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Digital camera reviews

We review 77 DSLRs, Micro Four Thirds, Four Thirds and some bridge cameras, priced from $399 to $4050.
 
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01 .Introduction

Digital cameras

We have test results for 77 cameras, with digital SLRs, Micro Four Thirds, Four Thirds and some bridge cameras among those on test.

Our rigorous tests are carried out by professional labs in Europe that specialise in photographic testing. Our scores reveal which cameras have the best:

  • image quality
  • ease of use
  • monitor
  • viewfinder
  • flash performance, and
  • movie performance.

On this page, you'll find:

Why choose a DSLR?

DSLRs may be much larger than their compact counterparts, but once you've got a taste of their benefits, it's hard to settle for anything less. Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds set a new standard for a camera design, one that's compact and has interchangeable lenses. Other compact system cameras using different specifications have been making their way onto the market of late, and all types have had a steady increase in sales, together with a dramatic drop in price in recent times.

There are several makes to choose from, with camera and lens kits for well under $1000. You might also want to read our story on digital SLR zoom lenses. And check out our brand reliability survey to discover how our members rate the reliability of the key brands over time.

Video: How to use your digital SLR

CHOICE experts give you some quick tips on how to get the best out of your digital SLR camera.

Cameras with interchangeable lenses are called "system" cameras. In this test, we've included other digital cameras marketed to those who may be interested in a system or SLR camera, even though they may not have an interchangeable lens. The criteria for inclusion are:

Manual override for focus and exposure controls.
RAW format recording (to allow you more control over the image once it’s taken).
Manual white balance control.
Manual ISO adjustment of ISO3200 or more.

Brands and models tested

• Canon EOS 100D + EF-S 18-55 IS STM Kit
• Canon EOS 650D Kit + Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS II
• Canon EOS 700D + EF-S 18-55 IS STM Kit
• Canon EOS 70D + EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS STM
• Canon EOS M Kit + EF M 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS STM
• Canon PowerShot G15
• Canon PowerShot G16
• Canon PowerShot S120
• Casio Exilim EX-ZR1000
• Casio Exilim EX-ZR700 (not in Aus)
• Casio Exilim EX-ZR800 (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix X-M1 + XC 16-50mm 1:3.5-5.6 OIS
• Fujifilm X100S
• Fujifilm X20
• Fujifilm X-A1 + Fujinon XC16-50mm
• Fujifilm X-E2 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm 1:2.8-4 R LM OIS
• Fujifilm XQ1
• Leica C (Typ 112)
• Leica X Vario plus EVF 2
• Nikon 1 AW1 + 1 Mount AW 11-27.5 mm 1:3.5–5.6
• Nikon 1 J2 Slim Zoom lens Kit + 1 NIKKOR 11-27.5mm 1:3.5-5.6
• Nikon 1 J3 + 10-30 mm Kit
• Nikon 1 S1 +11-27.5 mm Kit (not in Aus)
• Nikon 1 V2 Zoom lens Kit + 1 NIKKOR 10-30mm 1:3.5-5.6
• Nikon A plus DF-CP1
• Nikon Coolpix A
• Nikon Coolpix P 330
• Nikon Coolpix P340
• Nikon Coolpix P7700
• Nikon Coolpix P7800
• Nikon D3300 + AF-S DX NIKKOR 18–55 mm 1:3.5–5.6G VR II
• Nikon D5200 + 18-55mm VR Kit
• Nikon D5300 + AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR
• Nikon D610 + AF-S NIKKOR 24-85 1:3. 5-4.5G ED VR
• Nikon D7100 Kit + 18-105 VR
• Nikon Df + AF-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8G SE (not in Aus)
• Olympus OM-D E-M1 + M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO
• Olympus OM-D E-M1 + M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ MSC
• Olympus Pen E-P5 kit + 14-42mm (plus VF4)
• Olympus Pen Lite E-PL5 Standard Kit with 14-42 II R
• Olympus Stylus 1
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 (also called FZ72)
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5K + Lumix G 14-42mm
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6K + LUMIX G VARIO 14-42
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6X + LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42 (Not in Aus)
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6K + LUMIX G VARIO 14-42 II
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6X + LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42 II (not in Aus)
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1K + G VARIO 12-32mm 1:3.5-5.6 MEGA OIS
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 + Lumix G Vario 14-42mm
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
• Pentax K-3 + SMC DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL WR
• Pentax K-5 II + smc DA 18-55mm WR (not in Aus)
• Pentax K-50 + DA L 18-55 WR
• Pentax K-500 + DA L 18-55
• Pentax MX-1
• Pentax Q7 + 02 standard zoom 5-15 mm 1:2.8-4.5 ED AL IF
• Samsung Galaxy NX EK-GN120 + 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 III OIS (not in Aus)
• Samsung NX1100 kit + 20-50mm II ED plus SEF8A (not in Aus)
• Samsung NX2000 kit + 18-55 III OIS plus SEF8A (Not in Aus)
• Samsung NX2000 kit + 20-50 II plus SEF8A
• Samsung NX30 + Samsung 1:3.5-5.6 18-55 mm III OIS i-Function (Not in Aus)
• Samsung NX-300 + 18-55 mm III OIS Kit plus SEF8A
• Samsung NX300M + 18-55mm III 1:3.5-5.6 OIS i-Function (not in Aus)
• Sony Alpha 3000 Kit + SEL 1855
• Sony Alpha 37K Kit + 18-55mm DT SAM SAL1855 (Not in Aus)
• Sony Alpha 7K + SEL FE 28-70mm 1:3.5-5.6 OSS (Not in Aus)
• Sony Alpha 7R + Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar FE 1:4 24-70 mm ZA OSS T*
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX 100 M2 plus FDA-EV1MK
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R
• Sony NEX-3N Kit + SEL-P1650
• Sony NEX-5RK + SEL 1855 (new f3.5-5.6 OSS) (Not in Aus)
• Sony NEX-5T Kit + SEL-P1650 plus HVL-F7S
• Sony SLT-A58K + DT 3.5-5.6/ 18-55 SAM II (not in Aus)

