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Monday, 14 April 2014


Well, yes, of course that's all true. However...
I've been shooting with the EM5 since shortly after it was released in UK. I'm pretty used to it by now. But the ergonomics and general handling of this camera are simply abysmal.

I've become accustomed to accidentally, continually, stabbing at the tiny, numb, buttons and getting into an unwanted mode even though I'm adequately dextrous and have quite small hands. And the firmware, the bl00dy firmware... an abominable mess.

But I'm going to live with it, not least because I'm sick of shelling out money unnecessary in pursuit of some elusive (and largely illusory) perfection. It long ago dawned on me that what I point the damned thing at is several hundred percent more important than all the mechanical and optical considerations.

I like this post. For a relatively long time a felt myself out of the chorus: not so much interested in the image quality which I assume to be ok with most of modern cameras, sentence which horrifies most of my friends photographers! What is important for me now is size and use of manual controls for aperture and time. Easy menus. Not complicated settings. This were the main reasons when I bough almost four years ago my Leica x1. Now I would like a more versatile camera (lenses) and the problem in selecting the right one is not image quality but the handling. But this cannot be known before buying! A few minutes test in a shop most of times does not reveal any quirks! Interesting time anyway for photographers!

I've been writing on my blog about the Panasonic G5 that I bought after reading here about them being on sale. I've assembled what I'm calling my "accidental system" of Micro 4/3 gear because of this. The lower cost of this equipment is remarkable. For example the Panasonic 45-200 zoom which sells for $265 as opposed to the essentially equivalent Nikkor 80-400 that costs almost exactly 10 times as much. If you are interested in what I've come up with, here's the link to my blog: http://davelevingston.com/blog/

"High-end "mirrorless" models from Fujifilm, Sony, and Olympus"... In just a few short years, Panasonic have become the red headed stepchild of the market they created.

True, Mike, they're all more than sufficient from the IQ side. Isn't it all, therefore, at the end, about HOW you use the camera, how you interact with it and trhough it with your subject?
Unfortunately, you will not know until you use it in real situations for some time (not just for a few seconds at B&H if you have the chance to handle one).
Which probably means that you should 'stay' with your familiar brand:, and actually, with the camera you already have! juggling the functioning modes of different cameras at the same time is a bit of a strain on the brain. you know, the myth of 10,000 hours before you 'get' it...

After a couple of years of list-making and comparisons, I've finally settled on a system. Given that I can afford the equipment (fortunate me!), the decision tree went like this:

1) How big do I really want to print? (How many megapixels do I need on the sensor?) After recognizing that I'm really not longing to produce gallery prints that are too big for most people's homes, I decided (a little grudgingly) that 16 MP will suffice. This left Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, and Fuji all in the running.

2) What range of focal lengths do I need and how much weight am I prepared to carry … by car? …by bicycle?…on foot? Sony fell off the list at this point, and µ4/3 edged ahead of Fuji APS-C.

3) What level of image quality and speed must the lenses possess? Hmm, Fuji eases back into the lead … a little.

4) Camera handling? Although I could make a case for the GX7 size, it drops off the list when challenged by the Olympus adaptability and IBIS, and the Fuji viewfinder and manual controls.

5) The intangibles. Here, surprisingly, is where the decision became obvious. I have a long and satisfying history with Fuji and their lenses. (It may have been Mike who observed that the folks at Fuji seem to like photographers and seem to be having fun in their camera division.) But the final shove that pushed me into choosing the Fuji X-T1 was political of all things! ("That makes perfect sense," my spouse of forty-something years pronounced. I like her a lot.) I've been very disturbed to see Canada's manufacturing jobs exported to China and elsewhere in Asia for the past decade or so, and Fuji –unlike Olympus–builds their top-tiered cameras and lenses in their own country — Japan. I decided to buy my equipment from a company than seemed to be good corporate citizens; it makes me feel good.

