameras. That's enough for a really nice lens to boot.
As for used bargains... For a crop sensor body, I'd be looking at the Nikon D7200 right now and the prices will only be dropping as we move forward.
For full frame used cameras, the D750, 5D-Mk3, D800 are all bargains on the used market. I'd be watching for the Canon 5D3 to drop below $1,000 before I jumped on a used copy. Same with the Nikon D750. The Nikon D800 is a real bargain on the used market now too. Not quite as refined as the newer D810, the D800 still packs a heck of a lot of image quality for landscape photographers at 36 megapixels. Image quality is on par with the D810.
If you are considering picking up a used Canon 5D Mk3, I'd give thought to going after a new Canon 6D instead at around the same price. The 5D Mk3 autofocus is quite superior to the 6D in most regards, but the 6D has a capable autofocus and will work in light as low as -3 ev. I think the 6D image quality is a click above the 5D mk3 as well, despite having almost 2 less megapixels in resolution.
On the used Nikon front, the D600 and D610 are good entry level full frame bodies, with good image quality but they aren't really upper end models and better choices are out there for the money. Still, when the average price of a used D610 is the same as a used D7200, the game changes.
I've begun work on moving the web site to a new server. I apologize for any problems you have while the transition takes place. We hope to have this completed by the end of October.
DXOMark have tested the Canon EOS 5D MK Iv. What does this new Canon body have to offer in the way of image quality. Click here to find out.
Moose photography season has concluded for me this year. I had an abbreviated season this year but it turned out to be a good season regardless. I've had a number of people asking me why I don't do tours past Labor Day. The quick answer, that's when hunting season starts. I don't hunt and I don't want to be prey to some hunter's wayward projectile.
I'll be working up a portfolio of images for your viewing pleasure in the coming days. I've also got a few articles in the works, so stay tuned. I haven't died and life is good.