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Thursday, 01 February 2018


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You could wait for the Fuji X-H1, that will have IBIS.

"The paralysis by analysis will continue until I just say the heck with it and buy a GX8."
You must mean the forthcoming GX9! :)

[Not sure about that. The source site says that it's a rumor that Panasonic is testing a camera named GX9. Not that it will be announced any time soon. And no telling what they mean by GX9, either...a camera so named doesn't necessarily have to be a GX8 successor. --Mike the pessimist]

As a K1 owner (who really likes the K1) I heartily encourage you to rent first.

The autofocus film lenses are not perfect, but the limiteds are quite nice. They all have their quirks. The 31 appears to have the best "draw" but also seems to have some field curvature (at least mine) that sometimes shows up. The 43 is super sharp and has a little more distortion than larger, more corrected normals. The 77 is the highest performer and not much larger than the 43 when the hood is retracted. In general they seem less neutral than my M43 lenses. My FA 50 2.8 macro is also very good edge to edge.

As for stabilization, I'm comfortable taking shots down to 1/13 or maybe 1/10 with lenses 50mm and under.

Here's a high-res version of a 43mm shot. I like the detail of the boy on the rock:


I think you'd do yourself a favor by renting the EM1-II and the 12-100 for a week. I've been happy with A2-prints taken with it it during a week of landscape work in Scotland, and George Barr (whose work is very different from yours, but no less painstaking) seems to have adopted it as the successor to hia MF outfit.

Fujifilm will be making an announcement on February 15th. They are expected to announce the X-H1 and it will have 5-axis image stabilization.

If true, then you can keep your X-T1 as backup, use your existing Fujinon lenses and add a 180mm Nikkor with an adapter to the new X-H1.

Well the GX9 is rumored to be just around the corner ;)

Just wait two weeks. The Fujifilm X-H1 will be released around the 15th and it will have IBIS and will reportedly will work conjunction with (at least some) of the Fuji OIS lenses. So, you can keep your Fuji glass, and not having to also pay for the cost of switching out to a completely new len system will let you pay for the X-H1, which will cost around two grand.

What happened to the X-T2?

You have no doubt heard that Fuji is expected to release an H-1 body with IBIS this year, and announce it mid February. That would let you keep using your existing Fuji lenses.

>>I'm probably overthinking things.

You might want to think about that.

I recently managed to install some 50mm equiv mental frame lines, having seen wider that that for many years, and have been enjoying the focal length for the first time, particularly in urban settings. I'm still not comfortable with zooms though, so am unlikely to succumb to the particular itch you describe.

Not surprisingly, I suppose, I much prefer the orginal 23mm version of your picture. So, are you sure its entirely down to the landscape that 'pictures seem further away'?

I always look at what camera has the lens I want at that point and work back from there. So I have an original Sony A7 and the 55mm as the lens is great and it fits. For other lens types I have bought the best compromise ones with a body that fits, use a 'normal' 95% of the time.

It’s a shame Fuji does not have IBIS. ... I was actually just thinking about it... actually yesterday I was out late under the “supermoon”, and I took a clear picture on my iPhone, *hand-held* under the moonlight! Wow.

Also I was snapping a bit with one of my old pretty film cameras (Richoh 35), and I am thinking, how did we manage, those old cams, much as I love them, they have no grips and the shutter release on most of them is just harsh, they are so difficult to hold still.

The moon? I took a lens a bit longer than just 180mm. Here's a photo through my Sky-Watcher 750 (with Micro Four Thirds the angle of view is, as we know, like a 150mm lens on 135 film):

That's a stack of about 20 photos.

I'm laughing, because I'm in a similar boat. I love, love the X-T1...but mine needs repair, which means, at this stage, I can spend on repair or buy another X-T1 - or realistically, time to move to a new body.

An X-T2 is logical, but for close to the same money there's the D750 - which is more attractive than the stellar K-1 because of this 300 2.8 Nikkor I still have, among other lenses. And a X-H1 soon, and a Nikkon mirrorless later this year...

So until there's a clearer path, I'll limp along with my X-Pro1, X70, and shoot more film, poor me! But not having a reliable 'main' camera is driving me a little crazy.

And, as you're probably aware but perhaps forgetting at the moment, the new Fuji X-H1 coming soon will have IBIS...and Fuji's 55-200 (with IS) is a great tele-zoom. Sheesh...so many choices.

Mike, I think the difficulty in picking an ultimate kit is what keeps me shooting what I'm shooting. Everything else I look at has its advantages. Meaning everything I look at is missing advantages that the other things I look at have. It's all good and nothing is obviously best.
It's interesting that you're going from looking at crop mirrorless (Fuji and m43) to FF DSLR and not FF mirrorless. An A7II with a 35/2.8 and 70-200/4 or 70-300 could be a nice alternative.

Perhaps you should give the Sony RX10 IV a try.

LensRentals usually solves this problem for me really well. A camera in the hand beats a camera in the head.

Also, after reading the blog for many years, I feel confident in saying that your heart wants the GX8. :)

The camera of my younger years was the Pentax 67. If you can, do try your hand on a K1 with a Pentax 6x7 55 or 105 on it, the excellent sharpness and very smooth transition into softer parts of a photograph are superb. ....maybe even one of a kind.

Recently tested the fine FA 77mm lens, great lens and went right back to the monster = a sizeable K1-adapter-MF lens apparatus. Haven’t had flare issues much, but lots of fun in a fine and very manual way. These old Takumars marry very well with the FF sensor. Don’t tell anybody still looking for a steal on some additional old lenses.

I really don't get how Oly has gotten this "complicated" reputation. There are lots of things you can set deep in the menus if you need to but the reality is the only thing most people need to do is turn on the Super Control Panel and boom - one button pops up a screen with 99% of what a photographer needs to use.

That said, were I in your shoes, I'd go with the iPhone & Nikon route. Personally I want a Df and a bunch of Pre-AI primes but it would also work really well with those longer zooms you're wanting to use. A monopod is an excellent IBIS substitute and it's always nice to have a walking stick along for hikes in beautiful places like the Finger Lakes or the Wisconsin North Woods.

