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Saturday, 02 March 2024


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Film: Nikon FE. My main camera for 2 decades. It's just the most perfect film camera I ever encountered.

Digital: Panasonic GX8. I have two and I still use them despite buying a Nikon Z7II. They feel like a Leica. Small, light, responsive and with a very nice sensor that still holds up despite its age.

Can’t resist the Leica M2 for the glorious 35mm frame lines, and its form which survives 60 years to be near identical to a current model from the same maker. The Fuji X100, my top candidate for a first or only camera. Manual controls, me often just manipulating the exposure compensation knob for desired exposure. Once got a great panned cyclist down the tram tracks very quickly and easily setting 1/30s and rotating the aperture ring to A. The optical viewfinder very Leica-like. The Konica Hexar AF, more 35mm focal length joy. Fine f2 lens auto-exposure and autofocus. Those photographer Konica engineers gave ingenious control options, minimum shutter speed set in one mode, overridden in the other mode; stealth mode, near silent; manual override of DX ISO setting I used for Neopan; infinity focus override of autofocus, or fixed distance focus; LCD read out of aperture if your chosen aperture incompatible with the camera’s top speed 1/250s; and more magic than this too. Finally, something medium format like a Rolleiflex Automat, again fixed focal length, or a Hasselblad: you see different things with such cameras, slowing down, a wonderful experience and the output is so different.

Nikon D90 (2008). I think of it as the first “modern” enthusiast digital camera because it produced both excellent still images and video at a price that didn’t require a business justification (or, alternatively, deep pockets) along with a wide selection of affordable lenses from both the manufacturer and third parties.

Fujifilm X-T5. It is not that expensive as cameras go today. Someone who is an enthusiast should be able to afford it. It is relatively small and lightweight, but very well built. It has dials and buttons that allow the user to instantly see his or her settings. The 40mp sensor is excellent in that it provides all the resolution, plus some, that you would ever need as well as the ability to crop in significantly if necessary. It feels good in the hand, the menus are intuitive, the buttons and dials are well placed, it is fast, has good subject recognition AF and most importantly, the image quality out of the camera is excellent. Fujifilm now provides about 20 film simulations. There are a wide variety of color simulations engineered to fit your subject matter and some terrific black & white film simulations. As a bonus the Fujifilm and independent manufacturers’ lenses that are available for it are excellent. It’s the kind of camera you want to pick up and take with you every time you go out.

My second nomination would be the Ricoh GRIII or GRIIIx. It is very small, lightweight, can actually fit in your pocket, has an excellent lens, an APS-C sensor and several other unique features such as ‘snap focus. It is the perfect walking around camera that is always there but never gets in your way and gives you everything you would want in the way of image quality.

I could consider myself an enthusiast as I have used many different camera types to varying degrees many only for the experience (daguerreotype/under water).

This topic brings three cameras to mind.

EDC - Canon RP with a Novoflex Leica M adapter.  The adapter is important as my two focus infinity at infinity and that is critical to the experience. Lots of M mount lenses to choose from from various manufacturers.  I like using it in the same way as I used a Leica M for many years but better in that rangefinder focusing only has two advantages and a few disadvantages.

For the experience of over-the-top features,  multishot high res/wide dynamic range, viewfinder perspective correction, 60 fps, pre-shot, amazing IS and silent shutter (one of the things I like about a rangefinder shutter but even better), Olympus (now OM System) mft.  I use an EM1-X but probably an OM1/5 would be better for most.  Not sure about those as I have never seen them but as a leap of faith I would guess they provide what I like about this, always gets me the shot, system. I like the EM1-X because it is balanced with my prefered 12-100 lens.

Finally the Canon 5Ds.  Can give one the see outside the frame with an optical viewfinder in 1.3/1.6 crop mode (the second thing about the rangefinder experience that I really liked) and still leave you with enough resolution.  Matched with TS-E lenses on a tripod can give a bit of the widelux experience with two shots side to side.

If you have more than one system and what enthusiast does not, it is likely important to program the buttons in such a way to make them simple to operate and work in a similar way so switching systems requires very little adjustment and they work in a logical way to you.

My list would be:

1. The smaller m4/3rds bodies and lenses ... (let's say the new OM-5 ... it's very much like the old E-M5 which was my favorite of this series for a long time).

2. The Sony RX100-style point and shoot cameras.

3. iPhones. Seriously.

For the lightest and most compact birding set-up: Nikon 1 J5 with 1Nikkor 70-300mm zoom, giving 810mm equivalent view. This combo weighs a mere 1.9 lb.

The J5 was the last of the line for Nikon 1. Its 20.8 Mp sensor bested the 18 Mp sensor of the V3 body.

Two choices come readily to my mind but both are Fujis so they're probably already under consideration.

Those being the X-Pro and the X100 models. Their form factor is kinda appealing to old guys like me who grew up seeing people use rangefinders. And the hybrid viewfinder was genius. I've only used the X100S model so my experience with the X100 series is limited. But I love using it. And I have both the X-Pro1 and X-Pro2 Fujis but not the X-Pro3. I never cared for the flipping/hiding screen on that camera or how it demoted the OVF and basically abandoned the whole original concept of an enthusiast camera in favor of a do-everything video camera for still shooters. While any of the X100 models would be fine as a "best" enthusiast camera I guess I'm only considering the X-Pro1 and X-Pro2 models on my "best" list.

No, there should not be a film camera.

