camera pondering

In-camera B&Ws and related thoughts

I have mainly been shooting RAW with my X-Pro1 lately largely because of improved RAW support by LR 4.4. But I tested again (did this already with my earlier X-Pro1) in-camera B&Ws and this time exclusively in 1:1 format. Very cool indeed. I have adjusted highlight tones to +1, shadow tones in +2, and sharpening to +1. These settings increase contrast quite a much and give also additional punch to sharpening. Square format is very interesting one for the compositions. When doing this I am not cropping in LR at all and also otherwise use only very minimal adjustments. For example, I am not so worried about clipped highlights or shadow areas (of course I try to get the right exposure). It seems that little bit of a clipping give that certain wanted character for the shots. This approach may seem to be very limiting but actually I find it very nice approach. It gives more space to breathe. It is not limiting me at all. It frees my mind.

When shooting using the approach mentioned above led me to think cameras. This could be very dangerous thing to happen, I know. But anyways. I would be very happy with a very limiting camera. For example, a digital camera with a fixed prime lens having a B&W-only sensor. I know there is Leica Monochrom but it is way too expensive (and it uses interchangeable lenses which too are way too expensive for me). I would like to go one or two steps further from the Monochrom when speaking about limiting factors. Yes, B&W only but fixed prime lens and fixed image format (e.g. 1:1). Yes, just crazy. But I feel that kind of a camera less limiting than those with huge amount of customization. Just take the camera in your hands, compose, expose, and shoot.

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My head is full of Xs

I am now selling my OM-D set. It is a great camera but it is not giving me the user experience I would like to have.

I have few options in my mind for a new camera. Or maybe cameras. Once again all have X in their model names. 🙂 At the moment I am very much into Fuji X100S. It should have quite fast AF, nice sensor, beautiful viewfinders, in-camera ND filter, and it feels substantial in hand. After selling my OM-D I would have enough money to buy X100S and a capable zoom compact, like Sony RX100. I have been very amazed of the ice shots my Flickr friend Richard had been shooting with it. Together these two cameras would be just under 2000 euros.

Then there is Sony RX1. I have been quite tempted on it since it was introduced. The lack of any kind of a viewfinder and user reports about slowish AF in dim light are now against the purchase.

Let’s see what happens.

Here is one X100 shot from last summer. Just to tease myself.

Am I a Fuji guy after all?

Why those Fuji shots (taken with X100 and X-Pro1) have to have that special character!? Oh, why?! It has to be the sensor, at least with X-Pro1. The shots are almost magical sometimes. Olympus OM-D produces very, very good shots. But not magical ones. I really can’t describe this very clearly but with Fuji shots there is a special feeling, special mood.

Another thing I like with X100 and X-Pro1 is the manual controls. I really love to control aperture straight from the lens and shutter speed by turning its control wheel on the camera. Old school and so rewarding. Very rewarding for the user experience.

Even though I was not using optical viewfinder that often it brings lots of that special mood in your photography.

Hmmm…

Simplifying

It seems that life is never simple enough. At least when it comes to camera gear. I am now using m4/3 system (Olympus OM-D and several prime lenses) as my camera system. It is very fantastic camera but I still feel something is missing from the user experience. Or should I say I’m having too much stuff for the proper user experience. I highly recommend to read Jesse’s blog. He is a fellow photographer and blogger pondering the same kind of things and now he has found a solution which seems to work for him.

I have some fantastic m4/3 lenses (e.g. M.ZUIKO 45/1.8 and 75/1.8). But I’m still frustrated every time when I have to change lenses. I am never just picking the camera up and shooting. It seems I really need a camera which liberates me from this. Something simple and beautiful. It does not have to be a all round system. I do not need that kind of a camera. I need a camera which will make think. But after I have picked the camera up. At the moment I am thinking too much for the right lens choices before I am even touching the camera.

Maybe Fuji X100S would be that kind of a camera? A liberating one. When browsing through my Flickr set for X100 shots I realized how versatile that beauty really is. From great close-ups to nice landscapes. And everything in between. Just with that 35mm focal length.

Another tempting option would be Sony RX1 but it is really expensive. Should I say fortunately very expensive because I have said in many blog posts that full frame is not my thing.

Well I know some people will say that I will be missing longer focal lengths if I choose X100S. That may well be true. Solution for that would be a zoom lens camera like Sony RX100. But then I would be frustrated in zooming back and forth. It is similar thing for the user experience as is the lens changing thing. For longer focal length maybe the new Sigma DP3M (with a 75mm equivalent lens) would be an option. I know, I know. I just sold my DP2M. But anyways. Just a suggestion for myself. Check out these DP3M sample photos.

