Don’t Choose a Camera by its Specs Today. Choose with your Heart and Brain.
Happy Saturday everyone. I woke up today and shot a few cameras this morning and realized something.
I see so many stress out over a new camera purchase today. I get e-mail after e-mail asking me “What Camera Should I Buy”, almost on a daily basis and sometimes several in a day. With so many amazing options out there from DSLR, to Mirrorless to even small capable pocket cameras (Sony RX100) and even hybrid superzoom (Sony RX10 series) cameras, the choices today are spectacular. In fact, if you are not a pro… (as in, you do not earn money for your photographs wether it is by shooting weddings, fashion, commercial or portraits) then almost ANY camera made today can satisfy your need for quality photography. For years, I have followed my heart when buying camera gear and my heart has never let me down. Instead of going by specs alone, I weigh in everything – features, usability, as well as feel and I listen to what my gut, my heart tells me. But sometimes I have to also use my brain as if a camera I love with my heart does not do what I need, then it will end up being sold later on. On the other end, if I buy a camera that only does what I need and I hate shooting it otherwise, it will also never make it. So for me, a camera has to strike a balance and do what I need but also be a camera that I love shooting.
When this website/blog started 9 years ago I was thrilled to own just a Leica M8 and a 50 Summilux lens. Back then, that combo delivered happiness to me from the results I would get with quality AND the joy of using that 1st digital RF from Leica. Although with issues, and some serious ones, that M8 delivered everything I needed at the time. I could have had a fully pro specced DSLR at the time but I passed on all of them for the M8, simply due to the shooting experience (I also owned the original Canon 1Ds long before the M8 and preferred my M8) and all I was doing at that time was documenting life and memories of my life. The Leica excels in this. I have fond memories of that Leica M8, but funny that the memories of when I owned a Canon 5d and then 5DII and a Nikon D700 have faded. That M8 delivered the goods in all ways back in 2008/2009. Back then we had choice but it was nothing like today. Today almost any camera on the market, from Mirrorless to DSLR are fantastic in quality, and output and it can be very hard to choose what is right and something we will not regret spending our hard earned cash on. Because while all will deliver quality, not all will deliver, for everyone, that joy of use. It has to speak to your heart as well as your brain. That is how I choose what camera I actually buy and keep today. Heart and Brain.
Getting to try any camera I want makes it easier for me but each and every camera I have ever purchased was one I was more attracted to from an emotional standpoint, but it also had to do what I needed it to do.
My Mother photographed with my M8 and 90 Cron back in 2009, then me in 09 at 40 when I thought I was getting so old.
Yes, buying a camera is and can be an emotional decision. These things are not cheap these days, so when I recently decided to plunk down $4500 on a Sony A9, I had to be sure it was worth $4500 to me, and that I loved it from top to bottom. The A9 went up against the Leica SL for me, an even more expensive model but the Sony won due to smaller size, better AF for video, and it was less expensive at the end of the day. To compete for video for what I do, that SL would have needed the 24-90 lens so around a $12k investment. The Sony was almost 1/3 of that investment as I own a slew of Sony lenses already. So the SL went and the A9 stayed. That stressed me out a little as I LOVE the Leica SL. I appreciate its build, feel, quality, output and design. That EVF the feeling that you are shooting with a solid gorgeous camera that delivers. So for me, the A9 had to really surpass the SL for what I used the camera for, and it did. (Video). What do I shoot? Well, here is a video I shot with my then A7RII, A DJI Mavic Pro and a GoPro 4 Black.
Yes, it’s 100% real, and with 144k views over 5 weeks, these videos I make can get quite popular, so I need a camera that works well in all lighting scenarios with quick AF for video. For me the A9 excels over all in this and beats the A7RII for AF wth video, while remaining small in size. The SL could not do this for me.
Besides, I was using the SL as my M lens camera, using it with only M lenses. That system is designed for so much more and better with the new glass out for it, so I decided to let it go instead of invest thousands more into it. I now use M lenses with my A9. So the A9 works all the way around and then back again.
