First serious digital camera

Started Aug 4, 2014 | Questions
brooks509 New Member • Posts: 1
First serious digital camera

I did photography seriously when I was much younger.  I owned a couple of Leicas and a Rolliflex.  Never got into large format work at a serious level.

Back then, I was interested in people  - abstract photojournalism is probably an accurate label. Now I have a specific project in mind and am looking for a specific camera.  I intend to photograph the agricultural and industrial landscape of the Pacific Northwest, mostly in black and white.  These will be composed, with the camera often set up on a lightweight tripod.

In the past, I preferred the discipline of fixed length lens.  I would like to be able to work from a 27mm field of  view to 90mm with no more than two high-quality lens.

I would basically like something like a 4x5 ground glass image on the back of the camera, or something as close to that as possible.  (I don't think they are there yet.)  I am not opposed to working under a hood.  The resolution on the actual viewing screen needs to be good.  I would like to be able to preview the image in black and white, preview any ultra-violet, sky darkening or other filters.

I also need the camera to have a more traditionally located viewfinder, so that it can also be used without a tripod, but it does not have to be an SLR.  Accuracy between final image and the large viewing screen is more important than accuracy between viewfinder and final image.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?  The upper end of my budget would be in the 2k range.

Thanks

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Ido S
Ido S Veteran Member • Posts: 4,955
Re: First serious digital camera

The first option I'd look at is the Fujifilm X-T1, with the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens - astoundingly high-quality for its price, actually. The kit costs $1699, leaving you with enough cash for a lightweight-yet-sturdy tripod.

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AlbertTheLazy
AlbertTheLazy Veteran Member • Posts: 7,299
Re: First serious digital camera

brooks509 wrote:

...I intend to photograph the agricultural and industrial landscape of the Pacific Northwest, mostly in black and white. These will be composed, with the camera often set up on a lightweight tripod.

Not too lightweight. Make sure it will cope with a bit of a breeze at full extension.

In the past, I preferred the discipline of fixed length lens. I would like to be able to work from a 27mm field of view to 90mm with no more than two high-quality lens.

So you want 27mm and 90mm FF equivalent focal lengths. Nothing in between? In APS-C terms that means an 18mm and a 60mm.

I would basically like something like a 4x5 ground glass image on the back of the camera, or something as close to that as possible. (I don't think they are there yet.)

All digital cameras have a rear LCD screen that provides the same feel as a 5x4, albeit a bit smaller. As you've never used 5x4 I don't think you would suffer,

I am not opposed to working under a hood. The resolution on the actual viewing screen needs to be good. I would like to be able to preview the image in black and white, preview any ultra-violet, sky darkening or other filters.

Many cameras allow for this sort of thing -- see below for my recommendation.

I also need the camera to have a more traditionally located viewfinder, so that it can also be used without a tripod, but it does not have to be an SLR. Accuracy between final image and the large viewing screen is more important than accuracy between viewfinder and final image.

Any mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) provides 100% accuracy -- see below for my recommendation.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? The upper end of my budget would be in the 2k range.

I agree about Fuji (obviously, I own one!) but for the described purpose an X-E1 would do just as well as the X-T1 and leave a LOT more money for lenses and a decent tripod. The X-E1 and X-T1 use essentially the same sensor and the same lenses. The main advantages of the X-T1 relate to action shooting; for landscapes it will give no advantage that I can see to offset the much higher price

You can buy a Fuji X-E1 complete with the excellent kit zoom (18-55mm) for under $1000 nowadays. That zoom will give you your two desired focal lengths and everything in between.

If you prefer to use primes the fuji 60mm (90mm FF equiv) is a good choice for what you want. The 18mm prime(27mm FF equiv) is possibly the least stellar (!) of the Fujinons but there are other options if you hunt around. One of the advantages of a mirrorless camera is that you can choose from a huge array of lenses from other cameras and adapt them to fit. For example I use Nikon mount lenses for about half my shooting.

Any Fuji X-Cam will allow you to shoot with JPEG output set to B&W which allows you to preview what you will get on the rear LCD and in the EVF. I'd suggest that you shoot JPEG + Raw because it sounds like you will want the maximum quality out of your images. Raw retains all the data from each shot and allows you to optimise the image at leisure.

Have a look at these forums to get an idea of what a modern camera can allow you to do:

http://www.fujix-forum.com/index.php/forum/72-fuji-x-photos/

Especially: http://www.fujix-forum.com/index.php/topic/598-x-series-bw/

http://www.fujixseries.com/categories/photo-gallery

http://www.fujixspot.com/forumdisplay.php?f=13

http://www.fujixspot.com/forumdisplay.php?f=11

There are other makes of camera with similar features to the Fujis. I haven't used them so can't comment on how good they are for your purpose. One thing that I think will appeal to you is that the Fujis have a more traditional set of controls than most other modern cameras. You'll probably feel more at home with an X-E1 than with a NEX, for example.

If you really want to look somewhat eccentric with a cloth over your head you can, but there are various attachments that allow you to use the LCD as the main display -- try this one for starters: http://clearviewer.com/Order.html

It sounds like you have some catching up to do in terms of what modern cameras can do. Try buying a couple of magazines and immerse yourself in the new world of digital. And find a decent camera shop where you can try things out. Maybe hire a camera for a week to see what you can do nowadays.

Good luck.

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darklamp Senior Member • Posts: 3,567
I think your mindset is out of date
3

I get the overall impression that you are thinking like a film photographer with a view camera in 1950, rather than modern photographer with a digital camera in 2014.

