29 – My Camera Story part II

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/8, 1/10 sec, ISO200)

In 2014 I wrote a blog post called 23. 23 stood for the 23 digital cameras I have owned during the first 14 years of my digital photography. You can find part I of my digital camera journey here. Now four years later it’s 29. I’m aware that this is sick number of cameras but so what? Life is short.

Here are my cameras per category: (Fuji X100 and Ricoh GR in mirrorless)

  • compact digicams: 5 Canons, 2 Sonys, 2 Panasonics, 1 Nikon, 1 Olympus, 1 Fuji
  • DSLRs with APS-C sensor: 4 Nikons, 1 Canon
  • DSLRs with full frame sensor: 2 Canons
  • mirrorless cameras with m43 sensor: 1 Panasonic
  • mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensor: 5 Fujis, 2 Sonys, 1 Ricoh
  • mirrorless cameras with full frame sensor: 1 Sony

But to my defence what seems to be totally insane is not so bad if you take into consideration that I was an early adopter. I got my first digital camera in 1999 and my first DSLR in January 2002.

To give younger readers an idea: The resolution of my first digicam was 2 MP and the one of my first DSLR was 2.7 MP. My phone now has 12! Clearly digital photography was in its infancy back then. Every new camera was a substantial upgrade to the previous generation. Resolution, high ISO performance and dynamic range went up with every release. So to upgrade my digital cameras from time to time was an expensive but necessary task to get better image quality.

Same was true for the set of features in compact digital cameras. Wider or longer (or both) zoom lenses have been introduced, image stabilisation and face detection has been added (Fuji was first with face detection in the F31fd). So it was a normal thing to upgrade to the new generation when it was released.

Before I got my first mirrorless camera I always had a compact camera for the times when I didn’t want to take a real camera with me. So I went through a lot of those. Today compact digital cameras have been replaced by our phones with only two exceptions: compacts with 1 inch sensors or digital cameras with ridiculously long zoom lenses that go up all the way to the equivalent focal length of 3.000mm!


The Age of Mirrorless 

Now since Canon and Nikon also finally introduced some serious mirrorless cameras it is clear that we are living in the age of mirrorless.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/5.6, 1/20 sec, ISO200)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/5.6, 1/20 sec, ISO200)

Today mirrorless is matured but the beginnings were humble. Super slow handling, poor AF performance, shutter shock and lousy viewfinders if there were any at all. I entered the mirrorless camera world back in the summer of 2010 with the Sony NEX 5. An extremely radical designed camera that suffered from all of the above mentioned problems but I still loved it. Finally a small camera that would give me an image quality comparable to my DSLRs. Great!

And for the ones that have forgotten how radical the design of the NEX 5 was and how small this camera is even by todays standards I put is beside the Canon G7X. An 1 inch camera that is anything but massive:

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/8, 1/13 sec, ISO200)

The NEX 5 was followed by the Fuji X100 and later the Fuji X Pro-1. Though but cameras were slow as hell I loved the shooting experience. Firmware upgrades improved their feature set (i.e. the X Pro-1 had no Auto-ISO menu!) and focus speed. Today the X Pro-2 and the X100F are my main cameras. Gone is the quirkiness of the earlier models, both cameras feel snappy and AF is very good too. The new X-T3 seems to have improved again regarding AF and has become one of the fastest performing cameras including DSLRs! Mirrorless has come a long way!

Canon PowerShot G7 X (16.583mm, f/4, 1/160 sec, ISO200)
 Canon PowerShot G7 X (14.224mm, f/4, 1/160 sec, ISO200)

And now?

My upgrade cycle has slowed down significantly. True I finally got a Fuji X100F this year but before that my last camera purchase was in April 2016 when the X Pro-2 came out. The reason why I haven’t got the X-H1 or the X-T3 yet is simple. The X-H1 is a little too big for my liking and the X-T3 simply came out too late. I was already on vacation when it became available.

But the main reason why I don’t get nervous when a new camera comes out today is simply because image quality is more or less the same. It’s similar story regarding the feature sets. Finally we are entering a phase where it makes no sense to change the camera every time a new model comes out. I don’t know when I will get camera number 30.

Or I already got it when I bought the iPhone Xs. Seriously? I’m comparing a phone with a real camera? The cameras in the phones have developed a lot. Even more so than digital cameras. My first iPhone, an iPhone 4, had a very poor camera. The camera in my second iPhone, an iPhone 6plus,  improved a lot but was still something I would never consider for photography. The camera in my new iPhone Xs is so good that I finally don’t hesitate to take more serious shots. But that’s another story to be told here soon.