Emotion, logic and buying cameras

Started Apr 17, 2012 | Discussions
CriticalI
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Emotion, logic and buying cameras
Apr 17, 2012

There will always be posts on camera forums from people who can think of all the reasons (logically) why you should not buy a particular camera. In a way they are right. For some people the emotional aspect of ownership simply does not matter. It's stuff, and they want better stuff, and that means numbers and charts and megapixels and DxO measurements.....after all they have to tell their friends in the bar something, right?

Then there are those less bothered by purely mechanical criteria. Instead they like the way it makes them work, or think, or create, and how that affects their output.

In other words many many people, for obvious reasons, would never buy a car like an Alfa Romeo. I mean why would you? They are quite expensive, impractical, not as fast as they should be and not entirely reliable. So what possible logical reason is there for owning one? None.

Well, having been a one time owner of an Alfa, that broke down a few times, needed upgraded shocks (the standard ones were awful) and cost a small mortgage to insure (and I wont mention the depreciation) I can say in all honesty that I miss that car every time I turn the key in every car since. It was not designed to a spec sheet, it was designed to send a tingle down your spine every time you pressed the throttle. Yes it had flaws, objectively quite large ones, but everyone who drove it or even sat in it fell in love - and once you actually dialed the brain in to its handling quirks, throttle response, paddle shift and power band you could make amazing progress with concentration but a great sense of occasion.

My previous car was a Golf GTI turbo, and before that a 328i, objectively far better cars, but I got out of them feeling as bored as I did when I got in them. They were fast, solid and well engineered but dull, antiseptic and "knew what was best" for the driver. In short, there was no challenge (an idiot could drive one almost as fast as an expert) and no reward (they were as boring at 100 as they were at 50).

I often wondered what it was about the Alfa and it was a combination of things - it took a lot of learning, it was unforgiving, but that meant it was also alive - you were forced to learn how to feel it because if you didn't you'd be in a ditch. It didn't patronise you (you never felt there was someone in a lab coat calculating slip angles when you heeled it into a turn, but rather an Italian man in a linen shirt and Raybans smiling and saying "bravissimo"). I also remember the red momo leather seats, and the angled clocks, the smell of the interior and the noise when you hit the power band. Things that don't objectively matter but make you feel great.

My Nikon D700 is objectively a wonderful workhorse of a camera. Its a Volvo estate for going to the market and buying a wardrobe, then taking the kids to school and doing the shopping. But the Fuji I think is a bit more like an Alfa. Expensive, quirky, demanding and quite challenging but that simply makes you work harder to think about your composition and get the best out of it, and ironically because it does not lay it all out on a plate you never get lazy or take it for granted and use it like a point and shoot because it's not foolproof. So you think, you compose, you slow down, you take better shots, and because the sensor and lenses are actually excellent it rewards the effort with something that is a cut above the average - subjectively.

So, I'm looking forward to the Fuji. Not selling my D700 yet, expecting a few challenges and frustrations, but already knowing that it will force me to think like a photographer again and not a cameraman (or pack mule for photography gear, which is how a pro DSLR kit makes me feel sometimes).

So yes, measure and scoff all you want, but if you want rational purchasing decisions then don't ever buy an Alfa, or an old 911. You'd hate it. But you are not me and the Alfa owners club is a lot more interesting and fun than the Ford Focus owner's club.

(Having said that I don't have my Fuji yet and I may still hate it, but somehow I think I am well prepared for the experience

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Regards,
Steve

Nikon D700
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Chris Dodkin
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

Good analogy
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Reybabes
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

CriticalI wrote:

There will always be posts on camera forums from people who can think of all the reasons (logically) why you should not buy a particular camera. In a way they are right. For some people the emotional aspect of ownership simply does not matter. It's stuff, and they want better stuff, and that means numbers and charts and megapixels and DxO measurements.....after all they have to tell their friends in the bar something, right?

Then there are those less bothered by purely mechanical criteria. Instead they like the way it makes them work, or think, or create, and how that affects their output.

