First of all, a big thank you for your site and your significant contribution to the world of photography. I like how you encourage photographers to be real and to enjoy the experience, without getting hung up on numbers and statistics! I also like how people can be super-enthusiastic if they like a camera and, conversely, just say if they don’t like one without anyone getting nasty. So refreshing!
May I make a tiny contribution from a recent experience?
When micro-four-thirds cameras turned up, I was very excited. Much of my photography is opportunistic, which means I must have a camera on me almost all the time. Because a decent portion of those opportunities come up when I am working in the bush, I was in a constant conflict between big cameras with good image quality and small ones with mediocre image quality (though I have plenty of fine images taken with those lesser cameras – they were definitely better than nothing at all!). Micro-four-thirds, particularly the Pen series, seemed like a dream come true.
I grew to love the little Olympus EP1 that I finally settled on, once the prices had come within reach. I bought and sold a number of lens, ending up with the much-underrated and wonderful little 17/2.8, the versatile 14-150 zoom, the Noktor (=SLR Magic) Hyperprime 12/1.6 and an adapted Pen F 40/1.4. I was pretty happy with this combination (though was trying to get a better long lens – the 14-150 was great up to 50mm but quality dropped off beyond there). I have many, many photos from these that I am more than happy with. I was even happier with the photos from the EP1 and adapted ZD12-60 but that wasn’t exactly a small package. Compromises…
Then the thing we dread happened. I bent over to pat my dog one afternoon and heard the dreadful clunk of a camera falling out of my bag and hitting the deck. While everything looked fine, the display told me there was a problem with the IS system. The camera still worked if I turned the IS off but the stabilisation was gone, a real shame because I found it super-effective. Ah well.
Worse was to come though. Reviewing my images a while later, I noticed severe vignetting on one side! Yup, the sensor had moved and was jammed to one side. I sent it off for a repair quote and the bad news was it would be cheaper to buy a new EPM1 body. Black despair!
At the same time, I finally decided I couldn’t afford to upgrade my Olympus DSLR and would move to another brand. Suddenly, my whole camera arsenal was up for review. For a long time, I thought I would replace the EP1 with the new EM5 but they were taking forever to come to New Zealand, so I looked around. I played with a couple of NEX7s, thought about another Pen, tried to find a Samsung, gasped at the price of the Nikon 1 cameras, until I had an epiphany. Quite suddenly, out of the blue, I realised I did not want two system cameras! I didn’t want to be constantly deciding what lens to put on my small “bush” camera and I didn’t want to be investing in lenses for two systems. Because I sometimes make some money from shooting weddings, I really needed to keep an SLR, which would also be good for wildlife, eventually getting a modest Canon 60D.
The solution for my bush camera was to replace my EP1 with the truly excellent little Canon G1X. Superb zoom lens and sensor in a compact package that still manages a viewfinder and flash, bullet-proof autofocus – it has proven to be excellent for my needs.
So, what about the broken EP1? Well, I loved that camera and couldn’t bear to sell it for peanuts, so I decided to keep it and sold off the two AF lenses. Of course, I couldn’t bear to sell those MF lenses either, as they are as rare as rocking horse dung and who knows when I might get another m4/3 camera?
So, there I was one day, with a broken EP1 body and two absolutely gorgeous manual lenses, when it struck me that I could still use this combination if I just cropped the vignetting out. That meant only shooting in 16:9 or 6:6 ratio. Suddenly, photography lost its intensity and became fundamental again. Wandering around with just two manual-only lenses (useful 24mm and 80mm equivalent focal lengths), restricted to two unusual aspect ratios, I found each photo became more considered, more relaxing and, well, just more fun! Not for everyday use, maybe, but when I get a bit jaded, I can just pull out what feels like my old classic camera(!) and lenses and go and enjoy the experience. It’s been wonderful.
I thought I’d share this because it might inspire people who are on a budget to think a bit laterally and make do with what they can get. I’ve included four photos (I know, you say only three but I figured two from each lens was fair). The two buildings are taken with the 12/1.6, the tree/sky and plant shots are taken with the 40/1.4. Don’t ask what the apertures were!
Hope someone finds this inspiring! All the best,