Do you suppose that any of the leading camera companies really listen to us, their customers? Lots of the Fuji fanboois were blogging their little hearts out last week because their favourite camera company was asking what they‘d like to see next in their lens roadmap and development agenda(s).
Having got this priceless feedback, we’re left to expect the R&D department back home would then get the glad news from marketing and start beavering away for product releases later this year.
Don’t hold your breath.
Like you dear reader, we each develop our own GAS, wait for new products to ship and buy new kit with our own money. That makes us users, just like you – how do we feel about our recent photographic splurges? We’ve made lots of camera purchases between us in recent times, so last week I asked the team at DearSusan how they felt.
This is what I got in reply:
Everybody is talking about their new shiny cameras, eh? Well, my primary camera is a trusty Sony A6000 from 2014, my secondary is the legendary RX1R from 2013 and my third, a A77 from 2012 – what a bummer.
Is it meanness? Austerity? Misguided rationality? No … at least I don’t think so. Here are my reasons to NOT upgrade my cameras:
If Sony gives me A7III tech in a rangefinder body, I’ll buy it on day one. But if my A6000 breaks tomorrow, I’d probably buy a A6400 or A6500 to just continue where I left off. But it doesn’t die, no matter how hard I try.
Is the Nikon Z 7 still living up to my expectations after 9 weeks of ownership and a little over 2,000 shots? The answer is an emphatic yes. You can read my initial thoughts on switching from the D850 to the Z .
Last week, I shot in sub zero Celsius temperatures and light snow. The camera performed as well as my previous Nikons, D800, 810 & D4s in similar conditions. The battery life was about as expected and on a par to the D850 which s good in the cold conditions. Not once through a shoot of 2 – 3 hours did I need to change batteries.
I did take my D850 with me as a backup and it sat in my bag for the entire trip. I had no inclination to use it.
I find the EVF very useful for landscape photography and can’t see myself using the D850 for this in the future.
Things had been quiet. Not too quiet, but perfectly quiet.
Then it happened.
An email. A missive, directed at the DS crew a call for content.
The subject – how’s that new camera working out for you?
Eh? What new camera?
Long story short… well just write about the last new camera you got then and how it met (or didn’t) your expectations.
Well my last ‘new’ camera was the Leica M9 and that perfectly met my expectations.
So I decided to cast my mind further back, back to the time that I got the Fujifilm X-Pro2.
As an X-Pro1 shooter the choice of X-Pro2 seemed as natural as erm 1, 2, 3.
I can’t really remember what Fujifilm promised over the X-Pro1… oh yes – speed, features and performance.
More ISO, more megapixels, more AF, more focusing aids, more SD card slots, more buttons and all for (give or take) the same coin as they’d wanted for the original X-Pro1 (at launch anyway)
Did Fujifilm deliver?
Oh they most certainly did! Between the very first X-Pro and the second one four years had elapsed.
The X-Pro1 was (in pure spec and performance terms) far from the shiniest button on the tunic the day it was released and Fujifilm had developed their X series platform a lot by the time the X-Pro2 rolled into town.
Bar a few they-bother-me-but-probably-not-you type niggles (in case you care: a couple of fiddly buttons and I found the original’s OVF info display more legible) there really wasn’t a single part of the X-Pro2 that didn’t outperform the original.
I was very, very happy with the X-Pro2. I say was I mean I still have it, I still use it and I still am (happy).
I’ll spare you the in-depth on this, except to say a stop more ISO, a stop more SS, about half a stop more DR (according to pixels to photons) and all in a speedier, better featured and weather sealed new body that even (give or take) managed not to ruin the looks of the original model’s shape.
This is what happens when cameras get updated after four years rather than twelve months, the improvements are tangible and numerous.
But after a while I started to cool a little to the look of the X-Pro2’s images, it’s a little tricky to put into words… except to say that I thought that there was something about the image quality of the original X-Pro1 that wasn’t present in the newer camera.
I am literally talking about bloody annoying and trite attributes such as organic or filmic
Like a conspiracy theory nut I became desperate (well not really desperate but that sounds better in this context) to prove that the official version was a lie…
…..that newer wasn’t better, and that a boat load of tangible, genuine photographically relevant to picture making (not say the inclusion of Wi-Fi or a second card slot, even though the X-Pro2 had these additions too) features were useless (sic) compared with organic or filmic looking images.
