Delivers great performance, weather-resistant build quality
We really can't think of anything bad to say about the new Pentax K-3, other than it deserves a better lens than either the 18-55 or 18-135mm kit lenses to realise its true potential. Pentax may not be as big or have the kudos of Nikon and Canon, but in the new K-3, they definitely have a fantastic semi-pro DSLR camera that's worthy of our highest Essential! award.
Superb clarity in image quality with 24MP sensor
Pentax have been consistently producing outstanding DSLRs, well specified and rugged. The K-3 continues that tradition, but honing areas that needed attention such as the AF tracking system and the video capability. The increased resolution and the clean images it produces all set off a well-rounded package that comes very close indeed to challenging very much more expensive kit.
A 'Fixed' D600 but a Failed Nikon Brand
I purchased the Nikon D600 when it first came out and THANKFULLY returned it when the dust/oil began to pop up on the sensor. I feel horrible for anyone that kept the D600 and now has a faulty camera out of warranty that has (essentially) been decommissioned from Nikon as a faulty product they don't want to fix. Thus the D610: a Nikon D600 with no dust and oil issues.
Great, responsive and versatile tool
That the D610 is lighter than any other Nikon FX digital SLR camera is a real boon to anyone planning to use it for extended periods of time, though be prepared that it's still quite a handful and noticeably heavier than the cheapest auto focus SLRs of the film era (then again, it's a much higher specified model than any of those). The Nikon D610's mirror is surprisingly quiet for a full-frame SLR camera and in normal use it produces only minimal viewfinder blackout.
High build quality, Excellent quality images
While the Nikon D610 is an excellent camera that's capable of recording plenty of detail in images with rich tones, good exposure and pleasant colours it is considerably more expensive the Canon 6D which can be bought for around $1899/£1475.
Those photographers who aren't tied to Nikon by a stash of lenses may feel tempted to invest in the Canon camera instead.
Excellent image quality, Excellent noise performance
The Nikon D610, like the D600 before, is a full-frame 24.3 megapixel camera with excellent image quality and performance. It offers excellent noise performance, excellent image quality with good detail even as the ISO setting increases, and puts it all into a rugged weather sealed body with a great 3.2inch screen. The camera offers advanced Full HD video recording with both microphone and headphone sockets, and video benefits from the full frame sensor in low-light situations.
Spectacular image quality
The Nikon D600 was one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry this year, and the enthusiast and prosumer crowd has been foaming at the mouth to see what an affordable full-frame camera from Nikon would look like. The Nikon D600 does not disappoint, offering nearly every bit of control that the impressive D800 offers, with comparable features.
Excellent image quality, Full feature set, Dual SD card slots
The Nikon D600's release (along with that of the Canon 6D) has made full-frame shooting available to a broader market than ever before. This is particularly important for Nikon users since photographers with DX cameras don't have to buy new lenses when stepping up to the D600.
Additionally, the D600 offers a 24 megapixel sensor, a full complement of features that almost rival those of the more expensive D800 and performance that will meet the needs of most photographers.
Great, responsive and versatile tool
If you think you can live with that and a few other limitations / omissions versus the D800; the smaller, lighter and cheaper Nikon D600 will serve you just as well as the more expensive model - and even give you faster frame rates and more manageable raw file sizes as an added bonus.
Built-in AF motor for non AF-S lenses
From Nikon's point of view, the D600 has a tough role to fulfill. Primarily, it's an 'entry level' full frame DSLR designed to appeal to enthusiast photographers looking for the kind of build, image quality and features provided by pro DSLRs at a more affordable price. It's also got to function as a pro model backup, able to tick the same boxes as high end models like the D800 and D4, without being so good it begins to look like an attractively priced replacement rather than a supplement.
Outstanding low and high ISO performance in both JPEG and Raw files
There's a lot to like in the Nikon D600. In fact, really, there are very few areas in which it can be legitimately criticized given its market position and price point. Being a mid-range DSLR (albeit towards the top end) it lacks the customization options of the D800 (and D300S) and borrows its operational ergonomics primarily from the D7000.
Compact and light, Outstanding sensor performance
The superb sensor, extensive yet accessible features and compactness make the Nikon D600 an exceptionally user-friendly full-frame.
