A trip to Santas lap (long)

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
Troy, NY
I enjoy thinking about if this were a trip to Santa’s lap, what would my perfect camera include?

It’s an interesting question, because my idea of a “perfect” camera changes with what I think I want to do with it.

Typically, I operate in one of three photographic modes:

1. Professional work. If I am photographing airguns for my weekly blog, either my G12 or my FZ150 will work fine. If am covering an event where there is plenty of light, the FZ150, with its longer reach, gets the nod. If I want to photograph in lower light, the G12 has better capabilities.

2. Out for a stroll with my wife. I usually carry the FZ150 because strolls often involve the opportunity for wildlife photography.

3. Out and about, running errands. Here I want a camera I can stick beneath my outer shirt for quick deployment in case something interesting happens. It would be a magnificent sky, a happening on the street, whatever. Here I will take my 10-year-old Olympus D-550 hung on a lanyard or the G12.

Strengths and weaknesses of cameras I own.

D-550 – It’s old, slow to start, has a tiny LCD about the size of a postage stamp, only goes to ISO 400. But it does have an optical viewfinder (not full coverage) and a very cute trick: an infinity focus setting so the camera wills start focused on infinity. Very handy for photographing the sky through auto glass. No manual controls or manual focus. Dubious in low light.

G12 – Great build quality. Fast to start. Viewfinder sees only 75-80% of what the sensor captures. Surprisingly good low light capabilities, particularly in the pixel-binning mode. Terrible manual focus involves using a rotating dial around the outside of the 4-way controller. It’s so easy to activate unwanted functions! Why couldn’t Canon assign manual focus to the rotating wheel on the front of the camera? Also, the software interface in non-intuitive. Has swing-out LCD which is useful for stealth photography.

FZ150 – Fast to start. Great reach. The build quality isn’t as nice as the G12 – it’s mostly plastic – but I took a tumble with it (turned off), and I could hear it bouncing along the ground beside me, and it emerged unharmed. Manual focus can be assigned to a lever on the lens barrel, which is much better than the G12, but it requires a safecracker’s touch to avoid over-shoot. The low light performance is not as good as the G12, but the Q menu is brilliant: fast, intuitive, the way it ought to be done. The EVF isn’t bad, but I would like more resolution. The swing-out LCD is useful.

So what do I want in a camera. Conflicting things. Compact size. A big zoom. A fast lens. Good low light performance. A knob for shutter speed with an Auto setting. A ring for aperture with an Auto setting. A ring for manual focus. A sensor with contrast detect and phase detect for fast autofocus. An EVF with buckets of resolution or an OVF with a frame line so I can see what about to move into the frame.

And I don’t want to be screwed by the manufacture for the sheer joy of it. $600 for the optional EVF for the RX-1? I hear banjos playing, someone saying, “Make a noise like a consumer.”

And that, Santa, is all I want for Christmas.

Cheers, Jock

entropic remnants

Hall of Famer
Mar 3, 2013
John Griggs
You seem to have made what you have work very well for you. I find myself satisfied with what I'm shooting right now. I feel like I have a lot of capability with the mix, if you include the lenses.

For all about everywhere use I have the Panasonic LX7 in a little sling case. May look strange to some, but I'll wear it anywhere and really like the little thing.

The Panasonic G5 and Olympus E-M5 are complementary in many ways and share a common set of lenses between them and each has it's strengths and weaknesses. I love both but for different reasons. Day-to-day I prefer the G5, but the E-M5 is my go to for anything critical other than ultrawide work with the 7-14mm lens which it doesn't get along with in certain circumstances, lol.

I think my trip to Santa's lap would first of all involve Santa signing a liability release for the damage my weight would to to his bones -- but I'd be looking for a micro four thirds body with these things from the E-M5: IBIS, weather sealing, live highlight/lowlight display capabilities, dual control wheels, and dynamic range; and these things from the G5: general handling feel, the tilt/flip touchscreen, compatibility with ultrawides with less flare, user programmable mode dial positions, bigger EVF view, and electronic shutter.

There's probably more on that list but I can't think of it at the moment.

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