hanging out doing post processing from yesterday's job and amusing myself by looking at new cameras and lenses. There's some fun stuff out in the marketplace. I'm not in a buying mood but I'm always curious.


Actor, Beth Broderick and concert pianist, Anton Nel just hanging out in the studio.

I'm pretty much still in the honeymoon phase with three different cameras. All three are Leica models. I like the SL2 for its projection of image quality dominance. I like the original SL for its almost indestructible build quality (and its panache that still shows after eight years in service). And I really like the Q2 for its compactness of purpose and its almost perfect design. I am amused to still consider that I am in the honeymoon period with the SL2 as it's been well over two years since I bought that camera. In the past my crushes on new cameras diminished to mere "confidence of purpose" within the first year and started out the second year as something "usable" while I looked around to see if there was something better. And at the end of the second year it was "ship jumping time" even if the grass wasn't much greener anywhere else. 

There are some brands though that keep nipping at my consciousness and imploring me to give em another try. And then there are some, like the Sony A7 series, that I consider unusable and unloveable. Like milk that's been in the fridge for months. Or a car that keeps breaking down on lonely highways. While no Sony has left me walking into the next small town looking for repairs they just aren't cameras that inspire me to do fun work. Or any work at all. I'm sure lots of people like them. I'm sure lots of people can point to good photograph which have been taken using them. But I'm equally sure that some number of people also sung the praises of the Pontiac Aztec while it was on the market...

I often wonder if I've overlooked some brand that might have finally perfected its offerings enough to give the Leicas a run for their money where I am concerned. Here are the ones I actively think about when I should be thinking about keeping the car in the correct lane, or pouring steaming hot water over fresh coffee grounds, or handling explosive materials, or trying to fix my own refrigerator...

There are actually two different Fuji APS-C cameras that I've been following since their introductions. One is nudging closer and closer to the dangerous, "What could it hurt just to try one, along with one, single solitary prime lens?"  That would be the Fuji X-Pro3. I know the sensor would make great images because, if I remember correctly, it's the same sensor used in the XT-3. That was a camera I used a lot and enjoyed very much. The appeal to me of the X-Pro3 is the rangefinder styling and the overall design of the camera and the controls. I've always enjoyed top mounted shutter speed dials and also EV dials. The camera looks sleek and beautiful while also giving an extensive nod to "retro" fashion. That body with something like the 35mm f2.0 lens, or the even more whimsical 35mm f1.4 lens would make a great "artist's" camera and I wouldn't mind walking around shooting with one. 

I imagine that I will pick up one eventually but I'll most likely have to wait for a year or so. They currently seem to be back-ordered everywhere and I figure they won't tumble into the aggressive used market for at least that long (a year or two) around the time when most lukewarm hobbyists give up cameras and photography altogether and turn their attention to riding lawn mower races or goading Europeans about their banking habits. 

The advantages of the X-Pro3 for me are the eccentric and happily silly flip down rear monitor screen with its illustration of film types on its rear panel when closed. That and the ability to actually use the camera like a rangefinder; not necessarily for focusing but for viewing directly. I'm sure you'll read a review of this product here long after the review might have been useful. Kinda like the Leica SL.... (circa 2015). 

The next Fuji camera on the list is one of the latest ones. The XT-5. As I said, I liked the overall handling and image quality of the XT-3 but I traded it away because I was convinced, at the time, that I "needed" a more video extensive model. The XH-1 was close but plagued with audio issues. I moved on. 

But now I don't really give a crap about video production, would rent a real video camera if needed, and kinda love the idea of an upgraded and even more capable version of the XT-3. Fuji has solved so many of the issues I had with the older camera. Bigger battery and more shots per. A nicer, higher res viewfinder. I'd be torn though by also thinking about the XT-4 which used the older 26 megapixel sensor and I always seem to like the files coming from lower res sensors better; all those things the same. 

The XT-5 has some allure but really, it's the X-Pro3 that will probably find itself nestled in my shopping cart. I'd be interested to hear from past or current owners as to why they bought it and if they still use it.