It's a pity the Nikon D600's larger sensor commands such a price premium over the Nikon D7000, but assuming it sees the kind of price reductions that the D800 has undergone, we're in for a treat.
But Nikon won't have this sector to itself for long. Canon's new full-frame EOS 6D will undercut the Nikon D600 on size, weight and price. Let battle commence.
Compact design may well appeal to many
On paper the D600 looks to be an attractive proposition and Nikon's attempt to once again bring an affordable full-frame DSLR to the enthusiast market is certainly to be applauded. There are, however, two things that may hold it back. The first of these is its closeness in price to the higher-spec and more robust D800, although given time we wouldn't be surprised to see the gap in price widen between the two models.
Excellent image quality, Excellent noise performance
The Nikon D600 is a full-frame 24.3 megapixel camera with excellent image quality and performance. It offers excellent noise performance, excellent image quality with good detail even as the ISO setting increases, and puts it all into a rugged weather sealed body with a great 3.2inch screen. The camera offers advanced Full HD video recording with both microphone and headphone sockets, and videos benefit from the full frame sensor in low-light situations.
Excellent image quality, small and light for a full-frame camera
The D600 opens the full-frame door to many that would never otherwise be able to afford such a DSLR. It's not exactly cheap, but it's great value for money when considering both the build and image quality. The feature set is much like a D800 mashed up with a D7000 - an excellent blend of pro and consumer features therefore kit out this full-framer and it definitely gets our seal of approval.
Generally impressive image quality
For those with prior lens family affiliation, your decision is already made. Almost all the praise we have for the Nikon D600 also applies to the 6D. We think the autofocus system does lag behind - only by a little - but enough to make this camera a slightly inferior choice for action photography. Otherwise, the Canon EOS 6D is tied for the best entry point for new full-frame photographers, and yes, represents a fantastic value, even at $2100.
Outstanding pictures in both good and bad light
Compared to the 5D Mark III's official price of £2999 / $3499, the 6D is something of a bargain at £1799 / $2099, especially as it delivers very similar image quality to its big brother. The only fly in the ointment in terms of price is the Nikon D600, which due to being released earlier now typically undercuts the 6D by a couple of hundred pounds / dollars. Still, the EOS 6D should also drop in price once the novelty has worn off.
Tough, moisture and dust resistant body, Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
The Canon EOS 6D is an extremely capable and well-designed full-frame digital SLR that provides a clear upgrade choice for anyone looking to graduate from an APS-C model to a full-frame DSLR. It combines excellent image quality with superb high ISO noise performance, has an AF system that works in very low light levels and adds built-in GPS and Wi-Fi features in a tough, moisture and dust resistant body that's lighter and more compact than other full-frame bodies.
Excellent detail in raw file output across ISO range
The EOS 6D ticks off many of the things an APS-C DSLR owner could want in a full frame upgrade: great image quality, excellent handling, light weight and a sub-$2100 price tag. The challenge for Canon, of course is that the 6D does not exist in a vacuum.
Enthusiast-centric controls, Remote control via Wi-Fi
All things considered, the Canon EOS 6D is an excellent choice for the enthusiast and club photographer looking for a full-frame DSLR. These users will find that they have just about everything they need, and a bit more besides.
It may take them a while to get to grips with the subtleties of the camera's AF system, and they will have to remember some of the basics of metering when using the iFCL evaluative system in high contrast conditions, but they will appreciate the end results.
Excellent image quality, Excellent high ISO performance
The Canon EOS 6D feels like it's an improvement over the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and gives most of what you get with the 5D Mark III, but with the addition of GPS and Wi-Fi, as well as the excellent 20.2 megapixel sensor for improved noise performance, but with a fraction of the price of the 5D Mark III, making this an excellent camera for those wanting a full-frame Digital SLR.
Full-frame image quality, EOS Utility wireless shooting via computer has potential
The EOS 6D delivers the image quality, but is paired with a focus system that's a game of two halves: it's great in low-light, but lacks the extended number of AF points that we'd like to see. A partially restricted viewfinder is also a downside, while the likes of Wi-Fi and GPS, "nice" though they are, would have been better off replaced by a more detailed core spec. Some good points and some lessons to be taken from Canon's budget full-framer.