Stop fretting and just get an Olympus something mk2! You can then chose from any number of reasonably sized and really excellent tele-lenses complete with IBIS.

If you are choosing a camera system based on the assumption that an iPhone will also be in regular use, then I can tell you that, as someone who uses an iPhone X, micro 4/3, and Leica M, the micro 4/3 files are much much closer to the full frame Leica files than the iPhone X files are to those from micro 4/3.

Ha! When you started in about the Olympus I thought, Mike should just buy a GX8. Do it. Aside from the absurd swivel screen, which is only good for turning the screen inside out, it is so so so much more useable than the Olympus cameras.

Most of my camera knowledge is based on myth, rumor and innuendo, but I understand that IBIS is much less effective with long lenses, and you seem to be thinking of a long lens or two...Also, IBIS does not stabilize the image in an optical view finder, which you seem to be looking at. So (at least theoretically if not practically) what you'd see in the OVF might not be exactly what an IBIS sensor would be seeing...I know that when I'm using my Nikon with in-lens stabilization, the OVF image suddenly gets quiet with a long lens...and lens stabilization makes a huge (same as yuge) difference with my Canon image-stabilized binoculars. So there is something to be said, apparently, for lens stabilization.

Aren't all editorial pages self-indulgent? Might be able to save a few words.

If you listen closely, from the bell tower of the Fuji-film factory you may here...IBS is coming ! IBS is coming!

Just throwing this out there and seeing if it sticks.

1) Buy a Sony RX10 MkIII or MkIV to play with telephoto. Decide if you need a bigger sensor later.
2) Rent a Pentax K-1, Fuji GFX, or whatever to see how that goes.
3) Wait for the Fuji X-H1 with IBIS.

>> I just say the heck with it and buy a GX8.


Get the GX8. I really like it. Not as much as my Fuji cameras. Admittedly I only paid $749 for it on a deal Adorama had right before Xmas. It's an ergonomic nightmare and ugly and the tilt viewfinder is far less useful than one would imagine. But I have to admit, it's a really great camera. If they ever decide to release a GX9 they should let Fuji design it though. Way too many buttons and control wheels. I do love the fact that I can flip the screen around where it's blank (the back facing out). That was an unexpected plus that offset some of my disappointment over the tilting viewfinder.

Since buying a K-1 myself I've moved over to shooting mostly with primes. I typically travel with a two or three lens kit consisting of the FA 20mm/2.8 (a "film era" lens but superb on digital) and one or two of the original Limited Series lenses (31mm/1.8, 43mm/1.9 and 77mm/1.8).

Ahhh, Mike, just get the GX8 and realize that what you really need in that area is without a doubt a 70-200 equivalent. Panasonic's 35-100/2.8 is really nice (and very compact). I can only speak for the image quality of the first version, but that's plenty nice. I doubt the make-over version will disappoint you. :-)
Shooting full-frame (and APS-C for reach when chasing the flying critters), I wandered into the micro 4/3 territory when I wanted the tiniest possible camera but with IQ better than the 1" sensor offerings. So, I bought a Pany GM1 with the kit lens. It's small enough that I can bring it in the plane when I skydive to take pictures of my friends and then simply slip it inside my jumpsuit before I jump. Then it's ready to be fished out as soon as I land and I'm ready to shoot approaching parachutes coming in for landing. Anyway, to make a short story long, after a while the lack of a viewfinder drove me nuts and I got a GX7. Loved it plenty but soon realized that a second body was called for. This was just around the time when the GX8 came out. By now this had become my go-to camera system so I manned up with some "real" Panasonic lenses. Those two bodies are now always laying around with the 35-100/2.8 and the 12-35/2.8 attached. I do have the 7-14/4 for when I really need to go wide (which is not so often) and the 100-400/4-6.3 for those elusive birds. I totally get that you may not take advice from a "nothing-but-zooms" kind of guy, but you asked for it! If it makes me a bit more trustworthy, I do have a few primes for my Canon gear.

Not be a kill-joy, Mike, but you're about to join the Sexagenarian Society, aren't you? Rather than fretting about camera and lens choices it may be a better time to fret about the bigger question: What do you want to accomplish with a camera --any camera-- in your remaining time? If your honest answer is "I dunno" then perhaps that X-T1 is just fine. Get it an XF55-200mm space-masher lens (which is light and excellent) and be on your way.

But you've written frequently about your interests in pursuing writing more seriously. Perhaps that's where the balance of your energies and resources should tilt? (In which case ask yourself what brand of fountain pen you should buy? - Sounds pretty silly, doesn't it?) As you may know, building an audience and getting literary work published is at least as hard as its photography analog. You can't do it all.

FWIW, when I joined the Club a few years ago I conducted just such a sobering self-interrogation, the results of which did deflect my energies and resources.

A true conundrum. Of course you should handle all of your choices and see if they set your heart racing. I had three different Pentaxes (Pentaces?) and a good set of lenses. All were APS-C. The only issue I ever had was autofocus accuracy. Also, full frame is heavy.

As to your Olympus menu phobia. It is a bit justified. Their menus are awful and they will not correct them. Confusing and dense. I finally got one of those super-manuals, written by an expert, and set my Olympus DSLRs up just the way I wanted and have left them alone ever since. I will say that the combination of the incredible IBIS and the Oly/Panasonic lenses is a wonderful thing. I never feel the urge to go bigger. The 12-100 f/4 is all that they say it is. Also in the mix would be the new Panasonic G9 and GH5, both with IBIS and combined with the great Lumix zooms, pretty wonderful.

The last little bit is that 4/3 Rumors seems to think that a GX9 is definitely on the way. Tough choices. Have fun.

BTW Canon wrote and wants Tanaka to give their lenses back:-)

Rumor has it, Fuji is about to release some sort of an X-T2-variant with IBIS.

Keep all your nice Fuji lenses, add that zoom, and hey presto.

Living in the Finger Lakes region, a Pentax K1 would be an ideal camera for landscape photography. But, as you said, you will need a second camera for all around work.

i’ve been using a K1 here in the Pacific Northwest, and the photos it produces can, and do compete, with those produced by medium format systems. it’s built like a tank, and weighs like tank as well.

