Camera Gear

Gear (aka- I Just Bought a New Camera)

 

Gear.

I'll start this with a preface- Gear doesn't make the good photos- your vision is responsible for that. By now, you have heard this plenty of times so there's your reminder and lets just leave it at that.

Another thing that I have found to be true - There is great enjoyment that comes from using great cameras, lenses, film and software.

I also believe in balance. I don't believe in hanging on to gear I don't use so any piece that I add better be efficient and hold its own.

There are so many different types of camera kits out there and I've come to a personal preference - at least for this time during my photographic journey. The way I see it, here are the types:

  • Phone camera
  • Compact Point and Shoot
  • Enthusiast Compact
  • Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless
  • Full Frame Mirrorless
  • DSLR with Pentaprism
  • Leica Rangefinder
  • Medium Format

  • Film versions of all of these

Here's what I'm using: I shoot very casually with my iPhone. My dedicated cameras over the last few months have been a Interchangeable lens Mirrorless model and a vintage film SLR. They are roughly the same size, and size is a major factor in why I've chosen them.

As of today the Sony NEX 7 and the Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 is my main kit. It’s a great 35mm equivalent set up. It allows me to know that there is literally no better lens I could put on my camera and very few Crop sensors that will give better performance. In fact, 1 year ago, the only way to get better technical images was to move to a Nikon D800- or perhaps a Sony RX-1. I also regularly use the Sony 50mm f/1.8 and the Sony kit zoom lens when my 24 just isn't wide enough.

I also use a 35mm film Olympus OM-1 that -as far as I can tell- was made when I was about 4 years old. My favorite lens is a wide angle 24mm, f/2.8. On this camera the 24 has a wider field of view as it is projecting the image onto a 135mm "full frame" of film. The Sony uses a sensor that is smaller, so the image from the same focal length is smaller.

Today I have two choices that I’ve been contemplating.

Smaller

First of all, I love this focal length. For that reason, I’ve been considering the Fujifilm X100S. It has the same 35mm equivalent focal length and the same size APS-C sensor as my NEX 7. There are so many people that are absolutely in love with the Fujifilm cameras for their handling, and the rendering of the X-Trans Sensor. The X100s' fixed lens design makes it significantly smaller than my Sony combo, which makes a compelling argument for getting one. It will fit right into my daily bag or jacket pocket without the need for a case.

There is the thought that the Fuji might make my current kit sort of redundant and that one of them would get far less use.

Full Frame

I really like the Sony camera line, the feel in hand and the photo making process with my NEX. I know that the Sony A7 full frame will be a natural and familiar upgrade path and will give even greater low-light, shallow depth of field and weather proof(ish) performance. The A7 body is about $400 more than the X100s, but that doesn't include lenses that will cover the full frame sensor.

The A7 would mean a move to a new lens or set of lenses that are large enough to cover the full frame sensor. I can use my current NEX lenses with it, but they would work in crop mode, giving significantly lower resolution than on my NEX 7 and negating some of the benefits of the larger sensor. That means that even after I save up the money to purchase this body, it will work best with my older manual OM lenses until I can afford to purchase an FE prime. I could sell some or all of my current E mount lenses ( 50mm f/1.8, kit 18-55, Zeiss 24, f/1.8) to buy one of the FE Zeiss lenses or a manual focus Voigtlander Prime.

Both

Both of these cameras serve different purposes. Because I feel so strongly about Sony as a company and an innovator, I think that I’ll likely move to the A7 (or more likely its successor) kit eventually. To me, the image quality and the raw malleability and information contained in the files is astounding. It is the way of the future. Although the pocketable Fuji kit is a little redundant paired with my NEX 7, it is a good compliment to the full-frame A7. So, it really comes down to strategy.

For now, I've decided to wait on the Sony Full frame upgrade and add the Fujifilm X100S. In fact I ordered it last Saturday and it arrived 2 days ago.

 

Sony Mirrorless Full Frame - The Future of Photography?

 

Image from Digicame-info.com  

I love gadgets. So it's no surprise that I make it pretty clear what I'm using, and occasionally, what I find intriguing. About a year and a half ago I bought my first modern digital Interchangeable lens camera and as I detailed here, I chose the Sony NEX system.

Sony is a company that has shown a willingness to push the boundaries. Here are some examples: Release of the NEX (First mirrorless APS-C system), RX-1 (First Full Frame fixed lens Mirrorless camera), Focus peaking system, and the Alpha SLT system. They make the sensors used in Nikon's flagship Full frame cameras and the sensor used in the iPhone 5 and 5s.

So, with the release and subsequent success of the RX-1 it isn't that much of a surprise that Sony is only a few days from releasing an interchangeable lens Full Frame Mirrorless system. It will use the same lens mount as the NEX system and the first 2 models will carry a center-mounted Electronic Viewfinder.

Digicame-info.com posted a couple photos which have been confirmed by Andrea at Sony Alpha Rumors. To my eyes, the camera looks like a hybrid. The body and top controls are like an RX-1, the grip and mount are from the NEX bodies, and the hump on top of the body for the EVF that looks like an old school pentraprism box.

There have been quite a few exceptional photographers that have moved to mirrorless systems as their primary kit over the past couple years. Trey Ratcliff recently started using the NEX 7 for his epic landscapes. Zack Arias is a hardcore Fuji X series user. TED photographer Duncan Davidson has been using the RX-1 as his main camera for day-to-day use. Aaron Courter, who is an exceptional Portland based photographer and a long time friend has been incorporating the Fuji X cameras into his personal work, wedding and portrait business with great success.

I'm in love with the Sony NEX. I never even considered a DSLR camera because of the size, the weight and what I perceived to be its imminent demise. Up until now, you couldn't really get the same image quality and crazy shallow depth of field from a mirrorless camera, but I think the A7 and A7r will be the start of a large scale move away from large DSLR bodies for most photographers.

Sure, there are some times when the larger camera really makes sense. The Mirrored design still allows for faster focusing in sports contexts and there is certainly an expectation in event photography that will take awhile to pass. In addition, the larger bodies do have many features still missing from the new breed of mirrorless cameras and certainly handle big glass much better.

This is a moment. It feels like the rise of ultra portable notebooks such as the Macbook Air which have almost negated the need for more powerful desktops for all but the most demanding of users. I believe we are witnessing the birth of the future of photography.