Just for the heck of it I thought I'd nominate one of my favorite Canon Bodies as CAMERA OF THE YEAR 2010.

Nobody should really care what one person in Austin, Texas says about a camera but that didn't stop me.  I looked thru all the cameras I shot with this year and all the cameras I played with and decided to name one "My Camera of The Year."  How did this conglomeration of plastic, metal and silicon get the nod?  Well, I guess it was the best combination of usable, likable, high image quality, great shutter sound and visceral/implied build quality.  It had to be a camera I could use for my jobs and never have to apologize for but it also had to be a camera I could sling over my shoulder and head out for a walk with......and not regret it.  It had to have an advanced autofocus system, play well with Zeiss ZE lenses and shoot quick.  It had to have a decipherable menu and all the controls in the right place.   And it had to be "not too precious."  It's easy to nominate something like the Leica S2 because no matter how expensive it is and how slow it is the files are so good even the least capable photographer could pull good stuff from it.  But I'm no trustfunder photographer,  I actually have to pay for everything I shoot with and there's no way I could justify dropping thirty or forty large after two devastating and one slow year in a row for our industry.

I also could have gone the easy route and nominated the perky, fun and really, really good-for-the-money, Olympus EPL-1, but I get tired of telling people that they have to buy an auxillary finder and it's really best if they start buying up old Pen lenses and all that.  Really a close call though.  For less than $500 with a decent zoom lens at Amazon I think it's one of the best values in photography.  But it's not as good as my finalist.  Not as good at 1600 ISO or at 200 ISO.  But damn good all the same.

So what camera does the trick for me in 2010?  Forgive me Nikonians but it's the Canon 7D.  Where do I start?  First of all it's built like a granite rock.  But an ergonomically designed river rock.  It fits into my hand perfectly and when I hold it it lies to me and tells me that it will work flawlessly forever.  And it's so convincing that I believe it.

As you know, I'm a careful photographer and I find that when I put the camera on a tripod and use it at less than ISO 1600 and process the files just so it is a remarkably good imaging camera.  The focus has never failed me and works at the speed of light.  I could go on and on but when I started shooting digital in the 1990's we couldn't dream of a camera this good and if we could it would have cost $30,000.   We would have sworn that this would have been the ultimate collection of specifications.  Really.

But it does exist.  It handles better than my 5D2.  And the files are wonderful.  That's all I can say.  Two of these and a couple of zooms and you're ready for your dual career as both a still photographer and a movie maker.

One last thing.  I love the 15-85mm zoom lens.  It's a perfect complement to the 7D.  Do I wish it was a 2.8?  Hell,  I wish it was a 1.4 but it's not and there aren't any and if there were they'd be soft wide open. I've used this lens for half a year and love it.

You can buy more camera but you're going to start banging your head against a nasty piece of reality called, "diminishing returns."  I have lots of other toys but when it's raining or it's 105 degrees or the action is fast or the lighting is weird.......this is the camera I pull out of the bag and get busy with.

Do  you disagree?  If so, what's your solid favorite and what's your rationale?

Oh, and, what did you get in your stocking?

Hope everyone has an incredibly fun Christmas.


Craig said...

I think the 7D is a good choice, but my one ongoing complaint about all APS-C cameras is that the selection of lenses is still problematic at times. Wide-angles are comparatively few; wide-angle primes nearly nonexistent; with full-frame fisheye lenses, an APS-C camera loses much of the effect by cropping off the edges, where the fisheye distortion is strongest. For these reasons I continue to favor the 5D Mark II for digital work. (Also, it annoys me to have the same lens be standard-length on a film camera but a portrait lens on APS-C -- consistent behavior between film and digital cameras is nice.)

Michael Ferron said...

Forget the camera of the year stuff. It should be about model of the year. That first photo is a heart breaker.

Michael Ferron said...

I nominate the EPL1. Though my favorite thing in this world is shooting Leica rangefinders and B&W film I must say the little EPL1 is a real sleeper (though bit quirky in the menu departemnt.) Don't beleive me? Take a walk over to DPReview.com and check out the detail @ 100% compared to any camera 18mp or under. This little camera rocks.

Greg said...

