With my impending move to retirement ( sounds dramatic doesn’t it ) I’ve been pondering the camera setup to replace my recently sold Canon 700D & lenses.
Do I buy new or go for good quality used and hopefully snag a bargain. The frugal photographer in me says hold out for the bargain, while the gear-head in me says go for a new camera, something that will give many years of hopefully trouble free service. At this point, buying new has perhaps more merit than it may have had a couple of years ago as retirement is only 5 months away, and in all likelihood I wont have the available funds to change what I use going forward.
What then are the major parameters I need to address in putting together a list of attributes I want in a camera. Theres more to this that you may think and not just from the technological standpoint.
A couple of things that at this point in time are absolutely a prerequisite, are size/weight and ergonomics. This needs to be as unobtrusive size and weight wise as possible and maintain an easy to use controls layout. One of the main drivers of the second of these two requirements is the increasing interest my wife has for doing video work. Ease of use will be very important as she suffers from increasingly debilitating arthritis and its associated conditions, plus she’s a novice when it comes to using a dedicated camera for video and stills work.
This then drives home the second major issue, how much size and weight will be dependant upon the style of camera in large part. At this point I have three main contenders and they are all Fuji cameras.
My preference is for Fuji after having used Canon and Pentax cameras. Full frame is definitely not an option and Micro four thirds lacks a little in the sensor stakes as I intend to be doing considerably more astrophotography, an area where the Fuji cameras I had in the past really shine, pardon the pun. Less bulk and weight, film simulations and colour that I prefer over all others, this harks back to my use of Fuji 35mm film stock in days past.
For me at least the APSC line of cameras is going to be the sweet spot. Generally good value and well supported, at least in the Fuji world. Sony still supports their APSC line but there is a lack of really good glass and personally the Sony line seems somewhat overpriced for what you get. And no I’m not interested in adaptors and using legacy lenses, although I do already own a Fuji/Pentax adaptor so I can use my Pentax lenses with a Fuji camera. Canon is moving away from mirrorless APSC and Nikon has already done so, therefore the choice in Mirrorless APSC cameras is getting pretty limited.
After considering size and weight perhaps the next single biggest consideration is image stabilisation. If I want a camera with IBIS ( in body image stabilisation) then The Fuji XS10 is a no brainer. Couple it with the XC 15-45 power-zoom and you have a good entry/mid level video shooter. No matter the choice of image stabilisation be it lens based or body based it is an absolute must. Lately nerve damage in my right arm has made hand holding a camera more difficult than it used to be, especially when shutter speeds start getting down around 100th sec or less. My Fuji HS20 bridge camera has IBIS, rated at about 3.5 stops, and I find that nowadays I’m struggling to get truly crisp shots under 200th of a second and even then higher shutter speeds dont always help. Three or four years ago this wasn’t an issue, but as time has gone buy the damage sustained from past injuries is now catching up.
The three Fuji models I’m considering are the XA7, X-T200 and the X-S10.
All use the PASM format rather than the more retro style controls found on most Fuji models. And while these modes are available on Fuji cameras they are not the primary shooting option. PASM is a layout I’m much more familiar with and comfortable using, all my DSLR’s and film SLR’s were setup this way. The only cameras that differed from this were my old Pentax K1000 film camera and my even older and long gone Praktica that I bought way back in 1973. People that have only had point and shoot cameras or like my wife a short time with a DSLR will immediately feel more at home with the PASM system than they are likely to be if confronted with a series of analogue dials that bear little resemblance to anything they have encountered previously.
With the XA7 & X-T200 image stabilisation is lens based OIS ( Optical Image Stabilisation ) and while not as effective as IBIS, when coupled with the inbuilt Electronic Stabilisation the two entry level cameras have a combined IS System thats not far off what you would have with the XS10 using IBIS, something the Sony 6000 series cameras dont match.
For astrophotography work I rather prefer the output from the Bayer sensor thats in the X-T200 and the XA7. I found the 16 MP Bayer sensor that was in my XA2 to be a very good performer with a low noise output, making processing astrophotos considerably easier than those from my Canon cameras.
In terms of costing the XS10 is not exceedingly expensive, however I could buy two X-T200’s for less than the cost of an XS10 with the XF 18-55 kit lens attached. A more prudent buy may well be to get an XA7 for my wife and an X-T200 for my use and add a couple of extra lenses to the kit for approx the same money as the XS10 kit. Something like the XC 50-230 a lens I’m familiar with and know gives excellent results and the new XC 35 or XF 27 pancake lens for some street photography work. This then would form the basis for a modest and relatively in expensive two camera setup that should cover our needs for quite some time.
Is it in line with the Frugal Photographer ethos? Not really but this time I’m looking at what will give good service for may years to come without being overly cumbersome to use and provide a good deal of the fun factor that I found missing with my latest DSLR.