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What do you look for in your gear.

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Bobby Tingle, Sep 16, 2018.

  1. Bobby Tingle

    Bobby Tingle Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 31, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    @Adam Bonn@Adam Bonn in his most recent X-Pro blog made some great points about gear. If you're not reading it, you should. And our friend MikeG made the following reply which got me to thinking about what we want out of our gear.......

    Mike nailed one of the things I look for these days. Nuances of feel and design. If I don't like how the camera feels in hand and the controls, I will avoid using it.

    The next thing I look at these days, I was just discussing with my father this week. Subtle nuances in the images from the combination of sensor and lens. These are the things photographers see, but clients or people who are not at least enthusiasts never notice. Rendering, color, microcontrast, etc. Having recently made the switch from primes back to the 16-55 for working needs, I also noticed the differences in all these areas. But the people who I photographed just saw photos they like.

    Because I do working shoots; behind the scenes, events, portrait/headshots, and hopefully off-road driving again soon. Plus all of the personal stuff I shoot; like family, landscapes, urban exploring, and so on. I need the right tool for the right job. Which is why, depending on which combination of things I am shooting, you guys see me swapping back and forth between different gear. A very hard lesson I had to learn is that the gear I love is not always the gear I need. And trying to force the gear I love to work, usually yields less than great results.

    For the last several months, I have had the mindset of being a minimalist with my gear. Which aside from a love which has developed over the last few years, is the reason I stay with Fuji. The Fuji system is so well developed at this point, that whatever my needs are, they can be met. Plus, Fuji upgrades bodies and lenses several times after release.

    I can go on FredMiranda right now and grab a X-T1 with battery grip in excellent condition for a few hundred dollars. Which goes back to Adam's point about gear. While now three generations old, the X-T1 is still a very capable camera.

    If you're still with me at this point, tell us what it is that you look for in your gear decisions.
     
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  2. Its all about the ergonomics and weight for me. I zone out when gear discussion descends to the technical, I could not give a rats a$$ about that. If, with the right ergonomics, and the light weight, I can get the image I want.. then its all good.

    At the moment, its seeming to me that my LX100 is giving me what I want, and its probably why I havent really had a GAS attack since I bought it early in 2016. I have cameras laying about the house which I should have sold soon after purchase, but stalled too long and now they are worth hardly anything, in spite of being near new.
     
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  3. Mike G

    Mike G Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    927
    Oct 7, 2016
    West London
    Mike Gorman
    Nothing to disagree with Bobby, as a newish owner ot two disparate cameras of very similar design has has the effect of making me take note of the design features and differences, which turn out not such a nuisance as maybe imagined. My quandary is now which system to choose, that’s what happens if you have an itch and decide to scratch it, hey ho. Makers try to tell you that the latest model is the greatest, so you should sell your grandmother to fund this all singing and dancing wonder machine.
    Of course I realise most grandmothers might object.
     
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  4. bluzcity

    bluzcity Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    795
    Jul 24, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    Brent
    Having grown up on Canon DSLR's I'm finding I like a camera that has DSLR styling, beefy grip, and well placed controls with logical menus. I've drifted from that body style over the last several years wandering through Olympus OMD EM 5, Fuji XE 1, 2, and now an XPro 2. I like those, but don't love them. Last year I picked up a Sony RX10 III which has traditional DSLR styling and I love the way it feels and shoots. I do find the 1 inch sensor good for many applications, especially social media, but it is limited. I like rich files, files that I can print 20 x 30. I don't do this often for my own use but I quite often get requests for Memphis and nature related pictures people find on my website. And most often they want large prints, A1 or A2. I'm thinking about looking at the XT3 but also considering a Canon 6DII as I have a drawer full of Canon glass. I like a fine lens, one with character, sharp, with great contrast and especially micro-contrast. I like stabilization, prefer in-body but I do okay when it's in the lens. If anyone has thoughts about my evolution I would welcome input. It's a good question, very stimulating. Thanks for the challenge!
     
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  5. Adam Bonn

    Adam Bonn Top Veteran

    551
    Jan 13, 2016
    Porto
    Adam Bonn
    That’s a great question @Bobby Tingle@Bobby Tingle

    Twice I’ve chopped in the x-pro1 for something more feature filled and twice I’ve....