I know this dilemma well. I switched from Canon full frame to a panasonic gh1, then gh2. Then I got seduced by the Fuji X Pro-1. However, a year and a half ago I was about to go on a trip to Peru and it was supposed to rain every day. So I got OMD EM5 almost as an impulse buy to use in the rain (I never rained, of course). So now I'm firmly in the m43 camp and rarely use my Fuji equipment... but every time I think about selling it, I try it out again and I love it. So I'm stuck with the X Pro-1 and 3 primes that I rarely use but can't bring myself to sell.

It's a disease.

All of this is true, and I can't disagree with the fact that any of these cameras will give great results, but sometimes you just find something that feels 'right'. It can't be measured or explained, but it just fits you to a tee; so much so that it can inspire you to become better, simply from the sheer pleasure of using it. After all, if you find something worth sticking with you're more likely to learn it inside out. This has to improve your photography, doesn't it?
For myself, the Ricoh GXR-M with 15mm Voigtlaender is the best (daylight) street photography set-up I've found, and I'm quietly dreading the day it gives up the ghost because there's nothing out there that could adequately take it's place in my bag without compromise of some sort. The point is, one's choice of camera and lens is about much more than mere functionality, or even results.
Sometimes it's just what feels right. That's where the fun begins.

When I read this, I'm pleased to realise that we've finally entered the era in photography where you can save money by *not* buying the latest thing.

So after five years of obsessing about new camera technologies, we've ended up right back where we started: choose a system based on the lenses.

I agree that all these mirrorless bodies are excellent.
We now have to select the camera system by picking the few lenses that answer our needs and are within budget and buy the body that fits on them.
For me the Olympus 17, 25 and 45mm F1.8 trio has no competition, specially given the price and compactness.

Mike -

I think Ken's take on things applies in the general sense, i.e. for different cameras with the same specs on paper, a photographer with a given set of skills shouldn't expect one to give better results than the other. We hear this over and over again: it's the photographer, not the camera.

But if you do write a post along these lines, one idea worth covering is whether aspects not "on paper" affect the outcome. What if a camera is easier to use or is just "more fun" to use? Does that encourage the user to shoot more or is there less cognitive load so that the photographer can think more about the creative idea rather than what dials to turn and buttons to press? The implication being that one of those cameras that seems the same actually MAY help you take better pictures than the others even though it's no sharper nor better at metering.

While a lot of the Fuji X-T1's owners (disclosure: I'm one) rave about image quality, I think a lot of the love hurled at it has more to do with the sweet spot it hits for many in terms of ergonomics and "fun factor." I have a Canon 5D3 too and it's an amazing tool. But the device itself doesn't excite for some reason.

Oh yes, Mike, most of the cameras are good enough now, which should mean that we might get better user interfaces, as sheer image quality is not the most important criterium any more.

And - that central problem 4" behind the viewfinder gets relatively more important again.

The party seems to be happening in the other room. I'm still waiting/looking for a coat-pocketable camera with a built-in, rangefinder-style EVF, 1" sensor or larger, and WiFi. I'm not picky about the lens: fixed or interchangeable, prime or zoom.

Please, please, please, let me get what I want, this time.

I think you are right - about camera bodies.

Right too, I suppose, for those photographers who happily use only a couple of primes or a relatively short range zoom, and who are happy with relatively slow lenses.

Once I was finally satisfied with a mirrorless system, µ4/3, I did what I've done before with the film OM system and a Canon digital system before, build a set of lenses to cover my range of interests.

With 9-18, 12-50, 14-150, 20/1.7, 60/2.8 macro, 75-300, primarily for the E-M5 and Gx7, Panny X 14-42 for small Pen and especially compact 12-35 and 45-150 for GM1, I have a pretty fair investment in µ4/3 lenses.

A casual fling with another ILC would mean an unsatisfying, for me, time with a far too limited lens or two. Fortunately, as you say, the practical difference in IQ between the latest ILCs is quite small, so I'm not sure I see the photographic point.

It interests me that back in the old days of film DSLRs, few serious photographers, at least those with a lot of lenses, made such a monumental switch, say from Nikon to Canon. I went Nikon to OM in the early 70s, but as an impecunious youth, I only had one Nikkor and borrowed others from my father.

