This is probably only an amateur problem—pros are more hard-headed than this. Have you ever had to choose between the camera you like best and the one that gives you the results you like best?
Seems to me that's happened to me a time or three in my decades of cameraphilia. I get some idea of "the perfect camera," and I get myself all outfitted...and it ain't right because it's not giving me the results I want, or I just never get used to handling it, or I feel conspicuous and dweebish being seen with the thing, or whatever. Or I find a camera that gives me just what I'm looking for in terms of results, but I don't really like (or approve of) the camera itself.
Examples of the former would include the Leica M6, which I tried very hard to like but never felt natural with, and personally the prime example of the latter would be the old Exakta 66, a preposterous cranky old bodge of a camera that sang as sweetly as an Amati for me.
Some people really like shopping for cameras, but once they arduously arrive at the perfect shopper's choice, they learn that they just don't like it very well or don't do very well with it. Oh well.
In my lengthening years, I've started to feel that you just have to go with results. If the camera's not quite right, who cares? It's the print on the wall or the JPEG on the Retina screen that matters, above all. And if the camera's not quite right, well, so what.
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Featured Comments from:
John Camp: "Yeah, the Leicas, but the problem was slightly different than the one you describe. I loved both the form factor (the carry-ability) and the potential results.
"But I never could manage the rangefinder when I was in a hurry, and so the results were often terrible—completely missed focus. I put a black-and-white calibration target on my garage that I printed out from the net, then I'd walk away from it, whirl, focus and shoot...and even after doing this daily for quite a while, the results were not good. On the other hand, I could manually focus a Nikon in a trice.
"The thing that pushed me out of the Leicas was something of a tragedy. My first wife was dying of breast cancer, and one of the last things she was really able to do was to get her Ph.D from the University of Minnesota. I stupidly took the Leica M8 to her thesis defense and the subsequent celebration, and virtually every photo was out-of-focus. I sold most of my Leica equipment shortly thereafter (at a profit, somewhat to my surprise), returned to my Nikons, and really never found what I was looking for in terms of quality and form factor until I started shooting Micro 4/3."
Moose: "Sure, I recognize the problem, and I've had moderate versions of it over the decades.
"The big one was a Canon 60D. I'd been using a 5D, happily and with results I liked a lot, for five years. Over those years, improvements in tech seemed to me to have made smaller sensor formats capable of meeting my needs.
"I really wanted to get away from the size and weight of the FF gear, so after a lot of research, I bought the 60D. On the surface, it was just right, both physically and electronically. And I soldiered along with it as my DSLR for over a year.
"But I was never really quite happy, in a way that I never quite put my finger on. A friend pointed out that from his perspective, I wasn't doing as good work as before.
"Fortunately, the Oly E-M5 came along. Once I found out about the cure for shutter shock, we got along very well. Now, 'Son of E-M5,' the Mark II, has come along, with almost everything improved a little or a lot.
"I recently had occasion to dig back into a couple of 60D files. It's still hard to say just what's wrong with them for me, but it's definitely true. Doesn't happen with the older 5D files."
John Caradimas: "The Leica M6! I had dreams about that camera for years. Then when I got it, it proved a nightmare. Being a Nikon user, I was trying to focus and I ended up changing the aperture. When I eventually got the focusing ring, I was turning it in the Nikkor's direction, which was exactly the opposite of the Leica lenses. Sold it after three months; I guess I'll remain a Nikon man."
Bob Munro: "Nikon D70—loved it but wanted more/better, went to Pentax K20—loved it even more, got sick of lugging it all around, finally arrived at Sony—first the NEX-7 (went to heaven!), then the A7r! I have two perfect (for me) cameras! Nothing about them I don't like—so, miracles do happen!"
Sergio Bartelsman: "My favorite camera is the one that is invisible, which means that it doesn't get in the way when using it. No shutter lag, silent, manual button controls, small, unobtrusive, light, and a comfortable and decent viewfinder. I dont care for AF, because I use it very little. The X100S and the XT1 give me that. The X100S is great because it looks analog and old and people don't take you too seriously when shooting, and that's good. Not having interchangeable lenses is liberating. Plus you can shoot with only one hand and that draws even less attention. Less is definitely more. About the looks, I care a lot about the aesthetics of my pictures, not of my cameras. I tend to get better pictures when looking like a tourist than a photographer. People don't pay much attention to you that way."
Animesh Ray: "An example of the first would be Olympus OM-1, which I absolutely loved because of how it fit my hands and low things looked through it. But I never could get good shots through it. Leica M6 is the one that I don't quite figure why people like its ergonomics, but my success rate with it surpasses that of every other camera, including Nikon F3HP, which comes a close second (tied with Pentax SV) only to OM-1 so far as I experienced it. Of course I rarely focus the M6, mostly using d-o-f. Even M9 is not as good to me."
Dennis: "Yeah, sort of. I idealize mirrorless cameras; compact and tidy, with a couple of nice prime lenses. But my aging DSLR just delivers. It has nothing to do with sensors or lenses (the DSLR is outdated in terms of the sensor). It's the autofocus, it's the handling, the controls, the practice, the predictability. So I vote for results, but results based on getting the shot."
Pak-Ming Wan: "I've got quite the opposite to others here: I get my best results with an M9 + 35/2, and no other combination of body or lens is quite the same. So for the moment I'm in that happy place where I don't really need anything more! For the moment...."
Ranjit Grover: "Mike, Unlike what you feel, I do not think that the print on the wall or the JPEG on the screen is all that matters. The feel that I get while handling a camera is important too. I guess that is true for most people. Unfortunately I do not get that satisfaction from the present day cameras with no dials or control rings. I use my DSLR to get a good quality picture but I do not feel attached to that DSLR as much as I feel to an old Minolta rangefinder camera that has been sitting in my cupboard for close to thirty years. Photography is also about cameras, handling them and possessing them. I have gotten rid of more digital cameras in any one year than the number of film cameras I have had in the whole of my pre-digital life. And I do not feel sorry about that."