A question of enjoyment: ‘fun’ cameras

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Blocked up

Why do we photograph? For the vast majority of the population, it’s because we want to record or document something. However, if you’re reading this site, I suspect it’s either because you really, really enjoy it, or it’s your job, or perhaps both. And I suspect that even if you do do this for a living, you’d have to have fallen into the former category at some point in time in order to think that it might even have been a slightly worthwhile exercise to undertake the current masochism that is professional photography, over say, banking. I know I did. In fact, I enjoyed photography in the early days (looking back, probably around 2001-2002) to the point it was probably slightly unhealthy and obsessive. But it did provide a creative outlet and set the foundations for today. Bottom line: we shoot because we enjoy it.

This article will be a sort of evolution of the Compact Fast Normal Conundrum…

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I once promised somebody a toilet photograph…

I can’t help but think that it’s very easy for us to get obsessed with the technical details or chasing a bit ‘more’; whether that ‘more’ is actually accessible to the photographer under most situations (the shooting envelope) is another thing. And whether that make any pictorial difference whatsoever is quite something else entirely. We may well enjoy using a view camera for the first few times, or the hassle of stop down metering and manual focus with adapted lenses, but let’s face it: this gets tiring after a while; it simply isn’t fun anymore. Even if the results may be a couple of percentage points better than the kit lens alternative.

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Everybody needs a fan

Perhaps this makes more sense if I explain my point of origin. I went through the first few years of my photographic journey wanting more everything, and able to use it – simply because the cameras at the time really weren’t that mature. I’d pinpoint the threshold of sufficiency happening in late 2007/early 2008, right around the time of the D3 and D700. You could now shoot anything under pretty much any light. There were no more excuses; it was up to the photographer. I doubled down and shot even more to try and up my game. That was pretty much the way it was – other than a one year affair with Leica and the rangefinder style of photography for documentary work – until 2012, at which point I turned pro. Suddenly I had clients asking for very specific things – high resolution, images under certain conditions, video, work where I was weight limited (i.e. flying coach) – and it became clear to me that those four or five years of sufficiency were over. Right tool for the job, and all that.

The high resolution D800 was used only for work, because I didn’t have any serious interest in printing (let alone large) back then. I shot my personal work with M4/3 because of size, weight, and that ‘lightness’ factor: the feeling that you were out exploring rather than loaded for bear and hunting, but at the same time had the right hardware should an opportunity present itself. I got quite serious with film and medium format for reasons of education: to see the difference, and to figure out how to translate that fantastic monochrome tonality to digital. And because it was fun, in a liberating way: no more being slave to the electronics.

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Marching towards the same distant horizon

Then printing, and specifically Ultraprints, happened. Everything now had to be shot with the maximum resolution possible; moreover, I was carrying for that eventuality just in case – especially in instances where the chances of finding a subject that suited the Ultraprint output were high, and you couldn’t return (think Cuba). It’s now gotten to the point that I need medium format or tilt shifts and a tripod for this kind of work, because unfortunately I can tell the difference. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it – as one of my students said. This reminds me very much of the ‘early DSLR days’ – those times when we carried every lens we owned, every flash, a tripod, and basically the entire camera kit – in an enormous bag every time we went out for the primary purpose of taking photographs. It really wasn’t that fun because of the weight and awkwardness of all of the stuff hanging off us. I love to shoot with as little as possible – that liberating feeling means you’re fresher for longer, more alert to photographic opportunities, and more likely to be willing to see what’s over the next hill. It’s fun, as opposed to boot camp exercise.

I’m writing today’s article because in the last few months I’ve found myself at that point where I know I’m not going to Ultraprint everything, and if I go out with making Ultraprints in mind as my end goal, then I will of course go with the right equipment; if not, there’s no point in being a pack mule. ACR has been updated and the Fujis are now giving interesting results, adding one more option to the list. And there’s also no point in carrying a D810 or 645Z and then having to deal with the files of subjects that potentially don’t even have that much detail to begin with. I can’t imagine ever needing or wanting an Ultraprint of my family members, for instance. And in these circumstances: usually where photography is not the primary objectives the consideration of having a ‘fun’ camera comes about. Let’s be honest: there is no way any serious photographer is going to go anywhere not having a camera, at least not without possibly serious regret afterwards – hence the desire to have something good enough, but not obtrusive.

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More importantly though, the ‘fun’ camera mentally liberates us from the onus of feeling as though we have to always go out and make weighty images of significant photographic merit: we are now free to experiment and shoot intuitively, to see what comes out and perhaps loosen up a little on the technical perfection. It might sound odd, but it’s the feeling of you driving the camera, not the camera driving you. This experimentation is of course important for creative development – and if you’ve got to set up a tripod and mess around with tilt shift movements every time you want to try a shot, then perhaps that cycle of creative development is going to be much slower and more frustrating than you might like. I’ll be honest and say some of my more satisfying and serendipitous images have been made under these conditions. And recognising that, I’m now thinking a lot more about how to maximise these occurrences by creating both conducive circumstances as well as being prepared – but not so prepared that it compromises other things.

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Fans also have off days

Put it this way: it’s the kind of camera you’d like to have with you when perhaps you’re out to lunch with your family or running some errands and just happen to either see something visually interesting and worth photographing or experimenting with, or there’s a five or ten minute break where you’re waiting for somebody or something and have a little time to kill and you’d like to work a patch of light for a bit. The images in this article are a reflection of that; they’re experiments or grab shots from one of the cameras in the list below from times when I haven’t been out to shoot. I’m honestly not going to lug around a 645Z or D810 and Otus for this, but I might well pack something a little smaller and lighter. Remember: the technical demands of the sensor have a knock-on effect on everything else up and downstream in the imaging chain – lenses, support, storage etc.: consider the entire workflow.

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That sleepy feeling after a Sunday afternoon drink

I’m going to leave you with a few recommendations and rationales for cameras I’ve recently used and enjoyed – more importantly, found fun for various reasons. You may wonder why the larger M4/3 cameras aren’t in here; I’d put them in the ‘serious’ category rather than the fun one. The fact that they were fun, and not frustrating, means that they passed the sufficiency bar – in some cases, well past. This of course means that for most uses, providing you don’t have specific needs like telephoto reach or large and high resolution prints, they’re actually probably good enough to be your primary camera. If you find yourself reluctant to go shoot because of the overhead or the anxiety of deciding what to bring – often ‘just in case’ – perhaps you need a little creative space and one of these in your pocket or bag. MT

Nikon D750 and f1.8G prime lenses (or the manual focus 45/2.8P or Voigtlander 40/2 pancakes ) or 24-85/3.5-4.5 VR (review | B&H | Amazon)
Ergonomically excellent; quite possibly the best of the Nikons at the moment. It’s responsive and small, has a tilt screen for waist level work and video and able to focus and see in the dark. Few compromises (well, relative to a D810) in image quality with the excellent 1.8G primes. And it’ll do double duty as a system backup or low light camera if you happen to be shooting with a D800E/D810 as your primary already.

