TALKING IMAGES 46 – THOUGHTS ABOUT GETTING A NEW CAMERA – AND IS THIS THE END OF THE DSLR?

 

Although not exactly drowning in cash(!), I’m thinking about getting another camera, and various thoughts/issues arise, which may be worth passing on.  But, amongst all the marketing hype and the genuinely astonishing technology, the one thing I’m certain of is that whatever camera I buy (if I do take the plunge and buy one), it won’t be a DSLR.  (All links in this post will open in separate windows)

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WHICH CAMERAS DO I ALREADY OWN?

So first, if I’m thinking of buying another one, which cameras do I already have?  Well, an old Canon G11 PowerShot, which only goes up to a (grainy!) 3200 ISO and which rarely gets used now, but which is compact, and sports an unbelievably useful and adaptable, fully articulated screen – which is absolutely wonderful in awkward or tight spots eg on buses, in town, etc etc.  It also has a very useful 24-140 zoom range, something which I’ll return to below.

Then two Nikon full frame DSLRs, the D700 and D800, which are heavy and bulky, but which have wonderful autofocus and big AF-ON buttons (back button focus really is the thing), very good layout of controls and, well – they just deliver the goods, excellently, time after time after time.

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The much bulkier, full frame Nikon D800 DSLR beside the APS-C format Fujifilm X-T1 mirrorless camera.  Note the difference between the wonderfully sited and large AE-L/AF-L and AF-ON buttons, to the right of the Nikon’s viewfinder – really ideal positioning and usability – and the smaller, not so well placed AE-L and AF-L buttons on the X-T1.

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Another shot of the mirrorless APS-C format X-T1 and the bulkier full frame format D800 DSLR, with telephoto lenses giving equivalent telephoto magnifications (roughly 70mm-300mm).

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And, more recent acquisitions, Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T2 APS-C format, mirrorless cameras, which are excellent, more compact than the Nikons, and with really excellent Electronic Viewfinders – and which deliver wonderful images with colours to die for.  The X-T1 is somewhat pedestrian in comparison to the X-T2, but still good enough for my wide angle zoom.  The X-T2 is simply wonderful – but in terms of autofocus just doesn’t quite match the Nikons.  And while both of these Fuji cameras have (just about) well sited AE-L and AF-L buttons, these buttons are significantly smaller and more fiddly than those on the Nikons – and far more difficult to use in the cold and/or dark.

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And while I’m talking about DSLRs and mirrorless  cameras, the following.  I subscribe to Amateur Photographer (AP) which is an excellent weekly photographic magazine that is managing to do quite well in these internet and screen-dominated times.  Why do I like AP?  Well, it has an excellent production team that put out really interesting and relevant material (including really in depth product reviews) week after week, which is simply an incredible achievement – and I enjoy having a real magazine in my hands, I enjoy the tactile, real feel of the thing, I scribble notes all over it in red pen, keep pages that teach me things >>> and, quite simply, AP has taught me vast amounts about photography over the years.  And, like many others, I do not for one single moment miss reading it on some device’s illuminated screen!

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THE END OF THE DSLR??? – Anyway, a recent AP article thinks that the rise of full frame mirrorless cameras that we are now seeing spells the end for DSLRs with their optical viewfinders and (somewhat) larger size and, looking at how technology is howling forwards, I can’t see any reason to disagree.  Certainly Electronic Viewfinders (EVF) provide more, highly relevant information to the photographer – as well as eliminating the guesswork/skill involved when overriding the camera’s setting or using the camera manually.  Ah but, you say, such skills are something of value, something to cherish and preserve.  Well, yes they are, but personally I’d rather let the camera do as much of the work as possible so that my mind is as free as possible to concentrate on equally vital factors that the camera does not give information on like viewpoint, composition and pre-capture cropping.  When I look through a (good) EVF, I’m shown the image exactly as it is going to appear – and I can’t ask for more than that!

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Another shot of the less satisfactory AE-L and AF-L buttons, to the right of the viewfinder on the back of the X-T1.

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The Olympus TG-5 (Photo credit: TrustedReviews)

And finally the Olympus TG-5 TOUGH, which is a diminutive speciality camera, and which I’m using on my Outer Suburbs project.

Here are links to this (ongoing) project’s images.  The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 53a 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 .  Each will open in a separate window.

 

SO, WHAT ARE MY BASIC REQUIREMENTS IN A NEW CAMERA???

