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Saturday, 10 August 2019

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I still shoot regularly* with a Canon EOS 5D ("Classic"), from 2005, which has an equally ancient 50mm f/1.4 lens more or less welded to it. But these days I've been picking up my 1955 Rolleiflex more and more often.

*Including on paying jobs

I am currently putting together a group show of 11 photographers (including me). It is (if I may say so) going to be a good exhibition. The 11 artists utilize various traditions and methods of 19th through 21st Century photography, but are united by their passion and pursuit of the individually crafted and uniquely printed image. Individual members may practice historical “alternative” processes, standard silver and chemical based methods, and/or state of the art digital photography and printing. Some explore social or personal issues. Others pursue history and documentation. And others are simply attempting to put on paper the images that exist in their mind.

I have absolutely no idea what cameras, computers, software, darkroom equipment, film, or chemistry any of the other 10 use.

Most photographers would, in reality, be happy with an original Sony RX10, with its superlative 1" sensor and Sony/Zeiss 24-200 mm-e f/2.8 lens. See Ming Thein's review (he's a former Hasselblad ambassador). Here's his conclusion:


And that’s the problem with the RX10: sufficiency. It is far more capable in every way than most people will ever need; to be honest, I could get away with using one of these for almost all of my professional work, and even the workshop videos. It will even do things that my other cameras will not – leaf shutter with full flash sync up to 1/1600s at f2.8, anybody? I wouldn’t need to carry 20kg of gear. I wouldn’t need to worry about lenses. I could have a few in case one broke, without breaking the bank. The RX10 is a camera that does many things very well, has some annoying niggles that you can probably overlook in light of the fact that none of them are really major. It is something that really makes you question the ‘more better’ philosophy being perpetuated elsewhere – in effect, an extremely refined Swiss Army Knife. An obsidian scalpel may be better for heart surgery, but let’s face it: how many really actually need that? In fact, I’m seriously considering buying one myself. Ironically, my biggest challenge in justifying it is also sufficiency: if I’m using this, what is all the other gear doing? MT

If you want a better EVF and more video capabilities, there's the RX10ii, with the same, excellent, lens. If you want more reach, there's the RX10iii, with a Sony/Zeiss 24-600 mm-e f2.4-4 lens, and if you want to shoot sports or maybe fast-moving nature, the RX10iv adds phase-detect AF on top of the RX10iii's perfectly-adequate contrast detect AF. Sony have carefully positioned all four models at different price-points for a graded introduction to more and more capabilities. They have also painted themselves into a corner: they can't really increase the resolution of the sensor, since 20 MP is really pushing the limits at that sensor size; nobody realistically wants a lens greater than 600 mm-e (and it's a miracle that Sony and Zeiss have managed to produce such excellent image quality from such a wide range of focal lengths; the answer is probably that they've used an awful lot of very sophisticated glass).

If you obsess about noise from the 1" sensor, I've had excellent results at ISO 3200, developing raw files in Capture One. Old photo hands from the days of silver halides will remember pushing Tri-X and HP4 from their native 400 ASA (= ISO 400) during development to 1250 ASA or even the insane 1600 ASA, the resulting negatives having grain like golf balls, but you got the photo, and that's what mattered.

I had an original RX10, now owned by a friend, who's delighted with it (previously he was using an APS-C Nikon DSLR), and I currently have an RX10iii and a poor, neglected, Pentax K-5 with a bag of prime lenses.

Note: My links to B&H are solely to show current prices; I receive no financial benefit from them.

I was on the verge thinking you are doing exactly that. Remembering what you wrote way back about e.g. Nikon D800 and other cameras I became suspicious of your motives. Perhaps, you were only thinking out loud.

Most photographers would, in reality, be happy with an original Sony RX10, with its superlative 1" sensor and Sony/Zeiss 24-200 mm-e f/2.8 lens. See Ming Thein's review (he's a former Hasselblad ambassador). Here's his conclusion:


And that’s the problem with the RX10: sufficiency. It is far more capable in every way than most people will ever need; to be honest, I could get away with using one of these for almost all of my professional work, and even the workshop videos. It will even do things that my other cameras will not – leaf shutter with full flash sync up to 1/1600s at f2.8, anybody? I wouldn’t need to carry 20kg of gear. I wouldn’t need to worry about lenses. I could have a few in case one broke, without breaking the bank. The RX10 is a camera that does many things very well, has some annoying niggles that you can probably overlook in light of the fact that none of them are really major. It is something that really makes you question the ‘more better’ philosophy being perpetuated elsewhere – in effect, an extremely refined Swiss Army Knife. An obsidian scalpel may be better for heart surgery, but let’s face it: how many really actually need that? In fact, I’m seriously considering buying one myself. Ironically, my biggest challenge in justifying it is also sufficiency: if I’m using this, what is all the other gear doing? MT

If you want a better EVF and more video capabilities, there's the RX10ii, with the same, excellent, lens. If you want more reach, there's the RX10iii, with a Sony/Zeiss 24-600 mm-e f2.4-4 lens, and if you want to shoot sports or maybe fast-moving nature, the RX10iv adds phase-detect AF on top of the RX10iii's perfectly-adequate contrast detect AF. Sony have carefully positioned all four models at different price-points for a graded introduction to more and more capabilities. They have also painted themselves into a corner: they can't really increase the resolution of the sensor, since 20 MP is really pushing the limits at that sensor size; nobody realistically wants a lens greater than 600 mm-e (and it's a miracle that Sony and Zeiss have managed to produce such excellent image quality from such a wide range of focal lengths; the answer is probably that they've used an awful lot of very sophisticated glass).

If you obsess about noise from the 1" sensor, I've had excellent results at ISO 3200, developing raw files in Capture One. Old photo hands from the days of silver halides will remember pushing Tri-X and HP4 from their native 400 ASA (= ISO 400) during development to 1250 ASA or even the insane 1600 ASA, the resulting negatives having grain like golf balls, but you got the photo, and that's what mattered.

I had an original RX10, now owned by a friend, who's delighted with it (previously he was using an APS-C Nikon DSLR), and I currently have an RX10iii and a poor, neglected, Pentax K-5 with a bag of prime lenses.

Note: My links to B&H are solely to show current prices; I receive no financial benefit from them.

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