Personal gear review

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Location
SW Virginia
Real Name
Steve
I am down to:

1. a Fuji system that needs to be rationalized. Do I really need three bodies, zooms, primes, and an X100s?
2. a couple of older compacts. At least one should go.
3. a Nikon F3 with mostly primes that sentimentally sits in my closet.

JCI
1. Yes, yes you do.
2. I’m probably the wrong person to comment, given that I spent about $300 in April completing my collection of 12 mp Olympus Pens.
3. I’d have trouble selling that as well. It’s a classic of digital bodies.
4. Clearly, I’m no help.
 

donlaw

Hall of Famer
Location
Texas
Real Name
Don
Don, while the D750 still is a wonderful camera and the D780 is an impressive powerhouse, if you don't already have a stash of (older) F mount AF lenses, I'd strongly recommend going with a Z mount camera - you get everything the D750 and D780 have to offer plus the advantages of the mirrorless camera (though, of course, minus the optical VF).

That said, shooting with (D)SLRs has its own charm, so ... just saying. Anyhow, if it's not a price thing (the Z 5 makes it hard to believe that could be the case), I'd by now pick up a Z body and the excellent FTZ adapter and be done. While for me, there's no sensible path to getting a Z 5 (as I own the Z 6), it's the camera I'd recommend if you're not entirely sure. I think it's one of the best offers ever for a FF mirrorless, period.

If you consider video as well and do a lot of low light and rough weather shooting, the Z 6 (or, of course, the Z 6 II) is the body to go for. It's - by some margin - the most accomplished camera I've ever shot with, and it's only getting better thanks to Nikon providing firmware updates. Yes, there are other cameras from other brands that offer more in certain areas (most notably tracking AF - but it's gradual); however, overall, the Z 6 is the most well rounded offering, especially considering its current price. The only camera that (probably) beats it overall in its class is the Canon R6 - at a much greater cost and naturally without comparable access to the F mount.

M.
Hi Matt,
Thanks so much for your insight on this. I do value your opinion. I have used Nikon since my very earliest days with film and have a collection of F mount lenses that I use with my df.
My experience with mirrorless has only been with Olympus. I really like the IBIS and the size and weight factors but truly miss an optical viewfinder. However at this point I am leaning towards trying out a Z mount. Probably the Z6 since it seems to be the 'sweet spot' with resolution and features.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
My experience with mirrorless has only been with Olympus. I really like the IBIS and the size and weight factors but truly miss an optical viewfinder.
vf.jpg



;)
 

mnhoj

gee aahrr
Location
Los Angeles
Real Name
John
I love all aspects of photography but gear has always been the driving factor.
I've had great fun exploring systems but am growing older and weary of the chase.

Luckily, I've unexpectedly found great satisfaction with a recent Fuji kit.
It is familiar, has a strong likability factor and is very adept at getting the/my job done.
I love the lenses.

And with the introduction of the X-S10 I have a sound, affordable addition to look forward to down the road.
 
I've had great fun exploring systems but am growing older and weary of the chase.

Luckily, I've unexpectedly found great satisfaction with a recent Fuji kit.
It is familiar, has a strong likability factor and is very adept at getting the/my job done.
I love the lenses.
This speaks so much to where I am. On top of this. I have finally been overcoming the battle of constantly gravitating back to what is familiar. Or we’ll liked. The X-Pro2 and primes being a good example. The XT bodies and Fuji zooms are much better for what I shoot these days. And looking back through my work for the past years. The majority of my portrait work has been shot with a XT body.
 

agentlossing

Top Veteran
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
Ah yes, what is familiar. Last night I found myself reading reviews of the LX100ii because I just miss the Panasonic interface, the easy to use RAW conversion in camera, the fast WiFi transfer, the L Monochrome D, the USB charging...

Do I need it? Nah! But there's something to be said for when you get so familiar with something that you have to mentally stretch each time you use something else. I think it was early 2015 that I got a GM1, swapped it for a GM5 and used that for a couple years, side by side with the GX85 once it came out in 2016 and replaced it late last year with a GX9 which I only got rid of a few months ago. It's fair to say I know my way around Panasonic.
 

mnhoj

gee aahrr
Location
Los Angeles
Real Name
John
I've prided myself in working around or tweaking things to my liking or needs.
Familiarity was never an aspect of a system change. In fact, I enjoyed seeing other methods.

