Camera Reviews

It’s time for a new digital camera, yes? Yes!

Below is a list of cameras I recommend that should work for any skill level or budget. In addition, I have a more complete list of Camera Lens Reviews that covers all the lens I use for my photography.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Good Camera: Google Pixel 2

The Google Pixel 2 mobile phone is AWESOME! It’s the best phone I’ve ever used. Read my review of the Pixel 2 XL. You can buy one unlocked direct from Google. There are two different models, they both have identical specs inside and out except for the size/screen and battery capacity. I recently did a Sony A7r Mark III Review where I sneaked in a Pixel 2 photo. Everyone had trouble finding it and seeing the difference between these two drastically different devices.

Also, I don’t follow scores from DxOMark but if that’s your sort of thing, you’ll see here that the Pixel 2 tops even the new iPhone X. But I can tell just by using it in a variety of conditions and comparing it to photos from friends using the latest iPhone or Samsung. They’re always blown away at the quality of the photos and you can see a bunch of examples in my review.

Better Camera: Sony a6300

Starting at below $999 for the body.

The A6300 is the latest evolution of the high end Sony APS-C models. It features, amongst other great features, enhanced autofocus speed and 4K movie recording. You can read my complete Sony a6000 review, it is the model the A6300 replaces and has many of the same specs. The a6000 series has a number of advantages over the lower-priced a5000 models. It has a built-in electronic viewfinder, more focal points, and faster continuous shooting (11 fps vs 6 fps).

Best Camera: Sony a7R III

Starting at just over $3198

A full-on Sony a7R III Review is here on the site that is full of a ton of sample photos. It’s a great camera and much more affordable than the Hasselblad. I absolutely love it. It has all the power of the giant DSLR systems with comparible specifications at a lower price and smaller size/weight. Its Full-Frame goodness combined with a small mirrorless form factor gives you everything you need. Plus, the camera smarts inside are absolutely insane. Check on the review there to see even more!

Best Drone: DJI Mavic

A few years ago I got a quadcopter and I LOVED it! You can get amazing photos and videos from previously unattainable perspectives.

Back then the tech was a bit complicated, flight times were not great and image quality was decent but still had a bit to go. After a bunch of updates DJI created two amazing products though. The Phantom 4 Pro which has the largest sensor on a consumer drone and the Mavic Pro quadacopter (that’s what my daughter Scarlett calls them!). Here is my Phantom 4 Pro review. It’s a great machine but I think I’m leaning towards the Mavic as my go-to machine due to how compact it is. Review coming soon!

Best 360 Camera: Insta360 One

I’ve tested a bunch of 360 cameras and the Insta360 One is definitely the best so far. I love the auto-stitching and removal of the selfie-stick. This is perhaps a very strange feature to mention, but I like how it makes all that nonsense disappear. The end result is that it has the equivalent feeling of a silent quadcopter floating a few feet away from your head all the time. They also have some cool software that lets you control what the viewer can see in post production. Check out my review for video examples.

Camera Lenses

Sony a7R – First Lenses

Note these work for all the Sony A7 cameras! 🙂

  • Sony FE 24-105 f/4 G Series (Amazon) – An excellent high end lens that covers a good range. Ideal as a single lens to travel with. See image examples on the Sony a7R III review.
  • Sony FE 24-70 f/4 (Amazon | BH Photo) – A great mid-range lens the covers wide to mid-range zooming. See more on the Sony 24-70mm review.
  • Sony FE 24-240 f/3.5-6.3 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This lens is great. What a range! It’s not super-fast, but that’s not a problem for me.
  • Sony FE 16-35 f/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – I’m so excited about this lens! This is the first full-frame wide angle lens that fits the eMount on the Sony a7 line of cameras.

Sony a7R – Other Goodies!

  • Sony Alpha Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – So that you can attach the other Sony full-frame Alpha lenses to your Sony a7R
  • Novoflex Leica Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – Fantastic for attaching any lens that uses the Leica lens mount. WARNING: Do not get the cheaper adapters. I tried them, thinking it was just a piece of metal, but it was not and many of my photos, especially at infinity, were out of focus. Check out my Leica Lens Buying Guide for more info.
  • Nikon F Lens Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – To hook up your Nikon DSLR lenses
  • Canon EF Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – To hook up your Canon DSLR lenses

Sony A5100 / A6300 Camera – Two Great Lenses

If you are just getting started and want recommendations on your first couple of lenses, here they are. Often times a camera will come with a “kit lens” that is pretty versatile and can get you a long way. The Sony a6300 comes with a 16-50mm lens that produces great pictures. But there are many lenses that are better for more specialized situations.

  • Sony 55-210mm (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This lens is a little big but its versatility is perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, sports, etc.
  • Sony 10-18 F/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – A great lens that gives you maximum wide-angle flexibility for landscapes and architecture. To find out more, read my full Sony 10-18mm Lens Review. Note: This is also a great lens for the Sony A7r Mark 2, giving you the full range of 12-17mm. The edges get a bit ropy, but only hardcore camera nerds look at the edges.

Leica Lens Buying Guide

I’m really getting into using Leica lenses with the Sony a7R. You have to manually focus but you still get focus peaking and all of the other sweet features of the Sony mirrorless system. I’ve created a Leica Lens Buying Guide where I’ll chronicle what I learn and recommend.

