Thursday 29 June 2023

Regrets - I've Had a Few

 "The Road Ahead"

Sony A7RIV, FE 28-60mm

That's the last image I'll post from the A7RIV. 

Regrets have been something of a bane for me. Often my gear decisions have been driven by 'I really miss that lens', notably getting both my last E-M5II and my OM-1 have been driven by my love for the m.Zuiko Pro 12-40/2.8. Then I inevitably end up regretting not having those great FF RAW files, or not being able to adapt FF glass the way I want. I really need to put an end to this vicious cycle, as the end result is inevitably I have a more constrained set of gear than I should because I lost value on the last system switch. 

In looking back, and at the lenses Sony has announced this year (or is rumoured to be about to drop) I'd started to build up some regret at selling off the A7RIV. It was a good camera, and if it didn't really make me want to get out and shoot, it didn't stop me either. I'd likely still be shooting it if I'd still had it when the 20-70/4G was announced, that would have been the perfect replacement for the FE 28-60, which was a decent little lens but not quite wide enough and didn't focus close enough for me. And there's so much cool glass in E mount that I do miss the option to drool over all the options. Which of course had a flip side of I didn't buy them because I didn't have budget to buy every lens that takes my fancy, even if they are cheap, and never could pick which cheap lens to buy. There are some advantages of a more constrained lens lineup, less analysis paralysis. 

The regrets around the A7RIV have me looking closer at FF options again and I found yet another surprise with Canon RF glass. I've realized that I really should have taken a closer look at the RF stuff a couple years ago. 

My biggest complaint about FF kit after size has long been that the close focus usually sucks, especially compared to m43 Olympus glass, and I do a LOT of near macro work (bees, flowers, mushrooms, etc). In RF mount, it doesn't. In fact the lenses seem to be overall better than the already outstanding OM glass in MFD. I'm kicking myself a little bit now, as if I'd bought into RF instead of the A7RIV, I'd almost assuredly be still using it today as essentially none of my relatively minor frustrations with the A7RIV and Sony exist in RF mount. Flip/twist LCD's on everything except the lowly R100, an APS-C option with good ergonomics, compact and reasonably priced zooms, and zooms with good MFD. Also better grip ergonomics and weather sealing. The only remaining frustration from Sony is the IBIS/EXIF data issue for manual glass and that's comparatively minor as I shoot less and less adapted glass. 

What does this mean overall? First off, I'll almost assuredly grow into FF again. For landscape an R5, 14-35, 24-105L and 100-400 kit simply makes the most sense overall as a long-term setup. Since that kit is decent for the R7 as well, I'll likely head that way before any FF body is acquired (the RF100-400 will almost assuredly be a late July acquisition). That would make my light hiking kit that R5 based setup eventually, and I'd add the R7 and a macro lens for a 'heavy' kit.

Now if I can just pull off staying in a single system long-term...

Monday 26 June 2023

R7 at 2000


R7, RF-S 18-150mm f3.5-6.3 IS STM, frame 2002 from the R7, cropped vertically to m43-ish.

Today is my 14th day of ownership of the R7, and yesterday I exceeded 2000 shots on it. That's something of a record for me, I've not gone all-out shooting with a new camera this way since I briefly had my E-M1.2 a couple years ago. 

I'm not entirely sure why either. The OM-1 was objectively a better camera than the R7 (as it should be given the cost difference between the two), I got along with it reasonably well and I had great glass for it, but it didn't make me want to shoot it. The R7 I just want to pick up and shoot and I've been looking for reasons to get out with it. It's just a fun camera and I can't even tell you why that is. I do think one part of it is the EM-1/OM-1's do require thinking to operate, they are such complex beasts with so many direct controls and multi-use options that they don't get out of my way as well as the somewhat simpler but still very capable R7 does. 

Mostly I've been shooting with the 18-150. It's a killer little lens for a kit lens. Good range, even if I do wish it was just a bit wider (15-150 would have been perfect). Good close focus, fast AF (it will track BiF) and I can really crop down to get m43-level reach out of it since the R7 has the same pixel density as the OM-1. The optics are quite decent too. Nothing to write home about, but also quite acceptable with good resolution and colour and decent contrast. Not as good as my OM Pro lenses, but as good or better than the non-Pro Oly zooms I've had in this range (14-42 and 40-150 R)

Honestly, despite it being slower and softer than the 40-150/4 Pro, I actually like it better for everyday use because of the much better close focus. I do miss the 12-40 Pro though. The shot above I could not have got with the 40-150 Pro, it just didn't focus close enough. The 12-40 did, but didn't have the working distance needed for this sort of shot. The combo of 150mm, 0.45m close focus (at 150mm) and m43-level pixel density makes the R7/18-150 a great bugging combo. 

