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Saturday, 27 October 2012


Chose "result over everything else" from the poll and then it struck me how I preferred one brand over the other because it was very inconvenient to turn the front dials on one of the candidates. Nothing to do with the cameras, so I don't mention them here, just an actual physical problem with my hands. So where does that put me?

After viewing the poll results I now realise 49% of TOP readers are up to their ears in debt with huge loans for their cameras because cost is not a consideration and 'results are everything'. Amazing!

Mike, the poll doesn't show up on the iPad.
As for the question: most cameras are more than capable of doing what I need/want, so it comes down to looks and how the controls and the stuff is arranged in the menus.
The best ever for me (of the very few that I have tried) would be my Ricoh GRIII, the worst, the Fuji X10, which I have just replaced it with a Sony RX100 mainly for that reaon (images I got with it were mostly fine).
In the end iIt's about how comfortable I feel with the camera.
My MP+50 summilux is the nicest and more direct/honest camera I ever used and I feel at home with it. The Hasselblad 501CM has somewhat the same feeling, and both are the most beautiful objects I own.

"Why?!? You're about the fifth person to say something like that. I think you're conflating "the results you want" with conventional notions of image quality."

Maybe I didn't quite read the question right or maybe it's the wrong question.

What I "want" is an easy to carry camera that I can hand hold and make high quality 8 x 10 foot prints of runners in starlight, has a flash sync, a wired remote, and gives me complete control of all aspects of the image.

What I'll settle for is a few cameras that meet some subsets of that requirement.

I.E. Hugh wants the camera that is perfect in all situations but will settle for whatever is available and realizes that some limitations and hard to use aspects can enhance the creative process.

I voted for results. Nowadays I'm more concentrating on printing. That took me to another view about cameras and I enjoy it. It improves my picturetaking and I get more picky about cameras. What I can print the best is the right camera for me at the moment.
I think Josh had the right words for it when he wrote "I think many of us start mostly with results and end up overlapping more with other factors because of sentimental reasons, experience, hopes, ideas and so on."


Interestingly (OT, but interestingly) the little poll graphic paralyses the scroll wheel when visible on this page in current Chrome browser. Drag the scroll bar past it and the scroll wheel's functioning again. Same in either direction. Reproduced both times I've launched this site. Win 7/64, Chrome, both patched up to current versions.

Hi Mike
Just discovered I could vote more than once. I have cancelled out the extra vote and only voted once overall (if that makes sense). Thought you might want to know. Thanks for another interesting post.

I'm also on an iPad so I don't see your poll. Since Adobe has discontinued mobile Flash anyone with a recent tablet or smartphone (ie, not just Apple products) won't see flash widgets.

I pick my cameras based on what I'm going to use them for. As I get older and as I don't have a car to drive my equipment around, weight is always a consideration. I have an M9 with Leica and Zeiss glass for when image quality is most important but as IQ improves in lesser cameras I find myself willing to make other compromises. When I want a street snap aesthetic I don't care at all about IQ but i do care about a camera which is discrete and doesnt call attention to itself or me (rx100). I also have an all weather camera which is relatively low in weight and has decent IQ but which I'm not afraid to use in rain and snow (om d e5).

I'm growing bored with the current high IQ fetish, IMO it forces a certain anal quality into the final image which I find less and less appealing. BTW anyone coming to London before mid-January should try to get to Tate Modern where there is a great Daido Moriyama/William Klein show.

A camera is a tool.
The principles of ergonomy apply.
A digital camera is either a dedicated computer with a lens or lens mount; or, increasingly, a portable general purpose computer with a lens attached.
The principles of user interface design apply, in addition to the general principles of ergonomy. (Note to Nikon, Sony & Co.: yes, they do!)

If you don’t like your tool, you can’t master it.
If you don’t trust your instrument, you can’t play well on it.
I don’t see how one can achieve worthwhile results unless one agrees with, and has complete confidence in, the tools one uses. Any other approach would not work.

Yet another Flash failure.
Mike, you care a lot about your readers.
Please: no more Flash.

I think I hate the Nikon I have, it's got too many gew-gaws and too many ways to set the same function, I know it bugs me every time I use it. In addition, some of the newer "G" series lenses that Nikon is introducing have worse sharpness than the older "shaft drive" auto-focus models (which was a ridiculous and half-assed design anyway, compared to the wonderful Canon lenses that have been fab since they changed the lens mount).

