Blog news: I'm going to have to take a few days off for some medical treatment. It's not officially Mike-threatening (that would be the technical medical term I believe)—I'm okay—but I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to work for the next few days, if at all. I'll do my best, but it's not going to be situation normal for a week or so. My apologies for the interruption and for any dead air here at Idyllic Bucolic Rural TOP Headquarters.
Back to cameras: I wanted to add a few more things to my recent blat of enthusiasm about the just-announced Sony A6500:
• First, I don't believe there's any reason for A6300 purchasers to feel "betrayed." I don't think the A6500 "replaces" the A6300 in any meaningful way. For normal people and ordinary usage, the A6500 is simply the "video optimized" alternative version of the A6300, isn't it? It's just that a couple of the video-friendly features (in-body image stabilization or IBIS, touchscreen for focus placement) happen to be of interest to me for stills shooting, that's all. But then, my needs are idiosyncratic.
• I don't think I'm "betraying" Fuji, either. How can you not love Fuji? Fuji is the most desirable system in mirrorless, with a splendid variety of cameras and a well-thought-out array of very fine lenses. Fuji just recently truly came of age, with the first comprehensive refinements of both the SLR-style and rangefinder-style cameras. You can't go wrong with either. If I were a) younger or b) still steady-handed, I'd stick with that.
• On the other hand, I really can't sufficiently express my little-boy delight over the fact that finally, finally, a cameramaker came out with just what I wanted just when I wanted it. "Tickled pink" is the correct cliché. Do you know how long I've waited for this to happen?!? An early lesson in equipment reviewing is one that seemed to harden into a truism over the years: that what you want from any upcoming camera is very likely not what's coming. The more logical and obvious the changes you want might seem to be, the less likely they will become reality.
I'm showing my, um, experience, but for me this goes all the way back to the Nikon N8008s. I beat two of the original N8008 cameras into the ground trying hard to make a living as a photographer, and I had a specific list of refinements I expected in an update. So what did the "s" revision add? Spot metering, which was not even on my list. How could you, Nikon? Don't you know the world revolves around me?
I can't even recall, now, what I did want. Another example: how could the GF1 not be refined into a technically updated GF2? Why was there never a follow-on to the Epson digital rangefinder? I loved the Konica-Minolta 7D and thought I'd stick there, and the whole company went kablooie. Heck, I wanted IBIS in the Sony F-828, 12 years ago!)
Anyway, that theme was reprised many times over the years. Time and again, the thing I thought was coming would be something else entirely, or just not arrive at all. It got dispiritingly predictable after a while, and old.
Cut to now. I've been fretting for months over how best to get IBIS on a camera that can use lenses I like. It's the reason I auditioned (and came very close to buying) the Panasonic GX8, a fine design I liked more than I expected to. I had also been quietly considering buying a Sony A7II and shooting in crop-mode with the Zeiss 24mm ƒ/1.8. (Ten megapixels...back to the future. Or should that be forward to the past?) Several readers suggested the Fuji normal zoom with OIS, but I know myself well enough to know I would not remain happy being tethered to using one zoom. I meant to look carefully at the upcoming E-M1 Mark II. I had been waiting for the camera that turned out to be the A6300, in the entirely reasonable hope that it would have IBIS—after all, Sony already added IBIS to all three A7 cameras, so why not to the A6xxx series? I was not-so-quietly disappointed when the A6300 arrived and didn't have it. And of course I didn't expect that we'd get another APS-C Sony so soon after the A6300—Sony's activities recently, as you know, has seemed centered on the FF universe. (We probably have the success of the inexpensive A6000 to thank for the company's continuing interest in the ex-NEX side of things.)
• I still wouldn't care about the A6500 if the lenses I wanted weren't available for it. I have settled habits and I need what I need. But the Zeiss 24mm is a sweet one, and I still have a Sigma 60mm DN in the camera cabinet. As is also usually my habit, I will probably also consider getting an ultra-wide-angle and a telephoto zoom, and then hold off getting them.
So is the A6500 in any way the best option in the segment? Unlikely. To tell you the truth, I'm a big fan of virtually all the leading cameras from Fuji, Sony, Olympus and Panasonic—and not just one or even two cameras from any of them; there are nice cameras deeper down the lineups, too. I can't say I'd be unhappy with any one of a considerable number of options. If I had to throw a dozen camera names in a hat and use the one I plucked out, I'd probably do fine.
But an A6300 with IBIS and the Zeiss 24mm...should be just right. I can only hope the files look as good as Fuji's, or not too much worse.
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Featured Comments from:
Trevor Johnson: "Enthusiasm is never idiotic."
Anthony Shaughnessy: "Mike, as this is the only site I read on a daily basis, your being off-line is basically the same as the Internet being down. Please reboot quickly. :-) "
John Bonnell: "I couldn't help wondering if 'Idyllic Bucolic Rural' is some sort of code. IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis) sounds awfully unpleasant. In any case, here's hoping for negative results and a positive prognosis."
Mike replies: Thanks. No cow diseases that I know about!