Interesting day at a real photo store.

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jalywol
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Interesting day at a real photo store.
8 months ago

As I have noted in the past, even though I live right near the capital of NY State, there is a singular lack of photographic retailers nearby.  To find any real camera stores, you have to go to either Boston or NYC, which are both about 170 miles one-way from here.  As a result, I rarely get to try any gear out in person before actually purchasing it.

So, today, I had to make the trip to Boston, which is not an unpleasant drive on the Mass Turnpike, even though it's a little long for a one day round trip....(the trip to NY is not nearly as pleasant, and is just not doable round trip in one day).  Fortunately, I realized that there was a Hunt's Photo store less than a mile from where I was going to be, so I figured I would stop in and see what they had when I was done with my other appointment.

Mostly I wanted to see if they had a GM1, since it has great appeal to me as a fit-in-pocketbook camera and as a back up to my EM1 ...and they did have one (although not in orange in store (but they did have them in the warehouse)).

Impressions...Nice little camera. REALLY tiny, but well laid out. Needs a tiny little grip of some sort, though (I think the Franiac one I have seen in photos would be just right). Unfortunately, I realized that much as it has just about everything I could want in a little camera, I really, really need to have an EVF (and a new glasses prescription would help, too).  So, it went from "oh I want that", to hmm, really nice camera, but not going to work for me".

Then, I had a chance to actually hold and play with all of the cameras I have been curious about over the past few months.  The GX7 seemed well made, but oddly boxy to me.  (I do think it would look much better in black).  Its viewfinder was ok, but a little squat to look into, and my eyelashes kept hitting either the viewfinder lens or the surround, which I thought was kind of odd.  I think it's an interesting camera, but it just didn't inspire me to want to pick it up and use it.

I got to see the Fuji XE1 (not 2), next.  I thought it felt pretty good in hand, and the lens felt really  terrific to use, but I didn't care for its EVF  much.  I have no real interest in the Fujis, but it was interesting to compare it for size and handling to the M43s.

Next on the list was the EM5.  I've never seen one in person before, and I knew when they came out that I preferred a camera with a built in larger grip, but I was still curious as to how it would actually feel in hand.  Well, long and short of it is I came away feeling that I couldn't get a good grip on the body itself....much as I had suspected when I was thinking about whether or not to get one when they first came out.  I did make the right decision to stick with my GH2 (at the time) because of that, it turns out....

The last camera I tried was the Sony A7.  It by far had the nicest EVF of this group, and it sat in my hand really well.  (The EM1 EVF is still better, but the Sony is pretty close....not a level of difference that would matter to me, actually, they are both quite good).  The shutter sound is just as terrible as all of the reviewers have described though.  Overall, out of all the cameras that I handled today, the Sony is the only one that I would want to take home and work with.

I have to admit, though, if Sony gets their act together and releases any kind of decent lens selection for their Alpha series of cameras, they are going to be a very compelling competitor for wide to mid-range shooting.  (Nothing can beat M43 for long lenses in a small package, though, ...especially if Oly or Panasonic ever get around to bringing out a couple of faster long primes....)  I could see revisiting the Sony cameras when they get to the next generation (and get the first gen bugs out), and seeing what they have to offer then for lenses and camera bodies.  (If I had a spare $4k hanging around I would probably give them a try now, but that's not in the offing anytime soon   )

So, the ultimate moral of the story is.....after finally getting to compare all of the cameras that I have not had a chance to try before, I am still VERY happy that I bought the EM1 a few months ago.  It really just does everything right in terms of handling, EVF, LCD, grip, IQ, lens choices....Pretty impressively well done bit of gear, if I do say so myself.

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