19 October 2017

I want a new camera

I think it's about time I got a new camera. I've thought this for a while, but keep baulking at the price of getting something that would be a decent improvement over what I currently have.

What I have

I have a Sony A55 at the moment. The internet tells me it was released in 2010, and I think I got mine between Christmas and New Year that year. On the lens side I've a Sigma 18-250 super zoom and a 50mm prime that cover most of what I do and I still have the 18-70 kit zoom from my A200 that I sometimes use as I have close focus filters that fit it and let it get really up close to stuff.

What I want

I'd like better performance - noise levels at higher ISOs look much better on more modern cameras, higher res video and not overheating when shooting video would be nice and, though 16 megapixels is usually plenty for what I do more would allow a bit more cropping.

But, the overriding consideration for me getting a new camera is to get something smaller.

My current setup is big enough and heavy enough that I mostly leave it at home - I want something small enough that it would live in my laptop bag (since that comes most places with me), and not be something that I have to think about if it comes or not when I'm travelling.

I definitely want a viewfinder on a camera. I much prefer that to only having a screen - I think it helps to have the picture you're taking be all that you see when composing it. This apparently makes me a bit weird as it seems to be only a small subset of cameras that still have viewfinders.

What I'm considering

Micro 4/3

For the most part the micro 4/3 bodies are a lot smaller than my current camera. The lenses are definitely smaller from targeting the smaller sensor - which has the nice effect of them also being quite a bit cheaper than equivalents for APS-C or 35mm. I really like the Panasonic rangefinder style GX cameras.

Canon EOS M5

APS-C 24 megapixel sensor in quite a compact body. But quite expensive, doesn't do 4K and a disappointing and expensive selection of native lenses.

Nikon 1 V3

Seems to be quite expensive for the specs. Again the native lenses have a disappointing selection and look expensive. And they're a pain to find as search results are swamped by "normal" Nikon lenses - "1" is a stupid name for a lens type.

Sony mirrorless

Maybe switch over to Sony E-mount? A6000 looks like it would be a decent step up from the A55. There's a decent amount of E-mount lenses available (though a bit more expensive than micro 4/3) and adaptors to let you use just about anything else. A bit higher res than the best of the micro 4/3 cameras. I was pretty tempted by the A6500 when it came out, but I don't think I want to spend that much and the jelly from the rolling shutter seems particularly bad with it.

A compact camera

If I really want to go all out on small: get something like a Sony Rx100 or Panasonic LX100. These are small enough to put in a pocket or clip onto my belt so could definitely come everywhere with me. I'm not really sold on giving up on interchangeable lenses though.


I think a small normal crossing zoom would be the best bet for usually living on the camera lens. That should give a nice small package for always carrying around and still be reasonably flexible.

I've seen a few reviews of the Olympus 40-150 that say it's quite good and very good for the price: from ~£50 on eBay. If I get a micro 4/3 camera I'll probably get one of these to have something for the longer end. Might not get that right away.

The Panasonic 12-35 f2.8, or Olympus 12-40 f2.8 "premium"/"professional" zooms look really nice, but they start at ~£500 on eBay so would eat pretty much all of my budget without getting a camera to put them on.

Micro 4/3 or Sony E-mount have a pretty small flange to sensor distance and with the sensors being quite small (especially micro 4/3) you can get adaptors to use most other types of lenses. There are a lot of really cheap and fast C-mount lenses out there, and some old M42 lenses look quite nice. C-mount extension tubes look fun for some macro stuff.

Speed Booster

Metabones Speed Booster gives a 0.71x focal length multiplier (on the ultra, 0.64 on XL variants) to allow full frame lenses to be used while kind of counteracting the crop from the small sensor and making the lens about a stop faster. The metabones version is quite expensive (and not widely available - I haven't yet found any for sale in Europe), there are a couple of cheaper alternatives, but reviews I've seen have been fairly negative for them. Since, to me, the whole point of this kind of adaptor would be to use some of the nice older lenses the adaptor adding issues would kind of spoil that. If I can live with distortion and vignetting C-mount lenses at about equivalent speeds are a couple of orders of magnitude cheaper. Some nice older lenses on a Speed Booster is fun to fantasise about but is probably still more expensive than I'm likely to spend in the near future.

A Speed Booster would let me get some fast older manual primes and make them even faster. Or there are versions that support modern AF lenses but those adaptors are more expensive and the lenses tend to be lots more expensive.

Crop factor

I was a bit worried about the crop factor taking away some of the wide end. My current widest lens is 18mm on the wide end of my kit and super zooms - adn I have often wanted something a bit wider than that. On my APS-C camera that comes in at about 29mm full frame equivalent. Need about 14mm to match that so the cheap standard zooms are about what I currently have and the premium/pro/bloody expensive standard zooms would be a bit wider. EBay has some cheap C-mount lenses out to 7mm without being listed as fisheye but they might have enough distortion that they actually would be fisheye in my book.


I'm still havering. I have bid on a couple of GX7s on eBay but other people seem to think they're worth more than I do, so haven't won them. I'm really surprised how much they go for, only £50-100 less than a GX80 (and second hand GX80s are surprising close to new ones - the higher end of the range are listing them above the new price on Amazon). I think the improved detail from the GX80 not having the low-pass filter makes it worth the extra over the GX7.

So, I'm currently leaning towards a Panasonic GX80 with the kit zoom and a couple of C-mount manual primes. Can maybe upgrade to native, or M42 primes later. I think I'll spend a while watching them on eBay but it is very tempting to push the button on Amazon to get one tomorrow...

Tags: photography thoughts