Because film cameras, for modern users, are a very large and special sub-area of the hobby, where I strongly suspect the choice criteria don't look much like those over in the digital area.

The 2 areas aren't enough alike, and nearly nobody will agree on the relative rankings of a pair of cameras one from one side and the other from the other.

"A" film camera cannot usefully represent the position of the film aficionados, anyway.

So, make it a list of digital cameras, to avoid implying that it's selected from all cameras.

I'm so out of date, at this point! But certainly there needs to be a full-frame Sony; perhaps the A7R IV? But lots of room to argue about which one.

And the Olympus (new) OM-1, as the remaining outpost of Micro Four Thirds (which is still the perfect sensor size for this generation).

My question is, do you include the medium format digital? I'm inclined to think that the price moves them out of the "enthusiast" range, even though of course some enthusiasts have them anyway.

The Pixii camera must be on this list, a modern almost futuristic rangefinder camera, available new with and interesting monochrome sensor option:


Highly innovative als in terms of upgrade options, the sensor and CPU can be replaced later etc

My recommendation would be the Nikon Z5, probably the most cost effective Nikon Z mount camera. I am really satisfied with my more expensive Z7.

With the Z5 you get a full frame sensor with all the advantages with tonal and colour transitions as well as shadow recovery, that this larger sensor offers, compared to the smaller M43 or APSC sensors.

The Z5 with the standard kit lens or the versatile 24-200, is only a very little more expensive compared to Fuji or OM.

I mean, the Fuji X-T5 is already on your list, right? I've shot every Fuji camera, X and GFX, and owned most of them, and the X-T5 is hands down my favorite. Small, designed for still photography, easy to use and control, but with all modern features - IBIS, good AF - and a wide selection of truly excellent lenses. The files are excellent, and the entire kit is not too expensive.

I just got the X100VI, the first X100 model I've owned in years. It's a nice little camera, but far too niche to be on a top ten list, I think.

I use a Pen F which is a compact camera with great lenses. Simple to use and very compact which at the tender age of 83 I don't need to be superman and lug around my huge Nikon 760 .
One thing I will say is camera menus have become too complicated. Great auto focus which is a boon to ancient eyes .

My list:

Nikon Zf
Fujifilm X-T5
Fujifilm X100V
Fujifilm X-Pro3
Leica M11
Sony A7c II
OMSystem E-M5

Couldn’t help choosing 3 Fujifilm models, they’re the enthusiast camera manufacturer champion.

"Balance" and "fairness" are tricky concepts. IMO--at least if I'm understanding the definition of "enthusiast" in play here--an honest, accurate and useful list would give Fujifilm as many spots as they've earned. Canon and Nikon have decided to focus more on filmmakers and vloggers. There are lists on which they would deserve multiple kudos, but for this particular one (if I'm getting the gist of it), they should make way for Fujifilm, Pentax/Ricoh, Olympus/OM, Leica, Hasselblad, etc.--companies who've gone out of their way to cater to (or at least haven't yet abandoned) the still photography "enthusiast". I think the Nikon Zfc might be a sleeper, but there's also the issue of native lens selection for R and Z mounts (if that's a criterion). Canikon still deserve spots for their sports-oriented legacy bodies, I would think, like the EOS 1Dx.

Do you include both the X100v and vi? What about models with monochrome variants? And which Leica M, anyway? Gotta include the last(?) small sensor compact, the Sony RX100, I suppose.

Are phones excluded?

For film the Nikon FM. It was what I could afford in 1981 and used it up to 1998 and then replaced with a Nikon N90. Probably the best use with flash camera ever.

For digital, after a couple of Nikons, I love using the Lumix G9. Most ergonomic camera I've ever used. Just feels perfect in hand.

*Sony RX100 VA. 1" sensor, 24–70mm, f/1.8–f/2.8.

The newer RX100 VII is also available with 24–200mm, f/2.8–f/4.5 and costs a lot more. Both versions are available new from B&H.

*Sony RX10 IV. 1" sensor, 24-600mm, f/2.4–f/4.

The earlier version (MkII ) has 24-200mm zoom and constant f/2.8 aperture and is available used from B&H.

Have to nominate the Ricoh GR, the palm sized, take it with you everyday, everywhere you go camera capable of making prints the quality of which it has no right to. Think I've left mine home twice in the last eight years (once because I simply misplaced it).

Kirk Tuck has argued convincingly that something around 25mp is enough for very serious work. I agree with that, but would suggest that a little more might help hold value longer, although we're not seeing so much in the way of megapixel wars anymore. I think the camera (for enthusiasts) should be an ILC, despite a couple of excellent fixed-lens cameras now on the market. Two good ones (I own both) would be the Fuji X-T5 (a lighter candidate) and the Nikon Z7II (heavier and I think more robust.) They'd do just about anything an enthusiast would care to do. Extensive ranges of lenses, both proprietary and after-market, are available for both.

And...The Pentax Monochrome.

First: Fujifilm X-Pro3. It got me taking photos again when I bought it in December 2020 after months of not taking photos with my Olympus E-M1 Mk 1. I like the rangefinder location viewfinder more than the SLR location viewfinder, I like the hidden LCD screen which helps me avoid chipping, and I really like the feel of the camera in my hands when I'm using the smaller f/2 or f/2.8 primes.

