Full Frame Cameras, are they really worth the money?

Yet again we see the announcement of a new Camera.

Recently it was Fuji  heralding the arrival of the XA-7, which is firmly aimed at the younger, phone savvy set and has some nice improvements onboard when compared to the XA-5.

Prior to this was the new Canon  EOS M6 and the EOS 90D. Prior to this was the new Sony A7r IV.

Today sees the announcement of the Sony A9 II.

Looking back over the past 18 months sees a slew of new cameras brought to market, most of which are aimed at mirrorless and full frame users, and all come with a pretty serious price tag.  It seems there has been precious little to make those with a more modest budget excited. The new XT series from Fuji and the A series from Sony while bringing good cameras to market still tend to be too high priced for a lot of the budget conscious, myself included.

Personally I have zero interest in full frame cameras, I already have full frame cameras, they just happen to be 35 mm film cameras. I have zero interest in lugging around a set of heavy lenses as well. Pretty much most lenses for full frame and quality primes for both full frame and APSC are heavy. Even Panasonic has fallen prey to the “fullframe” malaise.

At least Panasonic and Olympus are continuing for the present with their much smaller and lighter micro four thirds cameras. Both makers have excellent glass for these cameras and being much smaller and lighter make it easier to tote around a few extra lenses in the camera bag.

Of late I’ve decided on a two lens approach for all my future photographic needs, a good 50 mm prime and a good/excellent ( price dependent) 18 to 300 mm range telephoto lens. Thats more than enough for most photography needs where I am concerned.

With that in mind I cant help but think that in a shrinking market, manufacturers producing new generation full frame cameras have a very limited audience. While the best YouTube channels are all sporting reviews and opinions, back in the real world just how many people are actually going  to have a use on a daily basis for such equipment. Yes there will be pro photographers that will swap or upgrade their gear, as well as some well heeled enthusiast/hobbyists.

But for the general  amateur/hobbyist photographer that just wants a nice reliable camera with a couple of decent lenses thats under $800.00 USD ( thats about $1300 NZD). Theres not too much available other than basic entry level gear.

Now at that sort of money its not hard to see why people are opting for a smartphone rather than a dedicated camera. Given that the modern smart phone is a portable phone/computer/media player/camera its not hard to see why people are buying them rather than a straight camera.

My wife runs her entire computing requirements including photo processing and printing off her Samsung Note9, running in DEX mode. When home its attached to a high quality 27 inch monitor with HDMI inputs and outputs, has sound in and out to run a set of desktop speakers and has a wireless keyboard and mouse for interface input.  It also has  256 gig storage to boot. The camera is excellent for the size of the lens /sensor combo. You can see examples from this phone in previous posts on this blog. The newer Note10  is even better with a faster processor and GPU, added DEX functionality and better cameras and sensors as well as improved video capability.

Original unedited image from the Samsung J3Pro
Original unedited image from the Samsung J3Pro

Its hard to see where the camera manufactures think the market trend is going when year on year we see plummeting camera sales across the market. Sure the professional photographer’s always benefit from newer improved gear but when one wants to spent money on a new camera body whats the attraction given today’s technology in a lightweight multi purpose package like the smart phone. In case you still arent sure about the modern smart phone, the image below was taken with my Samsung J3Pro, edited in Photoscape and printed onto A4 photo paper.

This image is the photo above printed in portrait mode on A4 paper. Unfortunately the J3Pro in low light is not too good so this image is a little dull. However when the photo is viewed there is no apparent noise,the focus is razor sharp,and color is well balanced and bright.

The Samsung J3Pro is a pretty low end smartphone when compared to something like the Note 9 or Note 10, or the latest top offerings from other manufacturer’s. Its a bit like comparing a racehorse and a draft horse, the J3 is definitely the draft-horse in this arena.

No matter what you needs are, theres nothing sure as to what the market will bring in the coming months and years, and time will tell whether the full frame camera market will stand the test of time or rapidly shrink into nothing more than a niche for those with the deepest pockets and a real need for the big camera setup.

Happy Snappin’

 

 

 

One lens is all you need.

As the title suggests one lens is all you need right? Well yes .. maybe.

Theres a school of thought and any number of YouTube videos that suggest the same thing and it got me thinking.

This is the Pentax version of the Chinon f1.19 that I have for my Pentax film cameras and its a good lens.

In the film days when 35mm SLR’s were the in camera, most came with a 50mm lens attached. Depending upon the model they generally ranged from f1.4 to f 2.8, were manual focus  and manual aperture.  This changed with the arrival of  auto focus cameras and the introduction of consumer grade short telephoto lenses usually in the range of 28 mm to 90 mm ( today’s versions would be 16 -50mm or similar.) and were generally inferior in the optics that they used. Thats not to say they were totally horrendous but merely of lesser quality than the standard 50 mm prime that normally arrived with your SLR.

Thinking about this brought me to my favourite style of shooting images. I like flexibility, but I dont like having to swap out lenses all the time, nor do I like having to tote around a bag full of lenses. What I want to do is capture the image. This is what attracted me to the manual focus Fuji bridgecameras like my HS20. I was happy to trade a bit of image quality for the convenience and flexibility a single telephoto lens could provide.

