Rethinking camera needs.

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
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Mike Fewster
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Rethinking camera needs.
8 months ago

The camera world for serious shooters has changed, but perhaps we haven’t adjusted our thinking. I write this having read/contributed to a number of threads recently on different forums where the issue seems to underlie the argument but not be recognized.

Once the technology moved relatively slowly. You bought into a modular system and gradually added the bits you needed so that your camera of choice was versatile enough to meet all your needs. The camera and components needed to be built like tanks because you anticipated using them for many years in many different environments. Quality fast lenses were the elite components of a system and you needed them because IQ above about 200asa started deteriorating rapidly. Fast lenses also made focussing easier, especially in low light.

I’ve readjusted my thinking. Technology now moves so fast that a camera starts to look obsolete after about two years. I have stopped looking for a camera system. I now see a camera as a disposable consumer item and buy accordingly. Rather than a system, I have a number of cameras that cover different needs and I just take the one (or two) off the shelf depending on my needs that day.

Build quality is now far less of an issue for me than it once was. (With one exception that I will discuss later). Another thing that has changed is my attitude to interchangeable lenses. I am no longer as enamoured of them as I once was and exposing sensors has made me more and more reluctant to swap sensors in some of the environments (central Australia) where I often find myself.

Ten years ago if I had to choose between the SonyA7 and the Oly OM1, the Oly would have won every time due to its much better build quality and available system of lenses. Not, for me, today.

The larger sensors and current iso performance of Sonys has made very fast lenses irrelevant to me. I get all the dof control and low light ability I need, especially now we have the kind of PP ability available that wasn’t there 10-20-30 years ago when the fast lens deserved its godlike status.

So what do I buy? I have several cameras but keep prices in check by buying a model after the next model is released. Besides, by then there will be lots of info about the strengths/weaknesses of the camera being considered around and I should be able to make a good decision.

Current cameras. An Rx100, an RX1, a 5n (with the sony 10-18 zoom and the Sigma 19 and 30mm) and an A900 with a good tele. This collection meets my needs but might not meet your needs. The only time I carry the lot is when I am travelling in a large 4d outback and I have the space. Usually I will have just one or maybe two with me. The A900 only goes with me when I am in the truck.

The RX1 is the interesting one. It has superb build quality, right up there with Leica. It is a total, tactile pleasure to handle and the IQ is wonderful. I also love its close up range. I try to convince myself that it will still be highly 10 years hence because the cost/build quality suggest I will want it to go at least that long and it is the one camera where build quality was a factor making me want to buy the thing. Although the rx100 build quality is also outstanding.

The 5n is there because of its wa and lowlight performance at a very good price. I use wa a lot and decided on the Sony 10-18 lens to maximize this ability.

To summarize, so many threads on the forums seem angst ridden because so many people seek one camera to meet all their needs. The forums are therefore full of nitpicking over various relatively minor aspects rather than simply buying and enjoying a camera for its particular strengths. To me, this no longer is the way to go.

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Mike Fewster
Adelaide Australia

Sony RX1 Sony RX100
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