Hands vs. Cameras

I am always looking for the minimal amount of photography gear that will work best for me under a variety of conditions.  When photographing activities indoors I am always battling having enough light for keeping the shutter speed up high enough to stop motion with a camera that is silent to use and still have adequate image quality and focal lengths.

When photographing outdoors I worry about water from rain or snow, and even indoors when touring I worry about the environmental effects of water and dust, etc.

In addition, I use a cane most of the time and I prefer a camera light enough that has controls so that I can photograph with one hand.  That need tends to drive me towards prime lenses.  I have also found out that having a suitable handgrip aids under those conditions, especially if the lens is long and heavy.  Finding a suitable balance between weight and grip is a real issue for me, in the winter time.

I also have arthritis in my hands and Reynolds syndrome in the fingers of my right hand.  In the winter my fingers turn white and numb when holding anything in my right hand, and that includes cameras.  I have found that having a lighter camera with a handgrip helps.

The best, actually the only, compromise I have found is the Olympus E-M1 Mark 2 camera and fast lenses.  I use the Olympus all-purpose zoom lens, the 14-150mm outdoors and the Panasonic 12-35mm and 35-100mm F2.8 lenses indoors.  I supplement these with a collection of faster prime lenses when I can.  I also had the Olympus PEN-F camera to use with prime lenses and to use as a backup to the E-M1 Mark 2, but I sold it.  The Olympus cameras are OK, but it takes two hands to turn them on and off and the image quality isn’t as good as the Fujifilm system (depending on lighting).  I wanted a small camera that was more fun to use that had a larger sensor for some of my personal photography that I could also use for Homewood activities when I don’t need a longer focal length.  For those reasons I bought the Fujifilm X-E3 and the 23 and 35mm F2 prime lenses.

I still have the Pentax K-3 with the 18-135mm and the 55-300mm zoom lenses.  I have been using them for more outdoor work that I expected this summer.  It is a nice all-around system for outdoors.  Its only shortfalls are the loud mirror slap and the weight.  The weight hasn’t been a problem this summer, but I know that it will be in the winter; but maybe no more than any camera.

Since I would prefer to only use one camera system, I should just use the E-M1 Mark 2 for everything.  That would be the rational choice, but I always prefer to have a backup camera.  Since I got the Fuji X-E3 and enjoy the image quality, I have been considering replacing all of the micro 4/3 system along with the Pentax system with another Fujifilm camera and just using the Fujifilm system.  But it would be expensive, and I would have to give up longer focal lengths due to cost, weight, and size, and there is no guarantee that I would be satisfied, so I’m in another wait and see period.

I’m using both the X-E3 and the micro 4/3 gear with a wide range of lenses while I am thinking of another alternative … changing what I photograph to fit a reduced set of gear, but I’m in an early stage of trying.  I’ll be posting what I learn later.  It basically comes down to, can I give-up long focal length zoom lenses?

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