Eric L. Woods

Stepping back RNF: Latest cameras may have gone past the point of my needs.

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I have hit a GAS wall. As much as I may muse about and peruse used and new listings I am unwilling to make the sacrifice for what I consider to be my ‘dream’ cameras. The current players:

If you are familiar with my past ramblings you may have noticed something missing. Some form of Leica rangefinder and the Hasselblad 907x. Well I have been cured by alternatives as outlined here for the Leica and here for the Hasselblad.

But the cameras listed above continue to haunt my searches. Why?

They are awesome.

Having had an opportunity to pick up a couple of the cameras above now but not pulling the trigger there is a question I have been asking myself. Why have I not bought one?

Having had some time since my last purchase now with no real intention of pulling the trigger on an “upgrade” I think I have the answer. It is more than one thing.

Value

A key concept whenever I purchase any item big or small is always understanding what is “good enough” before I make a purchase. Good enough is a fluid concept. It is different for every person. What is good enough for someone else may not be good enough for me. What is good enough for me may not be good enough for someone else. None are wrong. It all comes down to factors like use case, preferences, and let us not forget budget.

If I had unlimited cash I would likely buy gear well beyond my use case. But like many that is not my situation. So I will always take a close look. I touched upon this in a recent post about film cameras. Had a legendary Nikon F3 that was such a great deal that I gave it a try and I really liked it.

Nikon F3

But it was a bit precious for my liking. The Nikon FE was a good value, but the Nikon that found a home here was the Nikon FG.

Nikon FG

Similarly with digital I will use Sony as an example. I would really like to have a Sony A7RIV merely because it exists. 61MP? Are you kidding me? Who does not want that? On top of the regular online virtual shopping I have also marched myself into my local camera store to give one a spin. But after a few snaps I calmed down and thought about things:

  • I already traded an R camera (A7RII) for the A7III I already have. Why? More MP than I needed led to me having to upgrade my laptop and it chewed up my hard drive and cloud storage at an alarming clip. 24MP did the trick. It provided all detail I needed.
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  • I try my best to frame shots as I want them when shooting and rarely crop outside of a little straightening and rarely make large prints so I really have no use case for those additional MP.
  • The A7III would be hard to let go of. It is one of my all time favorite cameras. Why let go of it? Well…
  • I would need to pay a whole lot of money to make an A7RIV happen or trade something and still pay a considerable sum. I would rather do neither of those things.

That last bullet brings me to the second reason.

Variety

I prefer variety. Example? Sony recently released an excellent FE 50mm f/1.2 G Master Lens. One can argue that the lens is a good value relatively speaking. It is only $500 more than it’s f/1.4 predecessor. Some reviews state that this lens is as good and perhaps even better than the two main competing similarly spec’d mirrorless lenses from Canon and Nikon. Not bad for a mount opening some attempted to shame without basis it seems.

But the way I am built before purchasing any of those three f/1.2 lenses I would be drawn to lower tier trios like a Rokinon/Samyang’s prime trio

Rokinon/Samyang Trio

….or Canon’s RF f/1.8 STM lenses for example (Nikon and Sony both have manufacturer f/1.8 prime trios also, but they are a bit larger, more pricey, and/or lack the performance {Looking at you Sony FE 50mm f/1.8.} necessary for me to consider them.).

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Even though Canon got out ahead of their mirrorless competitors with quality, smaller, and affordable primes other options are coming online.

I fully realize that these f/1.2 lenses are the superior optics. But this photography deal is a diversion for me. For my needs, and I imagine others, more affordable options will do just fine. Having said that I would not fault anyone for buying the best of the best. Like I have said before, whether you need it or not, if you have it like that to pick one up go for yours. Zero said it best:

Are the newer, higher spec’d camera bodies great?

Yes.

Are there customers that have valid use cases for these cameras?

Of course. Yes.

Do I need them if I am honest with myself?

No.

A local photographer I respect has pulled the trigger on trading all for the ultimate camera body, but I have recently had to admit that I am not willing to do the same. Theoretically I could do it, but now that I am here I do not want to.

Will pass on each for various reasons.

Fujifilm GFX100S

  1. 100MP is simply not necessary for me.
  2. When I think about it for a moment at $5,999 this camera and a lens I actually want would require parting ways with everything digital and film… Nope.

Fujifilm GFX50R

For the money I still prefer the lower MP, slow contrast AF only GFX 50R. On the up shot:

  • I could get the 50R and one lens I really want (The FF 50mm equivalent new 80mm f/1.7) for the price of a GFX100S.
  • It is a relative bargain when compared to my previous fascination, the MF only Leicas.

On the down side:

  • The 50R still refuses to depreciate used even with the release of the 100S. I would have to sell everything digital to afford it and that one lens.

Admittedly it would create fantastic images and would simplify my life I am not ready to give up the flexibility I am currently afforded.

Sony A7R IV

A good friend of mine recently scored one of these gems. Had put my A7RIV obsession to rest, but this woke that back up again. As I was winding up I stopped and asked myself some questions:

Weren’t you happy with your A7III before this?

Yes.

So you are starting this up again because a friend has one?

Yes… I guess.

Is that a good enough reason to start this up again?

No.

I had already made my peace with staying put. For a similar spend as the regular A7RIV price or less one could pick up two lower MP A7 bodies. Having two bodies comes in really handy. For example:

  • For my first wedding shoot just before the pandemic took off it allowed me to keep a camera on each hip. Had a 28-75mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 (Since replaced.) mounted outside and a 45mm f/1.8 (Recently returned to this lens with an updated post.) and an 85mm f/1.8 (Most recently 75mm f/1.8.) mounted for inside cave lighting shooting during the reception. This brought many advantages.
    • Never had to switch lenses while shooting.
    • Provided a back up body in case one failed.
  • That back up thing came in handy during regular use also. Had to send a body in for servicing and I was able to continue shooting with the other.
  • Lenses. The difference in price between the A7III and A7RIV can go towards lenses.
  • Lastly it allows having bodies better suited for different purposes. As I pointed out in a blog post I find the A7c and A7III to be very complimentary bodies.
    • A7c – Due to it’s small size, rangefinder-esque design, video Eye AF, and fully articulating screen the A7c is a great camera for:
      • Day to day shooting.
      • Adapting legacy glass.
      • Shooting video.
    • A7III – With it’s traditional layout, mechanical front shutter, and dual card slots it is a great camera for:
      • Primary professional body.
      • Flash photography where HSS will be used.
      • Available battery grip accessory.

If Canon or Nikon brands are to your liking there are lower priced options there also.

So we are good then.

Does that mean that I do not think about these cameras now and then?

No. I do.

But whenever the fever to trade flares up I snap myself out of it by taking out a camera already in my possession and a 50mm lens. Any of them. Then as I look at the results…

Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

…I simply ask myself,

What more are you looking for?

I have no answer.

As time goes on this happens less and less.

Would seem that I have been looking at where I thought I wanted to go for so long that I failed to realize that I may already be where I need to be…

Cool.

For now I am marking myself safe from recent product releases.

It is my hope that you find your place of peace as well. Perhaps like me you may already be there whether you realize it or not.

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