Some think that being an opportunistic photographer is the best of all worlds since it provides the viewers with variety, and gives the photographer more opportunities to practice photography. I agree with those views, but there are downsides. A general axiom among photographers is that the better photographers shoot what interests them and that the best tend to do their primary shooting in one area or style. That is probably a truism if for no other reason than it is easier to practice and improve your pictures while shooting just one type of photographs over a longer time, and with one type of camera.
If I wish to become a better opportunistic photographer it means that I need to have a good general purpose camera with multiple lenses, always have it with me, and shoot a lot more. The best general purpose cameras are DSLRs with multiple lenses, but this means carrying around a big heavy camera all the time as well as often needing a bag to hold additional lenses. Some choose to use a multi-purpose zoom lens on a DSLR camera to avoid a bag full of lenses, even if it isn’t as fast and good for low light. In my opinion, DSLR cameras are too heavy and bulky to have always slung over a shoulder when shopping, attending many indoor events, etc. Another downside to DSLR cameras and their lenses is that as you move up in quality they get even bigger and heavier. In my case I have had to go to multiple cameras to sometimes use something lighter and more discreet. This has also been a trend among many other photographers. The downside is that this means learning and remembering how to operate multiple cameras and undergo the added expenses of owning multiple cameras and lenses, multiple sets of different batteries, and their different chargers. All of this also drives up the costs of owning them, but if you can afford them and carry them, it is a solution.
From cost, weight, ergonomics, and discreet perspectives, I prefer to only carry a small mirror-less compact system camera by a strap with no bag. The major problem with this approach is it doesn’t work well when photographing wildlife or capturing details of architecture that are some distance away.
I’m currently trying to determine if there is one compromise camera solution that provides me with a wide-enough latitude for shooting while minimizing the subjects I won’t be able to shoot. One partial compromise for shooting subjects at a greater distance without a long zoom lens is to use zoom-cropping. I have explored this approach with the Fuji X100 and the Pentax 50 mm lens but only with limited success. An example can be seen here. One good thing about Pentax is that they have a good number of excellent prime lenses which I could use to reduce the weight and bulk if I give up using the long heavy zoom lenses. At the moment that is the most economical solution for me … buy some more prime lenses and make-do with the bulkier, heavier camera and a small bag for the lenses. There are advantages in this approach since the K-5 is weather resistant as well as being an excellent camera and it is also one of the least bulky DSLRs … but it still isn’t light-weight or discreet.
In the meanwhile, I will continue looking at new camera systems while I also continue exploring different types, or styles, of photography. My near-term goals are to see if I can reduce my photography requirements by restricting the type of pictures I shoot. My longer term goals are to watch how my interests evolve, research the capabilities of new camera systems, and look for the best compromise with a desire to maximize quality, minimize bulk and weight, and achieve better ergonomics for the least cost when I want to get a better camera, assuming I really need a better one … maybe I don’t.