What are your photographic tool priorities?

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Andrewteee, May 10, 2011.

  1. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Spurred by another thread here on SC I began to think about the priorities we all set for how we determine what photographic tools work best for us - cameras, lenses, software, other equipment...

    Obviously, we can't have it all, so as we become better photographers and as we learn more about how we work we eventually hone in on equipment that enables us to capture the picture in a way that pleases us most. To reach that point I believe that we all have to set priorities and make choices.

    For me, lenses are where it all starts, and in most cases my mantra is you get what you pay for. And I am willing to pay for good lenses since they tend to stay good for many years to come. There are a few lenses that come to mind that have sparkled fairy dust over me:

    • Canon 50L
    • Leica 28mm Elmarit
    • Zeiss C Sonnar 50mm
    • Olympus 14-35mm
    • Ricoh GRD and GXR A12 lenses

    Next, I place a high value on the usability of a camera. How does it feel in hand, are the physical controls well placed, appropriately leveraged and responsive, is it customizable, is the software intuitive enough...? I like to be able to make key adjustments (aperture, ISO) on the fly or quickly call up a group of settings in changing circumstances. I like and prefer physical controls - dials, switches, knobs; I like physical objects. Even though my Olympus E5 is heavy, it is easy and comfortable to grip in my right hand and I can carry it that way for a long while. The Ricoh GRD3 is super easy to hold in hand - that grip really helps.

    Finally, processing software, both in camera and post processing. I love the way the Olympus and Ricoh cameras render / process their images in camera (both RAW and JPG). I can't quantify it, but their qualities are very appealing and I find them easy to post process into an image that I like, either color or B&W. In post process I've really come to love RAW Developer. I find it very easy to use, very powerful, and it creates very pleasing, natural looking (to me) B&W conversions.

    Finally, I will admit to a natural tendency towards compact cameras.

    And BTW image quality is of course key, but I think we can all agree that the final result of a personally prioritized camera system is always going to be a great image.

    What are your priorities in selecting your camera system?

    * I'm mostly ignoring film cameras in this commentary. But feel free to add them to your own thoughts if they are a natural part of your repertoire.
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  2. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Do I want to pick it up and use it all the time ? ... is enough for me; It's why I bought the E-P2 and not another camera ... at my level of skill, marginal differences in sensor performance just aren't of significance ... owning the E-P2 has meant the opportunity to explore lenses, and to learn that I can actually tell the difference in image impact from lens to lens ... so what's important next is being able to mount really good lenses on a body I want to use all the time (but the lenses have to be very pretty as well as optical marvels, because I'm incredibly shallow)
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  3. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Real Name:
    1. Compactness. I need something I at least can throw into a jacket pocket.
    2. Decent Grip and comfortable to use. I've decided that after over a year of use, the E-P1 isn't quite as comfortable as I'd like, especially for extended use. Just not enough grip. The E-Pl2 would suite me better
    3. Great Jpeg images. Yes, I'm lazy. I do occasionally shoot RAW, more now than every, but for the most part, I don't want to have to play too much with the images.
    4. Easy to change settings. I actually find the thumbwheel on the E-P1 excelent. The rotary wheel while finicky at first is great because I can make two quick settings on the fly
    5. Usability. Reasonable AF speed, easy to navigate menus
    6. Compact lenses. I will sacrifice some image quality for smaller lenses. I personally love the collapsable zoom from Olympus. The size of the NEX zoom and Panasonic zoom turn me off to both cameras.
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  4. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    Jul 6, 2010
    I've been guilty of sacrificing useability and ease of use for some holy grail of image quality for a long time now, but have resolved to reform. Though admittedly its through physical necessity more than choice, lightness and a decent viewfinder are my top priorities currently. E-PL1 + VF-2, GH2 and X100 give me that at the moment. Then there's the M9 which means that the holy grail is still available with a substantial nod in the direction of the rest.
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  5. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Real Name:
    I think I'm one of those who wants it all. I started my digital camera life with a Kodak DC5000, tough as... gave it away quite recently. Then, there was the Olympus C760uz which I'll never give away because it made wonderful images in spite of its tiny sensor (1/2.5) and only having 3.2MP. I was gobsmacked at just how good the shots were, coming off this camera. Since then, I've bought and sold a number of bridge cameras, compacts, dslrs, and have only settled on the DSLR that I want to keep, that being the K5. I also have K200D and may keep that too. I'm still struggling to find the "right" compact and bridge camera. For me, there is a place for all of them. I don't mind having a cupboard full of gear, but I think I have decided not to go m4/3 even though its a temptation. On my list of gotta haves now is the xz1, the grd3 and the x100. Whether it will be gotta have and gotta keep, only time will tell. I can wait a while though because the Fuji F550 is keeping me happy. After that, I'm finding my Canon G11 too bulky so it will probably go, sooner or later.