    ....well not regreted it, but certainly missed the way the xp1 files look and not just the way they look, but how easy it is to make them look how I want in post

    Bobby’s point

    Is super valid, luckily/unluckily (delete as applicable for any months given cash flow) for me, increasingly I just find myself shoot for artistic reasons* and therefore the gear I start to gravitate towards is the rigs that don’t give me too many choices out in the field and files that have a charming look with little effort back on the computer

    Re the usage and features of the gear, I like things quite simple. I think (ironically as I’ve no intention of owning one) the X-T line is the closest to how I think a camera should be, in that everything important (focus mode, aperture, ss, metering mode, ev comp, drive mode) can be set and or checked, without turning the camera on. Why all cameras aren’t like this is bizarre

    I think ultimately, assuming a blank sheet, gear should be chosen around lenses. You simply can’t get the shallow dof of FF and 50mm f1 on any other system, to the best of my knowledge the lenses don’t exist. Crop sensors can be better choices to shoot tele, etc etc

    Away from client work, I think desired lenses should drive one to the body that fits them.

    YMMV

    *that pictures I’ve taken hang in some peoples homes and all because I fancied shooting xyz with camera abc one time and later it made money is an incredibly rewarding feeling to me. Doesn’t put a right lot of food on the table though! :D 
     
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  6. rayvonn

    rayvonn All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2015
    Things like size and viewfinder are of course important but the controls/ buttons to be able to adjust shutter speed, aperture and iso to get the exposure to how I want is the main thing I have to have. Sounds obvious doesn't it but not always in some of these latest and greatest machines.
     
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  7. Bobby Tingle

    Bobby Tingle Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 31, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    @bluzcity@bluzcity I had a similar origin, with the opposite results. I grew up shooting Canon film cameras, then went to Canon DSLRs. Including the big bodies of the 1D line. But when coming to Fuji, I found a love for rangefinder style bodies. The X-Pro2 may be my favorite camera ever to shoot with. Although, admittedly, a X-T body w/grip is a lot easier for me to work with on working shoots. With at least half the reason being muscle memory.
     
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  8. bluzcity

    bluzcity Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    795
    Jul 24, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    Brent
    I may rent the X-H1 and see how that feels.
     
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  9. Bobby Tingle

    Bobby Tingle Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 31, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    I've considered that. Or at least playing with one at the local shop. I think that I would like the ergonomics of the X-H1 better than the X-T line.
     
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  10. Mike G

    Mike G Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    927
    Oct 7, 2016
    West London
    Mike Gorman
    I warn you stand by to be smitten! :hiding:
     
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  11. Bobby Tingle

    Bobby Tingle Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 31, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    @Mike G@Mike G That’s what I’m afraid of.
     
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  12. AndyMcD

    AndyMcD Veteran

    337
    Jul 15, 2017
    East Midlands, UK
    I've always found ergonomics to be the most important aspect. I started with the D70s then moved up to D200/D300 for the additional manual controls. I picked up a mint X-E1 on a whim and then moved up to the X-T1 for the additional ISO dial. I'm pretty happy with it, but would probably move on an X-T3 if funds allow.
     
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  13. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey Super Moderator

    Jun 20, 2012
    Hood River, OR
    Kyle
    Well, it’s tricky.



    I’m so engrained in the ways of the XT1 that it almost has to be another XT. I -know- my camera, my settings, and I am fast with it. I’m not a pro, don’t have a Masters Fine Arts Photography degree, don’t have years of successful weddings behind me, so “fast” is often all I have over anyone else. And “fast” for me has arguably -more- to do with me than the camera’s performance.

    - How quickly (and completely) can I look down to confirm settings while walking between shots?

    - Power switch, focus point moves, front dial shutter speed adjustments, and finally shutter – that’s 99% of what I touch, after wb is set and aperture is in the ballpark. I do this very quickly, and my jpgs often don’t need any editing. I see what I’m about to get, I get it, and it’s (hopefully) what I wanted. I can’t do that with true SLRs, by the way. The feedback loop is broken. Framing and action are there but not exposure, in the true sense of it – not a 17% grey algorithm, but what the final picture will fully look like.


    So… either an XE3 or an XT3. One’s a little smaller, one’s a little more feature heavy. But one of those would be fine.
     
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  14. bluzcity

    bluzcity Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    795
    Jul 24, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    Brent
    This is the primary reason I haven't moved back. Or as young folks say, 'Word'!
     
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  15. Bobby Tingle

    Bobby Tingle Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 31, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    Kyle, I don't know if you would be happy with the X-E3. The controls are not the same as what you are used too. So the muscle memory would have to go through a re learning process. With the X-T2/3 you will have to go through a small one with the AF stick. But it is intuitive.