In other words many many people, for obvious reasons, would never buy a car like an Alfa Romeo. I mean why would you? They are quite expensive, impractical, not as fast as they should be and not entirely reliable. So what possible logical reason is there for owning one? None.

Well, having been a one time owner of an Alfa, that broke down a few times, needed upgraded shocks (the standard ones were awful) and cost a small mortgage to insure (and I wont mention the depreciation) I can say in all honesty that I miss that car every time I turn the key in every car since. It was not designed to a spec sheet, it was designed to send a tingle down your spine every time you pressed the throttle. Yes it had flaws, objectively quite large ones, but everyone who drove it or even sat in it fell in love - and once you actually dialed the brain in to its handling quirks, throttle response, paddle shift and power band you could make amazing progress with concentration but a great sense of occasion.

My previous car was a Golf GTI turbo, and before that a 328i, objectively far better cars, but I got out of them feeling as bored as I did when I got in them. They were fast, solid and well engineered but dull, antiseptic and "knew what was best" for the driver. In short, there was no challenge (an idiot could drive one almost as fast as an expert) and no reward (they were as boring at 100 as they were at 50).

I often wondered what it was about the Alfa and it was a combination of things - it took a lot of learning, it was unforgiving, but that meant it was also alive - you were forced to learn how to feel it because if you didn't you'd be in a ditch. It didn't patronise you (you never felt there was someone in a lab coat calculating slip angles when you heeled it into a turn, but rather an Italian man in a linen shirt and Raybans smiling and saying "bravissimo"). I also remember the red momo leather seats, and the angled clocks, the smell of the interior and the noise when you hit the power band. Things that don't objectively matter but make you feel great.

My Nikon D700 is objectively a wonderful workhorse of a camera. Its a Volvo estate for going to the market and buying a wardrobe, then taking the kids to school and doing the shopping. But the Fuji I think is a bit more like an Alfa. Expensive, quirky, demanding and quite challenging but that simply makes you work harder to think about your composition and get the best out of it, and ironically because it does not lay it all out on a plate you never get lazy or take it for granted and use it like a point and shoot because it's not foolproof. So you think, you compose, you slow down, you take better shots, and because the sensor and lenses are actually excellent it rewards the effort with something that is a cut above the average - subjectively.

So, I'm looking forward to the Fuji. Not selling my D700 yet, expecting a few challenges and frustrations, but already knowing that it will force me to think like a photographer again and not a cameraman (or pack mule for photography gear, which is how a pro DSLR kit makes me feel sometimes).

So yes, measure and scoff all you want, but if you want rational purchasing decisions then don't ever buy an Alfa, or an old 911. You'd hate it. But you are not me and the Alfa owners club is a lot more interesting and fun than the Ford Focus owner's club.

(Having said that I don't have my Fuji yet and I may still hate it, but somehow I think I am well prepared for the experience

-- hide signature --

Regards,
Steve

This is a point that is often made but rarely as well as this. Nicely described; it resonates with my own experience.

Why would anyone not use a modern ball point pen? Well, I like fountain pens. My hand doesn't have to bear down on the pen as hard and the angle of the instrument to the paper is completely different. I have to write more deliberately, slowly, carefully. And sometimes, not often, but sometimes... it leaks. And I get ink stains on my hand. The ink is expensive and I have to hand fill the pen often. Overall, it's an experience that is hard to explain or justify... but to those who 'get it', no explanation or justification is necessary.

Rey

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framus
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

Chapeau!

In ain't all about the feeds and speeds.

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mr moonlight
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

There are cars we buy with our heads and there are cars we buy with our hearts. Same thing with cameras. Just because one may look better on paper and is way more practical doesn't mean it's going to be the one we remember most fondly years after its gone.

Now the real trick is convincing your significant other that the car/camera you want to buy with your heart is in some way practical.

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Cailean Gallimore
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to framus, Apr 17, 2012

Great post! I was uncharacteristically 'sensible' over the purchase of my X100, waiting for a year for the price to drop, and firmware improvements. I'm usually an 'I want it now' type, but I'm glad I waited in this case, as on the current firmware it is a better camera, that I got for 30% less money. I plan to do the same with the X-pro1.

