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Consumer magazines are not the place for keen photographers to compare cameras

May 13, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Let me begin by saying that I'm a card-carrying fan of the consumer magazine, Choice. I've been a subscriber for years and whether buying a new toaster, dishwasher or solar panels for my house, Choice is the only authority I trust to give me informed, unbiased recommendations.

But it isn't the place I'd look if I were looking to buy a new SLR.

I'm not suggesting they're biased or uninformed, but I am asserting that they use the wrong criteria when assessing higher-end cameras.

Choice recently tested cameras. The strange thing is that while they tend to test things like vacuum cleaners in tranches by price, they tested cameras ranging from simple little point-and-shoots to high end SLRs like the Canon 5D and the Nikon D810 in a single test. It's not fair to the P&S cameras because they could hardly produce images comparable with SLRs.

It's also not fair to the SLRs because criteria included ease of use and face recognition. Now I consider my D800 to be easy to use, but someone not familiar with an SLR would be baffled by it, so the D810 could not rate well on this. (In fact, Choice criticised it because the "Shutter button is hard to use".) On the other hand, I neither need not want face recognition in my camera, so the fact that the D810 had "poor face detection" (non-existent, I would have said) is definitely irrelevant.

Another peculiarity of the review was comments such as the 5DIII and the D810 having "wide angle (24mm)". Surely, the whole point of an SLR is that the lenses are interchangeable??? So these cameras are rated up if a lens like the 24 - 70 or 14 - 24 is fitted, but presumably rated down if I fit an 800mm prime?

Anyway, this brings us to the overall ratings. I've done a quick and dirty compilation of some of Choice's ratings compared with those produced by the highly respected DxO organisation in the following table. For some cameras such as the Samsung NX1 and oddly, the Canon 5D Mark III, there's quite a strong correlation. But for others, (and yes, I mention the D810 yet again) there's a huge disparity: 97 from DxO versus 77 from Choice

 

Choice Rating

DXO Rating

Panasonic DMC-GX8

84

75

Samsung NX1

82

83

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 M2

82

70

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4H

81

74

Olympus OM-D E-M1

81

73

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II

81

58

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

80

73

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ 1000

80

64

Sony Alpha 7S

79

87

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

79

81

Canon PowerShot G7 X

78

71

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7K

78

70

Canon PowerShot G3 X

78

63

Nikon D810

77

97

Canon PowerShot G9X

77

63

Canon EOS M10

76

65

So there you go. If you're looking for a camera for someone who's not really into photography, the Choice review might be a good starting point. If you're looking for  comprehensive, qualified and unbiased tests of an oven or a solar panels or tyres and you're in Australia, I wouldn't hesitate to advise you to consult Choice. But if you're planning to buy a good SLR, I suggest you look elsewhere for advice.

Happy shooting

Shane

 

 


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