In terms of the number of shots, it's a measure that's sort of irrelevant and sort of not. I've been trying for a few years to quit chasing the dragon and never quite succeeded. Right now it seems I've generally had cameras I got along with last for 8-9 months and around 3000 or so shots. That's where I had the OM-1 when I sold it, the A7RIV, the last E-M5II, even the Z5 was there on shot count if not on time. The last camera I had that broke that was the X-T2 (which got up around 4500 frames). So I'm trying to break that trend, more in terms of time than shots, but shots too (hence my 10,000 frames on one body goal for this year). I don't see myself completely breaking the cycle, but if I can stick to a single system I'd be pretty happy. So let's see where I am next March (which would be 9 months on the R7). I'm expecting I'll have added at least one body to the mix (likely the R10 or R50 as a B-cam) but I want the R7 to remain a key part of my setup for a good long while, so I can focus instead on rounding out my lens collection. 

Saturday 24 June 2023

TTArtisan 25/2 and some related R7 thoughts

 R7, TTArtisan 25/2 RF

I don't know why I never really took to the idea of using manual m43 lenses on the OM-1. Despite the OM-1 being well setup for it, manual lenses on m43 somehow never appeal to me despite my enjoyment of the use on the Fuji kit and now on the R7. Kind of weird, but my brain is sometimes that way.

I grabbed the TTArtisan 25/2 for the R7 pretty much immediately when I got the camera. It's a compact wide/normal, 40mm-e, prime on RF mount and I think it's a bit of a gem. I was expecting something very close to the Neewer/7Artisan 25/1.8 I had in Fuji mount when last I shot that mount, which was about the same price and frankly was a cheap lens that felt cheap to use but had kind of nice optical performance in the right conditions. The 25/1.8 also had a terrible manual focus feel until the helical wore in (and clearly it was going to wear out at the helical in a few years).

The TTArtisan lens on the other hand is very nicely built, came with infinity focus dead on in a nice presentation box. Optically it's maybe a touch better, but the real nice aspect is the solid construction and well damped focus ring. It's a fun little lens to use in a way the 25/1.8 wasn't. I will definitely be adding a few more inexpensive manual focus lenses to the R7 kit. They're just fun to use and the results are pretty good to excellent. The 18/6.3 body cap and 12/2.8, both from 7Artisans, are on my list as are more TTArtisan lenses. 

The R7 is pretty good in actual use for these manual lenses. The Focus Peaking implementation is essentially the Olympus experience inverted. It's active by default, but disables when the shutter is half pressed or magnify is on, vs having to be activated by a button each time like on the OM-1. IBIS/Lens Data is pretty much the same experience as Sony, no EXIF and you have to put in the Focal Length each time for IBIS. Handling is very good and Manual Mode with Exposure Comp and Auto ISO is supported, so the shutter speed essentially is an on the fly adjustable auto-ISO step control. 

The one other thing is that I just want to get out and shoot with the R7, at least so far. I never quite felt that way with the OM-1. Really not sure why, the camera fit me well but lacked excitement for me in some fashion I just don't understand.

Monday 19 June 2023

More R7 Thoughts and Damn You Sony


Canon R7, EF 75-300 f4-5.6 III USM on EF to EF Adapter

Canon R7, RF-S 18-150mm f3.5-6.3, 3 shot/1 stop bracket to HDR

First off, Sony - Why couldn't you have announced your 2023 f4 zooms in 2022? I likely would have kept the A7RIV if the 20-70/4 and the rumoured new 70-200/4 Macro (to be announced July 12th) had been available. Those two lenses would address most of my lens complaints with FE mount. Compact, good range, excellent glass unlike the mediocre ZA 24-70 and G70-200/4 and better close focus. My only beef is the 16-35/4 being Power Zoom and I'd probably just run a 15/16mm prime instead as a complement to the 20-70/4 if I was still running Sony kit. 

