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Wednesday, 03 February 2021


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Of all my cameras, the one I use the most has the worst form factor -- my phone. There is no good way to hold it securely and also manipulate the controls and also see the screen. But it fits nicely in my pocket.

The most brilliant design feature of the Sony NEX and A6xxx cameras are the separate buttons for still and video. Press with your right index finger and you get a picture. Press with your right thumb and you start recording a video.

[I've found that when people say "there's no way to hold it (a phone) securely," they're sometimes holding it as if the whole back of the phone has to be exposed to what you're pointing the camera at. (Not saying this is true of you.) They should remember that the lens is just a tiny area of the back of the phone--actually you can wrap your entire hand around the back of the phone while taking pictures with it. It might not be ideal ergonomically, but it *is* a secure grip. --Mike]

The GFX 50R is indeed a brick, and not a very comfortable brick at that. I don't enjoy using it freehand, so it's a good thing I almost never use it freehand. Almost all of the time, it's attached to the back of my VX23D, or it's mounted to a tripod.

The photographer should always be in charge. That's why I despise IBIS. I really dislike things that try to get between me and the camera.

I know that this is a waste of my time, but...
macOS and iOS both do dictation. Using a keyboard is living in the past, 'nuff said.

"A camera needs to fit and feel comfortable. You don't actually completely know how you're going to feel about it until you've held it in your hands." – Mike

Which is why I continue to use and love my X-H1. Or, back when I shot Canon, my 1D-bodies. Camera body ergonomic design needs to be "fit for purpose", which the X-H1 and 1D Canons certainly are. That being said, I also really like using my X100F, which is one of the three best cameras I've ever owned.

P.S. I don't like the seats in the ILX either. Or the TLX. The seats in my '07 TSX and my current TL Type-S are much better. Newer is not always better.

When I was 16, I bought my first SLR, an OM-1n with a 50mm f/1.8 Zuiko. It cost me DM348 (Deutsche Mark). I used that camera into my early 20s, when the time available for photography became more and more scarce. Eventually I sold the camera and the lenses I had (all Zuikos). About 25 years later, when DSLR's finally became affordable, and my personal life had settled such that photographic excursions looked feasible again, I went into a local camera store to purchase a DSLR. The shop assistant handed me an entry-level DSLR from Sony. This camera felt so cheap and plasticy in my hands that it was actually disgusting. Holding it and looking through the small, dim viewfinder, I had to think of the big, bright finder of the OM-1n and its solid mechanical quality. Corrected for inflation, it had cost the same as the Sony! I handed the Sony back and left the shop without having purchased anything. It took me half a year to accept that this was going to be expensive, and bought a Nikon D90. This camera served me well for the next 5 years. I'd still use it if Nikon had offered some wide-angle primes for DX.

Oh, and I am huge fan of renting before buying in order to get a feel for a camera or lens in the real world. Then you don't have the hassle of buying and then returning a purchase to the big vendors. Exercising the discipline of patience instead of an impulse purchase goes quite a ways for what will be, generally-speaking, long-term ownership.

LensRentals is a veritable blessing in this regard.

I liked a lot about my D750, but it didn't feel right. Turns out that I wanted a D500 with a D750 sensor, so, logically, I ended up with a Fuji X-H1. If a camera doesn't feel right in hand, you'll always be fighting it - I did much better work with my Pentax 6x7 than with a Hassy 500 series, and even better results with a Hassy SWC over both.

I bought a D80 and D7000 locally after being an EOS shooter for over a decade because I hated the power switch position of the Digital EOS bodies. the D80, despite being an 'eh' camera on paper, fit so much better.

All this to say, I really miss local camera shops - BH Photo is fantastic, but having a crew that knows your weaknesses and has a lens or camera out for you to fondle when you walk in was a treat.

Oly Pen-F. Looked great on paper but just didn't connect with me and my hands. Sold it before 400 shots.

The N90s with or without the accessory grip is a great fit for me. I am good with the F5 – purchased for the mirror lock-up, which I used all the time because most of my shots were made on a tripod. The DSLRs – 200 and 800E – that came after that were good, too. As far as the Z6 is concerned, the marriage of its grip and my hand has been a happy one. With the exception of the in-store purchase of the D200, prompted by the lack of on-line retailer inventory in early 2006, I bought most cameras blind.

Not to get too touchy-feely, but I'm sorry to say that on a good day I can ineptly handle a Speed Graphic and Mamiya C30, both gifts from my late father. Diane Arbus must have had some arms on her.

For me I've never found a camera that didn't fit. All of them have the shutter-button in the same location. There are only a couple of viewfinder locations.

Nothing to master, after composing the shot, you simply press the button. No BIG Deal. The difficulty is finding the purrfect composition. That is a BIG Deal.

I may rent a GFX 100S to use on my Toyo 4x5 with a FotodioX adapter from B&H.