Second: Ricoh GR111. It's small and light and I carry it virtually everywhere if I'm not carrying the X-Pro3. I use it as a point and shoot for capturing things that just catch my eye. For some reason I've never caught on to using my iPhone's camera, I like using a "real" camera and I find it more comfortable to use than my iPhone. I wish it had an EVF and a tilting screen but the Fujifilm X-E4 which I originally bought for an everyday carry is bigger and heavier and doesn't get carried for those reasons.

The Nikon Z5. Just $1000 now, but Nikon didn’t cheap out on anything that matters. Nice viewfinder, very good sensor, sensible body, even the “worst” lenses in the system are better than expected, and the short flange means you can adapt basically anything to it, given the will. Unless you need the latest video goodies or fastest frame rates, I’m not sure where you’d find it lacking.

“Enthusiast” camera…. That rules out high-end equipment intended for professionals, although some enthusiasts will own such cameras; and it also rules out entry-level equipment, although again many enthusiasts will own and use such equipment.

I would propose the Canon R7 as a quintessential enthusiasts’ camera, for a very specific group of enthusiasts. It’s an APS-C mirrorless camera, with reasonable resolution (32mp), excellent AF capabilities, high-speed exposure capabilities, IBIS, and good weather-sealing. The specific group of enthusiasts who choose it are those who take wildlife and BiF - ‘Birds in Flight’ - images. With practice and skill (and getting the best from the camera takes a lot of both of those) - and appropriate lenses - the dedicated enthusiasts who use it produce extraordinary results.

Of course, any photographer can have an R7, and it’s a perfectly competent mirrorless camera for general photography. But it’s the photographers I’ve mentioned above who can produce the most distinctive images with this camera

I’ve been using an Olympus EM10 Mk2 for four years. It’s proven to be a Goldilocks camera for me. I’ve owned other brands, but the Olympus hits a sweet spot. Very accurate autofocus, good enough ergonomics (with a grip), IBIS, an EVF that isn’t a penalty box, tiny sharp primes as part of the system, and all for a low price.

". . . we are looking for choices that can nourish their owners' enthusiasm*. Something in which they can take pride, things that are cool as well as competent."

My primary entry is the Oly/OMSystems OM-1.

I'm not sure what you mean by "enthusiasm*, especially when mixed with "pride" and "cool"

The OM-1 certainly has made me enthusiastic — about the photographic things I can do with it.

As object, I don't find it particularly appealing, big black blob, covered with dials, buttons, etc.

As tool in my hands, it's bigger and heavier than I would like. They somehow decided that Sony was right, and moved the Menu button to the wrong side.

Ergonomically, and as object, I far prefer the Panny GX9. But they just don't come close to what the OM-1 can do.

Three GX9 bodies went with me to Bhutan, S. Utah, New England and Ireland in 2019, and I loved it. Two have gone on to new homes. One hangs around, still here, as third body for some circumstances and maybe just 'cause I like it.

As tool, as a thing to allow me to accomplish what I want photographically, the OM-1 is peerless. It does things no other camera can do, all in one body.

Pride? I should be proud that I can choose it, and/or that I can afford a couple of them? Grateful that they exist and I get to use them, oh yes! Pride in ownership, nah.

Cool? How do I tell? Does that matter?

I have a now ancient, like its owner, Stanley Handyman hammer. The head is pleasing, and the handle, perfect, straight grain hickory in a beautiful, sensuous shape; gorgeous! But actually doing any more than a couple of nails, and I grab the one with the fiberglass handle with rubber grip.

The OM-1 is the tool that gets the job done.

Second, probably hopeless, recommendation is the Oly TG-x Tough series. In a long maturation, dropping from 16 to 12 MP better suited to the small sensor, adding Raw output, then 12 bit lossless Raw, the last two models, TG-6 and 7 are darn near perfect for their purpose.

What may not be generally realized is that they are superb macro cameras, focusing incredibly close, with accessory ring light and with focus bracketing or in-camera stacking, to deal with the shallow DoF of macro.

My TG-6 is an awesome little thing.

Sony A7CR. Perhaps the most versatile of all cameras? FF but very small and light. Smaller than most Fuji models. Some of the very best AF currently available. You can use it for its high megapixel sensor or you can crop from that sensor and so use small lenses. You can choose from some very small lenses or add up to big teles and FF. Or it
So, for an enthusiast, it does the lot. Highly detailed images for landscape. Small, light and nimble for street work. The thing is hugely configurable and you can set up the buttons and controls to suit pretty much any use you might have for it.
I used to need two camera systems. One for the big landscape prints I make. One for travel and street work. Now the A7CR has replaced them both.

OM Systems OM-5, the current successor to the Olympus OMD E-M5.

To me the utility of list like this is as a guide for someone who hasn't already decided, so in this case someone who wants to become an enthusiast but isn't yet one. I think that rules out extravagantly expensive or esoteric kit, but still demands quality results, otherwise why bother? So something sort of middle of the road.

And as Mike has said many times, when it comes to ILCs you're buying into a system, so you have to consider the availability of lenses.

Finally, a new enthusiast likely has come to this by way of family and travel photography, which is likely to continue. To me that argues for affordability, compactness, light weight and a modest presence, not a suitcase full of expensive, large, heavy, ostentatious gear.

These considerations are what led me to my first E-M5 and are what have caused me to stick with the 5, now an OMD E-M5iii, very similar to the OM-5. Very affordable, very capable, very compact, very light, with a strong selection of lenses. Enough but not too much. And with a reasonable upgrade path, including the OM-1.

