Refining the Toolkit: Olympus, Fuji, Ricoh

News, Photography / Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

I’ve made a few changes to my camera inventory in an effort to shoot more and to spend less time being distracted by figuring out what to shoot with. In terms of formats, I love micro four thirds and APS-C. I’ve become reinvested in Olympus, replacing my EM1 and complementing it with an EM5 Mark II. I’ve also got an arsenal of Olympus M.Zuiko lenses for a full range of imagery opportunities. I like my Ricoh GR so much that I got a second limited edition model–they are pocketable perfection. My Fuji XT1 continues to inspire my creativity and has been joined by an X100T which has become my new travel companion. The Panasonics are gone (both the GX7 and the GM1). I had a Sony RX100 III and it provided a whole new outlook on versatile stealth but I found it too difficult to choose between using it or the GM1 or my GRs so away it went and so did the GM1 once the EM5 Mark II came along.

My current weapons of choice are Olympus for my full systems kit, Fuji for street and travel, and Ricoh for anytime-anywhere shooting as it’s always in my briefcase or easy to grab when it’s time to run and go. I’m down from seven cameras to six (if I don’t include my recent affinity for Polaroid Land Cameras) and I’ve eliminated two cameras that were essentially duplicating what I already had while buying a new device that may expand my overall skills considerably. I still struggle with whether I should keep the XT1 given what I have in equally capable Olympus gear, but the styling, dials, additional ISO performance and silent shooting make it difficult for me to let it go. Fuji’s menus and WiFi integration are also a bit simpler than Olympus and my Instax printer its a great complement to both the Fuji cameras with direct printing that really comes in handy when shooting both strangers and friends.

What I’ve discovered through my series of acquisitions and disposals of various cameras is that I prefer cameras with no less than a micro-four thirds sensor to reduce noise and provide better low light performance. An EVF is also highly preferred which means as much as I like my Ricohs, I’d love an integrated EVF even more. If there was an APS-C or larger sensor camera from Fuji or some other manufacturer that offered the image stabilization of Olympus with a similar range of outstanding lenses of equivalent size and cost (the trade off of the smaller sensor is smaller, more affordable lenses with excellent optics), I’d be all in. Fuji has a nice lens range that is developing but their glass is a bit big, Sony has image stabilization in a full frame camera but the lenses are larger than the Fujis and very expensive. The other option is Leica–style, build quality, small and excellent optics but, OMG–ridiculously expensive is an understatement.

So, I’m relatively happy with what I have given the technological tradeoffs required and the fundamental reality that all of my equipment is better than I am at this particular stage in my photographic training. Guilt about having too much money invested in equipment that I’m not shooting with enough continues to drive a cycle of divestiture and acquisition as newer and better comes out. I’m getting to a point where I know what I like to shoot with and why I like to use specific gear for specific tasks. It’s all about getting back to the fundamentals as I stated when I started this post: shoot more, spend less.

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