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Thursday, 09 May 2019


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For a fun camera, try an old fashion box camera-

As usual here, Mike it's the nail, right between the eyes.

I've always had the same impulse when it comes to my camera, so I just use the smallish old prime lenses, so I can shoot with one hand if I need to. I've never bought a zoom.

I'm now often using a Canon 1ds with the old 35mm f2.0 lens. It's not much bigger than the mirrorless cameras and... with 50mpx, one can "zoom" in post a bit :)

But for real fun, I take out the film cameras!

With today's technology, anything above m43 can provide professional level image quality. I would rank the fun factor very high in choosing a brand. The Fuji cameras I have certainly are fun owing to their retro look and interface. I've used Canon before, but never can appreciate its round, streamlined body design.But fun is subjective.

Putting the fun back into the cameras I use and the photography I do with them is a large part of my rationale for modifying them to better suit my particular needs.

Tinkering with cameras has become my daytime hobby and taking photos with them remains my nighttime hobby. It's like a second, bonus hobby for not much additional cost! 8^)

Before I opted to upgrade my DSLR (recent deal on D7500) I seriously considered moving to FF mirrorless (I also have an APS-C Sony that I've decided is not in my long term future). Nikon is an obvious choice - the cameras are competent and I have Nikon lenses. But the 24-70 is ONLY 24-70 (I prefer 24-105) and the 35/1.8 looks awfully big for a 35 (bigger than the Canon) and goes for $800+.
So I started looking at the RP. It's dirt cheap, but has dual control wheels (so it's not TOO entry level). Competent, basic, looks "fun" (don't know how to quantify that). Lacks IBIS, but the 35 and the 24-105 both have it built in. It started to look like a really good option to bigger, pricier kits (or, for that matter, to competing APS-C mirrorless kits).
But then I saw the refurb D7500 for $699 and I had my eye on the Sigma 100-400 that was on sale for $650 and decided it's a great time to upgrade my trusty DSLR and ride off into the sunset, clickety clack, clickety clack ...

Well, maybe that's another reason camera sales are dropping.

I had a brief affair with a German car a few years ago. It came with…

o Communication Management -- The Quick Reference Manual (10 pages)
o Communication Management (203 pages)
o Warranty and Customer Information
o Maintenance
o Getting Started -- The Quick Reference Guide (12 pages)
o Owner's Manual (349 pages)
o Roadside Assistance Owner's Information

But there was no need to open any one of them to have fun driving -- which I did. Well, maybe I spent a few minutes setting the sound system up.

It's the same with my cameras. There are 41 pages describing all the auto focus modes. Read only by camera reviewers.

P mode when things are moving and M mode when they’re not. On the Internet, no one will know you’re having fun as a point-and-shooter. They only get to see the end result. Why waste valuable time fiddling with a score of menu items when it can be better spent tasting coffee or admiring flowers?

Yeah, so many on-line camera reviews are so spec-centered and therefore empty of actual content. And then occasionally you'll read a review that gushes a little from actual experience with a system, but then still gives a lukewarm summary at the end because it returns to the spec sheet. Reviewers somehow think it's due diligence to do this final "scoreboarding," after all that bit of fun they just reported. They're seem completely afraid to review with their judgement and sense, and they come off as deeply ashamed of liking a camera with a flawed spec.

Why even bother picking up the camera for the review at all?

I'm an avid cyclist and I witnessed a similar trend happen in the bike industry. For some reason every buyer was made to think they should want a carbon-framed, narrow-wheeled, "got spandex?" machine. Luckily, recently, bike manufacturers have started making a wider variety of options, including decent performance ones with comfy fatter tires, sturdier frames, and a variety of handhold options.

I get enlisted by friends to help them test out bikes. Just recently a buddy of mine looked at me like I'd snakes coming out of my eyeballs when I asked him "Hey, how'd that bike feel? Did you have fun riding it??" I had to convince him that it was okay to want the bike that he, well, just happened to like for no good reason other than it was fun to ride!