Sony A7II (reviewB&H | Amazon) and Zeiss FE 35/1.8 (B&H | Amazon) or 55/1.8 (B&H | Amazon), to taste 
The smallest full frame option, stabilisation, with fast Zeiss primes. Some compromises in battery life and image quality because of raw compression, but still very enjoyable to shoot. Need I say more?

Fuji X-T1 (B&H | Amazon) and Zeiss 1.8/32 Touit (B&H | Amazon)
Shock horror: Ming recommends a Fuji. Ming sells a Fuji. It and I didn’t get along, but that’s not something against the camera – I just found myself continually slowed down and not working in a fluid way because of the reversed dial direction vis a vis Nikon.  ACR 8.7 is now good enough, and brings usable workflow to X-Trans-land. This combination is probably about as small as you can get and still have ‘serious’ controls. There’s some very nice Zeiss microcontrast magic (and value for money, at current prices) in that 32 Touit, too – especially for B&W work. The X-T1 makes really ‘rich’ B&Ws and is much easier to focus with MF glass than a DSLR, but not everything looks good – the edges on adapted lenses are so-so, and video is still better on Bayer cameras.

Panasonic LX100 (review | B&H | Amazon) / Leica D-Lux 109 (review | B&H)
Great external control set and haptics; a very solid camera that actually feels like a camera as opposed to a piece of electronics. Highly customisable. Whether you choose the LX100 or Leica variants (about $300 difference at the time of writing) depends on your aesthetic preferences, wallet, and whether you want the extended warranty and Lightroom or not. It has a very good EVF and the neat ability to provide full flash sync up to 1/16,000s thanks to a fully electronic shutter. There’s 4K video, too. The lens is pretty good, but unfortunately to keep the whole thing small it never fully covers the 4/3 donor sensor, so 12.7MP is about the most you’ll get. The one ‘gotcha’ in the whole package.

Panasonic GM5 and 12-32 pancake zoom (B&H | Amazon)
Think of this camera as an LX100 with interchangeable lenses, a bit more resolution, but poorer ergonomics/controls and less customisation – the price for the 12-32 kit is exactly the same as the LX100, making this a tricky choice. You basically give up the excellent haptics of the LX100 for a bit more resolution and the ability to change lenses; that said, the 24-75/1.7-2.8 equivalent in the LX100 is probably all the lens you’d need for a camera like this. Any more lens and you’d be talking serious. 🙂  There is one compromise, again: power on is a three step process (lens cap off, extend lens, power switch); the LX100 can be a single step if you have the flower petal cap. Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t.

Ricoh GR (review | B&H | Amazon)
I actually had second thoughts about putting this camera in simply because the results and image quality are definitely in serious camera territory, and I use it just as much for serious, focused photography as I do as a carry-anywhere sidepiece. Perhaps that’s what makes it so damn good: it’s a scalpel in a group of Swiss Army knives and multitools. It has a phenomenal lens-sensor pairing and amongst the highest pixel level image quality I’ve ever seen, from any camera. Monochrome conversions are tonally beautiful and very, very easy. My north-of-15k shutter count is a testament to that.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus (Amazon)
You know what they say about the camera you have with you – camera phones have been getting better and better, and the latest generation of iPhone shows you what a difference some intelligent processing algorithms and a lot of computing hardware can make. I think it’s nearly impossible to get a blurry image out of this camera – there’s hardware stabilisation and intelligent multi-shot algorithms for noise reduction and blur reduction, and you know what, they really work. The phone works magic with grab shots and requires very little effort to use, and just a little more to produce results that honestly surpass even the Ricoh GRD IV from a few years ago. Plus composing on that enormous screen is quite a surreal experience – almost view-camera-esque. It has the smallest shooting envelope of the bunch, but you can still make satisfying images with it so long as you know how to use a wide-angle lens well.

Canon SL1/100D plus 40/2.8 STM pancake (B&H | Amazon)
This may come as an odd choice amongst this group, but I arrived at it when looking for something for my wife – with a bit more horsepower than the previous compacts (or the iPhone 6 that’s supplanted them), but not quite so much intimidation as the LX100’s external knobs and dials and markings provide. It actually does a pretty decent job in full auto, and there’s a raw file with reasonable latitude for me to work with later if need be. Plus it’s small, quite robust, and I admit rather attractive in white.

Canon IXUS 520HS (Amazon)
350mm optical in something the size of a pack of playing cards, for under $200. Need I say more?


Prints (and some as Ultraprints) from this series are available on request here


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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. Bill Walter says:

    Hi Ming, You mentioned praise for the Fuji XT-1 when it comes to black & white conversions. Does the quality of the b&w come close to the excellence of the b&w conversions from the Ricoh GR? I ask because I’m considering the purchase of an XT-1 (or possibly an XT-2 which I assume would be similar) and would be using it for b&w as much as color. thanks.

    • The GR is more flexible, but requires a bit more work. You have more information in the shadows to work with which requires a more aggressive curve to compress. The Fujis have less recoverable information in the shadows, so basically you are closer to final intent out of the camera – but with little latitude for recovery if you need to make adjustments for a scene whose dynamic range exceeds that of the camera, or if you make an exposure mistake.

  2. what about the Nikon Df with 50mm?

  3. bill lew says:

    when you say the larger m4/3 cameras, which ones are you referring to? em-1 and gh4?

    it’s interesting you put x-t1 on the list but consider the ricoh as an iffy candidate? most would put the x-t1 as a “serious” camera.

    • If you shoot fast and loose with the GR, you get poor results. It requires deliberation and discipline – that makes it serious to me.

  4. I was at the local camera store yesterday and tried out the D750. It struck me how light it felt. With the 50 it seems much lighter than my X-T1 with 23/1.4 even though I know it almost 50% heavier (the 23 is probably the best lens I have had IQ wise). I think a lot of it has to do with the almost perfect grip on the D750 that removes the strain on the wrist. Given that the AF on the D750 is faster than on the X-T1 (especially in low light) and I work faster on it I am seriously tempted (I thought I was done with Nikon when I went to m43 3 years ago after using their stuff for 23 years). I wonder how good the 35s are for Nikon?

    I love the pictures I get from the X-T1 but a lot of the lenses seem big on the small/light body (especially the 10-24 but also the 23), the 35 is ok (but I do not use 50eqv that much) and 27 is very nice (but again a little narrow, only 2.8 and no aperture ring).

    I think I will always have a m43 system of some sort since the teles are so compact, perfect for travel (especially the 75/1.8, the 35-100/2.8 and the 100-300). The AF is also very good even in low light.