When I saw the rumour for the 70-200/4 Macro I had some regret that I didn't stay Sony, which lasted until I saw the rumours for the A6700, which looks to be based on the A7c body design (which I dislike immensely). It solves none of the ergonomic issues of the A6600, even if the internals will no doubt be excellent. I still say Sony needs an A7000 which is the A6700 internals, possibly with more buffer in an A7IV body. 

Guess I didn't wait long enough before jumping ship to OM System. That said, I'm not unhappy with where I ended up. 

I've had the R7 now for a week and I'm getting used to it. I need to do a manual dive though, there has to be an easier way to engage AE Bracketing than how I'm doing it, I just need to figure that out. I also miss bracketing burst being automatic, but you can get it by setting a continuous advance mode. I'm thinking I need AEB to be setup on a Custom setting, so I can access it quicker. C2 likely makes sense (and C3 can be my wildlife/bugging set)

I'm up over 1300 images so far with the R7 now. Yesterday was an 830km day with many stops for photography. I went up north-east of Barry's Bay towards Algonquin for the first time, and revisited some places I'd seen last year south of Killaloe and north of Highway 7. 

I did some RAW Bursts of Dragonflies and some regular 15fps bursts of Redwing Blackbirds. Two takeaways are that an EF 75-300 II USM is not a viable lens for this due to both IQ and slow focus and my AF settings are not very optimal. I'm not exactly experienced as a bird photographer, but it was fun. 

I also shot a lot of bracketing bursts, 3 shot/1 stop bursts which is my standard for any landscape shooting. That worked very well and having track & recompose back was really nice. The R7 does that on par with the A7RIV, the OM-1's AF didn't do that well at all (AF-C+TR would lose the track point very quickly). This is a method I started using the the A7RIV and have come to love, it's like focus & recompose, but with the subject staying locked. One nice thing with the R7 is it will subject detect automatically while using this so, as long as I get a bird/bug near the point, it will lock on and I can start tracking it. 

Overall I'm getting comfortable quickly with the R7. I've added the 10-18 STM and a TTArtisan 25/2 to the collection (and borrowed my partner's 75-300 yesterday). That gives me 16-240mm-e setup (vs the 24-300mm-e I had with the OM-1), but since the pixel density is similar between the R7 and OM-1, I can crop down to m43 to get 300mm-e. I'm really losing aperture and IQ with the 18-150 vs the 40-150/4 Pro, but gaining better close focus. 

I do like having a proper UWA zoom back, I've been using primes for that role since I sold the m.Zuiko 9-18 a few years back (excepting some brief use of the ZA 16-35/4 in fall 2021), and having a zoom for that is a nice change.  With the OM-1 I did't have any wider than 24mm-e options, but I didn't really miss it either, the subjects I shot with the OM-1 didn't really benefit much from wider, although I would have missed a wider option for sure if I'd been carrying the OM-1 yesterday.

I am planning on adding a telephoto next (likely the RF100-400) and then a higher-end normal zoom to replace the good but not quite excellent 18-150 as my go-to midrange zoom. Good chance that will be a Sigma 17-50/2.8 in EF mount if Canon doesn't bring something to the table soon or allow Sigma/Tamron to make 3rd party RF lenses. After that a native Macro is on the table, but I suspect I'll stick to the cheap manual focus primes for anything else short term. 

Friday 16 June 2023

A Few More R7 Thoughts

EOS R7, RF-S 18-150

I dug out the Nikon F to Canon EF adapter I had buried since I sold off my EOS A2e 15-ish years ago, stuck it on my Tamron 90/2.8 Macro and did a little testing.

The basic manual lens experience is pure Sony. You set focal length for IBIS only at first glance, I will have to check on if it affects auto ISO since that seems really biased to keeping things at 1/80 or higher. No reporting in EXIF either :-(

The focus peaking implementation is excellent. WAY better than the OM-1. Magnification was already on the focus point button as well. 

This creates an oddity, the support tools for shooting manual lenses are WAY better on the OM-1. 20 lens data slots, with custom naming, all data written to EXIF, and Auto ISO respecting the FL data, but the actual shooting experience with manual lenses is better on the R7, even considering the OM-1's much better EVF. I've never quite got along with manual lenses on m43 for some reason, but the experience on APS-C and FF is generally better. Still not going all-in on adapting though, although an RP might be a fun add for FF adapting and pancake use, since I'm planning on getting the RF pancakes anyways.