Summarizing this it seems that I would like to simplify my camera gear through most complicated ponderings. Nothing new in that actually. Still looking to the future open-minded as Herkko does in the shot below.

One-camera approach

I have almost all time owned two or three cameras. I do not, however, have time to use all of them effectively and I am all the time pondering which one to take with me if I am going to a trip or a photo walk. Now that I have found a fantastic camera, Olympus OM-D, I have decided to have it and m4/3 system as my sole camera.

I have never had been so pleased on a camera as I am now. Perfect DoF, bokeh, and sharpness in one small package. Somebody has stated that “Save for camera bodies, spend for lenses”. Or something like that it was. I think I am going to do that way. Micro four thirds system has lots of fantastic lenses. I am very much into prime lenses as some of my readers may know. I have 20/1.7, 30/2.8, and 45/1.8 primes for m4/3 at the moment. All those are very nice small primes. But something is missing.

When I had Canon system (APS-C and FF) I had a lens which I really loved. That lens was the most difficult thing to give up when I changed to Fuji that time. The lens was Canon 200/2.8 L. I am quite much into longer focal lengths. Not so much into wide ones. For m4/3 system there is fortunately a savior for my longing for 200 mm. It is the Olympus 75/1.8. It is 150mm equivalent in 35mm format so not quite 200mm but it is the longest prime in m4/3 system. I have seen only highly praising reviews about it. It is quite expensive (829 €) but it seems to be a fantastic piece of metal and glass. Now that I sold my Sigma DP2M I will use that money to by this lens. I know I need a longer prime and here it is.

I suppose that in one year time (maybe earlier) there will be next version of OM-D camera body. I will save for that. By then I will have fantastic lenses for m4/3 system.

750 € to waste

Okay, okay, not to waste but buy a new camera! I sold my D600 set and after buying Fuji X100S I would have some 750 euros (in max) to buy another camera. Why would I need another one?

I have now only Sigma DP2 Merrill which is very specialized camera for low ISO work only. So this means outdoors in good light or using tripod to shoot stationary things. For my main camera I am going to purchase Fuji X100S which has a fixed prime lens as does the Sigma. I thought that maybe I’ll need a more versatile compact zoom camera to complement those two.

There are of course quite many options but I would like to have little bit larger sensor than the basic compacts have. It seems that the ultimate (?) option at the moment would be Sony RX100. But of course I can get many other models with less serious money. Fuji XF1, Canon S110, Olympus XZ-2, Pentax MX-1. Lots of Xs in the model names. Should I go for Canon because it does not have an X? I really don’t know. I have not used compact zoom cameras lately (well occasionally of course) so I am not very familiar how they perform.

All opinions on this money wasting action are very welcome!

Part III

I have cancelled the switch plan of my X-Pro1 for Nikon D600. I realized that I already have two phenomenal cameras. I should learn them more now and be more happy of the shots I take with them. I am many times too critical for my photographic work and that makes me think if there would be some kind of a wonder camera somewhere. And of course there is no such thing.

Thank you Jesse and Richard for your wise thoughts on this matter. Highly appreciated.

Here are two latest shots taken with my fantastic cameras:

X-Pro1 with XF 35mm lens. Converted from RAW in LR. 1/100, F1.4, ISO 2500.
Sigma DP2 Merrill. Converter from RAW in Sigma Photo Pro with additional post-processing in LR. 1/50, F2.8, ISO 400.

Should I go for a full frame Nikon?

I have been offered to exchange my Fuji X-Pro1 with XF 35mm and XF 60mm lenses for Nikon D600 with AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G lens. I have read many very positive reviews about Nikon D600 and I have to admit that I have been somehow missing full frame after selling my Canon 5D Mk II.

Nikon has a faster AF, better auto ISO (and good ISO performance up to 6400), decent RAW support in LR, and of course the FF. But it is bigger camera than X-Pro1. I have the brand new Sigma DP2 Merrill which is quite pocketable so I'm not sure if I need two small cameras ( X-Pro1 is not a pocketable camera anyways).

These are so tricky decisions every time! There is one big thing though. I take quite a lot of shots of my family and they are never still objects. 🙂 Faster AF (and less hunting one) would be a big asset.

Your opinions on this would be highly appreciated!