Another brand/model of camera that constantly shows up in the hands of satisfied, serious photographers is the Nikon Z6ii. Nice, 24 megapixel sensor, nice body styling and size. And, according to many, a really nice and super performing 50mm f1.8. My favorite focal length and not so fast as to be a compromise between speed and performance or speed and handling. I was always pretty happy with older, DSLR Nikons I owned, as far back as the D2HS and the D2X cameras but also the full framers like the D700, D800e and the D810. My only problem with the later, higher res models was the angsty frustration of trying to get lenses to focus accurately. So many were either front of back focusing. When correctly dialed in the whole system of camera and lens was great. But getting there could be a nightmare. Of course, one of the many great things about mirrorless cameras is the accuracy of focusing. In fact, I think if I ever ended up ditching the L mount cameras two of the Nikons would be top choices as replacements. They are small and light, have good battery life, nice screens and pretty files. Nice color science. 

Those would be the Z6ii and the Z7ii. A couple of good zooms and that 50mm to start. But, as I said above, still in the honeymoon period with various Leicas...

Last in today's list of cameras I'd like to at least try out would be the Ricoh GR111x. Most people seem to like it because it's small. A lot of people like it because they find the lens to be quite good. I think I would like it because I think someone finally got the right focal length lens on the front of a point and shoot camera. A 40mm equivalent. It would harken me back to the days when I started out shooting with a Canonet QL17 camera and how much fun that focal length was (and still is) for me.

Sure, the battery life is shorter than a cup of hot coffee in a snowbank and sure, there isn't a nice EVF, but you can get a nice bright line finder and there is something to be said for a camera you can take with you just about anywhere. Even in the pocket of your tightest disco pants. If you are so inclined. 

I wonder how many of you have picked up the GR111x and what your thoughts about it are. Inquiring minds attached at the hip to credit cards want to know....

Next time we might want to cover some current lenses that whet the appetite. There are a few that keeping falling in and out of my online shopping carts. Now just waiting to see what the tax bill will be like before I pull the trigger. If I can even afford to trigger a purchase in the first place. 

Be well. Stay refrigerated. Demand good service. Pay your full share of taxes so I don't have to shoulder your shortfall. 

Thanks, Kirk


adam said...

there has been a recall or something on the x-pro 3, the screen design is prone to some recurrent issue, a certain cable or connector breaks quite a bit, I'm not sure if there will be another one soon, they have new models coming in may and september apparently, from pictures and other info the next one will be x-s20 then I'm not sure about the next one, it isn't the new x100, it looks like the x-e body, but will apparently be game changing ;)

I came across a D850 today for £1500, I hear horror stories about the gr3 sucking in dust every time it's switched off but the quality of the pics looks really nice

Anonymous said...

Hi, not surprised to hear that I had a camera shop for years and spent half my time sending fujis back for failing ribbon cables on the floppy screens, must have been a huge warranty cost.
Fixed screens only for me.
All the best, Mark

Biro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Biro said...

Kirk, I'm pretty much with you all the way. I recently sold off all of my Sony gear. It's just that I can't afford the Leica SL series of bodies anymore. But I'm happy with my Q2 and CL. And my Fuji X-H2s (26mp) and X-T5 (40mp).

I used to have a Ricoh GRII and it was fine. But I would have been more satisfied with a 35-40mm effective focal length. Which is why I now have a Fuji X100V.

Finally, I must admit that I have been interested in Nikon's Z series since the start. But I don't think I can swing a Z6 or Z7, regardless of mark. But I have been eyeing a refurbished Z5, on which I would attach Nikon's inexpensive 40mm f/2.0 and toss in the 28mm f/2.8 for good measure. That might be a good way for you to dip your toe back in the Nikon pool again.

Good luck and enjoy the journey - which I'm sure you will.

JC said...

