My Digital Experience … The Madness Continues

Image from Sony.Net
This is what seduced me “this” time … the Sony A7RII.
Full Frame
42 Megapixels
and 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE.
I think I’ve finally found a possible long term cure for my G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), but first some background.
A funny thing happened on the way to my next attempt at “temporary sanity”.  I had both of my favorite cameras in hand, the Olympus OM-D E-M5II and the Sony A7II, and loved them both.  But, I needed to get rid of one of them.  Every time I would think about putting one on Amazon for sale, I’d have regrets and change my mind … I just couldn’t decide, and that’s unusual for me.  I flew airplanes professionally for 33 years and quick decision making was part of the everyday business of getting from point A to point B, safely and expeditiously.
So I did what any rational person would do.  I decided to let the market decide for me, and put both cameras for sale on Amazon.  Perfect!  Whichever one sold first, I’d just keep the other one.  What could possibly go wrong.  🙂  What was that quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men …”?  Yeah, that is true wisdom, and of course, by now you’ve probably guessed what happened.  Both cameras sold the same day!

For a couple of weeks, I just took a break and lived with my great little Ricoh GR, but for most photography work I really like to have image stabilization and an EVF.  I’d been looking longingly at the Fujifilm X100T ever since it was released, so I finally decided to take the plunge and there is not much to find fault with that wonderful little camera.  However, at age 66 my hands just aren’t as steady as I wish they were, and I’ve learned to truly appreciate a camera with built in image stabilization.  That has become my must have feature, with everything else being just icing on the cake.  The X100T is headed back to mother Amazon at this very moment.
I’ve also been looking at the Sony A7RII and reading the reviews (mostly glowing, some not), but thought the high resolution combined with its much improved shutter, excellent EVF, and 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilization (Sony calls it “SteadyShot INSIDE”) would make it an excellent candidate for long term ownership … an unusual thing for me, and only time will tell.  But I feel confident that it will be the case This time.  Wish me luck!  🙂
PS:  I’m thinking of changing my website name from ThruMikesViewfinder.com to MirrorlessMadness.com … what do you think?  🙂

For great ebooks about your favorite camera, if it’s a Sony, Olympus OM-D, or Fujifilm, be sure and take a look at www.FriedmanArchives.com.

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My Digital Early Days – Part III – Mirrorless Madness

Mirrorless Madness … sounds a bit harsh maybe, but in my case it could be appropriate.  So where do I begin.  First, let me set your mind at ease.  I don’t plan to talk about “every” mirrorless camera I’ve used, but rather I’ll try to just touch on the high points.

It all began in late 2011.  Sony announced the A77 and it looked very interesting with it’s “translucent mirror” technology and a blistering 12fps frame rate (I like speed).  However, coming from a Nikon DSLR, I thought it best to start with a cheaper model first to make sure I liked the EVF before I jumped in with both feet, so I bought the A55.  Sure enough I liked it and got the A77 just a couple of months later.  Then I was enjoying the Sonys so much I decided to go really small and picked up a Nex-5N.

Well, after a couple of months I felt a bit guilty about spending so much that I decided to sell the A77 and buy a cheaper A65.  So far, so good … until the Nex-7 was announced and I just had to have one!  🙂  Now, at this point, you can see how my rationale was working:  Try to start cheap and then spend the money when I was sure I would like the new system.  After blowing the budget, guilt would start weighing on me and I would sell the stuff I could live without … and then with money in the bank, I’d start shopping …… yep, a vicious circle.

For what it’s worth, I really liked the Nex-7 and the whole mirrorless concept of smaller, lighter, and the EVF.  So it should come as no surprise that before long I grabbed a Fuji X100 (very nice camera).  But then Olympus turned my world upside down with the announcement of the OM-D E-M5 and its 5-axis stabilization (IBIS).  I preordered the camera just as soon as it was available and then waited an agonizing two months before it was finally delivered.  Once it was in my hot little hands, I “knew” it was the one for me.

