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Tuesday, 06 November 2012


As I look at this list of cameras, there's one I will buy (E-PL5; been waiting for the OM-D sensor in a Pen body), and two more I'd like to buy. What's interesting (to me, anyway) is that I don't find myself lusting after the camera so much as the kit. That 6D appeals to me (even though I'll never have money to buy it) not just because it's a well-specced camera, but because of the two Canon lenses above it on the list. The X-E1 isn't just a pretty camera with a nice sensor; it's also the mounting point for all of those lovely-looking Fuji primes. Meanwhile, I look at the NEX-6 and all I see is the disappointing lens selection.

I'm sure the cameras you list all have excellent sensors and lenses, and many other fine features. However, apart from the Canon 6D they all lack something which is crucially important.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe the ability to accurately compose an image is fundamental to all photography. None of these cameras, apparently, have an optical viewfinder or even, in some cases, an electronic viewfinder. Looking at a tiny monitor at arm's length is no substitute for an accurate viwfinder

"Probably the quirkiest product here, the diminutive Sony RX1 ... "

On the Sony USA website, cameras are divided into Cyber-Shot; Alpha NEX; Alpha DSLR; and Video Cameras and Camcorders. The $2,800 RX1 is in the Cyber-Shot category with all the multi-color pocket cameras priced between $110 and $650.

AARRGGGHHHH! Mike, you should have posted an equipment lust notice, just sayin.

NEX 6. I've had mine for a week after a long time with a Panasonic G1. Killer camera indeed. Not without its quirks but a very pleasant "upgrade". I certainly recommend it. It feels solid in the hand and very comfortable to hold and use. I consider mine to underexpose by a stop - not sure if this is general for this model but I can live with it as the resulting files are excellent to work on. The 16-50 lens is also worth buying together as a kit; useful but won't win any prizes for quality.

I hope that Sony's RX1 lives up to serious photographers' expectations, that the camera is a success, and that Sony will keep designing and introducing innovative niche cameras.

I had high hopes for the Sony DSC-R1 when it was introduced in 2005. It had some flaws to be sure, but it was such an innovative and well-thought-out product that I think an R line could have been successful if Sony had continued it beyond a single model.

"A less expensive offering to replace the outgoing 5D Mark II, the 6D will counterbalance the rising price of the 5D series cameras for full-frame shooters."

And also leading to further confusion and fragmentation within Canon's DSLR line - bringing the line into double digits with ten different models currently available. (Or brings it to the brink if you don't count the highly specialized 60Da.)

Seriously Canon, it's time to rethink and rationalize your stable - especially down at the APS-C end of the range.

It's true that the days of high value "mass market" basic primes are gone—

I beg to differ. They're just a lot slower now.

Thanks Mike for adding to my GAS since my 40D died from err99. I can't see fixing a 5 year-old camera in this age. I'm going to wait til spring and see what else comes out, hopefully a 70D.

Don the glum.

