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The Pentax K7, by a landslide.
The Pentax K-7 has been selected the Adorama Learning Center Reader's Choice Camera of 2009 by YOU. In a field of eight very deserving cameras, it won not just by a plurality of voters, but an outright majority, with 55% Adorama readers voting for it, an impressive achievement. The Leica M9 came in a distant second with 16% of the vote. The Olympus E-P1, Canon EOS 7D, Nikon D3s, Casio Exilim EX-FS10, Panasonic GH-1, and Sony A850 were all in the single digits.
Here's the breakdown...
In short, it was a landslide.
While we're not particularly surprised that the K-7 won, the margin of victory bowled us over. Apparently, even though it's not made by one of the "Big Two" camera companies, the K-7's combination of groundbreaking features, lower price, and legacy of high-quality optics put it over the top. In other words, price/performance trumped the money's-no-object technical wonders on one end of the spectrum, and price-busters on the other.
Here's what you had to say about the K-7
Dave in Minneapolis-St. Paul writes that “I have the Pentax K-7, I upgraded from my first DSLR which is a Pentax K2000. It is definitely a huge improvement in every way, the only reason why I chose Pentax is because all of their DSLR's have in-body shake-reduction, built-in screw-drive focusing motor; backwards compatibility with every Pentax lenses since mid 70's, as well as all Pentax lenses in general with M42 mount; and quality prime line-up. Pentax also supports their APS-C cameras like no other company that I've ever seen, weather-sealed, top LCD, and quality build for even their most simplest entry-level. They also have a line-up of lenses made exclusively for their APS-C sensors that rivals the build quality of other companies full frames, such as the DA Limited and DA* lenses. Point is that Pentax is the only company I know right now that don't strip technology from their entry-levels and most basic DSLR's in favor of their more expensive ones.
Many people, such as Stingray in SC, Dave in MD, and others, mentioned the K-7’s backward compatability. “I can use all my old lenses (gems)” notes Steve in Italy. Others are impressed with its size and cost. “The smallest top level SLR about, great bang for the buck, the best white balance of ANY DSLR ever produced. A real photographer's camera and not at Leica prices!” says jptreen in the UK. “A great trend away from the many heavy and bulky monsters,” adds Jan in Geneva, Switzerland.
Mike in Canada noted the K-7’s built-in HDR and 100% viewfinder—and “with the limited pancake [lenses], it's the ultimate street machine.” Not just on the street, the K-7 is an extreme camere as well according to Otterpop in Salt Lake City, UT. “I'm a hiker/backpacker and can very much appreciate the compact and rugged, water and dust-resistant body. The fact that it is designed to work in sub-freezing temperatures is a bonus for the snow-covered months.” “Easily compares to cameras costing 50+% more.Top choice for all-round, all-weather, all-situation camera,” adds Glanglios in the USA.
The feeling among those who voted for the K-7 can be best summed up by Sirluke in Modena, Italy: “Great camera for studio and landscape work and for casual street shooting. I think it's the most innovative camera of the year, period.”
The next three cameras also got the most interesting comments.
The Leica M9 came in second, with 16% of the votes, and comments like "Leica finally stepped into the digital age with a credible camera that doesn't seem, on spec, like a half-step towards digital capture. It appears to be a credible tool. Big change for a line that historically has changed glacially, if at all, in some respects," according to sm in Los Angeles. "I've been waiting for this," exuded HM in Canada, while kiwicafe notes that "the glass of Leica lenses makes it all worthwhile...I don't want a video camera, I simply want a 35mm still camera that is simple to use and delivers superlative images."
"I really liked the M8, but this is like the camera coming into adulthood. All changes seem incremental, but the sum is larger than the parts. I've never enjoyed a camera as much" said jaapv in the Netherlands. But Moe in Nyack, NY, called the M9 "the best camea I can't afford...If money were no object...the Leica M9 would be my object of intense desire."
The Olympus E-P1, despite its anemic showing, had its small band of vocal, strong supporters. "It's about time someone created a small camera with a larger sensor that's actually usable. Best use of the 4/3rds sensor," raved Russq in Houston, while GELi in MB, Canada observes that "given where the market is headed (and the pricepoint most of the market can still afford), the E-P1 is the most unique and therefore the more interesting new camera this year." wlee829 in Rockville, MD, agrees: this camera is essentially a dslr in a a compact camera body. although it's not a perfect implementation, it definitely makes high quality photography more attainable for people who have been put off on by the size of traditional dslr's.