Anyway, I keep it only for the fact that it shoots tiff, and that's it. The ease to which I can go into a situation with the camera pre-set, and then light up the subject and fire away in tiff, so that I just have to transfer the images direct to the client and call it a day, is the closest thing to shooting transparencies in the olden days, and well worth the annoyance with the way the thing operates.

If I didn't have to shoot pictures for a living, or keep abreast of digital technology to be hire-able by clients; it'd be a Mamiya 6 and Tri-X for me, and that's it....

Only two selections?
Either this or that?

Well I clicked one. It was easy to select the tribe I was mostly with. But still.....I could see the appeal of the other side.

I'll bet a lot of folks are "mugwumps" on this question. There they sit, on the fence, with their mug on one side and their wumps on the other.


"If the results were all that mattered, you would carry with you whatever camera you needed to, no matter how heavy or inconvenient."

You expressed what I was thinking when I was voting. I had clicked "results" and was about to click "submit" when I realized that if that were the case, I'd always take a larger camera and rarely favor a smaller one. I'd haul all my lenses with me, no matter what. These days, unless I'm on a paying gig, I leave the house with usually one, and at most two, lenses. And I choose the smallest camera that I believe will deliver acceptable results.

I voted for the second option. It's critical that results meet some (in my case, vague) threshold for image quality, but any recent APS-C cameras (dating back a couple years), and the latest Olympus (& possibly Panasonic) micro 4/3 cameras all meet those loose standards. So choosing a camera based on image quality, to me, is like picking a car based on top speed. I finally get to choose based on other features and that's a nice luxury.
My standards for a point & shoot are lower and after trying the RX100 and XF1 recently, I'm eager to see some test results from the XF1 because even though I know the RX100 will prove "better", if the XF1 is "good enough", I'd seriously consider it as I like it better.


I think that you are associating large format cameras with the common large format aesthetic (tripod shots of either national parks or urban decay).

I've not had the pleasure of seeing a Moriyama print, but I've seen plenty of 19th century prints that had a Tri-X look down cold.
If camera choice was purely based on technical results, then there would be very little need for lightweight, portable, fast or inconspicuous cameras. Other considerations almost always prevail over technical perfection, and that's why I voted for option 2.

Have been a Pentax user since my Spotmatic F days. I liked the results when using my K200 and now the K-30. The ability to use all my M 42, M and A lenses is an added plus.


For years I shot all my serious work with an 8"x10", 5"x7" or 4"x5". Then I slowly eased my toes into the digital stream. To make a long story short, I now shoot with a Canon 5DII and I am satisfied, although not thrilled with the comparison. Further, a lot of worry is devoted to being sure I have the "important" stuff backed up. On the other hand, all my negatives are snuggled in their little archival sleeves in an archival storage box.

Results ultimately is the ONLY thing that matters. How we each get there certainly differs a lot. Today in the digital world, the camera is but one small part, perhaps it's always been that way.

There is so much that matters, other gear like great tripods for me, Pano heads, lenses, and practice and skill in simply shooting.

And now perhaps even more than before, post. Digital image production is a skill only refined over many years, much like the darkroom printing masters of the past. I think it probably even more complex than before as there are so many more options now.

But results and the end game is all that matters, great work is never easy, just meant to look that way :)

I just buy cameras to see what they are like. I don't really give much thought to the results as I delete most of what I shoot.

If I was told I could only keep one camera it would be the Olympus E1. I love the sound of the shutter and it feels good to hold.

+1 for the category of "compatible with my current lenses/gear" being a major factor. And yet, a camera belonging to this category does help deliver the results I want; results such as being able to shoot pictures.

Hi Mike, late to the vote! The voting plugin didnt work on Google for Android ICS.

It is very hard to be completely one or the other of your options in the poll. Yes, one part may be dominant, but there will always be some other things going on to make your 'decision' final.

Camera love never goes astray...

Whether I like it or not, what I'm feeling, totally shows up in the image, to more or less noticeable degrees. (Please be aware, I'm a professional. I can deliver professional results on any day.) But those days when I'm feeling love for my camera, the love for my subject, and I have a happy heart, it shows through in a happy and warm picture. Image quality counts, but so does the love.

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