I also happen to like the 4:3 aspect ratio, which just seems very natural to me, like some of the older formats from the pre-35mm days. And there is some tradition with this camera, which many would credit with really launching the mirrorless revolution, but which also ties back into a long history of excellent film cameras and which still has the look of those older cameras, especially if purchased in silver. Many people have mistaken my 5 for a film camera, which is fun.

I know there are concerns about the future of OM Systems but there is a huge inventory of used gear for this camera, including replacement cameras.

Might I ask to have you recommend the camera with the best ergonomics. All other factors will likely be within a margin of error. But ergonomics and haptics are what makes something best for me.

I have not owned many cameras and currently still shoot with a very old and very basic EOS 6D so I guess I’ll nominate the 6D. It has been very good to me. The 6D was the first full frame DSLR from any manufacturer with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and it was Canon's smallest, lightest and least expensive full-frame camera when it was launched. It remained a current model for 5 years. At launch, DPReview referred to the 6D as a solidly build, light weight, and responsive little camera with class-leading low-light auto-focusing capability and in 2019 they referred to it as one of the most important cameras of the 2010s. While the 6D was released in 2012, it was the most commonly used camera in images shortlisted in the RMG Astronomy Photographer of the year competition from 2018 to 2021 according to Wikipedia. B&H currently has two 6Ds for sale on their used DSLR Camera page.

Leica Q2 or Q3. Amazingly good lens. Wonderful color discrimination and having only one lens takes the burden of "What the hell do I bring with me?" off the photographer. 47 or 61 megapixels lets you crop all day long.

The Fuji GFX 50Sii. The perfectly priced entry level camera for someone wanting to get into "pixie" medium format. Wonderful sensor, access to really good lenses and currently selling for around $3k, new. If Fuji are bundling the camera with the 35-70mm kit lens for a low price don't fear the idea that it's a kit lens. It's really, really good and sharp.

The Leica SL2-S. kIt can use all the L system glass and it can see in near darkness. A lower resolution than its sibling the SL2 but well worth the trade off if you like to shoot at very high ISO settings. Don't want to use it with expensive Leica lenses? Check out the Sigma Contemporary lenses for L mount. 98% of the way to Leica with some of them (65, 35, and 50....mm).

Now you are all set.

For "balance," I believe your list should include a camera with an optical finder, and one that is not an expensive top-end model. I love my Canon 80D because I'm partial to optical finders, and find I can use it with Live View and face detect AF for great candids - an almost mirrorless-like experience. In fact, I have a custom setting assigned to the mode dial for exactly this type of use. And those custom settings will be handy as a photographer begins to specialize in different types of usage. Ergonomics and haptics are personal, but those are top notch in my opinion.

Canon also offers an APS-C "somewhat holy" trinity in the 10-18, 18-55 and 55-250 lenses - all with image stabilization.

Since you asked for a current model, my nomination is my 80D's successor, the Canon 90D.

I've carried a Leica Q2 for the past couple of years, and love it. It's expensive, but its elegance and relative simplicity should make it a shoo-in for this list. Indeed, despite having a very nice Sony system, the Leica is just about all I carry aside from the camera in my phone—it's nearly the perfect camera. (I haven't found the need to upgrade to the Q3, but it's the "current" camera in the line, and should probably be used for this list, although the Q2 is still available new.)

An addendum to my earlier comment nominating the Canon 90D: Cool is subjective, but all cool things are somewhat different. With mirrorless being the way of the world, optical finders are cool. And in a few years, they will also be "vintage."

OM Systems OM1 mkii

I love my Z5 with 40 mm f/2. It really delivers and is easy to carry. I’m biased by not having tried a whole lot of what’s available. I do still also like my X-T2 but it’s kinda old…

Nikon ZF- it's a brilliant camera with just enough quirks to make it interesting.

Fuji XT-5 - the camera is wonderful, the lens selection rewards an enthusiastic range of users.

Fuji X00VI - overpriced, but still, a unique and wonderful critter.

I'll second the Oly TG-6 - the macro ring light adapter and macro capabilities are amazing, and adding a floating wrist strap makes it a fun toy on trips.

And the K-3III , color or mono, is a brilliant, wonderful camera - teh last of the DLSRS and really nifty lenses.

I have found my way a long time ago. The camera I pick up when I am visiting friends, going for visiting a part of town, or travelling has been a constant choice for the last 40 years.

A normal lens on a Leica M does it. Either a 35 or a 50, depending if I feel shy or not. Up to 2012, it was a M6, since then a Monochrom. Currently the M10 version of it. I make at least a print a week, always from this combo.

I also shoot here and then 20 to 40 rolls a year with an analog MP and Kodak TMax 400 to reset my eyes to black and white analog rendering of tones.

You've inspired me to make a list, on my own blog, of all the cameras I've owned over the nearly 50 years I've been snapping.

Most will be film cameras, as my most productive years were 1970 to around 2000, although I do have a range of digital cameras I've used for travel.

I have fond memories of many of them, and frustrating memories of some. But I have interesting things to say about all of them. My current shelf holds 17 cameras, most digital although I still have several film bodies.

Give me some time: www.bullsroar.me

The Olympus TG-whatever has to be on the list. We’ve taken a TG-4 literally around the world, SCUBA diving, snorkeling and as a land backup. Bulletproof, fine image quality, slips into a pocket. Nikon Z50 is also a must have. It’s super light, small, great image quality with first rate lenses. A camera that you can hang from your wrist for an afternoon is a keeper

You've got multiple mentions of the Leica Qs (Q2 is current). But any of the M11s (so far a standard and a monochrome) are of even higher image quality, stone simple to operate. And with an incredible range of lenses.