I've been reading the reviews, and especially the forum angst over the perceived decontenting of the R7 vs the OM-1, X-H2(s), D500 and 7DII. This really seems to revolve around a few things.

1. The AF isn't as good as the R3 despite marketing claims
2. The buffer is too small
3. The build/EVF isn't up to par
4. No CFE B card

I'll be honest, I think Canon messed up the marketing a bit and this is the result. Namely they played up the speed camera aspect too much and the resolution camera aspect too little. 

I don't see the R7 as a true 7DII successor, but rather a different interpretation of what the EOS 7 line should be. The two key items for me are the choice in sensor (32.5MP) and the price point ($1499). The R7 in my opinion sits on top of the range of enthusiast APS-C mirrorless more than at the bottom of Pro crop mirrorless. It beats the pants off the A6600 and X-S20, which IMHO are the two closest competitors. It does cost more, but not that much more ($1-200 at MSRP). The build also reverts to something closer to the old Elan 7 than to the 7D's.

It's also more of a landscape body with good action usability than a pure action/wildlife body. It just needs landscape lenses. That 32.5MP sensor offers both excellent DR and (almost) best in class resolution.  In crop, there's nothing else anywhere near that fast with that resolution, anything with more resolution is half the speed, anything with comparable or better speed is lower resolution (20 or 26MP)

I think that if Canon had set out to make a baby R3, as the 7DII was a baby 1D and the D500 a baby D5, they would have used a 24MP sensor, if only for the inherently faster readout from the same basic sensor tech compared to the 32.5MP sensor. More data takes more time to read out and that has knock-on effects. The sensor readout speed and sensor resolution are the causes of items 1 & 2, the AF isn't as good because it's getting data slower, and the buffer is too small because the files are big. The OM-1's huge buffer can be directly tied to the 20MP resolution and 12 bit depth of its files, and even the X-H2s is only dealing with 26MP files vs 32.5 for the R7. The R7 is simply more of a generalist camera than a pure speed camera and it shows. 

The reality is the R7 is the only crop body that puts anywhere near those pixels per second out from a non-stacked sensor (the R7 does 975MP/s, the OM-1 1000 and the X-H2s 1040). The 40MP Fuji's can just match the R7 in mechanical shutter for fps ( X-H2 - 600MP/s) and everything else is slower than that in terms of MP/s (Fuji's are king there with the X-T4 and X-S20 doing 520MP/s, while the E-M1.3 does 360MP/s)

The build/EVF and card layout come down to price point. Only Nikon has delivered a sub-$2k CFE-B capable camera (Z6/Z6II when discounted). Crop is still pretty much an SD-only world, at least in the sub-$2k range with a couple of much more expensive exceptions and Canon even stuck with dual SD on the more expensive and faster R6II. That said, the R7 would certainly benefit from CFE-B in a way that the R6II won't, thanks again to those big 32.5MP files.  While the EVF is certainly nothing to brag about, again it compares quite well to the closest priced bodies, the A6600 and X-S20 are both worse, with the same panel specs, but either a poor implementation (A6600) or smaller magnification (X-S20). You have to go up to an X-T5 to get a better EVF in crop, and that's a much lower performance body all-round, but with better build and EVF, so you win some and lose some there. 

Overall, I see the R7 as the R5 on a beer budget, not an R3 on a beer budget. And I think with that focus, the performance is extremely acceptable. 

The other side of this is I think the R7's balance of features fits me a bit better than the OM-1 did. The OM-1 is more pure speed camera, and I'm a landscape guy who wants some speed on demand. The R7 is a resolution body (by crop standards) with plenty of speed if needed and just about best in class AF for APS-C (rivalling the OM-1 and exceeding everything else). For landscape use the only real advantage of the OM-1 is the LiveND feature, while the R7 gets me shots that would require use of the very situational High-Res mode on the OM-1 and of course I can just use actual ND filters as needed.


Thursday 15 June 2023

And a Decision is Made


EOS R7, RF-S 18-150 f3.5-6.3 IS STM

Unsurprisingly, I did end up making the decision to switch systems. And yes, I did go Canon. 