    I agree on the Olympus cameras. I like to shoot with my E-M5 (now on my 2nd as my girlfriend has the 1st) as it is so easy to use but the E-M1 has been very much hit and miss. My first E-M1 had shutter shock problems, had intermittent problems with the back dial not working and also froze once in a while when it was warm outside (just turn it off and on again). On my second copy I have not experienced any severe shutter shock issues (images still do not look quite as sharp as on the E-M5/GM1) but I still have issues with really short shutter speeds if I forget to turn off the IS (why can the camera not fix this itself?). Maybe a GM5/GX7?

    The X100T seems like a good match for street photography but I am unsure if the lens is good enough (I know it is not as good as the 23/1.4).

  5. You can get a petal hood for the 12-32 on eBay just so you know.

  6. I really liked the Coolpix L25 mystery camera and I think it could deserve a mentioning in the fun department as well… 🙂

    The best photo workshop leader I ever encountered used to say, regarding GAS which was around in the film days as well (but much more pronounced now with the digital rot and Internet forums): “With a simpler camera, the image is just the same, only the rendering is a little bit different.” This rings as true today. In the film days, at one workshop he sent us out with Instamatics. We were all chocked, having brought Leica M3s, Canon F-1s and Nikon F2/F3s to the workshop. But it was the best workshop series I ever visited. Of course, for birds-in-flight, sports and similar, there is no substitute for a DSLR. But for the overwhelming majority of images made by gear aficionados, they could as well have been taken with much simpler equipment. This is, for some, close to impossible to admit since it puts their gear collection in doubt. It becomes obvious that gear rather than images are their main focus. As iterated here among other places, it’s ok to be a gear collector as long as you don’t fool yourself.

    I use a camera similar to your suggested HS50 every day. It’s the most fun and I bring it rather than my Nikon DSLRs, RX10, and similar for simply making images. It’s the most fun and creative outfit for me, and I get to use all my post-processing skills in producing nice enough pictures. 🙂 When I feel the urge to create master pieces, I bring the D800, the tripod, the primes, and the rest. But it’s seldom as fun. Same image, different rendering, less fun.

    • Less so, actually, especially if final output sizes are small. PS (or analogous darkroom skill) can make up quite a big difference.

  7. Interesting article. Just a question, how would you “import” cameras not commonly found in Malaysia, like the GR or the heavily discounted coolpix A?

    • Both of those are easily found here, though the A is nowhere near as cheap. It’s only the really exotic stuff like the Arca Cubes etc. that we can’t easily get. Getting loaners is quite another question though – basically, there are none. So I have to either buy or request from B&H and pay whatever customs feels like charging me on the day.

  8. Coolpix A hands down, went from rx100, GR, to A. The combination of foolproof AWB and metering very customizable auto ISO, let’s me focus on Aprature and focus distance, which are nice metal dials easily controlled with gloves. 28mm is great for pointing and shooting so I don’t really feel the need for a viewfinder. Also build is weapons grade I’ve dropped it from 10ft or better onto rocks with no ill effects other than bruised aluminum (lucky I know). People complain about the auto focus, but to me this is meant to use zone focusing, just give yourself a little deeper DOF than you think, and set the minimum shutter speed faster than you think sharpness and DOF is critical for good results.

    • I found that turning off autofocus assist and using wide area autofocus most of the time slightly sped up the Coolpix A. That firmware update seemed to help too. Face priority autofocus is fairly quick with people. The other slow operation is shooting normally with the focus switch set to macro, because the lens has a longer range to try to achieve focus. Manual focus with a preset distance is also fairly quick, and can work well in an urban environment.

      That autofocus speed and responsiveness is what keeps me using the Nikon 1 V1. Lack of lenses makes me want to get something else. Meanwhile I have the fantastic little Coolpix A, and use it more often than my other cameras when I am not on assignment.

    • Jason Wang says:

      I just got a refurbished Coolpix A for a great price and I can’t think of a better option that’s pants-pocketable. I’m also really enamored with my DP2 and DP3 (Merrills) from an image quality perspective, but those are less pocketable with a narrower shooting envelope. The workflow and other warts don’t bother me so much. I end up taking them often anyway since they are easily jacket-pocketable though.

  9. If the A7 series doesnt have this silly 11+7 bit raw files issues….it would be the clear winner and a lot of pros would immediately going this route just because of this fix…….lenses and flashes are coming more and more, other minor issues e.g. one click 100% magnification could come with firmware update….

    Technically, it should be possible (unless RAW ‘compression’ is built in chip, not in firmware).

    But this change will break compatibility with RAW processing software

    A handful of online petitions are online and still ongoing or even sent to sony…we will see if or how they react in the future….i am guessing its a hardware issue otherwise it shoudl have been done already or relatively easy to fix via firmware update….cannot understand why they use old image processor just of saving some pennys on every camera which make cumulatively with all sold cameras a huge financial imapct ….really??? Simply cannot beleive it why then wifi n or ac standard, bluetooth 4.0 or nfc built in with the newest standard but a limited and or old image processor engine…….dont get it….nevetheless canikon do it the other way around…they are not much better maybe better newer, more powerful processors but their connectivity standardsa are a shame if they are built in e.g. d750 and d5500 have b/g wifi standard…simply outdated should have had n at least we have already the ac standard….

    • I was told the compression was hardware optimised for speed.

      • I don’t understand how the A Sonys are expected to match d750s in this regard. The size and prize simply put them in different leagues full frame nikons means top notch tripods, huge camera bags of course the results should be better

        • Let’s see: same sensor, similar sized lenses because they have to cover the same image circle (but far fewer native choices), and fairly similar pricing. If they’re supposed to be competitive, then the image quality had better be, too.

    • It takes a long time to develop a new board, especially when the image processor is changed. Cooked RAW is becoming very common due to the smaller physical pixel sizes. Until the architecture of the pixels changes, there is a noise issue on all imaging sensors below 6 µm (micron) size. I do think the manufacturers could use better image processors, though in declining market sales they appear to be hanging onto as much as they can that was previously developed.


      Variations of the Fujitsu Milbeaut are the most commonly used. While so many other things have advanced, cameras are stuck in the 1990s. Imagine trying to use Window 95 today to do anything.

  10. Any Leica M camera (from the film ones to the digital ones) with a lens that’s between 28mm and 50mm would work very well that way as well. And with older bodies and lenses they needn’t break the bank either.

  11. GR & Sigma DP3M is my traveling light choice. Fun an truckloads of IQ.

  12. Gordon R. says:

    Glad to see the D750 and 1.8g primes at top. After owning and handling more than my share of different cameras over the years I’m now settled on just that one. I got tired of trying to choose between cameras before heading out for the day, and once I got the D750 front focusing issue sorted out and saw what kind of results the camera and lens are capable of everything else I own went on the auction block. And it is a fun camera; the size and weight are manageable, the shutter, while louder than say an XT-1, is quieter than my old D700. I’m off the treadmill – for now at least.

  13. Fun camera? Definitely a smartphone with good output. I’m using a Nexus 5 with the HDR most of the time. The image quality and its screen is pretty impressive for instant gratification.