You really cannot omit the Panasonic G9, either the current G9ii which is a real master of all work, or the older original, which is still currently on sale and does most things equally well at less cost.

While the G9/G9ii are great stills cameras, you don't have to compromised if you want to shoot some video - you again have a high-end solution.

If your interests include "travel" then the relative portability of Micro Four Thirds cameras cannot be overstated. I can carry two bodies (G9ii and GX8 spare), zooms to cover from 14mm-e to 600mm-e, and a spare set of smaller zooms which cover from 18mm-e to 450mm-e, plus a laptop in one small (although moderately heavy) pack.

I have two comments. I would suggest something that is clearly different and better than a phone, so bigger sensor and well designed layout that adapts to the user. Fuji X100 and Ricoh GR come to mind. Or any number of system cameras. My other suggestion would be to not necessarily look at the latest and greatest. You can get much better value for money by looking at the previous generation or even second hand. So Sony 7c instead of 7c2, maybe A7-3 instead of the 4 model. And same with most other systems. Of course a lot depends on how much the enthusiast is willing or able to spend and what he wants to photograph.

As a Nikon user, it is hard not to recommend the Z8 for this list. It is a truly groundbreaking camera that has brought cutting-edge technology to the masses, rather than just being accessible to well-heeled amateurs and professionals. It is still a very expensive camera at $4000 MSRP, but surprisingly good value when you consider the prices of all the competition.
The Nikon community is unanimously enthusiastic about this model, and I am sure it will enjoy the same cult status as the D700 did in the past.

Tricky question, especially depending upon whether your "initiate" enthusiast is interested in video (about which I know very little) or intends to print (most don't), and, of course, whether budget is an issue (usually is). I've also assumed your "enthusiast" is actually interested in photographic technique... Anyway, here's my go:

1. Gold medal: Fuji XT-5 - more than enough of everything to keep any initiate happy for years at almost anything. Not too big, not too heavy, not too hard to use, lots of reasonably priced lenses and quite traditional to use and learn upon, does everything well if not best at anything. A Goldilocks camera.

2. Silver medal: Nikon ZF- biased here because my first SLR (having learned on rangefinders) was a Nikomat FTN and I still have a D3 (now only used occasionally) and lots of lenses - doesn't have the resolution of the XT5 but has the FF sensor. Should hold value and would make a great second body if the enthusiast went on to higher resolution Nikons. I reckon I'd buy one in a flash if Nikon produced a high resolution version. Plenty of reasonably priced, high quality lenses plus lots of adaptable old F lenses to play with too.

3. Bronze medal: OM5 - almost all of my enthusiast friends (experienced but rarely shoot to print) plus a couple of pros shooting outdoors/sports for magazine printing use Olympus or OM because they are enjoyable to shoot, rugged without being overly large, and notwithstanding the bias against smaller sensors have absolutely beautiful output. Most importantly, an absolutely fabulous range of glass both useful zooms and primes according to taste. Would also work well with an OM1 Mkii (or other high end version) as a second body if the enthusiast progressed. (I think I'd use an OM1 except that I happen to like to print really big.)

4. Honourable mention: Fuji X100vi. Probably even better as a learning than the XT 5 for a budding photographer without any real need for video. And would play well with an XT 5 later. (I'd personally take one over the XT5 but this list is not for me.) Quite expensive still and less versatile - only 3 focal lengths (with adaptors), and although I like OVF not many initiate enthusiasts could cope... and there's not much point in the hybrid finder if its only ever used as an EVF ... Thus, except for a novice who really knows what they want to do and to try an optical finder (and perhaps who doesn't have the budget for a Leica M), probably a little too specialised.

5. Honourable mention: Leica Q3 - mainly because I want one. I have a Q2 which now accounts for most of my exhibition images but I like to crop to 35/40 mm equivalent and could use the extra resolution for large printing. Would also play well with M11 body and lenses as a system.

6. Honourable mention: Leica M11 - if budget no object, I think learning to use a a MF RF with prime lenses is the best way to learn - of course, I biased because that's how I was taught... Will hold value, and the lenses should last - well - longer than the enthusiast. Lots of perfectly good 3rd party lenses too... Oh - and because I want one with a f2 50 mm prime to go with my new Q3... (And while I'm at it, I might as well buy myself the new Porsche Taycan I' like...)

I've left Canon off the list due to my lack of knowledge. I had some early digital Canon point and shoots, which brought me back into photography after I gave up analogue and took some wonderful images. But somehow, Canon and I never got on - I suppose I was raised on Nikon SLRs. Also, the lens compatibility is all over the place...

I've left Pentax off the list because the lens list is quite quirky - lots of funny gaps and very hard to get, at least in Australia. But the bodies and images are great across the board. I've never met one that wasn't fantastic.

I've left Sony off the list - fabulous machines that do everything well and lots of good lenses at reasonable prices too. But as a fairly traditional photographer I find are no fun at all to use - I assume designed by marketers rather than photographers. I except the Rx1 (which I have) but even that has an appalling menu ... This is perhaps unfair to a more computer oriented younger generation to me. It's also a bit unfair because I haven't really tried a 7 ACR but I disliked the A6x series a lot - mostly because of the handling. And my two initiate enthusiast friends - who are precisely whom the list is aimed at - both bought A6x00 series and neither have moved beyond leaving everything on auto, zooming right in, pointing, spraying and praying...

