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Monday, 11 January 2010

Comments

@ Oren: I was this close (pinching fingers) to pulling the trigger on that Bessa III several times and still have not fully relinquished the thought. It's probably the last of the folders and really made with love and craftsmanship. But ultimately I had to admit that (a) my use of film is rare and on the decline, and (b) my vintage Rolleiflex (which is spending the winter in rehab in sunny southern California) will be up to the challenge of meeting my occasional appetites for film. So I've put the camera down and backed away....But, oooh, your pick might have sent me into relapse.


---------------

Separately, I want to note that I was very tempted to nominate Canon's new Powershot S9 here. It's a real sleeper. Same sensor as the G11, small as a pack of cards, excellent ergonomics (including a new "lens barrel" multi-controller), finer ISO control, and excellent imaging!. As an owner of the G11 and S9 I have to say the the S9 is up to 900+ frames while the G11's counter is around 300. This little fellow is at least worth an honorable mention!

Finally!

Thanks Mike, I'm sure we will have fun reading this post and the comments behind.

On a somehow off-topic-but-related-comment, my camera of 2009 was a small, simple compact camera I purchased as gift for my first daughter (although she is convinced it was a gift from the Three Wise Men, on January 6th; shhhhh....); she's been happily shooting since she got it, and I'm glad to see her face curiously looking at pictures...

I would like to nominate the Nikon D3x for pushing the boundaries of image quality possible in a conventional SLR body. Unlike the Sonys (which are also interesting), it has 14-bit image capture, plus access to one of the widest ranges of lenses available for any camera. Yes, it is big, heavy and expensive, but its output is also roughly equivalent to a 6x9 cm color transparency. I don't think the introduction of the D3x and all the upheaval in the medium-format digital market this year are at all coincidental. Nikon has shown us what's possible with a 24x36 mm sensor - now it's time for them and others to put sensors of that quality into a wider range of bodies (I thought the nomination of the M9 was well deserved along those lines).

The only one of these cameras that I've handled is the Leica M9. Finally, what digital rangefinderists (I'm sure that's a word :) )have been waiting for. Certainly the most significant camera of the year.

That said, I agree with Oren that the GF670 is bigger news to me and would get my hard earned cash before an M9 would. High quality black and white in a pocketable package, this is really good news...

Seven cameras of the year? And I have to agree that these are indeed the seven cameras of the year, give or take one. Well done!

It's interesting that half the choices are holy grail items, along the lines of: "At last! The _____ we've wanted for so long."

So, what's the lens of the year? 8-)

On a side note, re Gordon Lewis' entry: I don't want to instigate a web-wide controversy or an Errol Morris investigation, but I don't think that the picture of the cat is the one that Jenna B. is shown taking in the previous shot.

Thanks for this posting Mike. Your choice isn't a real surprise as you have enjoyed using Minolta cameras in the past. I would think Sony is utilizing the Konica/Minolta heritage in its cameras.

"Seven cameras of the year?"

robert e,
No, one camera of the year, from each of seven different people. A small but significant distinction.

Mike

The camera of the year 2009 is any camera that satisfies your needs, wants, desires and
and anything else you require of an image recording device known as a camera.

I wonder if Canon or Nikon will do something to get on next year's list. It is a tough game.

I would go along with the Voigtländer Bessa III. However, my reconditioned Zeiss Super Ikonta B is similar, and does an adequate job.

I will second the vote for the Voigtlander Bessa III, it is all that Oren said and a dream to use. The viewfinder is fast and accurate. The lens has a beautiful quality to it, showing gentle contrast, no propensity towards flare and great sharpness, even wide open. As a bonus, the built in meter is reasonably accurate, unlike some cameras of its ilk. Hooray for film!

It's not surprising to see the new micro 4/3rds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus getting the majority of nominations here, considering how long we have been waiting for a decent quality compact-ish camera.