By the way, is there a discernible difference between your two Fuji 18-55mm zooms? I love my copy, and for outdoor urban work I can frame and get the shot without the need to change lenses.

Well, I do love using a K-1 and I love printing the files even more. I have a group of lenses ranging from 24 to 135 as well as that Tamron zoom, which I've used extensively. The first Tamron had autofocus discrepancies beyond the range of camera correction but the second one was fine. Beyond the normal good quality, the K-1 has features that benefit my work regularly, like the in-camera HDR and the 4-shot mode. After a year or so, I totaled my first body onto cobblestones and didn't hesitate to get another one immediately. I double the K-1 with a Pen-F for an occasional day off carrying.


Currently, there is a rumor of a GX9 in development in spite of you wanting one. Someone in Panasonic’s R&D department evidently didn’t get the word.

Consider this scenario: Adopting an updated photographic philosophy, Mike Johnston incorporates his iPhone 7+ into his photo kit. Mike also purchases a camera with a full frame sensor, the “Perfect Two Lens Kit” as previously described in “The Online Photographer,” consisting of a moderately wide to moderately telephoto zoom along with a fast prime within that zoom range. Often finding himself in an environment in which “everything seems farther away,” Mike also purchases a standard telephoto zoom to solve this newfound problem. All is perfect in the photographic world of Mr. Johnson. But is it?

Now that he has fully embraced his iPhone 7+ as a bonafide part of his kit and finding that taking that full frame camera and three lenses out whenever he leaves TOP World Headquarters as being too large, too heavy, too cumbersome and too much trouble, Mike now finds himself backsliding and most of the time only grabbing his iPhone (after all, his mind reminds him that it is okay as the phone is now a bonafide part of the official kit) thus finding himself still in an environment where everything is still too far away and still “settling” for wide angle phone snapshots.

The question becomes, “is our intrepid friend strong enough to resist the temptation of convenience for the sake of better photographs?” Time will tell...

Or wait for the Fjui X-H1 which is more or less an X-T2 with IBIS. IF the rumors are correct ...

Mike, don't you know that Fuji's long tele-zooms for the X-system all have Image Stabilisation? (Not wanting to spoil your fun of considering a new camera system, though).

Long zoom? Look at the Fuji 55-200 f/3.5-4.8 (85-300 equivalent...or so). I never really paid attention to it until recently. It always seemed like an entry level, consumer-type long kit zoom. Then I read a few reviews that were positive. I saw the Lens Rentals tear-down report that indicated it was impressively designed and built although pretty darn complex. And, finally, Fuji came out with a rebate for it so I bought one. Nice. Very nice. It's sharp, it's lightweight, it's well built, it has great OIS and it fits the X-T1. I don't use it often but results are always pleasing.

Hi Mike,
If you treat your iPhone as a part of your camera kit, then m4/3 isn’t particularly close in size. I suggest you (re)read Thom’s excellent article about sensor size & implications - http://www.sansmirror.com/articles/pick-a-size.html
Also, I believe there are some very good 3rd party lenses you can buy for the iPhone - I did investigate, but went in a different direction.
You’re over-thinking it, but you’re in good company as I reckon we all do :) Go back to first principles; what do you want to do with your images - screen only or print? And if print, what size?

The sensor in an iPhone 7 is 18.8mm^2, which is 12 times smaller than the one in a m4/3 camera; the difference is bigger than that between a 1" sensor and a 35mm sized sensor!

Just trade it in for an X-T2. It's the X-T1 with all the bad points fixed and you will love it. No IBIS but just buy the zooms with OIS. Heck, if you want a fixed focal length just tape up the zoom ring:-) I know it's really not quite that simple and there are things a prime does better but there is no perfect camera.

There is always the desire to get something completely different from the system one is using. Novelty is a powerful imperative.

Then there is the strong rumor that Fuji will release an IBIS camera in the next couple of months. Perhaps indecision will bring you to keeping the same system. I'm sure that the new camera will be expensive but the top of the line Olympus is expensive. Too many excellent cameras make things difficult don't they?

GH5 with Olympus Pro 12-100mm. Easy, good menus, great lens, solid camera body, nice files. No more gray matter friction.

Hmm, I thought you are using the X-T2 now? Or has it gone back to the previous owner?


You should have grabbed the Nikon D750 when it was a steal during their holiday sale.


At my age which is quite close to yours, I am "deteriorating" in a parallel manner too and can no longer take the weight of photo equipment especially when I travel.

So my travel kit is now my Leica V-Lux 4 (3+ years old) and iPhone. The Leica is one of those 24-600mm zoom range but really light even with constant f2.8 aperture (small sensor) which is good enough for making prints that I need for my travel albums.

Dan K.

Hi Mike,

I think the idea that Olympus cameras are too complicated is overdone. True, the menus are not the most intuitive, but they are not counterintuitive either. And the complexity comes when you want to customize your camera or when you use your camera for multiple purposes (still and video).

If you are going to take stills and spend most of your time on manual, aperture, or shutter priority, I don't see the problem. You can set up the camera and have it ready to go in a reasonable amount of time. Then you don't ever have to delve into the menu system again. The things you need regularly are available in the very nice super control panel. I even turned off some of the levers and controls on my E-M1. I use very little of the capacity of the camera (which I think is true of everyone and any camera, they just use different aspects of that capacity). I just use the stuff I need to use. The rest gets ignored.

I recently followed your advice and picked up a Fuji X-T1 and kit lens. It may not be the latest tech out there but it sure is fun. Now I just need to add some primes.