My favourite camera (well... my only camera, anyway) is Leica M9. Above all, it's simple. I like that very much. And it's built like a rock but an elegant, classy rock. It's full-frame, no AA filter, it's very small and very quick and quiet. It has an advanced manual focus system. It takes Zeiss ZM lenses (my choice over Leica's own line). With Zeiss optics it produces almost medium-format-like pictures, especially in portraiture. And yes, I am the guy who happens to like it's high ISO performance which to me looks very film-like. Am I the only one? Maybe. Am I in denial about it? Maybe. But I still love it and can't help it.

I love my camera! I was ashamed of it before but not anymore. I went to see Paolo Roversi once and he was talking about his pictures. He also said that he loved his camera. He said it in such a childish, simple way like if he was talking about his good friend. It totally wiped out all my shame of my own hidden passion to a lump of metal with a bit of plastic in the back. It's my tool, my trusty friend and I love it. What's wrong with that?

Paolo has had his one camera-one lens combination for years if not decades. He shoots large format portraiture at his Paris studio. He calls everything portraits. Even if he shoots a chair or a vase he'd call that a portrait of a cair or a vase. Or of a naked woman. I like that kind of approach.

His lighting setup is very minimal and low tech. Often his only light would be a window in his studio. Or, when it's dark outside, he'd pick up a Maglite and light his model with that, sometimes with several coloured Maglites. Sometimes in combination with flash which he would fire first and then paint with his Maglites. Sometimes he'd use traditional studio lighting but not too much of it. He is very simple about his choice of tools and he loves them like his good friends.

Simplicity. Fundamental photography. Basic, minimalist lighting (no pun intended; btw, your book is great, Kirk!). That does it for me. One camera, one lens... (well, three... but still mostly one, the 50mm C-Sonnar). I feel like I am set up for life. Who knows? Why not?

Paolo Roversi has two cameras actually. He walks around with a film Leica. I have no excuse of a large format box sitting in the studio, so I am happy with my only favourite camera, the Leica M9. And thank God for Carl Zeiss!

Merry Christmass and happy New Year to you Kirk and to all who come here for inspiration!

Cheers from Russia,
Greg Shanta

Noons said...

E-PL1 for me, all the way. Works with just about any lens from my stable of Nikon, Leica and Zeiss glass.
And it is a lot of fun to use.

Frank said...

Canon doesn't do digital prime lenses for their APS-C cameras. This is in a very arrogant way, telling to their customers to buy their cheap zooms and shut up. Or otherwise go elsewhere .. and maybe that is what I aught to do. I have to buy their 1500 euros 50mm f/1.2 L lens to have a 85mm-isch equivalent portrait-lens for my 30D. I will not do it .. Canon will loose many customers by staying with their arrogant policy.

Anonymous said...

Having just bought a 7D to upgrade from my Canon 50D, I have to agree with Kirk. I took it into NYC yesterday for a walk up and down Fifth Ave, using it for the first time, and it was great. I take most shots as bracketed exposures for HDR and it is noticeably faster than the 50D. It fits my hand better than the 50D (I use Canon grips and grip straps for both). And the 20% higher resolution is evident. I don't get to play with as many cameras as Kirk, but this is the camera of the year for me.

Damien said...

Firstly Merry Christmas Kirk,

I'd have to say that my camera of the year is the one I got only three weeks ago . . . the Olympus E5. Apart from the tank-like construction, arguably class-leading weather sealing, the jpegs are phenomenal. When I look at the colours, my heart almost melts, they are for the most part superb. The E5 has also managed to instill some confidence in my aging Zuiko 14-54 MkI lens which I was not impressed with on the Oly E30. It wasn't very long ago that I considered the move to a Canon 7D or Nikon d300s, but I'm now firmly convinced that the E5 was definitely worth the wait.

I hope that you get to try one out in the new year and let us know how you get on.

All the best for 2011.

Damien Sass.

Wally Brooks said...

