6 affordable cameras for 6 common subjects

December 22, 2015

1. Sport: Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Having an APS-C format sensor rather than a full-frame device can be an advantage when you're shooting sport and action because you're able to frame your subject tighter without having to invest in very long lenses or crop your images.

The Canon 7D Mark II is a great choice because it has a superb 65-point AF system with the same EOS iTR AF and AI Servo AF III autofocus technologies as the Canon EOS-1Dx and Canon 5D Mark III.

These allow you to tailor the way the camera will respond to changes in subject distance and speed.

What's more, the central AF point is a dual-cross type at f/2.8 and it's sensitive down to f/8 – helpful if you're using an extender with a telephoto lens.

Further good news for sports photographers is that the Dual Digic 6 processing engines enable a maximum continuous shooting rate of 10fps (frames per second) for 31 raw files or 1030 JPEGs when using a UDMA 7 CF card.

Plus there's a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-16,000 with expansion settings taking it up to ISO 51,200.

2. Portraits: Fuji X-T1

Fujifilm's X-series of compact system cameras are very popular, but the X-T1 has proved especially so with wedding, lifestyle and portrait photographers.

One reason for this is the larger than average electronic viewfinder that provides a superb view of the scene as it will be captured, showing the impact of any camera settings.

Fuji also offers some excellent lenses and the Fujinon XF56mm f/1.2 R and Fujinon XF56mm f/1.2 R APD are particular favourites with portrait photographers because of their central sharpness and attractive bokeh.

On the APS-C format X-T1, a 56mm lens has a focal length equivalence of 85mm, ideal for portraits, and the unusually large maximum aperture allows plenty of control over depth of field.

Naturally, most experienced and pro photographers tend to shoot raw files, but the X-T1 produces very attractive JPEG files with pleasing mid-tone contrast. The new Classic Chrome Film Simulation mode has found wide favour amongst portrait shooters.

3. Street: Panasonic Lumix LX100

Street photography often requires a discrete camera that can be used quickly and without fuss. Although it's a compact camera and therefore has a fixed lens, the LX100 is especially well suited to street photography.

For a start, it's smaller than an SLR yet has a relatively large (Four Thirds type) sensor, which means image quality is high even in low light.

The lens, which has an effective focal length of 24-75mm, also has a maximum aperture range of f/1.7-2.8, which means it allows safe hand-holding shutter speeds in relatively low light and depth of field can be restricted to isolate a subject.

Tests show that the LX100 has a pretty nippy focusing system and it produces superb quality images, but what makes it especially attractive to many photographers is the fact that it has traditional controls with a shutter speed dial, aperture ring and exposure compensation dial.

6 affordable cameras for 6 common subjects: 04. Landscape: Sony Alpha 7R

4. Landscape: Sony Alpha 7R

Until the Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R were announced, the Nikon D810 and Sony Alpha 7R had the highest resolution full-frame sensors available. We're only recommending tried and tested cameras here, but on paper the two new 50MP Canon cameras look very enticing to landscape photographers.

Having 36MP sensors enables the Nikon D810 and Sony A7R to capture huge amounts of detail, especially at the lower sensitivity settings.

While the D810 is a phenomenal camera, we're recommending the Sony A7R for landscape because of its considerably smaller size, which makes carrying it over long distances a bit easier.

Sony is expanding its lens range, but at the moment it can't quite compete with Nikon in this respect so if this is an issue for you the Nikon D810 maybe a better choice.

You'll also find Nikon AF system faster and more versatile if you need more of an ‘all-rounder model.

6 affordable cameras for 6 common subjects: 05. Music: Canon EOS 5D Mark III

5. Music: Canon 5D Mark III

Photographing music concerts usually requires a sensitive autofocus system that can cope with very low light and respond quickly to subject movements.

The camera also needs to offer a wide sensitivity (ISO) range and control noise well.

The Canon 5D Mark III fits the bill superbly. When paired with a decent lens it gets subjects sharp incredibly quickly even in quite dim conditions and noise is kept in check even at very high ISO settings.

6. Macro: Nikon D5500

Live view mode is often a good choice when shooting macro subjects because it enables you to magnify the most important area of the scene and make sure that it is absolutely sharp.

This isn't the quickest way of working, and a tripod is recommended, but that isn't usually a problem with macro photography which is usually tripod-based anyway.

The D5500 gets our recommendation because, as well as its 24MP sensor enabling it to record an impressive amount of detail, albeit not quite as much as the 36MP D810, it has a vari-angle screen which is incredibly useful when shooting subjects at awkward angles.

In fact, it even makes life more comfortable when you're shooting table-top subjects.

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