I would basically like something like a 4x5 ground glass image on the back of the camera

This is a notion strictly from the last century, IMO.

If I shoot now with my DSLRs or MILCs I would first of all frame using an EVF or OVF ( optical or electronic viewfinder ). I might also frame ( compose ) using the rear LCD, especially on models which have articulated screens when I use a tripod.

I wold shoot RAW. I would normally not worry about previews or how it looked until I got back to base for some proper post processing. However I could do in-camera raw development if I wanted to. This is not destructive - you get the RAW anyway - like the undeveloped film.

Back at base I'd process this in whatever way I wanted. Crop, B&W conversion, noise reduction, color conversions, tonal adjustments, local contrast adjustments. There's also multi-image techniques like HDR and stitching.

I think you have the idea of preview in your mind as if you had to frame perfectly when you shoot. A more modern approach ( with digital ) would be to frame approximately as you intend and refine it in post processing.

In your case other techniques, like panorama building and stitching ( with software ) strike me as relevant.

I think you need to read more about the technique for your interest area, both in terms of shooting and post processing.

I have a specific project in mind and am looking for a specific camera.

In fact you are not looking for s specific camera. You want a camera that matches your preconceived idea of how to do this, rather than learning a modern approach to do what you want.

You seem heavily influenced by view cameras, and some kind of Ansel Adams like approach to photography. Well things have moved on and I think your ideas have not.

I intend to photograph the agricultural and industrial landscape of the Pacific Northwest,

What will you do with the photos ?

Are they to be printed at gallery exhibition quality six feet by four ? Are they to be in a book ? Are they for commercial use ? Are they simply for personal use, viewed on a computer or as 8x1010s on your den wall ?

mostly in black and white

Black and white is, these days, shot primarily in color. You produce a black and white in post processing. This includes the application of colored filters which would once upon a time have been used when you shoot. All of these decisions can now be deferred until post processing.

This gives enormous scope in post processing, but requires a different mindset to the one I think you have.

Aberaeron Senior Member • Posts: 6,534
Re: First serious digital camera

brooks509 wrote:

I did photography seriously when I was much younger. I owned a couple of Leicas and a Rolliflex. Never got into large format work at a serious level.

Back then, I was interested in people - abstract photojournalism is probably an accurate label. Now I have a specific project in mind and am looking for a specific camera. I intend to photograph the agricultural and industrial landscape of the Pacific Northwest, mostly in black and white. These will be composed, with the camera often set up on a lightweight tripod.

The resolution on the actual viewing screen needs to be good. I would like to be able to preview the image in black and white, preview any ultra-violet, sky darkening or other filters.

I also need the camera to have a more traditionally located viewfinder, so that it can also be used without a tripod, but it does not have to be an SLR. Accuracy between final image and the large viewing screen is more important than accuracy between viewfinder and final image.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? The upper end of my budget would be in the 2k range.

Thanks

Sony A7. There's a choice of two. Otherwise their A77mk2 or full frame model.

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PenPix Senior Member • Posts: 3,261
Re: First serious digital camera
1

I think you would like to do something like http://www.edwardburtynsky.com  He makes wall sized industrial landscapes from a large format view camera.  He uses sheet film because the resolution of digital does not yet match a 4x5 neg (although i think the latest MF digital backs may?) and the look of film grain is more pleasing than digital artifacts IMO.  It's well worth seeing his work if his show goes through your local gallery.

You can buy a Calalmut used for under 2K, process the negative yourself, and get it professionally scanned with a drum scanner.  You're not going to get a digital back for the budget you want unless you add another "0". Maybe more.

Realistically, the suggestion of a Fuji is very good and they have more traditional controls that you may like.  The Sony A7 pushes into medium format territory, but getting  the lenses will push you above 2K.  Any of the 24MP dSLR or mirroless do a very good job, but the challenge will be in post processing in the computer.  Like darkroom work, digital processing takes patience to learn the tricks to make the picture you want.

tedolf
tedolf Forum Pro • Posts: 26,295
Sounds like the Fuji X series.....

brooks509 wrote:

I did photography seriously when I was much younger. I owned a couple of Leicas and a Rolliflex. Never got into large format work at a serious level.

Back then, I was interested in people - abstract photojournalism is probably an accurate label. Now I have a specific project in mind and am looking for a specific camera. I intend to photograph the agricultural and industrial landscape of the Pacific Northwest, mostly in black and white. These will be composed, with the camera often set up on a lightweight tripod.

In the past, I preferred the discipline of fixed length lens. I would like to be able to work from a 27mm field of view to 90mm with no more than two high-quality lens.

I would basically like something like a 4x5 ground glass image on the back of the camera, or something as close to that as possible. (I don't think they are there yet.) I am not opposed to working under a hood. The resolution on the actual viewing screen needs to be good. I would like to be able to preview the image in black and white, preview any ultra-violet, sky darkening or other filters.

I also need the camera to have a more traditionally located viewfinder, so that it can also be used without a tripod, but it does not have to be an SLR. Accuracy between final image and the large viewing screen is more important than accuracy between viewfinder and final image.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? The upper end of my budget would be in the 2k range.

Thanks

is exactly what you want.  Large, live view tilting LCD on the back gives a view camera like effect.  3:2 sensor aspect ratio is good for landscapes.  Much better live view experience than on a DSLR.  Excellent prime lenses with manual aperture controls, etc. and not cheap but not too pricey.  Camera and two prime lenses should run you about $1200.00

TEdolph

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