Image quality, Full frame sensor, Built in wifi
It isn't pocket money, but the EOS 6D nonetheless puts full-frame features within reach of the more ambitious enthusiast photographer. I'd have happily swapped the GPS and Wifi for more autofocus points, but it's nonetheless a great body that captures great colours and very detailed shots.
Blistering 10fps shot-to-shot speed
Regardless, the NEX-7 sports an impressive array of features for a camera of any size, and we're excited to see if its final image quality can live up to the camera's robust spec sheet. Once we get our hands on a final production model we'll let you know if the NEX-7 is even more than the sum of its parts, or just another paper tiger.
Compact, well-built, easy-to-hold body
Overall, the Sony Alpha NEX-7 is a pricey, yet excellent mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Whether we're talking performance, photo quality, or features, the NEX-7 does just about everything right. The one thing that may bother some folks is the user interface, so you'll definitely want to try the camera out in person if you can. Even with the complex interface, the NEX-7 is still a camera that I can highly recommend.
Excellent built-in viewfinder
The Sony NEX-7 is a fantastic compact system camera that firmly delivers on its early promise, delivering a remarkably customisable camera that really can be configured to suit many different users. The combination of an excellent built-in viewfinder, handy pop-up flash, tiltable LCD screen and a high-resolution APS-C sensor, all in a light and compact body, simply can't be beaten.
Big, bright ultra high resolution EVF
Ever since the NEX range was launched, photography enthusiasts have been waiting for a model that would exploit its potential to the full and the NEX-7 finally delivers on that promise. What makes the difference is the outstandingly good electronic viewfinder and the three dial control system augmented by navigation and AF/MF/AEL buttons.
Exceptionally 'deep' feature set including Auto HDR and Sweep Panorama
When the NEX-7 was first announced, it looked as though Sony had gathered together a set of enthusiasts' wish lists and built a camera to exceed them all. From the compact 'rangefinder style' body with its built-in electronic viewfinder, through the high resolution sensor offering 24MP stills and Full HD 60p video, to the triple-control-dial interface, it ticked all the right boxes on paper. There's little doubt that the NEX-7 is one of the most exciting cameras of 2011.
Very good dynamic range
Despite the occasional shortfall, the NEX-7 is a very pleasant camera to use, especially when you've customised it to your particular way of shooting. The built-in OLED viewfinder is a real bonus, providing a bright, clear view, and having a hotshoe and input for an external microphone both add to the flexibility of the system. Overall, the NEX-7 is a very interesting camera due to its high specification, and it should win over some purely because of that.
Highest specification mirrorless camera
The NEX-7 is an exciting product that gives manual controls, dials, and buttons, on the camera. These are physical, real buttons, that you can press and feel. Even more than this they are customisable to give you the control you want. Without doubt this is the highest specification mirrorless camera available yet.
Smoothness, sharpness and - frankly - noise free performance
If you're a studio photographer looking for mind bogglingly big files from a DSLR, you want a decent build, good colour performance, and you're not tied to a brand, then take a hard look at the Sigma SD1 Merrill. The pictures are very good after all and ultimately that's what's important, especially now that it won't (almost literally) break the bank.
Excellent IQ at low ISOs
In terms of specification, the Sigma SD1 Merrill might lack the finery of other cameras at this price point, but its stripped back set of controls is refreshing.
Its limitations do mean that this isn't a camera we can recommend as an all-rounder, though. If you're after a DSLR that offers high resolution, high speed and high-spec features, look at the Canon 5D Mark III or Sony Alpha A77 instead.
Strong colour available from the camera
The Sigma SD1 is capable of taking some gorgeous photos with excellent detail at the pixel level, however to get the best from the camera it is necessary to take everything as RAW and process the files. While you can shoot JPEG images, due to the camera's poor in-camera image processing the results are greatly disappointing in comparison and do not do the camera any justice.
Detail and sharpness
The SD1's poor high ISO results, unpredictable auto white balance, lack of live view and slow processing make it one to avoid for the casual user. But pros in the know will be impressed with the rich colour and staggering detail possible at ISO 100. Great for some studio and landscape photographers and pros in the know, but otherwise unsuitable for the masses.