I tried different RAW editors and different editing techniques to get that elusive X-Pro1 look from my X-Pro2.
In the end… I saw that Fujifilm UK where selling ‘refurb’ (aka unused dealer return stock I think…) X-Pro1s for about a fifth of the original cost with full factory warranty, so I flipped a lens I hardly used and just bought another X-Pro1.
The organic or filmic X-Pro1 was back in my life. Some months later the even more organic or filmic Leica M9 entered my life (making my X-Pro1 somewhat redundant truth be told) and I was happy using the antiquated, shit-on-paper specs M9 for pleasure and wheeling out the X-Pro2 for inclement weather and being paid for or must-get-the-shot situations.
To say that the X-Pro2 isn’t a way better camera than the X-Pro1 would be batshit crazy.
But the take away for me, was that as great and as necessary a modern performing camera is (and it really is) deep down I realised that I tended to form emotive attachments to the way certain sensors produced images and that being seduced by features (no matter how welcome they may be) shouldn’t always be on the top of my wish list.
On the plus side, I haven’t looked at or (seriously) lusted after a new model camera for three years now, and I still use the X-Pro2.
That’s a happy ending in my book.
When Paul asked if we could write a short piece about whatever new camera we were using my heart sank a little. Having had little time for photography for over a year, during my last holiday I’d done a project using a cheap camera phone, and had enjoyed the freedom from equipment and a greater focus on composition and creativity.
I decided I wanted a camera with the same portability and ease but with greater image quality. I eschewed some of the 1″ sensor fixed lens cameras for their prices that often put mid range ILCs to shame, and disliked some of the APSC sensored pocket cameras such as Ricoh’s GR1 because of the potential limitation of a fixed 28mm lens. As a Sony E mount user, I decided on the entry level to the range, the Alpha A5100, a tiny APSC camera with a version of the 24Mp sensor found in it’s bigger brother, the A6000.
Its hard to explain how tiny the camera body is, so small that the top plate has a curved hump to accommodate the E lens mount. As it’s aimed at consumers, it has few controls, and curiously lacks the “Function” (Fn) menu found in other E mount bodies, which allows favourite settings to be grouped into a custom pop up menu. Fortunately, what buttons it has can all be customised, and the ace up it’s sleeve is a touchscreen with touch focus or shutter release.
Fitted with the pancake kit zoom with its 24-75mm equivalent range, or one of the pancake E mount prime lenses such as the 20mm f2.8, its small and light and will fit in a pocket. It’s various scene recognition and auto modes will detect group selfies, portraits, night scenes and even the use of a tripod. As with other Sony models, it can create in camera multi shot HDR jpegs, detect faces, and smooth skin on portraits. All these features are the type of electronic fripperies that “real” photographers scoff at, yet using them it manages to create some of the simplicity of camera phone photography, combined with better image quality. The kit lens is very small and good enough, and overall it’s a fun camera that’s fairly easy to use in its various auto modes. For the £265 it cost me, it’s a go anywhere camera that packs a huge bang for it’s modest bucks.
Ever since the sirens of digital made me trade my Mamiya 7 kit for some white zooms and a mirror slapping DSLR contraption, I’ve been hoping for a come back of the prodigious Mamiya with a silicon heart. But, year after year, what the industry served us instead of a zero fluff highly focused scalpel was a series of increasingly capable Jacks of all trades that enabled us to do far more than the Mamiya ever could but gave me as much pleasure as a competent rectal exam. In 2016, though, Hasselblad released what appeared not only to look like a Mamiya 7 but seemed to resurrect the recipes of a great grip, unrealistically good glass, no nonsense ergonomics, leaf shutters and Panzer tank build. It took me 2 years to take the plunge, not just because of the obvious financial reasons but also because uncertainties concerning both Hasselblad’s future and my abilities to wield the X1D. But I eventually gave in to my inner child’s uncontrollable lust for scalpel 2.0 and recently took the plunge for X1D 50c black field kit.
Was it worth it? That depends on the goal. Claiming I’ve made my best ever photographs with the X1D would be a big fat lie. But it’s early days yet and it’s obvious that promises are being upheld at the camera’s end, even if the tog still needs time to adapt. It’s fair to say the intense infatuation is back. I couldn’t love the camera more. It does exactly what I want it to. For one thing, it spits out every mistake I make in a detached “better luck next time, dumb ass” sort of way. And, more insidiously, it points out any shortcomings in my cameraman-ship by creating photographs that are obviously great because of its technical abilities and in spite of my shortcomings. That is way more humiliating and character building than forgetting to switch off the electronic shutter during the visit of a temple you might not return to for decades 😉
I will sell off some of the kit I’ve acquired. I will. I will.