Were I you, Mike,- I'd stick with the Fuji, your happy with it, and for years "we" didn't have in camera IBIS, and we did fine. Then my age group would find a tree to brace themselves against!
But I have to question your point of view as regards the OMD's. I bought my EM-5 when they were out for about a year. One of its virtues was how costomizible they were. I'm twenty years your senior Mike, and I have no difficulty visiting and tweaking the menu if I have to. It seldom happens.
I've compared the menu set up to my son's Sony, and the GR II that I just bought, and it's not hugely different. It's just a question of getting used to it.
I think Olympus has been getting a bad "rep", uneccessarity; not unlike a certain public servent of the female gender whose actions and motives were mis-characterized!
As far as a smartphone as camera? I still have trouble getting my head around that! I don't have one, so I'm somewhat prejudiced! My wife and I go out to family events and everyone sees her pictures, I tell folks I have to do some tweaking, then I'll put my pictures on Flickr.
They look at me like I have two heads!

You know you want that GX8, you've already got the 42.5mm. And a 12-35mm?

You need some form of 17mm and the Olympus 40-150 f2.8 - now that Olympus I can really recommend.

Hi Mike
If you are looking at the longer focal lengths - recommend you take a look at Kirks latest blog on the 40-150 f2.8 , maybe that and the 15mm ??
All the best

GX8 or 9 with penny 100-300 II

If you are serious about getting a camera that is the antithesis of the iPhone, you need to analyze what the iPhone does well.

The iPhone is small, convenient, is possibly the least conspicuous camera ever made, works reasonably well in a variety of lighting situations, has excellent depth of field ( remember when deep focus was a technically difficult good thing?) is really fast etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...

So obviously if you are looking for a camera to complement the iPhone you should be looking into wet plate photography.

Oh wait, that's what I would do, but you are not me, and it sounds like it is just a telephoto itch you are trying to scratch. If it is the "I want to take pictures that are far away" aspect that appeals to you, the fact that there is all this air in the way pretty much levels the playing field to the extent that one of those superzoom 1 inch sensor cameras is as good as a 600mm lens on a full frame camera. In special cases like birds or sports or skyscraper rooftops photographed from other skyscraper rooftops the camera and lens make a difference but shooting through a mile of ten to 100 feet off the ground air and it's all the same, especially at print sizes of less than 12x18 inches

If you want to muck around with the largest universe of lenses for no rational reason, then you want a Sony A7 of some kind. Oh wait, that's me again...


From reading your column for a very long time, I am completely familiar with your conviction that IBIS is a near to gospel "must have" feature for you. I humbly ask why? Yes, with static subjects it gives perhaps a two or three stop advantage in low light. I translate this benefit to mean that your ideal IBIS-capable camera might be able to use ISO 3200 whereas my non IBIS-enabled camera might require ISO 12,800 to get a particular low light shot. Yet, compared to the good ole film days, we both can get many excruciatingly low-light shots under lighting conditions impossible for hand-held cameras a decade or two ago, and the camera that focuses on the critical subject matter fastest and with highest accuracy might just be the winner in overall image quality.

Anyway, I also recall you once owned a Nikon D800. I don't recall why you finally parted with it, but perhaps lack of IBIS was significant in your calculus. Nonetheless, the Pentax K1 is going to have roughly, albeit not totally, the bulk and weight of the D800E, so if dragging a bulky dSLR camera around is part of your "fails to meet my needs" criteria set, the K1 might come up short as well.

That said, the K1 is such a competitively priced FX camera compared to other FX dSLR competition, that at the end of the day if you are not invested in a lot of Canon or Nikon glass, purchasing the K1 does indeed make a lot of sense ;-)

All the best,

If you want longer lenses, shouldn't you really want the lighter, more compact micro four thirds camera's?

I'd stick the 30mm Panasonic in front of a GX8 (but that's a focal length that is not to everyones taste).

Even with Pentax, I'd think that it makes more sense to look at an APS-sized combo like the KP with DA70 or 50-135. The K1 is Pentax's attempt to replicate your "Big Dragoon"-Nikon, methinks. Surely carrying and iPhone AND a camera gives you better IQ than the heavy camera you left at home.

I have a GX8. The IBIS is dreadful compared to E-M5 II, or newer Olympus, or any newer Panasonic. If I was half as nuts as you, I'd trade you my GX8 for your XT-1.

Love your photo.

Your observation around the need for assistance with hand held photography is meaningful but so are your long developed aesthetic sensibilities which guided you to the Fuji in the first place. I suggest perhaps that you consider sticking with Fuji but get a soon to be announced x-h1 which will give you the IBIS you need. Then get the excellent but affordable and compact 55-200 which is exactly the kind of long lens you might desire (it’s been surprisingly good for me). I found the aesthetics of the Fuji had a deep impact on me. You will be able to keep the great lenses and rendering you already have and like but upgrade to the features you actually do need. If you completely switch systems again I am suspicious of what is driving that. Are you just hoping for a creative burst of inspiration that in fact no switch in gear is going to truly give you? Many of these systems are similar other than the mirrorless divide. Perhaps take a look at Sebastiiao Salgado and the creative kick and inspiration provided by his wife. She focused his purpose with all her project analysis, conceptualization, and planning which did huge things for him. If you are just hanging around somewhere that’s sort of nice to photograph it’s hard to make meaningful work when photography has now become so starkly cliched. When there is greater purpose to the work then the actual aesthetics of the camera make more sense too. And a choice like this becomes clear very quickly. Paul Alexander, composer and multimedia designer.


I would get the Pentax K-1. It's inexpensive considering all the features and the weather-proofing, plus Pentax smartly included in-body stabilization so that it would work with all of their old lenses. Speaking of which, you've got a world of lenses from Pentax to numerous third-party makes. And screw-mount too (just be sure to get the Pentax adapter).

That Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 would be a sweet lens -- plus it's not as expensive as I thought it would be. (My "price guide" memory is stuck in the late '80s.)

C'mon; you know you want a Pentax, if only to use your 50mm f/1.4 "atomic" lens!

It's tough call Mike. But keep in mind IBIS. It really is a great advantage to have this technology but especially with telephoto lenses. I can tell you that I have the Olympus 12-100mm lens with is excellent throughout it's range. It is also a dense 'heavy' lens in feel and will not be a happy companion with the em5-2 without the extra battery grip. You really should try the pair out handling wise before purchase. I'm always surprised how many people ignore handling as a quality when making a decision on equipment. I use mine with a em1-2 which is a nicely balanced combination without an extra grip. There is talk of Fuji adopting an IBIS system soon.