However, having owned the GF1 with 20mm 1.7 for a couple of months now, I have to say I don't use it as often as I thought I might. Whenever I look at the pictures I capture with it compared to what I get from my 5DII w. 50mm, I have to remind myself that it is better thought of as a good quality compact camera than as a super-compact SLR.

Couple that with the somewhat fussy ergonomics, and I find myself carrying the 5D w. 50mm combo more often, despite the extra weight and bulk.

Still waiting on the DMD to sort itself into a more stable product without updates every six months.

In the meantime, dipped into last year's TOP list and anxiously await my Zeiss Ikon with 35mm f/2 Biogon to be delivered Wednesday, bundle purchased through the TOP links from BH. Now to increase my workload and learn how to develop my own Tri-X...

Ken, you mean the Canon Powershot S90, right? Not the S9... I too have heard several people raving about it, including one person who compared it to my Ricoh GR Digital II over the holidays.
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=144&modelid=19210

Mike, love the print...immediately made me think of Carleton E. Watkins' photo Arbutus Menziesii Pursh from "Looking at Photographs".

Got any other test prints laying around that you need to unload?

The most interesting thing for me about this exercise is that it's the first time in what, 20 years? 30 years? that no one on a panel of a half-dozen observers would have seen reason to put a Canon or Nikon SLR on the list!

That's a pretty strong indictment of the "another predictable big black SLR but even more so" product development model.

I hope that response will prevail until Canon and Nikon can move beyond thinking of the heavy, pricey, pro SLR as the camera every photographer should ultimately aspire to.

Digital cameras seem to be undergoing dramatic and wonderful improvements in image quality. Most cameras on the market today are capable of producing stunning images. This will only continue to improve.

I tend to think that some of this improvement is thanks to cell phones. Whatever genius allows usable images to be printed from the tiny tiny sensor in my cell phone also works for digital cameras. The results so far are reviewers seriously comparing DSLR's to medium format and quality images from pocketable cameras.

I just purchased a Canon S90 and got the small size low light capabilities I expected and quite a bit more. I expect that whatever advancements are being displayed by this camera will impress for about "15 minutes" and then something better and smaller will come along. As micro 4/3 are snapping at DSLR's they are also being snapped at by even smaller cameras. It's wonderful.

Eventually I suppose I will stop using film.

It is interesting and perhaps significant that only two of the eight cameras are in the "traditional" SLR/DSLR form factor. Are we seeing the first signs of a shift away from the SLR based camera form, or is it simply that there were so many interesting alternatives introduced this year?

>> High quality black and white in a pocketable package, this is really good news... <<

Tom, although the GF670/Bessa III is a fine camera, one thing it's not is pocketable. (Well, maybe trench-coat pocketable.) When closed it's much thinner than a non-folding 6x7 or 6x9 and thus easier to tuck into a small bag or case for carrying. But it's still a big camera.

ok enough of the camera of year nominations.
What we want to know is what is your pick for "Photo Book of the Year"? ( ooops is there such a thing? ). At Least books do not become obsolete as quickly as digital stuff

Kman

Re A850:
I thought you might pick it. The images just have more "there there". The controls are as easy to use as any I've seen.

Now, what lenses for it? I have used the Zeiss 24-70, and it's very nice, but big, heavy, and expensive.

Luke

On pretty much the same day, Kyle Cassidy has also chipped in with some love for the Panasonic GF-1

http://kylecassidy.livejournal.com/574473.html

Perhaps more interestingly from the "is it good enough?" perspective, he also posted two pics from the same shoot recently - one with the Nikon D700 and the other with the Panasonic:

http://kylecassidy.livejournal.com/573993.html

The posted images are all relatively big which is nice for comparison.

Great choices all, however I must say that I preferred the countdown format (and the discussion and consternation that followed)!

It is only a theory, but given this could have been spread over say a period of two weeks: this is an extremely dense posting that is likely to not generate as many hits (nor flow-on sales); so I hypothesize that it's a very generous posting by theonlinephotographer.com... :)

Thanks all, Pak

Nice approach. A reminder of which cameras this year were "more significant" is useful. And often important cameras are important to a fairly narrow audience, so this gets us more looks into that.