I've also left Medium Format off the list as too specialist for initiate enthusiasts...

Enthusiasts almost by definition are excited about some aspect or set of aspects of photography, so recommending a best camera is a challenge without know what aspects of photography brings them the most joy. If one loves on-the-go macro photography, as I do, I would recommend the most recent Olympus or OMD camera... simply unparalleled for that kind of work. On the other hand, if you have kids who do night-time Marching Band (as I also do), a full-frame system with moderate fast lenses works really well to balance noise and shutter-speed.

I've had a couple of friends ask me for advice recently about what to get if they want to get into mirrorless cameras. In both cases, after understanding to their interests, I've recommended whatever full-frame Nikon they can afford (current Z6 model is probably the best compromise for many) + the Nikkor 24-120 f4 Z lens. This is a pretty compact kit that fits into a very small shoulder bag, while still giving a huge amount of flexibility and very high quality. It even allows great quasi-macro shots. I'd be perfectly comfortable taking that combination with me anywhere for general photography if I only could take one camera and one lens.

Too many variables here, but I'll just pick on one. It's a favorite phrase of marketers, but I'm not sure "an enthusiast photographer" actually exists. The implication is of an enthusiastic amateur, non-professional, with some kind of 'general' interest in photography. But that covers such a wide variety of individuals to be meaningless.

We all have our different interests, uses, ideas and ambitions for our cameras. The landscape photographer is going to have very different ideas about their ideal gear compared to a sports enthusiast, to pick a trivially true example. This is why I always prickle at camera reviews of "The Ten Best...". For who?

For me, if I had to land on a single camera for long-term use, I'd probably stick with my Ricoh GR IIIx. Maybe the Nikon Z5. But I'm just one guy nobody should be paying particular attention to. Everyone needs to take their own journey.

As far as best enthusiast camera, I'd suggest any camera manufactured since 1970 would suffice.

Maybe interesting to turn this around, since maybe it would be easier to find candidates, the pool being much smaller. Say, the 10 Worst Cameras.

In that case I'd suggest starting with the original Nikon F2 Photomic (not the A or As). The meter's ring resistor would oxidize out in only a couple years, and they really never provided replacement parts. A top end camera with a meter all over the place for a couple years, resulting in super goofy exposures, until it dies.

Or the original run of the Leica M6- faulty take up spool, allowing the rewind knob to jiggle convincingly without ever taking up film, and the rangefinder coming out of alignment if you just look at it funny.

Definitely think there’s room on a list like this for used cameras. I still love my “Big Dragoon” D700 and 50mm f/1.8. For this enthusiast, it does everything a good digital camera should do. And when I need something more portable: my used, Fujifilm X100F.

Canon R8.
Add the RF 50mm/1.8, and you'vw got a modern day Leica M3. Light, incomspicuous, carry it everywhere.

Add bigger lenses, and it'll shoot anything else.
Eye Autofocus, 40 Frames per second, Canon Colour Science ;)

Excellent video too. Perfect for Instagram and TikTok, which is the future ;)

Geez - “Currently Available” makes it tougher, most of the favs I still have are no longer made: Epson RD-1, Pentax MX-1 (compact P&S), original Olympus E-1… Today, have to go with most any Leica, Fuji, and honorable mention for a Pentax K-3 III. If Nikon does a silver Zf they’ll be in the running. What I’d really like would be a Nikon S-D (classic rangefinder style digital with a set of 3 aperature ring-ladden primes) but it seems that’s just too niche for Nikon to do…)

Enthusiast: A hobbyist for whom photography is an enjoyable casual pastime.

My picks from among current-model cameras I personally own and use. My bias is towards versatile, reasonably-priced cameras easy to carry and offering excellent imaging performance.

Single focal length lenses
- Ricoh GR III / GR IIIx
- Fuji X100 VI

- Sony RX100 VIi
- Canon G5X
- iPhone 15 Pro Max

- Fuji X-T5
- Fuji X-T30
- Canon R8
- Sony A7R__

- Hasselblad X2D (ILC)
- Leica Q3 / Q2 (non-ILC)
- Leica M11 / M11-P

The Panasonic G9ii is a fantastic all around camera. Best in class image stabilization along with the full range of micro four thirds lenses from Panasonic and Olympus. Ergonomically the camera is the best I have ever used, even allowing access to all needed controls with the use of gloves in the winter. Matched with top Panasonic Leica glass there are few situations that cannot be met. With Adobe denoise feature I am shooting iso 12,600 with fantastic results. I'm not a video shooter, but the G9ii is about as good as it gets for handheld video.

Nikon is hard right now because there's a new and better focus system being rolled out. It is currently in the Z 9, Z 8, and Zf. That makes it hard to recommend the Z 6II or the Z 7II. When those bodies get updated, it'll make your question easier. The Z 6III, if it gets the new focus system, would be my choice.


We only have what we have, so at the higher-end I'd recommend the Nikon Z 8. A enthusiast would likely never need to upgrade, and Nikon just rolled out version two of the firmware and have it a bunch of new features and performance upgrades. It's expensive, but it's great.

