Those of you who own just one camera, or just one good camera, obviously don't have the following problem.
That's the way I used to be, and the way I like to think of myself still—even though it no longer applies. A one-camera kind of guy. Have axe, will chop wood.
But now I have a number of cameras (collateral damage from running a photo website...that's my story and I'm stickin' to it). Lots of people have more than one camera—and a lot of enthusiasts have a lot more than that!
So here's the test. If you're just going out the door and you want to take a camera with you, what do you grab most often?
We all spend an awful lot of time and energy evaluating cameras, choosing what to buy, defending our choices, and worrying about the crushing opportunity cost ("I'm thinking about switching to..."). But if you have alternatives readily available, maybe the one you find yourself going for most often (assuming there is one) is a good indicator of what your needs/wants really are.
(Thanks to John Mitchell and Kent Phelan)
P.S. Funny story about the Leica in the picture, one I've told before. I eBay'd a few things for my friend Kent in my uh-oh years. Kent had gone to considerable lengths to duplicate the M4 outfit of his youth with a truly mint set—the camera and lens in the picture. I sold it to an Italian Leica dealer for what was then a good price.
But when it arrived, it appeared the buyer had found a problem. He said there was a blemish in the chrome finish on the back side of the top plate. He considered it for a while, as we exchanged emails, and finally decided he couldn't keep it. So he sent the camera and lens back to me for a refund.
But when the camera arrived back, I couldn't find the blemish he was talking about, a fact which of course I relayed back to him. "Use a magnifying glass," came the answer.
Sure enough, with a magnifying glass, I was able to locate a tiny pinpoint flaw in the chrome plating.
The buyer ruefully acknowledged that the camera had very likely come from the factory with that pinpoint flaw. But, he said, his buyers "could be picky."
Now how's that for an understatement!
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
~Alan Sailer: "Without a doubt, a Canon 5D Mark II that I bought used a year ago. And it nearly always has a 17–40mm ƒ/4 lens in front. What is disconcerting to me is that I own mostly Nikon bodies and lenses (by a factor of five to one), but there is something about that Canon that works for me. Go figure."
Ed: "Sony RX1 over the Fuji X-Pro 1 and the Oly OM-D EM-5. Love the size and portability. Love the full frame files and their flexibility."
Tommy F: "I would take the NEX-7 and the Zeiss 24mm ƒ/1.8 or the 19mm Sigma."
Rolf Schmolling: "Well, nowadays I grab my Zenza Bronica ETRSi (645) with 75mm ƒ/2.8 PE usually. I can just take the magazine with the right film for the light and I'm off. Gossen Profisix too, of course.
"Then I am still tempted to take my Nikon F2 Photomic with Nikkor 35mm ƒ/2 (AIS) or Nikkor-S.C Auto 50mm ƒ/1.4 (Non AI) most of the time loaded with Tri-X 400. And today when I went for a short (we still have winter here in Hamburg, Germany) Foto Safari with my son (age seven), I put Tri-X 400 into my Nikkormat FT-2 (with 50mm ƒ/2) to a) have a similar outfit to his Yashica FX-3 super 2000 with 50mm ƒ/2 and b) because my F2 was still full of Portra 400. Didn't finish the rolls; it was just too cold."
Dan Gorman: "Easy: Canon G10. Reasons: Good enough image quality; small/light/inconspicuous enough for pretty much any situation; a gas to use—the physical controls and instant feedback say 'Play with me!'"
Scott Price: "For me, it's my K-5 IIs with my FA* 24mm ƒ/2 attached (36mm equivalent). I haven't encountered many situations where I couldn't make this combo work well. Of course, my primary subjects are my children, and I'm generally trying to capture them and what they're doing. I've found this focal length range just about perfect for this purpose, because I don't have to take a step forward or back from a natural conversation distance to get the framing I want. That said, there are times when I need to mix things up and pick-off candid head shots with a longer lens, or really mess around by dangling an ultra-wide in front of them while they play/run/slide. Variety is the spice of life, but, for me, the meat and potatoes looks like a compact DSLR with a fast 35mm equivalent lens on it."
