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Sunday, 12 August 2012

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Small cameras I've LOVED (in order of when I had them):

Leica IIIc with collapsible Elmar.
Olympus MJUII / Stylus Epic (Film camera)
Fuji F30
Canon S90

All small enough to fit a jeans or suit pocket.
All good enough to take fotos in poor light.
All unobtrusive.
That's all that matters.

I really love my Dp2s.
Images are truly wonderful.

Check out this gallery (not mine!):

http://pond.org.uk/galleries/New%20Zealand%2C%202010%20-%20Road%20Trip/index.html

And I still use the Fuji F31fd. I wonder whether fuji will produce a successor, that put the stuff from the X10 into a compact body like the F31fd

Some of my most memorable pictures I've taken were taken when I flew for the International Freight Hauling company.

Since we went to some not-so-nice places and I was afraid my camera might be stolen, I went inexpensive.

I took only a Sony W350 point -n-shoot. It forced me to work within its limitations and play to its strengths.

Don

I recently bought an X10. Whilst its not perfect it does produce some lovely images and as somebody else commented the camera "knows itself" and at the moment it can do a better job than I can in selecting the appropriate settings.

I'm musing about the fact that this post seems to have many times the comments that posts about actual photography get. Does that mean we're all a bunch of gearheads who prefer talking about equipment to talking about photography? Just curious.

I would also vote for the GH2. It may be long in the teeth but it still packs a punch. Even though I have and love the EM-5, the GH2 is my go to camera for anything video. Outshines them all. There is simply nothing better. The only one that has no moire and ailising. Voted as good as video cameras costing ten times as much. If there was a crossover camera the GH2 is it.

Here is my review of this splendid camera:
http://frugalfilmmakers.com/what-i-use/the-panasonic-gh2/

Well I am personally offended that the NEX-7 was not the very first camera listed. I see no need to read any portion of a blog that doesn't agree perfectly with what i believe- even if that portion is a reasonable explanation. Therefore I will boycott TOP until tomorrow morning.

Hmmm. After reading a few of the comments, maybe one of the earlier Pens, E-P2 even E-P1 at a good price might be a better choice than an E-P3. The E-P3 and OM-D are roughly in the same price range, unfortunately. One can pick up one of the older, cheaper Pens along with a good, tilt-able EV-2 and have a relatively inexpensive little camera with an advantage over the old-school methods of LCD stinky diaper composing or the fixed, stuck in the body where-you-can-hold-it-in-only-one-way viewfinder.

Did I mention that women still eye the Olympus Pen, while I am out shooting with it, while none ever look at one of my dSLRs or even OM-1 in quite the same way. This may, or may not be a benefit.

I really enjoyed my G1 after years of Canon DSLRs (and film) as well as my GF1 and last year bought the G3 which was definitely an upgrade. I had a good year with that body but can't say I bonded or loved it. I recently bought an EM5 and I do think I am smitten by it, quirks and all. I've kept my G3 and others but I'm thinking a longer time with the EM5 than any recent except my 5D (which I still have with fast primes I've kept but its basically on the shelf now).

Diane B

If the Leica rangefinder can't find its way onto the list, how about the Zeiss Ikon? The strength of its review here was part of what attracted me to it in the first place, so I'm sure that TOP readers are going to be uncommonly predisposed to it. I own a number of small cameras, but the ZM is the only one I feel affection for.

Asking camera geeks to discuss love is tricky. Love involves being able to see the forest instead of the trees to appreciate a device, despite the fact that the interweb says it isn't good enough, because of its ability to unleash you as an artist or because it just feels right or because it simply gets out of the way. But, as a large number of these posts demonstrate, camera geeks love them some trees.

I have an x10. I didn't love it at first. But its capabilities and peculiarities have pushed me to be a better photographer. I love it just for that.

