I hope to go back to the streets of Hanover, PA to get some pictures when it warms up. I took lots of pictures on the streets a couple of years ago but I hope to do something different this time. I just haven’t decided what.
I also haven’t decided on which camera(s) will work best since it is dependent on what and how I photograph … or maybe I will go the opposite route and get a camera I like and shoot what I can with it. One thing I would like to do is get some more night pictures and that will take a camera that does fairly well at higher ISO settings so I can keep my shutter fast enough to hand-hold the camera. I also plan to get some more store window and door shots. Other than that, I haven’t decided. Some people are encouraging me to photograph the nicer restored buildings, etc.; i.e. the pretty shots.
I took the above two pictures the other day while I took a quick walk to try a few things … mainly how long a focal length I might need. I used my Olympus E-PL5 and the 14 – 42 mm kit lens for these pictures. My only decision camera-lens wise so far is that it needs to be small and light-weight and discreet.
At the moment I am also thinking about spreading out to the outer residential and industrial areas and getting street scenes. The final decision will most likely be to photograph whatever I see in the manner I desire under the circumstances; but, I haven’t decided with what camera and lens.
I have been thinking about what has changed and what it means for my photography. Some of the changes are: 1) Winter has arrived and it is cold and often windy. 2) My back got worse but I have learned that if I don’t stand too long, don’t lift much, don’t bend too far, and especially don’t twist even a little, and do my exercises with the help of some new medicine, that I can continue to function with little discomfort. But that is a big “if” and so far, I have occasionally been doing too much and paying for it. 3) I have been taking more pictures of people and things here that I can’t put on my web.
As far as my cameras are concerned, I have found that I should use my Pentax K-3 and lenses less due to the weight, size, and focusing and shutter noise around people. When I go out anywhere I usually just take the GR in a pocket and mostly just use the K-3 as a grab camera to run out the door to take pictures of clouds like above. I don’t walk much anymore with the K-3 or shoot for long periods with it due to its weight, and I don’t use it around people due to its lack of discreetness.
I can use the GR with its effective 28 mm focal length along with the E-PL5 with the effective 40 mm or 90 mm focal length lenses for most of my indoor pictures around people, but I sometimes miss having a zoom lens. I need to use prime lenses to handle the lower light and shutter speed requirements and achieve suitable image quality while indoors. I will continue to carry the GR with me in my pocket whenever I’m out as my “just-in-case” camera. It has been a big improvement over using my E-PL5 and 14 mm lens for that purpose. The GR is lighter, fits in a pocket better, and has better image quality.
Another concern at the moment is what to use outdoors if I can’t carry the K-3. I might eventually replace the Pentax gear with another micro 4/3 camera, and finally leave the big DSLR camera behind and make the switch to mirror-less cameras. I tried to do that once before and reverted back to the Pentax DSLR, but I think I am now about ready to make the final switch to mirror-less cameras. I like to keep a wide-to-normal lens on one camera and a longer zoom on another camera so that I don’t have to change lenses as often. Having two micro 4/3 cameras would enable me to make better use of my micro 4/3 lens collection, but I’ll have to think some more about it.
Another option would be to get an APS-C size sensor camera with one good normal range zoom lens and use it for all of my indoor work as well as shorter range outdoor shooting and use my 40 – 150 mm micro 4/3 lens on the E-PL5 for long-range shooting outdoors. The advantage of going this route is that I would have better image quality than I can get with micro 4/3 camera for my indoor work and I would have a better all-around single camera. That was what I was thinking about when I had the Fujifilm X-E1 with the 18 – 55 mm lens, but it was early in the process before they made some significant upgrades in the software, etc. Or, if I replaced the K-3 with the Fujifilm X-T1 and the 18 – 135 mm lens it would weight around 930 g. vs. the 1205 g. of the K-3 and the 18 – 135 mm lens, but I’m not sure if that weight savings is enough.
