I gave in to weakness. I gave in to the consumer culture. I gave in to the relentless onslaught of the digital photography marketing machine. I did it. I bought a new camera.
I bought a Fujifilm X-E2 mirrorless camera - also scentless as far as I can tell, though this aspect of the camera is not stressed so much in the advertisements. It's a very modern but definitely retro styled camera that visually takes you back to the days not just of smaller SLRs like the classic Pentax K-1000 above but also to real rangefinder cameras.
Why did I do this? I have a perfectly proficient Nikon D300 with, among others, a totally excellent Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens (used above with the nice bokeh) which I've used to death over the last 7 years and over 30,000 images. I'm a bit afraid of the answer.
There is no doubt that cameras - and especially the technology - in these new mirrorless cameras has been exploding lately. While Fuji sits a bit in the cool corner of this new market, Olympus, Panasonic and especially Sony are coming out with new miracles every other week it seems. The contentious debates over whether these cameras - and I'm lumping the Fujis in with the Sonys and the family of micro four-thirds cameras - are the equals of bigger and heavier DSLRs are beginning to settle down. The images are just that good. Fuji - who make their own sensor - and Sony - who make sensors for themselves and most other brands - are at the front of the pack for image quality.
Many of the other cameras excel also at shooting video. The new Panasonic GH-4 is already renowned for bringing so-called 4K video to the masses and by all accounts it's stunning. The new Sonys including the a7R are also wowing users with their full frame sensors and ginormous dynamic range.
So there are more questions. Not only why did I buy a camera but why did I buy this one?
Honestly, it's easy: look at the damn thing! It's stunning! I was taken in by her curves but when I got to know her, I discovered she was fascinating, and thoughtful and very, very capable of taking photos extending far beyond my meager capabilities. She is not only shapely but also compact compared even to my D300 (a bit more than a third of the weight - before adding lenses - which are always bigger and heavier on the DSLR) and there are much bigger DSLRs especially when you start looking at full frame beast mode cameras.
It's so much smaller and lighter than my D300 that I'm more likely to take it with me. It's image quality is superb. The lenses are smaller and lighter. It has an aperture ring - a tactile aperture ring. It has built in wifi for transferring pictures back to my smart phone. It comes with a very capable kit lens and it's jpg conversions (what?! No big ole raw files?) come in a variety of flavors all tasty. There are a lot of small things at work here, and as the years - and my friend Chris Gross - teach me, smaller, cleaner and tidier is better - at least for me.
At the end of the day there are some practical things that I was looking for in a new camera, including some style (my D300 is a tank but it's not stylish), less weight and size, some ISO, some wifi, some silence (yes DSLRs can be loud under sensitive circumstances) and some fun. I also wanted a distraction, a project, something to focus on after losing my Dad last month and putting my dear kitten Nina down three days before that. I'm looking forward to sinking my teeth into this camera and seeing if we can collaborate on some strong-work™.
Here is one of my first efforts with the X-E2: a shot of Brandy lounging (apparently comfortably?) on the stairs while keeping a sentry's eye looking out the window for encroaching whistle-pigs and the like. I shot straight to jpeg with one of the monochrome film simulation modes - something I don't think I've ever done with the D300 - and I quite like the results.
Maybe this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship; I sure hope so.