I've owned the LX3 and now the LX5 as a replacement when the former was stolen. The LX3 is amazing. The lens is just right and looks good at both zoom extremes. The controls , including the 'joystick' seemed like a terrible idea, but worked well in use. 24mm equiv. and a live-view with 9 section viewfinder overlay makes this camera so easy to use.
The LX5 has been less impressive. It has better specs on paper and the files are good quality, but something about it just isn't as good for me. I don't know if it's the lens, the controls, or just that my brain is stuck in LX3 firmware. It could also be that my girlfriend loves the LX5 so much that I haven't had enough time with it.
Given the choice again, I think I would just stick with the LX3.

Another GRD fan.
It is the one camera that goes absolutely everywhere with me.
It's good enough for ipad and web indoors even at ISO 800.
That small sensor helps widen depth of field ( indoors at f/1.8 )
The tonal response of the GRD IV jpegs is really good for straight to web stuff.

I also have a GXR but do not get along with it - due to the lack of fast M-mount wide crop lenses. I think I have used the P10 module more than the M-mount module.

Many of the other cameras mentioned e.g. m4/3 and X100 I would be happy with as a primary camera - but the GRD's small size really does keep it in play a lot more.

Even if I'm carrying a larger camera - OM-D/Leica/Hasselblad - the GRD comes as my backup.

Fuji W3.

I love traditional stereoscopic photography. After shooting for years with a mix of stereo film cameras (127, 120 and 135 format,) shooting digitally with the Fuji W1 is a revelation. The Fuji W3 is the current model and completely unique in the small camera marketplace.

Olympus OM...3Ti. Hands down, this is my favorite compact camera. And I shoot it and a couple 4Ti bodies more than all the digitals combined.

My idea of small used to be the Minox 35mm cameras. I wore out/broke several of them over the many years I shot with them. Going to digital, I tried a Canon point-and-shoot but then went to the first Rebel as it seemed close to the Minox. But when I wanted to upgrade, the 1D or the 1Ds did not appeal as they were way too big for travel or hiking. I then dove into the deep end and bought a Leica M8 and a 28mm lens. Expensive, yes, limited, that too, but when we're on, I love it! And when I wear it out, I'll move to a M9 (or follow on).

I love my X100 for sure. At the end of the first day I had it I thought "If I can't make some great images with this camera it's not going to be Fuji's fault." And I still think that today.

Slightly in lust with the new RX100, but I don't really like LCD-only cameras, and the OM-D looks fab, but amidst all the wonderful m4/3 lenses they lack a really nice 35mm equivalent.

What is the best way to increase traffic on a photo site (by a factor of 10)? Stop talking about pictures, start talking about gear :-)

Lukasz,
There is some truth to that. Even if I didn't enjoy talking about cameras (and I do, just not all the time), I would still be obligated to write about them.

Mike

I still love my first digital camera, an Olympus SP-350 - small, easy to use, lots of features so that I can play when I want exercise some control, takes AA bateries, and best of all prints are pretty good. I am not a professional, not even a semi-professional, jusy someone who wants to take photographs in order to capture 'moments'. Unfortunately it is now starting to show its age and sometimes fails to work properly so I now have an EPL-1 and kit lens. Still getting used to it - but love all the features. Only real problem is the file size. I wanted to upgrade my camera not my whole PC/printer setup.

Small is good. Another satisfied Ricoh user here. I have a GR-D II with the 21mm and 40mm converters and a Ricoh GXR outfit. The cameras are a pleasure to use. The GXR yields fine images with APS-C modules. I don't understand the argument that the lens-sensor-shutter module becomes obsolescent or even obsolete when better sensors become available. So what? The Ricohs works well. I rarely use my big, heavy Canon 5D.

Another vote for the X100. Yes it has weaknesses, yes it's quirky, yes it takes a while to get the hang of, but I haven't enjoyed actually using a camera this much since that second hand Rolleiflex I bought 15 or so years ago (which, come to think of it, also took a bit of getting used too).