Other questions: Will I really be shooting much with zoom lenses, and if not, which prime focal length will I use most of the time? Would I rather have an APS-C sensor camera with an effective 35 mm focal length lens for better image quality or is my Panasonic 20 mm lens (effective 40 mm) good enough with a micro 4/3 sensor?
My main concern is how I am going to photograph scenes that are suitable for my blog, and more importantly, make pictures that I really like. The camera and lenses are not the main problem. I need to figure out what and where I will be shooting.
I am enjoying my attempts to extend my photography into the night, especially when it is raining. I took the above pictures looking out our bathroom window late at night. I never envisioned the results.
I was testing my E-PL5 and 17 mm lens under dark conditions. The window, screen, and outside foliage were wet and back-lit by a street lamp across the way. I took the pictures using the program mode at ISO 1600, f/1.8, and 1/8 and 1/25 sec. shutter speeds. I really didn’t expect the camera to focus but it did very quickly. In addition, the image stabilization did its job since I was hand-holding the camera and snapped the images quickly.
I really like the results and I am encouraged to keep experimenting with more abstract images in the world of the dark and dreary.
The Olympus E-PL5 has a tilt, touch LCD. It is one of the reasons I bought this camera, and this old man loves it. I can photograph flowers, etc. from a low view-point without problems. The thing that is unique with the above pictures is that they were all taken using the tilted LCD with the focus point and actual clicking of the shutter controlled by my finger touching the point on the screen that I wanted to be in focus. I was able to hold the camera down low and look down at the horizontal screen and just touch the flower I wanted to be in focus. The focus was very fast with an almost immediate snapping of the shutter.
I used the Olympus 17 mm lens and let the apertures stay wide enough to emphasize the point of focus so that I could easily see how well it worked. It does great, and I love it. I was checking something else at the same time. I wanted to make sure that the sun light didn’t blank-out my view of the LCD. It didn’t, and I never had any problem as long as I wasn’t wearing my very dark sunglasses. I have two problems wearing my glasses. As well as being dark they are for distance only. They are not bifocals and the screen isn’t in perfect focus when I wear them. Holding the camera out away from my body some I can see well enough with the glasses to compose and take the picture, but if I want to carefully check the results in the LCD after I take the picture I usually take the glasses off and hold the camera closer.
For you older photographers who might be worrying about holding the camera steady out-a-ways from your body at arm’s length, I haven’t had a problem yet. If/when I am worried; I keep the camera strap around my neck and short enough so that it is stretched taut when I take the picture. If my elbows are against my sides while the strap is stretched taut, it provides plenty of support for holding the camera steady if it becomes necessary. I obviously can’t hold it that way when I’m holding the camera down low as I did for most of the above pictures, but I had no problems with good light and fast shutter speeds. The camera image stabilization did its job.
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
— Joseph Campbell
This even applies to my photography. It is my practice, when using prime lenses, to make a judgment before I go out as to what lens I will use and then stick with it. I rarely take multiple lenses with me or change lenses in the field. I let the chosen focal length guide me to the composition and images I make. For the above image I was using a 20 mm lens on a micro 4/3 camera so the effective focal length was 40 mm. Maybe it is blissful ignorance in that later when I get the image up on my computer screen I don’t remember, or miss, what might have been out of view.
In my opinion the Fujifilm X cameras have the best controls and the best image quality and the best lenses for the money. My current X-E1 satisfies my needs better than any others I have owned; but I am now wondering about the future.
Lately I have had multiple problems that are putting a damper on my photography. The arthritis in my hands has been particularly bad, I had a touch of the flu, and the weather has prevented me from walking, so I have used my time to concentrate on the arthritis issue since it is the only one affected by the camera and the others will resolve themselves in time.
At one time I owned a Pentax K-5 and multiple large lenses; but I sold it and went in search of a lighter camera due to the difficulties I was having holding it. After a few trials of other cameras, I finally arrived at the Fujifilm X-E1 as being the best compromise in quality vs. ergonomics vs. cost … with the image quality and cost being the decisive factors. It weighted a lot less than the K-5 and my hands quit getting any worse.