  1. Fast, accurate autofocus, via a (preferably large) AF-ON button (and hopefully for something adjacent and similar to lock exposure – see the D800 in the first of the images here).

  2. An excellent electronic viewfinder (EVF): having used the excellent EVFs in the X-T1 and X-T2, I can see that, for my requirements at least, optical viewfinders (like those in the D700 and D800) are a thing of the past.  The EVFs on the two Fuji cameras are so big, useful and crammed with relevant information that I’m completely persuaded.  The trick is getting a really good EVF on a camera that ALSO has blistering autofocus via AF-ON.

  3. RAW capture; nothing else cuts the mustard if you’re contemplating anything like extensive post-capture processing.

  4. Not too bulky or heavy (I’m not as young as I was!).

  5. Easily accessible controls, so no delving into deep menus for routine requirements – the two Fujifilm cameras in particular are good in this respect.

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WHICH CAMERAS DO I HAVE SPECIFICALLY IN MIND?

Fujifilm X-T3

Nikon Z6

None at all!!!!!!!!!!!

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THE FUJIFILM X-T3

This camera sounds very promising.  Its body is virtually identical to the light and compact X-T2, but it has a new sensor and processor that (apparently!) deliver far better autofocus than the X-T2. The downside is the smaller APS-C sensor but, mostly, I’ve found this sensor size generally fine in the X-T2 – there just isn’t quite the latitude for cropping that full frame sensors give – the X-T3 has rather more pixels than the X-T2, 26MP as against 24MP, so this helps a little – and I’ve found that around 25MP suits my needs just fine.

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Furthermore, Fuji are going to produce a 24-120 (equivalent) zoom lens, which like the Canon 24-140 mentioned above, is to me a very useful and versatile zoom range, covering as it does everything from wide angle up to medium telephoto.  To me, this is the sort of multi purpose lens to take along when the types of images expected during a shoot or day out are uncertain.

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In a nutshell: something externally almost identical to an X-T2, and which works even better than an X-T2 >>> well, that can’t be bad!

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And while I’m talking about mirrorless cameras (and this applies to the Nikon Z6 too), they are heavy on battery use, far heavier than DSLRs.  But to me this is peripheral – when out and about with the X-T2 and/or X-T1, I just take along a spare (Fujifilm) battery or two.  This is certainly not a reason to eschew mirrorless cameras.

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THE NIKON Z6

This is one of two recent models that are Nikon’s initial (and highly impressive) foray into the full frame, mirrorless camera market.  Relevant points are: a huge and excellent EVF; full frame capture; less bulky than Nikon’s DSLRs; fast autofocus; an adaptor (£100) that will enable me to use the Nikon lenses I already have – full frame Nikkors – with full autofocus etc.

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But … yes, there’s always a caveat.  I photograph in three broad settings:

  1. There’s the Outer Suburbs project, walking in south Bristol; and for this the light and diminutive Olympus TG-5 TOUGH camera is ideal – it lacks a viewfinder but shoots RAW, and it sits easily and completely out of sight in my trouser pocket.  And should I get soaked in a storm or whatever, it really is tough, for a start being completely waterproof.

  2. Then I walk in the city centre, with larger cameras, for example with the Going to Work project, and here the relatively light and compact X-T1 and X-T2 cameras have been superb, in fact they really got Going to Work off the ground in the first place.  I have used the Nikons in this environment too and, although heavier, they are superb.

  3. Lastly, I photograph out in the country, most frequently on the Somerset Levels, and, since I’m never too far from the car, camera size becomes less relevant – but for fast moving subjects like birds, I really do need the excellent autofocus and back button (AF-ON) focus activation that the D700 and D800 provide.

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So, the Nikon Z6 sounds good – full frame and fast autofocus in a more compact package – but examining its weight difference from the heavy D800 may suggest otherwise.  The D800 + battery weighs 1,000gm, while the Z6 + battery + lens adaptor weighs around 800gm, so only 200gm difference, which is not a huge amount.  But, OK, the Z6 is more compact than the D800.

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Nikon’s lenses are the other factor.  I’d be using my existing Nikkors, so that there would be no weight difference there.  But, with its new Nikon lens mount, a new series of Nikkors are being developed for these new Z cameras.  These new lenses do not need the adapter, which saves 88gm in weight, BUT in the three new Z lenses looked at so far, they are in fact heavier than their existing Nikkor equivalents!!!  And they are expensive too.  So the Z6 loses some of its charm, and I must think long and deep.