Mike,

It was just a general remark, not an accusation :-) Almost all of us love gear, not so many make great pictures. I find this site valuable because one can find both good pictures (I love the "Random excellence" ) and some very balanced opinions about gear.
BTW, I wanted to buy a RX100, then a nice hesselblad 503CX with lenses appeared on my forum, hopefully a bottom bracket on my MTB died and I bought a FC-M552 crankset (for much less than a Hasselblad) so I am done with shopping for at least a month :-).

Pentax K-01 with the XS40 kit lens and two DA Limited primes (15+70 or 21+70). You'd be hard pressed to build a better three prime kit for the same price.

The LX5 and G1 are my most used.

I love my Canon S95, it's close to perfect. If there was a u43 camera with the same interface, I would have bought it the day it came out.

The Fuji F30 is still a great camera, some bajillion years after it was released. Yes, it's UI is wonky, and it's a shame that Fuji hasn't gotten much better over the years. (Why I am not including the X100 in this list.)

But cold hard reality says that I have shot 100 percent of my photos in the last 2 months or so with my iPhone 4S. It's good enough, and always with me. It is forever changing the market, like it or not.

My current small picture taking machine is a GF1. Its a like but no love. Needs weather proofing, in camera stabilization, tilting screen, better high ISO performance. An EM5 is on its way and I'm looking forward to experiencing the real thing and addressing those needs.

My almost always take it with me camera is an S90. More to say about it in round 2.

Just to throw a cat in among the pigeons, why not add a Nokia880 to the mix?

bd

I wonder if it would be possible to take all these posts and filter the info to show which cameras are mentioned as "most used" or "favorite" or "lusted after"?

Well, I got the Olympus EM-5 and the Leica M9, and loves 'em both. But I think that the EM-5 beats out the M9 in the qualities usually ascribed to the Leica M as making it a great camera: the EM-5 is smaller, quieter and less obtrusive than the Leica. In some ways, the EM-5 is a better street-shooting camera than the Leica....especially with that fold-out, touch-and-shoot Live View screen.

Thumbs up to Fuji for trying a different pattern on the color filter -- but thumbs down for not publishing a utility to let the raw files feed into third-party software. That was the deal-breaker.

Just to stir the pot... :) If you include the M9 and X-Pro 1, then you should consider including small DSLRs. Most of them are lighter than the Leica or Fuji, and smaller in the long dimension.

May I nominate: Ricoh GXR with M-mount module. I use a Voigtlander 28mm lens and 40mm optical viewfinder. Highly recommended.

Fuji F30 (although I would have preferred the Fuji F31fd). My F30 by far has given me more great shots than any pocket P&S.

I also "like" my Panasonic LX5, but I wish its EVF was higher resolution and didn't slip out of the hot shoe so easily. They should have addressed the lens cap w/tether also.

I've longed for (lusted after) a Pen/G-series for a while now, but what I truly want doesn't quite exist:

A Panny G3 with IBIS and a sensor that switches the display between the LCD & EVF instead of that stupid button they have.

Great sensor, small size, built-in EVF, articulating LCD and m4/3 mount - why doesn't Panasonic go the IBIS route like Olympus?

Or maybe Panasonic should just buy Olympus the company and merge the camera design departments...

The GRD would certainly make my "love list". Best camera ever for candid people shots. The snap focus and interface are terrific.
My Fujifilm X10 is almost lovable. Image quality and tactile knobs are big pluses but it spends a lot of time daydreaming when I'd like it to focus and take a picture.
The Olympus EPL2 is lovable for its consistantly beautiful Jpegs. Never really bonded with the small buttons, external viewfinder, and plasticky build.
You're going to hear plenty about the RX100. Rumors are true, it's a game changer - too early to know if it's love. Certainly strong infatuation.