Me in the 2nd year after this website started, with a Leica M9
Me just last week with the Olympus EM1 MKII
My tip to those trying to decide on a new camera or even new system.
If you are an enthusiast choosing between Sony, Canon, Olympus, Fuji, Nikon, Leica or even Sigma then first ask yourself WHAT camera really gets your vends pumping. Your heart pumping. What camera makes you grin from ear to ear? Whatever THAT camera is, that is the one you want, and is the one that would make you the happiest over the long term. For me, it used to be the Leica M, and still is in reality though these days continually spending $12k+ for a new Leica body and lens is not anything I can do anymore. Especially when today, there are indeed mirrorless solutions that slaughter what a Leica M can do, for much less money (unfortunately no other camera can replicate the M experience which is what I miss the most though). Let’s take the Sony A9 for example. I have called it the most technologically advanced camera I have used. It is not the best built I have used, it is not the most fun, but it does offer a versatility that I MUST have these days, as once you get that level of versatility it is hard to let it go. For me, the camera that gets my blood pumping the most today is that Sony A9, then the Olympus EM1 MKII. Then it would be the Leica SL and M. I have used it all, all of it, and just because I do not write about everything, that does not mean I do not use everything or at least try it out.
Fuji, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony, Panasonic…I have used it all. My faves always end up being Leica, Sony and Olympus. Just something about them that always pulls me back in. For me, I have never “loved” Fuji mirrorless. My heart never went crazy for any Fuji mirrorless body, though a couple have come close. The X100 did, but that was about it. Nikon today for me is ‘meh” as is Canon (Though I am sure the new 6D MKII is lovely. The 1st 6D I actually enjoyed for its smaller size). Panasonic is great and makes some great bodies and lenses but I just prefer Olympus style and lenses. Sony is leading the game by far, over anyone for tech and pushing the digital imaging industry forward. The only issue with Sony is their design is boring, dull and blah. Nothing exciting to look at, and when you use something like an A9 you may marvel at the speed and response but not the looks and design. I wish Sony were more aggressive in that dept.
But again, no matter what you choose today, all are fantastic and offer something different and unique. From the major brands mentioned I do not think a stinker camera exists today. Go with your heart, your passion and what excites you when buying a camera. Only then will you be truly happy. I also always have said that instead of going with what is cheapest, go with what you love even if it takes longer to save for it. I could go on and on with mistakes I made with purchase by going cheap, and in the end I lost money every time. So these days, no matter what it is in life, I buy what I want and if I have to save for a year to do it first, I do.
Not too long ago I had that experience with something as simple as a Coffee Maker. I love my coffee and drink it every single day and have for years and years. After being sent a machine or two to test (yes, I even get to test coffee machines from time to time, HiFi gear, and other odd things) I tried one that I would have NEVER imagined buying due to the cost alone. We are talking the Leica of coffee machines. So I bought cheaper one, and after a month regretted my choice as I realized this cheaper machine would cost me more in the long run, over 3-5 years, than the mega costly one due to cost of the coffee capsules I had to use with it (Nespresso). The coffee itself was also no where near as good, so I splurged for the one I wanted and will pay for it over the next few months. I have NO regrets. Now I have the other machine, which was still a $500 machine just sitting in my pantry. Wasted. We live on this earth only once and while we should always live within our means, we should also enjoy life at every chance we get. That coffee machine I now own? This is it, and it is amazing. Better than any Starbucks and over the coarse of 5 years will save me money. In fact, I owned a lower end model from this brand in 2009 and lost it in my divorce in 2010. My ex still uses it today, working great. So sometimes you do get what you pay for and sometimes spending more may be the way to go, and other times we can get by very well by spending less. Always go by your needs, your wants and your passion for what it is you are trying to do. Using your heart and brain you will always be happy with the decision you make.
Have a great weekend everyone, it’s gonna be another hot one here in Phx AZ!
Reviews coming up ASAP:
New Blackforest Bag Review Video. Been using this one for months and LOVE it. Gorgeous and affordable both.
New Camera Review soon and a new look at Ultra Wides on Leica
Will also have a new Fuji review soon ; )
Much more…so check back!