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MPA1
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

I've never bought a car in 30 years for anything but the practical reasons to be honest. They are just too expensive to do otherwise! The last one I bought was bought to reduce the fuel bill in my business. I suppose if I won Lotto I might buy something more emotionally.

I like cameras that feel and respond like the film cameras that I grew up with. I actually do not really like digital shooting that much and would prefer to return to film but to do so is impractical in the modern world and my clients require digital output so that is what I give them.

I like the Fuji because it feels similar in use to the M6 and M7 film cameras I have owned whilst offering AF which is a necessary thing for me these days.

With film, I could spend most of my time shooting and less of my time developing because most of that was easily and cheaply outsourced.

I am actually keeping half an eye out for a good used Leica M3 though as a personal side project!

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Zarniwoop1985
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

Steve,

Great post! Wholeheartedly agree.

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CriticalI
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to mr moonlight, Apr 17, 2012

mr moonlight wrote:

There are cars we buy with our heads and there are cars we buy with our hearts. Same thing with cameras. Just because one may look better on paper and is way more practical doesn't mean it's going to be the one we remember most fondly years after its gone.

Now the real trick is convincing your significant other that the car/camera you want to buy with your heart is in some way practical.

That's easy, ask her if she would rather you married her because you loved her or because she could cook.....

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Steve

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MPA1
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

Surely more logical to marry for money and hire a cook?

CriticalI wrote:

mr moonlight wrote:

There are cars we buy with our heads and there are cars we buy with our hearts. Same thing with cameras. Just because one may look better on paper and is way more practical doesn't mean it's going to be the one we remember most fondly years after its gone.

Now the real trick is convincing your significant other that the car/camera you want to buy with your heart is in some way practical.

That's easy, ask her if she would rather you married her because you loved her or because she could cook.....

-- hide signature --

Regards,
Steve

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peter konzuk
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Oh no, in stock...
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

at my local shop. I know if I touch it I'll want it even more. Then the rationalization begins. Didn't I spend about 1500 on my first digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 2megapixel swivel camera? How about those L lenses I hardly use since getting the x100. Its gonna happen. What will be the tipping point?

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CriticalI
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to MPA1, Apr 17, 2012

A Leica M3 eh? Now that would be something. But really, isn't that just the camera equivalent of a vintage Ferrari?

MPA1 wrote:

I've never bought a car in 30 years for anything but the practical reasons to be honest. They are just too expensive to do otherwise! The last one I bought was bought to reduce the fuel bill in my business. I suppose if I won Lotto I might buy something more emotionally.

I like cameras that feel and respond like the film cameras that I grew up with. I actually do not really like digital shooting that much and would prefer to return to film but to do so is impractical in the modern world and my clients require digital output so that is what I give them.

I like the Fuji because it feels similar in use to the M6 and M7 film cameras I have owned whilst offering AF which is a necessary thing for me these days.

With film, I could spend most of my time shooting and less of my time developing because most of that was easily and cheaply outsourced.

I am actually keeping half an eye out for a good used Leica M3 though as a personal side project!

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Regards,
Steve

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mark finn
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

Very nice post, and as someone who drives an Alfa 147 and shoots with an X100 I couldn't agree more. Both machines have an ability to cut through to the essence of their purpose, and in doing so make you work for the results they can deliver.

The main difference is in the depreciation; while the X100 has held its value remarkably well, the Alfa has.... not. As they say on Top Gear, Alfa Romeos depreciate faster than they accelerate.

Still wouldn't give up either!
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CriticalI
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to MPA1, Apr 17, 2012

MPA1 wrote:

Surely more logical to marry for money and hire a cook?

Ha! But women usually have more sense than to marry beneath them (financially speaking). Unfortunately....

CriticalI wrote:

mr moonlight wrote:

There are cars we buy with our heads and there are cars we buy with our hearts. Same thing with cameras. Just because one may look better on paper and is way more practical doesn't mean it's going to be the one we remember most fondly years after its gone.

Now the real trick is convincing your significant other that the car/camera you want to buy with your heart is in some way practical.

That's easy, ask her if she would rather you married her because you loved her or because she could cook.....