Just to add - I broke the most cardinal rule of gear acquisition(well, right after don't buy a new camera before Photokina) and sold my Nikkor 50 1.2 to fund a Fuji X100. Totally worth. It's a true love love love hate hate hate camera, you're either going to question why you have other cameras or be selling it in a week. But when my wife notices the shots, something is right:) Sometime you gotta love the camera in order to quit thinking about gear and get the shot.

Made me think, This article. The small camera I love most is my probably my iPhone (currently a 4S, though it's the quality is now actually bordering on too good for my taste). I'd like to love the X Pro 1 but no distance scale on the lenses is a blow. What I'd really love is a full frame DSLR in a rebel sized body.

Also, I do wonder sometimes... The amount of times I've read 'I won't buy camera X because it hasn't got a optical viewfinder' or 'the viewfinder on camera Y is rubbish.' It's a terrible reason to diss a snappy camera. Take a look through an Olympus XA or Minox 35GT and you'll remember they were equally crap in those or pretty much any other small camera of the past. You just learned to work around that weakness, in part because it might be 6 or 7 years before the next iteration and partly because tis what you do with a bit of kit you enjoy.

I have owned and used the LX3 and G3. I love the combination of the G3 with a Panny 20mm f/1.7. It's not perfect, but I love it anyway.

I'm not going to mention the camera I most love, a full-frame rangefinder with a clamshell case that easily slips into my pocket, with interchangeable sensors for colour or black-and-white in handy packs of 36, that doesn't ever need a battery charger and which delivers lovely images from its 35mm 2.8 lens. That would push the price up too high on eBay. I've owned two of these beauties, the last one cost me $5 at a charity store.
Thank you, Olympus.

Does the Olympus E620 count as a small camera. It is, I believe, still the smallest true DSLR and has many features comparable to top line DSLR's such as af-focus-adjustment for each lens.

With the 50mm F2.0 Macro on it you can get simply superb portraits.

Whilst i occasionally covert something smaller for those days that i can't be bothered toting it around i love it every time i use it.

No film cameras? no deal.

I cannot imagine "loving" any small camera. I have one, but it doesn't fit my hands. OTOH, I do love my full-size DSLR.

Mike, as of recently I have Ricoh GXR with A12 50mm macro module for my main camera. Can't praise it enough. It is probably the nifty fifty of the modern times. So, my vote would go for Ricoh GXR.

I think I would also like to respond to Kevin Purcell's comment.

Kevin, you see, the sensor alone does not make it. My little Ricoh has the same (or very similar) 12 MP sensor that was popular one generation ago - a number of Pentax, Sony and Nikon cameras seem to have it. But each such camera adds its own tweaks both in h/w and in s/w. So, I think that although what you say make perfect sense, somehow the specifics of these manufacturer's tweaks need to be factored in.

Agree with the three Fujis... I'd get the X100 were they ask 100 less :-P

With all due respect, Mr. Johnston, your definition of small and mine are very different! None of the cameras on your list are "small" except perhaps the Olympus XZ-1 and the Panasonic LX-7. I'm not at all familiar with Ricoh products. My personal favorite (I'm biased, I admit) camera of the manufacturers in this list is the one I use every day, in all conditions: the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35!

Perhaps you meant to limit the Fuji choices to the three x-series cameras you named. But if not, I want to mention two much smaller Fujis I have found very good: the F600exr and the JZ300. Both are truly pocketable, fast and easy to use and give an honest 8mp; although the F600 claims 16mp, most of its tricky modes, such as for greater dynamic range, drop to 8 because they pair pixels.

I have cropped a lot from the 8mp frames and gotten good clarity. The lenses are built-in and not fast, but good at most focal lengths. For decades I have used Pentax and Canon cameras, and price alone, and features, tempted me to experiment with these little cameras. I have not been disappointed. I get out my Pentax DSLR only when I have to guarantee a result, but I rarely shoot under pressure any more.

Sorry. Too many to read, so I regret if I am redundant. The Panasonic GF3, just named a top bargain by Popular Photography, is the top tiny champ in my camera bag at the moment. The kit 14mm pancake is good. Add the neo-classic 20mm pancake, and you are ready to rock and roll...