That's right, make it harder to focus my next camera obsession! Nice to see a range of choices and thoughts and where they overlap.

Seven opinions, but no Canon or Nikon amongst them. Didn't these mighty makers do their homework well or is the craving for something different that high?

Mike,

Thanks for the clarification. I understand and appreciate the distinction, but from these cheap seats, it is not that significant; from here, the novel whole is far more interesting than the by-now-familiar parts.

The way you did this keeps to the apparent TOP ethic of personal user experience and results trumping metrics, and also points out the uselessness of any individual opinion of "best" to any other individual. That's a good thing, but also has consequences.

Your list reminds one (or at least me) that it is more sensible to acknowledge achievement where due than to single one out for the sake of singling one out, especially for things as diverse as cameras.

That may not make sense semantically or logically in the context of "Best of", but I'm sure that the chances of multiple products, or of no product, deserving honors in any given year is much greater than the chance of there being exactly one.

From a user's perspective, I'm more interested in what's good for what than in who wears the crown. So please forgive me if I continue to misinterpret this project as "The Best Cameras of the Year."

Not that anyone cares, but I think the Sigma DP2 deserves at least honorable mentions for delivering stunning IQ in a small package (and perhaps the Leica X1 as well, for the same reason).

I could make good pictures with any of those. I think all the contributors should choose one of their favorite snaps and add it to the post.

Nice mix of cameras.

Feel better Eamon.

I agree with Robert E, unless Jenna got a bit more vertical and the cat changed the position of its ears, the cat (what is it called anyway?) would not have appeared on the sensor that way - too square on and confident looking. In fact, way too confident looking given the close range of the camera - is the cat on medication?

Given increasingly rapid product cycles and changes, and with so much diversity of opinion, perhaps you could introduce a TOP camera of the month for 2010.

Interesting times for photographers...and for gear enthusiasts (sometimes the same person).

My camera of the year is the Leica I bought last year: Mike told us we should spent a year with a Leica. So I went to found a Leica AF-C1.

It is black and comes with two focal lengths - normal (40mm/f2.8) and portrait (80mm/f5.6). It has only one button (shutter) so I can concentrate on the picture. It is very light (300g) so you can carry it around all the time.

It isn't a Leica CL but for 10 EUR street price you can't go wrong ;)

Actually, it *does* take absolutely brilliant photos! It also fits well with my Sigma DP2.

I agree with Ken Tanaka about the Leica M9. It is the camera of the year. For my kind of shooting (people/street scenes)it is perfect. Just to expensive. I was weaned on a rangefinder with a 35mm lens: lens at f/11 and focus on hyper focal distance setting, aperture priority TTL metering picks the shutter speed - now shoot. If Cosina can make the Epson RD-1 out of the Voigtlander Bessa R body, then it can't be much of a stretch to have a full frame sensor on it. Come to think of it, why not the Zeiss Ikon wich is also made by Cosina. They both have a Leica mount to boot. C'mon guys, How 'bout the rest of us?

Excellent choices, but Mike, couldn't you have cracked a smile?

I have to agree with the A850, but I may be biased (as a new owner). After much effort I was able to adapt my Summicron-R 50mm to pair with it...it's a little early, but the combination seems close to ideal for certain work. The view camera may get pretty bored.

Mikal,
There's one in which I'm smiling, but the print is being blown around by the wind. It was cold that day.

Picture by my son, by the way.

Mike

Julian said:

"However, having owned the GF1 with 20mm 1.7 for a couple of months now, I have to say I don't use it as often as I thought I might. Whenever I look at the pictures I capture with it compared to what I get from my 5DII w. 50mm, I have to remind myself that it is better thought of as a good quality compact camera than as a super-compact SLR."

I'm with you on this one Julian. I've had the GF1 since the beginning of October and I only take it with me when my D300 or D90 is too inconvenient to take. I guess when judging image quality on the 1 to 10 scale, I'm not really happy with a 6 most of the time. I have a few Pentax pancakes and that K-X is starting to look pretty good.

Pudgie's photo is screaming out for a LOL Cat...

(I'm just sowing the seeds...)

An A850 and an S90 and I'd be happy. It sort of rhymes and it probably isn't true but I really want it to be true and that's what camera of the year is all about for me.

Mike

I'm very lucky as a friend of mine reviews cameras for a Australian camera magazine, so I get to play (sorry test) many of the new cameras that come onto the market.

So I got to test a few great cameras - M9 (love it, but comparing it to a M8.2, I can't see $5000 difference in the results - and yes - I know it's a full frame vs. 1.3 - but is that worth $5000??).

Then the Sony 850 with the amazing Zeiss 24-70 f2.8 lens - I would buy it for the lens alone - but the camera is brilliant, maybe not a sports camera, but a good all-rounder..

Canon G11 - great compact camera, but given a choice I'd rather have a Panasonic G1 as it's not much bigger (stock anly started shipping in Oz last year)- the 50-200 IS lens is amazingly sharp - I loved using it when I shot some motorbike racing (almost as good as my 5D+ 1100-400L, but a 5th the weight)....

Honorable mention must go to the Nikon S1000 projector - maybe not a earth shattering design, but a great concept that deserves further development...and also the Samsung ST 500 - the camera that made taking self portraits a breeze with it's screen on the front - great for those single travellers who want to get a shot of themselves with all of Big Ben in the frame...

But for me the outstanding camera is the Fuji Finepix W1 3D camera. With all the interest in 3D (think the movie Avatar, plus all the 3D Tv's reelased at CES, and not forgetting the fact that the World Cup (Football/Soccer) is being broadcast (in Australia at least) in 3D, then this affordable 3D camera is hopefully going to be the start of many new cameras that will allow the average person to take 3D photos and movies..

And for those people like me who are into prints you can also use free aftermarket software to split the Fuji MPO files into 2 images for traditional side by side stereo cards, or to make anaglyphs.....

Got to love old school technology in the 21st century.........

Mike didn't tell us who was nominating what, so I'm as surprised as anybody that there were no Nikons or Canons on the list. On the other hand, try to think of a Nikon or Canon that came out last year, that you would pay money to upgrade to, if you had the last version...

I didn't think the Leica M9 was the most significant or interesting camera of the year, but even if I did, I wouldn't have nominated it, because I'm pissed off at Leica. Leica has these wonderful lenses, and they need to introduce a high-quality modern camera - not to replace the M9, but to offer along side it. I'm thinking specifically of an E-P2-like camera, modified to natively take Leica lenses, with the optional electronic viewfinder, with internal image stabilization and focus confirm, and with a modern up-to-date ISO 6400 sensor. Not only would the camera be a marvel, it would support Leica's whole line of lenses, and, because rangefinder people are rangefinder people, I doubt that it would at all cannibalize the M9 or following M cameras. And think about the M's 135 finally becoming usable, and reaching out to 270! And true Leica macros! There's no end of things you could do with a camera like that, but Leica sits there on a dying vehicle, hoping for the best, which ain't gonna happen. So I'm pissed off at them, and I'm not gonna kiss and make up, even if they pat me on the fanny.

JC

My camera of the year is my Leica M3. It's the one I have used the most in 2009. It's the camera that has given me the most fun in 2009. The M3 brought the fun back into 35mm for me after using LF for so many years. Yes I have fancier 35mm SLR's and DSLR's but none have brought me the satisfaction the M3 has.

I can actually get excited about souping film again and using a loupe to see if there are any "goodies" on the roll as it hangs to dry.

In 2010 my top camera will undoubtedly be different. But then again it might remain the same.

