About a half year ago, I talked about the 4 cameras on my watchlist. I’ve made a few gear changes since then so I decided to revisit that list.
With all the cameras that I already have, you may wonder, why am I still looking for more. I wonder too. The simple explanation might be that I’m suffering from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), and that’s probably true, to some extent.
The more complicated answer is that I’m always trying to optimize my tools for a specific purpose. Since I already have most of my needs covered, I’m looking at smaller and smaller niches to fill.
I had the Olympus XZ-2 on my list. And as much as I liked the XZ-1, that previous generation camera was a bit lacking in certain areas. Since then the Canon G15 has taken over the premium point and shoot slot. I bring it to work everyday and it covers my impromptu photography needs. The XZ-2 is no longer under consideration.
I also had the ultra sharp and ultra quirky Sigma DP-1 Merrill on the list. Further research revealed that it doesn’t do exceptionally well in bright daylight. I was hoping for some magic technology that would give me more dynamic range — I use HDR to compensate but it can be a pain at times. But the Merrill doesn’t help in this area from what I read. It does capture incredibly sharp detail, but that’s not enough — I’m crossing this one off too.
The full frame compact, the Sony RX-1 also looked enticing. Since then I’ve bought the Canon 6D, a full frame DSLR, so my need for another full frame has diminished. I would take a good mirrorless full frame over a DSLR any day but this Sony does not appear to be it. Its high ISO capability is no where as good as the 6D. As I mentioned before, I’m not big fan of the Sony color and finally the $2800 price gives me pause. I really like the 35mm focal length though and having a fixed focal lens would not bother me, especially since I have other cameras as alternatives. Perhaps a future rev of the RX-1, but this one doesn’t overcome my price performance concerns.
The last camera on my list, the Fujifilm X100S, is still alive. I talk about Fujifilm a fair amount on this blog — I’ve had a soft spot for them. I like what they are doing and fundamentally their approach matches my philosophy for mirrorless cameras. But there are these small but significant things that keep me away.
I’m less interested in the interchangeable lens Fuji’s like the X-Pro 1 and the X-E1. I know they get high marks from the devoted Fuji crowd, but I still feel that the X Trans Sensor has not hit its stride. I think it’s a heck of a lot closer but the RAW processing is still somewhat lacking. See how many Fujifilm people talk about how they like the JPEGs so much they don’t use RAWs. My question is are they singing the JPEG song because it is so superior or because the RAW processing is not there? For the really high ISOs, it does better than the micro 4/3 with its bigger APS-C sensor but it’s not good enough for me to switch.
I really like the Olympus Pens and have no desire to get rid of them. Along with the Canon DSLR, I already have 2 interchangeable lens systems. I’m not keen on adding a 3rd by buying into Fuji. But the X100S is different. It has a fixed 35mm (eqivalent) lens so that one camera is complete by itself.
The X100S fills a niche that is not served by any of my other cameras. One of the little talked about features of this camera is its Super Intelligent Flash system. Only a select number of Fuji cameras have it and it’s not on the X-Pro 1 or X-E1. This flash system has an uncanny ability to balance flash output with ambient light. In dark places, its controlled flash evenly illuminates the subject and the background is not rendered a dark cave. It’s possible to do a slow sync type flash on other cameras but the X100S seems to do it better and much easier, the first time without futzing around. The X100S also has a leaf shutter so I can do a high-speed sync for daytime fill shots.
What this intelligent flash capability give me is something really nice for my family snapshots. Ken Rockwell talks about this in his X100S review too. And although I don’t talk about it as much, my family photos are the most important stuff I take. Paying $1300 for this may sound a bit high but I’m still considering it. So for me, ironically, it’s not the X Trans Sensor, the hybrid viewfinder or even its great retro styling that keeps the X100S on my watch list, it’s all about the flash.
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