BTW I've sold my Canon DSLR and all my Canon lenses today. Downsizing is fun. Now I need to sell my half dozen film cameras.

Best mountain climbing book? How about Annapurna by Maurice Herzog https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40175.Annapurna

My Grandmother gave me a copy for Christmas, in the early 1950s. You can get it as a Kindle now.

[It's excellent--I have a signed copy! (But it's not a first edition.) --Mike]

All this discussion of camera "ergonomics" is somewhat moot to folks like me. Unless I'm doing "walk around" shooting, a rare event, or photographing my grandchildren, my camera is almost always on a tripod. That's been true whether the current camera is a 4x5, 6x6, 6x7 35mm film or digital. My current camera squeeze, a Sony A7RIV seems to handle well in the hand but when it's actually in use; today I did focus stacks of an amaryllis flower, it's on a Gitzo 3 series CF with an Arca Swiss D4 head (Thank you Charlie Cramer).

You're so right about 'how it feels in your hand'. I never did fit with many well-respected cameras. Although the first new camera I ever bought (unseen and through the mail) was a 4x5 Tachihara... which only worked on a tripod. Nonetheless I bonded instantly with it and used it happily for ten years.

Touch and tactility are such important aspect of bonding. Is it funny or obvious that they're so important to some people that they can make significant technical shortcomings forgivable.

On the other end of the spectrum, I seriously suspect that the target market for the new Sony is people who buy cameras by the spec sheet.

The Mac is Not a Typewriter https://www.amazon.com/Mac-Not-Typewriter-2nd/dp/0201782634 One of the most popular Macintosh books ever written, The Mac is not a typewriter has been called the "Strunk and White of typography."

An iPhone is not a DSLR—don't hold it like it was one. I sometimes get an errant finger in the shot with a wide lens 8-)

I use an Apple Silicone Case with my iPhone XS https://www.amazon.com/Apple-Silicone-Case-iPhone-Xs/dp/B07H9V1LS5/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=iPhone+XS+silicone+case&qid=1612416817&sr=8-5 My old arthritic crone hand has no problem getting a grip on silicone.

Mike, seems you missed my opening comment following the ‘You Just Won’ post: “ It’s one thing to read about a camera, and another to actually handle it and make pics. I briefly demo-ed the GFX 50R, but instantly disliked the grip and hand feel. And that’s surprising, given that I comfortably hold Leica M bodies. Go figure.”

It can work the other way too. I was a massive fan of the hand-feel of the Canon Eos M3 great size, decent grip and nice build. Problem was that the spec sheet stuff really did matter on those earlier Canon mirrorless bodies as they weren't up to speed with the rest of the market at the time - the AF was genuinely too slow, etc. Sold it within weeks.

Thankfully Canon kept the form factor for the M6 (although the build is a little less solid) and that's a lovely little camera. I use it with the 11-22mm zoom and flippy add-on EVF. I find that I need very little else for casual photography now. It's also superbly pocketable with the 22mm f/2 and no EVF.

Exacta Mondo...Touch feel, realizing the beauty of grip and having a camera fitting on the hip, in your hands and up to the eye matters most. With fresh eyes and head up along with a comfortable and familiar camera integrates it all. Nikon always fit the bill, but Sony full frame has won the day and even though it's a bit too needy and has buttons that should be BIGGER, my A7iii now makes it quickly to my eye, making most adjustments on the fly without much thought, grabbing my vision and moving on...

Yes, it has to fit!
I bought a Panasonic GX85 with two lenses as a backup camera a couple years ago without holding it and I just can't use it. It is too small for my hands.
It has taken precisely 31 pictures.

I like the look of the back of the Gfx100s you posted - plenty of room.

Comfortable shooting is one of the attractions of the 6x6 format: no need to put the thing in different positions as they are all available at the same time.

On other bodies, horizontal shots are fine, but verticals always become uncomfortable both for the face, the wrists, as well as for pressing the release. Even on a tripod.

Someone wrote that they had great joy with their Pentax 6x7. I bought one, but soon discovered that I had made a mistake: not only mirror bounce, but shutter bounce too. Beautiful visual workmanship but a bad working reality unless, I suppose, used with electronic flash in a studio, and even then, with one of the very few lenses with their own shutters; I seem to remember there were two: a 160mm and a 'normal' focal length one.

I took the chance of dealing for my Panasonic S1R through a reputable online channel, rather than B&H or Amazon, by first reading as much as I could about it's ergonomics and then asking seller in advance if I could immediately return it if unhappy. The reward was a mint product for substantial savings. Weight not withstanding, which is really its only fault for me, it is an ergonomic winner, both in terms of handling and in menu setup. Every important button was reachable without strain and, just as important, each button was distinguishable from adjacent buttons both in feel, position and distance from each other. After mastering what each did, I was in full control, though I admit I'm a tripod guy and seldom in a hurry. As you said, Mike, by researching what others perceive as weak points, I could ascertain in advance if they were going to be an issue for me (like quickness and accuracy of focus). The one factor that had to be "hand" tested was how it felt in my hands - It felt right and it has worked well!

