My time is over with SLRs
27 November 2012
Today the last of my Canon gear left me. Over the last six and a half years I have shot with a 350D, 30D and finally a 7D with a few lenses. In that time I have racked up 32,760 photographs; which only 1440 have made it onto Flickr. Nothing surprising there as digital means we are free to shoot non stop and edit later, with no cost implications.
My dissatisfaction with SLRs started about 18 months ago. My 7D was an excellent camera however the size of it got to me. It became a hassle to take out and people have always been intimidated by it. It is really hard to get natural shots of people when you know them and they know you have your camera about.
I began looking for a compact system to replace it. Unfortunately I am a snob with camera design and functionality. I have to have a viewfinder and I do not like the shape of Lumix GH3 as it is still bulky. I thought about the Nikon V1 and the array of Sony NEX cameras but they all had something missing; mainly a viewfinder.
Fujifilm then brought out the X100 and then the X-Pro 1. These two where promising but still not quite what I wanted. The X100 was limited by a built in lens and the X-Pro 1 was still fairly large. Fortunately Fujifilm didn't stop there and the X-E1 came out last month. It ticked all the boxes, compact, large sensor and a view finder; even it was electronic only.
I have been using it since the start of November with the 18mm f/2.0 lens and have been very pleased. Due to the small size of it I can take it everywhere. It usually goes in my bag. If I don't have a bag it is light and inconspicuous enough to go round my neck.
And more importantly, the image quality is fantastic. It is accurate and vivid.
I had my doubts about the focus speed and the electronic viewfinder.
The autofocus is great for what I do. Which is mainly candid or landscape shots. However I am not so sure it would hold up with anything fast moving. The autofocus may but I am unsure whether the electronic viewfinder can. Perhaps in daylight it would be fine however in lowlight it doesn't quite keep up with reality. I have learnt to get around this by using the display or more often, setting my focus distance manually and being quick on the draw. The compromise of the electronic over an optical viewfinder is worth it to keep the size down.
The viewfinder's shortcomings in low light do not reflect the image quality. I was surprised well the images came out in low light. I thought that it would be close to my 7D but it far exceeds it. The lighter weight and smaller size has meant that I can also get away with much slower shutter speeds and not have any shake from my movements.
It is a shame that Canon and Nikon haven't done anything interesting in this space yet. Sony are even mocking their consumers.
I couldn't have seen myself switching to Fujifilm, let alone moving from an SLR. Although the X-E1 is great and Fujifilm seem to be doing great stuff; I don't want Canon and Nikon to fall out of this market completely and let Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony take it easy. I always tell myself after each purchase, this will be my last camera for years. But I will get tired and want something new. I just don't want to have to wait so long for a fluke chance to happen again.
More images on Flickr