Camera Reconciliation

Five Cameras

This post is simply for purposes of documenting why I own the cameras that I currently own if for no other reason than to justify my current spend in my own mind. Sometimes I struggle with whether I’m getting enough out of my equipment which then leads to sales which then leads to purchases. I’m going to take a step back and clarify my thinking so that I can better focus on becoming a better photographer without being so distracted by my tools.

What I Have and Why I Use It

Olympus OM-D E-M1
The Complete MF3 (micro four-thirds) System. I have several lenses to include 17/1.8, 20/1.7, 25/0.95, 25/1.8, 45/1.8, 75/1.8 and 75-300/4.8-6.7.  I also have two Olympus flashes.

Panasonic GX7
System Backup and Partner to the E-M1 as it used all the MF3 lenses.
Retro-styled travel and documentary camera.

Panasonic GM1
Ulta-portable system camera that also uses all my MF3 lenses. An easy take-anywhere camera with interchangeable lens capability.

Fujifilm XT1
My APS-C system. Street, documentary, and portraits shooter with 23/1.4, 35/1.4 and 56/1.2 lenses. I have one Fujifilm flash.

Ricoh GR
Primary, have-it-with-me-all-the-time camera. High quality, low profile, ideal daily shooter. APS-C with a 28/2.8 lens.

Potential Duplication & Decisions

E-M1 vs GX7. Resolved if GX7 if used to back up E-M1 or used in partnership when doing events and two cameras are required and I can take advantage of sharing my system lenses between the two. The design of each allows them to be used differently when deciding on one or the other for independent use. Having both is a bit of a luxury if not used together for a two-camera shoot.

Verdict: OK to have both but need to figure out whether the GX7 or the GM1 is best backup.

E-M1 vs XT1. Both cameras can be used together for events to take advantage of each camera’s respective strengths. However, they are similar enough that I prefer to use the XT1 by itself for street shooting and the lens options available for the Fuji aren’t as expansive or inexpensive as the E-M1. The XT1 has higher quality and is easy to use but I miss the touch focus of the E-M1. If the next generation XT1 includes a touch screen, I’ll have a harder time deciding if the system options of the E-M1 are better than an XT1 with a few lenses to cover most of the shooting range.

Verdict: Ok to have both but the next generation XT1 may challenge the need for the MF3 system if the next MF3 sensor doesn’t provide an even greater challenge to APS-C sensors. Right now the speed of one compliments the quality of the other.

GX7 vs GM1. This is a case of big brother versus little brother. I love the EVF and the tilting screen of the GX7 which are missing on the GM1. The smaller size of the GM1 if pretty incredible and it’s easy to forget that it is just as capable an imaging device as the GX7 or the E-M1. The GM1 also lacks the image stabilization of the other two cameras but this doesn’t seem to have impacted my pictures much although I need to check how much this affects low light shooting. I struggle most with whether I should keep both of these cameras as either would be a good back up to the E-M1 where even having a back up is a bit of an issue if it’s not used. I certainly don’t need two back ups. As much as I like the GX7, sometimes the features drive me crazy–it’s easy to inadvertently move the focus point with the touch screen and the EVF can flip up quite often when carrying the camera at your side. Not a big deal but minor irritations that I don’t have with the GM1 although it doesn’t have some of the buttons and dials that make the GX7 fun to use and also lacks a hotshoe.

Verdict: Ongoing tension here. I’ve offered the GX7 for sale twice and it hasn’t sold for my asking price. It’s a fun camera with a great retro look but it functions as my ‘extra’ camera that doesn’t get as much use as the others. Unless I really intend to use it as a second camera for events where the E-M1 is primary and I’m not using the XT1 as secondary, the GX7 will really need to go. There is also an issue about whether the XT1 is a better travel and documentary camera.

GM1 vs GR. This is a matter of portability and quality. The GR has better image quality with the larger sensor but isn’t as versatile when it comes to changing lenses since it has a fixed lens. The GR is easy to slip in a bag or a pocket where the GM1 is small enough to carry inconspicuously but it has to be carried with at least a wrist strap–it isn’t pocketable and may not fit easily inside a small brief case for travel based on which lens you have attached.

Verdict: Ok to keep both as the GM1 is a small system camera that I can use with multiple lenses and take along as necessary. The GR works best just staying in my bag or in the car for use whenever a picture presents itself and eliminating the frustration of not having a ‘good’ camera when I need one. The GR is the ultimate point and shoot.

So what have I learned after all this typing? The E-M1 is my workhorse, The GM1 is a portable power beast, the XT1 needs to be refined in my use as more of a daily system for general shooting in addition to travel, street, and portrait shooting and the GR is my go-to for casual, anytime shots. This leaves the GX7 as a questionable backup to the E-M1with duplication via the GM1 and challenges from the XT1 even though it’s a different system. Kind of what I knew but writing it out with the pros and cons was a worthwhile activity to drive some decisions.

Time to get on with taking better photos.

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