There are of course, those whose financial situation allows them to buy a range of lenses, and accessories, including a few thousand $ of the big, fast ones, to go with whatever new, shiny catches their eye, and good for them, I say.

BUT, we had this situation before, with film. The sensors were all equal, the boxes pretty competitive in the basics of IQ, exposure, and it was all about the lenses.

AND, as some guy here has argued many times, using lenses to their best advantage takes learning them thoroughly. That stands against flitting about between camera systems, even if cost is not a problem.

Yes, I have friends who use only a couple or a narrow range of focal lengths. And I have others who use digital bodies as backs for their collections of legacy, manual focus, FF lenses from the film era.

For those who like Auto aperture, focus and exposure and a range of lens capabilities, a majority, I'm guessing, casual switching of body systems is not practical.


LF or bust, them's the rules ;)

When, as now, there's more than one camera that "fits the hand," I've found the "which one?" question turns to lenses and software support.

In my own case with new developments in software support for Fujifilm, I've gone with both the X-E2 and the X-T1 because each in its own way is wonderful in my hands and there is now a truly outstanding line of native lenses to go with Fuji's own adapter for Leica M lenses.

Finally, I believe that today you need to add the factor of the willingness of the company to support its own products. And here Fujifilm with the X series has proved stellar.

This is easy to agree with. Nowadays, it's hard to give a simple recommendation for a mirrorless camera just because there are several competing models and manufacturers, who offer products that are very close to each other in terms of image quality, ease of handling and features. People often want simple answers, "X is the best", but now one cannot honestly give such an answer even in mirrorless only.

I agree: the limiting factor nowdays is the photographer, not the gear.

On the other hand, getting a new gear is an indulgement. If you can, why don't? As long as you accept it is an indulgement, not something required to make better photos.


There really are superb choices in the market now for mirrorless and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

Owning cameras from both the Olympus OM-D and Fuji X systems, trying to decide between them certainly can be a tough choice, and the bodies, lenses, and overall level of image quality from both systems is truly excellent. The reason I personally chose to go with Fuji X-system, was, at the end of the day was simple: superior image quality, primarily with respect to lower noise at higher ISO, better dynamic range, and that gorgeous Fuji color. As one of your commenters recently pointed out, there is also an "it" quality to the Fuji X-system files that I have not seen on any camera since the original Canon 5D.

I also prefer the "hands-on" user design of the Fuji X-system, with real aperture rings on the lenses, and shutter speed and comp and/or ISO adjustment dials on the top deck.

The bottom line is that Ken is right, and we're suffering from an embarassment of riches lately, and the Fuji and Oly systems are evolving to level of capability and maturity that more and more fully meets the needs of working professionals (I think the Sony systems are held back by a lack of comprehensive system of lenses and a bewildering array of lens mounts).

And Mike, you've hit it on the head that our choices really come down to "this flavor of best" or "that flavor of best". I guess any decisions, then, perhaps goes more to heart than head.

If someone told me I had to shoot exclusively with Oly OM-D or Fuji X, I would be perfectly happy.

But, I'd still be pining for my Fuji X's...

I haven't bought, or been tempted to buy a new camera for some time - the last was my E-M5, a purchase "forced" on me 2 years ago when my 7d was trashed.

After I'd bought my 5D3 some time before that, I realized that camera was as good as I needed - sure, I'd like to play with some new toys, but I very much doubt I'd take better pictures as a result.

I figure the manufacturer's must be struggling to come up with something I (and others thinking like me) can't resist.

Lenses on the other hand ....

People are always asking me what camera they should buy. I tell them it doesn't matter -- for 99.9% of the non-professional public, the cameras are far more capable than they need. This is not the answer that they want, of course -- they want to know which camera will let them shoot magical photos without effort. Sadly, that camera doesn't yet exist.

I do love my Fujis. I sold all my personal Canon gear, and at work I haul out the big guns only when I really need the speed. Given how heavy those things are (a 1D Mark IV and the 70-200/2.8 is the usual combo), I have to really, really need it.

BTW, Mike, you should do everything you can to borrow the Fuji 56/1.2. It makes a terrific combo with the 23.