Superior image quality it delivers at low ISO
So what's the final word? Is the Sigma SD1 worth the premium price tag it carries and the attention of professional and enthusiast photographers? There is actually no definitive answer to these questions. For landscape and studio photographers the SD1 will be an outstanding, unique camera worth every single penny.
Lots of features plus high IQ, but...,
I'm very happy with this camera. Images are crisp, colors are nice without any adjustment, zoom is great. There are a lot of upgrades over the k-x. I got lucky and got the k-r kit for only $100 more than the k-x kit. Otherwise I wouldn't have bought it, and frankly, I would have missed out. I'm keeping the Fuji S100 also; it has cable remote and takes great pictures at all ranges. But it doesn't have the same burst capability.
Overall, the camera is nice with many customizations possible. It does what you expect of a SLR and the quality of the photos are great. If you are a new recreational SLR user, I would lean slightly more towards the Canon T2i which is more user friendly with less adjustments needed right out of the box. Otherwise, if you like tinkering and don't mind the little things mentioned here, the Pentax K-r is a good solid SLR.
The Pentax K-r is one of the best entry-level digital SLRs on the market. No other camera in this class comes close to the K-r when it comes to value. For about $650 you get a camera with very good photo quality (even at high ISOs), sensor-shift image stabilization, a beautiful 3-inch LCD, tons of manual controls (plus several auto modes if you need them), super-fast continuous shooting, 720p video recording, flexible battery options, wireless flash control, and much, much more.
Pentax has created a worthy competitor in the entry to mid-level dSLR categories, with pleasing image quality, speedy shooting performance, and improved Live View performance compared to past models. This camera will appeal to a wide variety of photogs, whether you're a seasoned vet or just entering the dSLR world.
Image quality remains excellent.
In summary the Pentax K-r is a logical fusion of the K-x and K-7, nicely filling the price-gap between the two whilst offering a worthy upgrade to the former and cheaper alternative to the latter. As a very well-specified and crucially cheaper alternative to the Big Two of Canon and Nikon, the new Pentax K-r is a great mid-range DSLR that is a worthy recipient of our Highly Recommended award.
When we reviewed the Pentax K-x in December 2009 we said it was a very capable little camera which only came with one real drawback - the lack of visible AF points in the viewfinder. With the new model Pentax has rectified this, and K-r users can now finally see in the viewfinder where the camera is focusing.
While this is without doubt good news, it's really the only major improvement.
Excellent still-image and HD-video quality.
The Canon EOS 7D is one of the best midrange D-SLRs money can buy. But if you don't need comprehensive video recording features or ultra-high-resolution images, there are a handful of competing D-SLRs that produce comparable image quality for half the price.
Canon's EOS 7D is a direct response to Nikon's D300s. The company has taken a good long look at the areas where Nikon always had the edge over models like the EOS 40D and 50D, and addressed almost all of them here. No longer can Nikon claim a bigger viewfinder, faster continuous shooting, colour-based metering, on-demand viewfinder graphics, wireless flash control or superior AF as reasons to go for its model over its closest rival.
Video quality is very good, outputting low noise vide as it does for stills.
The Canon EOS 7D is an incredibly versatile camera. Its rich feature set make it one of the most complete DSLRs available. Given its high-resolution sensor, wide range of ISO sensitivities, high-speed continuous drive, there is no subject too difficult for it. Its durable and weather-sealed body can be taken to more places than most DSLRs.
high quality images
Canon's flagship APS-C camera has definitely put Canon back in the game. The Canon EOS 7D certainly holds its own against all other cameras in its class. I'd even say that it holds its own against its big brother, the 5D Mark II, unless you want full frame. The AF focusing system is a joy to use, and its image quality is superb. Plus, its rugged build quality and ability to produce high quality images in both RAW and JPEG make it well worth the money.
Great 18MP photo quality
We have no reservations about giving the Canon EOS 7D an Editor's Choice designation it's a great DSLR that just so happens to record high-definition videos. The big question, though: Is the camera worth its steep asking price? Happily, the answer is yes, since it's an investment that will pay you back for years to come in terms of great photos. Moreover, for those who enjoy a challenge, it will take some time to learn all of the device's capabilities.
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