Mike, I think you should take a good, long look at the K1. Here's why: It's the closest you are likely to get to medium format digital when you want it. The reason is the price. It has just about everything you want in a stills camera save one thing-----size. It's quite compact for what it is, but chunky compared to what you are now used to. To get the image quality of the K1 in another camera, however, you'll have to pay a great deal more, and it will be bigger. And that's especially true for digital medium format. But I also say take a good long look because you might decide it's really not your style of body. OTOH, it's the closest thing to the Sony A900 you'll find out there today(far surpassing it, of course) in terms of feel and use. You had one of those IIRC.

As far as the lenses are concerned, those comparisons have always amused me. Didn't you just get finished writing some blog posts about 2 or 3 lens kits? So, waddya want 94 for? Those Canon and Nikon lens stables contain lots of dupes or near dupes, lots of older designs (so if it's bad for Pentax, why isn't it bad for Nikon and Canon?), lots of consumer grade lenses, and then some exotics few people want anyway. Don't turn up your nose at that Pentax legacy glass, either. There are gems in there with true character. Unlike more than a few contemporary lenses that are clinically good, but have all the character of municipal water.

After stepping my D3, D700, D800 and assorted lenses to Europe a few times and trying a Panasonic GX7 on one long trip that stretched into Asia, I was convinced that I needed my D800 less and less for the work I was doing there and loved the size/weight/stealth of the GX7. A pair became my go-to for most of my travel work but I still needed high-res for a certain aspect, some of it requiring a circular fisheye lens. I tried an adapted Sigma 4.5mm on the GX7 and it worked, but the res was about half what the 8mm was with the D800. Well in 2016 I managed to win a Olympus E-M5II... What was intreating besides the good IBS was the high-res pixel-shift. I compared the D800 with the 8mm and the M5II with the 4.5 and it was close enough. Bonus: more pixels using a tripod and those sharp Oly and Panasonic lenses. So now the D800 stays at home for most everything and the Oly is my camera of choice. ISO 6400? No problem! Better than ISO 3200 on my D300! Need to limit the lenses? the Panasonic 7-14 and the Oly 14-150 covers 90% of what I do, usually without a tripod! When I need faster and the ultimate IQ, it's the 12-40 Oly and 35-100 Panasonic 2.8 lenses. Fast, sharp, small, light. Sure, the Oly menu is vast. But setting a few things here and there, you'll be fine. The images I get? I'm now in stealth mode: small, unobtrusive, silent, less intimidating. The photo? Best I've done in years! Less worry about the pixels, more about the pictures. Sure I love the D800 files, and the battery life, but packing this beast and its lenses is enslavement. A pair of Oly bodies and lenses with a few batteries in the pocket is liberating! Not looking like an ugly American packing serious cameras? Priceless!

Buy a Panasonic GH5 and be done with it. Phone your buddy Kirk and let him convert you.

Regards "pictures do seem farther away.." I totally understand, having come from the expanses of northern New England to the relative confines of the Connecticut shoreline. Things just seem closer down here. Took me awhile to understand that I needed to shift my orientation away from distances, and equally important, that the "vistas" commonplace in northern NE could be found (well the feel of them) at the shoreline down here, my camera pointing out to sea. And the added bonus - big skies.

Aww, just get the GX8,it's calling you. Haha! But seriously, my hands got the shakes and I was also looking at M43, as I still have my Linux primes (20mm-25mm P/L), so I played with a GX85. Enjoyed it, but it was too small for my hands. I looked at the GX8, but it's too expensive and the fully articulated screen kills it for me as I prefer tilt screens. I like the K1 and even looked at the KP, but I dunno, size may be too much for me. Guess I'll wait and see what the GX9 is made of...

I am a big fan of IBIS, but recent advances in the high ISO performance of imaging chips have recently make me wonder whether it is really necessary.

Take the Nikon D3, for instance. This is an old workhorse of mine that I have used for years. It has really, really good ISO 1600 performance (a piddling low ISO number by today's standards). I'd rate it superior on pure IQ to any 35-mm 400 speed film of the last century.* If I am indoors at night, ISO 1600 lets me use f:2.8 lenses with a fairly high level of confidence.

BUT, you use IBIS on human subjects at lower than 1/15 of a second or and you're going to get subject movement and some degradation in sharpness, even if the ISBS is rendering the table in front of the subject acceptably sharp.

Anyway, just something I have been thinking about.

BTW, the Pentax K1 that has me raving has a couple of irrational features that I really like. I like that you can use AA batteries in the optional grip. That's future proofing right there, as even in 10 years (*HA*) you'll be able to find them.

I like that the camera has DNG as a RAW format option. I mean WHAT is it with every company having a proprietary RAW format? They are all freaking TIFF files with tweaks added as special sauce. Get over it camera companies. DNG --> not quite as future proof, but pretty good.

Pentax lenses? Hoo hah. I cut my teeth on 'em and I still like 'em. Are there as many fast primes as Nikon or Canon? Nope. Not crazy about this. I blame the 49mm front filters and the legacy lens mount, but you can't have everything. I do have a 24mm f:2 Nikon lens I use a fair amount, so fast-ish primes do have their place even in this world of ISO 64,000 kajillion.

Still, if you are a four lens or five lens guy, this is probably not that big a deal.

OK rant over. I am already aware that there are many K-1 features I will probably never use. That image-melding 50 MP high res function? Hunh? I can't do anything with a file that large.

Oh two other things. That Pentax 43mm lens? Oh yeah. I have been buying used lenses for the K-1, but that 43 just keeps calling out to me. And the Olympus menus? ARRGH. Talk about decisional paralysis. The problem is that unless I "live" in the menus, I forget how I set things up from session to session. Put the camera down for three weeks? Every freaking thing I learned about where to find the B&W 1:1 L-JPG setting has flown from my brain. The nod goes to the K-1, which you can get down to a two or three control camera once you have a couple of parameters set. It is better thought-out than the Olympus, in my opinion.

There. Done now.