I have a Z6 and Z7II, and they are great cameras and the S lenses are excellent, but even though the bodies are fairly compact, the lenses are still FF large. My current criteria for my next camera comes down to one thing: compactness. I loveed the small GX series of Panasonics because they were small, and the GX8s had everything you needed, but they are now really long in the tooth. I wish Mike Johnston had never mentioned the Fuji XT5, because I fear that I'm going to crack and order one, probably with the Sigma short zoom. I've read in several places that the XPro-3 has been discontinued, and that an XPro-4 may be coming with the 40mp sensor.

Anonymous said...

I've been using the GR series cameras for years and love them for their handling. It's liberating to have full control of such an advanced camera with just one hand. Looking at the type of photos on this blog (nice blog by the way), I think you might enjoy this camera quite a lot. Very different feeling to an ILC.

You just have to factor in a couple of batteries and a small case to keep it safe. I have been using the official Ricoh cases since 2005 and they don't add much bulk. I've never experienced a dust problem, but then again I mostly don't put it directly into my pocket. I kind of feel it is good to try the camera without a viewfinder at first - just use the photographic force, as it were. They do have a Ricoh add-on and some cheaper alternatives are available.

Jonathan said...

The GRIIIX is fantastic, as is the GRIII. Beyond the portability, it's got outstanding image quality (hyper-sharp, beautiful OOO, zero chromatic abberation), impressive stabilization, and a very intuitive menu/button layout. The color profiles are good too (vivid, positive film, negative film). And the iphone image transfer app actually works!

If you're concerned at all about dropping/durability, slap on a hotshoe thumb grip and/or a squarehood (https://squarehood.se/products/ricoh-gr-model-p) and you're all set.

You should definitely try it out!

Michael Matthews said...

Well, it looks as if the Leica CL no longer fits the honeymoon parameter. If the trend continues and they’re about to fall off the ledge keep me in mind. If your friend Eric still wants to acquire a pristine G9 should that come about, perhaps we can work something out.

Rich said...

well Kirk, thankful that u r still going strong (-;
(I've more time now that DPR is dying)
If i ever went w/ apsc only, it would be the xh2. None of that pseudo-analog look, please.
Almost everything you do is interesting Kirk, except all the B&W. Very little monochrome "sings" to me - since the time of the 'masters' like ansel.
While I can't afford Leica, I have owned 80% of the Lumix cameras ever made. It is funny to see the LX cams w/ red dot. (also the remade newer 'sigma' lenses)
I too have loved Nikon. I'd owned the Z5 w/ 24-200, and 50. NICE. I have Z50 w/ kit lenses, 40, and good/fast Viltrox 23 & 56
I love my GR3x. Im on my 2nd RX1, the poor man's Q. Got each used for $1k.
My main cams are S5 &S1r. So thankful for my 9 Sigma dg dn lenses!
cheers pal

Derek S said...

Another vote for the GRIIIX - which complements the Q2 wonderfully. Over the past 6 months in. I have it shot in dusty Mediterranean places, on beach walks and on long cold scrambles up Scottish mountains. It has such a flexible focal length - I have shot street, landscapes, still lives, portraits. The colour science is spot on and the sharpness of the lens is very very close to Q2 level. And I have had no dust issues. I bought a JCC metal 'GR' lens cap which helps and looks the part too. I don't pocket it but use a Lowepro soft lens case on a thin strap - easy to carry and stuff into a sack. For the money it is unbeatable. Like you I can't help scanning the current offerings and, while I am very happy with my SL, Q2, and Panasonic S1R, I recently handled a Fuji X-T5 and found it (for me) to be their most complete photographer's camera to date. Previously I owned most of the 1st and 2nd gen models of X-Pros , X-Es and X-Ts. The X-T5 felt instantly right in the hand. Happy shopping Kirk.

Miguel Tejada-Flores said...