Shucks Mike, hey if you had asked me, the D3x. You can use it to pound fence posts into the ground all day, and it still takes the best images this side of the Mississippi! Throw on a Zeiss ZF 2/50 Makro, and no CA. I think its a hallmark camera, but so many have been thrown off by the cost. You can bet the same chips and firmware will be moved down the camera line at a different cost point over time---and its imaging capability will become the norm.

On top of it, I went through a whole year without a single firmware upgrade! One just came out, but its only to extend to 64 GB memory cards--else it WORKS.

I will go back to my sulking for not being asked now....

:)

Pete

Mike,

Hmmmm...I don't recall being polled. :~( Panasonic GH1.

See http://writtenbythelight.blogspot.com/2010/01/2009-camera-of-year.html

Chris

It has been a great year for new camera releases, but I think I have to go with Mike. As an owner of an A900 and a bunch of older (fully image stabilized) Minolta lenses I have found myself in photography heaven over the last 8 months or so.

The A900 really delivers in print! I mention it that way as there are so many detractors out there who criticise its' noise levels who have never seen a big print from a well done A900 RAW file. When your income depends on print results screen images count for nothing!

Anyhow to think you can now get this quality at such an amazing price point is nothing short of extraordinary and all in a camera that just works so nicely in the real world.

The Leica M9 looks the business but at the price it is not really going to have much impact on the real market place and has some significant limitations, somehow I can't help but feel if I really want a rangefinder style camera for all its benefits the that little Panasonic Jewell of a GF1 would have to be a better option at such a nice price, as said, it is enough.

" Pudgie can open a bread box and eat a loaf of bread if not properly supervised. "

Thats all CARBS!!!!!!!!


Patrick

A nice group of choices, from the low end K-X to the M9, with an aside of the G11 and S90. An excellant year for camera consumers, with it seems a wide choice for every taste.

Mike, this Camera of the Year format is just great. Lots of good info here in one place. Good job!

"... which this year I've been procrastinating hard on"

This *and* a TOP Ten list? Talk about generous! No pressure from me--I don't mind a little time to digest this hefty serving before you bring out the next course.

So, are we EVER going to see #2 ??

Just asking....


Really, though, the camera of the year is the one you have with you.

Addressing the D3x comments above, I believe it was out of the running, as it was released in 2008. Besides, while the 14bits of the D3x does give better shadow detail than the A850, Sony does a better job with color separation, and I'd say the IQ between the two is a toss up, depending on what suits you more. The Sony just seem to have a "sparkle." For the money, the A850 is an absolute steal.

Fascinating concept and wonderful list. I didn't realize it until I got to the end, but I wasn't surprised that there were no high-end Canon/Nikon cameras included. I'm hoping we've outgrown that phase of the "digital revolution" (and I suspect Canon and Nikon are too).

Perhaps camera design is starting to get interesting again?

I would argue that the most important camera of 2009 was left off the list entirely -- the Leica S2.

The S2 represents a medium-format camera in a DSLR body, rendering the concept of "full-frame" instantly moot. In five years, all DSLRs will be of its ilk.

Not that anyone should buy one (though if you do, I'm sure Mike would appreciate your buying it through his links).

Camera of the year? Leica M6. For me it's been the Camera of the Year for most of the last 12 years. Two years ago the camera of the year was the Canon G9 (now broken), and in the last couple of years I've owned a Pentax K20 (sold) and an Olympus E-620 (kept) but then I started playing around with the new (2008) version of TMAX400 -- and it's the M6 again. It's really the only camera I've ever used that I like better than the Nikon FE2.

Dear David,

I considered entering the Leica S2, myself. But here's what I wrote Mike about it:

"The only one that stands out in my mind is the new Leica SLR, and absent test data from sites like DxO and dpreview, it's nothing more than a possibly cool but utterly unproven product. Give it another year, and I might write about it being the best camera for 2010... if the test data supports expectations. But until then it's concept without substance."