I was an early detractor of the RF mount, the first couple cameras seemed more like a cross between engineering test mules (especially the EOS R) and parts bin specials (both the R from the 5DIV and the RP from the 6DII and M5), the lens selections early on were really odd and I was really surprised when people started buying the RF stuff. But Canon iterated steadily on lenses, brought a couple all-round excellent bodies in the R5 and R6 and kept hitting from there. A year ago, in late June 2022, Canon finally shipped their first crop-sensor RF bodies and since then they've shipped 4 RF-S bodies from the high-end R7 down through the brand new and super inexpensive R100. And unlike Nikon these are not just 4 interpretations of the same body, although they are a mix of new bodies (R7 and R10) and RF-S versions of EF-M bodies with selective updating (R50 and R100). Only the R7 gets IBIS or the 32.5MP sensor, but the R10 and R50 share the excellent R3-derived AF system. 

The bodies are solid, but what about the lenses?

The short answer is RF-S is VERY consumer. Right now only the 18-45, 18-150 and 55-210 exist. But we're less than 1 year into the system and Canon has now matched what took Nikon 2 years to accomplish for Z DX (it's actually worse than that, since Canon launched all 3 in a 9 months span). There are also some good fitting RF lenses, namely the 16/2.8 pancake, 28/2.8 pancake, 50/1.8 muffin, the 24/1.8 IS Macro, 35/1.8 IS Macro and 85/2 IS Macro, as well as the 10--400 f5.6-8, 600/11 IS and 800/11 IS that all make sense as mid-range options. Nikon does offer a 26/2.8 pancake, 28/2.8 muffin, 40/2 muffin and 50/2.8 macro that make sense, and of course recently launched their 4th & 5th Z DX lenses in the 24/1.7 and 12-28 (some 3.5 years into the Z DX systems slow-roll launch). There is a lack of good/fast wider glass in RF mount right now, but with the R7 available, that will come and EF glass can substitute for now.

My current plan is to get an EF-S 10-18 UWA and then the RF 100-400 in a month or two. That will cover most of my hiking needs, and the 18-150 kit lens is decent enough to handle interim use. I have the EF to RF adapter and the EF 50 STM, and can borrow an old 75-300 USM III if I really need more than 150mm (240mm-e) in the interim. 

So I went with the EOS R7 kit. Some initial observations

1. The EVF is nowhere near as bad as the specs suggest. It's actually pretty good. No match for the OM-1's excellent unit, but quite usable. 

2. There's a battery charger included. Yes, an actual charger. Really. In an era where USB charge has caused manufacturers to drop the chargers, Canon is still including their LC-E6 charger. This is a VERY nice addition (the OM-1 did not include a charger, despite being a more expensive body)

3. Handling is really good. I know some find the rear dial weirdly located, but I actually like the location better than the traditional Canon location. Unlike the Fuji's, the grip fits the hand well and the buttons are in the obvious location, no weird stretches. 

4. The menus are really good. Very obvious and well laid out

5. Full touch integration, which the OM-1 lacks

6. No bracketing burst :-(  I will miss that. Engaging bracketing quickly will need some study. I shoot a lot of 3 frame brackets. 

7. I'll miss LiveND as well, but I found that I pretty much never used the other computational features, even if they were cool.

8. Better located power switch and a proper Video/stills mode switch (not on the mode dial).

9. AF is excellent. Tracking and lockon are easier to manage than the OM-1 and definitely stickier, plus basic AI Servo tracking actually works pretty well (AF-C+TR is still trash on the OM-1, despite every other aspect of the AF getting a lot better). 

10. Initial look at IQ is positive, definitely more resolution than any other crop body, rivalling high-res on the 16MP m43 bodies. I'm actually losing no reach, the Canon sensor has similar pixel density to 20MP m43, so I can crop down to get my reach back.

11. 4:3 crop mode. YAY. 1:1 and 16:9 as well. I will use the 4:3 mode for sure, I love that aspect ratio and used 4:3 mode most of the time on the A7RIV. 

12. Manual lenses are still up in the air. Supported, but a more Sony experience. I'll have to check to see if IBIS FL is written to EXIF (that would be really nice). 

Wednesday 14 June 2023

System Options for a Change of Pace


OM-1, 40-150/4 Pro

So in looking at other options I decided to lay out my needs overall.