With any luck, the camera industry can survive and switch back to making the hobby fun again, maybe even work to educate buyers into wanting that fun, and work to offer cameras that surprise you with just feeling right.

Come to think of it, my own picture-taking needs that boost at the moment.

>>I have a feeling I ought to check this out for myself.

Absolutely. There's only so much you can learn or understand based on other people's impressions. And the very reason we read TOP in the first place is to read your take on things, so...


I'm excited to hear your thoughts on the RP. In my opinion, the RP is a brilliant move by canon; recycle an older but good enough sensor, ditch the expensive mirror box, and deliver a great value to photographers. The promise of mirrorless was supposed to be two parts: smaller and less expensive. The RP is the only FF camera to deliver on both of those fronts. Then, when you consider Canon's great ergonomics, dual-pixel auto focus, easy to understand menus, and great straight-out-of-camera color rendition, suddenly the RP looks like the most fun you can have in a $1200 camera.

In forum world the RP takes some hits because it recycles the much maligned 6Dmk2 sensor. I think those photographer's arguments are off track. At the RP's price point, the competition isn't the A7, SL1, or Z6, the RP's competition are the APS sensor cameras. Compared to similarly priced Fuji's or Sony's A6500 the RP's sensor looks fairly luscious. And, if a photographer opts for RP, he's buying into a lens system that he could use on a higher-end body sometime in the future.

I'm a long time Canon shooter, I bought into their lens system 15 years and I've stayed with them ever since. Recently I've become tempted by other brands. My dad jumped from Nikon to Fuji last year, and when he came out to visit this past winter, I got to shoot with his top of the line Fuji kit (x-t2 with the expensive f2.8 zooms). We spent two days in the Cascades shooting landscape and a little wildlife. His slick Fuji equipment made my beat-up old 5Dmk3 feel like a brick. However, when we got back home and compared files, my seven year old 5Dmk3 still produced better looking, more detailed files than his one year old x-t2. My point: if you're worried about the RP's sensor, don't. Canon's FF sensors coupled with Canon glass make gorgeous photos, even their older sensors. My ancient 5Dmk3 has a sensor that's a generation behind the RP's. I'm sure the RP's sensor is capable of doing pretty much any photography you can imagine and you won't see much, if any difference between photos taken on and RP and photos taken with a different FF camera that costs twice as much.

Not sure why the RP is any more fun than any other camera to use. Using fun as a fallback conclusion usually means it is technically deficient and the reviewer is struggling to say something positive.

Ah well. Last January I purchased the Nikon D7500 kit for the express purpose of using the 16-80mm f/2.8-f/4 lens with it. For me, this represents the ideal compact mid-range zoom solution.

I find myself however having way more fun using it with my trusty 35mm 1.8G DX super small prime lens.


I haven't owned anything Canon since my F1 and T90 days, but I can't help feeling that 'Meanwhile, they've actually built a good camera for once' is going to virally flustulate some fanboys!! You obviously fancy living on the edge for a bit.
However, as to the main gist of your article, once upon a time, a camera was a physical interaction only, in that the 'controls' were essentially the same across the board. Liking or disliking a camera, and therefore liking using it or not, was more based on how it felt - just like loving the feel of a guitar, without fretting [oops!] over how many times the pickups have been wound... and I miss that.

One reason I have started shooting more film...I started out with Minolta film cameras, and now I’m back to buying & using old Minolta filmers again. No kicks against digital, but I’m suffering a case of DBO (Digital Burn-Out)...

I admire the relative simplicity of those old cameras & the fact that using them requires DIY rather than having the machine do it for you (manual focusing again!)—like going from a Lexus to an old stick-shift sports car, where you got to work to make it happen....

Seriously, I think autoexposure was the last really great canera innovation. Everything since is really just refinements on that.

I've been saying for many years, to no one in particular, that camera makers should follow Porsche's example and create an 'RS' model (the RS models were stripped out, light weight versions, which became the most revered cars they made). Partly because most of us probably don't use most of our camera's features, but also I think we have some anxiety about opting for the entry-level cameras, even though they're likely more than adequate. We might feel more comfortable with a 'sports' model.

