Sunday, 26 May 2013

And back to Canon... (again)

It's been seven months since I posted on this site, which seems like a long time between posts. And I suppose it is. But I haven't been silent in the blogisphere. For the last few months I've concentrated my time and effort on writing about my Fuji X10, over at The Fuji X(10) Files. And to be honest, I thought that was going to be that for my NZ Digital blog. The DSLR is dead, long live the mirrorless compact! Vive la Revolution!

It seems that everywhere you look, and in everything you read nowadays, mirrorless cameras are the be-all and end-all of photography. Over at TWIP (This Week In Photography) it's really all they talk about now on their podcast. Contributors to the show wax lyrical about their own new mirrorless compact camera systems, and are even suggesting that the 'new' photographer forget about the 'traditional' SLR style camera as a venerable dinosaur, destined for the scrap heap - and invest instead in these 'new' micro/aps-c sized mirrorless camera systems. Sure, clients might initially think you're a bit 'amateur' if you turn up to a shoot with an Olympus Pen or Sony NEX - but just show them your work and eventually they'll 'get over it'.

Zack Arias and David Hobby worship at the alter of the Fuji X100S because, like, dude, like, it's like the best, like, camera EVER! Exactly how much did Fuji pay them?

Anyway, moving right along. No, I haven't used the Fuji X100S - but I have used the Fuji X100. And it didn't change my life, rock my world or make it on to my 'world's best camera' list. Sorry Fuji. I haven't used the Fuji X20, but I do own the Fuji X10. And I'm selling it. For lots of reasons - some of which I'll get to shortly. I haven't used a Sony NEX (5,6,7), but I have owned an Olympus Pen EP3. And I sold it. For lots of reasons - some of which I'll get to shortly.

Ok, so we've established what I haven't got. What is it that I have got?  A Nikon D600, D7000, D4? Nope. A Canon 7D, 60D, 5D Mk2? Nope. How about a Canon 20D.

Canon 20D. An oldie, but a goodie?
Seriously. Don't laugh. Well OK, laugh if you want. I don't care. I'm selling my Fuji X10 and with the money getting a Canon 20D with EF-S 18-55mm. yes, it's old. Almost 10 years old in fact (it was first introduced in 2004), but should that really count against it?

The D20 is an 8.2MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor camera that, at the time of its release (and right through with the D30), defined how good an 8MP camera could be. It was the standard by which all other 8MP (and many other larger sensors) cameras were judged. 'Amazingly clean images' was how one review at the time put it. And amazing responsiveness - with a top speed of 1/8000th, a sync speed of 1/250th and a burst rate of 5 frames per second - with instant (or near enough) start up and review times for images. All encased in a rugged magnesium alloy chasis. What's not to like?

And I'm being serious here. What more do you really need to take great images? Do you really need live view? Or video? Or super-ubber low-light performance? It's only got a 1.8" lcd on the back, but do you really need bigger? It's nice, but do you need it?

I've been 'mucking around' with these mirrorless camera megastars for the last year, but try as I might (and believe me, I have tried), I just don't like using them. The images from the EP-3 just didn't grab me. They were noisy (for the most part), and difficult to get a good print from. I shot using the optional EVF so i could use a 'conventional' shooting style (camera up to the eye), but even then, the camera just felt 'fiddly'. And I don't have big hands at all.

It's worse with the FujiX10. It's even smaller, and fiddlier than the EP-3. And although it's machined from aluminum, it still manages to come across as a bit of a plasticky 'toy' camera. Retro and 'cool' looking it may be. But I found it impractical and tricky to use in reality. The files are sharp and detailed enough - when the camera gets the autofocus right - but it really only works when composing using the rear lcd screen, a shooting position I thoroughly detest.

OK, maybe I'm old and set in my ways (small disclosure, I'm 45), but this new wave of mirrorless midgets really do nothing for me. I realised this only last week, when I had to change the battery in my daughters Canon 10D (and that's really old technology). I picked the 10D up and it stopped me in my tracks. I literally did a double take, as I had the 10D in my hands. it just felt so right. As does the 20D.

Perhaps that's the nub of it right there? After 25 years of shooting with an SLR, my muscle memory is just hard-wired for this type of shooting experience? If that leads me to a brilliant camera like the 20D, then that's fine by me. I really don't want to spend another 25 years changing my shooting habits to conform with the crowd. I guess I'll go down my own road, go out, and take my own images!?