Picking up a Fuji body after a few systems in between was shocking - simple button presses did what I wanted - almost felt subconscious.
Like coming home after a long road trip.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
I find myself in a strange spot at the moment. There's a lot of things I'm thinking about, across a variety of systems.
  • I'll sell some lenses I haven't used for quite some time or that have been superseded in my kit:
    • Nikon 70-200mm f/4G
      • This lens has been overtaken by the most improbable of competitors: the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3. The superzoom is so good optically I don't need the semi-pro 70-200mm anymore.
    • Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
    • Olympus 25mm f/1.8
    • Olympus 45mm f/1.8
    • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Contemporary for :mu43:
    • Sigma 60mm f/2.8 Art for :mu43:
    • Sony FE 55mm f/1.8
      • The latter was finally beaten by the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8, a lens that draws at least as nicely while being considerably better behaved optically. A milestone.
  • I'm contemplating moving on three M mount lenses as well because they don't bring enough to the table, so I rarely shoot them:
    • Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2
    • Voigtländer Ultron 35mm f/1.7
    • Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.2
    • The reason for all this are mainly two other Voigtländer lenses: The 50mm Nokton 50mm f/1.5 is my favourite 50mm for the system in spite of its slightly lower acuity and contrast compared to the two powerhouses - however, it just draws so much more pleasingly wide open without giving up much in terms of maximum performance when stopped down. Yes, it'd be quite something to let the two legendary and/or mighty lenses go - but I fell I just don't gain enough from keeping them. Secondly, the tiny 35mm Ultron f/2 is as sharp as the much, much bigger 35mm f/1.7, even though it's not quite as well behaved across the field - but I have my two Zeiss 35mm lenses (the Biogon C and the mighty Distagon) if I want even better performance than either Voigtländer lens.
  • I'm more and more taken with what the Nikon Z system delivers, so I'm actually thinking about selling or replacing quite a lot of other gear:
    • Sony A7 II with the remaining lenses and AF adapters:
      • Samyang 35mm f/2.8
      • Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary
      • Commlite CM-ENF-E1 PRO adapter
      • TechartPro TZE-01 adapter (that'd be for the Nikon Z, but I wouldn't have any use for it any more)
      • Of course, I could add the Sony 55mm f/1.8 here as well instead of selling it separately.
    • Sony A6000 with
      • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Contemporary for Sony E
      • This would mean I would not own the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 any more - a lens that moved a lot for me in the time I had it. Well, so it goes.
    • I'll keep most of my "dumb" adapters, though - because I've found another "dumb" one to connect them to my Z bodies (and, in noteable contrast to the . That's also the reason I'll keep the first version of the 7Artisans 35mm f/1.2 - that quirky little lens is a blast to shoot and delivers unique images.
  • I'm currently checking if the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 II can keep up with the Fujifilm 23mm f/2 WR and the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 optically.
    • The Olympus E-M5 III offers phenomal I.B.I.S. along with great weather-sealing over the X-E3, and it also clearly beats the A7 II in this regard (once more, so to speak); with the fast 25mm, it offers almost the same amount of flexibility in low light as the other two cameras. So, it may be able to supplant both combinations, the X-E3 with 23mm f/2 and the Sony A7 II with 45mm f/2.8. This would make waiting for small Nikon Z primes (and/or third party options in that regard) a lot more bearable. In the hand, the E-M5 III with the 25mm f/1.4 II beats the two setups I mentioned - by some margin, too.
    • The reason why this is important is that both the 23mm f/2 and the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 "make" their respective systems for me - without those lenses, I wouldn't see much point in keeping the bodies I pair with them (this is even more true for the Sony A7 II than for the Fujifilm X-E3, a camera I do like the handling of).
    • The Panasonic GX9 remains the more versatile camera than the Fujifilm X-E3 due to I.B.I.S and tilt screen *and* EVF; with the 15mm f/1.7, it truely delivers the goods, too. So, as a compact, "Leica-like" camera, I could still settle on that camera instead of the X-E3, in spite of the latter's more pleasant user experience.
    • Or ... I could sell the GX9 body as well while keeping the 15mm f/1.7. After all, both the E-M5 III and Z 50 clearly outshoot the GX9 in practice: They're both a lot less fiddly, making for much more confident handling and a better shooting experience that also leads to more keepers. I simply don't use the GX9 a lot anymore for this reason alone ...
  • This means that the whole Fujifilm system is on the line as well!
    • As things stand, the Z 16-50mm zoom actually mostly equals or surpasses the venerable Fujifilm 18-55mm optically (yes, it's slower, but that's it for downsides).
    • The same is definitely true for the Z 85mm f/1.8 S compared to the otherwise quite wonderful Fujifilm 90mm f/2 (a lens that's also bigger than the FF Nikon lens!). The Z 85mm f/1.8 S also performs as well on the Z 6 as it does on the Z 50, and the Nikon combos handle much, much better than the 90mm f/2 on the X-E3 (even though this is a lot less cumbersome that it may look).
    • Additionally, both the Z 24-70mm f/4 *and* the Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 surpass the 18-55mm as well, and the Olympus 12-45mm f/4 PRO, while slower, is also a bit better optically while being basically the same size and offering a wider range. In short, the market has finally caught up with Fujifilm in terms of size and performance in the field of sufficiently compact standard zooms.
    • Yes, the 27mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/1.4 are still great lenses - but they're sort of round out the system for me, not define it.
  • Finally I'm somewhat dissatisfied with two of my remaining three compact cameras and really would like to try the Fujifilm X100V - so I might actually swap out two cameras for the Fujifilm:
    • The Canon PowerShot G1X III, for all its merits, is ultimately let down by its lens (and powerzoom functionality); this became even more apparent with the arrival of the Nikon Z 16-50mm - a slow lens as well, but much, much better optically, and quicker to operate.
    • The Ricoh GR III is a great camera - just not one I truely enjoy shooting with; additionally, I have to be too careful with it - the dust issue I ran into sort of killed the joy of ownership; too bad, really ... It remains a technical marvel, a cult object. But I want to use my gear without reservations - I don't manage that with the GR III. What use is a pocket camera you shouldn't put into most pockets for fear of collecting lint?
That's one heck of a list, and one to work through very thoroughly. All I can say is: I expect my gear to change (and that means: mostly diminish) significantly during 2021.