* I wrote "pure" IQ, because my last favorite ISO 400 film was Neopan, which had a very particular identifiable grain structure. You could spot a print made with that stuff a mile away. "Pure" IQ? Perhaps lower than TMax or the Delta films. But the atmospherics? Loved 'em. I still have a couple 100-foot rolls of Neopan stashed in a chest freezer . . .

People talk about lenses 'not being designed for digital', but I've never had any issues with any of the Pentax M and K primes that I happily use both on may Pentax DSLR and (with adaptor) on M4/3. This is one of those issues that gains currency among gear nerds on the Internet, but has no practical significance. The FA lenses are also fine, but make more sense on a native K-mount camera. Great with the K1.

Mike, perhaps you should open up a camera gear sales forum like Fred Miranda for TOP readers! Or, maybe a lending library where we can lend gear to each other; just a thought! ;-)

Given that, @Rob L: My like new, mint, X-T1 is for sale for $450 with some nice accessories. No pressure, but If you're interested, send me an email at [email protected].

Regarding, the X-H1, yes, it will be a little larger than an X-T1/T2, but not a lot. I would guess about 10% larger, but not much more more than that. And, If you're going to actually shoot with larger longer lenses, the slightly larger body will let you balance those lenses more effectively than an X-T1 or an X-T2 w/o the killer Vertical Power Booster Grip. And, if you change out to a new system, you're still looking at two grand at least, all in, for a new body and a new set of 2-3 lenses, particularly if you get a longer zoom.

-the other Stephen

If you want IBIS, I doubt you could beat this one...https://robinwong.blogspot.ca/2018/02/the-image-stabilization-miracle.html

[Thanks Neal. Robin wrote the review of the G9 at Ming Thein, and implies that the G9 may be even a little better. At least in the same ballpark. --Mike]

Gonna reckon that trading in the XT-1 for some other camera is not going to make your photos better---although image stabilization might help technically, and a longer lens seems like a good idea. But then certainly you don't need my advice on your photography.

I have found that every camera I have purchased since the Nikon D300 and Olympus EP-3 has left me disappointed and has done little to nothing for my photography. The Fuji x100 and the Panasonic GX-7 have been severe disappointments and have actually hampered me (although I have made peace with the GX7, adjusting for a poor EVF that cannot be properly focused, a two-stop difference in exposure metering in manual mode compared to aperture priority, and a ISO 100 setting that gives me faster shutter speeds or f-stops than ISO 200.)

No, don't get me started.

Anyway, I went for decades with one main SLR film camera while flirting with some range-finders for fun. My move to digital with the Nikon D70s made huge a difference in the learning curve. Moving to the Nikon D300 allowed improvements in performance and sensor that made my photography easier, thus making successful photos more common. The move tho the Olympus EP-3 was a challenge, but the small mostly responsive package a made a difference at the time I was changing my type of photography.

The others...no. My Fuji XE-1 is fun, but not much more than that.

I am often tempted, but other than spend money that I need elsewhere, I don't see how any of the new cameras are going to make that much difference for me. For you? Maybe we'll see.

Whatever you do, don't get a fisheye.

For Fuji users the grass can never be greener at the other side.

“Of course I'm not sure this is logical; maybe it just seems logical.”
Mike, there is no logic, there is only rationalisation.

Here's a suggestion :)

Try using a "beater" system (like buying a "rust beater car"):

Scruffy, used Canon 5D2 - about $500
Scruffy, used Canon 70/200 f4 IS mark 1 - about $400
Canon 40/2.8 - about $100

Light enough with just the 40/2.8 that you can take it eveywhere. Cheap enough that you don't have to worry about it. There's a certain freedom in using gear you can afford to replace.

No system has more tele options than m4/3. And overall no other system has so many affordable but high quality lens options if you just want to have fun and experiment with gear may not have usually bought. If Oly seems complex, then I will add a shameless plug for my site unlockingolympus.com here and offer you my time as I do private training too. You will be a Olympus menu champ. I'm also super into miatas... we'd have a blast hanging out.

Mike, I can feel your pain. Years ago, I had a Canon 5D and two lenses. I used that combination for years. Was very a happy and made great pictures. Then one day, I noticed the gear was feeling too heavy and I wasn't shooting as much. So I looked for a lighter solution. (And so begins the downward spiral.)

I got an X-Pro1 and 35mm f1.4. Love the camera, shooting experience and pics. Got more Fuji cameras and lenses. Then I decided I wanted better quality so I traded most of the Fuji gear and got a Nikon D810 and a few lenses. AMAZING pics! But again, heavy and with the high resolution, unless on a tripod, found most of my pics not sharp.

Traded the Nikon for an Olympus OM-D E-M1.2. Super camera (once I figured out how to use it). I could take pics with it that no other camera I had could. But, I was missing the D810 quality. I picked up another D810.

At this point, I'm going crazy as I really just want to use one camera. (I believe there's huge benefits to getting familiar with one camera and I wasn't reaping those benefits.) I liked the size and EVF of the Olympus and the quality of the D810.

So yesterday, I traded both the Olympus and Nikon and lenses for a Sony a7RIII. I'm gambling that it has the best qualities of both. It has the same sensor as the D810 and with the right lenses, it can be a small(ish) carry around camera.

And no way can it be more complicated than the Olympus.

The only other camera on my radar was the upcoming Fuji X-H1; a Fuji with IBIS. I do enjoy shooting old school with the Fuji system. (Still have my X-Pro1 and an X100F as a pocket camera.)

Hopefully this will be it. I'd like to get off this merry go round and start taking pics again.

Just a thought here about the long lens thing...again.

If you need a long lens but you also want IBIS, look into an Olympus or Panasonic body with one of their telephotos or tele zooms as a specialized single camera/lens combination. Bet you can find perfectly the perfect combination on the used market. It beats dumping your entire current system at a financial loss.