I could also say the same thing about the two IS0 100K cameras-- potentially very interesting, but the proof is in the testing.

And I don't mean the highly restricted hands-ons that the makers have provided a few photographers. All three of these cameras need to get run through the wringers in a most serious way before I'd give any of them "Camera of the Year." Until then, they're a promise of great things. But promises don't get prizes.

pax / Ctein

I'll include a Canon choice -my choice for this year is the same as last year and next year - the original Canon 5D. Big ol' mirror goes clunk like a Hasselblad. Getting cheaper on ebay every day. Put a little 50 on it, & its not that big. Good god, what more do we need?

"Ken, you mean the Canon Powershot S90, right? Not the S9..."

Yes, indeed. Thank you for the correction Justin.

Mike Johnston's post brings to mind a question: what is the best method for printing a large photo (24x36) if the camera does not have enough native resolution to do so at 300 dpi? If you have a 12 megapixel camera, should you use genuine fractals or some other method?

Though I am a Pentaxian and all that, in my personal opinion the camera of the year is decidedly Panasonic GF1. Along with that 20/1.7 lens it seems to deliver the promise of digital - high quality of images packed in light and small yet very functional package. Honestly, I am tempted...

Didn't these mighty makers do their homework well or is the craving for something different that high?

Well, if you take a look at what Canon and Nikon are offering in the interchangeable-lens area, there aren't any really interesting cameras. Good, even excellent, cameras - yes. But interesting? Nah.

If I had been thinking in absolute terms, I would have agreed with Ken and David up there. Both M9 and S2 are game-changers in their own way. M9 shows that you can put 24x36 sensor in a comparatively small body, while S2 puts a semi-medium-format sensor in a body that usually houses a 24x36 sensor.

Unfortunately, Leica (apparently deliberately) priced itself out of about 96% of the market.

Nikon users may disagree with Geoff that "The Canon 7D brought pro-caliber frame rates and build quality to the enthusiast D-SLR" and say the d300 did that.

however I have to agree with his nomination of the GF1 with 20f1/7. ok it doesn't match a FF Nikon/Canon/Sony but then I can't slip them in a jacket pocket or a belt bag. image quality is comparable to entry level dslrs.

perfect? no but couple it with the 20f1.7 and hopefully a 12mm pancake and it's a lovely walk around camera.

horses for courses

"Unfortunately, Leica (apparently deliberately) priced itself out of about 96% of the market."

Don't you mean 99.96%?

Old Joke (from the '70s): Leica sells as many cameras in a year as Minolta sells in a day, and Alpa sells as many cameras in a year as Leica sells in a day.

Bit ironic now! Unless you count Sony's SLR division as the continuation of Minolta. (It probably has as much connection as today's Leica has with Leitz, come to that.)

It would be interesting to calculate Leica's actual share of the digital camera market.

Mike

Not that I was seriously looking to buy, but this list seems to be an accurate summary of the most interesting cameras I would have considered buying if I had been looking. I hope that makes sense.

I would argue that Leica in not interested in market share per se. What they are interested in is that their new products generate enough revenue to generate profitability and growth from where they find themselves now. Leica is small- even if they had more M9 orders they couldn't build them- it's taking a long time for them to clear their M9 backlog now! Not to mention the S2 in the mix.

The M9 is priced to maximize its revenue, given Leica's production volume limitations. I'd do the same if I were running Leica.

Mike, I wanted to be sure to catch anybody who'd ever want to buy a Leica. But yes, it looks more like 99.6% than 96%. :)

BTW, robert, take a look at my little Hvar gallery. The last photo on the first page, the fort.

I shot it with 10MP E-3. Developed it to 12 MP in ACR. And then used Genuine Fractals to enlarge it to 60 x 45 cm at 300 dpi. That's 24' x 18'. Printed on HP Z3200 on a semi-gloss paper.

In the print, you can see all three wires in the power line, closer to the fort and to the righr edge of the photo. They were several hundred metres away and occupy a very small area in the print.