    • Have to agree with this one – iphone 6+ here. Surprising just how much processing power is in these things and how that lets you get away with a much better image than otherwise possible under some conditions…

      • Yes, the iphone 6+ also has OIS is good for low light conditions with shot to shot times faster than Android phones. The HDR mode in the Google camera is not bracketing but 3 photos captured with the same shutter speeds yet works decently and avoids the exaggerated or low contrast HDR of some. Reviewing images on a 1080p smartphone beats any 3.0 to 3.2 screen of any camera (though the screen on the Samsung NX1 might be an exception).

        • I got to try out the Lumia 1020(the 41MP monster) a while ago(borrowed it for two weeks) and it was pretty impressive. The downsampled 5MP results look sharp and the zoom(ie. cropping) was handy as well, especially when shooting video.

          My only caveats were that the whole experience was too slow. It’s certainly not a “pick up and shoot” experience like with the iPhone. The camera takes three to four seconds to boot and saving an images takes just about the same ammount of time. Even longer if you save your high-res file as a DNG(you save the 5MP JPEG along with the 38MP DNG) In Nokias defence though, this was hacked together in the last minute on a chipset that only supports up to 20MP image capture, leaving the CPU to do all the heavy lifting(killing the battery in the process, but I guess that’s why they made a battery grip for it) The phone was also pretty bulky, but I guess you have to make tradeoffs when you put a 1/1.5-inch sensor in there.

          Still, if they manage to cut down on processing a boot times, Microsoft(since they now own Nokias hardware divison) may have a potential niche success on their hands. It packs plenty of power already. It just needs the speed to show for it.

          • I have high regard for these large sensor Nokia Pureview phones but found that smartphone cameras can put up a fight through just right amount of processing and being limited to screen size viewing. Color photography works well that I don’t even remember using my phone for monochrome yet.

            • I use an app called Black on my Lumia 920. It emulates B&W films(Neopan, TriX etc.) and it works for editing the stuff I post on Instagram. The app recently became available for iOS too.

  14. Sony rx1?

  15. How about a second hand Leica M9 and a Rokkor 40/2? When the Rokkor mount is filed to bring up the 35mm framelines they are more accurate at 2m than they are for the 35mm lenses. It is certainly smaller than the Nikon and less fiddly than some of the others.

  16. Great rundown. Have to admit though I’m a little surprised the Fuji X-T1 made it in there instead of the X100T. (Or X100S, but rather the T.)

    • My allergy to 35mm 🙂

      • Ah! I see.
        As you of course know there are good converters to both 28 and 50 mm (equiv), but yeah, then it’s a bigger camera.

        • Totally agree with your article Ming. I had a Ricoh GR stolen over a year ago, felt gutted but decided to use the d800 for everything. Image quality was fabulous but lugging it around with primes or 24-70 and 70-200 was not fun at all! Having had an EM5 once I planned on getting the new one but saw a very good deal on an x100s. Damn, I wish I bought it years ago. I hate to sound like an x shooter fanboy, but I love it. The high speed synch, Nd filter, the simplicity, the fun! Started to use jpegs now and again too as I love the colours. Also great b and w files. And 16MP is plenty for me. I always used to say it’s only about the image but I have missed the joy in the process of taking pictures.

          • Oddly the D800/810 with a small 50mm prime is not satisfying at all. I think it’s the so-so acuity. I land up putting the Otus 55 on it and the whole thing gets huge again. GR it is…

  17. Ming, did you also look at the Nikon 1 with the 32 1.2 prime? I know, 1″ censor, etc… but that prime is supposed to be excellent, very small package and some of N1 cameras are also fun to use. Would love to hear what your thoughts are

    • Nikon did a lot of things right with the 1 series, packed in a lot of tech – fell flat on their face with marketing and pricing, though. At the price they want for that lens and a decent (V3) body – that still has some odd compromises – I’m left thinking an APS-C DSLR and 50/1.4G would be a better option.

      • Yes, hopefully the new J5 indicates a change in their pricing strategy, if they move the 32 price, then it would be a good option to complement the GR. Thanks

        • Pricing on the 32mm is crazy. An FT1 adapter with a 35mm DX would be cheaper, though the combination is larger. I think the Nikon 1 Macro will be released this year, and that may be a very good portrait lens. Lack of lenses it the biggest issue I have with the Nikon 1. Most of the time I keep the 18.5mm f1.8 on the camera and never change it. The 32mm would need to be over 50% cheaper for me to get one.

  18. madmurphy says:

    Up until I left my old job to travel our work cameras had been Sony A99s paired with 24-70z and Tamron 70-200 2.8 lenses. They were the best choice for the work we did with them. The tilt screen on these cameras is absolutely perfect for the group shots as it brought a clear LCD to your eyeline so you can look at both the group being photographed and the screen at the same time. They also produced much better highlight detail retention than the full frame Canons and Nikon D3s we’d been shooting previously. However in spite of having access to our these cameras I never once had the inclination to use them outside of work because they were ungainly and horrible to operate off tripod. I also trialled a Nikon D800 at launch and was floored by the quality but couldn’t justify carrying it for personal travel use (the main time I take photographs). As most of the images wind up online the subtle details resolved by the Nikon were also largely lost too. Over the last 4 years I’ve used a Fuji X10 which was a nice cut above the snapshot crowd at the time, a Samsung NX200 which was interesting, good quality at moderate ISOs but unfortunately Samsung drove the system in the wrong direction for me. Next up was a Sigma DP1M joined by a DP2Q, both excellent but obviously flawed—I still have and use them. Most recently I picked up an Olympus E-M10 and I love it other than the convoluted process to activate the 0 second shutter shock thing (a week of ruined shots at the beginning). For my everyday travel camera it’s perfect, small but still has a viewfinder, dual control wheels and custom buttons as well as a fill flash built in is a great combo. So far the E-M10 is the most fun camera I’ve ever had!

  19. btw: I like your list and largely agree on your choices. And I’m one of those who actually is a fan of Fuji’s X-Trans sensor.

    Of course, I have to say that now since I became ‘X-Photographer’. 😉

    Seriously, though, I’ve always liked the Fuji files. And I’ll argue that there’s not a better APS-C sensor on the market right now for high ISO performance. At least I haven’t found one.

    For example, the image on the top right hand corner on this page…


    was shot at ISO 6400 on the XT-1 GSE with the XF35mm f/1.4 R lens (which I find quite an exemplary optic, btw). For those interested: f/2.2, 1/60 sec.

    • I agree re. high ISO performance: there isn’t a better sensor for the moment. X trans probably gains about 1/2-2/3 stop on the 16MP Sony unit, which was/is the best of the bunch.

      For that image – I assume you were trying to match the cine look since you didn’t go to f1.4 and drop to ISO 2500?

      • Actually, I was mostly concerned with adequate DOF, since she was turning her head from directly forward (towards the young actress sitting across the table from her), to her “mother”, who was sitting to her left. I felt that at f/1.4 I was risking too thin a DOF to ensure dropping focus right on her eyelashes, and so moved to f/2.2.