Now that my hands are bothering me a lot more, I am realizing that I’m on a one-way trip and that they may continue to get worse in a non-linear fashion. I decided that I should look for something lighter with better ergonomics. I have over the years tried lots of smaller, lighter micro 4/3 cameras. They were easier to hold due to their size and the much reduced weight of their lenses, but I did not like their low light image qualities.
One obvious realization was that most of the weight and handling issues with current cameras are the lenses. That is what makes micro 4/3 such a good camera if you are not photographing in low light. When I started looking for a camera with better low light capabilities, I found that I needed to stay with APS size, or larger, sensors; but they all need larger, heavier weight lenses. One solution is to adapt your photography to shorter focal lengths; i.e. give up the longer, heavier zoom lenses and switch to a few prime lenses. I have tried that. In addition, at one time I had a zoom lens with an effective 600 mm focal length capability. I am now down to an effective 300 mm and am using it less and less. My current most used lenses are prime lenses with effective focal lengths of 40.5 and 52.5 mm … my 27 mm pancake lens and my 35 mm lens for my X-E1. I use them due to their smaller size and lower weight and partially compensate for their shorter focal length range by zoom-cropping a lot of my images.
My current problem is that I have already exploited the above solutions. What is next? I could also give up some low-light capability but I am reluctant to go very far in this direction since most of my photography is in low light situations. I could also switch to using a tripod with longer shutter times but that is not very feasible because of my conditions and shooting style.
I decided to take another look at several camera systems. Seeing that the lower cost DSLRs had nice hand-grips and cost a lot less, I have tried the Pentax K-50 and the Canon T3i. I liked their hand grips, especially since the cameras also cost less than the X-E1, but I returned them since I wasn’t sure either of them was the one for me. What I did decide was that I could handle a heavier camera with greater ease if it had a good hand-grip.
When Nikon announced the new lightweight D3300, I decided to order one and try it. My objective in trying it is to be able to pair it with the very good lightweight 35 mm prime lens and then increase my ability to crop zoom with the 24 MP sensor. If it works well enough for me, I could keep it along with the X-E1 and primarily use the X-E1 in the low-light indoor situations and during the times when I need to hang it from around my neck under a jacket … at least that is my current plan. I probably won’t get the D3300 for another 3 or 4 weeks, but I at least have something to think about while I’m waiting for warmer weather. Below is a table that shows the differences in the factors that can be quantified. The weight and price include the camera and kit lens and the camera weights include batteries and cards.
I also need to point out that these cameras have different strengths and weaknesses, but the benefits are hard to quantify. If you go to this web site, camerasize.com, you can pick various cameras and not only compare their weights and size but also different views. You can see how the hand-grip and location of controls, etc. might affect your own needs.
After I have tried them all, I’ll let you know how, and hopefully why, my selection works for me … and maybe you. I will be making my decision on how easily I can hold them, their image qualities, and their cost. But, I have two strong conditions to overcome that probably don’t apply to your case. I already have an X-E1 and thus the cheapest solution is to just continue to use it. Second, I have a strong preference to use just one make of camera due to the advantages of not having to learn two different systems and then switching back and forth. If I obtain and keep any of the others it has to overcome these issues.
I wish the above was an all-seeing eye that could look into the future, but it’s only a small shell we found in Ireland. For looking into the future I can only look at current trends in conjunction with the changes in the environment, and I include all aspects under the environmental umbrella. Those aspects include everything from political, to natural resources, to fiscal, to climate, etc. … including declining physical abilities as we age.