I think this relates. Rick Sammons has a new article about safaris on Canon's website and it includes this quote about boosting iso to get a sharp shot:
'What’s more, as my dad used to say, “If a picture is so boring that you notice the noise, it’s a boring picture.”'

To give Canon its due, the original Digital Rebel was a fun camera, too - a real entry point for a whole lot of people to digital, and while not quite my beloved A2, it got out of the way.

Fuji and GR shooters are all like, ya, we get fun - the X100 gets a special place, as does the Xpro series. Something reminding you to have fun, or that makes you want to shoot, is a very big feature.

From my POV, a camera, like a cabinet makers hammer, is just a tool. My delight comes from the finished object, not the tools used to make the (hopefully) art. I've been using Canon's EOS film/digital cameras since about 1990, because they just work. If I buy a mirrorless camera, it will be a Canon RP. By virtue of it being the best-tool for my-job, not because it's fun to use.

I've always appreciated modern curvy design. Here's a Rosenthal teapot, designed by Walter Gropius, that I bought for my wife https://bit.ly/2Q4t9tL

Canon's T90 FD film camera (1986) incorporates Luigi Colani's distinctive "bio-form" curvaceous shapes https://bit.ly/2WxXQtr It's the precursor of Canon's EOS 1 (1989).

Fun, I will tell you what fun is...getting my X-T1 out, putting on my Micro Nikkor 105 F4 and getting some awesome insect shots. I love shooting Fuji bodies with manual focus lenses.

I have a question about current camera sensors. I had Canon DSLRs until 4 years ago. Five bodies and a ton of lenses. The only problem I ever had with them was the weight of a 5D II with a Zeiss lens. My back would ache after a long session of walking/shooting. I never had a problem with the way the files from any Canon sensor looked. The flesh tones were lovely and warm.

Since giving them all to my daughter, I have used mostly Micro 4/3 cameras with either of the Sony sensors 16 and 20 megapixel, Olympus or Panasonic. I find these files to be lovely also, a bit cooler for flesh tones, but lovely.

I bought a Sony a6000 and some Sigma lenses and love the results form it, but don't love the body form function.

Now I see references to cameras having antiquated or rapidly aging sensors that are no longer worth much..........WHAT?

Are Canon sensors now considered passe? Are people able to look at a file or a print and say "Too bad he only had a 5D Mk. IV. If he had a Nikon/Sony with the new sensor it could have been great."?

I no longer shoot Canons but I can't believe that most photographers could get wonderful pictures with any of their current offerings.

Not only did Ned have the right tool for the task at hand, he also had the right attitude.

Using your equipment should be fun, seeing your results, even more so...

As to the other half of this post, the fun factor, I will chime in too. I am a big fan of Holga/Diana photography. I shot with Dianas and Tri-X forty years ago, after Iowa, the Nancy Rexroth book, came out. Loved the look, learned to deal with light leaks, shifting focus etc.

I missed the freedom when I moved to digital. Tried the Lensbaby but found the squeeze-to-focus frustrating. Then the Holga lens appeared, for digital cameras.

The wonderful look I remembered, no light leaks, far less vignetting and limitless "film". I have had a Holga lens for every ILC digital camera that I have owned. Put the camera on aperture preferred and go. I shoot square most of the time. On a 4:3 or 3:2 ratio the corners are black, but at 1:1 there is just a hint.

I put the lens on my lightest body, an Olympus E-M10 III and go out and play. The pictures are far different than when I have a great lens on a G9 but I have fun.

Yes, using my Pentax LX is fun. It feels so good in my hands, the finder is so amazingly good, focusing is a joy. Unfortunately scanning film is not fun, but that is the only thing that is un-fun about it.

