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These are the best cameras you can buy right now

by on Dec.03, 2017, under Reviews

Best cameras you can buy right now

Suppose you’re the kind of person who reads movie spoilers online, or unwraps all of your presents on Christmas Eve. Does that make you a monster? Sure, but we’re not here to judge. You’d probably also like to know which are the very best cameras on the market right now without reading our meticulously prepared and exhaustively researched buying guides. That’s fine. You can cut right to the chase and find out which cameras we picked as category winners right here, you utter fiend.

Canon EOS M6

It’s light, offers a healthy dose of direct controls and includes Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel autofocus technology. It’s our pick for parents, but it’s a great option for someone who wants DSLR-like capabilities and controls in a compact package.

Read more about the Canon EOS M6

Canon EOS M100

It’s an incarnation of the M6 with less direct control, but it’s also several hundred dollars cheaper. We think it’s an ideal lightweight point-and-shoot and it’s our top pick if you’re looking to spend around $500 on a new camera.

Read more about the Canon EOS M100

Canon EOS Rebel SL2

Beginners looking for an unfussy DSLR to get started will feel right at home with the SL2. We think its Feature Assistant is useful, and it offers all of the same guts of the M6 in a more approachable form.

Read more about the Canon SL2

Fujifilm X100F

You love it. We love it. Everyone loves the X100F. It’s truly the photography press’s darling, and it’s our pick in the fixed prime lens category thanks to its excellent JPEG processing and dreamy form factor. To a large chunk of the photo-taking population it’s an impractical novelty, but it sure is nice if you just want to enjoy the heck out of making photos.

Read more about Fujifilm X100F

Nikon D5600

The D5600 is our pick for both photography students and anyone looking to spend less than $1000. It’s not sexy, but it’s reliable, versatile, and offers modern refinements like a touchscreen and Wi-Fi with Bluetooth.

Read more about the Nikon D5600

Nikon D7500

We recommend the D7500 in the sub-$1500 category for many of the reasons we picked the D5600 in the category below it: it’s just an extremely well-rounded camera. Impressive subject tracking, good AF, and a proven 20.9MP sensor all contribute to making this the best buy in its price category.

Read more about the Nikon D7500

Nikon D750

Speaking of cameras that just don’t quit, the D750 is over three years old but it’s still competitive – and is attractively priced lately. Despite its age we think it’s the best you can do for under $2000 thanks to reliable autofocus and excellent image quality.

Read more about the Nikon D750

Nikon D850

The D850 shares a spot with the Sony a7R III as a top pick for landscape photographers and cameras over $2000. ISO 64 gives it a slight edge for photographers who need the ultimate in dynamic range, and it inherits a highly capable autofocus system from the D5. It comes up a little short in terms of pro video capabilities, but outside of that it’s simply one of the best all-around performers you can buy now.

Read more about the Nikon D850

Nikon D5

For sports, the D5 is hands-down the most capable camera out there. It’s ultra-tough and couples 14 fps shooting with the best phase-detection AF on the market. Plenty of shooters would find its smaller sibling, the D500 to be more than enough to suit their needs, but for the pro who needs the absolute best, there’s nothing to top it at the moment.

Read more about the Nikon D5

Panasonic Lumix GH5

If you’re serious about video and you want the best hybrid camera money can buy, get the GH5. It’s outfitted with pro-level tools and boasts excellent stabilization for handheld shots. Oh, and it’s a pretty darn good stills camera too.

Read more about the Panasonic GH5

Sony a7R III

The a7R III ranks as one of the very best cameras we tested this year, tying the equally impressive Nikon D850 as winner in the best for landscape photography and $2000 and up category. It’s also our top pick for event photography, thanks to incredibly fast and accurate Eye-AF.

Read more about the Sony a7R III

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III

Our top pick for travelers is the previous-generation RX10, which saves you several hundred dollars off the price of the Mark IV if you can live without a touchscreen and state-of-the-art autofocus. You’ll still get that generous 24-600mm equiv. zoom range and top notch 4K video capture for all of those vacation memories.

Read more about the Sony RX10 III

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV

If we’re going to talk about the very best cameras available now, we do need to mention the latest and greatest in the RX10 series. If there’s a superzoom that can convince us we’re shooting with a pro sports camera, this is it. It’s incredibly pricey but its hybrid AF, 24 fps shooting and oversampled 4K are unparalleled in its class.

Read more about the Sony RX10 IV

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V

Ten years ago, if you’d told us that a camera that fits in your pocket can record incredible 4K video, shoot 24 fps, and offer 315 point phase detection AF we’d have laughed in your face. Yet here we are in the year 2017, and the RX100 V has made fools of us all. Do you pay handsomely for all of that cutting edge technology? Of course. But if you’re looking for the best of the best, look no further.

Read more about the Sony RX100 V

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Photo story of the week: The Milky Way over the Dolomites

by on Dec.02, 2017, under Reviews

Gazing at the Milky Way over Tre Cime in the Dolomites

I have wanted to visit these mountains for a very long time. The incredible shapes and formations found in the Dolomites are like something out of a fairytale.

