Ok, I’m almost embarrassed to create this list of cameras that I currently own. I use several actively, some less so and some are just sitting there, on the shelf. You can tell I’m not big into eBay or Craigslist. I just can’t be bothered or I figured not its worth my while to sell my stuff. I know people who sell on these sites all the time, and they seem to like it. Maybe I’m too lazy or just don’t trust the process enough.
Ordered roughly from small to large
Apple iPhone 4S I’ve never gotten into any kind of serious iPhoneograhy. I mainly use this to shoot historical signs on buildings, price tags at stores and to record GPS coordinates.
Panasonic ZR-1 I bought his camera refurbished for $80 and made some surprisingly good point and shoot photographs. It’s small and I can easily carry it around in my pants pocket. It requires tricking its consumer oriented controls to make the really high quality photos. But that was part of the fun and challenge, proving to myself that I can make great photos with a cheap camera. Ultimately, it’s not good enough to take my most important photographs at the quality I want.
Sony TX5 I bought this camera 3 years ago before a trip to Hawaii. It is a fun waterproof camera. Perfect for worry free photos around the beach and swimming pool. Image quality is okay for what it is. However, I have taken some priceless photos of my kids at the beach. Photos that I would never have gotten with my other “serious” cameras since I wouldn’t have shot those in 4 feet of ocean water.
Olympus XZ-1 My most recent camera purchase. I happen to see this on the Olympus website, refurbished, for a ridiculously low price, which I couldn’t pass up. This is my current carry around camera, though it’s too big to put in a pants pocket. I shoot with it through airports and I’ve made some really decent looking photos with it. I also bring it to shoot casual family activities and snaps of friends and coworkers. Its image quality is strong but it is not good enough for my serious landscapes or to record the important family events.
Olympus E-PM2 Currently, my most used camera. I bought it last year before my winter trip to the East Coast. Believe it or not, this camera has the highest image quality of all my cameras, besting even my DSLR, the Canon 7D. I shoot almost everything with this camera, urban landscapes, HDRs, family events, street photography. About the only thing it doesn’t do well is fast action sports. As a bonus, the camera is so light and compact — if I put my 14mm lens on it — it’s not much bigger than the Olympus XZ-1.
Olympus E-PL1 This is the camera that got me hooked on Olympus and micro 4/3. It’s slow focusing and a bit cheap looking but it takes fantastic photographs. I liked it so much that I ended up buying two refurbished units. I use these less now since I purchased the really snappy E-PM2.
Olympus E-P3 This is my favorite camera for an ergonomics, aesthetics and usability. Image quality is slightly better than the E-PL1 but falls behind the newest E-PM2. Its metal build and light retro styling makes it a high quality camera and a joy to use. Several people have made positive remarks about its styling and some even thought it is a film camera. What I really wanted, before I bought the E-PM2, was this E-P3 body with the new Olympus sensor. Alas, Olympus didn’t release it last year when I wanted it. This is my second most use camera and I typically have it paired with the excellent Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 lens.
Sony NEX-5 My first foray into mirrorless system cameras, I used it extensively until the Olympus Pens gradually took over. I got it before my trip to Disneyland and Southern California. I also shot with it in India, Singapore, New York and of course in and around Austin. Urban landscapes looks great but manual HDRs are a pain to do (it doesn’t have bracketing at +/- 2 stop intervals). My main issue with the camera is with the skin tones of my family, I just didn’t like them. Most reviews don’t talk about it but, to my eyes, I see a greenish-yellowish cast to the images. Newer versions of the NEX have improved on many of the shortcomings of this first NEX camera.
Canon 7D My big DSLR, which was my workhorse, until mirrorless system cameras began to replace it. In the beginning, I used it for everything. Now I tend to shoot sports, portraits and special events like Fashion Week and SXSW Concerts. As I got used to the smaller, lighter cameras, the 7D felt old and heavy. Its image quality no longer impresses even being equalled or bested by the newest mirrorless cameras like the Olympus E-PM2. I do have the excellent Canon 70-200 F4 IS lens which is better than any zoom for the Olympus or Sony systems. Canon is really strong is telephoto lenses, the mirrorless cameras still lag in this area.
Ordered by when it was purchased.
Canon S300 My first digital camera bought back in 2002. It is 2.1 megapixels. I bought it to document the building of my house. I calculated back then that if I took about 1200 photos, this digital camera (about $350 if I remember correctly) would pay for itself in film development costs. I ended up taking many more photos and it launched my interest in photography. Sure, I took photos with a film point and shoot previously but digital really fueled my love for photography. I have no personal nostalgia for film. I hated the way most of my prints looked when I got them back from the store. The camera still works though the battery may only hold a charge for a couple of minutes.
Canon S2IS My first upgrade from the S300, after shooting it for 4 years. This 5MP camera is where I learned how to use the P S A M modes. I bought it before my first family trip to Disneyland and Phoenix. I shot the hell out of this camera and really started fine tuning my photography. It’s the only camera I own that does not work fully. It turns on and I can review pictures but it can no longer shoot photographs. The CCD seems to be broken.
Canon Rebel XT My first DSLR. I bought it in 2006, 5 months after I bought the S2IS. My friend let me use his Canon D60 for a weekend and I was hooked. The speed, image quality and oh that shallow DOF, really blew me away. My wife saw the pictures of the kids taken with the D60 and immediately gave me permission to buy a DSLR. Despite the great image quality, I was a bit hesitant to spend over $1000 after already spending money on the still new S2IS. I’m glad I did. I have loads of great quality photos of my boys when they were young. Something that all the money in the world, now, would not be able to reproduce. Family photos lead to photos for the school year book, soccer photos, karate photos and eventually to urban landscapes. I must have taken at least 30,000 photos on the Rebel XT.
Fujifilm F31fd Long before the popular X100, Fujifilm made another cult classic, the Finepix f31fd point and shoot. It had a reputation for outstanding image quality in a compact body. Even back then, I wanted a smaller and lighter alternative to the Rebel XT. I bought this camera in Japan for under $200 when the exchange rate was a very favorable 120 yen to a dollar. I used it a fair amount but it didn’t work as well in darker areas since it lacked image stabilization. My father got one too and continued using it until recently when he upgraded to an Olympus Pen. I still have this camera and I should compare it to the modern point and shoots to see how it does.
Canon 20D I bought this camera, used, back in 2009 for $270 or so during the depths of the financial crisis. Sales must have been really slow because I picked this camera up at a ridiculously low price back then. I took some of my favorite pictures with it and they still look good now. I also loved the feel of this camera. It was my first prosumer camera and it worked loads better than my Rebel XT. A year or so later, the camera started getting unreliable and I upgraded to the Canon 7D. In the year+ I actively used the camera, I must have shot 40,000 frames. This is the only camera that I no longer own.
The final tally
10 current cameras
4 retired cameras
1 camera that I no longer own.
Crazy but true.
If I go through with my camera upgrade plans, the mix of cameras will change a bit.