On the other hand there is my Pentax K-1. Shake reduction is amazing, as is the low-light performance. At least Pentax menu system isn't bad. But it's big and heavy, not fun in the hands. You have to use exposure compensation at times, and then you forget it and blow the highlights! Too many finder indications to notice the exposure compensation is on. With the stock screen manual focus of fast lenses is a non-starter, with a Canon S screen you can focus but exposure is screwed up. Only hope for those fast MF lenses is live view.

The LX is fun to "dry shoot". The K-1 isn't. That really sums it up.

Fun was exactly the reason I enjoyed the X-Pro1 in 2012, and started leaving my D800 at home.

Direct, lightweight and uncomplicated.

Your friend is right. If the RP is fun, then it was a successful engineering and industrial product. So few modern products today are fun any more. And of course the images the RP records will suit almost any normal usage. Also, think of it this way: the "experts" and "photographers" who comment on the infamous Dpreview hate it, so you know the opposite is true.

Ah, the photographic “fun factor”... what defines it? Mine that vein...

My Leica-M - although I like using it - is not a FUN camera. So is my Leica VLux 4 that I carry on all my vacations. They are good but they are not fun cameras.

My MOST FUN camera is the Rolleiflex TLR. When people look at it, it's fun to see their reactions, and before they figure it out, I snapped their picture.

If you hear hoofbeats with your ear to the ground, I'm afraid you're in big trouble.

Fun factor seems inversely related to the amount of choices and decisions I have to make to take the photograph. The most fun cameras I have experienced are instant film cameras, folders, TLRs, scale focus (Rollei 35S, XA4) and Barnacks. For digital, the Nikon 1 V1 with 18.5mm (50mm equivalent) prime and the Canon 6D with 40mm pancake.

Let's enjoy the possibility of this unproven fun factor.
If we fact-check a technical specification list to make cameras fun wouldn't we be falling again on the digital treadmill?

A couple of years ago the focusing on my DLSR (make and model unimportant) gave up the ghost. As I was strapped for cash at the time, I decided to dig out the last film camera I had bought, a Voigtlander Bessa.

I found I just really enjoyed the act of taking photos again. Once the film was in and the ISO set there was little more to think about than the image and the joy of being there.

I have used it ever since and not sure I really plan to buy a DSLR replacement.

In the rush towards ever greater tech, it's easy to forget that the camera is a medium for interacting with a subject (a person, thing or even an idea). If that engagement is fun/ stimulating, then the pictures may not all be great, but they will be meaningful to the photographer.

Great post.
My guess is that this will be one of your essays that we refer back to in years to come. You have articulated the often overlooked fact that we are at an inflection point, and camera design will change.
Adding digital functionality to film bodies in order to accommodate existing lens lines is completely understandable, -maybe even necessary for the transition- but it would probably not be the way a 'clean sheet' design approach would do it.
Maybe the true realization of the digital camera is yet to come

Canon may bee more deliberate about fun than you give them credit for. I read an interview with canon executives, when asked what the P in RP stood for they answered "People as in the people's camera"
I never liked the Rebel name, but it was the same Idea-- not state of the art, but high quality, reliable, easy, Fun, and a great value.
Time will tell

I have several cameras and much more lenses. When I travel by car, I usualy bring with me two Lowepro backpacks full of gear plus a Gitzo tripod. Last February I took a two week break and went to a rural place in southern Chile that is slowly becoming a ghost town. This time I decided to bring just one camera, an Oly Pen F, and one lens, The Olympus 12-40 f2.8 and the Gitzo tripod because I wanted to test for the first time the high resolution mode of the Oly Pen F. I realy had a fun time with such a restricted gear, much more than when I bring all my stuff. I'm seriously considering getting rid of many components of my system. On the other hand, I don't consider the complexity of current cameras an issue. I have programed the custom modes of the Pen F with my most used function. C1: my regular shooting, C2: long exposure, C3: regular HDR and C4: high resolution mode. I don't use the front dial of the camera. Here are some photos from last February that I probably would never have taken if I had brought my entire system.