I'm looking at crop systems, APS-C and m43. not full frame for now.

I want a higher-end performance body as primary. Needs at least half-decent weather sealing, a solid viewfinder, good DSLR-style PASM ergonomics and a big battery. dual-axis or flip/twist screen is a must, as is IBIS. USB-C with charge/power is also needed here. Good tracking AF (the A7RIV and OM-1 spoiled me), but I don't need crazy FPS. 

I want a lighter second camera. Ideally sharing a battery with the primary. Flip/twist screen (so I can use it on my video setup). USB-C charge a must, power a nice to have. Good tracking AF matters, FPS doesn't matter. IBIS not a big deal for this one. 

There must be a solid selection of lenses, 1st party adaptation is OK, 3rd party is not. Minimum is a UWA/tele zoom combo, wide prime, wide/normal prime and a solid macro option, adapting for macro is fine. 

Fuji X - The first option I looked at. X-H2/X-T4 meets the basic need requirements perfectly, but the X-T4 is on the chonky side for light carry. X-T3 or X-T30(II) are options for light carry if I give up flip/twist and common/large battery. Lens lineup is pretty good across the board, without adaptation. Biggest issue is ergonomics, Fuji's good at the body shape, but sucks at button design/layout. Still no good/inexpensive wide zoom, but a used 10-24/4 WR and 70-300WR cover my real hiking needs. 

Nikon Z DX - Umm.... No. the Z fc meets my light carry body needs (aside from a decent battery), but I'd have to go to a Z7 or Z7II for the primary, and still won't have an LCD setup I'm happy with. Nikon just isn't a player in crop anymore, and won't be until they branch out from selling 3 different variants of the same basic mid/low range camera. The only saving factor for them is the pricing on their Z DX bodies are sane. Lens line is a semi-issue, the 12-28 just isn't wide enough, but the lens lineup matches the bodies well, focused on higher-end consumer/entry-level enthusiast needs. 3rd party native options are getting to the excellent point thanks to Sigma and Viltrox. Nikon needs some higher-end Z DX lenses, but they also need a body to match it. Where is the Z90 Nikon? Or even a Z70 to match the Canon R7.

Sony E - Again, that's a no. They have workable light carry bodies, but not a primary crop body worthy of the name. Lens lineup is very workable these days, but the A6600 is too old, too expensive and too slow as a primary body for me even before you look at the absolutely terrible ergonomics. There's a reason people have been asking for an A7000/NEX-9 since the NEX-7 was launched. I don't know why Sony just doesn't recycle the A7IV body with updated A6600 guts and sell it for $1500USD. It will sell and is pure parts bin. 

Panasonic G - G9/GX9 combo is exactly what I'm looking for, except neither body meets the AF requirements and the IQ is not quite there either. Plus an increasingly limited lens lineup. This would be viable if Panasonic had MkII versions with PDAF and competitive AF, plus updated sensor & processing to get them over the IQ hump, I did not find the G9's IQ held up in situations where even the E-M1.2 was acceptable. 

Canon RF - Now I really have to think. Canon has traditionally been the system I ignore, because I had a fair bit of bad luck when I tried it seriously the last time 15 or so years ago, and because the RF system started off very oddly and I was not impressed at all until the R5/R6 duo dropped. The R7 really does meet my needs as a primary body, and costs barely more than some of the secondary bodies I've been looking at (OM-5 and A6600 are $1-200 cheaper). The viewfinder specs look awful, but otherwise it's pretty decent. 3 other lower-end bodies are now available as light carry options, the R10 probably makes the most sense, although the R50 is even smaller and cheaper and surprisingly capable, plus it supports UVC/UAC so is plug & play as a webcam, but really has no buffer worthy of the name (7 RAW). 

Canon RF-S (crop) lenses are a mixed bag right now, the tele and prime situation for crop is actually pretty good. Remarkably so if you consider all the primes are actually FF lenses, but inexpensive and small 16, 28 and 50mm primes and the reasonably priced fast f1.8 macros in 24 and 35mm really make for an interesting lineup, and one that crosses the APS-C/FF boundary well. What is lacking is any native wide or fast normal zoom. But there's two good EF-S options that adapt easily for UWA, multiple normal zoom options and the adapter is both inexpensive ($179CAD) and a much better experience reportedly than even the FTZ on Nikon, which worked well for me with the 70-300E. Rumour has it that a native UWA zoom is coming soon, but a couple high-end RF-S zooms are needed to support R7 users. The 18-150 kit zoom also gets decent reviews, but the tiny 18-45 on the other hand just does not do well, especially for close focus. Right now those are the only three RF-S lenses, everything else in RF mount is full frame. 