The Nikon Zf is what I'd recommend as a lower price camera from Nikon. It's all retro with a great autofocus system. It's a little quirky. But it's fun. It also has a switch that goes between video, photo, and b&w photos. I find myself shooting b&w more due to the switch. The Zf feels like it needs one more button though. It's such a capable camera that is limited by too few programmable buttons. Still, it's cool and the image quality is great.

The Zf is my daily carry and the Z 8 is my workhorse for work. If an enthusiast has the cash, the Z 8 is the sweet spot in the Nikon lineup. Otherwise, the Zf is the camera they want.

One of my guilty pleasures is rating gear that I have never used, and likely never will. So, my ten best enthusiast cameras, by manufacturer. Highest-end and veblen cameras omitted.

  • Canon R5 - Canon’s best allrounder for well-heeled enthusiasts

  • Canon R7 - Canon’s high-performance APS-C camera

  • Nikon Z 8 - Nikon’s best allrounder for well-heeled enthusiasts

  • Nikon Zf - Nikon’s enthusiast retro camera

  • OM Digital Systems OM1 II - m4/3 camera well-liked by many bird photographers

  • Panasonic Lumix S5II - L-mount cameras finally get PDAF

  • Panasonic Lumix G9II - Panasonic m4/3 cameras finally get PDAF

  • Pentax K-1 Mark II - one of the last few, and best, DSLRs

  • Sony a7IV - Sony’s affordable high-resolution allrounder

  • Sony a6700 - Sony’s high-performance APS-C camera

Over 60 years in photography, and way too many cameras. I would recommend the Pentax KF with the 21mm f/3.2 (e-31mm) lens.
The camera is small and easy to carry and use, and the LCD is fully articulated, which is a big plus in my book.
There is a wide range of excellent compact prime lenses.

However, I don't use zoom lenses, video anything, or my iPhone as a camera. And I no longer make prints. But I do love making pictures!

After I typed a rather long entry on a digital camera that is only available used, you changed the criterion! Oh well.

Anyway, I take it as a given, that a camera enthusiast must balance a number of competing demands, and cost is one of them.

And the ability to buy two to four professional camera bodies for the price of a single non-professional rather mediocre camera body, is critically important for the enthusiast on a budget.

"The TG-6 and -7, while rainproof on their own . . ."

More than just rainproof, Waterproof to 15m (45ft)

They are happy deeper than I am.

During the film era I was fortunate to be able to travel to many countries.. A SLR with lenses was not practical, so I relied on fixed lens compact cameras: a Kodak Retina lllc with a 50mm lens or a Nikon 35Ti. Consequently the recently announced Fuji X100Vl draws me. With the superb JPEG built in simulations it almost takes one back to the film days. Less expensive than the Leica Q it satisfies my needs, and I have my name in the pot on the B&H back order list.

I have shot with Olympus (now OM) since the introduction of the OMD EM5. I have shot more than 500,000 images (13 years of a Project 365 will do that) with various models. I have been attracted by the size, quality, unique computational modes, and the stellar IBIS. My day to day camera is now the OM1 MK II (having just traded my MK I). It is really an exceptional camera - I shoot in low light without a tripod, reliably shoot 2-3 seconds handheld (longer if I think about it), rarely use my external filters now that I have ND128 in camera, variety of subject detection modes, etc. Today I took a few shots at ISO 16,000 by mistake and corrected them easily. The OM1 was a big jump for the brand and the MKII is a significant improvement over that.

This made me go down memory lane, and my choice isn't quite in line with the current times, but it makes me think about gear churn. My choice is a Nikon D2x. Wait, the one that can't shoot at ISO 800? Yes! I bought one used in 2009 and made it my primary camera until 2015. For landscapes at ISO 100-400, I was perfectly happy with this hunk of metal, and a tripod of course. Looking at my Lightroom stats, I haven't used a primary camera for that long since the D2x. The gear churn cycle has gotten shorter. Yes, the D800 series and now the Z8/Z9 surpass the D2x, but I find myself thinking that if I had to, I could still work with that old camera just fine. Finding reliable batteries would be a challenge now. Actually, you know what I find the biggest advantage of the new Z cameras to be? The articulating rear display. No more right-angle viewfinder accessory!

My picks for the top 10 enthusiast cameras available new right now (not in order):
- Nikon Z8
- Sony A7R V
- Canon R6 II
- Sony A7 IV
- Canon R8
- Fuji X-H2S
- Fuji X-S20
- OM System OM-1 II
- Fuji X100 VI
- Ricoh GR III (or IIIX)

"Currently available" makes answering this question all the more difficult. Technically the X-Pro3 has been 'discontinued', so by that definition/metric, it's off the list. Which is a bit ironic, considering that so many truly great photographers - from Patrick Laroque to Charlene Winfred - have talked so eloquently about the experiences of shooting with their various X-Pros. But, at the risk of repeating what a multitude of others have doubtless said, the X-T5 is at the top of my short list.

The Ricoh GRIII/GRIIIx should be on the list too. Not just for all the cool ways they inspire those who've used them to photograph, but for almost literally creating a new breed or genre or family (pick the noun of your choice) of fine cameras: the tiny pocketable ones.

My instinct would be to remove most Sonys, Canons, Nikons and especially Panasonics from the list, simply because so many of them seem to be preferred by videographers - as opposed to photographers. Perhaps that's a small or irrelevant distinction, but in my admittedly skewed perspective, hybrid tools designed for the creation of videos... aren't enthusiast cameras. They are (often superbly) capable devices used by many creative professionals. But you gotta draw the line somewhere, don't you?