I don't know how much of this I may have posted in reply to other recent entries. I attended Photoplus Expo recently and spent some time with the NEX-6 and XE1. I've been debating upgrading my NEX-5 to do more with an ILC alongside my DSLR (the alternative being to do more with my DSLR and maybe pick up an RX100).
I've been watching ILCs since the first Oly Pen was a mockup behind glass ... and still find the whole ILC genre to be immature compared to (D)SLRs.
I tried out the Oly E-M5 briefly, and didn't give it a fair shake - it just wasn't "right". It looks great on paper and has a couple lenses that I'd like, but otherwise doesn't offer anything compelling enough (to me personally) to want to learn more. An Oly rep who was a former Nikon user said it took about 3 weeks to customize and get comfortable with the camera.
The Fuji is the camera I'd love to own. The XE1 that is. The XPro1 is bigger for the sake of the OVF which I don't value, mostly because it gives no confirmation of focus. I've toyed with compact RFs, tried a friends Leica, own a TLR and of course various SLRs as well as live view digicams and all of them let you see what's in focus in the VF. I found that lack of feedback disturbing. And then it only offers a few AOV options. If it weren't for some types of photography that demand that I own a DSLR, I'd happily dump my DSLR kit for an XE1 kit with the promise of additional lenses in the road map. I love the shutter speed dial and the aperture rings on the lenses (they're fly-by-wire and the variable aperture zoom lenses don't have f-stop markings but that's ok). The lenses feel like the nicest lenses I've used in a long time. Solid and silky smooth. No IS in primes and it could really use a tilting LCD. Alas, it's not for me because it's not sufficiently smaller than my DSLR to see enough use.
The NEX-6 is a nice little camera - best in the NEX lineup IMO. (TriNavi controls on the NEX-7 *are* nice but the '6' wins for me due to the quick navi menu, 16MP sensor and lower price). I was a bit disappointed in the 16-50 zoom, though, and I went intrigued by the compact alternative to my 18-55. It felt cheap, and I really disliked the power zoom. Early tests suggest ridiculous distortion (corrected in-camera but only on the NEX-6 until Sony updates firmware - also requiring manual distortion correction until profiles are available for Lightroom).
The RX1 commanded a surprising amount of attention at the Expo (and a number of attendees mentioned or were seen carrying RX100s). The samples were inoperable ("not final"). It seemed like a really nice camera, and 60" prints from it looked great to my eyes. Expensive by the time you tack on a VF and could use a tilting LCD (as could the RX100 ... and what's with designing a $650 enthusiast-oriented digicam and not giving you anything to hold onto, almost necessitating the purchase of a 3rd party grip ?) Interestingly, while the NEX-6 adds the Quick Navi menu option to the otherwise stinky NEX menu system, the RX Cybershots use the Alpha DSLR-style menus, making them much more suitable to photographers IMO.
I also briefly checked out the Panasonic G5 and a handful of micro 4/3 lenses. I found the kit zooms to be awfully cheap feeling, and the systems lack higher end options like the Sony 16-80 or Nikon/Canon 15/16-85's. So between them, I still find all the ILCs lacking in quality lenses, despite Thom Hogan's recent articles on how m43 offers more dedicated options while DX users suffer with gaps in the lineup. (I know the 12-35/2.8 is a higher quality option ... it's not for me).
So that leaves me 95% sure of the option that I was 75% sure on going into the Expo: stick with the DSLR and pick up an RX100. And revisit the ILC market in a few years.

Too much cameras, not enough photography.

@ Dennis"The XPro1 is bigger for the sake of the OVF which I don't value, mostly because it gives no confirmation of focus."

My X-Pro1 gives confirmation of focus in OV mode.

Interesting list. My Fuji is the best camera (for my purposes) that I have come across in a long while. The newer X-E1 will have the same output, but for me EVFs aren't quite there yet.

The only addition I would make to your list is the Nikon D600. I'm a long-time Canon shooter, but (and again for my purposes) I sense the Nikon offers a little more for the same cash.

Still, it's a nice list. I'd be happy to see any of those items under my tree.

What I like is how both Sony and Fuji have demonstrated they can build a camera with EVF that doesn't have it in a big lump at the top like the OM-D does. Because after I got rid of my E-P1 I decided I would never again own an interchangeable lens camera without an integral viewfinder!

"It's true that the days of high value "mass market" basic primes are gone..."

No, actually it's not true. Advances in optical design and manufacturing have actually made quite a few good prime lenses available for the budget-conscious snapper.

I was actually reminded of this last week when, tiring of waiting for the Sony E-mount 35 F1.8 I bought the quite modest A-mount version for use with my NEX cameras. Yes, I have to use it with an extra adapter (which I already had). But it has already shown itself to be an excellent little lens!

There are plenty of other good budget choices across the Canon line (with which I'm most familiar). My EF35mm F2, which I've had for years, is a very good, light, compact 35mm lens. Much more generally usable as a walk-around than the much larger and more expensive EF35 F1.4L. I can (dare I say?) nearly rule the world with it on my 60D or, worse, 5DIII!

I am sure that other brands have similar choices, too.

So I think there are some wonderful inexpensive prime choices out there. But one additional thought: I cannot ever recall having an image ruined by a "bad lens".