Then again maybe I’ll just add a couple of new shelves and keep it all.
I do quite enjoy the decision making; is this a Nikon day? Would the Leica be better? Shall I just take a Fuji and have done. The permutations are almost endless and most often, I end up with two cameras in my bag;
Fuji’s X100F and the X-H1.
The first because it is supreme for 99.99% of what I want to photograph. The second to prevent the slightest possibility of missing something important. That argument precludes lenses, which is a whole ‘nother issue.
Most recently, I bought the X-H1, after convincing myself that my X-Pros (a -1 and a -2) were more than enough for my needs. They were, but somehow, I still managed to justify another camera body and the SBH (Standard British Handful – Fuji’s 16-55 f2.8 zoom) to go with it. It would avoid my need to haul several primes along and keep my bag light(ish) when travelling, I reasoned.
My feelings for the X100F are well documented elsewhere on DearSusan, as are many mentions of the X-H1, plus a kind of road test. Nothing’s changed. It’s a real workhorse and has yet to display a single one of the bugs and faults that plagued many X-H1s during its first year on sale.
I’ve almost completely recovered from the GAS attack that made me buy it and would change very little given a free hand in its re-modelling. I might ask that the location of the Q menu button be changed as it is always under my large right thumb and often mysterious changes in major areas of functionality – suddenly shooting at ISO 27,000 for example – can invariably be traced back to an unnoticed Q menu incursion.
That aside, I love it. It’s small, light enough, reliable and can deliver brilliant colour and some exquisite photographs. What’s not to like?
Having used a Sony A7RII, which I subsequently let a thief get away with, I reverted back to an older APS/C camera, and then decided to buy another up-to-date one.
I setlled on a Sony A7R II, even though by then I had no lenses committing me to one brand rather than another, and there had been a flurry of new mirrorless cameras since the A7 RII (Sony A7 III, A7R III, A9, Nikon Z6, Z7, Canon EOS-R, Panasonic S1…)
Fast forward 3 months: how do I feel about it? In one word: good! I would do it again in a heartbeat. Sure, I got a great price, and that is a significant part of the equation. Save for the very old A7R, the R II is the least expensive high-resolution body today, period. Because of the prevalence of Sony high-resolution sensors, no competitors, including Sony, offer significantly better IQ from a 35mm camera body than the A7R II.
Sure, the R III is better in a number of ways, but IQ is not one of them, and at the time of my purchase it cost double… Sure the Z7 is a great imagemaker, but the Sony offers (today, and that could change over time, though it is not headed that way) an uparallelled choice of native lenses for many manufacturers.
In a way my present RII is “better” than my previous RII, in the sense that, before, I used it as an “ultimate image-maker”; a platform for the ultimate 35mm lenses (Zeiss Otus), despite their weight, cost and awkwardness as adapted lenses. Now I use my camera more as a “great image-maker” in a format (weight, size, ease-of-use) that insures that I take all the pics that I fancy, which I might not have done with my much heavier, more demanding system previously.
Pascal, also a former A7R II user just bought himself his version of the “ultimate image-maker” (Hasselblad X1-D), so how do I feel about that? Pretty good too. First, I am happy for him, though I will never admit it publicly. Second, my life as a photographer is just simpler than his, which to me offsets the benefits he gets in IQ terms. Less weight and bulk, less cost and risk, less need to be slow and careful Just less of everything that might stand between me and enjoying my hobby.
In a way you could say that, before, taking pics was somewhat of a load, or job even, because of the effort required that began with taking my 5kg+ bag with me every day, and the pleasure started with the end-product on my computer screen. Now it begins when I whip my camera-and-single-lens out of my bag, and try things out, whether they work out or not.
How much more could a man want?
It’s Ming wot dunnit. Forced me into my latest camera acquisition. No, not some high end Hassy, if that’s what you’re thinking but a much more lowly Ricoh GRii. How so? Well, I was watching a Ming Thein video of a shoot he did in Cuba which was available for free. Free because he is unable to collect remuneration for anything to do with Cuba, presumably as this is regarded as sanctions busting by the high and mighty.
