—Illustration goes here—
Here's a link to a nice picture of Enzo Ferrari, but I can't use it.
A quick question. Jim H. mentioned yesterday that Enzo Ferrari drove a Fiat to work every day—which might have come from a page at the new Fiat 500 site called "75 Reasons to Buy a Fiat 500 Over a Mini."
It brings up a question for me. What's the camera equivalent of Enzo's Fiat for you?
Imagine, if you will, that you have a totally clean slate—you're starting over from zero, no legacy lenses, nothing. Imagine, too, that you have a reasonably generous budget to play with—not a Lotto-win budget, but something like a generous insurance settlement, say, that you have to spend on camera equipment. So you're not terribly constrained for funds.
First, you buy a "big" camera—whatever you want to use when you're doing your "real" work, whatever that is for you. That's the equivalent of Enzo's Ferrari. We're not concerned with that here. But then, you use the money that's left to buy a second, small, toss-in-the-bag, take-along camera for everyday snaps—the equivalent of the Fiat Enzo drove to work.
If you had to choose from the following options for your "Fiat" camera, which among the following would you choose? Clean slate, remember—no pre-existing allegiances or encumbrances. (If you know which actual camera it would be, you can specify in the Comments section—only if you really want to.)
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Mark Roberts: "Definitely the Leica D-LUX 5 for me...because than it would be my Fiat Lux (rimshot)."
Featured Comment by Marvin G. Van Drunen: "Canon S95."
Featured Comment by Mjmetts: "I guess it qualifies as a mirrorless camera, but it's different enough I think it merits a comment. I have been loving my Fuji X100 for everyday photography.
"The 35mm-e lens is perfect for how I see, and the huge optical viewfinder makes framing images a wonderful experience. The image quality is wonderful, capable of huge prints.
"I'm a wedding photographer and I use my 'Ferrari' Nikons regularly, but I don't love shooting with them. They're valuable tools. The X100 is the only camera I've had since my Olympus OM-1 that I just love shooting with daily."
Featured Comment by CK Dexter Haven: "Nikon FM3a. To use exclusively with the Nikon 50mm ƒ/1.8 Series E. The only Nikon 50's I like are the old ones.... If they made an AF lens with the exact same optics as the Series E, I'd probably switch from Canon to Nikon for everything. I also want a Sony NEX-7, but didn't want to 'vote digital.'"
Featured Comment by Bernard: "In my case, it's a Pentax Q. That camera gets a bad rap because the sensor is smaller than other mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, but it's also much much smaller than any other 'serious' option. It makes a G12 look like a Deardorff, and the image quality is a generation ahead of what the G12 provides. It's often said that 'a camel is a horse designed by a committee.' The Pentax Q is a Nikon 1 designed by a photographer."
Featured Comment by Markus Antonius: "Leica M9—the ultimate mirrorless camera...."
Featured Comment by Drew: "For anything I didn't care about enough to use my big camera to photograph, I'd just use an iPhone."
Featured Comment by Tim A: "Good question. With all of the existing cameras out there now, I have to say the X100 gets my vote. The GX1 (once it's out) almost got my vote due to the lenses I already own that I used on the GF1, but then I remembered 'clean slate.' The X100 has not left my side since I got it in May. It looks pretty beat up already but every time I use it, I'm reminded of just how great this little camera is. All the quirks that everyone is quick to point out never bothered me. I guess my style of shooting just fit this camera perfectly. It will never replace my big rig. But it's the camera I have been the most faithful to."
Featured Comment by Peter Vagt: "Thanks for your timely survey Mike! Responding to it was a vicarious thrill. My 'big' camera is just that—a Canon 5DII. The DNG files are a joy to work with but it is impossible to take pictures unnoticed. Mirrorless seems like the next great idea—and my internal debate has been raging among: NEX <—> Lumix <—> PEN because I got a right-sized bonus at work this week!"
Featured Comment by Caleb Courteau: "This was an easy poll. The Micro Four Thirds format is a very goldilocks form factor for me. If I were to choose a specific camera it'd be the Olympus E-P3 with the tilting viewfinder (for sneaky candids).
Featured [partial] Comment by Rick D: "A local pizza place has not one but two Fiat 500s on the floor and they are cute as a bug. My daughter is dying to have one; luckily, she's nine."
Featured Comment by CMS: "'Starting over from zero, no legacy lenses, nothing'? Impossible. I would still have my experience gained from using the equipment I owned till that moment. I wouldn't want to toss that overboard. Therefore it would make sense to again buy what I have learned to use in the last four month, which is the Panasonic G3. It isn't perfect, but you are best served by using something you already know. Still learning a new trick with that Fiat camera every day, though."
Mike replies: Not asking you to imagine a memory-wipe, CMS, just a cabinet-dump.
Featured Comment by Tom Hassler: "My Fiat is a Pentax K-5 and Limited primes. I've always been a Nikon, Hassie and Leica shooter, but this camera has completely won me over. It's a nearly perfect walk-around camera—small, discrete, quiet, built like a real camera. Mainly paired with the 21mm ƒ/3.2 Limited or the amazing 35mm ƒ/2.8 Macro Limited."
Featured Comment by Toto: "You know what's gonna happen to the Fiat 500 in America, don't you? It's going to grow and grow, and before you know it, it will have become an SUV."
Featured Comment by Wayne: "I have to say my Sony NEX5n. Shortly after purchase, I started to sour on it due to the 'quality lens' issue. I then took a chance with the inexpensive Fotodiox adapter plate allowing me to use my Pentax K mount lenses with it. Wow!!! The 35mm ƒ/2.8 DA Macro and the FA 50mm ƒ/1.4 work perfectly as I find the fully manual operation fun and challenging."
Featured Comment by William Schneider: "I weighed prospects for a daily carry-about camera last summer and got the pocketable Olympus XZ-1. It's near perfect for me. My Ferraris are now mostly 'garaged'—especially as my age makes toting big gear increasingly difficult."
Featured Comment by Chris Richards: "My big camera has become a Kiev 60, version Arax—with a waist level finder nobody notices you using it. By the end of the week, it's become too heavy, and I reach for an Olympus Trip."
Featured Comment by Jim H.: "Gee, Mike, glad you liked my comment! By the way, the Fiat Enzo drove was a '128' model and I believe it was made famous in a '70s Fiat ad by the same ad guys who immortalized BMW as 'the ultimate driving machine.' I've always had 'Fiat' cameras—a Retina IIIc when I had a Leica, Minox 35 when I had Nikon 35mms, several digital point-and-shoots with the Nikon D1/2/300s and finally an iPhone with my Oly Pens. Yep, the Olys are my 'big' cameras now, even on safari this year! Just look at that 30x40" elephant on the wall over there!"
"I test drove the Fiat 500. It's a hoot, although a bit underpowered. One interesting note: bucking the current trend, it comes in 13 different colors, some of them pretty fashion-forward. Olive green. Mocha Latte.
"Sadly, I live in Detroit, where half the vehicles on the road are monster SUVs and pickups whose bumpers are about level with the windshield of the Fiat. Doesn't seem prudent."