Letters to The Editor: What Camera?

Letters to the Editor is a recurring series where Chris answers specific emails/letters that could benefit more than one photographer, interesting questions or questions that come in often. Have a question? Send it to chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com with subject: Letter to the Editor: (Your name here).

In today’s Letters to the Editor, we’re answering two questions about cameras. One comes from Steve who wants to recapture the affinity for photography that he had when he shot film. The other comes from Farlin who uses Olympus cameras, isn’t a pro and wants to figure out what to upgrade to.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony a6300 product images first impressions (8 of 8)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 4.0

Hey Chris,
I have a question for you. One of my first cameras was a Pentax K1000. With its simple operation, and ease of use, I feel that I was more connected, more in control of the final photos. I feel that most of the photos that I produced with it were better than what I can produce with my current group of digital cameras that I currently own (Sony Nex7, 6300 & some older Sonys).

I like the ease of use of my digitals, but I really wish there was times they were simpler, and I could be more in control of the final image. As I am getting older, the auto focus is nice, but at times it would nice to switch back and forth quickly. So that is the question, is there a digital camera, that can quickly go from auto everything, to a very basic mode, and switch quickly between auto and manual focus? I even miss the aperture ring that was on all of my old lenses, but cant be found on most of my modern lenses.

Thanks

Steve

***

Hi Steve,

Thanks for reading and sending in your questions. What you’re talking about is essentially what has spurred on the love for retro aesthetics amongst a lot of folks my age (I’m 29.) I really like older cameras because of the aesthetics and for many years I thought and still think that digital cameras are getting better but they’re still not perfectly there yet.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony a6300 product images first impressions (5 of 8)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

The answer that you see essentially is with both Sony and Fujifilm. With your current cameras, you can program a button on the back to do the quick AF/MF switch. In fact, there is a dedicated button for it that you’re supposed to press and hold. If I remember correctly the NEX 7 and NEX 6 had it too. If you move up to the higher end Sony lenses like the 35mm f1.4 and the 85mm f1.4 G Master, then you’ll get that aperture ring that you want so badly. Those are very expensive though. For switching otherwise you’ll be best off with the Sony A6300’s mode dial.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm X Pro 2 product images review (1 of 12)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

The camera system it sounds like you really want though is Fujifilm. AF/MF is done through a dedicated switch on the cameras; but a lot of their wide angle lenses have the ability to take the focusing ring, pull it back and immediately switch to manual focus with a depth of field scale and all. It’s pretty nice. If you set the aperture setting around the lenses to A mode then you’ll be in shutter priority. My favorite cameras by far are the Fujifilm X Pro 2, Fujifilm X-T10, and the Fujifilm X70.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus Pen F product images (8 of 9)ISO 4001-160 sec

Some Olympus lenses have this feature too–additionally the mode dials can really deliver exactly what you need. In many ways too, the X Pro 2 and the Pen f are very much film-camera lovers’ types of digital cameras. For what it’s worth, both Fujifilm and Olympus are leading in this class of cameras when it comes to ergonomics. The Pen-F is arguably the greatest camera I’ve ever held in terms of ergonomics but it has some disadvantages that the Fujifilm X Pro 2 outdoes.

And as always, if you feel this helped you, please make your purchases via the affiliate links on this website because they help to keep the site afloat. Or please donating to the site’s Kickstarter campaign.

– Chris


Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 Mk II product photos (1 of 7)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 8.0

Dear Mr. Chris,

Hi sir, I’m Farlin from Indonesia. I was read your article and review just from 2 days ago and i like so much. I got many insight after read it. So, this is the purpose I contact you.. I want to ask your opinion, I have Olympus E-M5 first generation but I want to change it later. Based on your opinion if I choose between Olympus E-M5 Mark II, E-M1 and Pen-F or Sony A7RII and A7SII? Should I choose for upgrade? I’m mostly use the camera for street photography and portrait, and also I’m not a pro just amateur.
I hope you reply soon and your opinion will really help me, thank you so much.

Warm regards,

Farlin Fernando

***

Hi Farlin,

I chuckled a bit at this questions because what you’re asking about are completely different classes of cameras. The a7r II and the a7s II are meant for higher end and professional work. You don’t NEED them; instead you just want to splurge money on them. This is a major problem with the industry and that other websites I feel try to put forward a lot–that you NEED the best gear to do what you want. The truth is that everyone is making a damned good camera these days and it’s very easy to use something as small as a Canon Rebel to do incredible work.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (1 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

More to your question, I still own the Olympus OMD EM-5 original and I like it! The EM5 Mk II has better tech inside, but I don’t like its ergonomics as much. The EM1 is the same thing. The Pen F has the best ergonomics of any digital camera I’ve ever held, and the Sony cameras are overkill.

Here’s what you honestly need:

  • Adobe Lightroom
  • To start your editing process by working from the bottom of the develop panel and then moving up by experimenting with everything there.
  • Using the camera color profiles in Lightroom
  • Using the lens profiles in Lightroom
  • Editing lessons
  • Perhaps a new lens

Olympus has an incredible 45mm f1.8 that’s very affordable and is able to help you create some super kick ass portrait images. Otherwise, what I also really recommend is that you start to learn how to use flashes to get a lot more out of what you have. What many people don’t understand is that you can keep buying lens after lens after camera but if you simply just buy a flash, you’ll get the absolute maximum sharpness from any lens and camera that you possibly can. Essentially, save your money and invest in other things to improve the image quality you’re getting–especially if nothing is wrong with your current camera!

I hope this answers your question.

And as always, if you feel this helped you, please make your purchases via the affiliate links on this website because they help to keep the site afloat. Or please donating to the site’s Kickstarter campaign.

– Chris