For cameras in general, I expect that we will see the size of sensors grow with the demise of very small sensors in P&S cameras. The cell phones will use the smallest sensors and replace most of the small P&S cameras. I expect to see larger sensors placed into smaller cameras, but I don’t see the size of cameras dropping much, if any more, due to ergonomics. The 1 inch to micro 4/3 sensors will be the new smallest size sensors in cameras with the APS size sensors taking over in the small to medium size cameras and eventually the so-called full frame sensors growing in number in the better equipped cameras. I also think that the low-priced entry-level DSLR cameras like the Nikon D3200 and the Canon Rebels will be displaced with smaller mirror-less cameras as prices of mirror-less cameras drop with volume sales.
The biggest change that I think we will be seeing will be the continuing computerization of cameras. They will become (now are) small computers with no moving mechanical parts other than lens components. The shutters, focus, and zoom mechanisms will be all-electric. The biggest change will be in the on-board processors. They will become more like general purpose computers in the sense that we will be choosing functions by acquiring software and loading it on our cameras. As the cameras have fewer mechanical parts we will update our cameras by updating the software in them. This could enable us to keep our cameras longer with less need to replace the camera, but we will have to wait and see how the manufacturers react to this possibility.
Another change that has been evolving is the shrinking of lenses. I originally switched from an APS DSLR to micro 4/3 cameras since in addition to the cameras being smaller and lighter, the lenses were a lot smaller and this resulted in smaller, lighter systems to carry around. Now the APS size sensor cameras are also getting slightly smaller and lighter lenses since the cameras are mirror-less and are using electric motors to control focusing and zooming and not the older mechanical systems.
My decision is to decide how, and when, I will react to the above. I have no doubts that my Pentax K-5 DSLR and its’ lens system is going to become the dinosaur of cameras. It will grow heavier, relatively speaking, as I get older and it is probably the last of the old style mechanical cameras that I will purchase; but, for now it does a good job. If you have read my blog for any time, you also know that I have had a desire to reduce the number of my cameras to one so that I can better learn and use it without having to remember and think about the differences in controls and settings, etc. At one time I thought that micro 4/3 cameras were the solution for me … until I had problems with the size, control layouts, etc. and I started to have doubts about the sensor size relative to future capabilities. All of this leads me to thinking about another solution … another camera.
I’m thinking about switching to Sony cameras. Given my beliefs about the computerization of the camera, I’m thinking that going with Sony might be the best technical and most economical direction. Besides, almost all the camera manufacturers are now using Sony sensors … from Olympus to Nikon to Leica. The Sony NEX-6 has an APS size sensor packaged in a camera about the same size as my previous micro 4/3 cameras and the ergonomics with the hand grip and controls looks like it might fit my needs better. Up to now Sony’s downfall with their cameras has been the size, quality, and quantity of available lenses. Recently they have rectified this problem and other third parties have started producing lenses in their E-mount, so I don’t think this will be a problem going forward.
My big problem is that no one near where I live carries the camera so I have to order one to see how it works in my hands. I will also have to wait until I see some reviews of the camera after it starts shipping, which probably won’t be until Nov. before I make up my mind. Hopefully I’ll have an answer by late Nov. since I have my order in for the Sony NEX-6 camera so I can try it.
I decided to keep the Pentax K-5 and I sold all of my remaining micro 4/3 gear: the Panasonic Lumix G3 along with the Panasonic 100 – 300 mm, 45 – 175 mm, 14 – 42 mm, 14 mm, and 20 mm lenses. I had sold all of my Olympus micro 4/3 cameras & lenses earlier. For a while (I hope a long while) I am going to be using my K-5 and my Fuji X100 cameras. In the final decision, the better ergonomics and speed and IQ of the K-5 trumped the lighter weight of the micro 4/3 system.
I plan to keep and use my X100 for inside buildings, low-light events, walking the street, and lightweight travel by airplane … situations where the equivalent fixed 35 mm focal length is sufficient and/or less weight is necessary. I primarily plan to use my K-5 for wildlife, during bad weather, car trips, and other (haven’t decided) uses. The other uses depend upon which lenses I get and whether I have to carry the camera far or for a long time.
