Ten cameras for five days shooting - How did each perform?

I took ten cameras with me for a 5 day shoot in Somerset last week. Deliberately. I still have too many cameras, so I decided I'd give each of them a tryout in a real world situation on a stock photography trip and decide what to get rid of. Here's how they turned out. 

NIKON D750

PROS

  • Fast
  • Reliable
  • Super long battery life
  • Super fast AF
  • Great lens choice
  • Optical Viewfinder
  • Excellent Dynamic Range

CONS

  • Heavy
  • No 4K video
  • Dust Spots on sensor

NIKON Df

PROS

  • Fast
  • Reliable
  • Super long battery life
  • Super fast AF
  • Great low light / High ISO performance
  • Great lens choice
  • Excellent Dynamic Range
  • Optical Viewfinder

CONS

  • No video
  • Dust Spots on sensor

LEICA Q (Typ 116)

PROS

  • Incredible Image Quality - Best I've used
  • Lightweight and unobtrusive (People really don't notice Leicas)
  • Simple menus and controls
  • Great Handling
  • Excellent Viewfinder and Screen
  • Fast AF
  • Excellent low light / High ISO performance
  • Excellent Video

CONS

  • Battery Life could be better
  • Fixed one focal length lens

LEICA T (Typ 701)

PROS

  • Best Mirrorless system I've used
  • Best Mirrorless lenses I've used
  • Best Screen and EVF I've used in daylight
  • Great Touch Screen Control
  • Simple Pared Down Menu
  • Build quality - I dropped my 55-135mm zoom and it bounced a couple of times on concrete. I screamed 'Oh No' but after picking it up it didn't have a single mark on it. So much for DPreviews ridiculous comment that these are 'plasticky lenses' If only all my gear was this 'plasticky!' I would mention again that after a years use the body still looks brand new.
  • Superb image quality, way beyond what you would expect from a 16MP APS-C sensor.
  • Great software video stabilisation. 

CONS

  • Video could be better
  • AF slow and sometimes takes a while to obtain focus
  • EVF wonderfully sharp in daylight, not so good in low light
  • Terrible wi-fi app. Needs to connect via external network

LEICA D-LUX (Typ 109)

PROS

  • Shoots excellent 4K video
  • Has 4K Photo Mode (8MP stills from video footage)
  • Great Lens
  • Small and Light
  • m4/3 multi-aspect sensor
  • Excellent (Panasonic) wi-fi app.

CONS

  • Poor Battery Life
  • Somewhat restricted zoom range

PANASONIC CM1

PROS

  • Best quality so far for a smartphone
  • 1" sensor
  • Shoots 4K video
  • Has 4K Photo Mode (8MP stills from video footage)
  • Excellent lens
  • Stylish
  • Works well as a phone and has Android operating system

CONS

  • Screen awful in sunlight. It is literally impossible to see anything under certain conditions
  • Appalling battery life. Lucky to get 100 shots per charge
  • Fixed (28mm equivalent lens)
  • 4K video is cropped
  • 4K video is only 15 fps
  • Expensive

SAMSUNG K ZOOM

PROS

  • Zoom Lens (24-240mm equivalent)
  • Lens is small - Whole package is light
  • AF pretty quick
  • Large number of shooting options
  • HD Video
  • Good screen - works reasonably well in bright sunlight
  • Inexpensive

CONS

  • Image quality could be better
  • Very fiddly controls and poor layout for camera functions
  • No 4K video
  • Poor battery life
  • Panorama mode, though excellent, produces small files

Nokia Lumia 1020

PROS

  • All those pixels - creates 38MP 4:3 images
  • Photographers Grip adds shutter button, tripod mount and extra battery life
  • Great Screen - works well in bright sunlight
  • Shoots excellent 4K video
  • Very 'punchy' colour

CONS

  • Image quality benefits from downsizing the images
  • No 4K video
  • Windows operating system. I like it as an interface but decent apps. are few and far between
  • Poor Panorama mode

BLACKBERRY Q10

PROS

  • Point and shoot simplicity
  • Very accurate colour and spot on exposure
  • Long battery life
  • Shoots surprisingly good HD video

CONS

  • Blackberry operating system poor for apps.
  • Only 6MP
  • Image quality could be better
  • Very Basic (but then I see that as an advantage!!)

iPad Air 2

PROS

  • Excellent Panorama function - creates very large files
  • Excellent range of apps. for IOS operating system
  • Excellent video
  • Decent stills quality
  • Huge Screen with superb definition

CONS

  • Not really designed to work well as a camera - iPhone much more 'photographer friendly'
  • Poor screen visibility in sunlight
  • Poor Battery Life

 

So there we are 10 cameras in 5 days. As I indicated this was really a way of finding out which I like working with and which caused problems. Here are some more general impressions.

THE NIKON DSLR's

As usual, these are the fastest, slickest cameras I own. However, weight and size is obviously an issue, as I found out during a very hot and humid 5 days when I was walking a fair distance. The Df is obviously a specialist camera, but as far as the D750 and other Nikons are concerned, the company really needs to get 4K into their cameras ASAP. It's just so useful and allows that 'video grab' possibility. However, for speed, reliably and 'get the job done' capability in any light these are still the 'go to' cameras for many photographers. Mirrorless is getting there but for sheer camera pedigree, speed and functionality a Nikon DSLR is still the ultimate photographic tool for me. 

THE LEICAS

The Leica T (Typ 701) and the Leica Q  (Typ 116) have class leading image quality, superb lenses and are a delight to use. In the bright sunlight I realised just how good the Leica T screen is. I used it as a point and shoot phone type camera with the 23mm lens attached (which actually focuses pretty fast) and it was superb. That screen shows up all it's competitors efforts for the nasty, small poor imitations that they are. All cameras should have a Leica T screen. The Q has simply breathtaking image quality and hopefully Leica will get an interchangeable lens versions of this out in the future.

The 'Panasonic Leica' the D-LUX (Typ 109) is an amazing little camera and incredibly useful. For such a small package it punches way above it's weight. It's probably more Panasonic than Leica, but that lens has the Solms genes in it's DNA and I have to say the combination of Leica optics and style and Panasonic tech. is a very appealing one.

THE PHONES

As I mentioned in a previous post, I used the Samsung K zoom the most. Despite it's terrible ergonomics (I'm always hitting something by mistake and it's very difficult to zoom even with two hands) it is VERY useful to have that zoom range in such a small package. I shot a lot of 'street photography' (still hate that term) and that is where smartphones come into their own. People just ignore them as you can see in the video below. 

There is however the enigma of the Panasonic CM1. Quality wise I have no reservations. But these issues of the appalling battery life (less than 100 shots per charge simply isn't good enough) and the even more appalling view screen make it a lesser camera than it should be. The 4K video above, from which I got loads of great stills, worked reasonably well in the overcast conditions of the station, but in sunlight the screen is so poor that I'm often guessing what I'm shooting since all I can see is a few vague shapes. So I'm pretty much restricted to using it when the sun isn't shining. And there is also the issue that if Panasonic improved it via firmware then the battery life would get even worse. So, some faults for the CM2 to sort out.

CONCLUSION

So this helped clarify what I want to use, keep? sell? No of course it hasn't. I enjoyed using them all for what i do and I'm pleased with all the images I created with them. But then you knew that before you started reading didn't you?