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One Night at a Best Buy

It's 2am in the morning, and I can't sleep. My mind keeps moving 'round all over.

Nine hours before I went to a local Best Buy to purchase a micro-USB car charger for my cell phone. While I was there I played with all the cameras they had on hand.

Of the DSLRs, the Sony's and the Nikons looked and felt the best. The Canons did not fair as well (5D MkII, 7D, 60D, T2i). The Canon 60D looked the worse for wear; the rubber coating on the grip was coming off, and the articulated screen looked poorer than the Olympus' E-620's. The Sony α55's articulated was a bit odd in comparison, but seemed of better build quality.

They had a Nikon D300s and a D700 side-by-side. I loved the heft and feel of the D700, far better than the Canon 5D MkII. The Nikon D300s was a sweet little body as well.

Then I went over and played with the mirrorless cameras. They had the Nikon 1 J1, the Panasonic GF3, and the Olympus E-PM1. They were pretty evenly matched. The J1 had the 10-30 kit zoom. I was impressed with the collapsing design of the 10-30 kit zoom. It was locked in both stowed and extended position, and mechanically it was well built and silky smooth in operation.

I was very impressed with the third generation Olympus 14-42mm collapsing kit zoom. Mechanically it was much, much better than the first generation I got with my E-P2. It too was silky smooth in operation, noticeably better than the first generation.

But what surprised me the most about all three cameras were their focus speed. All three, without exception, looked onto the correct focus target very, very fast. All three, without exception, were equally fast, or fast enough that I couldn't tell the difference between the three. And I couldn't tell the difference in focus speed between the little mirrorless cameras and any of the DSLRs on display either. And all the mirrorless camera bodies were essentially the same size. I found that interesting as well.

We've complained about how Olympus and Panasonic just keep on refining the same design. Based on what I saw tonight, compared to what I have in µ4/3rds, it's more than just simple refinement.


  1. If you think those cameras focused fast with the lenses Best Buy puts on them in the store, you should really try them with some of the pro-grade lenses you'll never find at a store like that.

    With the good AF-S f/2.8 Nikon glass, my D300 snaps into focus almost instantly. Its quick enough, that when I go back to the more kit-type lenses (like you'd find at BB), their focusing actually feels quite sluggish to me.

  2. I looked at a D7000 this summer, and it was very nice. It focused much fast than a D90 which I also tried. Didn't dare to handle a D700 tho, since I know I couldn't afford it anyway. But it looks very very nice and tempting.

    Some weeks ago, we went into a local photo store, where I borrowed a 85mm 1.8 lens to mount it onto my E-520. I liked it, and something like this could be the beginning of a transition...


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