I could not make up my mind about the choice of my first SLR. I thought I would buy a cheap Zenith E then, if I didn't like it, I could buy the Olympus OM1 that looked so good in adverts and dealers' windows and little did I know it at the time, would be the ideal 'fit' for me.

I now wish I had bought the OM1 from the outset. In fact, I now wish I had bought it two and a half years before I bought the Zenith. I learned a lot from the Zenith, especially about mirror box flare and getting cameras repaired. In reality, it was probably a wasted year.

Time spent buying - especially changing - photographic kit is time not spent taking photographs. What is really important? Yes, happiness, contentment really, about the feel and use of a fine tool but keep sight of the end product, too.

Which is why the Hasselblad X1D (I/||) is so wonderful, the size, grip and ergonomics are just incomparable.......


I'm a M4/3rd's aficionado, but I have to say. ALL the bodies are too small. Just because you can make it tiny, doesn't mean you should! On my Panasonic, the edge of my palm can change settings. I checked the measurement of the newest offerings, not even an inch wider. I still say you could put a M4/3rd's sensor in a Pentax Spotmatic, and just make the body thinner, and I would be perfectly happy (you could make it metal too).

After purchasing the Olympus Digital Pen F, I now will never buy another camera without actually seeing it, holding it and using it. I have never been able to successfully use that camera, and get better results from my old Panny G3! Go figure...

[I thought the Panasonic G9 was a pretty large camera. Almost as big as the Fuji X-H1 which feels large itself after the X-T1 through X-T4 series. --Mike]

If you wanted strange, how about the Exakta Varex slr, with the stop-down button for the lens as well as the shutter release incorporated in a single bump for the left hand to push inwards to make the exposure... I had two of those cameras, and though clunky, they made good photography more than possible.

The worst camera I used professionally was the Mamiya TLR (I forget which code - C33 or similar?) with its parallax issues with the 180mm lens, which was actually a good lens. It was such a crude product, that body. Sadly, it had to do until I could afford to buy a 150mm for my 500C Hassy; unfortunately, in those days, there was no 180mm for the 500C; that focal length arrived afterwards.

I preordered two 100s (through your BH link) and then ordered two more GF lenses (also through your link). I like the dial layout of the 50s better, except for the shutter speed dial, but the stabilization in the 100s will be so helpful. Now we have to decide if we sell the 50s.

[Wow! Thank you for using my link. Will you let us know how you like them? --Mike]

I have had an M2 since I was 17 and later an M4, M4-2 and M6 (and even an M5.) I won’t whinge about the 50 frame lines in my CCD digital Leica’s. But I got the idea at one point that maybe I should try an M3 and its wonderful higher magnification viewfinder. Clearly I was familiar with 95% plus of what it would be like. Well, as soon as I looked through the viewfinder I was stunned. Rounded corners of the bright line 50mm frame lines? Seriously?. It was an instant and complete turn-off. Totally unexpected. Never given the M3 a second’s further thought.

I do agree with "you can't really imagine it. You have to try it," but I have a different solution, practically the opposite of yours. But bear in mind I mostly buy film cameras and lenses—the last digital camera I bought was in 2013 (touch wood, it's still functioning)—so what I'm about to say applies to buying used cameras, not new.

Anyway, I find that holding or handling a camera for a few minutes or even a few days often isn't enough. Some charm me instantly but I eventually learn that I don't gel with it (case in point, the Rollei 35). Others are the opposite: my Leica M3 felt strange after years of using nothing but SLRs, but after a few months, we work in perfect harmony.

So what I now do is look for a good deal on eBay. I use the "sold listings" filter to get an idea of the market price, and set my budget at ~20% below. Then I wait—for months if necessary, and occasionally over a year—until I find a camera within my budget. After a few months of regular use, I generally have a sense of how we're getting on.

If for whatever reason we don't get on, I put it up for sale, with nice, well-lit pictures from all angles, sample photos taken with the camera, and a scrupulous, detailed description. This way, I generally get end up getting higher than market price for it (recall that I got the camera at below market price). I think I've never not made a profit. For me, this strategy works better than buying from a store with a liberal return policy.

Of course there are certain pitfalls to this approach, which you can potentially avoid by buying a used camera from a reputable store. For one thing, the camera may not match the description or work as intended. But eBay has good buyer protection (arguably too good; sellers are sometimes unfairly disadvantaged). And I contact the seller if needed to ask questions or request more pictures, and I test the camera immediately on arrival.

Now this may not work for everyone—for instance if you're not accustomed to testing and troubleshooting cameras, or if you don't want to spend so much time watching (and losing) eBay auctions until you find a below-market-price camera. But so far, it works for me!

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