Use Flickr's Camera Finder to see how a camera performs in real life
Flickr is one of those websites that are so chock-full of stuff (whether it is features or just images), I almost always find something cool when I go prowling around in it. And the other day I found out about something which many of you may know, but was certainly new for me: Flickr's Camera Finder.
When you take a photo, the camera includes its own make and model, as well as a whole bunch of other data, into the image file as metadata (EXIF, in camera-nerd parlance). When you then upload said photo to Flickr, the site automatically knows what was the exposure level, did you use the flash or not, and of course, the exact camera make and model used to take the photo!
Approaching the problem from the other side, when you want to buy a new camera, it's very easy to get its exact specs, as well as insanely detailed reviews from DPReview and the like. And while that is an important step, it certainly doesn't give you the whole picture (get it? Ha!)
One of the most important questions to answer is "what kind of pictures does this thing take when handled by a non-pro, in day-to-day conditions?" And that is exactly what the Camera Finder lets you find out. The tool lets you browse endless amounts of photos taken with the exact camera you're thinking of buying. It also has one of my favorite features in web tools generally: human-readable URLs. To see how my own camera is rapidly declining in popularity, you can just go to http://www.flickr.com/cameras/canon/eos_digital_rebel_xti/.
Now, if only they would add the same thing, but for lenses ("Lens finder"), that would truly take things to the next level.