I recall the often used line on the Leica forum on Photonet: "Beware the man who owns only one gun. He probably knows how to use it."

Agreement from this corner. I've studied and studied and studied and compared and compared and compared. Conclusion: Last year's mid-range model from Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus or Lumix would serve wonderfully for most of my photography.
But, alas, I'm one of those souls who lives part-time in the margins: I shoot a lot of middle-school sports, in dimly lit middle-school gyms. Glamorous stuff, I know. So marginally better high-ISO performance and marginally faster and more accurate autofocus does matter -- but pretty much for those shots only. So I keep studying and comparing.... (Hmmmm. Maybe I should just stop shooting middle-school sports.)

Another aspect of this relative parity: Competitive pricing should start to matter more. I think you are right, Mike, about more shooters rationalizing buying and keeping multiple cameras (following the guitar player model), and more power to 'em. But a bunch of us bottom-feeders will be studying and comparing with price in mind. If a whole slew of camera systems can do the job well, after all, shouldn't I go with the most-affordable one?

You are right Mike. One of the parameters that is too often overlooked is the native image ratio. Yes , of course ,an image can always be cropped ( and btw , this was true also for film cameras) but there are multiple benefits of getting the image on the print (or computer screen) just as we envisioned it in the finder. For me , having grown up with MF film cameras never could get used to that very oblong 35mm ratio especially for verticals ( which I shoot a lot of)
and surprisingly the sigma's dpm , fuji X, nikon 1, sony Nex do NOT allow a less oblong ratio in the finder (like 5;4 or 4;3). This is why I chose Olympus

"No generalization is true -- not even this one!"

But yeah, "good enough" is one of the most liberating concepts in photography (and quite a few other areas).

'The choice is now really a matter of "this flavor of best vs. that flavor of best."'

I have an OM-D E5, and I have to say I respect the photographs it produces so effortlessly. But therein lies my problem—I get no satisfaction with no effort. Hence I'm still mired in my MP, M7, M9, MM and no end of medium format cameras along with home developing of B&W and C-41 films—they all give me great satisfaction when something comes out even halfway decent. That's what I would have to call "best" for me.

I recently read a post elsewhere, mostly about the Leica Monochrom, but favorably mentioning the Canon EOS M (APS-C format) in relation to it.

I have a Sony HX5. I use it mostly for backpacking (tiny, light, good battery life, good image quality), and lately, in a foreign country, because it fits into a pants pocket and from a few feet off it is stealthily indistinguishable from the cell phones that everyone has. With its 25mm to 250mm (equivalent) zoom, I can grab most anything, and I've possibly made more exposures with it than with everything else combined since my first Minolta SRT-101 in 1973.

The Canon seemed a good bet to get a bit more quality in a still-small package for more studied backcountry work, and I decided I had to have it. But what about lenses? Two available. Each bigger than the Sony. Worth it? In the end did I want one or two more lenses I couldn't use anywhere else? What to do?

I dropped back to Micro Four Thirds for another look. The Olympus PEN E-PM2 was available. Bottom-of-the line. $275 on closeout, black, or $249 for a silver body. I can mount my Voigtlander 12, 21, or 35 lenses (35mm equivalents of 24, 42, or 70mm), and still have something almost-pocketable.

I will never make prints again, or have any made. The Sony HX5, with its 1/2.4" sensor is adequate. No, it's good. Really good. Micro Four Thirds is noticeably better. Overkill, but sometimes you want that, like now, and now I have it, twice-over: as a tiny bulge of an Olympus, and as a Panasonic G1 I also bought on closeout a while back.

Even with the Sony alone, I'm doing better photography now than with my Pentax 67 (long gone) or 4x5 (also long gone). I did look at the Sony A7/A7R and the RX1 and drooled, and thought. Good move, that thinking. What the hell would I do with 36 megapixels besides throw away 30 of them? And as for price, $249 for a camera that accepts a set of lenses I already have is better than $2700 for any fixed-lens camera, at all.

It isn't about any abstract notion of "quality". I think I'm over that now. It's all about usefulness. Finally, for me, good enough is perfect.