This is something I did a while back. I bought a used E-M1, mainly to use with an adapted E-system Zuiko 50-200 f/2.8-3.5. It's a workable solution for occasional use. The Zuiko is sharp but somewhat slower in AF than I like but it still does what I need. The Olympus OMD EM1 is...well, not one of my favorite all time cameras. Actually, I kinda hate it. The menus ARE a pain, at least to my simple mind. The ergonomics sorta suck, again for my use. The EVF is soft and dim compared to the Fuji X-T1, at least in my particular camera. In other words, for my tastes, the Fujis are much more functional and ergonomic tools. Buuuut...the Olympus has great IBIS, great colors (that I prefer over Fuji) and the Raw files are great for B&W work. Furthermore, I can, if I want to, use the wonderful 25/1.4 and 15/1.7 Panasonic/Leica Summilux lenses I have left over from my previous delve into Micro 4/3. Works for me.

Just another thought.

So why is it that you don't want to sling your XT-1 over your shoulder when you head out the door (as your note taking camera)? When we were young, we wore our cameras everywhere. You can still do that, you know.

You seem to discount m43 because of an apparent lack of separation from the iPhone. If I recall correctly you have an Epson 17" printer for which m43 is fully capable. Borrow or rent an iPhone 7+, Panasonic G9, and Sony A7ii, along with iPhone equivalent lenses for the G9 and A7ii. Use together for a week, taking every image with each camera and appropriate lens so as to have three very similar versions of each image. Pick a few of the best and print each at the largest size you would normally print. Now, which prints are you satisfied with? (I selected the A7ii due to lens selection vs. Pentax K1). Also, I note you commented on the Olympus 12-100 as a do-all lens with telephoto reach. I recommend the Olympus 40-150 Pro as the better option. Living in the rural farmland foothills of North Carolina I can say from experience that the extra 50mm makes a big difference when trying to reach out across the landscape. Then add the Panasonic 12-35 or a couple of primes in the 30-50 range and you're set.

I have more lenses than fingers and toes, but what I don't have is a bargain priced supercharged Jaguar...That guy actually makes me want to go drive one. But, I don't have anywhere to park it, and I don't have an extra $35K lying around. But if I did...

XT-1 is too big and you want to get a K-1? Are you kidding? I was roughly in the same situation as you several years ago when I purchased a K-1. I have been a Pentax user for years, had everything from a Spotmatic (still have my 8 element 50mm 1.4 Super Tak) to a Pentax 67. Before the K-1 I had a Panasonic GX85 and a Pentax 645D and I wrote an article on how I could not tell the difference between the two when comparing 16x20 prints. I sold the Pentax 645D, because I was tired of the excess bulk, and bought a K-1, which turned out to be not significantly less bulky. I used IBIS and price as my rationalization, however, to my disappointment the IBIS on the K-1 was not really on par with what I was getting with the GX85. In my experience the Pentax k-1 IBIS was no more than 2 stops, contrary to what I was reading on PentaxForums where users were waxing eloquently on 5+ stops, no way! Lenses on the K-1 are another issue. The Tamron rebranded zooms are expensive and at least the 24-70 that I owned was big and unremarkable. My love for old Pentax gear clouded my vision, and I am now not very positive about the future of Pentax. I sold the K-1 and bought some more excellent m4/3 glass and have never missed a shot with my GX85. May upgrade to g9 but will wait a little to see if the GX9 is coming soon. Unless you are printing bigger than 22"x30" a m4/3 camera with excellent glass will serve you very well. Do you need full frame to post your jpgs on the web? If I ever want to print bigger then what my Epson P800 can deliver, I still have my 4x5 field camera that I can dust off. I would definitely rent a K-1 before you buy one.

I kind of do something similar to Dogman. My most used camera is a Nikon D750 with a couple primes (the 28mm 1.8 and 58mm 1.4 that both weigh less than 400g). This is the maximum size camera/lens combo for my tastes. In any case, I also have what I call a "zoom rig" which is a Nikon D5300 with 10-20mm/18-55mm/70-300mm AF-P VR zooms. These are light weight lenses, the VR is very good, the AF-P focus is very fast and quiet, and I'm very happy with the images these lenses produce. For how much I use zooms, it was a nice solution for me (and the entire "zoom rig" cost $1,400) and pretty fun to use. So I ended up over time with full frame for primes, APS-C for zooms, and the iPhone for note-taking. (I'd say getting a 55-200 for the Fuji X-T1 with stabilization is the most economical solution for short-term testing of telephoto zoom stuff, although I gotta say I like the reach of the 70-300 on APS-C for the times I'm out with that lens).

Think big and small.. then how big how small!

Dropped all that wonderful Pentax glass ... 35 macro da21, fa77, fa43 as realised that FOR me the XT1 was as heavy as I wanted too carry along with the X100F.
But alongside that I love the M43 for long walks etc.

HOWEVER I really wouldn't get the GX8 .... esp as the GX9 may be here soon. Gordon Laing and others have commented hoe the G80 with 16mp and no filter is as good as the 20mp in the GX8 which still has a filter.
I think if going for the GX8 wait for its upgrade as the lack of a filter may irritate you sooner than you think ... just saying!

What I think is interesting is Petapixel current contest. The grand prize is you choice of top camera from every manufacture. Why I find this interesting is it gets you to think, cost no issue what of the recent top cameras would I want. The 850, 5dmk4, A7rmr3, em1mk2, gh5, gh5s, g9, k1, or xt2. Actually could be a hard decion, similar to yours.
For you if cost is an issue don't rule out the Panasonic G85. If your even thinking k1, I think you will be happier with the Panasonic.

Getting a used X-T1 now in V Good Cond is like getting a used F100 over 15 years ago- a highly capable camera capable at a bargain price.

I ought to add, even as your Authorized Pentax Enabler, that their lens line is probably weakest in the short zoom category you're interested in. Beyond the range of the excellent, contemporary 28-105 D-FA, we're supposed to want to want the D-FA 70-200/2.8 zoom. It's probably worth the $1700 list price, but at four pounds, I wouldn't carry it much. My legacy choice is the F or FA 70-200 with a not-so-impressive 4-5.6 aperture. But hey, if you want anything in focus, you'll be using those apertures anyhow.

