Which camera is best for KAP?

Since CHNT17 I have updated the camera comparison table to include the forthcoming new camera from Sony.
I should begin by saying there is probably no ‘right’ answer and the camera you have may well be the best one for doing KAP your way. I have had many discussions with photographers about this and 2 themes have emerged- 1: they all agree that a ‘professional’ photographer uses a full-frame DSLR, anything less is an amateur plaything and 2: The one they use is the best- brand loyalty reaches almost religious levels of conviction with the pro ‘togs!
This is not too helpful when even the lightest full frame DSLR (I think its the Nikon D600 a snip at £1,300 for the body) weighs more than a kilo once its fitted with a lens.
For me its a balance between what I can reasonably expect my kite to lift and the image quality I expect to get at my working height (60m AGL). Digital cameras are in a state of flux and it is a given that this years model will render the one in your hand obsolete, no matter how fond of it you are, whatever you buy today will be worth much less than you paid for it when you trade it in for the latest model!
Depending on what you want out of KAP there is a variety of answers to the ‘which is best?’ question. If you run an autoKAP setup then the CHDK intervalometer  from Canon is something of a must, if light-weight is the absolute bottom line the HDGoPro wins. What is much harder to quantify is the resolution achievable. Although sensor size is not the complete story (it is remarkable how many pixels can be wrung out of a chip, regardless of size, these days)  it has the biggest impact on  image quality so I have divided the sensor area by the camera weight to arrive at the ranking below: the new Sony RX1 goes straight to the top of the list with almost 2mmsq of sensor per g of camera!
Comparison of compact cameras by sensor area/ camera weight ratio
Camera Weight Key feature Sensor size mm Sensor area/ weight. mm2 per g
Canon G11 335g 10mp programmable 7.60 x 5.70 0.12
Ricoh ‘Calipo’    GX200 238g 12mp 7.60 x 5.70 0.18
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3/ LeicaDlux4 228g Leica Wide Angle lens. Image stabilisation 8.17 x 6.13 0.21
Canon Powershot S100 198g CHDK programmable. 24-100mm equivalent zoom lens 7.6 x 5.7 0.22
HD GoPro 3 76g 14mp ‘super wide’ video camera 5.76 x 4.29 0.325
Panasonic DMC GF1 485g* Interchangeable lenses. Micro 4/3rds format. ‘On lens’ stabilization 18 x 13.5 0.5
Olympus EP1 406g* Interchangeable lenses. Micro 4/3rds format. ‘On board’ image stabilisation. 2/3rds full frame CCD. 18 x 13.5 0.598
Olympus E-PL1 368g* 18 x 13.5 0.66
Fuji X-E1 430g 16 mp ‘X-Trans’ CMOS Sensor. 14mm wide angle c.80g 23.6 x15.6 0.85
Canon Eos M 380g* 18mp with 22mm focal length (35mm equivalent) lens 22.3 x 14.9 0.87
Ricoh GXR ‘S10’ or ’P10’ 397g 12Mp. with 50mm ‘A12’ lens Interchangeable lens/sensor packs available. 23.6 x 15.7 0.903
Samsung NX200 305g* 21Mp, Samsung EX-S30NB 30mm f/2.0  Pancake Lens =85g 23.5 x 15.7 1.002
Sigma DP1/DP2 278g 14mp 20.7 x 13.8 1.027
Leica M9 825g Full frame, 585g body. (+240g  for 50mm Summicron f/2 lens) 36 x 24 1.047
Leica X2 345g 16Mp Fixed 35mm equivalent focal length lens. 23.6x 15.8 1.08
Sony Nex 5 317g* Interchangeable lenses. Sony ‘E’ mount. 14mp 23.4 x 15.6 1.12
Nikon Coolpx A 299g 16mp 28mm equivalent focal length lens 23.4 x 15.6 1.24
Leica X1 286g 12mp. Fixed 35mm equivalent focal length lens. 23.6 x 15.7 1.29
Ricoh GR 245g 16mp. Fixed 28mm equivalent focal length lens. 23.7 x 15.7 1.51
Phase One iXU 1250g 80mp.750g body medium format with 500g (50mm equivalent) 80mm lens. 53.9 × 40.4 1.742
Sony RX1 482g Fixed 35mm equivalent focal length lens. 35.8 x 23.8 1.767

*includes lightweight wide angle ‘pancake’ lens
Table updated 26.04.2015


Having flown DSLRs I can’t fault the image quality but the weight is tiresome: the arrival of a full frame sensor camera with an all up weight of 482g, even at £2,500 with a fixed lens, is progress indeed!


About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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3 Responses to Which camera is best for KAP?

  1. A KAP forum discussion thread on the merits of the Sony RX1 is here.
    It is interesting to see what the KAP community think of the first serious lightweight full frame option!

  2. sscheidt77 says:

    Just thought I’d make a quick note that the Ricoh GR and GR II are 16 MP. Thought it might help your table out.

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