I’ve been thinking about some of the Digital’s I’ve owned over the years so I thought I might write up a brief synopsis of them.
Pentax *istD – My first DSLR. Great finder, small and light. Good IQ up to 800, OK at 1600, garbage at 3200. good controls but the grip was rather undersized. Mediocre AF, not terribly responsive UI, horrible ISO setting method (ISO on the mode dial a la film cameras), really slow to write to the card.
Nikon D50 – My second attempt at digital. Nice body, good but basic control layout, great IQ for 6MP right up to ISO 800, 1600 better than *istD. ISO 1600 limit a problem, small and not terribly bright viewfinder a problem. Limited SD support (no SDHC), AF decent on centre point, UI very responsive, no metering with non-CPU lenses.
Pentax K100D – In-body IS, good ergonomics, much more responsive that the *istD. VF good for a low-end unit (much nicer than D50), buffer crippled, AF mediocre.
Canon EOS 10D – Big, very quiet, mediocre finder for specs, SLOW, especially write speeds, 9 shot buffer almost makes up for it. Overpriced batteries, poor battery life, lowest IQ of the 6MP bodies I’ve owned, AF decent.
Pentax *istDS – Small, great ergonomics, more responsive than the *istD, excellent VF, buffer deep enough. IQ great to 800, good to 1600, OK at 3200. My favourite 6MP camera. AF still mediocre.
Pentax K10D – In-body IS, weather sealed, great VF, 10MP, good buffer. Noticeably bigger than other Pentax’s, ISO 1600 limit. IQ great to 800, good at 1600. AF still mediocre.
Nikon D300 – Fast (6fps), great VF, 12MP, ISO 6400, deep buffer, built like a tank, sized like a tank(biggest DSLR I’ve owned), Live View, incredible LCD, AF speed is superb. Meters with non-cpu lenses. UI fast, responsive and somewhat disorganized. Crappy B&W filters, but at least it has them. Some control oddities (LV and MLU two settings on drive mode dial, can’t be used together). IQ superb to 1600, good at 3200, OK at 6400. ISO ratings somewhat optimistic especially at higher settings (6400 is more like 4000 or 5000 metered). Excellent battery life, battery life almost entirely controlled by card writes (about 14GB per charge irregardless of format/quality settings), 1/8000 max shutter. LV AF awful.
Nikon D40 – Small, decent finder, only 6MP. Best IQ of the 6MP bodies at all ISO’s. Great UI, decent but very basic controls. AF average. No non-cpu lens metering. Can mount pre-AI lenses.
Panasonic G1 – Very small, great, big EVF, flip-twist LCD, 12MP. IQ superb to 640, good to 1250, OK to 3200. mounts damned near anything. Discreet. ISO ratings pessimistic (ISO 125 is more like ISO 200). LV boost makes working in low-light really easy. LCD and LV make tripod work easy. Limited AF compatibility with 4/3rds lenses. Weird, expensive remote release. Battery life decent for pure LV camera, low compared to most DSLR’s. LV blackout makes panning to follow action difficult. EVF resolution makes manual focus easy. AF quite good, face detect actually works. Chiclet buttons, B&W modes allows composition in B&W, but no contrast filters. Selectable aspect ratios are displayed in LV, quite usable, but crop down for 3:2 and 16:9. Limited RAW converter support.
Olympus E-30 – OK sized, decent finder despite smallish size, flip-twist LCD, 12MP, LV. Great control layout, AF quite good (AF performance claims total BS though), 1/8000 shutter, fast (4.5fps, not claimed 5fps),good UI, B&W filters actually work very well. too many selectable aspect ratios, only usable in LV (no way to compose with them using the finder) and not applied to RAW file. Body nice-sized, well built. No sealing. In-body IS. Remote release shares USB port, fiddly to plug in, cheap. Batteries cheap and easy to find. 2x crop great for reach, but adapted lenses lose all wide.
Fujifilm Finepix 30i – small, 2.1MP, cheap, plays 128kbps MP3’s. pocketable. Decent for what it was.
Nikon Coolpix P3 – small, wifi, 10MP, absolute garbage. VR next to useless, slow, awful UI, worse to work with than the much older finepix.