Even if all this looks pretty crazy, I'm not in a hurry to implement most of these plans or act on these considerations. I don't regret any acquisition I made in the past since at the very least I gained some insight, experience and perspective I would otherwise lack (this is especially true for the Fujifilm system, but also for Sony FE). It's just that my needs and expectations are beginning to settle - mostly due to the arrival of the Nikon Z sytem that seems to meet my needs almost prefectly in most regards. It took some time for me to notice and acknowledge that, but I'll be able to move into a much clearer direction from now on.

M.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Voigtländer Ultron 35mm f/1.7
Matt, I don't own it but I've seen some originally magnificent images with that lens, in fact there are one or two Leica owners I know and greatly respect who tell me it's better than the, what they deem to be, overrated Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
I’ve had a good year as far as GAS is concerned and made images focusing on my existing gear without delving in to buy the latest and greatest.

The best gear atm as far as I can see is the Canon R5 system and assorted lenses, but do I need that to fulfill my opus operandi which is to record what’s around me? I can do that with existing gear (DSLR/Rangefinder/GRIII) which I’ve had unchanged for a number of years now, so the answer to the question is no.

Having said that, I will always be on the lookout next year for a used FF body for the sole purpose of being a front end for legacy glass, just because I like that kind of rendering. FF as, if the lens is 50mm, then that’s how I like the file to be produced. But first and second edition A7 owners in my view are still tring to get more for their cameras than what I think they’re worth. So we’ll see of 2021 brings a change. If not, I could still get an adapter for the DSLR.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
Matt, I don't own it but I've seen some originally magnificent images with that lens, in fact there are one or two Leica owners I know and greatly respect who tell me it's better than the, what they deem to be, overrated Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH.
You know, I totally agree on that - I've tried the Summilux and wasn't at all impressed by the results compared to what my then-current lenses delivered: It's not that well corrected (green outlining whereever you look) and/or sharp wide open - no matter who tells you otherwise. The 35mm f/1.7, on the other hand, is a very nice lens, but it's almost as big (and, in the plated version I own, almost as heavy) as the magnificent Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4 - so it just doesn't offer enough advantages over that lens to be a viable alternative. The Distagon *smokes* the Summilux in my opinion - optically, anyway; of course, the Leica is considerably smaller.

What remains true is that the Voigtländer f/1.7 has an unsurpassed price/performance ratio, especially the black version (I would pick that over the more luxurious plated one - it's a lot lighter!). However, you get to over 90% of its performance at the minuscule size and weight of the f/2 Ultron, at least in the frame center ... So, that's the lens I mount if I want something "faster". Most of the time, I pick the Biogon C anyway (the sharpest 35mm I've ever shot with, simply exceptional) - or, for laughs as well as a very pleasing rendering, the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 ... All small, all beautiful, and very good.

M.
 