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NONE AT ALL!!!

The third option is not, for the moment at least, to get a new camera, but rather to go using those I already have – especially the X-T2, the D800 (using it more than I do now) and the TG-5.  And to wait and see what new technology and new models the future will bring – and with technology accelerating forward as it is, the wait may not be for too long.

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I hope these points are useful. 🙂

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ARCHIVE 395 – CANDLESTICKS IN A FLOATING RESTAURANT

 

 

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Silhouetted candlesticks in The Three Brothers Burgers floating restaurant; Welsh Back, central Bristol; 5 August 2016.

A second early morning foray into Bristol city centre, on another day that promised a lot of sunshine.  The 0608 bus got me down there earlier than more sensible souls, the sun kept promising to rise above a low cloud bank, and I went walkabout, looking at anything and everything – while hoping for blazing, low angle, early morning sunlight.  Years ago I read that our legs are amongst our most useful photographic tools – always keep moving, keep looking with an aware, open and receptive mind, keep altering viewpoint – this simple plan of action has very often worked for me.

So later I found myself meandering along the side of the Floating Harbour, heading up towards Bristol Bridge.  To my right was the water, with three floating restaurants that were broadside on to the now blazing sun.

I drew abreast the middle boat, The Three Brothers Burgers restaurant, and the sun was pouring into its dining room, throwing two large candlesticks into sharp silhouette.  The atmosphere in that dining room looked dusty and hazy, the whole place reminded me of a painting, and the camera caught the feel of the place exactly.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 168mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom.

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ARCHIVE 390 – TAKING FLIGHT

 

 


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Another early bus ride into the city, another second breakfast at first light in Hart’s Bakery (context is here) – and as I lurched out of that warm, friendly and bustling establishment, the tints of sunrise were above and, looking up, I saw this.

The bird is a gull (aka seagull), and just about to leap off into the air to scavenge the city’s no doubt enticing refuse.  I have Hart’s Bakery, (s)he has Bristol.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; beside Temple Meads railway station; 9 Dec 2016.

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ARCHIVE 389 – RIVER REFLECTION, BRISTOL BRIDGE

 

 


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Reflection in the river at Bristol Bridge.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 290mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom; rotated; Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.

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ARCHIVE 387 – MORNING RUSH HOUR, BROAD QUAY (MONO)

 

 


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Morning rush hour, Broad Quay, Bristol; 9 Dec 2016.

This is an early image from the Going to Work series: a recent image in this series can be found here .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO;  Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at Full Dynamic Harsh preset.

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ARCHIVE 377 – CORN GROWING IN BLACK PEAT SOIL (MONO)

 

 


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Corn sprouting in the black peat soils of Westhay Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 3 June 2016.

There is another “pylon-scape” here.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 113mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2.

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PEOPLE 360 – THE ARCHITECTURE OF YOUR WARDROBE (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Walking, in central Bristol.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 106mm (equiv); 400 ISO; LightroomSilver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Fine Art High Key preset and selectively restoring colour; central Bristol; 16 Sept 2016.
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PEOPLE 359 – MAN WITH A PHONE (MONO)

 

 


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Man with a phone.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Pinhole preset; Deanery Road, central Bristol; 9 Sept 2016.
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STILL LIFE 248 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 25: ARMCHAIR WITH CUSHION

 

 


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Armchair with cushion.

The first post in this series on chairs, which contains context and an image, can be found hereSubsequent posts are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  9  10  11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 .  Each will open in a new window.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom; flipped, rotated; Cosy Club, Corn Street, Bristol; 5 Aug 2016.
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PEOPLE 358 – TRUE STORY

 

 


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I was looking at adverts in the windows of Bristol’s Broadmead shopping centre, thinking of trying for images about capitalism, materialism, consumerism, greed and so on – getting a bit radical about it all.  There came a giggling and a jostling just behind me … well I can have that effect on people … but turning I found two young women, probably in their early 20s, clearly together, clearly amused, looking over my shoulder.

Turning back to further fathom my great anti-capitalist ideal, I heard a loud smirk, followed by “… £79 … do you think that includes his clothes? …” and then a storm of giggles.

Ah … Bristol!” came into my mind, but maybe that should have been “Ah … Life!“.  After all, how boring Life would be if our senses were immune to things like wonder, humour and a sense of the absurd.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 202mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Broadmead, central Bristol; 16 Aug 2016.
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