How much camera do you need??


Generally speaking a camera isn’t as important as the person holding it.  Try a simple test, put your camera on a table and watch it………. Not much happens eh?  That’s a bit obvious but you see what I mean.  The basics of cameras has not changed much over the years, light travels through a lens onto a recording medium (film/digital sensor) but has the quality of less expensive cameras changed compared to ones at a professional level.  Sensors are improving constantly and editing software is taking great leaps forward even to the point of fixing lens distortion.

I thought I would test three cameras from various price points and see  what differences we can actually see when looking at the pictures.  I’ve chosen the Nikon D800, Nikon D5200 and Sony RX100.  I’ve kept the test as realistic as possible by matching the cameras to the lens that would more than likely be used on that camera.  For the D800 I’m using the 70-200 2.8 VR, a combination costing around £3500.  The D5200 is paired with the 85mm f/1.8G, costing around £850 for both and the Sony RX100 costing around £400.

The D5200 was kindly leant by Leah Moncrieff and the Sony by Glen Irven.

These are all high megapixel cameras in their classes, 36 for the D800, 24 for the D5200 and 20 for the RX100.  The main difference we are looking at is the size of the sensors.  The D800 has a large full frame sensor(35.9 x 24mm), D5200 a slightly smaller sensor (23.5 x 15.6mm) and the Sony smaller still (13.2 x 8.8mm).

Below is the relative (not actual) size differences in the sensors.

This isn’t going to be an exhaustive test of all the technical aspects of the cameras because they are all from different price points.  What I’ve done is take these cameras out and shoot the same subject using natural light and a reflector and see what bang you get for your buck.

I’ve set all the cameras to manual and image quality to the best – RAW mode – and processed them in a very similar way using Lightroom and Photoshop pre sets.

Above Nikon D800

Above Nikon D5200

Above Sony RX100

As you can see above the D800 with 70-200 matched gives great out of focus area, the D5200 is not very far behind at all and for £850 all in I would say a great buy for any photographer.

Nikon D800

Nikon D5200

Sony RX100

Again you can see the difference in depth of field between the three.

Nikon D800

Nikon D5200

Sony RX100

Every session needs a review/debrief session :)


As you can see the results are surprising in that the D800 produces as expected but the £850 (D5200 + 85mm f/1.8) are very close and the Sony is a lot further behind but still produces very decent pictures for a £400 camera.

This test wasn’t meant to produce a winner as such, merely show if you could get decent results from a mid/low range camera and I think this shows beyond doubt that you can.

The D5200 was purchased by Leah after I advised her it would be a decent camera well worth the money (glad it proved to be teh case :) )

Of course it helps to have a good teacher, If you would like to learn more about getting the most out of your camera see some recent pictures taken by people on my courses here email or give me a call on 07911 719539

Thanks again to Leah Glen and Eden for braving the cold today :)

4 Responses »

  1. In the first set, all the photos look good.

    In the second, I’m bit distracted by the sudden out of focus to in focus transition on the brick wall. In that regard I find the RX100 shot more pleasing. Though will both the D800 and D5200 you could get a smoother transition by stopping down, and gain more control overall.

    Similarly with the 3rd set on the road, I’m finding the background on the D800 too soft, and the model is lacking place for me. A shot that could have been done anywhere. With the D5200 a wee bit better, and the RX100 has a perfect balance for my tastes.

    All great cameras for sure.

    • The difference is with the two DSLRs you can always use a smaller aperture to get more DOF if you want. With the RX100 at f4.9 at 100mm, you cannot get less DOF.

  2. Great inspirational photography.. Liked it much!! Kudos!!


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