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Thursday, 05 June 2014


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The real outlier in there is the Canon 5D - ancient in digital years, and 4th in the list. That's surprising, although I'd venture it's there because it was a lot of people's first FF camera. The 5DII and 5DIII are facing a much stiffer competition than the original 5D did.

Also noteworthy are the aggregate scores for Olympus and specially Fuji. They clearly are making products that people love, and in an industry that everybody loves to declare dying it's the only way to ensure a future for oneself.

Panasonic and Ricoh really really don't get the respect they deserve, it seems...

The other side of the question might be as interesting if not more. Which camera do you dislike the most? I would bet that the percentage of NEX7 owners who hate it would outnumber the ones who like it. Reasons for the dislike would be interesting as well, such as, company failed to fulfill the promise of lenses appropriate to the resolution of the camera, or too many unlabeled programmable buttons are just confusing, or changing settings in an LCD outside in the sun is just impossible because you can't see them.

This is all fascinating stuff ! Of course, while it only comments on the type of photographers that spend time at this site, I find it interesting to know this information as it pertains to like-minded photographers (I'm less interested in knowing how many Rebels the general public is buying).

I love the timeline and tree presentations of the data. It raises all kinds of questions. Have the people who chose older cameras (D700, for example) bought newer models ? Is the D700 still their favorite despite having experience with a D600 or D800 ? Or do they just enjoy it so much they haven't bothered with a newer model ? In general, how much experience do various respondents have with other cameras ? Is it your favorite out of 4 cameras you've used ? Out of 10 ? Did anyone choose a favorite that they don't actually own ?

I shouldn't be surprised at the D700, but was, for some reason. And I was a bit surprised, at first, at the E-M5, but really shouldn't be, because it represents the "arrival" of micro 4/3 ... the first micro 4/3 camera a lot of people can agree is good enough to be their primary camera. (Previous models were probably great for this person or that, but not for large numbers). I think I'm a bit surprised at the popularity of mirrorless and fixed lens cameras in general, but that's where it gets interesting to see what TOP readers are using, versus the population in general. (I also wonder if those cameras are the voters only/primary cameras, or if they're compact alternatives to DSLRs that just happen to be favorites anyway).

I was amused to see the tree for film cameras done in shades of gray :)

I think Sarge is really Nate Silver.

Whoa! What a lot of analysis! Especially on data that is a bit sketchy.

Looking at a bit of it, I notice from the Tree Map that someone glued their lens(es) onto their M9's, turning them from interchangeable lens cameras into fixed lens cameras. What am I now going to do with those extra, very expensive lenses that aren't on the camera at the moment?

[You're misreading the chart. The blue boxes are headers; M9 is under the "DRF" header, i.e. digital rangefinder. --Mike]

While I did not vote I do wonder if we are voting the best cameras or "what I own cameras"?

While the D700 and 5D are still capable of fine results neither is cutting edge by a long shot.

Fuji X100's? Very cool but somewhat limited.

Love Olympus but M4/3 image quality is still not up there with the best APS sensors. (though still very nice)

So my votes...

Best bargain? Nikon D5200. Except for menus tell me what it's missing? Fast, inexpensive, fine image quality. (live view is still behind mirrorles but I can live with it.

Fuji XE1. Sells cheap and a camera that grows on you. Love the semi-retro look and simplicity. My D5200 wished it could shoot as clean as the Fuji. Amazing sensor. Yes the XE1 is quirky and sometimes pokey but the lenses and image quality are first rate. I doubt any other APS sensor could match it toe toe when all is considered. (Put the little 27 2.8 pancake on it for something close to pocketable and 5.6 resolution about off the charts.)

Oh film? Damn I love my very clean black OM1. I have a bunch of old MF SLR's but I always go back to that Olympus. What a near perfect design.

[Explaining things again is always a headache when posting follow-ups. You don't want to have to present a large part of the earlier posts but you don't want to confuse people either.