Howard: "Sitting on the table next to the door is a Nikon FG with a MD-14 motor drive and (believe it or not) a Tamron CF 35–70mm zoom on an Adaptall 2 lensmount. I bought it years ago from a coworker. I was embarrassed that she accepted the $25 offered and I upped it to $35 (body only. The rest was added over time). It goes with me everywhere and shoots everything; we have bonded."
Bill Langford: "There was a time when it was a Graflex XL with Polaroid back and a bucket of clearing solution for the negatives. (Did I hear someone say 'Old Timer'?) Now it's a Sigma DP2 Merrill. The fun is the same, the back is not."
David Paterson: I was once invited to a camera collector's home in Tokyo, where he opened several large walk-in cupboards to show me his collection. It consisted of boxed, unopened examples of every Leica, Hasselblad and Nikon camera, and most of the lenses, from the previous 20 years. None of the boxes had ever been opened. He never took any photographs. He didn't collect Canon or Olympus. I currently have two digital camera-bodies—a working camera and a back-up. Seems like enough."
Sherwood McLernon: "The camera's always the same, a Canon 7D. The lens is either a Canon 400mm ƒ/5.6 L if I'm shooting birds or other wildlife, or a Canon 18–200mm ƒ3.5–5.6 IS as a walk around lens. I have many other lenses, but the above combinations take care of 95% of my shooting. If I'm driving, I will take two 7D's with the above-mentioned lenses already mounted. If it's a quick walk from home it's the walkaround combination."
Gary Filkins: "Sony RX100 almost without exception. The exception would be if portraits are expected—then it's the Olympus EP-2 with the Olympus 45mm ƒ/1.8 lens."
Ed Grossman: "Toward the end of last year, I realized two things: 1) I was spending too much time choosing a camera before heading out the door. 2) The results I brought back in the door weren't really any different regardless of what I chose in '1' above. Since then, there's been a culling of the herd. I'm down to two. Most days, it's me and the Panasonic GH2. If the weather's inclement, I take my Olympus E-5. I'm spending less time deciding and more time shooting. The money I made from the gear sale will go toward photo experiences, not photo gear. That may not be the right choice for everyone, but it was for me!"
Chris Nicholls: "Beautiful M4! For me at the moment it's the M9 with 35mm ASPH Summicron. It's hard for me to imagine another camera that might suit me better, but I wouldn't mind a good pocket-size camera. Any recommendations?"
Mike replies: Always. The two truly pocketable cameras I seem to hear the most good things about are the Sony RX100 and the Ricoh GRD IV, with the Panasonic LX7—which has a Leica lens—bringing home the bronze. Here's my brief experience with the Sony.
Note that in Amazon's unintentionally funny product description of the GRD IV, "1X Optical Zoom" means it's a fixed, single-focal-length lens.
Armand: "Mike, that's a beautiful camera. Most of the time, I grab either the M3 or one of my Leicaflexes :-) when I venture out in the urban wilderness. Main reason why my D800E stays in my Pelican case."
mcomfort: "I thought I'd try the smaller, carry-everywhere second camera approach for a while...but I keep coming back to the big D800. Too much IQ left on the table otherwise. My standards have crept upward to the point of no return now, which is in conflict with my usual gear lust (read: I want to find a reason to get the OM-D or something similar.)"
The two comments just above came in right next to each other. —Ed.
Claire: "My 5D Mark II replaced my worn-out Rebel XT. I used to go out everyday with that Rebel. It is not the case with the 5D. Great camera, but too heavy for my everyday walk. Two weeks ago, I bought the Fuji X-Pro. And...I think I'm in love again! :-) Right, it is not on par with the 5D. But at least, bringing it with me, I might have a chance to get one or two photos that I will be happy with one of these days...."