Anyway during this shoot every once in a while he pulled out this tiny camera for taking wide angle shots. I was intrigued and upon Googling discovered this little camera is highly regarded by many street shooters. Typically when I go walkabout I take my Pen-F with a 17mm f1.8 lens that will fit in large pockets, just about. The GRii has an f2.8 28mm FOV and fits in my trouser pocket, no problem. There’s supposed to be a GRiii, real soon now, which meant I was able to buy a new GRii for almost half list price.
So expectation versus reality? Reasons I love this camera. Its size. As mentioned it is truly pocket sized and I spent several minutes one morning looking for it before realising it was already in my pocket. Doh! It takes beautiful images, APSC sensor, pin sharp lens and lovely colour rendering. There are various effects or sims, Positive Film being one I particularly like in certain light. But best of all is the Snap Focus function whereby you pre-select aperture, exposure and focal distance. So I set it to f8 focused at 2 metres, set a suitable exposure and everything from 1m to infinity is acceptably in focus. Couple this with auto ISO maxed at 3200 and saved to one of the three My Settings and I’m good to go.
As alluded to above I rather like the 35mm FOV and reading the manual last night (imagine that – reading a manual) I discover I can set the GRii to a 35mm view and it crops the RAW files. Cool.
Which leads me on to second recent purchase at twice the price of the GRii – a Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.5 for my E-M1 MKii. This is something of a departure for me as it’s the first manual lens I’ve ever used and I umed and ahed a good while before seeing one at a price I could afford. The first opportunity I had to use was at the Christmas Lantern Parade in Cardigan. I was nervous about a new lens with no autofocus and the possibility of coming back with a card full of out of focus dross. I considered taking a backup lens but figured that would leave me ’twixt two stools. So I just took the Voigtlander and for the first time out was more than happy with results.
This lens is a weighty (for m43) beast that is all metal and glass. It’s delightful to use with a wonderful feel and I imagine it will be with me for a very long time. But I have to be in the mood for it! Interestingly what first drew me to this lens were the photos I saw posted on IG by a guy in Scotland. There was something about the rendering even on IG that I liked. I messaged the photographer and he swore that the 17.5mm and 45mm Voigtlanders were all he ever used. A few months later I noticed he’d gone over to the dark side and now shoots with Fujis.
I got rid of my Fuji equipment a while ago, mainly for the following reasons:
I thought, and agonised over, it for about 4 months and finally came to the decision that the Sony was the more sensible choice for my needs, which are becoming mainly wildlife oriented, particularly as I saw Sony bringing out a high resolution sports and wildlife camera in the not too distant future……and I didn’t want to run with 2 very similar systems.
I needed a smaller and lighter system for my travel needs and, having tested both the Olympus and Panasonic Lumix systems, courtesy of Ffordes Photographic, came to the conclusion that the Panasonic G9 was ideal for that. The camera is beautifully designed and engineered and the “Leica” badged lenses are superb, particularly the 200mm f2.8 which, with the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters (560mm f4 and 800mm f5.6 FF equivalents) attached, gives me the reach I need for wildlife, with the benefit of a pretty fast aperture and the depth of field advantage of the micro 43rds sensor.
My kit for Japan fitted into a very small and comparatively light backpack, including the extra equipment needed to cater for equipment failures.
If you’re interested, my images from Japan, taken with the Lumix equipment, are on my website.
I should have also said that, ironically, what makes the Fuji cameras so appealing for many – the analog dials and wheels – made them, for me, less capable as wildlife cameras, compared to the Sony’s (and the Lumix G9). Instead of being able to change immediately from, single point, single shot autofocus to continuous, tracking autofocus, by the quick turn of a dial to one of the many custom functions available, without having to take the camera from my eye, with the Fujis, I found that several dial movements were needed, necessitating removal of the camera from the eye and many missed opportunities as a result.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, it was DearSusan regular Kirk Tuck who’s piece “Is it possible to judge (review) a camera anymore? Don’t constant improvements to firmware make each review only a snapshot into one slice of a camera’s life?” got this all started in the first place.
As is so often the case, a quick round-Robin e-mail to the DS regulars and we were off and running.
Of course, nothing here is cast in stone – got a different view, or suggestion? Then feel free to pop us a note, or better still, make a comment below.
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