More Lens Reviews

I only write reviews for lenses that I use and recommend.  Here is a complete list of camera lens reviews.

What’s in my photo bag?

Come check out my Camera Bag page for more details!

Over the past year few years, I’ve been partnering with Peak Design to build five incredible camera bags. And now you can see more! See our current Kickstarter here and/or check out our first Everyday Messenger here!

Tripod Recommendations

I’ve recently switched tripods, then switched back, then switched again. I’m like the Caitlyn Jenner of tripods, and I’m not proud. But I’m ownin’ it girl.

  • High EndThe TQC-14 Tripod from RRS – I love this tripod. Again, I’ve switched around a lot… but this thing honestly fixes all the gripes I had with previous RRS tripods.
  • BudgetAny 3-Legged Thing Tripod – These are also nice tripods. Yes, they are still pricey but with good quality. There are some very inexpensive tripods out there, but they are so flimsy and you should not waste your time.

More Reviews and recommendations

I have many other reviews and recommendations you may find helpful!

Fuji X-T2

Looking for something compact and built to withstand the elements? Check out my Fuji X-T2 Review.

  • Check the price of the Fuji X-T2 on Amazon.
  • Check the price of the Fuji X-T2 on B+H.

The Fuji products have always served me so well in crazy weather conditions. Well, in ANY condition, really. But there’s something about going out into the wild weather to take photos. You just end up getting very unique stuff. 2017 was my eighth year at Burning Man, and my 2nd to take FUJI equipment. Burning Man can be a Very Harsh environment with not just high temperatures, but frequent sandstorms. Those were always a major worry with my other cameras, but not this one. I didn’t have one single problem. It shot flawlessly and it has a great selection of weather resistant lenses too. On that note, why not take a look at my Burning Man Survival Guide here.

Hasselblad X1D

Money no object? Consider the Hasselblad X1D which starts at the low, low bargain price of around $9,000.

What a beast! You can read the full review over here which has loads of sample images. The key points are that it’s medium format and mirrorless, which means it’s got a much bigger sensor than a full frame DSLR and is not that much different in size. 50 megapixels. Beautiful and Sleek. I have the 30mm, 45mm, and 90mm lenses and they are all outstanding! The only downsides I can see so far is it is a bit slow (like 2 frames per second) and the software is a tiny bit buggy. I think the latter will be fixed with firmware. Either way, the images it produces are phenominal.

Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Please visit my Ethics Statement.

Sample Photos

And last, here is a collection of photos I’ve shot with my equipment over the years. There are many more examples if you’d like to surf around the site!

Many of my photos use a special process you can find out more about in my HDR Tutorial. If you’d like to know more about HDR or HDR Photography, click on those links to discover something new and fun!

Reflecting on the Taj Mahal

The Bay at Portofino This isn’t really Portofino, but it sure does look like it, eh? We might even make the case that it is more pretty than the real Portofino! This is a beautiful resort in Orlando, over at Universal Studios.  All the colors in the sky and the buildings seemed to melt together, so I stopped for a quick photo.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

A Morning with a Strange Method of Fishing

A Neo-Rockwellian Christmas When dad is a photographer, then there is a major degree of pressure to deliver photos on all the requisite holidays and celebrations! So, I decided to try to re-invent the family Christmas photo with HDR. Please note that many of my inventions go down in flames, but, as Winston Churchill said, “success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm”.Christmas scenes have a lot of light levels. The lights on the tree, the deep greens withn the branches, a roaring fire, lights in the room, reflections off the ornaments, and the like. It’s wild! I’m pretty sure this is why people like Christmas scenes so much - a wonderful treat for the eyes that is rich in texture and rich in light. Traditionally, it’s been very difficult to capture so much richness in a single photo, saving a lucky and heroic combination of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and lenses.The tree lights made the faces of my three stunt-children (who are also my real children) glow perfectly. No flash could have achieved this, unless you are the kind of Rambo-flash guy that would go bury one inside the tree to hit their faces from the left. But, let’s face it. That’s hard.This was a 5-exposure HDR. You will notice that I often use 5 exposures, but note I could have done it with 3 exposures at -2, 0, and +2. Some silly Nikon cameras, like the D3X I use, will not let you step by twos, so I had to take 5 at -2, -1, 0, +1, and +2. The middle exposure, from which the kid’s faces were masked in and perfectly lit, was shot at f/4 aperture, shutter speed of 1/250, 100 ISO, and at 28mm.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Most Beautiful Road in the World I found it!I've looked at travel guides and driven on a ton of beautiful, scenic roads all over the world, but I think this road to Queenstown (on the way to/from Glenorchy) is the most beautiful in the world.  The road winds down one side of a perfect, fjord-like lake, and every few kilometers, the mountain views change dramatically.  Depending upon the time of day you travel it, the entire landscape transforms before your eyes.Wonder what it looks like on the other side of the lake?  You won't believe that it is in the same place!  See this photo called Mountainstorm that I took on a previous trip to this location.  It was shot later in the evening, so I wasn't able to properly capture the road that time.What's the prettiest road you have ever found?  I've seen conflicting guides of the most beautiful roads in the US... I'm sure everyone has their opinion... I'd love to know what you think!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

An Abandoned Game Trail in China

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