Note: We regularly test cameras and add them to the list as the results become available. This list will grow over time and cameras that are discontinued will be marked with a strikethrough like this.

(Not in Aus) means the local distributor doesn't offer this camera, or camera lens configuration. However, you might be able to purchase it online or via a grey importer.

How we test

This overall score is a combination of the following scores: 

  • Image quality: 45%
  • Ease of use: 30%
  • Monitor: 10% 
  • Movie quality: 10%
  • Flash: 5%
  • Viewfinder: 0%
Image quality score

This score is an evaluation of:

  • Pictures taken in normal situations (indoor and outdoor simulations with and without flash in automatic and some manual modes).
  • Colour reproduction (photographed in controlled conditions and appraised by a panel of expert reviewers).
  • Focusing and sharpness in low light, with and without flash.
  • Resolution (sharpness) for minimum, maximum and normal focal lengths, at ISO100, ISO800, ISO1600 and ISO3200 settings, where possible, in both JPEG and RAW.
  • Lens characteristics (distortion, vignetting, veiling glare and reflections from strong side lighting).
  • Low-light performance in JPEG and RAW (noise and ability to capture and resolve detail at ISO 1600 and above). We also appraise the noise in images at ISO 200.
  • Vignetting (loss of brightness at the photo’s edges in both wide and tele modes).
  • Distortion (curving straight lines in both wide and tele modes).
  • Macro performance.
  • Face detection (subjects at different distances from the lens).
  • Image stabilisation.

Ease of use

This involves five people evaluating each camera’s manual, shutter release button, times for data transfer, shutter delay, start up, taking pictures in single shot and continuous modes. They check for ease and smoothness of zooming, manual focusing and speed of operation by going through a cycle of taking and deleting an image a number of times. Ease of inserting and removing a camera's memory card and changing its settings, controls and batteries is also tested. Movie ease of use is appraised in a similar way, with emphasis on recording and playback controls. These cameras are also appraised for their manual and autofocus performance in both normal and Liveview modes, in both bright and low light conditions. We also check how difficult it is to change lenses.

Monitor score

The difference between the height and width displayed in the monitor and what is recorded on the final image, an appraisal of the image quality in bright and low light conditions and measure of its overall size and resolution.

Viewfinder score

Its overall size as well as the difference between the height and width displayed in the viewfinder and what is recorded on the final image, an appraisal of the image quality in bright and low light conditions and the quality of its resolution and refresh rate when panning across scenes. This score is not included in the overall score to avoid penalising cameras that do not have one.

Flash

Tested at one, three and five metres to check picture quality and that the exposure is correct and even across the image.

Movie quality

Cameras that are able to record video were used to make four "highest quality" movies and then scored on resolution of detail, colour accuracy, fluency of playback, picture noise and pixelation caused by compression. This is done in both bright- and low-light conditions and our testers check also the cameras autofocus and macro performance in video mode. The sound quality is appraised by recording in a quiet room with both classical music and voice played back through high-quality speakers. Testers also check for noises caused by zooming or focusing the camera when taking video.

Our test

These cameras are put through a more extensive test procedure than basic cameras, using the lenses that are normally bundled with them. The testing has more components and is done with the camera in Auto mode for most, but not all procedures. Therefore you cannot compare scores between this test and the test for basic cameras.

Most manufacturers supply relatively cheap lenses in their kits. If you're in the market for a system camera and already have some good-quality lenses, you can get better image quality results than achieved in our test. However, older lenses designed primarily for film cameras may not produce the same image quality when used on a digital camera.

What you'll get in this report

As well as the test results for 77 camera/lens combinations you'll also get:

  • Specs, prices, features and functions for all models.
  • Buying information, practical advice and tips.
  • A sortable table including all cameras tested. Select by brand, price, overall, image quality, viewfinder, monitor, flash, movie and ease of use scores.
  • CHOICE Shopper Buy a membership and get this exclusive members' service. Save time and money on your next purchase.

For more information on Digital cameras, see Cameras and camcorders.

 
 

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