The above picture of the Killdeer was taken last evening at a focal length of 300 (effective 450) mm at an ISO of 1600, f/8, 1/400 sec. I ended up cropping the picture quite a bit and I really could have used the effective 600 mm lens that I sold, but I have decided to stick with the maximum effective 450 mm focal length of the Pentax lens that I have. In addition to the Pentax 55 – 300 mm lens, I also have the weather resistant 18 – 55 mm lens.
I plan on taking some lower light pictures with the 18 – 55 mm lens before I decide on whether I need some additional lenses. One major advantage of the Pentax system is the availability of nice small, lightweight, prime lenses. At the moment I am somewhat conflicted whether I need additional lenses for the K-5. I prefer to use one camera and as few lenses as I can, and the K-5 could serve that desire except for the weight issue. I am still afraid that I will have problems with carrying and holding the K-5 with its heavier lenses, and that is why I have and intend to keep a Fuji X100.
I prefer to use the X100 if I’m walking for a long time. If I didn’t have the X100 I could reduce the weight of the K-5 system by putting a prime lens on it, but it would still be around twice as heavy as the X100. The X100 is also a better system when I’m among people and wish to be a little more discreet … and I just love that camera and the hybrid viewfinder. For now I tend to leave the 55 – 300 mm lens on the K-5 and use the X100 if I need a shorter focal length, unless there is a chance of rain. By working that way, I can grab either camera quickly to shoot. I can carry both in a bag but haven’t so far. I just pick up one or the other camera depending on what I expect to be shooting and go bag-less while walking.
This is an interim report on my sojourn in seeking a better camera … a better camera relative to ergonomics and my problems with holding and carrying it due to arthritis. As I stated earlier, I have gone through a number of ideas and trials relative to different cameras. My latest approach is as follows.
I have found that I can minimize the accidental button pushing on the Panasonic G3 camera, with the resulting change in settings, if I only use it with longer, heavier zoom lenses. What I did was take the neck/shoulder strap off and replace it with a wrist strap on the left side of the camera (facing the back of camera). I then put the strap around my left wrist as a safety measure if I lose my grip. I then hold/carry the camera in my left hand by gripping the lens rather than the camera. This keeps me from hitting the buttons while I carry it and raise it up to my eye when shooting. It doesn’t eliminate the problem since I still occasionally hit the buttons with my right hand while shooting, but I notice it immediately since I have my eye to the view finder and can quickly hit the delete button to cancel the unwanted action.
The above partial solution still leaves me with frequent problems while using the camera with prime pancake lenses since I can’t hold it by the short lenses. Since I primarily experience this problem when using my fast prime lenses indoors under poor lighting conditions, I decided to see if I could find a better camera for those conditions. I’m looking for better in two ways: no accidental button pushing while being easy to hold, and better low light capability. At the moment I think I may have found the solution. I ordered a Fuji X100 camera. It has a range-finder profile … small, thinner, control dials, and not too heavy as well as an APS size sensor along with one of the best view finders available. The APS sensor is larger than the micro 4/3 sensors in the G3 and E-P3 and does better at high ISO settings with less noise. In addition it has a non-zoom, single 35 mm (effective) f/2 lens. I have been using my Olympus E-P3 with either the 14 mm f/2.5 or the 20 mm f/1.7 lenses (effective 28 or 40 mm). The Fuji X100 with its lens is a perfect compromise in focal length, with better low light capability, better image quality, and hopefully with better ergonomics and easier to change dial controls.
I won’t know how well this approach works until after I get my X100 and try it for a while. If it solves my problems, I’ll primarily only use the G3 with my Panasonic 45 – 175 mm and 100 – 300 mm lenses while taking short walks with the primary aim of taking wildlife shots. I’ll use the X100 for my indoor photography and as a walk-about camera while traveling, walking city streets, shooting landscapes, etc. It has a smaller profile, is easier to take with me, and has the advantage of being silent and more discreet when taking pictures in crowds of people.