One of the most interesting aspects of the new Canon lenses, is that they appear to be commited to the "Optical IS-in-the-lens," and not considering moving to the in-camera shaky-sensor concept.

I've watched the camera companies thrash around with all these different models, and either there's something about manufacturing processes that I don't understand, or there's something about "sales strategy" that I don't understand. I can't image that the RX1 will be anything but a sales disaster -- I know that there are people like Mike who think that a full frame 35mm camera is the answer, and for them it might be, but they are thin on the ground. I would imagine that even most serious photographers would find themselves unhappy with a single focus-length lens, even when it's a really good one -- Ctein, for example, has said that he tends to see with a slightly "long" vision. You *might* be able to sell such a camera (the RX1) if it were cheap: but this one isn't. So what's the rationale? Is it to position Sony as an innovative camera company, and this is kind of a positioning loss-leader? Is manufacturing these things so cheap that even small sales pay off? I really don't understand it.

"The only addition I would make to your list is the Nikon D600."

All the items on this list are still pre-order only, as of this morning..."coming soon" as opposed to "already here." The D600 is already shipping, so that's why it isn't on this list.


And for the "there's always a future model" folks ...

There were rumors and hints from Toshiyuki Terada at Olympus that there will be an E-P5 in the future with Sony sensor, vertical thumbwheel and the addition of an EVF. I presume fitting in above the E-PL5 and below the OMD E-M5 (or M6) being the "NEX6" of their range.

That might be one who want a rangefinder shaped, Sony sensored micro43 camera. Perhaps in January 2013.

The E-PM2 has the Sony sensor too. That might be useful to recall at the end of model year when their prices drop.

I don't beleive the rumor of no anti-aliasing filter in the E-PL5. It seems to be based on what one French salesperson has said. Do you not think that Olympus would be using it as a selling point? And putting it in a special version no AA version of their highest price model rather than second in line (worked for the NIkon and D800E).

Well, Mike's last comment sort of makes my comment redundant (ok;it just does), but this is the second time I've thought 'Sigma DP Merrill'. I'd let the impulse pass, but maybe it might save the purchase of a D800... Sensible people have been saying remarkable things about this model (pair), especially for B&W. Are they right?

I would LOVE an RX1, but I opted for an A99. I am quite impressed with the IQ from it and can only imagine how killer it could be in that RX1.

"Surely offering the choice of the FDA-V1K optical viewfinder and the FDA-EV1MK electronic viewfinder—and the ability to either choose which one you prefer or interchange them—was an "integral" part of the design brief of the camera from the very start. '"

Maybe it was -I think that is the only explanation, since otherwise as the previous poster states they are really bucking the trend.

Nevertheless, I disagree with your disagreement. The extra optical viewfinder maybe very good, but there will be no focus confirm and no other viewfinder information. The only way to confirm focus will be to look at the rear screen - hardly the most ergonomic way to use an optical viewfinder - switching between arms length and looking through the viewfinder - no matter how bright and clear it is.

As the camera is, it is a svelte little thing with fine lines, just right for slipping in a pocket or small pouch - stick a viewfinder on it, either optical or EVF and you get an ergonomic travesty, which with its protrusions is probably little smaller than one of the smaller new ff DSLRs (though, of course, much lighter).

Don't forget the now-$350 Pentax K-01 blowout going on - K-5 sensor for almost chump change.

Or $450 with the 40mm XS pancake.

Myself I believe that Sony judged the target audience for the RX1 just right.

Isn't the target market those who are looking for a versatile camera that can a) handle pretty much any lighting condition you'd expect to encounter when carrying a camera small enough to be with you 24-7, and b) deliver very high potential image quality through a state of the art full frame sensor and what looks to be an excellent classic focal length lens implementation?

Sony nailed it.

Individual preferences like whether a camera features an integrated EVF vs a more flexible accessory EVF which offers tilt are just that... individual preferences.

I once would not buy such a camera without an integrated viewfinder and preferably an optical finder at that. Being in the market in 2011 for a constant companion camera, naturally I bought the X100. For a number of reasons the X100 did not work out for me but I learned a couple of things from the experience.