        My D3s would probably have performed a little better at 6400, but honestly I’m not sure just HOW much better … and I would have had to blimp the camera. With the X-T1, I shot almost everything using the silent electronic shutter, which was also the case here.

        Lighting in that room, btw, constituted an incandescent lamp off in the corner, and candles on the table. There might have been some Kino Flos in the translucent kitchen cabinets, too, but I can’t recall, and if there were, they were at low output.

        Incidentally, the RED Scarlett being used to film the scene was at ISO 800, using Zeiss primes. Of course, the shutter speed on those only has to be around 1/25 sec, which claws back a lot of light and allows for the relatively low ISO.

        • …I should add that I was trying to keep my shutter speed at 1/60 sec or 1/125 whenever possible, to both freeze my subjects and myself. (I would dearly love to see 5-axis image stabilization in the Fuji cameras in the future; yes it helps with fast primes in certain situations, too.)

          I dialed in my shutter speed and aperture, and let the camera ride the ISO automatically. Also found the ability to tie the spot meter to the selectable focus points very useful in this situation, too.

          • Agreed. I can’t actually imagine why you would want to have separate AF and metering spots – surely you’d want your subject to be in focus and properly exposed?

        • That would make sense. Those Zeiss Master Primes are pretty awesome; had the opportunity to use them on a recent job. That said, I think the Otii get you 99.5% of the way there with much less size and cost…

  20. Ming, I think, one of your best posts. Many encouraging comments.

  21. Typo in your Sony A7II recommendation, did you mean the Zeiss FE 35/2.8?

    My current “fun” camera is a Nikon Coolpix A; even though I often carry another camera in the bag, I find myself pulling this one out for its speed, size and simplicity. With my Leica M I have to think about focus, shutter speed, aperture and ISO; with the A7R there’s slow startup time and extra care needed in handholding the camera to avoid shutter shock; with the 5D Mark III… well, I rarely bring that heavy beast out anymore. But with the Coolpix A it’s just whip it out and shoot, which is perfect for a relaxing family outing.

  22. There is a technique of shooting hand-held and capturing more detail in multiple shots. The resulting images need to be stacked as layers and reassembled in Photoshop. Obvious issues when things are moving in the frame, just as with stitching. After Olympus came out with their version of sensor shift capture, I ran across a few articles about this. The idea is that even a really steady person moves a little during multiple frame captures, so each frame gets a slightly different detail capture. It’s an odd technique, but could sometimes be nice for when you don’t have a backpack full of gear, and want a more detailed final result.

    • I spent some time experimenting with this but found the results to be marginal at best. You’re much better off stitching even just two or three images, and if moving things don’t cross the stitch boundary, you’re fine.

      • My personal preference is for the two shot method, useful when eliminating street signs. I’ve done a few two shot panoramas using shift (lens on small bodies, or rear shift on 4×5). Definitely agree with you on that being better.

        First time I saw motordrive assembled shots was a wildlife/landscape photographer I use to know. He used a long lens and panned the camera to make a series of images, then assembled the results later. His first shots like that were on film, then later on Canon digital bodies. That approach appears to take a ton of post processing to get usable results.

        What we really need is something like the Linhof 6×17. 😉 Did you know the old basic body Linhof 6×12 and 6×17 had a small amount of shift (rise) already built into the design, though it’s not adjustable. 😉 Also, 6×12 film stays a bit flatter than 6×17

        • Ebony and Chamonix make view cameras specifically for 120 rollbacks. For example: http://www.ebonycamera.com/cam/main.617S.html I’m sure there are others from the European makers, too, and one can always get an adapter to put rollbacks on standard view cameras.

          My fun camera this weekend is going to be a 4×5 field camera. 🙂 It’s basically taking Ming’s definition of fun to its logical extreme: 2 film holders for 4 exposures of Ektar 100 in the field with a camera that takes a bit of time to set up for the shot. My expectations of getting any useful image out of this exercise are basically zero, so I can’t take it very seriously: the whole thing is an experiment!

          • No do overs. I suppose you could always take the fifth shot of the camera back with an iPhone 🙂

          • My 4×5 I treat more like drawing. Everything in the composition is figured out prior to film being exposed. Even with that, there is the usual Fuji FP100 preview, especially useful with lighting. The most common use for images from my 4×5 was for printing trade show images (huge) for various clients. That particular need happens less often. It’s still quite useful for architectural images, but the weight of the entire kit is quite daunting, especially off and on airplanes.

            • I honestly haven’t found a situation in architectural photography in which the D810/PCE combo doesn’t suffice, assuming you’re doing a single shot. For stitching, simultaneous rise and shift would be nice…but sadly, no luck. For product work sometimes you do need movement on front and rear standards which isn’t possible on the PCEs.

              • If you only do front movements on a 4×5, then a tilt/shift lens on a smaller camera is great substitute. The biggest difference is in the back standard movements, though not all 4×5 cameras have those, and not all view camera photographers use those. The problem for me is that I found uses for rear standard movements. I suppose if I had a tilt/shift lens mounted to a tripod, then moved the body around, I may get close. I do use simultaneous rise and shift, as well as some tilt movements. Overall, it’s a very subtle difference.

                It’s really a very different way of working. There are few professionals who would even consider using a view camera today, mainly because film causes too much anxiety. My set-up is more than paid for from various projects, so despite that I rarely use it today, I like that I have that option. The bigger barrier for me now is that film processing turn-around is often too slow.

                • I agree there’s no substitute for rise and shift. You don’t need tilt as much because your DOF is much greater on a shorter FL and equivalent FOV with a smaller capture area though. You gain some, you lose some I guess 🙂

        • Oh yes – I’ve seen and handled one of those Linhofs and developed very bad GAS subsequently. Sadly the prices are way out of my league though.

          • The Horseman is not that much different. I think the film transport mechanism is just a little better on the Horseman 6×12, and I say that as someone who uses a Linhof rollfilm back (56×72). You could always try out a 6×12 rollfilm back on your Arca, though it’s not nearly as portable as a dedicated panoramic camera. Fuji 617 is the other less obvious choice, and arguably better lenses.

  23. Just a notation: I’m really struggling hard to think of ANY career these days that ISN’T masochistic. To me, banking would fall squarely in that category. A “money” job, perhaps, but talk about Zzzzzzzzzz.

    OK, I just thought of one: hosting ‘Top Gear’. I hear there are three spots available. 😉

  24. Nothing wrong with that Canon SL1. It seems to be a small version of my 60D, itself a relatively small and light DSLR. Granted, it has an APS-C sensor, but there aren’t a whole lot of ergonomically acceptable 400 gram DSLRs out there. Slap a 130 gram Canon 24mm f/2.8 pancake lens on it and it makes a decent knockabout and travel camera for the SLR addict who wants a light and compact camera. If I were contemplating a long distance back-country hike as in that movie “Wild”, I would be looking at any camera that gave acceptable quality, acceptable battery life, and minimal weight (of camera and precharged batteries, or of solar charger).