Tuesday 13 June 2023

OM System OM-1 - A System of One


OM-1, 40-150/4 Pro

Ever since taking my look at Fuji again last week, I've been trying to understand where my frustration is with m43 this time, because it's definitely not with the OM-1 or the files I'm getting.

And it's pretty much in the title, at this point the OM-1 and m43 is a system of one. One body that's stills focused, one that's video focused, one lens per usage. 

Really, there's two modern competitive m43 bodies today, the OM-1 and GH6. Everything else is pretty much old tech, old UI but new and trending to high pricing. 

That is great if you just want to buy some kit and go out and shoot, so long as you are good using the same high-end body for backup (which many serious shooters are entirely good with). If you like to experiment and play it's much less good. There's lens options, but most of the cheap and fun lenses are intended for APS-C and suffer from crop factor issues.

Since I want a backup camera for various uses (B-cam, in-city manual lens fun, light carry) I've been looking seriously at the m43 options and just not liking them. The OM-5 suffers from decontenting and high price. It's got great internals, but the dinky viewfinder, dinky battery, old USB Micro-B connector and ridiculous price all argue against it. The E-M5III has all of those issues, but can be found somewhat cheaply on the used market. The Pen-F is expensive and rare on the used market and the EM-10's again are just too much money for what they are. I'm not interested in another Panasonic body either (and if I was, only the GX9/GX7mII would make any sense). 

On the lens side, the native options are generally excellent, but also somewhat limited in terms of decent used availability. You just can't find used kit and I don't want to pay new money for lenses that I don't use continuously.

So yes, I'm looking at another system switch, not because I'm unhappy with the OM-1, but because I'm unhappy with the rest of the ecosystem.

Sunday 11 June 2023

Pondering Systems Yet Again


Fujifilm X-T2, 7Artisans 25mm f1.8

I've been thinking about a second body for a while now, what would work for me as a complement to the OM-1. This has me strugging with m43 again.

What do I want in a body split?

1 larger body, PASM style controls, beefy grip, good performance, good EVF

1 smaller body, PASM or traditional controls, can be lower performance but same basic IQ wanted, I want a good EVF though. 

I'd really like common lens/battery/cards across the two, with battery actually being the key item (I rarely change cards when shooting, and frankly I kind of want to be zoom primary on the larger body, prime primary on the smaller, although being able to cross-swap would be useful when hiking).

The OM-5 fails on batteries and EVF. The Panasonic lineup has mostly the same set of issues.

Fuji on the other hand offers the X-H2(s) bodies and X-T4/5 in this space, which all share the same battery, support UHS-II cards (the X-H2's also support CFE B cards)

The downside, in holding the Fuji bodies it's clear that Fuji still hasn't figured out buttons. Even the latest of their bodies still suffer from chiclet buttons, although they have improved a bit. Honestly I could live with that on the dial-based smaller camera, but not on the larger PASM body.

The other issue is that simply even the X-H2s isn't as capable a camera as the OM-1, despite a higher cost. VERY limited computational capabilities (high-res only really, and that requires post-processing on your PC), and the AF doesn't stand up either, as Fuji lacks a basic AF-C+Tracking option, which is the weakest mode on the OM-1, but is at least there. Subject recognition is better on the OM-1, it's also faster (50fps vs 40). Video is better on the Fuji side, but if I was video focused I'd be shooting a GH6, not an OM-1. 

I actually did box up my gear and head in to Henrys to look at Fuji options. This usually results in my coming home with a different camera, but this time the OM-1 came home with me. None of the options I looked at were as good as the OM-1 as a primary camera. 

The takeaway? I think I'm sticking with m43 for now, but I still need to figure out what I'm going to do for a backup/city camera to the OM-1. Who knows, maybe I'll just get an X-T series and some cheap manual focus primes and shoot Fuji in the city, OM System in the field.