Any plans to make a list of our most hated small cameras? Id like get in early and put by two-bob in for Panasonic GF2. Horrible little pest of a camera.

I often think the root of the devilishness of some of Fuji's menu quirks is that they are just Japanese: Just like Japanese language does not make the translation to English in a very accurate fashion, the Japanese way of organizing these many features just seems a bit busy and confusing to the Western mind's sensibility.

I remember years ago when Yamaha brought out their game-changing DX& synth. By accident we recieved a Japanese home-market version, and the sounds were instantly recognizable to anyone playing those old, huge arcade video games from those days, but utterly useless for playing in bands in the West. Our rep assured us that those sounds were really the hot patches in the Orient. So really, West is West and East is East.

I think the Fujis are a needed destination for those of us that want cameras that feel like the metal cameras we grew up with, with external, physical control surfaces.

So what do you call small? Small enough to hardly be noticed when it's slung round your neck or across your shoulder? Small enough to fit in a jacket or waistcoat pocket or small enough to fit in your jeans pocket or the corner of a purse?

I suspect that small is defined by the purpose you put your camera to, and what you do while you are not photographing, but just carrying the camera about. For example, I ride a motorcycle and sometimes I do building maintenance, so I want something I can carry all the time that isn't too big a lump in my pocket and doesn't get in the way when I'm struggling to fix something in a corner/ hitting things with a hammer.

I suppose the definition of small is, "not to big to be too much of a nuisance" Of course, finding a camera that does all I want and fits my definition of small is a different matter.

Hmm. I do wonder why every mention of Leica by anyone is aah'ed and umm'ed with such ambivalence. They're expensive. So what? So was your Mercedes, if you didn't notice. Who cares?

I find myself uninterested in cameras with sensors smaller than FourThirds format, which narrows the field substantially. The Ricoh GXR with M-mount camera unit and a good small lens (like the Skopar 28/3.5) is as compact as I want and an excellent performer. Better than most give it credit for.

Bought the Leica X2 recently and I have to say, they did it right. Superb controls, excellent image quality, very handy and pocketable. Expensive yes, but I can afford it so ...eh? It works very well, I'd recommend it to anyone.

(When I tried them, I found myself at odds with the Fuji X cameras.. Just didn't like them. The M9 is wonderful and tiny for a FF sensor, but I don't consider it a compact ... It's my full size system camera.)

So for me the toss up is between my new X2 and the GXR that I've been shooting with for a year and some now as my compact choice.

My forever camera. Used daily. M9P.
Thank you & goodnight.

"My forever camera. Used daily. M9P. Thank you & goodnight."

Geoff,
Good luck with that. The M9P has only been out a little more than a year.

I can't tell you how many times people have told me that a Leica is their last-ever camera purchase, that it's all they'll ever need, that they're stepping off the merry-go-round, etc. It happens all the time--and it's very rarely true. My call is that "forever" in this case won't outlast five turns of the Earth around the sun. And more likely, three.

Of course, you might prove me wrong.

But think of me when you sell that M9P. [g]

Mike

Mike.

I would add the marvelous Olympus EPL1 of which I am in love, since I received it as a christmas gift from my significant other last year.
It is nothing special when you look at it rationally. It has a standard 14-42mm zoom, the menu system is beyond my (almost 40yr old) brain capacities, and it receives comments like: "You still shoot film? throw it away dude!"
It is my go-anywhere camera (my main equipment is an aging (well-aging) EOS 5d with set of prime lenses).
So what is to love?
The files are great (jpegs too) it has one of the most wonderful shutter sounds I heard in a while and it costs short to nothing these days.
So even if it is going out of production (and stock) I think that the EPL1 is the "Rebel" of the m43 world.
More important than the EPs or GFs ...
Oh it is cute too. For me the cutest of the m43 system with the GX1 a close second.

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