    • I’d look at the long distance hike another way: if I was hiking to hike, I’d probably forgo the camera. If I was hiking to shoot, then it’d be all about the camera – and knowing me, it’s almost certainly going to be the former! 🙂

  25. Lucy March says:

    Congratulations on your new arrival! What wonderful news!

  26. Fantastic article Ming. I have to agree with you on these. I have experience with the GM1 and even without the viewfinder of the GM5 – it’s just superb. I’m also astounded with the Ricoh GR – such s brilliant camera – almost surprisingly so.

    And yes, the massive screen of the iPhone 6 plus is just like a view camera. What a great time to be around and taking photos.

    Thank you for yet another thoughtful and interesting essay.

  27. Great post. I completely agree with the notion of enjoying the camera that you shoot with, as it will be used more thus helping you to become a better photographer.

    Although if we’re basing this on fun factor, and not necessary image quality, I’ve got to tip my hat to the good old disposable camera and also a mention to the Polaroid (classic 600 film).

    Some of my favourite moments have been captured with disposables. The lack of control means the quality isn’t all that but the memory it evokes is crystal clear. I don’t need to hold a loupe to those images to remember the emotion attached them.

    Limited shots will always mean carefully picking those opportunities that are worth capturing and when the technical aspects are removed from the equation, the mind is allowed to focus on the moment.

  28. Great discussion Ming! There is much I can speak to on this topic, but am sadly short on the time. But I do want to quickly say that I am happy to see the GM5 made your list. I’m not one to obsess over gear, but the GM5 is truly a remarkable camera…and easily one of the most distinctly important cameras I’ve ever come to use.

  29. I find the RX100 Mk.II to be my daily camera of choice for the “fun factor” alone. Some of the controls may be a bit small and fidly, but it’s satisfying to just put it in your pocket when you are done shooting. My Canon EOS 600/Rebel T3i hardly see any use these days(perhaps I should sell it and invest in an EOS M3 instead. Then I can use my two EF lenses if I buy an adapter 😛 )

    Analog is also pretty fun, but I sometimes use months on a film because I need to find the right moment to take the shot(can be frustrating sometimes, but when the cost of developing and scanning is around $40 you can’t waste any shots)

    • Agreed re. film. It’s fun to shoot, but not so fun to process/scan even if you do it yourself. The pressure to not get it wrong is very high indeed…

  30. M Monochrom is the “funnest” camera I have used. I also thought your X Vario review shots were rather nice.

    • I quite enjoyed the XV, but had stability issues not helped by the relatively slow lens. If only it had a built in EVF…

    • Don’t know about fun, Mike, surely know about awe. And no second thoughts ever about color being an option (which sometimes can creep under my BW armor, esp. with the X100S).
      But spare a thought for the GR too, THAT’s a magically fun little gem of a toll to carry along…

  31. Nice overview. I guess I would have put the Coolpix A on the list too for color photography.

    • It too fell on the border – not exactly fast/spontaneous enough for me, and requiring a bit too much forethought. But at the prices these days…

  32. I just shoot for pleasure. I recently sold my Nikon D800e system because I was tired of the weight. Bought an OMD EM1. After a few months shooting MFT I’d gladly deal with weight of the Nikon. The poorer quality of the MFT files takes the fun out of photography for me.

    • I suspect it isn’t the pixel count so much as the acuity lost because of shutter shock. I didn’t have this feeling with the EM5 despite shooting the D800E side by side. That said, Otus/D810 takes things to another level…

  33. John Weeks says:

    After entering mirrorless land for several years I am back with a DSLR. I just picked up a D750 after waivering over the decision for far to long, Wanted the D810 for alot of reason but int he end price and having to deal with 36 mp lead me to the 750. i am now going through it stem to stern, and it is quite a tool. My Sony RX1000iii from Mings review a while back and instant love when i picked it up I knew it was the one. But after going over Mings Compact Masterclass I learned its all about the eye, and some knowledge. He kicked my fanny in that video. All the gearheads should have to view it. I am happy with my tools…eye…sometimes.
    Congrats to you also Papa Ming!

    • Thanks John – we do have some way to go for the compacts, I think…whilst they’re mostly excellent, you still need a DSLR sometimes.

  34. I’m surprised the GR was an “almost left off” notion. It seems to very much fit the bill! And as you said, it just so happens to work for serious stuff, too.

    • Actually, it’s precisely because most of the time it’s used for serious work…it’s very difficult to use a moderate-speed 28mm casually and get good results out of it.

  35. Most fun camera for me? The Ricoh Gr shooting in the high-contrast black and white in silent mode.
    It truly is a liberating experience when traveling.

    • My GR is usually deployed as a secondary body or something that’s just on the belt and ready to go for quick grabs; yet it’s racked up north of 10k images (I always shoot singles with it, too) and has yielded one of the highest ‘hit rates’ for any camera personally, not to mention really quite excellent image quality.

    • Agree about liberation. Freeform shooting, indeed. So much magic in such a small package. Have it with me always. Ok, sometimes I force myself to use the ‘serious’ RF tool, but if 28mm is what I want, who needs anything but the GR? (and for 35mm, anything but the X100S/T?

  36. Ming, I’m a regular visitor and customer of yours. I, like many others here, have grown measurably just from reading your free content alone (along with viewing your 5% data images =P).

    This article resonates with us because we enthusiasts have all found ourselves in this spot. But, I must admit I am a bit confused by your needs. You’ve talked about the point of sufficiency many times over. But it’s not clear what the point of sufficiency is for you personally, or whether you realize what that is yourself. Example: you mention that it’s impossible to “unsee” the difference in performance of from FF & MF. But what is your end goal with these types of photos? Personal archive, print, social media sharing?

  37. A well crafted post Ming I would agree with all you said, I still see photographers with the obligatory back pack and a list of gear that would shame a shop. Wide check, standard check, flash check, big stopper check, mid range zoom check, mega zoom check, tripod check, last item is never a big standard either it’s a bad boy carbon with a head that equates to a small mortgage.

    The best is that they are so lost on what they should do they inevitably miss the shot. They look at me with condescending eyes, zooming in on my micro 4/3 and passing judgement.

    I have by now grabbed the shot and continued on my way oblivious to the crowd or folk around who see me as a hapless tourist which makes me happy and smile.

    I still use my film cameras primarily because of the unique quality they give me (always b&w and dev’d by me). I also get comments about that as well but again it usually gets filed in the trash can.

    I am fortunate in that I don’t have to shoot for a living it’s my passion which I can enjoy as I want, once again thanks for a cracking post and images.

