Adventures in Photography
In an effort to enhance some of the upcoming content we have planned over the next few months, we’ve purchased a new camera to support these efforts. It’s literally been over a decade since our last foray into digital photography with a point-and-shoot camera. The Canon Powershot SX 110 we’ve had on hand hasn’t aged well; the nine megapixel resolution falls behind the imaging sensors available on today’s smartphones and the VGA video output capability doesn’t enable a viable re-purposing as a webcam. It’s amazing to see how potent the entry level mirrorless and DSLR photography products are with respect to cost.
The amount of research leading to this purchase was mind-numbing. We had ruled out a point-and-shoot based on the desire to maintain flexibility with respect to having a path to leverage different lenses when the need arrives. From the content creation perspective, having an articulating screen on the camera would help validate framing within a recording session. Most of the options available had this capability which didn’t help whittle down the field of competition.
Delving deeper into feature sets, we were able to rule out a few units that didn’t offer a microphone input. Beyond that, there are pros and cons across a myriad of vendors related to auto focus capabilities, high speed video capture, length of video capture, potential to overheat and nuances related to the quality of inputs or outputs from any given device. The long-term costs over the lifespan of the body were one of the deciding factors of our selection process. If lenses are ridiculously expensive, will you ever experiment with solutions that aren’t included in the kit of choice? Does the vendor address deficiencies identified by practical field use cases with firmware updates or recalls?
Thankfully, there’s no shortage of vendor-specific and digital photography websites available that take the hard look at the product as a whole. Provided still pictures and video samples from sites such as dpreview.com were helpful in the analysis process. They’ve published an article just a few days ago with their recommendation of the Sony Alpha a6100 as the go-to camera within the price point we were looking at. From a pure photography perspective, the auto-focus capabilities for Sony’s solutions are generally well regarded. However, a quick search using the terms ‘alpha a6100 overheat’ was enough of a deterrent to rule this unit out. The substantial discount on the a6100, which is back on sale for ~$700 with the kit lens, wasn’t enough to overcome concerns about possibly disrupting a 4K resolution recording due to a thermal event. Excluding this known issue, it does appear to be a very strong value for all other use cases.
While Panasonic’s line is respected for its video capabilities and doesn’t suffer from thermal-related issues, learning of the shutter shock issue within the entry level variants in this product line had ruled it out. As the focus for procuring the camera was to leverage video and still photography, this potential impact to the still photography element had reduced enthusiasm around the Lumix line. Although the DMC-G85 would have been a good fit and our selection within this line (no shutter shock, in-body image stabilization, microphone input), the pricing still felt a little steep for what is effectively a four year old camera. A price cut to achieve parity with competing units would have allowed us to accept some of the concerns voiced around optimizing its auto-focus performance.
Prior to locking in our final answer for a camera, we had also considered that maybe another point-and-shoot solution shouldn’t be ruled out. Knowing that the Canon Powershot G7X Mark III contains the same DIGIC8 processor as the EOS M50, we began digging in and came across multiple posts from actual customers related to an overheating issue recording 4K video. As the G7X Mark III starts at $750 USD, investing in a rig to record externally to overcome the thermal constraints wasn’t an ideal solution to the problem at hand. Needless to say, we opted to go with the EOS M50. There are some pretty solid deals available where one can get this camera for $50-100 USD below MSRP. Canon also has stock of factory refurbished units for $360 (including the 15-45mm kit lens) available on their site.