Until fate, or luck, or providence stepped in and I became acquainted with +Gary Friedman.  You know … Gary of www.FriedmanArchives.com where you can pick up great ebooks about cameras (mostly Sony but also some Fuji and Olympus), and he agreed to let me help him by writing the ebook about the new Sony Nex-6 (and 5R/5T).  By now, of course, you can probably see what’s coming next.  Yes you’re right, to write that book I had to buy several Sony cameras, lenses, flashes, etc.

It actually became so easy … buy a camera and a lens (or two), and sell some stuff.  I did this so often, that over the course of about three and a half years I’ve now used no less that 30 different mirrorless cameras, including some from Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji, and Nikon.  “Most of the time”, I had a fairly good reason like working on a new book or even providing support for someone else’s efforts.  But still, I overdid it and am currently looking for a local support chapter of others who have also been afflicted with G.A.S.  🙂

I was making good progress, too, getting down to only a Sony a6000 and a couple of lenses, just last December.  That short period of time was known as “Temporary Sanity”!  Unfortunately though, I follow a bunch of photography blogs on the internet, some of which deal heavily in the rumor mill, and saw the news of the upcoming Olympus OM-D E-M5II.  Maybe another project in the offing?  Who knows.  But, to be better prepared (just in case), I got an E-M10 to help me get back into the OM-D paradigm, and I plan to order the E-M5II as soon as it’s available.  Good sound thinking … don’t you agree?

But here’s the thing.  With the exception of some Olympus PEN cameras with no EVF, I would like to have been able to keep all of those cameras because I liked them a lot.  I still have nostalgic feelings for the Nex-7, the X100, the OM-D E-M1, Fuji X-T1, and so many more.  My point is they are all great cameras and can (mostly) do what we need them to do which is to take nice photos and be reasonably easy and fun to use.  On the other hand, since I obviously couldn’t keep them all, the other thing is that I could be happy with almost any one of them as a single camera system.

I don’t know what the future holds for me regarding cameras, but I have learned some things about what I like.  I love the small size of mirrorless cameras and lenses (especially micro four thirds and APS-C), and I’m finding I have an increased dependence on good image stabilization … All of the time.  It’s also becoming clear that, while some cameras do have an edge when it comes to ultimate image quality, virtually all of these modern cameras can turn out beautiful photos.  And while the “sensor size wars” rage on, I believe we’ve found a sweet spot right here between 12Mp and 24Mp, a size that can produce files fit for any purpose except maybe very large prints.

How about you?  What are your thoughts on mirrorless cameras, G.A.S., and which one(s) you could live with as a sole companion?

My Digital Early Days – Part II – The DSLR

The first years of my “digital life” with cameras was a stable time when I used just one camera brand, Canon.  I got started with the D30, and then over the next seven years progressed through the Canon 5D, 10D, 20D, and 1D MkIII.  I guess I hadn’t yet been afflicted with the current day malady known as G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome), and I already had Canon lenses, so that progression made the most sense.

Curiosity – Canon 20D
Canon 5D
Survivor – Canon 1D MkIII

Then , partially influenced by a friend who was using a Nikon DSLR, I made the jump to Nikon.  And I went all in.  After selling all of my Canon gear, I bought the Nikon D700 and was thrilled with the camera.  Over the next two years, I actually took more photos with that camera than any other (digital) camera I’ve owned.

Nikon D700

Then the G.A.S. slowly, but inexorably, began to invade my photographer soul.  The D700 was followed by the D90 (5 months) and the D7000 (10 months).  All of those cameras were terrific cameras, capable of delivering better images than I could produce, but I think a part of me just liked the process of vetting a new piece of gear and exploring the latest innovations in this evolving world of the digital camera.

Big Dipper – Nikon D90

At any rate, on September 14, 2011, I ditched the DSLR and the big lenses and whole-heartedly embraced the “Mirrorless” concept of a smaller system that could still produce outstanding image quality and be a lot easier to carry around.  Thus began my season of “mirrorless madness” … and in the last three+ years I’ve bought (and sold) a myriad of different mirrorless cameras made by at least five different manufacturers.

Nikon D7000 (starburst added with Topaz Star Effects)

Actually, I have some reasonably good “excuses” for all the gear switches and I’ll talk about those and my mirrorless journey into madness in the next post.