These are pictures of my latest acquisition. Those of you who have followed me for many years will be surprised to note that it is a Canon, and the least expensive and smallest DSLR that they make. I am now going to tell you why I got it. I will have to use it for a longer period to know if it was the right decision.
I have wanted to buy the Fujifilm X100T, but hesitated for many reasons. I had an X100, the first version that came out, and I loved it, but always worried about it having an effective 35 mm focal length and being tough to focus quickly and accurately. When I had the X100, the focal length usually worked well for me but, I did a lot of crop-zooming. I also found that it usually took two hands to hold and use the X100. In addition, I am now hesitant about spending so much money on another camera. So, I looked around for something else and started looking more carefully at the Canon EOS SL1 Rebel.
The SL1 uses interchangeable lenses, and I noted that Canon had two pancake lenses. I found that both the 40 mm and the 24 mm lenses were both small and light-weight, quite inexpensive, and highly rated in reviews. I also realized that the Canon SL1 with the 24 mm lens attached weighed about the same as the X100T, and was about the same size except for the depth; but at about half the cost! In addition I would have effective focal lengths of about 38 mm and 64 mm with the two Canon lenses.
The SL1 has another advantage for me in addition to the cost and weight. It has a nice handgrip and with the arthritis in my hands that is a significant advantage. I have posted the above pictures so that you can see the handgrip. Many of the on-line pictures don’t do a good job of showing the handgrip. If you are interested you need to try it. All hands aren’t the same, but I have found that it works very well for me.
This Canon Rebel isn’t as sexy as the X100T, doesn’t have the perceived quality, doesn’t have the dial controls, and doesn’t have the X-Trans sensor, but it is a lot cheaper, and I think more versatile for my uses. Time will tell.
I decided to try being a bottom feeder. I had looked at, and longed for, a Fujifilm X100T but was leery of the cost and single focal length; so I decided to try the Canon SL1 with the 24 mm lens (I have a 40 mm lens coming). This is a package with about the same focal length and weight at half the cost. In future posts I’m sure that I will be telling you more about the Canon SL1, but for now I’ll just show you a few test images.
They were chosen for their range of conditions, ease to take quickly, and similar to what I shoot so I could start evaluating how well it does in low light, in focusing on soft clouds, in capturing details, in handling contrast with snow, in facing towards a bright sky, and in an early morning street scene. So far I am pretty pleased with the image quality. It handles white balance and exposures and red colors better than my Pentax K-3, and need I say; it is a lot lighter and easier to carry and hold. Other than for a little adjusting of the shadow brightness in the cemetery picture, nothing was done with the others other than cropping in some cases. These are not the best pictures since I just wanted some quick images under different conditions so that I could see how the camera handled them.
Normally I adjust contrast, vibrance, clarity, curves, apply gradients, etc. to my finished pictures. None of that was done to these so you can see what to expect if you get the SL1 (and shoot in raw and use LR); but, I have played with other images to determine that the files are very workable for adjusting.
I still have lots to learn and try with the camera. One change that I will probably make is to shoot in shutter mode. The reason for this is that this Canon does not allow you to set a minimum shutter speed under ISO limits and it sometimes drops too low in low light. It seems that the “normal” bottom speed is 1/30 sec and I find that to be usually acceptable; but slower than my preference for quickly shooting hand-held without image stabilization. This camera and lens combination has no stabilization.
Sometimes it is worth having a small camera in your pocket, and I have been wondering whether I should look for a better small camera. At the moment I have been using a Panasonic LF1 which has been excellent for its size. It only has a 1/1.7” size sensor so it is limited, but makes up for it with an excellent zoom lens and the ability to shoot in raw format.
But, the above images pushed it to its limits. The sunlight breaking through a cloud was difficult to get because of the light extremes. I had to dial the exposure back to keep from burning the highlights too much and then I still had to work on the image with LightRoom. It worked OK, but it isn’t the fastest camera to use. The zoom is slow and the exposure adjustment is done with the small dial on the back. It works fine when you have time, but I would like something easier and quicker to adjust. The other picture was taken in the restaurant which was on the dark side. I took this image at ISO 1600 and then had to use a lot of noise reduction using LightRoom.
The LF1 is better than a camera-phone but the phones are catching up quickly. Some of my thoughts recently have been to just keep using my LF1 and wait until the phone cameras improve some more. If I go somewhere and don’t wish to take my larger heavy Pentax K-3 and lenses, I can take my Olympus E-PL5 and a prime lens or two to keep the size & weight down … but it still needs a large jacket pocket or a small bag for carrying. It would be nice to have a camera-lens combination smaller than my E-PL5 that is easier to quickly take out of a pocket and take a few pictures in raw format with quick exposure and zoom adjustments … with better image quality than the LF1 or a camera-phone. I’m still looking, but my K-3 continues to spoil me. I love the controls and ease of making fast changes with the ability to get great images.
The new Canon G7 X looks promising. It has a 1” 20 MP sensor, 24 – 100 mm equivalent zoom, tilting touchscreen LCD, takes raw format pictures, is about the same size as my LF1, etc. But, a larger sensor would be even better. The major disadvantage of a larger sensor, like APS-C size, is that the lenses are a lot larger and heavier. The only way around them is to go with a built-in, fixed, prime lens like on the Leica X2. The X2 is a lot faster to turn on, make adjustments, etc. and is only slightly larger and 13% heavier than the G7 X but a lot more expensive. The similar Fujifilm X100T is larger and 45% heavier than the Canon G7 X, is similar in quality to, or better than the Leica X2, and is less expensive than the X2.
But, I decided the best compromise based on size, weight, image quality, and cost is using my Olympus E-PL5 with a prime lens as a jacket pocket, or small bag camera. I have the Panasonic 14 mm f/2.5 pancake lens but is a little on the wide and slow side. It has an effective 28 mm focal length and is great for many uses but I decided to get the Panasonic 20 mm f/1.7 lens (effective 40 mm) to supplement it. My only decisions left are to decide whether to carry it on a neck strap under a jacket or to use a wrist strap and carry it in a jacket pocket this fall and winter, and when to take it rather than my K-3 or my LF1.