First - while I have a preference for an integrated finder for no other reason than the camera slides into a trim shoulder bag (not a camera bag) much more easily, that problem is *easily fixed* by hunting down a bag that works well for the camera of choice, my phone, wallet, keys, and small paper notebook. Suddenly the EVF wart is a non-issue. And truth be told, slide-on EVFs are not that annoying and composition using the rear LCD can actually be useful and preferable in some situations. I'm a former finder curmudgeon, now liberated I guess.

Second - the X100 taught me that I want to carry a small, high IQ capable, camera everywhere and that like in the film days I'm perfectly happy with a such a camera having a fixed 35mm field of view.

I really do think Sony nailed it. When mine arrives and I've had some time with it I'll let you know if I still feel that way.

"All the items on this list are still pre-order only, as of this morning..."coming soon" as opposed to "already here." The D600 is already shipping, so that's why it isn't on this list.


My Bad. See what happens when nice new things come along - I ignore the headline and read the opinions.

Stephen wrote:
"My X-Pro1 gives confirmation of focus in OV mode."

It tells you that it obtained focus and which AF sensor was used (and that overlays the image, so it's better than a cheap digicam "peephole" viewfinder). That doesn't tell you if it focused on what you wanted. (With practice, you can probably achieve a very high success rate once you get used to a given camera; I just found it very disconcerting).

"Mike replies: ... the ability to either choose which one you prefer or interchange them—was an "integral" part of the design brief of the camera ..."

It's a lovely form factor with some peculiar design decisions. Even a built in optical viewfinder on the RX1 would have been better than nothing (Its a freaking fixed lens system!). I can't see how a basic barebones OVF would have been hard to implement. It would have still left room for the premium aftermarket FDA-V1K OVF and FDA-EV1MK EVF. Instead they add a dinky built-in flash!?

I've had the E-PL5 for a week now, and I'm really enjoying it!

I know this is sacrilege, but I bought it for the pretty good video (I use film and an M8 for stills), but everything about the camera is charming me: the functions are easily customized, it's quick and it feels great in the hand.

I thought I'd miss a viewfinder, but I fold out the screen and shoot it close in to my body, looking down like a Hasselblad - which also helps to keep the camera steady when shooting video sequences.

It replaced a bitterly hated Nikon D90 for video - and absolutely everything is better, including the final output. Great camera!

I confess that I will get the Nikon zoom.

But the options in mirrorless are tormenting; I already have micro 4/3, though not deeply comitted to it. I'm leaning towards an OM-D, but sirens in the form of Nex-6 and X-E1 are distracting me and I can have at most one. It's a curse to be a gearhed.

My NEX-6 showed up today. I've had an NEX-5N for a bit over a year now, and have used an NEX-7 a few times as well.

Initial impressions: it feels a lot more like the NEX-7 than the NEX-5N. It's much beefier than the 5N- the edges are harder/sharper, and it seems a good bit heavier. Checking the specs- 6.8oz for the 5N versus 10.1oz for the 6; the extra heft is definitely noticeable.

The EVF is beautiful; it's the primary reason I upgraded from the 5N. While I do love using the articulated LCD screen to shoot in certain situations, I missed not having some sort of viewfinder available. The Direct Manual Focus mode seems to work pretty well with the EVF. Haven't turned on Focus Peaking yet.

Haven't had the opportunity to do any sort of AF tests, to evaluate whether or not the hybrid phase/contrast system is a big improvement- but it seems fine so far. It is definitely not a step back.

The built in apps are, well, a bit clunky. It appears they generally only work with JPG images, not RAW- which is a disappointment. Navigating the apps without a touchscreen is a little slow, and the Direct Upload to Facebook tool appears to use a pretty high compression setting. The image that ended up on Facebook was 960x640, but only 61KB- and a quick glance at it on my computer shows that it's throwing away a lot of detail. I was hoping this would provide me an easy way to get higher quality snaps up on Facebook, versus using a smartphone, but my smartphone images actually look superior right now. I just checked a recent smartphone image, and while it's similar resolution, it's 116KB. Double the data. Hopefully that's something they address in the future via a software update, to at least let me choose compression levels.

