lots and lots of new features and cameras come to market replacing already advanced and excellently built cameras making them look old continuously.
While this stressful market for manufacturers even moved Leica to produce new lifestyle feature-rich photography devices, there’s one constant that we seem to be forgetting.
A perfect stills photo taken on purpose requires preparation, time, thinking, light and shadow judgement and framing experience.
Some of the most advanced cameras might try to take this burden from us, but effectively are only making bad or lazy photographers achieve a better more or less average but satisfying result. These tools are excellent in doing this.
On the other hand – the interaction with light, the subject and your target idea of a photograph is lost – totally.
I like to filter the existing systems, tools to a non-obtrusive device allowing, or even demanding the physical and mental interaction with the subject, context, illumination to take and improve your skill of taking a photograph on purpose.
- a sensor with reasonable sensitivity and size
- a excellent lens with smooth aperture and focus mechanisms
- a well balanced body
- a selective lightmeter
- a shutter with some speed control
- with a manageable size (as big as your two hands can cover it completely)
and no distraction by any other features that are key to (semi-)automated, “tricking”, tech-“supportive” pictography
These are the cameras I can find newly available that comply with the above creativity demanding restrictions:
– Sigma DP1, DP2 (all variants, even the new Quattro)
– Leica X2
– Leica M7, M-E, MMonochrom (no! not M240 and not MP) with one lens (28/35/50/75mm)
– Out-of-scope LYTRO is opening a new dimension beyond a pure still photo camera by demanding the photographer to create a range of images in one, a dynamic still photograph, not for the watcher to select, but to appreciate all dynamic aspects of the pre-planned and captured lightbeam photograph. Like a Video is planned in all scenes for the Watcher to appreciate – you do not select a scene of the video to watch, only, typically.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate the unflexible and slow way of Sigma DP performance, but finding its sweetspot and focusing on applying its excellent capabilities there is the key to master a Sigma DP. It’s cheap, if you take an older model (i.e. DP2x).
The Leica X2 is pretty much similar in slow handling and reduced functionality as ist the Sigma, just with more sensitivity on the sensor at a higher price.
The Leica M-E and Monochrom are unobtrusive and yet flexible enough cameras for the ones with a bigger pocket. Ignore the lens prices thrown at you. You only need one lens, take the one you can afford, then buy the cheapest, well inspected and maintained camera you can afford. The lens will survive your camera and is applicable on the excellent M7 film-camera, too. There’s no bad currently offered lens from Leica or Zeiss for this system. The most precise film camera on the Leica Market.
If you’re watching the Fuji hype, please do not get distracted, they became a feature monster, more than ever before. All X cameras are beautiful and excellent, but if you’re looking for the essence you’d look at the hybrid-viewfinder versions only. Although their feature buttons might not be positioned perfectly (fixed with the newer EVF models), the mechanics, image quality and essential optical viewfinder photography is so well supported, than you can work it your way without getting distracted with its bells and whistles. By then a M240 might be the rich-pocket alternative, too, if you keep away from capabilities and just look through the optical viewfinder to see, what you see, not what you may get.