I didn't use any sharpening (beside the default RAW sharpening in the ACR) nor added "texture" in GF so I think I might have enlarged the photo even further. Maybe even to the advertised eight times, to 120 x 80 cm, although it would probably suffer noticeably at that size.

I have to agree with Chris Y., the oldschool 5D is a wonderful camera and only getting cheaper on ebay.

That being said, can I nominate Pudgie for the official TOP mascot?

"That being said, can I nominate Pudgie for the official TOP mascot?"

A cat? On my blog? What next, a flower picture contest?

Maybe Pudgie would eat a loaf of bread if not properly supervised, but my beloved pit bull might eat Pudgie if not properly supervised....

Mike

(P.S. Just kidding)

I took delivery of my Sony DSLR-A850 on January 11 and now all of a sudden it's the camera of the year? How cool is that! I have barely had time to examine it. Based on my ownership of the Konica-Minolta 7D all of the buttons seem to be in the right place and do what they are supposed to do. The menus are a definite improvement.

As far as lenses go I'm not sure what's missing.
16-35mm f2.8, check.
24-70mm f2.8, check.
70-200mm f2.8, check.
70-400mm f4.5-5.6 for wildlife, check.
All with SSM focussing, check.
Tilt and shift lenses from the Ukraine or Schneider, check.
Contax and Leica lenses from Leitax.com, check.
Zeiss autofocus lenses, check.

At one point I was ready to pull the trigger on a Nikon D3 but then I asked myself; Self, would I be $5000 happier with a Nikon D3 than I am with my current camera? The answer was "No". With the Sony A850 the answer is yes, I am definitely $2000 happier (and $3000 richer).

For no good reason at all I would enjoy owning the Leica M9 and the Noctilux f1.0 of old, just because.

Oren,
thanks for the clarification about the size of the Bessa. I meant pocketable compared to my Fuji 6x9 rangefinder. I meant pocketable in a relative sort of way...Kind of like a 4x5 Linhof Technica is a "pocketable" view camera. :)

Take care,
Tom

Re: Leica S2: Production units are just beginning to drip out to customers' hands. So although it might have been a candidate for 2009's "Boldest Move" it won't really be a candidate as a camera until this year. I've not even touched one yet but early user reports indicate that it produces lovely (low-ISO) results but there's some teething pain with the first real units.

That aside, I doubt that the S2 will show up as a camera of the year for next year. Its $22,000 (body-only) price aside, its specs will keep it mostly photographing skinny models wearing Jimmy Choo shoes. This is no "street" camera, nor is it a sports/action camera. With HD video the big shizzle in dslrs these days I wonder if Leica hasn't actually fired where the rabbit was. They don't have a good record with their reflex cameras, after all. But I wish them well with the S2.

Re: M9: I've come to believe that Leica has priced their M cameras into precisely their comfort zone. Let's face it: these rangefinder cameras would not be big-sellers today even at half their price. Leica has no ambitions to carve an appreciable slice from the digital camera market pie. They don't need it; they have history and panache. With Leica reportedly making only a few hundred M9s per month there remains persistent back-order waiting lists for these cameras around the world. (I ordered mine immediately after the announcement and received it in early November.) So I think that Leica has the M9 priced just about at the point where they can keep pace with their high-touch production, although demand is forecasted to be largely sated by April or May.

I picked up an A850 last September when they were released -- Mike is right, for $2k it's hard to beat. When upgrading I tried to follow the old adage of 'bodies are disposable, lenses are forever' and focus (excuse the pun) on investing in lenses first and body second. I still wanted to make large prints though, so the A850 was a great choice.

My current lens setup is the 16-35, 24-105, 50, and the 70-300G. The 16-35 is a bit heavy (I do a fair amount of hiking and backpacking), but the others in my lineup are very light. Overall I've been very pleased with this lens lineup. The 24-105 is definitely the weakest, so if the focal length I'm shooting at is overlapped by another lens I'll use that instead. The missing lens for me is a 18mm or 24mm tilt/shift, but I think Sony is more likely to release additional Zeiss primes this year instead of tilt/shift.