I find myself in a strange spot at the moment.
Same for me. In my case though, its because for the first time in a long time. There is no gear I am contemplating, nor am I second guessing the decisions for any of the gear I am working with. The X-T3/16-55/50-140 kit is working so well for me I have hit that mythical point for gear heads. Where I am just enjoying shooting without thinking maybe I need this, or that to get a shot.
 

tonyturley

Legend
Location
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Real Name
Tony
As the morass of 2020 comes to a close, I find I haven't bought any camera gear in almost a month! My gear purchases are never high $$$ items, anyway, but right now I feel pretty good about my Fuji gear. The only gear in which I have a keen interest is the XF 27 Mk II, and that will depend a lot on how Fuji engineers it. The new 70-300 also shows promise as a walk-around lens (not for cycling), but I'd probably want to rent one and compare it to the 50-230 Mk II before plunking down the amount of $$$ I expect it will command.
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
Just a short follow-up on yesterday's posts: I tried the Voigtländer Ultron 35mm f/1.7 today ... and I'm not selling that lens. It's just too nice to handle, and the images are very nice as well. I didn't pay much for it at all (I bought it used), and it's in almost pristine condition - not much chance of a comparable opportunity again. The most important thing, though: In contrast to what I said about it in my last post on the subject, the lens is *clearly* smaller than the Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4, and it balances better on the M bodies, too, in spite of its considerable weight (for its size). It's no wonder Voigtländer have never attempted to replace this model in earnest ... That said, should you ever contemplate getting one, I'd buy the black version: same optics, almost 30% lighter ... and cheaper, too. For size fetishists, I keep up my recommenation for the Ultron f/2 - the family ressemblances in its rendering are obvious ... But yes, the f/1.7 version *is* the better lens optically.

M.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Personal gear preview: Predictions for 2021.

Overall 2021 will see my income remaining the same, while my expenses are going way down so this can mean worrisome things regarding camera/gear spending. Camera gear is safe in the sense that you get so much back when you sell what you don't use, but worrisome it is anyway. I am planning on spending more on travel, that's a good thing right?

Leica M will remain my system. I will probably acquire new Cosina Voigtländer and Chinese lenses to fill in the gaps I have. I will probably not make body purchases. I want to see if M11 or whatever comes about. I hope the busy Chinese would design another fast 28mm that would be more compact than the 7artisan one.

I won't sell my M4/3 gear nor is there any reason for me to sell it. I put all M4/3 acquisitions on ice after the dark season came; some blog posts I stumbled upon showcased Olympus 75/1.8 and I was immediately reminded how great the system is. I already made initial plans to spend a couple of days with a coworker's Olympus EM-1.2 and 12-40 Pro, see what it's like.

Regarding Panasonic and Panasonic G9, who knows. James Popsys is now giving discouraging new signals about G9, how it is suddenly too large a body and all that. I don't religiously follow every word a youtuber says but I do suck in the inspiration in their message and such. I know very well his status as a "Lumix ambassador" and how he is probably being asked nicely to push S5. I already established through earlier research that Panasonic S5 is a superb machine so if I do want a FF MILC camera body, it's the strongest candidate. Except for, now that Leica SL2-S is out, ooh aahh. :D

Poor Nikon Df is not a system I use often. For fast telephoto lenses it would do well but I don't know. I would like to spend time with a casual 28-300 image stabilized zoom lens, even go as far as to make comparisons between it and a M4/3 superzoom (f.ex. Panasonic 14-140) but I don't think I'll buy one just to do that. Besides, I never actually like making comparisons on the field, I just enjoy the idea. If I just try to forget I own it, then there's a good chance I won't be selling it in 2021.

------

Overall some wild cards to throw out there. As money will be even less of a problem going forward, some things might happen.

A film Nikon camera perhaps? A Nikon FG and some nice print color film? I have enough lenses to experiment. This would be a most financially devastating idea because it would escalate to film Leicas very quickly.

Depending on what Leica will or will not do with regards to its APS-C camera/lens lineup things might get interesting. Extra money would perhaps guide me expand more into the Leica family of cameras and perhaps M4/3 gear would be replaced with Leica TL/CL cameras and lenses. The big downside is that the current lenses or bodies are not stabilized in any way. But I've been ogling this direction; the crop cameras are looking good. There's minor benefits also, being able to share accessories between M10 and TL/2 for example.

M4/3 will be the superb value choice regardless. 2021 will be the year of Gh6 and excitement about new successors to GX8 and G9 are very high indeed.


-----

One last thing before I forget. I won't predict that I will be a tripod fanatic from now on but perhaps the use of a tripod will change my mind about fully articulating screens and tilting screens somewhat? We'll have to see!
 

gordo

Veteran
Location
Arizona
Real Name
Gordon
I did a lot of shifting gear last year, mainly letting go of some Pentax stuff I wasn't using much and getting a second X-H1. Further modification to my kit is currently on hold, waiting for info from Fuji and Pentax regarding some upcoming cameras.

Depending on AF and buffer performance of the new Pentax, I'll be going 1) mainly Pentax with a little Fuji for travel, 2) mainly Fuji with a little K-1 for landscapes, or 3) full Fuji.
 

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