But I'll waffle and add the Lumix G9ii to the list - because unlike the GH6, it's not marketed primarily as a hybrid video creation tool - but seems more of a photographer's camera. The OM-System OM-1 should probably be on the list as well, though Olympus's hard core attempts to position it as a uber-capable device for wildlife photographers makes me wonder sometimes.

There should probably be a Leica on the list as well, but whether it's the one Peter Turnley favors, or the one Paul Reid has been using so brilliantly over the last few years, I couldn't say.

And, hey, the Zf almost deserves consideration - except possibly for the fact that such an interesting (and vocal) minority of Nikonholics seem to complain quite thoughtfully about certain limitations in the lens selection department (and other issues like the lack of aperture rings for dedicated Zf lenses). But it looks so cute... and looks have to count for something, no?

Lastly, the K-3iii needs to be on the list (either the standard or the monochrome version), both because it's a great camera, and to honor Pentax's penchant for not following the crowd, sticking to its guns, and continuing to produce great cameras which generations of photographers love to use.

Confession: the only one on this list that I use is the X-T5. Probably for many of the reasons smarter people than me have enumerated, but my own motivation is more left-of-center: shooting in jpeg only (both Fuji's excellent in-camera simulations, and the brilliant film-mimicking 'recipes' created by Ritchie Roesch and a few others) probably bring digital photography closer to some of the better aspects of what film can do... than anything else I've seen. Additionally, the self-imposed 'discipline' of shooting with a particular simulation or recipe... is a lot like the old-fashioned discipline of only shooting Tri-X in one body, and K64 in another. Speaking of which, the G9ii gets an additional 'honorable mention' for its internal l.monochrome.d black and white simulation, which comes closer to the look & feel of printed Tri-X than anything any digital camera I've ever used can.

Thanks for doing this, Mike. It's a fascinating and thought-provoking exercise, no question.

Olympus OM-1 or the new II. it’s a joy to operate and hold and a powerhouse to boot. If anything, that camera shows what will come to FF in the future.

I've just been to Morocco with my XT5, three lenses and my Ricoh GRII. Most of the pictures were taken with the Ricoh as it's just so good for discrete street photography, and the JPGs are lovely.
So, despite loving my Fujis (XT5, XH1, XPro3) for professional wedding photography, I've got to nominate the Ricoh as the underdog!

Joining the party late, I'd nominate the Canon R6 Mark ii. I purchased it recently as a backup to my R5 but find myself using it more and more. It is lighter (marginally) than the R5, has all the functionality of a pro camera and just sits in my hand perfectly. The only demerit (in my view) it deserves is for the old-timey mode dial on top that isn't locked and easily gets bumped and changed when you take it in a nd out of a tight bag.

Great to see some m4/3 enthusiasm, both from Olympus and Panasonic shooters. I have a G85 and G9 and love them both.

As a clumsy person, one of my selection criteria for a camera is the "how much would this hurt if I dropped it in saltwater (or off a mountain, or took it to a colour run, insert your own gear destroying activity here)" test.

For an enthusiast, especially just starting out, I'd struggle to recommend something that they would hesitate to take with them. So my pick is the G9, vI or II. Weather resistant, priced well here in Australia, great selection of lenses across the focal length range, lots of online (esp Youtube) resources to help you out (used my G85 for a 4k video shoot last year). The tradeoff of a smaller sensor is better IBIS and (somewhat) weight. Panasonic seems to be pretty good at keeping software updates coming. And can be readily replaced, if stuff happens.

I previously sent in a list of my picks, but I see most people are also providing a rationale, so here it goes (camearas in no real order):

- Nikon Z8: The best all-around camera without paying pro prices. For the enthusiest who wants to be ready for anything.

- Sony A7R V: 61 megapixels plus great autofocus. For the enthusiest who pretends they are going to make huge prints.

- Canon R6 II and/or Sony A7 IV: The best standard full frame cameras. Definitely better than Nikon Z6 II or Panasonic S5 II, and with better ergonomics than Nikon Zf. For the typical enthusiest with a decent budget.

- Canon R8: Small and lightweight, with great ergonomics that I found to be better than the G6 II. Susbtantial cost savings vs. any of the cameras above. For the enthusiest on a budget who values technical image quality and can live without IBIS or a first curtain mechanical shutter.

- Fuji X-H2S: I know you're going to pick the X-T5, but I think the X-H2 and X-H2S both have better ergonomics, and the fast readout speed of the X-H2S seems more useful (e.g. in silent mode) than the 40 megapixels of the X-T5 or the X-H2. For the true APS-C enthusiest.

- Fuji X-S20 and OM System OM-1 II: X-S20 is cheaper and smaller than X-H2S or X-T5 while getting you access to X mount lenses. OM-1 II is overpriced (a used EM-1 II or III makes much more sense), but it's a great camera and gets you access to m4/3 lenses. Panasonic G9 II sounds good on paper, but I found it to be too big/heavy for m4/3. For the enthusiest who wants a real camera and multiple lenses to fit inside a small bag.

- Fuji X100 VI: Unless you are going to put the Q3 (too expensive) on this list, this seems like an automatic.

- Ricoh GR III (or IIIX): It doesn't have everything you wanted, but I think this is today's DMD. Definitely the most memorable camera I played with on a recent visit to B&H while visiting NYC. For the enthusiest who wants a second camera that can fit in a pocket.

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