Thanks for the note on Cannon D7, from a dedicated Nikon shooter. The camera is impressive and it comes down to what you do with the gear you got that makes the image! Which brings up an question for a future blog. What makes for a Professional Gear? If the Canon/Nikon 18-55 plastic body consumer zoom lenses are sharp sharp sharp but don't go to f2.x are they not good pro lenses? Does a Panasonic EVIL body not "count" for pro work- depending on the job? Could be an interesting article. I think I will take my 4x5 out and shoot some B&W film now.....

Eldon Yoder said...

I have to agree with you kirk. At least as far as the 7d being my "camera of the year." Not so much because I had options but because it gave me the most bang for the buck as I move towards a business in photography. I'd love to have a 5dII for wide angle stuff, but I can't find much at all to complain about in my 7d.

Michael said...

Give the new Pentax K-5 a try... it's iso6400 is the new iso400... might just change your mind. Love mine paired to the DA 15/4 Limited lens... a street shooters dream. Cheers... M

Steve Burns said...

For me the best cameras out there are the one's that I currently have and use. Make that a few of the original 5D's and a 1DMk2. All were purchased for about $0.50 on the dollar. All had less than 3,000 clicks on the shutter when purchased.

The 5d's are great when I need something for documentary work, or want something light. The 1DsMk2 for when I'll be in the studio, or working in conditions that might eat a lessor camera for lunch, though I don't run into that situation often.

In my stocking was all that I could wish for; some loving time shared with close friends and family. There is not much more that I could ask for. It was wonderful to see my sister in from Austin for the week, and brother in from NC as well.

I wish you all the best for this holiday and the years to come.

Mel said...

OM-1, 50mm f/1.4, Kodachrome 64 - began the year with it, ended the year with it. Won't ever see the likes again...

Merry Christmas!

kirk tuck said...

Hmmmm. EPL1 gets additional votes. New lens might push it to parity....

Dave Elfering Photography said...

I'm still pondering my love affair with the E-P1 and hoping Oly won't mess it up like Panasonic did with the GF2. I'd like to affirm the vote for the 7D/60D but I haven't played with them. To be honest I think Sony broke more new ground in 2010 than Nikon or Canon in terms of making bold strokes. I tried it in the store and while I loved it, the plastic nature of the body gave me reservations.

So to that end I don't have a camera of the year for 2010. Oly took the honors in 2009 with the E-P1, but in 2010 I'm a little jaundiced. I kept my consumer money in pocket. The D7000, 7D and 60D seemed evolutionary and in some ways not more than a lateral step. If you've ever seen the movie "The Jerk" the ending was "so we moved into a larger house" but it was the same house just scaled larger. To me that's what this year's offerings seemed like. The same thing but modestly refined in a few areas. Oly and Panasonic started something interesting two year ago but seem to have stalled for the moment. Canon and Nikon seem intent to stay the course with what worked in the past with cameras that are only now beginning to be less related to their old film DLR's. The other interesting development (no pun intended) was from Ricoh with their modular camera. Then there is brave Samsung which is going it alone.

I think the camera companies are a little perplexed about their customers. To make a short story moderately long, I have no 2010 camera of the year :)

kirk tuck said...

Dave, that sounds like one of those Zen things.

michael said...

I rented the 7D for a week to try it out. It's a very nice camera and my second choice. I ended up with the Pentax K5. Your description of the 7D is pretty much how I'd describe the new Pentax: great handling, weather resistance, fast focus, accurate white balance and excellent files. It's that last that tipped the balance. The amount of clean detail I can pull out of shadows, even at -3 to 4 EV is amazing.

Dave Jenkins said...

My camera of the year is (again) the Canon 5D. It does just about everything good, like a camera should. But the light and lovely E-PL1 will be my travel camera from now on.

What I’m doing right now, though, is taking a nostalgia trip shooting my last roll of Kodachrome 64 (in an Olympus OM2s). I’ve had two rolls of exposed K-64 sitting around since the late ‘90s that I’ve never had processed. I have no idea what’s on them. I also have one leftover unexposed roll. When I finish it, I’ll send all three to Dwayne’s Photo Lab in time to make their last K-14 run. I loved K-64, but around 1987 switched to Fuji RDP-100 for most work. RDP was also a beautiful film, and I could process it myself.

I think digital is better in just about every way, but there’s something I like about the way slide film handles underexposed areas in a scene that’s properly exposed for the highlights.