  38. Grant S. says:

    And that’s why, following your reviews (which of course I don’t read, as I don’t believe in reviews.😉😇) I bought the RX100, carry it everywhere (although it’s now on its second trip back to Sony Malaysia, after having the main board, sensor etc changed, I don’t think there are very many original Made In Japan parts left in it /sigh) and found it “sufficient” for everything I do.
    And when it’s working, it’s great. /mumbles curses at the fates.

    • I bought the RX100III for video snippets and the occasional run and gun, but somehow have not found it to be anywhere near as good as the original RX100; might be sample variation, might be something else. I got plenty of enjoyment and good images out of the first one, not so much from the III. I suppose I should have known better since I reviewed it before buying quite some time ago…

    • Still using the RX100 mk1 2.5 years later.. Wonderful camera. I was never tempted by the mk2. Would have thought the mk3 would be better…

      • Not much difference in sensor quality, and the lens is faster but not sharper til stopped down. Again could be sample variation…

        • Grant S. says:

          And now my RX100 is back home, after having the whole lens assembly replaced. First time it was serviced it had the whole main board and sensor replaced. 😒😜 Not many original bits left /sigh.
          And my camera was sent in because of a “gold ring”, seemingly of oil, around the front element. On the left. And today it comes home from Sony with, yup, a gold ring under the front element on the right hand side. 😁 What to do? Send it in again, or live with it, presuming it is a generic fault. (I have been informed, from someone in the trade, that oil “creep” along the barrel is a common issue with RX100s.) This new lens seems better in the corners though, so I think I’ll use it for a bit first. 😉 6months left on the warranty, and counting…
          At least Sony have promised that if it develops another “issue” they will replace it.

          • Ouch. Does the oil affect the image at all?

            • Nope. It’s confined to the very edge, where the lens element meets the surround. Could look like old lens “lens separation “.,.if it was an old lens! Very strange indeed. Even stranger to send it in, get it acknowledged as a fault, and get one back with the identical issue on the other edge of the lens. But since it isn’t encroaching on the front it doesn’t have any noticeable effect. My worry is of course that it will creep further.
              My first repair call was for oil/dirt on the sensor, and oil could be seen on the sides of the lens barrel in both cases. Really rocks my faith in this camera which is such a shame. Still pondering returning it again, but reluctant to lose currently my only camera for a third time! 😓

              • Might be visible as occasional flare. In any case…perhaps you don’t need to find another excuse to buy another camera 😉

                • I just told my wife your reply, and she burst out laughing! “Ah, that’s all the excuse you were looking for to buy your new camera! LOL, (literally)”.
                  Thank you Ming. Your mind reading is as perceptive as your photography. 😉😀😉

  39. My two cents: I try to have fun even when on assignment, because I have found that’s when images have more “Soul”.
    (Of course this can’t be equally valid for every kind of assignment)

    Typical scene: Me- Honey, I’m going to the grocery store, have you seen my Ricoh?
    My wife- It’s near the fridge, next to the flower vase.

    Part of the fun is keeping our eyes open and our senses on alert, be it at the grocery store, in the streets or during a walk in the nature.
    Finding the right balance between this pleasure and the “need” of taking and bringing home a good picture is something worth of mentioning. I have never been obsessed by the perfect shot, nor got angry because of a discarted image or a lost moment: it can be my fault, a slow response of the gear, or simply a bad angle: as Bresson once said, luck is really important in photography.
    Therefore I try to have fun every time I can.

    Thank you for the insight, as always, Ming!

    • If you’re enjoying yourself, then it’s easier to push further, easier to experiment, and of course the results then speak. Luck is important but nothing without preparedness – I certainly find being more ready certainly seems to make your rate of being lucky higher 🙂

  40. Enjoying the experience of using the camera is a big part of the experience for those who don’t need to regard specific output / client requirements as a primary driver. I took two cameras to France last week – a Leica M with 50mm lens, and a Ricoh GR (28mm of course). It gave me a good combination of focal lengths and the difference between a neck-slung camera and a pocketable one makes a difference in some circumstances. I enjoy the experience of using these cameras for different reasons. Every camera has its limitations, and the portability one is often underestimated when issues of ultimate (read test chart) performance are considered.

    • Out of curiosity, which one got more use? 🙂

      • The GR got the bigger range of use, documenting a week on the road visiting chateaux and tasting the latest Bordeaux vintage. The form factor is little more obtrusive than a mobile phone, so it never really felt inappropriate to have that camera with me. 28mm so useful in that ‘documentary’ context too. The Leica got more use when I had down time and went out with the deliberate intention to photograph. A little 28mm use, but more 50mm (APO).

        My weakness with the GR is actually one of its strengths. It is so adjustable to the photographer’s exact needs that it is easy to forget I have set it up for something else when the context changes (EV adjustment, TAV function out of EV value envelope, leaving macro on, etc). I prefer the simplicity, and analogue control of the M system. I find it intuitive. But I think if I used the GR exclusively for a few weeks, I would get a lot more out of it. It would be awesome if they made a 50mm version of the GR as a companion camera.

        • Completely agreed on the 50mm GR – or even just a 2x TC would be fine, too. The original lens certainly looks like it’s up to it.

          That’s where the MY1-2-3 modes come in handy – and on top of that it’ll effectively remember a fourth set in the main bunch of PSAM controls, too.

          • Need to check that fourth set idea. I confess I use the MYs but am sometimes unsure of what is actually set (as soon as you twak something, where are you? still in MY or somewhere else? the dial says MY but the camera does not…

    • Agree, Linden, that would be my two-camera setup when traveling almost light. When really light, the X100S/T. When minimalist, the GR on its own…

  41. I love my A7MKII but having the hi-res mode on the E-M5MKII has been a hoot to play with on statics n such and paired with the 20mm panny is quite diminutive. One must get creative with substitute tripods on the fly, but hey, that’s half the fun. Totally unrelated to results but fun non the less are that I get more people saying “wow, what a gorgeous camera” with Oly than I ever did with the M. What a fabulous time for photography and gear, it is indeed.

    • Choices are always good. How easy/useful are you finding the high res mode in practice? I can’t help but think stitching is probably going to be more flexible and avoid some of the motion/continuity issues.

      • Very easy, very useful and there are no motion continuity issues so long as you don’t try to implement the feature for anything other than it’s intended use. So an alternative like stitching doesn’t make any sense if we’re trying to have fun with the camera. Your article is about enjoyment and “fun with cameras”, not “fun with Photoshop” 🙂 and I find the nifty little Hi-Res camera feature on the E-M5MKII to be smashing good fun. As a bonus; the raw file it produces is extraordinary and loads of fun in PS 😉 especially coming from a 16MP 4/3 teeny tiny street shooter with totally silent mode. Take my word for it…THE CAMERA IS TONS OF FUN!

  42. Love those images Ming!

    I certainly shoot to enjoy. Enjoying the walk arounds enormeulsy. Enjoy that my photo hobby takes me around the map and see new places. Let me see friends I came to know since I started (seriously) a small year ago. Enjoy to work on the best shots in PP. Enjoy to share them and discuss them. Enjoy to print those I like the best or those who other likes the best and would wish a print. I am in it 100% for the joy photography gives me and for the thrill it is to see a progress.