Scott in New York thought the E-P1 deserved the award for doing something new: "the E-P1, with its ability to take *any* lens (with adapters, of course) and frankly its size and style appealing to all sorts of users, well, I think it's exceptional. Perfect, no. But it's paving a path for a new type of digicam."
Of the Canon 7D, which was in a virtual dead heat with the E-P1 with 6% of the vote, WeeWood in San Jose, CA said "I wish I would have waited and bought this camera instead of the 50D." "I voted for the Canon 7D because of the improved ISO performance, amazing auto-focus, and true 8FPS. Not to mention it's the perfect compliment to my Canon 5D Mark II with the extra reach. Some of the other cameras sound great but I'm invested in my Canon L glass," raved MuahMan in West Palm Beach, FL.
Johnny in Australia was more blunt: "I won't comment on some people's idea of an important camera, except to say if it don't have an optical TTL finder it's a toy. But for any real enthusiast photographer, the 7D is the mindblowing achievement of the year. None of the others on the list are noteworthy."
Not without controversy
“The number 1 selling DSLR right now is the Canon 5D Mark II and it’s not on the list?” asked Frenchy in Vancouver. He went on: “It is either sold out everywhere or sells out real quick. It has hit the movie industry by storm. It has spawned a whole new industry as many companies are now selling high end video and audio riggs for it. It does low light video unlike anthing in its class and it stands up against 20K+ Video Cameras. It is the fisrt DSLR that has produced several Full Length Videos and Movies and it does not get mentioned?” Frenchy’s right that the Canon 5D Mark II is a groundbreaking camera in many ways, and all his points about the camera are correct…but his timing’s off. The 5D Mark II was introduced in 2008. That disqualifies it for this particular competition.
“How can one be so blind or ignorant as to not include the most highly acclaimed camera of the year in the poll?” asks Vitaly in California. He’s talking about the Panasonic GF-1, which has won well-deserved accolades from many sources. But the category was initiated by the Olympus E-P1, and while the GF-1 is a significant refinement of the category and addresses some of the E-P1’s problem areas (as does the E-P2, which was introduced after our cut-off date of November 1), we felt the GH-1, the first Micro Four Thirds camera with HD Video, was more deserving of a nomination.
Nick in NY says “I've been a long time Pentax user but disappointed about the ISO performance... Quality first, features second! Canon (7D) has led the way in high-ISO (detail) for APS-C sensors!” He adds, wistfully, “Keep it up Pentax! I woud've voted for you! I miss using you...”
Some posters suspected that the fix was in. It wasn’t. “Way to bias a poll!” said trabendo in Belgium after finding that a Pentax rep apparently mentioned this poll in a Pentax discussion forum. Walter in Norther NY noticed this, too: “The Pentax U.S. marketing head has posted on Pentax forums urging all the Pentax "faithful" to vote for the K7 in this poll. I guess Pentax needs all the help they can get, but I find it a bit immature (tacky?).”
What actually happened? We contacted EVERY camera manufacturer when we first posted this poll to let them know that we had nominated one of their cameras. Everyone had an equal shot. Our hope was that each company would use social networks to get their respective fans and enthusiastic supporters to vote. It seems some were more successful at these efforts than others, and this might help explain the lopsided margin of victory. But judging from the comments, those who voted for the Pentax were sincere, and were serious users.
The Magnificent Eight
But all the manufacturers were successful producing some truly spectacular cameras and clearly, each has its fans. Honestly, we couldn't pick one out of the bunch, they were all that good, and that's why we decided to bring you in to vote. As Sean in Miami wrote, "Looking at this list shows us that there is great competition at the top and it only means better cameras for us and better prices!"
So, thank you to our readers for doing the hard part, and congratulations to Pentax for winning our first annual Readers' Choice Camera poll!
What do you think? Do you agree that the K-7 deserved to be selected Readers' Choice Camera for 2009? Leave a comment!