You can go back to the original post for the fullest explanation, but basically we asked people for their favorite digital camera of all the ones they'd owned or used--not the favorite among current products and not the ones they are using right now. --Mike]

As "Sarge" sagaciously observed, these camera choices were made by the TOP readers who participated in the poll. Whether this represents all TOP readership cannot be concluded from such a survey, but would require sampling TOP readership at random (e.g. by telephone). This would also be subject to error, since some respondents (like me) would tell the caller to get lost. Could we ask if your server can give any indication what proportion of readers who spend more than 5 mins on this site is represented by the 700 who answered the survey?

This further adds to my disappointment in Nikon for not keeping up with any updates to the D700 firmware. It's like they have forgotten the huge D700 user base they have. Maybe they are hoping we will move on to the Nikon flavour of the week. My D700 will not be replaced until it dies. I have been a Nikon user since the 70's. Mainly because they made the bodies and lenses I needed for my work. That and most of the other PJ's I worked with used Nikon and we would swap equipment when needed. Nikon's customer service was at least moderately acceptable from the 70's to the late 80's but has basically fallen off the cliff in recent years.

When my beloved D700 dies I will probably look long and hard at other systems for a replacement. Nikon can no longer count on my continued business.

The work Sarge did is outstanding. I am sure there is more gold to mine from the numbers. Thanks to both TOP and Sarge for this fascinating analysis.

Alas, the camera I like best never made it. But the camera that is the only camera I have ever hated, that I truly despise even thinking of made it. The camera that changed "buggy", "seriously flawed" and "poorly designed" into the cute word "quirky" is right up there.

As Winsor mentioned above, it'd be interesting to see the opposite, "Which do you dislike most?" That wouldn't work though, for I'd run around to different computers using different names just to vote for that "quirky" little thing a zillion times.

Sarge is to be commended for all his work, especially the graphics.

My head hurts!

OK. Good. Now what camera should I buy?

I've been an EM5 user for some months now, and I'm VERY pleased with the work I've done.

The colour is great, the ISO (almost) great too and the IBIS works like a charm.

But none of those things has anything to do with photography.

Despite some minor shortcomings the EM5 fits mi hand like a glove. Maybe not the best camera in the world, but the one I enjoy the most, by far.

Nikon did very well with the D700. Problem is they've now not only dropped the ball; they've lost the game and the series. The D600 and D800 mechanical problems and Nikon's reluctance to acknowledge and correct these problems quickly reminds me of General Motors in the US and their ignition key stupidity. My D700 purchased used within the last year has now been passed on/sold to a friend whose D2 expired suddenly and he was not willing to venture further into the Nikon camp due to
questionable current product.
He purchased my D700 for what i paid. Have decided not to replace it. Why? Many reasons, this forum is not the place for discussion of same.
And Sarge is to be contgratulated for his diligent work, superb.

As a Fujifilm X Series owner (three bodies, 7 lenses, one grip) and fan boy I am impressed in the success they have achieved since February 2011.

I sold both D700 bodies and all my Nikkor lenses when the XT-1 shipped this spring. I don't miss them.

I have no idea why Nikon did not follow up on the D300 and D700. I'm glad they didn't because I much prefer the Fujinon XF lenses.

Of course, if I was an action photographer I would feel differently. How long will it be before we see mirror less cameras on the NL sidelines? (Yes, I realize Canon is the official camera of the NFL.) Mirrorless AF has a way to go for action photography. But those pros can't enjoy lugging those huge, heavy bodies and lenses around.

I suspect Nikon feels they made a mistake with the D700; they made it far too good for their second-tier camera (or, for its price point). That's why they haven't released an upgrade to it yet, after all these years.

The D800 is a wonderful 5D killer, though. And the 5D was (and in various successor models is) a wonderful camera; lots of my friends have them. But they were the opposite of the D700; the 5D was a high-res studio (or benign location) camera, not very suitable for dark or tough locations, fast-moving subjects, or low light. It's gotten a little better in two revisions, but it's still not a winner there, outside the original area it targeted.