I am a tad disappointed to see that they cheaped out and didn't include an external battery charger- you can only charge via a USB cable, with the battery in the camera. Unless, of course, you spend more money on an external charger. Not the end of the world, but, the external chargers are nice- especially if you use multiple batteries.

Overall, my initial impressions are positive. It seems like a big step forward from the 5N, and the new 16-50 Power Zoom lens is significantly smaller than the old 18-55. If it's a halfway decent performer, it'll be a fine snapshot lens. I look forward to actually getting the images onto my computer later, and starting to dig into some of the more advanced features.

Canon has got to have a bunch of engineers and marketing types committing hari-kari.

Nikon has the 36MP body and now the D600 24MP body.

Canon announced the D6 and the question was "when can we get it"? "maybe December".

Nikon announced the D600 and the question was "when can we get it"..., "will be in stores Friday".

So, no matter what Canon does the immediate availability of the Nikon means people bought it while Canon sits and watches people who tire of waiting buy the Nikon.

Gato: "Too much cameras, not enough photography.

Hear, hear! The cat speaks truth.

Ah how tasty...but I am heading for cheap Nikon 1 V1 that now nobody wants.

Thanks for the heads-up Mike.

I didn't read all the posts (above mine) line-by-line, but I did not notice much in the way of CANON STICKER SHOCK from your other readers.

Canon is, most likely, replacing a $300.00 lens with an $850.00 lens. I am pretty confident in saying so because they recently replaced affordable 24mm and 28mm lenses in the same manner.

My EF 35mm/2.0 is a great lens. Possibly my favourite.
Do I ever miss the USM focus motor when I use that lens ~ Never (and I do have USM lenses).
Do I ever wish for "IS" when I use that lens ~ a couple of times...maybe.
Would I miss the $550.00 (over the price of my 35/2.0) if I bought the 35/2.0 USM ~ MOST DEFINITELY!

I guess $850.00 is a real bargoon when you compare it to the 35/1.4L at nearly $1500.00!

I'm starting to think Canon doesn't want, and/or, need my business. Lucky for them that I am alone in the quest for reasonably priced photo equipment.

Cheers! Jay

I do have to concede your point, Jay. I think the new IS primes would be much more reasonably priced at $550 or even $650, but $850 is pretty over-the-top. Then again, I can't get used to basic lenses costing in the area of $1500.


"Hear, hear! The cat speaks truth."

Right, Ken, I've *never* known you to care much about cameras. ;-)


(P.S. What's the current census of the number of cameras in residence chez Tanaka? JOOC.)

"Too much cameras, not enough photography."

Well said! - well almost ;)

Reminds me of my brother's comment about the tidal wave of camera announcements from Photokina: "So many cameras - so little photography."

But then we all get excited about gear in this game; almost independently of our realised creativity.

Waiting for the verdict on the Sonya99. Still miss my Mamiya 7 ll.

Was cruising through David Burnett's "encounters" portfolio, and whose portrait did I come across? Why our very own John Camp's.

At maybe $1600, I would buy an RX1 in a minute,
if it had some kind of internal viewfinder.

There's a kid-in-a-candy-store vibe here, not that there's anything wrong with that!

New candy also means discounts on older candy. At the moment, between Amazon and B&H: XZ-1, DP1x, and LX5 at $250 or less, the EPL2 and G3 starting at $300. The Nikon 1 at $400. Nikon and Canon are offering rebates as well.

$ 500 might not get you that viewfinder....


I don't know why people think that the X Pro1 OVF does not confirm focus. It is just like the X100. If you press the shutter release part way then the center rectangle turns green to confirm focus.

Note the 12/2 and 75/1.8 Olympus M43 lenses in the $800 range, too; it's not just Canon (and Nikon; look at what their f/1.4 primes cost, but at least those are the ultra-fast ones).

If the original OVF is too rich for your blood, then you could always get one of these. While not as nice as the Zeiss, at 1/3rd the price I doubt there's much to complain about.

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