-- hide signature --

Regards,
Steve

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Regards,
Steve

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Bobtheamateur
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From a former Alfa Owner
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

Oh yes, I can truly understand. I was lucky (or unlucky) to find a used 1969 Berlina in 1971 that was part of an estate sale in Los Angeles. It was in perfect shape.... a white box that became part of me for the next 3 years. One had to learn some "uncomplicated" maintenance but since the entire engine compartment was completely packed with engine and components it was an interesting task to change or do anything. Seemed the thermostat would go out every few months but it took a careful disassemble to replace it.

One of the joys of ownership in L.A. was getting the oil changed at the local Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa dealer.......and being able to drool over the technologically needy Italian behemoths.

Sadly but fortunately, I was involved in a major collision on the Golden Gate Bridge in July of 1974 and the car saved my life. I was rear ended by a small truck traveling at 40 mph and accordianed me into the car in front. The rear and the front of the car were destroyed but the passenger compartment with me and 2 friends was intact with no injuries except a bruise.

That led to a GTV and then to a GTV6 but I was forced to abandon my Alfa-love affair when I moved away from anyone who could repair them.

I did buy (oh my I admitted it) an X-Pro1 and 2 lenses and am enjoying the experience..... an addiction to Fuji colors I am keeping my large Dslr's and S5 because they serve a purpose but am enjoying the experience with this lovely piece of tech. Hope yours is like your Alfa.

Bob

CriticalI wrote:

There will always be posts on camera forums from people who can think of all the reasons (logically) why you should not buy a particular camera. In a way they are right. For some people the emotional aspect of ownership simply does not matter. It's stuff, and they want better stuff, and that means numbers and charts and megapixels and DxO measurements.....after all they have to tell their friends in the bar something, right?

Then there are those less bothered by purely mechanical criteria. Instead they like the way it makes them work, or think, or create, and how that affects their output.

In other words many many people, for obvious reasons, would never buy a car like an Alfa Romeo. I mean why would you? They are quite expensive, impractical, not as fast as they should be and not entirely reliable. So what possible logical reason is there for owning one? None.

Well, having been a one time owner of an Alfa, that broke down a few times, needed upgraded shocks (the standard ones were awful) and cost a small mortgage to insure (and I wont mention the depreciation) I can say in all honesty that I miss that car every time I turn the key in every car since. It was not designed to a spec sheet, it was designed to send a tingle down your spine every time you pressed the throttle. Yes it had flaws, objectively quite large ones, but everyone who drove it or even sat in it fell in love - and once you actually dialed the brain in to its handling quirks, throttle response, paddle shift and power band you could make amazing progress with concentration but a great sense of occasion.

My previous car was a Golf GTI turbo, and before that a 328i, objectively far better cars, but I got out of them feeling as bored as I did when I got in them. They were fast, solid and well engineered but dull, antiseptic and "knew what was best" for the driver. In short, there was no challenge (an idiot could drive one almost as fast as an expert) and no reward (they were as boring at 100 as they were at 50).

I often wondered what it was about the Alfa and it was a combination of things - it took a lot of learning, it was unforgiving, but that meant it was also alive - you were forced to learn how to feel it because if you didn't you'd be in a ditch. It didn't patronise you (you never felt there was someone in a lab coat calculating slip angles when you heeled it into a turn, but rather an Italian man in a linen shirt and Raybans smiling and saying "bravissimo"). I also remember the red momo leather seats, and the angled clocks, the smell of the interior and the noise when you hit the power band. Things that don't objectively matter but make you feel great.

My Nikon D700 is objectively a wonderful workhorse of a camera. Its a Volvo estate for going to the market and buying a wardrobe, then taking the kids to school and doing the shopping. But the Fuji I think is a bit more like an Alfa. Expensive, quirky, demanding and quite challenging but that simply makes you work harder to think about your composition and get the best out of it, and ironically because it does not lay it all out on a plate you never get lazy or take it for granted and use it like a point and shoot because it's not foolproof. So you think, you compose, you slow down, you take better shots, and because the sensor and lenses are actually excellent it rewards the effort with something that is a cut above the average - subjectively.

