I can't get that shot I don't have an expensive camera

One of the things I get asked about quite a bit is what gear to buy and while I think that is a complex question because there are multiple variables to it.  That being said the best camera is always the one that you have with you so I lean towards finding something that you will get out and shoot with.  I know multiple people that spend a fair amount of money buying DSLR and lenses and when it comes down to it they have more images with their phone because they didn't want to carry all the extra weight. 

This week I went out to do some comparisons and took out a Panasonic Lumix LX100 which was released almost 4 years ago and a great little camera that we picked up for just over $400 dollars.  The second kit was my everyday camera which is the Sony A7R3 and Sony 16-35 f/4 lens which for the kit is just over $4000 dollars.  This is not a comparison in the fact that I think the Lumix can produce the same quality as my Sony's but showing that in some harsh conditions the LX100 can produce a quality image by understanding it's limitations and strengths.

I need to do a second setup where it's in better light conditions to show you how with great light the image quality becomes even closer.  For this test though I wanted to show my normal style of shooting with early morning higher contrast light and a little bit longer exposure on a tripod. 

The Setup

Both cameras were setup on a tripod with similar framing and using the wider angle of 24mm as the focal length.  The lumix has the lowest ISO of 200 so both cameras were set to ISO 200 with a 5 or 10 sec exposure (had to adjust a little based on Sensor for exposure) at F/10 so it was the same on both.  Everything was shot in Manual and captured in RAW so the same adjustments could be added in lightroom after the fact.  I then used my phones light to give a little light on the leaves in the foreground during the long exposure so it added a different element to show how each camera handles multiple variables in a complex shot.

Editing

Both images were pulled into Adobe Lightroom and similar adjustments made on each (Slight shadows/highlight adjustments, little clarity, color adjustment), the Sony could handle a little heavier hand on pulling back the shadows and highlights but tried to get the final images on both with very close editing. 

The Images

 Sony A7R3 - Handled a bit better on the editing so nice and sharp with a little more shadow detail.

Sony A7R3 - Handled a bit better on the editing so nice and sharp with a little more shadow detail.

 Panasonic LX100 - Image was a little softer after the edit due to the shadows becoming a little muddy when attempting to bring them up.

Panasonic LX100 - Image was a little softer after the edit due to the shadows becoming a little muddy when attempting to bring them up.

Final Thoughts

This is a pretty harsh test of a camera as you need to have some flexibility in the RAW file to pull up the shadows and manipulate the highlights to bring in some details and the LX100 raw files couldn't stand up to some of the swings on the adjustments and turned out a little soft but I think acceptable.  Keep in mind that the sensor on both of these cameras is dramatically different but that is why I wanted to show you that you can still capture the image no matter the camera but there will be some limitations that you have to learn to work around. 

The Verdict

Just as I said in the first of this post that the camera choice matters on what you want to capture and it's more complex then just I want a great camera.  What do you want to shoot?  What is your budget? these 2 questions really start you off on the right path as you now need to look for the best camera in your budget that is best suited for the shots you want to take and that takes research and test out some cameras.  I use Lensrentals.com all the time for renting lenses or bodies to test out ergonomics and how well they fit the images I want to capture.  Any camera can capture a good image as long as you know the limitations and can work within them.

Wake Early. Drink Coffee. never stop chasing the light and always get out and shoot.