    This is part of the problem I had trying to use the X-T2 while I had it this year. The af stick is at different places on the T2 and Pro2. I know where it is on the Pro2 and kept reaching to that location on the T2 with my thumb, only to find a button. But circumstances and and a little nudge from the universe moved me back into rangefinder territory.
     
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  16. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey Super Moderator

    Jun 20, 2012
    Hood River, OR
    Kyle
    I'll up the ante one bit further... "WYSIWYG" (what you see is what you get) is -the- defining characteristic of mirrorless, period... not size. That feature is the missing bridge to getting "full auto" shooters to become "partial auto + EV Comp knob" shooters, who then become "full manual" and finally start dictating everything, and thus getting unusual (and hopefully good) results. Full Auto gets you white balances and exposure levels that look like everyone else's shots.
     
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  17. What do you look for in your gear?

    Good question.

    Okay, I'll bite. But first a confession: much of my 'gear' aka the cameras I photograph with, has, over the years, come into my hands through a random process of trial and error or sometimes fortuitousness. Only recently have I started thinking more about what I want or like or don't like and that is and has been an interesting process. And it is still on the disorganized and subjective side.

    I started shooting decades ago with my father's ancient Leica and Contax cameras. Ever since I have had a soft spot for either rangefinders or rangefinder-style bodies. They just seem to work for me. My first cameras of my own were a series of Pentax SLR's - first screw mount (the Spotmatic), the bayonet mount (mainly MX's). Their attributes - compact size, wonderful lenses and glass, simplicity and to me a logic of how they worked - have always stayed with me. Subsequently for years I became even more minimal and only shot with a tiny Rollei 35 camera, around the size of my current GM1. It did everything I wanted and needed and was beautifully built and simplistic to the point of minimalism. After setting aperture, shutter speed and ASA (the precursor to ISO) and guesstimating focus - I just photographed. Pure and simple.

    So for me simplicity is a virtue and something I strive for.

    My Pentax DSLR's shared much in common with my analog Pentaxes - including the ability to create wonderful colors (which many attribute, unscientifically, to the CCD sensors). The only reason I replaced them was size and weight: at a certain point, it was no fun lugging around a heavier camera + lenses + camera bag. I've carried many cameras and lenses in many camera bags before - but finally the day came when I said to myself: smaller and lighter would be really nice. Something closer to my father's ancient Leica IIIc. So -

    So I bought a series of both compact cameras - the LX7, later a GR, a Coolpix A and a X70 - and a series of mirrorless micro four thirds bodies and lenses. Mu4-3 lenses in particular work for me - for their optical qualities and their small (and lightweight as opposed to heavy) size. The Panasonic-Leica Summilux 15mm (f/1.7) is one of my favorite lenses ever, and the diminutive 20mm Panasonic pancake lens is right up with it. With regards to camera bodies, I've now gotten a little pickier - or rather, I've focused on what I like and want. My current GM1 body (which replaced a GM5) is the closest I've ever come to duplicating the shooting experience of my old Rollei 35 and Panasonic's thoughtful (and useful) touchscreen features help in the shooting process. On the other extreme, my one frustration with generations of otherwise fine digital cameras and bodies, has been the viewfinders or EVF's: none of them came close to the fine viewfinder of my ancient former Pentax DSLR...until the GX8 which I bought a few years ago. For me, its viewfinder was and has been a revelation - and not only a pleasure to use but something which has reinvigorated some of the photographic process for me.

    And, yes, I know there are some other fine EVF's around - on both Fujifilm cameras and also the Pen F - but the combination of a wonderful EVF on a logical rangefinder body, coupled with truly lightweight and fine glass, seems to hit the sweet spot for me. Of course, I'm full of contradictions, since my GX8 body is on the larger size but, as Mike Johnson (of theonlinephotographer) and several other GX8 users have pointed out, there is something about the controls and layout which is both simple and intuitively logical (for me at least) - so it's not only a fine camera but, better yet, a fine shooting experience.

    EVF plus small (and great) lenses plus controls (physical and software) which resonate with me ---- those I think are my main boxes to be ticked in what I'm looking for. Apart from my occasional craving for a tiny tiny camera which the GM1 currently satisfies.