"Now, for many, it's "Should I buy Z when I already own an X and a Y?"

Or—let's be honest—for some people it's "How in the world can I justify getting a Z when I already have a perfectly good X and Y?""

Unless you happen to live in the Ukraine and a lot of other countries where life is hard and the future uncertain.

Many photographers seem incapable of making the mental leap from 'best images' to 'best overall functionality'.

Being a long time 4/3 and then m4/3 user I have been told many times I was missing the very point of digital photography. This past February the opportunity presented itself and I had the pleasure to borrow a brand new Nikon Df with three magnificent primes for about five weeks. It turns out FF is indeed "more" than m4/3. It has an unbelievable dynamic range, the images look more organic in print and high ISO is a bit cleaner. But then, FF is too easy. It made me a lazy bastard. Perhaps I need to sweat a little to be in good photographic shape.
I did have some dangerous thoughts about "needing" a full-frame system, but:
a) I can't really afford one. Not with the lenses I want.
b) My system challenges me to cover up for its shortcomings, which is a very healthy thing.
c) I'm not after technical perfection anyway. Perfect is boring.

So here I am, plodding along with my E-M1 (not a bad camera, but you know... wink wink). I am sometimes tempted by the X-T1 and its beautiful control layout, but it's been praised by too many people I do not entirely trust (same ones who "fell in love" with the half-baked X-E1). Other times I daydream about that A7 and its few-but-brilliant lenses until I am reminded of the problematic stabilization of the system. And still other times I think of the film days and realize that the E-M1 and the m4/3 little primes are the camera-for-the-road I always wished for: low maintenance, capable enough for any probable situation and just the right size.

Mike, it's the same situation with film cameras! I have great difficulty passing up on the bargains to be had with quality used film cameras. The other day I couldn't resist a very nice OM-1 with Zuiko 50/1.4 for $35 at a local charity store, even though I own Nikon bodies and lenses.

The significant problem used to be that multiple mounts meant having to own multiple sets of lenses of similar focal length. Now with mirrorless bodies and adapters I'm not so sure that's still the case - although Roger Cicala's comments about the performance of non-native lens/mount combinations does give food for thought.

Dave Sailer writes:

"The Olympus PEN E-PM2 was available. Bottom-of-the line. $275 on closeout, black, or $249 for a silver body. I can mount my Voigtlander 12, 21, or 35 lenses (35mm equivalents of 24, 42, or 70mm), and still have something almost-pocketable."

I've been a big fan of the E-PM2, 4400 shots in 8 months. I've used it right alongside the E-M5 and as coat pocketable.

I'm now quite enamored with the Panny GM1. With it's kit 12-32 mm lens, it makes the E-PM2 with 14-42 seem giant. The sensor is from the GX7, excellent, and the lens is slowish for some, but makes excellent images. With the 20/1.7, it's very useful in dimmer places.

Interestingly, it's focal range almost matches your primes. But no IS in the tiny body, so it's IS lenses or less usefulness.


Because most cameras today will “potentially give you great results”, I believe that the choice of a camera has now been whittled down to two things: character and aesthetics.

A few years ago (okay, three decades ago), while discussing the relative merits of cars and motorcycles we had owned, my two friends and I settled on very different vehicles as our favourite cars. Chris loved his Morris Mini 850, Kevin was enamoured with his Alpha Giulia Super, and I wished I had never sold my ’64 Pontiac Parisian.

We had each settled on our choice of car, we decided, because they were beautiful and had “character”. My wife, eavesdropping on our very serious male bonding session, interrupted to ask, “how do you define beauty and character in a car”?

No further discussion was needed when Kevin offered up the answer - beauty is a matter of personal aesthetic appreciation, and character, in any engineered object, is defined purely by the object's imperfections. The new breed of Japanese cars and motorcycles, Toyotas and Mazdas and Hondas and Yamahas, had been engineered to reduce, or even remove, imperfections. They were design to be as close to perfect as possible for almost everyone. They were designed to make their usage as safe, simple and intuitive as possible.