Well, Kirk, I think I qualify on both fronts with respect to the two Fuji's you mentioned... or rather, the THREE Fuji's. I started with the X-Pro3 and the 35mm f/1.4 Fujinon. I wanted a camera which in some ways felt more like both the Leica and Contax rangefinders that my father shot with and which were my first cameras all the way back in the 60's. It took me awhile to get used to but the in-hand feel was both solid and somehow inspiring: it just sort of made me want to go out and shoot. The 35mm lens was a gem, equal to and better than the best Pentax 50mm lenses I used to shoot with for years on my MX's. But the part that really hooked me was starting to play around with the camera's rather wonderful internal jpeg film sims. Ritchie Roesch, an inspired Fujiholic, has a thoughtful and helpful website with literally hundreds of different film inspired 'recipes' for different X-Trans sensored cameras and I got hooked relatively quickly.

Maybe a year later I sold camera & lens, and replaced them with the smaller X-T3 (which unless I'm mistaken has a slightly older sensor than the XPro3). What really sold me on it was the EVF viewfinder - larger and more immersive than the XPro3's. In my own way I'm obsessed with EVF's, and the one in the XT3 was really the bees knees. Additionally it displays images (on either the EVF or the rear screen) in the exact film simulation jpeg I was using, a big big plus for me.

There were a handful of small things I wish it could have done better. IBIS would have been nice but I can easily live without it. But the newer sensors of both the XPro3, the XT4 and now the XT5 did a number of interesting things. Biggest of which, for me, was the added capabilities for creating jpeg 'recipes', not to mention a nifty newer one on the X-T5, inspired by the colors of Stephen Shore (a lot of Kodacolor tonalities, really), and for me a nifty tool. Long story short, I've only shot all my Fujis in jpeg only and never regretted it. But the X-T4 had that horrible screen and in quite a few ways was a step or two back or sideways, with features for videographers which I wasn't remotely interested in...

Which brings us to the X-T5. It's really like an X-T3 gone to heaven and the XT3 was already my favorite Fuji. The X-T5 is just that much better. It actually is as fun to shoot with as the XPro3 (though admittedly it looks a tad more conventional or prosaic). But for me hands-down it's not just the best of the three... but the best digital camera I've ever taken pictures with. 'Best' is a subjective term obviously - a better way to say it is that it's both the most satisfying to shoot with - and the most ingenious in terms of its under-the-hood jpeg film sim qualities. I'm not a technical person per se but I have immense respect for the Fuji color engineers who created the camera's internal 'sims'. Oh, and just one last thing: the smaller 35mm f/2 'Fujicron' has become my new favorite lens. It's not quite as quirky as the larger f/1.4, but it's compact and weather-sealed and somehow sits just right on the camera.

I've used cameras that were more 'capable' in many ways, but none as fun (another vague subjective term but one which means a lot to me) as both the XPro3 and the XT5. I think you'd like either of them, and I hesitate, even now, to say which is 'better'.

adam said...

I've remembered now, they are fixing screen problems on the xpro3 even out of warranty

Rene said...

Hi Kirk,

Funny thing, Kirk. Just this week, I purchased an X-T5 to go along with my 1.5 year old XPRO-3. I've started using longer lenses for some of my work and needed the IBIS to handhold the telephotos. They make a nice combination as well as used alone. I can verify all the positive comments about the XPRO-3 and after about a week of use, the X-T5 seems like it's going to be a winner. Still in the testing phase, but the files are looking good. If the XPRO-4 ever becomes a reality and has IBIS (assuming it retains enough of he XPRO-3s physical characteristics), I'll probably sell what have now and get two of those; it's that much fun.

TMJ said...

The X-Pro 3 et al., I have handled them, but there is a problem. Miami Vice. Although Crockett drove a Ferrari Daytona, until it was destroyed, followed by a Testarossa, the Ferraris were replicas, accompanied by an authentic Ferrari soundtrack from an excellent sound mixer.

And the Ricoh? I can safely say it is a great little camera, one I used without incident in the Sahara Desert whilst negotiating the release of a kidnapped colleague. Of course, it didn’t make the news: what does?

Eric Rose said...

Yes I am still looking for a G9 :) Kirk did you dump your Panasonic S series cameras?


Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

Sold for many times more than market value since they were authentic "Visual Science Lab" cameras... Sorry.

Anonymous said...