Ideally, my K-1 would take the lens I miss most from the Minolta/Sony days: My 70-210/4, the Beercan. But there are workarounds.

What's a Pentaxian to do? Here's where primes might be the best option. Choose a 100mm macro, or a 200/2.8 if you have the 28-105 as a primary walkaround. Along with a short zoom, I carry a Tamron 90/2.8 macro, the "plastic fantastic" that's light weight and versatile. Any perspective longer than 150mm (cropped) probably needs my 300/4, and that's my best lens of all.

Here's what's different about the K-1. The APS-C and square crops are so wonderfully accessible (on the third third mode dial) that they transform the way I use it, and make zooms less necessary. Half of a 36 mp frame, taken from the heart of the image circle, has plenty of detail for almost any purpose, and a minor crop from 36 mp causes no visible losses.

You like short lenses, if I remember correctly. You say you need image stabilisation. And that's surprising, given that you are a long-time photographer. So that's a bit concerning.

[I also love to shoot in very low light. So, not so concerning...but thanks for your concern. --Mike]

Fascinating responses . . . many perspectives . . . but not YOU.

As a declared "lens guy" you know your main priorities. "How the lens sees the world, and how well you see what the lens sees." So, lenses and viewing must satisfy. Visualization.

Surely image quality is close behind. Pixels, bit depth, pixel size, color, dynamic range, print size, etc. B&W conversion, a must. Results.

Ease of use is the practical consideration: feel (hand, glove, tripod), size, weight, speed, focus, adjustment, simplicity, stabilization, weather sealing, etc. A coherent and effective tool? Action.

The tradeoffs are obvious in my gear: LX7, GX7, M5II and D700. For me, the 4:3 format and depth of field of smaller sensors are welcome indeed. Could A3 and A4 prints benefit from more and better pixels? TBD. I wonder about 14 vs. 12 bit color in particular. An itch to be scratched. Meanwhile, the most portable that's suitable gets the nod. Still, we must allow for whimsey.

Your intuition likely has it right. Follow your heart. Adjust later.

I’ve got no comment on cameras, but I am curious about this sudden need, after nearly forty years of shooting, for long lenses. I know we’re all different, but this wasn’t something I experienced when I moved to New Mexico from Downstate New York. For the most part, any lenses I own that are longer than 50mm, with the exception of the 24-70, languish in a drawer most of the time.

Please, write some more about what it is that’s changing your mental focal length. Show us pictures.

"I am a big fan of IBIS, but recent advances in the high ISO performance of imaging chips have recently make me wonder whether it is really necessary."
Mr Marks beat me to it.
A friend who is the best still photojournalist it town (in my opinion)shoots at sky high ISO all the time. Up around 5000 and his stuff looks wonderful and very very sharp. If there's noise there I can't see it.

It's very liberating to make a 1/10 second exposure of a stream and have smooth, blurry water. I've done that repeatedly, sharp every time, with a 100 mm lens. That's what stabilization can do. It's not just to help you freeze all motion, but to give you the power, tripod-free, to do just the opposite.

The problem with the Olympus menus system is the cryptic nature of the menu items, things like "mode 1" doesn't mean anything. Like the lamented creative wheel in the front of the Pen F. When I turn the dial to color, it gives you three "modes" mode 1, 2 and 3.... Same as the mono position. when I first have the camera, I took pictures of the 3 modes for color and mono and studied it carefully and learn the differences. Then I never remember which is which again.... Olympus, please either let us customize the name of the mode, or give it some more meaningful names like vivid, natural... or hard, soft... whatever.... something that can link to our mental picture. Fujifilm had been playing this game well, giving the "modes" names like Classic Chrome, Astia....
And what is the "Heart" and "rhombus" on the drive modes? Okay, heart for silent mode, rhombus for stabilized mode. But does the silent mode also have the stabilizer on?? (Heart on, no Rhombus)
**Rant off** The Pen F is a great camera.

The best compromise I have found (for the moment) is managing two small MFT kits composed of an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark w/M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 (the all-weather outdoor and travel combo) and an Olympus Pen-F w/M.Zuiko 17mmF1.8 & 45mmF1.8 (the urban follower kit). Of course lenses, battery packs and external flashes are interchangeable between those two kits. You can can get the same results with the appropriate Panasonic and Fujifilm products with some restrictions over the stabilization options available.
At last you have to choose a camera that you will have fun with it and be ready to bring with you without second though.

re: your making the acquaintance with a wide lens... so you don't have much use for one, never said you didn't know how to use it?

Olympus cameras aren't that complicated if you use the google (or some similar) while you are setting it up. Don't be shy about that. "How would I..." and look it up. The problem is that you might miss features you didn't even know it has, like "blinkies." Or if you used focus peaking on Sony, you might neglect it on Olympus, but it is actually fantastic on Olympus. Once you set it up once, you don't need to do it any more. And once it is set up, it is really a beautiful experience, actually my favorite camera experience between Nikon (various DSLRs), Sony (a7rii), and Olympus. I should temper that by saying I prefer the Sony for what I usually do (prime vintage lenses and manual focus), but the Olympus is a very nice experience for native lenses and autofocus.

I still have my own 4-year-old Fujifilm X-T1 camera, which just feels right. I continuously try new film recipes with adjustments of film simulations, B&W filter options, and highlight - shadow adjustments. The Fujis feel like little darkrooms with the in-camera raw converter and all the adjustable variations of tone, mood, and color. I recently used your link to buy the X-T20 from B&H. I just had to try the new sensor with faster autofocus and the Acros Film Simulations. I thought that would give me enough of a taste of the Fujis to decide if I want to commit to this system seriously. I must say, even with the little kit 16-50mm lens, I pick this camera up and make pictures. They looked so great, it just has sparked a new passion in my picture making. I am hooked on the Acros with both the Red and Green filters and I just love the Astia film simulations. 24mp on the sensor sure gives the images some great snap and depth. So, I am going to keep my old X-T1 with the old 18-135mm and the new X-T20 with the 16-50mm kit lens. I am making more pictures and using these cameras every day. It really helps with my bouts of G.A.S...Almost making me feel cured.

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