Most sane people would say I have enough cameras. By last count I have 9 cameras in various states of use. Plus, I have several more that have been “retired”. So why would I be looking at new cameras or have a camera watch list? Well… because it’s fun.
These are the cameras I ponder. They are totally unnecessary but fun to have. Because I have a large basket of cameras, the cameras on my watch list fill increasingly niche functions or have features that are moderate improvements on what I already have.
All four cameras are mirrorless but without interchangeable lenses. High-end point and shoots, if you will, most with fixed lenses. I’m already set with the Canon and Olympus systems, for now, so I’m turning my attention to stand alone cameras.
Here are the candidates.
The Olympus XZ-1 is my newest camera acquisition. A high-end, older model point and shoot that is surprisingly good and fun. I got it for an irresistible price and ended up liking it more than I expected. I use it as my carry around camera that gives me good quality pictures when I want versatility. Great for casual snaps of the family or on social get togethers. Documenting, clever I hope, scenes that I find in my daily life. I took it to California recently and had a ball shooting it at SFO (here and here), among other places.
The XZ-2 adds solid improvements over the original XZ-1. It has the same great lens but also adds a tilting LCD and the ability to customize. My research shows about a 1 stop improvement in lower light performance compared to the XZ-1 and it’s only 1 stop worse in noise than the old Olympus E-PL1. Not bad for a compact 1/1.7″ sensor.
Current new prices are running at $499 down from the intro price of $599. Things get interesting for me when refurbished (or new) prices hit about $300. For that price, it may be worth an upgrade for that boost in image quality. Plus, it has a much better movie mode than my XZ-1.
I’ve always had keen interest in the original Fujifilm X100 but it had enough “quirky” issues that I never pulled the trigger. In the mean time, I built out my Olympus Pen system and sort of lost interest in the Fuji. Now the X100s is here with some noticeable improvements. Early reviews are great. Zack Arias who I respect tremendously, says it is the greatest camera he ever owned. His review is really funny, his street photographs are awesome. You should read his review.
The camera is currently at its intro price of $1299. If the previous X100 is a guide, I don’t expect much of a price drop anytime soon. There is a considerable and passionate following for this camera which will keep the prices steady.
The price certainly gives me pause, especially for a camera with less flexibility than my current Pens. But the sensor is supposed to be terrific though the fixed 35mm equivalent lens at f2.0 is supposed to be a bit soft. It doesn’t add any new capabilities to my camera gear other than a bit more image quality and a 35mm focal length, which I don’t have. The biggest issue right now, the special X-Trans sensor requires a specially tweaked RAW software. There is a beta for Lightroom but I prefer Aperture 3, which has not announced X-Trans support.
Full frame is becoming more popular and the RX-1 allows me to get into full frame without lugging a heavy DSLR. The camera is getting great reviews but the $2800 price tag is really tough to swallow. I will have to monitor this guy and see how the pricing goes. I’m also bit concerned about the Sony yellowish-green color that I don’t like. I first noticed this on my NEX-5. Very few people talk about this but Ken Rockwell also mentioned the color issue on his RX-1 review.
Sigma DPx Merrill
Here is a camera way out there that most people won’t consider it. But the sample photos I’ve seen are mind-blowingly good. Michael Reichmann over at Luminous Landscapes says
It is my opinion that the Sigma DP2M, for its part, provides the highest image resolution of any camera / lens combination than costs less than a $2,000 – $3,000 dollars, and it seriously challenges the IQ of cameras like the Nikon D800e and even medium format backs in prints up to about 20X30″
You can read about the details of the camera and its one of a kind Foveon sensor on Luminous Landscape’s Sigma DP2 Merrill review.
These new Sigma compacts come in 3 flavors, the DP1 Merrill , DP2 Merrill and DP3 Merrill. All 3 models have the same design, sensor and processor but they differ on the fixed lens that is attached. They have a 28mm f2.8, 45mm f2.8 and 75mm f2.8 equivalent lens respectively.
They have terrible hardware and software wrapped around an absolutely gorgeous sensor and lens. I like 28mm the most but it’s the 45mm that is getting the raves. The image quality is amazing. I’m more impressed with samples from this camera than any other. It is that good. Current price $800. But that’s down from the recent $1000. The camera is impractical for most things. I would use it as a very specialized day time landscape (urban or nature) camera. My version of a medium format camera, placed on a tripod and shot slowly. Perhaps if it falls to about $500, it would be enough for me to overlook all of its limitations and take the plunge.