Archive for March, 2012

Going Small – Part 2

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

I am now going to reveal my obsessive side.

At this point I had three candidate cameras: Sony NEX 7, Fuji X-Pro1, and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (don’t know why they couldn’t stop with just OM-D, but what do I know). All were designed for reasonably sophisticated shooters and claimed to rival the big boys in image quality (IQ). Problem was none of them were available to just go and look at. So I made a list of specs, decided which were most important to me and rated each of them, giving a 3 to the best with declining scores (down to 0) for each of the others. For example, sensor type: both the Sony and the Fuji use a larger APS-C sensor while the Olympus uses a micro four-thirds. In addition, the Fuji sensor is a new take on sensors and is expected to produce fabulous results. So in this category I gave Fuji a 3, Sony a 2 and Olympus a 1.

The categories I compared were: sensor type, resolution, flip-out screen, battery life, light sensitivity (ISO), speed, size, weight, flash, weather sealing, autofocus, quality and availability of lenses, image stabilization, and metering. For my purposes I was less interested in video and did not include video specs in my analysis.

Some of these categories produced clear winners. Sony is the smallest and lightest, followed by Oly and then Fuji (with total difference between heaviest and lightest 3.6 ounces). Fuji won on type of sensor but Sony has 24mp compared to 16mp for each of the others. The Olympus is the only one with weather sealing.

But there was still the matter of image quality and no real life reviews for two of the three cameras. After thinking about it I realized that I need several things to get a quality image in addition to a good sensor. I like to shoot in low light and want to be able to capture images of people in motion: street shooting, environmental portraits, and fast moving kids. So for what I wanted to be able to do I used the following to approximate IQ: availability of quality lenses, fast and accurate autofocus, image stabilization, and the ability to shoot at high ISOs. In each of those categories the 3 went to Olympus.

The final score was Olympus 26, Sony 22, and Fuji 16. My head followed my heart and I pre-ordered the Olympus. I hope to receive it in mid-April.

Now I freely admit that this system is idiosyncratic. Bob looked at the same data and ordered the Sony – with a wonderful Zeiss lens. His camera arrived last week and I have a bad case of camera envy.

Since I placed my order reviews of both the Fuji and the Olympus have started to appear. All three cameras seem to be living up to the hype but I’ll wait to do the third part of this set of posts until after mine arrives and I have a chance to try it out.

Going Small – Part 1

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

I don’t usually write about equipment but I have spent a lot of time lately comparing camera specs and reading camera reviews and a friend suggested that I share my adventure.

It all started a few months ago. I came upon a review of a new Sony mirrorless camera called the NEX 7. The reviewer raved about the image quality. Even compared it favorably to the Leica M9 (with the right lens) in spite of the smaller sensor. My interest was peaked.

Don’t get me wrong I love my Canon 5D mark 2 but I get very tired of toting it around. There’s something that’s just not that much fun about a heavy camera. I have been using it in spite of its weight because it does mostly what I want it to do and delivers an image that I can blow up to 20×30 – no problem. Until recently smaller cameras were mostly of the point and shoot variety and brought so many frustrations that my default has been the trusty – if heavy – Mark 2.

So the notion of a camera a third the size, with changeable lens, that could shoot like a Leica got my attention. I began to do my research. Just as I was about to order the NEX 7 Fujifilm announced the X-Pro1. More expensive but the specs promised a machine that would blow away full frame cameras.

That slowed me down, but not too much because neither camera was being shipped yet. Problem was there were no reviews of the Fuji. Just specs. So I set about comparing specs, trying to sort out which I cared about and which fell into the meh category.

One night I said to Bob, you know, what I really want is my old Olympus OM-1, only digital. I loved that camera. It was small, light, made wonderful images, and it just fit me. The next day – literally the very next day – Olympus started its teaser ads that led to the announcement in February of the OM-D. OMG. It looked just like my old camera. It was like running into your first boyfriend. I was in love.

But love, as we all know, can only take you so far. There is also the matter of life. I had to know if the new camera in the old body would fit my current needs.