Some would say that this was a better thing. Safer, better handling, faster braking, less prone to breaking down or mysteriously stopping every time it rained. But where was the character? What did these homogenised cars or motorcycles do to excite you, or worry you, or enrage you, or just make you want to look at them, to stand in the driveway and just look? To know every little thing about that vehicle, all of its little quirks? To know, and be prepared for, everything that it will throw at you even before it does?

I had forgotten about that conversation until recently, while reading the wide and varied reviews of all of the excellent recently-released digital cameras. Most reviewers will make a list of a camera’s functions, describe how it feels in their hands (while describing their hands as large or small or nimble or clumsy), describe its usage and menu system, illustrate the image quality, list all the pros and all the cons, give it a score and finally offer the dreaded ‘conclusion’.

But, in the long run, the truth is that all of these new digital MFT, CSC, FF, rangefinder or traditional DSLR cameras will “potentially give you great results”. However, they also all have their quirks and imperfections, and none of these reviewers, in fact no one on earth, can ascribe a camera with a certain character or the images it produces with a certain aesthetic. There is no character score that can be applied. This can only be determined by its owner, and only over a period of time, and only after that camera has generated a body of work in its owner’s hands.

Once you have experienced a camera’s character, have grown to know about all of its imperfections, have learned how to overcome or even love those imperfections, and have still not found that camera wanting, but instead find it interesting, exciting, compelling, even beautiful; then you have found your “character” camera, and no amount listing of pros or cons, no Dx0 score, no number of stars and no reviewer’s conclusion will change your opinion about it.

In fact, nothing could make you sell it or trade it in, or even use another camera… until that new aesthetically-stunning, quirky, beautifully-engineered temptress comes along.

“And DPReview gave it ninety one percent, dear. Ninety one! Really, once I have this camera I’ll never need to buy another camera again! That’ll be it, finished buying new cameras forever… No, really…”

This brings to mind a discussion I used to have with my customers when I was selling cameras in Harvard Square in the late 70's. I was often asked what was the best camera. I would take out three or four cameras from different manufacturers and ask the customer to pick each one up and hold it. Then I would ask them which one felt good in their hands. The implication of course is that if you like the way it feels, you will use it. They answered the question for themselves.

This is why I have settled with using the boring Canon 6D, but I have saved for one year to buy the Zeiss 21 f2.8 ZE lens, to use on said camera.

Concerning buying new products, I have heard some interesting and workable advices. For e.g.

1. If it is not broken, don't fix it. I suppose it could also translate to, "Don't change it".
2. Drive a new car for 7 years before changing it. Then it makes economic sense.
3. Consider carefully whether it is a want or a need.

As for digital cameras, they are depreciating tools. Tools to serve they are, but changing one for another for updated features will only put some in the perpetual cycle of debt.

A self-discipline question: How many features, bells and whistles does one seriously need in a camera?

Stephan Palmer has it correct, it's about the lenses. I'm experimenting with M4/3rd's primarily because they have a decent line of moderately priced prime lenses, altho the "multi aspect ratio" is a plus, especially getting to shoot square and 4X5 format.

I can say without reservation, that I wouldn't even be involved in another camera system if Nikon had made a decent set of f/2.8 primes in their "G" configuration, especially wide angles in the 24mm and 35mm size, with 16mm a plus. If these had been sized right for APS-C, it'd even be a no brainer. The quality, size, and price of their 35mm f/1.8 for APS-C, a lens I use all the time and love, should have been the tip off for them to do more.

But instead, as Stephan says, it's more, and more varied slow zooms. It's an 18-105, then an 18-140, then 18-200, 18-270, 18-300, 18 to whatever, even tho these lenses are crazy slow on the long end, and actually barely useable for sharpness and quality on the long end either. (Ditto for the indie manufacturers) It's blatantly selling to the amateur crowds need for walking around with one lens (or boasting about the range to their friends), regardless of quality. The amount of time and money gone into making the latest permutation of ridiculous range zooms with barely useable specs could have easily gone into filling out a decent prime lens line.