High resolution mode:


HDR mode:


Regular mode:




Mike, fun is the issue. Using most digital cameras is WORK. I don't want to work, I want to take pictures. And my iPhone 8 does a great job most of the time. My Pen F and lenses are good enough that I do not foresee buying another digital camera.

I mentioned this in a comment on the GR post previously, but selling a camera I wanted to love but simply didn't click with a fun way (even though I made many photos with it that I do love) and using the cash to buy two cameras that simply "spoke" to me in a very simple way, has reinvigorated my love of doing photography. I sold a Fuji XE-1. Loved the form factor, holding the camera, using it with old lenses, but it just didn't do it for me somehow. I kept thinking I *should* want to use it, but I rarely actually did. I followed my heart and traded in the Fuji and its lenses for a Ricoh GRII and Pentax MX and I haven't looked back since. These cameras scratch my itches perfectly, and are both much fun to use.

We used to be worried about what was in the foreground and background of our images. But now all we see in the foreground is camera settings.

I jumped all the way from the 5D mark 1 to the EM-5 mark 2, and good gracious things got out of hand in between. I want my simple, top LCD back. It used to tell me everything I needed to know.

You'e talking about fun. Let's talk about unfun; image processing suites. How about one simple enough so if you haven't used it in a few weeks you can find things? And you can't reconfigure it to hide a few of its limited features? All coding done by people who actually have a life, no tester or reviewer allowed to use it for more time than they're out shooting. All done.

I suppose it's just me who gets irritated by the repeated claims that the RP is the cheapest FF ever when the Sony A7 and A7II are a lot cheaper. I know they're older models but they are still in production.

Just sayin.

[Well, price on introduction, anyway. These days, price on introduction and price on closeout are apples and orangutangs. --Mike]

I suspect that part of Josh's fun factor is because he is using adapted lenses too? But I concur with this topic, for amateurs it should be about having fun.

I'm with Franklin (above). The RP is a dud. It's sales are falling flat. Why would it be any more fun than a Sony a7II, available for a lot less money with a lot more lens choices?

I am now walking the streets of Berlin during a break in a work trip. I brought my new-to-me but quite old Leica Monochrom with a 35 mm lens. I would probbly get more photos with my DSLR but the simplicity and tactile experience of this camera is a joy; it’s fun to use, so I use it.

It is not much of a stretch to go from discussing the fun of photography to the joy of photography.
TOP readers who do not yet know them will find examples of joyful photography in the work of Ernst Haas or Pete Turner for a start.
Happy weekend all.

In the old days, cameras had dials and switches that did what was written on them and nothing else. They were easy to use and understand as long as you understood the basic principles of photography. Now there are buttons and dials with no markings that can do several things and everything else is in menus. Not intuitive at all.

Any camera can be fun. Just put it on Automatic and shoot away.

Fun: Olympus Pen F, with a 17mm f1,8 (35), or a 75mm f1,8 (150). ;-)

I loved my 2008 Rebel. I used that camera in every way imaginable just to see what would happen. I can see how revisiting an improved version of the Rebel would be fun. If that old XSI had better high ISO capabilities I would have used it much, much longer than I did. With a Canon grip, a 1.4 TC, and a 70-200 f/4 attached it was a nicely sized critter cam that was fun to use.

Even though it was my only camera at the time I didn’t fret too much about using it hard, which is worth something. As a matter of fact, the only camera I’ve ever dropped was the Rebel and as I watched it tumble down a gravel slope with a cheapo 50mm f/1.8 attached I honestly wasn’t too worried. That combination weighed next to nothing and at the time was worth very little. The Rebel came through with only minor cosmetic damage. That XSI model brought some big improvements to the Rebel world (12MP/14 Bit, SD Cards, Bigger Viewfinder, Live View, Spot Metering, My Menu, etc.) and I really enjoyed it.