    And - coming back to the other thing I like and have looked for, for years - a small 'pocketable' camera which produces images that please me and which I can take anywhere - that's been an ongoing evolutionary search for me. My old LX7 worked well in many respects. The GR and Coolpix A gave me a lot of keepers but maybe it's just my mind, but the picky multi-level menu system of the GR (which many love) was always just weird to me, and not being a Nikon shooter, the Coolpix's controls were equally foreign. The X70 ticked a lot of boxes except I'm not a fan of Fuji's menus - and processing X-Trans RAW files was, for me, a time-consuming and ultimately unsatisfying headache. I briefly used a cool weatherproof Olympus TG-5 but could never quite figure out how to take advantage of its supposed features and virtues. My current, recently acquired semi-pocketable-take-anywhere compact is, to date, the best I think I've ever shot with --- Canon's relatively new G1x Mkiii ... so much so that I don't mind the relatively slow (f/2.8) maximum aperture of the built-in zoom. And Canon menus have always appealed to me with their easily-understandable (to me, anyway) architecture.

    So...I'm all over the board. And full of contradictions in terms of what I'm looking for. But right now I feel that my present cameras come close.

    A word about menus, too. There have been endless opinions about them from far better photographers than myself. Generations have complained about the complexity of Olympus and Sony Menus in particular, but many have also complained about the Lumix menus as well. Having shot extensively with both Olympiiii and Lumixiii, I prefer the Lumix ones. There's something nice about shooting with camera bodies which share the same menu; less thinking, theoretically, and more intuitive shooting. It's true, for me at least. My other compact, the Canon G1x3, has a fairly simple (to me at least, so far) menu structure - but fortunately the camera itself has a plethora of simple, well-designed and for the most part well-placed physical controls which make it easier to use without stopping to think. I know different users react differently to different menus, as well - so we get into a personal and subjective area here. The generations of happy and avid Nikon shooters wouldn't have the same problems with a Coolpix A that I did, for example. Different strokes for different folks.

    So...yeah. That's what I look for in my gear. Damn, thought I could answer this in just a line or two. (sigh)
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
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  18. mnhoj

    mnhoj gee aahrr

    496
    Jan 27, 2012
    What I found without knowing what to look for.

    The Golden Age - all one big beautiful accident.

    1. DOF control - D50 and 50 1.8 - I was a king!
    2. Large battery grip for portrait orientation.
    3. High ISO noise control - D300 one stop better than the D200.
    4. FF sensor!!! D700 and the way it and the 105DC felt in my hand. I thought this was the last camera I ever needed. I was wrong.
    4a. And the lovely images - at this point or maybe one step before images had already become more than good enough for me but I didn't realize it.

    What I found when I started getting a feel of what to look for.

    The New Age. Small is king and the height of my confusion.

    5. M43? So small and fiddly but pretty good IQ.
    5a. So small and lovely. PM1, 14, 20 and 45.
    5b. Learning how to be very adaptable to different menu systems.
    6. Many bodies and many lenses later I want to try something else.
    7. APS-C mirrorless? Sony or Fuji?
    8. Sony NEX-6 and Sigma primes - tried. Nah.
    9. Fuji X-E1 and many lenses - X-E1 slow but love the lenses. Almost two years!
    10. FF mirrorless. A7. Very few AF lenses but tried legacy. Fun at first.
    11. Back to Fuji - 16 and 56 - Booyah! Should've stayed right here. But, no regrets.
    12. Back to Sony A7ii and techart. More fun. A blast really but..
    13. I always wanted to try Pentax primes so made another migration.
    14. Loved the primes but dslrs are so clunky. No thanks. Got it out of my system.

    What I look for now that I should know what to look for but still don't.

    15. A good deal.
    16. A body like the X-T1. Plenty of goodness, ergos, features, image quality, etc.
    17. The X-T2. Feeling like the D700 all over again. All the camera I'll ever need. ( :
    18. Actually make nice images.
    19. Be humble and thankful that I live in the good fortune to own the gear that I have.
    20. So I it can be the twenty things.
     
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  19. Miguel! A Line or two? You? You are the waxing lyrical king! And I love to see your thinking on these matters. I'm glad you don't reduce to a couple of lines :) 
     
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  20. Covey22

    Covey22 All-Pro

    Feb 3, 2012
    The bottom line is you will find it hard to take a bad picture with any camera you purchase today.

    It really boils down to use case and personal preferences. Certain cameras still do a better job than others for what the engineers call "corner cases." DSLRs still have the edge on autofocus over mirrorless for extreme action for example. My use case fits mirrorless perfectly, small competent optics, light bodies. My personal preferences included WYSIWYG, hence mirrorless and EVF. Almost any brand today could meet those needs.

    What people get caught up on is brand loyalty and marketing hype. Like any problem, you have to boil the requirements down to the bare bones. After that, you'll find many solutions exist.
     
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