Anonymous said...

Mine is almost exactly the same as Mel's. The only difference is that it was an OM-2. I'm so glad I got a chance to shoot Kodachrome in that little camera with that lens before the processing ends with the ending of this year. One word to describe the results: cinematic.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Rudi Vavra said...

Kirk, your finalists echo my feelings perfectly. The 7D is my serious camera. It gets used when I know there will be no excuses, and I have to deliver the goods. It's the best crop body that I have ever shot with, but a long shot. The little Oly E-PL1 is my fun camera. Paired with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens, most of the time. But even with the kit lens, this little camera really shines!

I'm not-so-secretly hoping Canon will bring out the full frame version of the EOS 7D next year. That would definitely be my pick for Camera of the Year 2011. :)

Thanks for entertaining us, through your blog, in 2010. Have a great Christmas and an even better new year! Looking forward to hearing from you in 2011...

Gene Trent said...

The Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm! Absolutely love the feel, quietness and the images I seem to make with. It's my liberation camera as I feel creatively unleashed when I use it. One camera, one lens loosed on the world (or at least my neighborhood). Merry Christmas Kirk. Thanks for some interesting discussions this year. Looking for the same in 2011.

Martin said...

My choice has to be the pentax k5 admittedly I have just purchased one the quality of files is amazing. The clincher for me was the ability to use all the pentax K glass without the need of adapters...added to which the price of these is so reasonable, got myself a 50mm1.7 which equates to 75mm and the bokeh is so smooth.

The 55-150 f2.8 is without doubt one of the nicest lenses I have ever used, I did look at the Canon but the 60D as an alternative, the deal maker ough was all the aforementioned.

Anonymous said...

Cameras of the Year?

Well ok. First of all its definitely not a Canon(even if the 7D is actually quite good for a Canon)

The Winner is one of the All-time-Greats:

1) Leica M9 - no need to Comment!

Runners Up:

2) Olympus E5 - Yes spec-wise its not a ubercamera but the per pixel level with HG and SHG lenses is very, very, very good.

3) Olympus EP-2 (or the EPL-1 if you like the Toy-like controls). A very nice mirrorless camera that's sets the standard for the future

4) Leica S2 - well for me this camera holds the IQ Crone by not just one but numerous miles. Jaw-dropping!

5) Nikon D700: Well it's a 35mm DSLR and albeit the best one for value for Money

And the last Price for the "Can't wait for" Camera of the Year goes to:

Fuji X100


Jessica said...

Camera of the year? Not sure. I just got two new bodies (the 60D and 5Dmark II, both great in many respects as you have previously mentioned), and I find that nothing much has changed. Yes, I have new toys, but I'm still the same photographer and my pictures haven't changed that much. Some things are easier now, yes. The cameras do more of the heavy lifting than my XSI used to.

But in a way it's been kind of wonderful to realize that getting a better camera isn't a magic bullet. I still have to know what I'm doing and keep working on my skillset to improve. A bit of a relief.

kirk tuck said...

Excellent points, Jessica. You nailed what I think but didn't say as well. You obviously have the right plan.

Nathan Black said...

I don't know about best camera of the year. I don't have access to the spectrum of cameras. I'm still rocking my venerable Alpha 700 and loving it's handling. Could just be that it is still my primary camera.

However, I did just get an E-PL1 and the Panasonic 20mm to go with it. I'm enjoying it so far, it's nice to have something a little more subtle for my wandering around camera. I'm still feeling it out, but I like what I'm getting out of it. Of course it cost me my birthday and Xmas gift certificates at Precision, and maybe a chunk of rent. But you pay for your passions, right?

Mark said...

Heh, I guess I'm the contrarian here. I sold my 7d in 2010! It was a tough call, but ultimately I found that the only reason I bought it was to play with the video (which I really enjoyed). Otherwise, it just didn't compete with my previous Nikon d700 in the area I found most important: auto focus. Yes, it was definitely miles ahead of the 10d, but it still missed on far too many occasions, specifically when paired with (what I consider to be) the overhyped 17-55mm is. Oddly, the AF worked much better with the slower 17-40mm L and the sigma 30mm f1.4.