Sunday, 31 January 2021

Trying to be Rational About System Selection

Contax 137MD, Zeiss 50mm f1.7 Planar T*, HP5+@EI3200

I've been thinking about how I actually use my cameras, and what that implies for camera selection.

I invariably shoot in Aperture Priority for most work, and I use manual on the tripod. Metering is generally matrix/multisegment, but I also use spot for landscape work. I abuse exposure compensation. AF is on the back button and usually I use a limited area auto-select.

I shoot a lot of manual focus as well. ISO tends to be either base ISO or auto ISO and I prefer a system with fairly configurable ISO. I shoot RAW and prefer lossless compressed. I do like multo-shot features when available and if they support RAW, and mostly avoid all the other automation in the camera.

I like aperture rings and 2 axis tilt LCD's. Flip/twist and single axis tilt both frustrate me, but if I had to pick, I'll take flip/twist by a small margin. Fixed LCD's belong in the trashbin of history.

I don't need a lot of megapixels, 24 is fine. All 36+ gets me is the ability to switch between APS-C and FF crop. I love DR, but modern cameras for the most part have more than good enough high ISO (m43 is the exception) as I'm not a serious high ISO user, although I do shoot handheld at night on occasion.

I love me some good EVF's. Generally I'll take magnification and clarity over absolute resolution, but 2.36MP and 0.7x are basically the minimum I'm comfortable with.

I'm a cheap bastard regarding lenses, not only do I love manual, mechanical lenses, I love getting interesting lenses for not much money. I do like a good performing lens, but a lens that isn't great until f5.6 or f8 is fine for my uses, as I tend to be pickier about landscape performance than wide open.

I don't really need high FPS. 5-6 is fine for the little bit of continuous shooting I do. AF tracking needs are the ability to follow something moving predictably. I don't do anything crazy.

I want a relatively compact camera, and ideally no more than 5-600g in the body. I can't carry heavy setups in the hand too long due to an old work injury and I dislike straps, but the Peak Design Capture Clip has largely solved longer carry challenges.

I greatly prefer mirrorless to DSLR's. I'm not going back to heavy bodies and viewfinders that make manual focus difficult.

I'm not big on complex post, I do prefer to get close to the final product from the combination of the in-camera RAW and the import preset (which is my own recipe inevitably)

The real takeaways from that is that I just don't really gain anything from the supposed selling points of pretty much every system out there. The one more common system that wouldn't work for me is EOS R, and that's simply because the system plays very poorly with adapted M or cheap Chinese lenses due to an unusually thick sensor stack (this is why Z mount is getting these lenses before RF mount does)

That really leaves cost and cheap AF lenses as the determining factors. And that says FE mount all day long. Fuji adds up OK as well, but it's slowly losing it's UI differentiation as new products come out, leaving the good but no longer unusually good lens line and X-Trans, which I've never been sold on (it's telling that GF cameras are Bayer and deliver better Fuji colour than X-Trans X mount cameras)

I need to decide between the rational system choice and the emotional one. Simply put, Sony FE keeps winning on what it gives me, but Fuji and Nikon both tug at the heartstrings. I can't do Nikon on cost, it's just too spendy, so it comes down to Fuji or Sony. And as much as I like my Fuji kit, Sony's advantages keep building. As Fuji moves away from the traditional SLR style UI to a more modern style, the upgrade path gets murkier, as they're moving away from the reason I went Fuji in the first place, and I'm not all that invested in the system.


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