    To go with my K5 and K200 for foul weather I have environmentally sealed lenses in the form of the WR 18-55 and 50-200. I fully intend to add the WR100 macro as well, I also have 3 most excellent primes, the DA Limiteds 15 and 35mm macro, and the FA Limited 43mm which I REALLY like. I also have a monster Tamron 70-300 which does a reasonable job if I'm in a bird mood.

    What goes with me on any given occasion depends entirely on what I expect to be doing. If out all day, I'll take the lot (Including a couple of old Minolta mount lenses for which I bought an adapter). But most ordinary days find me with the k5 and a couple of lenses and a compact in my bag.

    I would LOVE to find the perfect combination of compactness, IQ and all-purpose usability in one camera, but I don't believe that for me, that exists. Yet.

    I also have not yet found the perfect bag and am beginning to get a rather large collection, time to sell one or more. I don't use flash so don't have one, and really have no intention of doing anything serious that would require it. I prefer ambient light for all my photography, whatever it is. I hadn't found the perfect tripod so now I have three. The most recent acquisition seems to be the best so far. Tripods live in the car.

    For processing I mostly use Lightroom in tandem with Photoshop, and of course ACR. I have tried to switch to Lightroom for total management as well but can't seem to drop iPhoto, because its just so darned convenient.

    I guess, to summarise, I am all over the shop with priorities and probably need to get a grip, sooner rather than later :)
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  6. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    I can work with any camera. I'll find the pro's and con's rather quickly and just work with the pro's....
    I will not keep any camera that starts to intrude on my vision. If I'm out on the streets and the camera gets a sense of humor like...taking to long to focus or not waking up on time, well...bye bye.
    The X100 has been a good kid so far. It's not creating any intrusion at all...
    I need 4 things from any camera and usually use only 3 at a time...
    1. Auto Focus
    2. Aperture Setting
    3.Shutter Speed Setting
    4.ISO setting.
    So, if a camera can deliver those things without searching the menu when I call upon it...it's a keeper.
    Those 4 things cover all photographic needs.
    It covers, A Mode, S Mode, M Mode etc......
    The Fuji does that really well. The Nex 5, which I actually adore has an issue with a few of the above. In MF you can't change ISO without going to the menu.....but I compromise because it's got amazing quality and very intuitive otherwise.
    The LX5 I loved but that stupid AF target point that didn't have a memory got it sold off....

    Anyway, that's how I think about cameras. It comes from my film daze with the Leica M.
    ISO equals Film the rest is self explanatory.
    If the X100 didn't have a meter, I'd really be happy....but it does, so I'll suffer in luxury.
  7. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I left out viewfinders, but I do appreciate a good one. My Zeiss Ikon OVF was wonderful, a great way to see. I hope EVFs continue to improve. And I hope the success of the X100 leads others to experiment with hybrid VFs, assuming Fuji does not have an exclusive patent on the concept.
  8. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Don't get me started on bags :rolleyes: Though I do like my new gray Bare Bones Bag.
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  9. kathyh

    kathyh SC Top Veteran

    Jul 13, 2010
    Ottawa, Canada
    Real Name:
    My priorities.

    1. IQ has to be up to a certain standard, not necessarily the best that can be had.

    2, Ergonomics. The camera has to feel good in my hands. It has to fit me.

    3. Ease of use. Related to ergonomics but a camera can fit and still be a pain to use.

    4. Weight and auto focus. I'm not a little old lady yet but I'm getting there. So, I want something I can comfortably carry and has accurate auto focus.

    The cameras that I have are the G1 with a variety of lenses (all auto focus), the X1 and the LX5.

    The G1 with lenses I use only when I'm going off on a photo expedition in the car or on my bicycle. I never walk around with it with lenses. Too heavy for more than a short while.

    The X1 is for me a joy to use and now with the firmware update I find it the perfect street camera. I use it with the 'Thumbs Up' and a Voigtlander viewfinder. I've never found the auto focus to be as slow as people have said and it is very accurate. It's major limitation is its fixed focal length.

    The LX5 is the camera I take when I'm out and about but photography is not my main aim. I just stick it in my purse or a pocket and I always have a camera.

    I keep thinking I should replace the G1 but with what? Nothing has really grabbed my fancy yet.
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