Overall a great camera. Can't ask for much more at this price point.

Erlik and Robert - Ctein did an extensive examination on this site of enlarging with Genuine Fractals an other methods that you can probably find if you search.

Right, it was called "It's Bigger, But Is It Better?" and it was published in three parts--the first part does not have "Part I" on it, but the second parts have Part II and Part III added to the title. Use the Search field in the right-hand column.

Mike

Great list.

The amazing thing about it is that, with the exception of the Bessa III and the M9 (but only because I can't afford one), I have been considering every camera on this list (for different reasons).

This year I will buy my first digital camera. Not giving up film just yet, but I'm eager to get into digital now. This is the first time I see product and prices I'm comfortable with and that says a lot about how much the industry matured in 2009.

The GF1 is the leading candidate for me currently, and I think it should get camera of the year honours (or at least share them with the EP-2).

My camera of the year for the fourth year running is once again the venerable Nikon D50. (sob) Darn home ownership...

>The S2 represents a medium-format camera in a DSLR body, >rendering the concept of "full-frame" instantly moot. In five years, >all DSLRs will be of its ilk.

I hope not. The D700 is about as large a camera body as I would want to carry. The S2 and it's larger lenses just don't seem that practical IMHO. I want a D700 the size of the GF1. :)

Never satisfied.

Dear Robert,

I did a bunch of tests of programs like Genuine Fractals a couple of years back and posted the results as a series of columns here:

It's Bigger, But Is It Better? Part I http://tinyurl.com/28wkub

It's Bigger, But Is It Better? Part II http://tinyurl.com/26mybt

It's Bigger, But Is It Better? Part III http://tinyurl.com/66rgwp

Overall, I found that the benefits of specialized enlarging programs were very modest. On average, you had to pixel-peep to see the improvement. In a minority of cases they worked spectacularly better than Photoshop bicubic or bicubic sharpen. In a handful of cases they crashed and burned, creating artifacts you would never, ever want to see in a photograph. Higher enlargement magnifications, by the way, did NOT give an advantage to the specialized programs. In fact, they were more likely to work visibly better than Photoshop at lower magnifications. I suggest you read the columns and the comments for full details; it's a complicated subject.

There are newer versions of the programs I tested, but since the improvements I got by using them were slight to begin with, I think it would take a technological miracle to invalidate my earlier tests.

In the case of Mike's photograph, I simply Photoshop to upsample the original file to 360 ppi, 20" x 30," about a factor of two enlargement. I did compare the results to using Genuine Fractals; GF is very marginally better, but you can only see the difference if you look hard. At 100% on my screen, I can see it; at 50% on my screen, the two results look identical. As Mike can tell you, the print looks great.

Based on what little I've seen of it (I can't use it because it's a Windows program), you'll probably get better results more easily if you use QImage as your printer driver and let it worry about any resampling. Again, don't expect miracles.

Or you could just stick with Photoshop, like I do 90% of the time. people aren't going to be insisting upon pressing their noses up against 24" x 36" prints... and if they are, they're not people who really give a damn about the **photograph**.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
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-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
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Regarding the excellent quality of prints of A900/850 images Mike mentions, what I would very much like to know, is whether this applies to prints in black & white as well. Going by hints and remarks here and there, I had got the impression that less but larger pixels (or photosites) make for better, more lively B&W conversions. If that is true, the D700's 12MP would rather be the camera of choice for photographers aiming at B&W pictures. (Or maybe even the Sigma SD15 if it arrives at all and APS-C is taken into consideration.) Mike, have you also made B&W prints of your A850 pictures? If so, how about them?

Hans,
I haven't done enough B&W with the A850 to know one way or another, but the best digital B&W I've been able to manage thus far has been with the D700.

Mike

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