However as time went by I found I didnt always need the long end of the lens and was often a little let down with the resulting images. Having had DSLR’s in two or three lens combo’s I found that although I had traded up on functionality and image quality I had gone backwards on my desire to be unencumbered  from having excess weight in my gear-bag.

Until I decide and have funds available to purchase what may be my forever camera, I traded the digitals apart from my HS20 for a couple of Pentax SLR camera bodies, namely the MZ-6 and the MZ-30. Depending upon circumstance I will normally have the 50mm on the MZ-6 for everyday photography and the MZ-30 for road trip work as the MZ-30 sports the well regarded Tamron AF aspherical xr di ld if 28-300 mm macro. (Note this is the 35mm film version not one of the later versions that you see on some DSLR’s .)

The Beauty of the Tamron is its range. It is considerably heavier than a lot of lenses but the ability to give a large all in one option is very handy. By contrast the MZ-6 with the 50mm onboard is feather light and just right for those occasions where you have lots of people around or perhaps you just want a lightweight option for the day.

So are you limiting yourself by considering the one lens option? I’d argue that you arent, especially when you consider that the average smartphone has a single focal length and people  love the images they get from these short focal lengths. Its only in the higher end phones that we see more options focal length wise. This video shows some of what you can achieve using just a 50mm lens.

Do yourself a favour and try this as an option on your next photo excursion. You might just be surprised at what you can do.

 

 

Fuji Releases the XA-7

With very little fanfare Fuji has released the latest XA camera, the XA-7.

First impressions are that this is what the XA-5 should perhaps have looked like. With a new 24 megapixel APSC sensor and a 3.5 inch 16:9 format full tilt and swivel screen this is what many of the Fugi faithful have been waiting for.

Click on this image to see the preliminary impressions from DPreview.

After looking over the specs and viewing current limited video reviews theres nothing to dislike about this camera if you have a modest budget, want excellent photo imagery, good if not stellar 4k video.

As some have stated, in some areas it borrows from the XT30 and in others it out points it as in the 2.7 meg oled LCD. Oh and it has a touch screen as well, plus it has the inclusion of the joystick in place of the older four way control pad on the rear of the body. A very grownup feature.

As a former XA-2 user this is the first XA camera that could entice me back into the Fuji fold. Recently I have gone to more budget friendly camera gear, not because I no longer like Fuji gear but simply because it was becoming beyond my budgets reach to entertain having even well used Fuji camera gear and theres a lot I miss from no longer having my Fuji camera in the APSC class.

The introductory review video from Lensvid.com covers a lot of the main points about the new camera. If this trend  is continued within the XT lineup of cameras we are looking at the start of what could be a whole new design philosophy and design concept from Fuji going forward into new generations of cameras. In many ways I see this camera as considerably more rounded and geared towards people who are less concerned about specs and more concerned with making decent videos and being able to take great images, share them quickly and shoot them off to their favourite print house for some great printed photos.

This camera just seems to shout  “Use Me”. Theres an element of what smartphones have been bringing to the consumer in terms of sheer usability and results, something that few camera manufacturers have truly brought to the market as yet. Once again Fuji may well have stolen the show with this seemly innocuous and understated camera … but full  sensor cover phase detect auto focus points, in a entry level camera sounds very good to me.

Happy Snappin’

Ist Day Of Spring

We finally get a fine day after suffering a month or more of wet and unpredictable weather. There has been precious little that has been camera worthy over the winter months and although the weather forecast is for more wet and unsettled weather over the next week or two (typical spring weather ) it was nice to have two consecutive fine and sunny days. Even the bees and wasps were out and about. But as usual they weren’t being co-operative and eluded most of my efforts.

I meandered about the garden looking for a suitable macro opportunity, my trusty HS20 in hand and managed to snap one image worth considering a keeper. After a modest edit in Photoscape I decided to print the image on both 4 x 6 and 8 x 10 photo print paper. Below you can see the original image, the finished version and an image of the two prints. While my phone camera didn’t do the prints justice I was more than happy with the output from the Epson Ecotank L 365, which is now getting a little long in the tooth. Its not communicating via wireless connection so all our tablets, phones and WiFi  connected devices cant print anything which is becoming annoying. I have a feeling this was caused by a mild power surge after a particularly nasty thunderstorm a few weeks back.

This is the original unedited file.

It still prints well as its attached to my photo editing PC via USB connection, so it will become a dedicated photo printer. We will get a better model in the Ecotank series. If funds are available I may well look at getting a A3+ printer, and donate the current printer to a student photographer.

The image below is a 40% crop of the original and has had one of the Photoscape film emulation filters applied to bring up shadow detail and improve colour and contrast.

This is the edited version ready to print.

And this is how they look printed as a standard 4 x 6  print and as an 8 x 10. The HS20 has more than enough resolution for images this size and certainly up to A3.

This image taken with my smartphone, as can be seen the phone didnt do the images justice. The fine detail is really very good on both prints.

 

Happy Snappin’