This is a fascinating analysis of an interesting poll; I've been looking forward to this. I can't imagine how much work it took to put all this together; my hat's off to you, because this's far beyond my abilities and perseverance. And - thank you for making the spreadsheet available.

So, are you offering to repeat the poll and analysis in five years? (Assuming you've recovered from this effort by then.) That certainly would make another fascinating study - especially if you were able to correlate the answers of people who responded to both polls. (Yes, the punishment for doing good work is... more work...)

Thank you for this.

(Psst... although... not that this changes the results perceptibly, but... the Minolta Maxxum 7 is a film camera, introduced in 2000.)

I hope camera makers see this post. Thanks Sarge.

This is a great piece of work, really interesting to know some more about the regular readership, but what intrigues me most is the whole chicken-egg thing. I was reading here long before I got my E-M5, indeed it was Ctein's & Mike's (before he went off it)enthusiastic posts about it that encouraged me to go to a shop and try one out. I'd love to know how many people here went and bought their cameras at least in part due to the recommendations of the people who hang out here. Great job guys!!

@ Q

Yes. I, too, am looking forward to Mike replicating this TOP poll in 2019 (reprising the same question). By then, I'll have devised a tabulation macro (if a cloud app that automates tallying isn't available yet). Since that would be a follow-up poll, I'll tabulate it for free. :-)

I can't begin to imagine what a SOTA digital camera would look like, or be capable of in 2020. Performance-wise, will Mirrorless cameras have matched/overtaken DSLRs by then? Also, will the implementation of available technology by camera makers, be more in tune with the needs of their customer base?

Hopefully, all 703 TOP readers will be back for Part 2. As for correlation, it would be fascinating to find out which variables have significant coefficients: body type? brand? How will the market share of the leading surviving brands shape up? How many TOP readers will still consider film cameras as their all-time favorites 5 years hence, compared to the 65* who think so now?

*Actually 67 with the Maxxum 7 correctly classified under Film. The location of the Maxxum/Dynax 7's largish LCD status screen fooled me. My bad.


Excellent article, thanks.

One can have 13 in the top 10, but that's not how sporting events do it. If, for example, 2 athletes tie for first place, the next ranked person is third place, not second. Although I suspect it might be for politically correct children's sports.

Wow! Incredible time and effort went into this analysis. Thanks!

One quibble: Since you list two cameras as tied for sixth place, the next camera (5D Mk III) is in eighth place, not seventh. Fuji X-Pro 1 and Sony Nex-7 are thus tied for ninth place, not eighth. The next cameras (5D Mk II and D800) are tied for eleventh place, not ninth. And the Pentax K-5 is at thirteenth place.

To put it differently, let's say that in a race the two people ahead of me are tied for second place. Since there are three people ahead of me, I'm in fourth place, not third.

Wow, great effort and I would have read it all except you lost me at the very beginning - the X100/X100s deserves top honors not the Nikon. You can't say the X100/X100s are not one.

[It's just data, Jim. Please feel free to crunch it however you want to. If the X100/s is #1 for you, then it's #1. --Mike]

Interesting that solid Pro bodies are missing from the list. No 1DsMkIII or 1DX Canon. No Nikon D3 or D4.
Closest are the 5D MkIII and the D800 Nikons.
Cost issue maybe? The niche Leicas show up but aren't serious contenders.

Great work, Sarge!

Holy Cats, Sarge! Now could you explain the general theory of relativity!
My two pesos.

Dear Steve,

Um, no.

This is a rehash of an argument that was raised back in the original poll (see the link at the top of the article and my comments thereto). The two Fuji cameras are not remotely the same camera. This is apparent merely from reading the technical specifications for the camera. That you, personally, use them the same way and find them similar is not important. There are other pairs, even triplets of cameras in the readers' list that are as similar or more similar to each other than the two Fuji's. You start going down that road and there is no end to the insanity.