The hike up to Tre Cime was absolutely gorgeous and the location is really accessible. On this night, hiking under the stars wth my girlfriend Serena, who is also a landscape photographer, barely felt like reality… okay, I suppose once the wind picked up, it started to feel a bit real again.

Once we got up there, we walked around a little bit to check out different views and angles. The night was particularly chilly and we weren’t prepared for it. We hunkered down by some rocks and halfway through the night, noticed an incredible flash of light that lit up the sky for a few seconds. It was one of the brightest shooting stars that I’ve ever seen in my life. The whole evening just felt really magical.

I used the Sony A7S with Canon 16-35 for this Panorama image, the wide perspective was created by 8 vertical images, stitched together. The orange glow on the horizon is light bouncing off nearby towns and creating light pollution.

The photograph was processed and color corrected using both Lightroom and Photoshop.

Michael Shainblum is is a landscape, timelapse and aerial photographer based in San Francisco, California. He has been working professionally as a photographer and filmmaker for 11 years since the age of 16.

To see more of his work, visit his website or give him a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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Gear of the Year 2017 – Dale's choice: Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art

by on Dec.01, 2017, under Reviews

Sigma’s 14mm F1.8 Art lens makes it easier to get shots like this.
ISO 5000 | 2 seconds | F1.8 | 14mm

Over the past couple years I’ve developed a strong interest in wide-field astrophotography. Specifically, I’ve become passionate about photographing the aurora borealis, commonly known as the northern lights.

The aurora is Mother Nature’s own special effects show, and it’s one of those things that makes you stop to just appreciate the magic of the universe. No photo, IMAX screen, or VR headset will ever replicate the experience of standing under the sky when she flips on the light switch, but maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to aurora photography in the first place: it requires me to go to where I can experience the magic in person.

There are a lot of good lenses out there for this purpose, and I’ve used quite a few of them including the legendary Nikon 14-24mm F2.8, the Rokinon 14mm F2.8, the Venus Optics Laowa 15mm F2, various 16-35mm F2.8 variants, and even Sigma’s own 20mm F1.4 Art, but once I tried the Sigma 14mm F1.8 it was game over. I knew I had found the one.

ISO 1600 | 3.2 seconds | F1.8 | 14mm

One thing you learn quickly when shooting aurora is that you need fast, wide lenses. Fast because you’re shooting at night (duh). Wide because the aurora typically covers a large portion of the sky. It also makes it easier to include some landscape to provide a sense of place. This is where the Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art lens comes in.

What makes this lens so special is the fast F1.8 aperture. That’s 1.3 EV faster than an F2.8 lens. Put another way, wide open the Sigma 14mm has a 2.5x light gathering advantage over F2.8 lenses. That’s huge.

One challenge when photographing the aurora is that it can dance around surprisingly fast at times. Even at high ISO values an exposure may be on the order of several seconds, making it difficult to capture the intricate structure you often see in person. That’s part of the reason time-lapse sequences never look as good as the real thing.

ISO 3200 | 5 seconds | F12.8 | 14mm

Using the Sigma 14mm, however, I can cut my exposure time significantly. Where the Nikon 14-24mm F2.8 might require a 6 second exposure, the Sigma lets me get away with 2.5 seconds. Still not enough to freeze the action, but enough to reduce the degree to which patterns and structure in the aurora get averaged out.

Conversely, there are times when the aurora moves slowly and I’m not too concerned about shutter speed. In that case, I can lower my ISO significantly, say from 6400 to 2500, in order to get higher quality images.

But wait, there’s more! This lens even makes it easier to focus in the dark. I typically use live view to focus on a bright star. Sounds easy, but sometimes it’s not. The extra light at F1.8 makes this easier, making shooting more fun.

Blah, blah, blah… That all means squat if the photos don’t look good. Thankfully, this lens has great image quality.

ISO 6400 | 1.3 seconds | F1.8 | 14mm

Wide open there’s some comatic aberration, which causes point sources of light near the edge of the frame to look distorted, but unless your viewer is pixel-peeping they probably won’t see it. I suppose if I were an astro purist, and the stars were the main subject of my photos, I might get a bit persnickety about this, but I’m not, so I don’t.

There’s also noticeable vignetting wide open, but it’s a smooth transition to the edges, and I’ve generally been able to correct for it effectively in Lightroom. Again, astro purists will probably cringe at this, but for aurora photos it works great.

If there’s any significant downside to this lens, it’s that it’s both big and heavy. This is one place where Sigma’s ‘Make the best optic possible and size be damned’ design approach is visible. Put a couple of these in your pack and you’re going to feel it. (Then again, some of those other lenses I mentioned above are pretty big as well.)

I’m looking forward to doing a lot more aurora photography in the future, and I’ll be doing much of it with this lens. It’s going to take a lot to displace it from my camera, which is why it’s my 2017 gear of the year.

Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art sample galleries

Sample gallery

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Astrophotography sample gallery

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