A few years back, when I was trying to learn the digital practice of photography, someone said,"Do you know why there is such a wealth of tutorials on Photoshop?
Because it is so confusing, nobody understands it"

Fun is why I keep my Korona 8x10 around. I'm not a terribly good large format photographer. I don't devote the time and resources to it like the Ben Hornes of the world do. But doggone it, I just like getting out with that creaky, old beast when I do have some free time. The controls are all simple, tactile and direct. I only have two lenses for it and really only use one so I've learned to see with it. And there's something magical when it's just me and the groundglass under the dark cloth.

The other really fun part is just being out with it around other people. It provides a moment to share something special. Sometimes its a bit serendipitous like when you see a Fujifilm representative getting excited about the Kodak Commercial Ektar on the camera. Sometimes it's the look of young kids' faces when they see something as large and unwieldy as an 8x10 being used to do something they've only known as a feature on their phones. Perhaps one of the most fun bits of the social aspect is seeing the reaction, sometimes even from seasoned photographers, after they go under the dark cloth. I've had a photographer who was carrying two very high end digital cameras with top notch glass come out from under the dark cloth and remark "It's upside down!" That'll put a grin on one's face. ;-)

That same fun vibe applies to the Eos M5/6 bodies. My M6 is actually my favourite digital ILC ever because it has DPAF and just works and it’s almost the same size, front on, as the Olympus Trip (a camera which nails fun), but with a handgrip.

Again, in forum world. it’s rubbish as it’s a Canon, not Sony/Fuji/MFT and ‘there are no lenses’ but the 22/2 lens is good, as the 11-22 which lives on mine. Yes I’ve used 1Ds/5Ds/A7r series cameras and TS-E glass for some of my stuff but the FF gear and big glass stays at home unless absolutely needed now.

The best camera is the one you have in your hand—not the one at bottom of your bag. 8-) Digging around in a backpack is not what I'd call fun. YMMV.

To keep my iPhone XS readily at hand I use a Shoulderpod S2 https://bhpho.to/2mD2YtI to hang it from my right wrist.

I'd use a Canon WS-20 Wrist Strap if I ever buy a Canon RP https://bhpho.to/2JvSSK1

I wrote about this earlier, but it seems like it's still a thing.

I went out shooting today with my E-M1. I mounted the 12/2 lens, and put the camera on a tripod. Twist the clearly marked dial to Manual exposure: front dial controls the shutter, rear the aperture. ISO at 200, my slowest film. I use the “match needle” on the ground glass (I mean LCD) to spot meter, then the automatic magnifying function to manually focus. The self timer eliminates any camera shake from pressing the shutter. Pretty simple, it seems to me.

Tonight I need a different camera: I’m shooting a concert at a dinner theater. While I’ll still use primes (but longer ones), I need auto exposure as the light is constantly changing, and the camera does a better job of keeping up than I can. I will set the EC to -1.7 so the dark background doesn’t fool it. I’ll use the 1-step color temperature setting to get a custom WB, and let the ISO vary automatically so I get the right film for each shot. I’ll have the camera do the initial focusing, but then fine tune it as needed using the enlarged image in the EVF.

Did it take some time to experiment and setup the camera for the show? Sure. But a lot less time than to train all of my reflexes to react quickly enough to each of those shot-by-shot varying conditions. Could I get good Images without the automation? Probably, but it’s a lot more fun (to me) to concentrate on the decisive moment and framing, and not silly things like exposure or WB.

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and the E-M1 will get yet another setup tailored to chase little grandkids around the house.

I’m pretty sure every digital camera I’ve owned could be set for straight manual use right out of the box (limited menu diving needed), or fully automatic, or somewhere in between. I, for one, really like the ability to use my camera the different ways I need it. And I’ve never read the manual end to end (I do consult, from time to time).

[Canon] "came up with something that's actually fun and satisfying to shoot with? How else did such a thing happen, except inadvertently?"

OCOLOY might be interesting for you Mike... One Canon One Lens One Year ;)

I suggest the Rebel SL1 with the 24/2.8stm pancake or the 50/1.8stm. You'd get one, and the lens, for about $300.

I am glued to a Canon EOS M5, it is small, light, snappy, delightful!

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