Even setting the madness of it aside, it's not a construct that can be applied across a wide spectrum of photographers. For example, I'd lump all of the Olympus E-M(X) models together, if I were using criteria as broad as yours. In fact, for me, the differences between the models 1 and 5 are insignificant. But .... Our 'Steamed Editor (I spelled that right, didn't I?) didn't cotton to the model 5 (that was the first one, for people who get confused by the silly nomenclature). He returned it pretty quickly. But he finds the model 1 entirely usable. The two of us sat down and talked about this and compared notes and cameras when I was in Madison two weeks ago, because it was a fascinating example of the practical issues associated with ergonomics. Things that bothered me very little in the model 5 really made it uncomfortable for him to use. What were for me modest changes in the physical interface were major for him. So, I'd lump the two cameras together, and Mike never, ever would.

On the other hand, the low-end model 10 is for me a very different beast, because it downgrades the image stabilization to the previous generation of camera. The way I work, the five axis stabilization is a huge win, so much so that if I needed a second backup body, I'd not make it a model 10 even if it were given to me for free.

Different strokes for different folks.

Which is why the “these cameras should obviously be lumped together” isn't at all obvious.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Sony R1 , favorite of Bill Pearce, Thomas Bethune, Rich Sajdak, Manish, myself, and one of the Richards, is a fixed-lens mirrorless , or a really big point and shoot, but definitely not a DSLR even though it is bigger than some of them.

I just did some executive portraits with the R1 last week. Still the thing for outdoor strobe and that lens is amazing.

Got a Sony A7 last week, so I'm selling the 1Ds and the last of my Canon gear, but I'm still using the R1 for the look I can't get with anything else.

D700 lovers and 7D lovers have been quite vocal about wondering when the upgrade will occur (btw, timeline wrong on 7D, it was introduced in 2009).

Something else is obvious, probably too obvious to have been mentioned in the article. TOP respondents buy mid to high-end gear. There are no Canon Rebels. I suspect that durability and ergonomics may be important to TOP respondents.

I'd like to thank you for all the effort you put into this. I'm sorry I missed the original poll. This was a very interesting exercise! Favourite lens or favourite focal length would be interesting too.

The first chart, digital camera models, shows Fuji is the choice. The sum of its three X models exceeds all other sums by manufacturer.

Dear Ken,

It's easy-- just buy the most voted-for camera, because the vox populi always knows what you, personally, want!

No need to thank me; always glad to help.


Dear Charles,

The first table only includes the top choices, which were about a third of the total votes (see the details in the lower right corner of figure 1). The second figure (pie chart) includes all the votes. That's the reason for the discrepancy you noted.

pax / Ctein

It would be interesting to see this survey from professional photographers

Just got a Sigma D3M and love it, well as a film camera as they said.

I have been wandering in the wild since I cannot upgrade easily from D300, go to Sony (15+ lens 4 bodies so far) and then in parallel (!) keep running with the D600/D7100 and newly acquire 24-70/70-200/80-400VR2 plus a canon 1200mm digital cam(!) ... really lost the plot and do not know what I am doing ... may be as well go back to film again starting from D3M :-), dump all the gears except D7100 and bought a 500F4 or just keep the canon.

Never thought in my life I would get a Sigma camera. This is particular so after their silly campaign of 4x Mpx of DP1 in many years ago and lated the US$100k SD1 thing. Well, when it moves to next generation and the D1/2/3M falls to < US$350 per lens (the box come free like Ricoh), it is major bargain. Start to collect them one by one. Time to dump the others ... cannot wander forever waiting for D400.

Interesting data. One point to consider. The M9 (N=14), M9-P (N=2) and M-E (N=3) were treated at 3 different cameras in your spreadsheet. These three are really the same camera with different cosmetics. 19 entries would raise the M9/P/E to 4th place on the list.

Great analysis, although something puzzles me: there is no mention of the EOS 7D (my personal favourite, although I didn't vote). Could it be that there some EOS 7D responses were counted as KM 7D (suprisingly high despite its age and moderate sucess)?

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