Am I a Luddite?

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
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Promethius Forum Member • Posts: 50
Am I a Luddite?

I have only had four digital cameras, and still keep two of them, which probably labels me as a non-enthusiast!

The first, a Minolta Dimage 5, never gave me the same tactile pleasure as did my Nikon FA and FM2, a factor I put down to my luddite tendencies. It did, however, take good photographs, although its much-vaunted 5.1 Mpx could only be used if saving the image as a TIFF, and took ages to transfer to the compact flash card.

For most images I therefore used the best JPG resolution of 1.8 Mpx, which in spite of its ‘compact camera’ sized sensor the wonderful lens produced really good images – one such was published as an A3 double-paged spread in a club magazine, with no apparent loss of quality. I am inclined to regard megapixels in the same manner as film grain – without a good lens all the Mpx in the world are useless.

The Dimage was very pleasant to use, with rapid awaking, good ergonomics, and a tilting electronic viewfinder, but it would get through a set of NiMh batteries in about 30 images, when the camera would be appreciably hot to the touch. After spending about £600 on it, I was loath to admit defeat, but once I had studied the then-new Nikon D80 it was clear that the Minolta had to go.

The D80 was much more like a ‘real’ camera, with an excellent optical viewfinder, the viewfinder, shutter, and mirror box being lifted from the D200. the secondary controls were all readily available and easy to use, and the battery life seemed almost infinite, but overall it seemed to be a big heavy lump of a camera when compared to my old film-type Nikons.

I also discovered that – in spite of the claims by photographic journalists – that while my old ‘legacy’ Nikkors could be mounted on the D80, they could not couple with the exposure system, and even if they had, the resultant focal lengths would have been neither here nor there. However, the 18-135 mm kit lens spanned a good working range, and was image quality was excellent, so long as the aperture was kept in the mid-range.

I never quite accepted the weight and bulk of the D80, and after a few years began to look at the then-new Micro Four Thirds cameras, which were more like my ideal cameras, being similar to my nineteen-fifties Braun Super Paxette in size and weight,

So it was that I bought a Lumix G2, which fitted by small hands nicely, and felt reassuringly heavy without being overweight. Its overall size meant that it fitted into my hand nicely, and could be carried around all day without being conscious of it.

The controls were laid out in a logical fashion, and the electronic viewfinder was almost as good as the opticak system of the Nikon. The original lens, a 14-42 mm zoom, was not something to be excited about, although when using wider apertures it worked well. I used it for about four years (and still use it) until it was complimented by an Olympus OMD EM-5 MkII, and an assortment of Olympus lenses.

The EM-5 shares almost the same dimensions and weight of the G2, and as it is all made of metal and resembles the older OM series of cameras, I find it very appealing.

To be honest, I still find the G2 and Olympus lens combination to be capable of fulfilling all my requirements, but bought the EM-5 because I always fancied one, and Camarthen Camera Centre were offering a good discount, with Olympus throwing in a £175 cashback offer. For a net price of £575 I could not ignore it!

I now have a pair of MFT bodies, and a load of excellent Olympus lenses, so what do I think of the comparison between the G2, representing the dawn of the MFT era, and the EM-5, which is (almost) the state of the MFT art?

Both cameras, like the Nikon and Minolta before them, needed to have their sharpness, contrast, and colour saturation tweaked up to maximum (why do manufacturers think we want anaemic images?) wake-up time set to minimum, and sleep time set to about three minutes. Image quality is virtually identical, and it is a pleasure to us either.

One area where the old G2 leads the EM-5 is that of controls – the Olympus is over-dependant on use of the menu system to select everyday things such as delayed action, continuous autofocus, and multi-pattern or centre-weighted metering. At least the Fn1 AEL button can be assigned to provide spot metering.

The two control wheels and the Stop-Down button are well positioned and very pleasant to use, and the locking Mode dial is something other manufacturers should copy. In spite of the small body, there is also plenty of room for one’s right thumb, without danger of accidentally pressing the four-way switches of the menu button, which was always a problem on the D80.

The little clip-on flashgun is handy, but for most shots I prefer to use my Metz flashgun, which does not run down the camera battery.

So – am I a luddite, fighting against modern trends, or merely someone who appreciates their photographic requirements and limitations?

 Promethius's gear list:Promethius's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Olympus E-M5 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm 1:2 +5 more
Nikon D200 Nikon D80 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2
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