So, I'm looking forward to the Fuji. Not selling my D700 yet, expecting a few challenges and frustrations, but already knowing that it will force me to think like a photographer again and not a cameraman (or pack mule for photography gear, which is how a pro DSLR kit makes me feel sometimes).

So yes, measure and scoff all you want, but if you want rational purchasing decisions then don't ever buy an Alfa, or an old 911. You'd hate it. But you are not me and the Alfa owners club is a lot more interesting and fun than the Ford Focus owner's club.

(Having said that I don't have my Fuji yet and I may still hate it, but somehow I think I am well prepared for the experience

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Regards,
Steve

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CriticalI
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to mark finn, Apr 17, 2012

mark finn wrote:

Very nice post, and as someone who drives an Alfa 147 and shoots with an X100 I couldn't agree more. Both machines have an ability to cut through to the essence of their purpose, and in doing so make you work for the results they can deliver.

The main difference is in the depreciation; while the X100 has held its value remarkably well, the Alfa has.... not. As they say on Top Gear, Alfa Romeos depreciate faster than they accelerate.

Still wouldn't give up either!

I so understand

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Steve

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CriticalI
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I seem to have struck a chord....
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

Alfa loving Fuji owners - there must be something in the brain....
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CriticalI
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Re: From a former Alfa Owner
In reply to Bobtheamateur, Apr 17, 2012

Bobtheamateur wrote:

Oh yes, I can truly understand. I was lucky (or unlucky) to find a used 1969 Berlina in 1971 that was part of an estate sale in Los Angeles. It was in perfect shape.... a white box that became part of me for the next 3 years.

I really can't begin to express my deep sense of envy It was a true spiritual ancestor to the 156 I owned. So sorry to hear you can't find a mechanic, but I guess they are quite rare in the US these days. The GTV V6 was an absolute corker and one of the best looking cars ever - even if the top of the windshield was right in my line of sight

And of course they DO make the best looking car ever, in the whole world, ever. The 8C!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/critical-i/5738166386/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/critical-i/5737614001/

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Steve

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whtchocla7e
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

CriticalI wrote:

Alfa Romeo

I can very much related to your Alfa Romeo story.

I used to have a bicycle that I felt the same way about. Obviously, no car compares to speeding down a mountain on a fast, although not comfortable, racing bicycle. Ah, the wind in my face.. I didn't care about the fact that the bike was not practical and I couldn't haul my groceries with it, for example.

Emotional connection with a camera? Sure.

As long as we don't forget that photography is not about what hangs around our necks.

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MPA1
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Re: Emotion, logic and buying cameras
In reply to CriticalI, Apr 17, 2012

I suppose - although I hope less temperamental and with less oil leaks...!

I went to look at an exhibition of the work of NZ Magnum photographer the late Brian Brake last week.

Aside of some truly stunning work covering some amazing times in history (would you believe an unemployed Brake bumped into Cartier Bresson in London in 54 and was invited to join Magnum as an Associate the following year?!) they had a couple of his cameras there as part of the display.

One was a Leica M3 (I think it was an M3) that has nothing but dull brass left where the black paint used to be all over!

Now that is a well used tool.

CriticalI wrote:

A Leica M3 eh? Now that would be something. But really, isn't that just the camera equivalent of a vintage Ferrari?

MPA1 wrote:

I've never bought a car in 30 years for anything but the practical reasons to be honest. They are just too expensive to do otherwise! The last one I bought was bought to reduce the fuel bill in my business. I suppose if I won Lotto I might buy something more emotionally.

I like cameras that feel and respond like the film cameras that I grew up with. I actually do not really like digital shooting that much and would prefer to return to film but to do so is impractical in the modern world and my clients require digital output so that is what I give them.

I like the Fuji because it feels similar in use to the M6 and M7 film cameras I have owned whilst offering AF which is a necessary thing for me these days.

With film, I could spend most of my time shooting and less of my time developing because most of that was easily and cheaply outsourced.

I am actually keeping half an eye out for a good used Leica M3 though as a personal side project!

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Regards,
Steve

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