It’s not news that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to technology… I really like my toys! I even like reading about toys I have no intention of buying (curse you, responsibilities!), just to geek out over the underlying hardware.
After playing with my girlfriend’s Canon DSLR, I was quite impressed with what you can do with a real camera instead of just a phone (as convenient as it is). This, in turn, launched me into an investigation of Mirrorless and MFT (Micro Four Thirds) cameras that I could use while traveling. While comparing the different form factors, I was able to learn quite a bit about camera sensors and crop factors, angle of view, and exposure bracketing.
The Winner: Fuji X-E2
After a great deal of deliberation and reading reviews on usability (digging through menus versus dials, extensive documentation, etc.), lens support (3rd party, and so on), and the underlying hardware, I settled on the Fuji X-E2. Using Amazon Smile, I found a used body and 18-55mm lens for only $580. As I was flying through JFK, I had a hard time saying no to seeing the SkyDeck. 😀
All the images below are straight JPEG captures from my camera. While the RAW images were nice, I was so impressed with the JPEG that I didn’t feel it necessary to do any real post-processing. If you are curious, here is an HDR image of the Sky Deck created using exposure bracketing (+/-1EV).
Here is what a similar post processed (exposure bracketed +/-1EV) HDR image of the Delta B764 looks like, if you are curious.
Overall I am thoroughly pleased with what this camera can do, and I already have a few lens purchases planned for next year.
- Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS – ultra wide angle lens
- Fuji XF 27mm f/2.8 – excellent optics in a tiny package
- Fuji XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 – Fuji’s “light” telephoto (the XF weighs ~580g instead of the XC’s 375g, and since I’ll be traveling with it the weight is important)
The Runner-Up: Sony α6000
While digging through all the reviews and various photoblogs, I came across a lot of high praise for Sony’s alpha line of mirrorless cameras. The α5100 and α6000 had quite a few fans scattered throughout the internet, and the continuous shooting (11fps on the α6000!) and impressive Hybrid (Phase Detection + Contrast) Auto-Focus certainly do impress. The α5100 wasn’t really an option for me since being force to use only an LCD is fairly limiting when you are outside in the sun (as with day-time shots at airports). The Electronic View Finder (EVF) on the α6000 is a much bigger selling point to me than the continuous shooting speed improvement, if I had to pick between the two.
What I found interesting was that the Hybrid Auto Focus has iffy success with the E-mount lenses (even though they are officially supported with one another). The other big problems with the α6000 come down to the lack of in-depth documentation on the various settings (which Fuji has a-plenty, thankfully), and the more “point and shoot” nature of the dials. All of that said, the same things that fall into the “cons” column for me might be seen as “pros” for other users. I can see this as an excellent transition camera, but it lacked the control that Fuji exposes in a more user-friendly manner. I’ve included a few lens recommendations if you’re interested. Give it a gander!
- Sony 20mm f/2.8 – excellent light-weight prime
- Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS – an excellent short to mid-range zoom… much friendlier than the 16-50mm power-zoom lens that is included with most bundles
- Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS – filling the mid to long-range zoom spot, and offering excellent manual control
- Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 – that’s right, it’s available for Sony, too!
Honorable Mention: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk2
Winning the Wirecutter “best mid-range mirrorless” title, Olympus’s E-M10 Mk2 is an impressive piece of technology. The main reasons for this are the fact that it is an MFT (or m43, or μ43, etc.) camera, so it has access to over 70 (relatively speaking) inexpensive lenses and has 5-axis In Body Image Stabilization. There are quite a few features that would be nice for folks interested in video capture and time-lapse (4k time-lapse capture, 60p video capture, and quite a few other perks were introduced). In the end, though, the sensor size is simply too small for what I would like to do, so I opted for the larger APS-C model by Fuji. As with the Sony, above, I’ve listed a few lens recommendations below. One thing to note is that since this camera has stabilization within the body itself, be sure to turn it (or the lens stabilization) off if you use a lens that also has image stabilization. This is most common with Panasonic lenses as they have image stabilization which the bodies lack. If using an Olympus lens with an Olympus body, the camera does all the work for you.
- Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS – yay third party manufacturers!
- Olympus 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R – a very dependable mid-range zoom
- Panasonic Lumix 14mm f/2.5 G – lightweight prime… don’t be put off by the fact it is discontinued
- Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 – another nice, light prime
So – there you have it. I look forward to playing with my new toy over the coming weeks, especially over Thanksgiving and Christmas!
What do you travel with?