Mark Seawell Photography and 3 company camera choices!

January 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

A question I receive a lot from family, friends, or customers is "What camera do you use?" Another common question is "What camera should I buy?" For the record, I use Panasonic cameras. This may surprise people who don't know me. What most people hear about is either Canon or Nikon, the 800 pound guerrilla's of the photo industry. And while both these companies make superb cameras, the point of this blog is to let people know you do have options! Let's take a look at some very worthy alternatives.


As I mentioned earlier I shoot with Panasonic. Why? Well, my first real camera (and I still shoot with it from 4 years ago) was a Panasonic DMC-FZ28 superzoom I bought from my daughter Sophia. It was too big for her purse! Anyway, it has served me well and though it is starting to have some "technical" difficulties, when it works, it works well. My first interchangeable lens camera was the Panasonic G1. This is the first Micro four thirds camera(M43) which means it doesn't have a mirror like a true SLR but you can change the lenses. Panasonic and Olympus work together on this format and you can use Panasonic lenses on Olympus bodies or vice versa. The advantage of this format is that without the mirror you have a camera  much lighter than the traditional SLR you would get from Canon or Nikon. Also since 2010 another great advantage is you have a large and growing choice of lenses to meet your needs. Lastly, Panasonic and Olympus have produced some superb cameras that are giving Canon and Nikon a serious run for their money because the image quality is excellent. Last Christmas I got the Panasonic DMC-GH2 as an upgrade over my G1 and I'm very pleased. Superb still quality and because Panasonic has such a strong video section the movies I have made with the GH2 blow away cameras that cost 3 times as much from Canon! The video on the Panasonic GH2 is so good that professionals in the movie industry are using it on the set! Panasonic has just released the DMC-GH3, another beast and the prices on the GH2 are dropping like a stone. Lastly, Olympus has released what was voted at DPREVIEW.COM as the camera of 2012, the OMD E-M5 another M43 camera. Again, superb quality with a retro look this camera has taken the world by storm.

Another great option for anyone in the market is the Sony NEX system. Sony has been on a tear for the last couple of years and the NEX system has created a big stir in the camera world. The latest NEX cameras have a APS-C 24MP sensor (Panasonic and Olympus M43 are 16MP) and a LCD which is among the best in the industry! The latest NEX series cameras (NEX 5, NEX 7 and now the NEX 6) will do any photographer proud. Video is good on the NEX systems but not as good as the video on the Panasonic camera but more than good enough for 90% of people using the camera. Small, sharp, and technically advanced, Sony has made a huge impact. I keep going on about size with the Micro four thirds and the even smaller Sony NEX but this is important because carrying around a camera and lenses all day is a hassle! Size is important and people will be shocked at what you are getting out of that little NEX camera. The one weakness in the Sony NEX system is not the camera but the lens selection. Technically the Sony cameras are superior to my Panasonic with stills (pictures) but the Micro Four thirds system is a bit more mature so you have a greater selection of lenses to choose from. Once Sony addresses this (and they will!), watch out.

The last company to consider for your needs is Fuji! People may be scratching their heads but over the last year Fuji has introduced a small digital camera wonder with a growing selection of lenses. The Fuji X-PRO1 with the first followed by several more with the latest beign the Fuji X-E1. The X-PRO1 16MP system surprised the industry. Brilliant and quirky this camera and what came after have impressed everyone with the quality of the stills. Video on the Fuji's is okay but not in the same league as the Panasonic or Sony, however this camera is for shooting stills and it does it better than most! People doing portraits or street photography will be in heaven though it can be used for landscapes as well. If I was in the market I would be looking at Fuji very hard. 

I wrote this article to let folks know there is a world of change going on in the camera industry. I'm not suggesting NOT to buy a Canon or Nikon, far from it, but Canon and to a much lesser extent Nikon have been resting on their laurels. Nikon is starting to react and have produced the Nikon 1 V2, small and advanced but if you haven't already invested in Canon or Nikon, now is your opportunity to purchase something that isn't chained to the past but is proving to be the future and that future is Sony, Panasonic/Olympus and Fuji. These companies are producing entire systems of cameras, not just a single one off. Whatever camera you go with, be assured you'll have a camera that will more than meet your needs.  Also keep in mind I'm mentioned the mega pixel size for the geeks reading this! The pixel size only matter if you are going to print something big, nothing else. Lastly for all their technical bells and whistles, cameras don't produce a thing, photographers do! ;)


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