Summer 2013 Camera Options

I reviewed a lineup of cameras I’d consider to replace my aging Canon Rebel XTi and Panasonic Lumix LX3 back in February, but I’m on a roll after collecting some film camera party packs so I decided to update this list as well.

Since I gathered my original list I’ve started using motion control robots and my photo habits have changed. Given that, the priority of some of the options has changed a bit as well. Technology has changed too, and WiFi has appeared in some of the cameras I’m considering. Some features, however, are contradictory among the current crop of cameras; long battery life, for example, might as well be a synonym for bulky. Given that, I should separate the features and their priority by purpose:

General useTimelapsing
Manual control (2x)Manual control (2x)
Autofocus (2x)Wide angle (2x)
Wide angle (2x)Remote trigger (4x)
Fast lens (2x)Long battery life (3x)
Compact (4x)WiFi (2x)
Big sensor (2x)GPS (2x)
Articulated screen (2x)Affordability (1x)
GPS (3x)Articulated screen (1x)
Easy custom white balance (2x)Autofocus (1x)
WiFi (2x)Big sensor (1x)
Affordability (1x)Compact (1x)
Compatibility with some flash system, maybe (1x)Fast lens (1x)
Long battery life (1x)Easy custom white balance (1x)
Remote trigger (1x)Compatibility with some flash system, maybe (1x)

I translated that priority list into a table specified the multiplier for each attribute for that purpose. Because I invested way more time in this than I should have, I ranked each feature from 4 to 1. The multipliers are based on the feature’s ranking above or below the affordability feature. Affordability and all the features below that are 1x multipliers, everything above is 2x. I allowed myself the opportunity to name two extra high priority features in each use, giving those 4x and 3x values. For general use those included GPS (3x) and compact (4x); for timelapsing I chose long battery life (3x) and remote trigger (4x). The high priority features among the general use cameras were more wants, but the priorities for timelapsing are real needs.

The cameras and lenses I’m evaluating include:

As before, my selection includes Canon system cameras to leverage the value of my current lenses. Though I’d excluded the Micro 43 system previously, I’ve added the just announced Lumix GX7 to this list representing that system. I’ve also added the EOS 70D, as it includes some desirable features not available in the Rebel. The Rebel T5i and NEX 6 replace older cameras in those spots on the previous list. The only cameras from the last list to appear in this list are the EOS M and compact Lumix LX7.

By price, the cameras compare this way:

CameraLumix LX7Lumix GX7EOS MRebel T5iEOS 70DNEX 6
Camera price$348.00$999.00$349.00$749.00$1,199.00$648.00
Lens price$0.00$969.95$908.00$759.00$759.00$848.00
Total with lens$348.00$1,968.95$1,257.00$1,508.00$1,958.00$1,496.00
Total to me$348.00$1,968.95$498.00$749.00$1,199.00$1,496.00

Prices are from Amazon, see links in the list above. The EOS M price includes the lens adapter, though if Canon brings their EF-M 11-22mm to the US (huh?), that might be a worthy replacement. The total price to me assumes I’ll use my current Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens for Canon brand cameras, and includes an adapter in the case of the EOS M.

And by features, the cameras compare this way:

CameraLumix LX7Lumix GX7EOS MRebel T5iEOS 70DNEX 6
Manual control110.5111
Wide angle111111
Fast lens10.
Big sensor0.50.751111
Articulated screen1111
Remote trigger10.5110.5
Long battery life11
Easy custom white balance11
Compatibility with some flash system, maybe1110.5
General use score17.0017.5013.5016.0016.0016.00
Timelapsing score10.5014.7511.0017.5017.5012.50
Overall score13.7516.1312.2516.7516.7514.25

Unsurprisingly, the best scoring cameras for timelapsing are the Canon SLRs. The T5i scores equal with the EOS 70D because it traded an extra feature for higher price. The general use category, however, was surprising. Given the value I put on compact size, I didn’t expect the SLRs to be so near the top. The Lumix GX7 and NEX 6 are both very attractive interchangeable lens compacts. If I hadn’t already bought into the Canon lens system, those would be very attractive options. I’ve found some aftermarket battery grips for NEX cameras and I could imagine rigging up a battery using the Lumix GX7 DC coupler to work around the battery limitations.

I has been excited about the EOS M prior to my February review when the price was considerably higher. Despite the low score, the new lower price makes it a lot more interesting because of its compatibility with my existing lens system. Looking forward, there are rumors of both new EOS M and EOS 7D models in the next 3-12 months. I’d hope both would include the dual pixel focus introduced with the 70D, as well as the GPS and WiFi features of the 6D, but my elastic notion of affordability is seriously tested by cameras costing over $1,000.

The question camera manufacturers want answered is what would make me buy. I ranked integrated GPS a 3x feature, but none of the cameras on the list include it. I’ve given Canon a huge advantage by recognizing the sunk costs of my current lens lineup, but they’ve been slow to adopt new technologies and I think they’ve hobbled some of their cameras at the lower end of their range to prop up the market for their more expensive models. Panasonic and Sony, however, have released their top-range ILCs with features aimed at the top of Canon’s range and prices near the bottom. If either Panasonic or Sony added an integrated GPS to a camera similar to the models I’ve listed here, that would probably be enough to get me to switch lens systems as well.