    I enjoy the files from my 36MP cam the most, but I enjoy to shoot my Fuji X100 the most and after that my Olympus EM1.

  43. Joakim Danielson says:

    I can understand you don’t recommend it but for me the one camera that has ‘fun’ written on it is the Leica M9, I know it is expensive and has it quirks to say the least but the simple design and lack of bells and whistles is what makes it a joy to use. The way the rangefinder lets you see the subject differently than other types of finders makes it more intuitive for me to shoot with this camera and the relatively small package is also a plus.

  44. Really like the image / caption “Fans also have off days”. Made me smile. 🙂 Also thanks for doing this. A very nice list of options.

  45. I am really not a LEICA fan, but it is missing in your row of mentioned camera brnds!h

  46. A recent question no doubt Papa :), but a good reminder for us all. The true creative doesn’t “have” to create, they want to create. (A big difference) I think we can find fun in anything we use, it just mindset to embrace the restrictions and get the most from the medium at hand. The best way to do this? Settle with a tool and really get to learn it. This is where the fun really begins in my opinion. +1 for the GR. I’m on my second one. I broke the shutter in mine around the 30k+ mark.

  47. For me photography has become a way of challenging myself to become excellent at something. I can’t draw for the life of me and I’m basically tone deaf, but somehow I took to photography. I do very much enjoy both shooting and (with that excellent new workflow of yours) post processing. All of it. I’m of the mind that if you’re going to do something, do it properly, and photography happens to be the medium through which I try and live this idea. I’m a long way from excellent yet, but it’s a journey worth taking.

    Of course if there is no pleasure involved, then it’s pointless. But at the same time, I’m reminded of one of the most influential books I ever read, “The Inner Game of Tennis” by Tim Gallwey. On the surface it looks like a book about tennis, but it is really a book about mental performance. He made the point that if “fun” was your only aim, you could just step on a tennis court and belt every ball over the fence and out of the club, and you’d have a ball doing it. But you have restrictions in where you can hit the ball, and this is what makes it a game. Same for us: we can go and shoot everything we like the look of, but it is the restrictions we impose on ourselves which makes it interesting. You would think that the more restrictions we impose, the less we enjoy it, but it’s the opposite. I find myself deleting, without a second thought, pictures that I would have been thrilled to shoot a couple of years ago.

    Bottom line is, every single photographic opportunity is different, and that’s what gives us (well, me at least) the impetus to keep at it. It never ends, and neither should it.

    • Same here: can’t draw, totally tone deaf but still feel the need to create; for me that’s writing and shooting (or shooting and writing). Glad you’re enjoying the new workflow – once it becomes familiar, it’s a breeze.

      It’s odd but there’s pleasure in a) the challenge, b) the restriction and c) the result – the result comes last because if it was easy, then we have this odd feeling of dissatisfaction; we have to work for the outcome. A perfect result with no effort isn’t as enjoyable as one we’ve had to get up at 5am and hike for.

      • The inability to draw and being tone deaf may be a common denominator here. That’s why I turned to cameras as well.

        I think the most fun I’ve had and the most gratifying images are the ones that really challenged me. But much like tennis, which I played for the better half of a decade, you sometimes get tired of sticking within the rules and just want to belt the ball as hard as you can, or in this case just go out and shoot without too much thought to every single aspect of shot discipline.

        • Actually, once you have the discipline drilled in – either because you get addicted to a certain kind of output or because of practice – then it becomes second nature and automatic. A bit like how the way you hold the racquet or right foot memory double-clutching 🙂

        • I’m also tone deaf and can’t draw (unless you count technical drawing, which I used to be quite good at), but I’ve maintained a strong but steady interest in photography as far back as I can remember, rather than suddenly coming across it. But I agree with Mark that if I’m going to do something, I should do it properly, or at least show some improvement year on year. That’s where this site and Ming’s videos help 🙂
          And I thoroughly recommend the GM5 and 12-32, plus also the new small 35-100. With the 12-32 it makes a great “fun” camera, but with the 35-100 I find it’s great for carrying around in conjunction when I go out with a “main” camera with a wide-normal zoom or prime. Then I can capture longer shots if necessary and this stops me worrying about “missing shots” with very little extra weight and bulk.

          • The 12-32 punched way above its weight, in my opinion. The only issue was quite wide sample variation – probably a consequence of the tight tolerances required and number of small moving parts (not to mention collapsible barrel). The GM5 was a lot more fun than the GM1 because of the presence of an EVF; I sat on the fence between the GM5 and RX100III, and looking at the results, I think I may have made the wrong choice.

            • I looked at the RX100III, but my thoughts on the pop-up viewfinder were similar to yours regarding the GM5 lens – too many steps needed to get the camera ready for shooting. Also, I was a bit wary of the 1 inch sensor – I’d previously used a nikon 1 and a Panasonic G3, and the images from the MFT sensor seemed to be more “forgiving” in terms of exposure vs pp adjustments. But I’m happy with my choice – maybe I got a good copy but I really like the 12-32 lens, and although the GM5 is significantly cheaper I definitely wouldn’t go without the EVF.

              • The larger the pixels, the better – 20M of them on 1″ mean very small pitch compared to 16M of them on 4/3. Oddly though I always felt the RX100I’s files felt more like M4/3 than compact; the RX100III is more compact than M4/3. I see the pop up EVF as a nice to have though – it’s good to have if you intend to ‘shoot seriously’, but you can also press a single button and be ready to shoot instantly – which is not the case with the GM series. The 12-32 is excellent if you get a good copy; I probably shouldn’t have sold mine in hindsight.

      • perhaps ironic in this context….i went to an art high school for drawing and other visual arts…including photography (and also work professionally as a musician AND studied creative writing in high school + college as well). so these things can exist exclusively…or together. infinite variability. somehow no one art form really fills the void left by any of the others although there is certainly some overlap in their expressive powers.

        • I’m sure they can – it’s just that several of us seem to be all thumbs and no ears 😛

          Agreed on no art form really being a replacement for any other – they never are; each medium has its strengths and weaknesses. Even within one overarching genre, there are differences – different matte papers feel and look very different, for instance…

          • it’s an interesting thing to consider…all art is communication but the impact of each form is so specific and interacts with different parts of the brain, etc.

  48. slightly off topic and gear notwithstanding….
    i’m a sucker for minimalist formalism (even if it’s not something i focus on much when i shoot) and that “blocked up” and “cutout” images are really strong.
    well done.

  49. What about the omd’s? I remember pretty positive reviews from you for the olympus cameras.

    • The earlier ones were good; the later ones suffer from shutter shock and arrogant management. I wouldn’t know about the new ones because I was told by Olympus Malaysia not to bother reviewing unless I was going to give them a perfect score.

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