Conflicted … What Camera, What Photography?


I am still conflicted when it comes to which camera I prefer to use and a bit of the problem is that I don’t know what I will be photographing.  Out of the cameras I’m currently using, the Leica X2 is the easiest to carry, next is the Nikon 1 J5, and then the Canon 70D.  In terms of image quality the Leica X2 is best (used to make the above picture), then the Canon 70D, with the Nikon 1 J5 at the bottom.  In terms of versatility the Leica X2 is the most limited.

The differences really come to the front when I look at which lenses I use with them as well as what I photograph.  If I am photographing with a fixed equivalent 35 mm focal length, there is no question to the all-around best.  It is the Leica X2.  The only problem I have with the Leica is using it out in the sun since I have trouble seeing the LCD to compose.  That could be remedied if I purchased an add-on optical viewfinder.

For long-range photography at focal lengths beyond an equivalent 80 mm I can use the Nikon J5 with the 30 – 110 mm lens when the lighting is adequate.  It is so much easier to carry than the Canon 70D with longer lenses, that the weight and size advantages out-weigh the better image quality of the 70D for long focal lengths.  This wouldn’t necessarily be the case for others, but I walk with a cane or walking stick when going further distances and often need to shoot with one hand.  My main problem with this choice is that I have to use the LCD to compose and I have the same problem as with the Leica X2.  If the LCD is in the sun it is hard to compose with it.

It is somewhat limiting, but I can usually resolve the sunlight on the LCD issue by only photographing when the LCD is adequately shaded.  I find that trying to shade it with my hand doesn’t work, so I usually need to use if from within the car or in a heavily shaded location or during the hours close to sunrise and sunset.

I have not decided on what I will do when photographing inside when I need focal lengths other than an effective 35 mm.  The Nikon 1 J5 with the two zoom lenses might work if I don’t pixel peep; i.e. look too closely at the digital noise.  So far, when photographing something critical for others, I have used the Canon 70D with the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens.  It isn’t light or small, but I’m not walking much when shooting inside so I have been able to use it; but that might not continue.

There are other issues that haven’t affected me too much yet.  One is that it takes two hands to shoot with a zoom lens.  The lenses in the Nikon CX format are very easy to turn to zoom and I have managed; but often times, since I primarily shoot at either end of the zoom range, I pre-zoom it and leave it there.  It is another reason that I prefer to shoot with prime or fixed lenses like with the Leica X2.

The second remaining issue is camera control.  I like the Canon and Leica controls and ease of using them.  I can set and use them in any manner I prefer.  The Nikon is somewhat limiting, but I have been working around most of them … not all.  The third issue can be real limiting depending on what I am shooting.  That is needing to use an articulated LCD for some work.  The Canon 70D has a fully articulated LCD and I can shoot with it in various ways.  The Nikon has a tilting LCD and that suffices.  I just don’t bother to use the Leica X2 down close to the ground since the LCD doesn’t move and I have trouble bending.

Another issue I have is switching back and forth between different camera systems, controls, etc.  It has always been my dream to have and use only one camera for everything I photograph.  So far that hasn’t been possible; but there is a potential solution that solves most, if not all, of the above conflicts and issues.

The solution is to limit what I photograph and use only one or two of my cameras.  I have been gravitating in that direction since it is the least costly solution; but, I have been doing it mostly by only using one camera for a period of time and not switching frequently.  I have been using the J5 with the 30 – 110 mm lens for my outdoor shooting while photographing flowers, wildlife, etc.; but using the Leica X2 whenever I plan to only photograph with an effective 35 mm focal length and/or I desire the smallest setup just in case I see something.

My current plans are to primarily use the Canon 70D when I’m not walking much and/or while inside.  I am also thinking about getting the hand grip and the optical viewfinder for the Leica X2.  To a degree, my expanded uses of either the Nikon 1 or Leica X2 (or to using only one of them) also depend upon the style of processing I use as well as subjects that I photograph and on my desired image quality.  I am not sure of what I will be photographing in the future and this is my primary issue.  If I had ample opportunity subject-wise, I would prefer to just photograph with the Leica X2.  If it had a viewfinder, articulated LCD and a normal zoom lens it would be perfect.