This IS the reason most people I've talked to are interested in the Fuji offerings: reasonable priced prime lenses, and a sharp and useable "kit" zoom. Both Nikon and Canon have softish kit zooms and ridiculously priced pro versions of the same. I've always asked why someone just couldn't make a sharper kit zoom for a few hundred more, without having to make it an f/2.8. Wo did it? Fuji...

It's amazing to me why Sigma, with all their strutting about their "Art" lens line, can't or won't, make a 16, 24, 35, and 55/60 f/2.8 sized for APS-C, especially since the only pro camera they make is APS-C, I mean, WHA? And hey, what's with their new 50mm everyone is raving about? The just couldn't have made a 55mm normal that would have given us APS-C people a decent 82.5mm portrait? How come all these people are making expensive normals in the 50mm range when making a 55 would hit two markets?

Many have mentioned 'loving a camera' and that is the primary reason I still use my film cameras. Digital tech is amazing but the snick of an all mechanical shutter in a classic MMM (Metal-Mechanical-Manual) camera transends all that tech.

I speak for myself and no one else.

One good quote on the subject is how really expensive cameras are, this one from Photo Guru Bryan Peterson, "When you think about it, cameras are ridiculously expensive! Considering that maybe the average shutter click is roughly 1/500 of a second over its lifetime the actual use is like 10 or 11 days? You spend $6000.00 for a camera body that is used for 11 days? the rest of the time it just sits around!!!!"

Mike, I cannot agree with you more!

Your remarks "Should I buy Z when I already own an X and a Y?" and "How in the world can I justify getting a Z when I already have a perfectly good X and Y?" pin-point me.

I just bought an X100s days ago while I already have an FF DSLR (Canon 5D), an APS-C all-in-one (Sony R1), an M4/3 mirrorless (Pana GF1). I really find it very difficult to justify my purchase. I know I don't need it. I know I just want it. I konw my pictures won't change much (won't change little, indeed) after the purchase.

I have to admit it is just my gear lust. ^_^

In other words, choosing a digital camera today is like choosing a film camera in the year 2000. Film image quality had peaked and choosing a camera was more about how they handled and what lenses were available for them.

Lesson here is...if you want to improve your images go on a photo course/workshop and brush up your Photoshop skills. It will make far more difference than a new camera.

(I think people like Fujis because they just LOOK great. Everything else is 'good enough').

Ernie Van Veen's mention of his friend's favorite car-an Alfa led me to another train of thought. In 1963-64' my brother and I had a nice Alfa Spider we drove everyday. In 1965 it was turned into a racecar by simply adding a rollbar, raced by my brother for three years and sold to a friend.
25 years later, I rescued it from a barn and restored it to race again as a vintage racer. But this time, since it needed a complete restoration, I built the cat exactly like I wanted it. The engine was enlarged, fitted with modern racing parts and dual Weber carburetors, a special factory racing transmission of the proper vintage and a highly modified suspension to suit my driving style. In the cockpit, a full rollbar structure was designed for me, a custom seat that fit me was mounted in perfect alignment to the steering wheel and pedals. Even the switches and gages were custom fitted to make everything just right. That car and I were perfectly matched. I raced it for twelve years, accumulating some nice trophies- even beating a Jaguar and Maserati ( both with engines twice the size of the Alfa) in one memorable race.
What the heck does this have to do with cameras? Well, you cannot imagine how much difference it makes to have just what YOU want instead of living with what you have. While I can dig into menus and customize most of the digital cameras I have owned, every one has some quirk that is annoying to live with. Like my Alfa, it's worth it to get just what you want. Camera manufacturers could do this by removing most of the confusing controls, proving more software customization ( even offer the monochrome type sensor some covet) and make more serious camera users.
PS, that car is still being raced by the guy who bought it when I retired from racing...51 years old!)

Today it's not about the camera any more, it's about the lenses. Luckily, M4/3 camera manufacturers like Olympus and Panasonic keep pumping out fast primes after fast primes and now even pro zooms, and the market seems to really like it. There are some other good camera makers that offers fast lenses for their system, but compared to the number of top quality M4/3 offerings, lens for that systems are thin on the ground...

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