I've got a short list of cameras and lights I want for Christmas. It's a really short list. There are only three objects of desire on it as of right now. And with bountiful rationalizations all three of them could (just barely) be considered practical purchases. The top of my list is pretty obvious. I've been buying up Sony and Minolta lenses over the course of the year and I seem to have jettisoned all my other non-historic cameras in favor of Sony a57, a77, and Nex 7 cameras. All of which have evolutionarily cool electronic viewfinders. So it's only logical that I should rush out and buy a Sony a99. It's got all the stuff I like and adds in what may be the best all around, full frame sensor sitting in a camera today. Yeah, I know that people are losing a lot of saliva playing around with the Nikon D800 but while its specs seem drool inspiring I think the reality is that 24 megapixels is the current hyper-sweet spot for most workflows and for most subject matter.
The 36 megapixel chip in the Nikon feels kind of like an after market hood scoop and super charger slapped onto a Honda Accord. Not the most practical everyday car. And, at a zillion megabytes per file the D800 might not be the most practical daily driver for a working photographer either.
I want the Sony a99 but I'm trying to be disciplined and wait until I've saved up the cash to pay for one. I turned over a new leaf this year and decided to go easy on the credit cards where non-essential camera purchases are involved. But to quote Wayne Campbell in the movie, Wayne's World: "It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine...." It just seems to be taking me longer than usual.
The more I read about the Fuji X-E1 the more I think that this camera might just leapfrog over the Sony a99 and cut in line, priority-wise. The truth is that I was ready to buy the Fuji Pro-1 when it first came out and I rushed to the store with a checkbook in hand when my personal sales consultant called to tell me the store was holding one for me. I went and played with the demo and I was even willing to overlook the slow focusing but the one thing I was not willing to overlook on a modern camera (and at my eyes' age) was the absence of an adjustable diopter adjustment. Yes, at sometime in the not exact future I might be able to special order an eyepiece that would make the camera workable but in its raw form....no. And I'm not really a special order kind of guy.
I'm glad I waited because it appears like the X-E1 is everything the Pro 1 offered but more by having less. In getting rid of the vestigial optical finder Fuji was able to provide the same sensor and guts for about 1/3 less scarce American dollars. I like the X-E1 because it's simple and the body is elegantly spare. I've owned Fuji S2's and S3's and even an S5 and while the bodies (largely Frankenstein adaptations of cheesier Nikon bodies) were operationally ragged the sensors were really, really good. The skin tones remarkable. All reports so far (both the Pro-1 and the X-E1) point to the same gorgeous skin tones and color palette but this time around bundled with ample pixels and very low noise. My Nex 7's will get jealous, no doubt, but I'm not in this to make friends with my cameras. They need to serve me and not the other way around. I'm heading into town tomorrow to look at the X-E1 and the kit zoom lens, which is also supposed to be a cut above the competitors. I'm sure, if I pull the trigger, my VSL readers will be among the first to hear about it.
The final thing on my short list is just more and more of the small Fotodiox 312AS LED panels and more of the generic (cheap) Sony camcorder batteries that work with them. At some point I'd live to build a frame and make a free standing LED softbox that's about four feet by four feet and usable anywhere. I just need about eight or ten more panels...... I'll add them one at a time. I've already put them on the Christmas list for my family and friends. Thinking about getting me something really nice of the holidays??????? I'm sure there's another Fotodiox 312AS out there with my name on it........
What do you guys have on your always ready short list?
Great stocking stuffer for almost every photographer on your list, a good, solid 16 gb SDHC card for the price of 3 lattes: