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  1.  (7334.1)
    Had an interesting guest join me for breakfast the other day.
    DSC01366 (2)
  2.  (7334.2)
    shannon,

    That's great. When life gives you insects, make insect pictures!

    (..and yes, you just earned your "shutterbug" badge, ahem)
  3.  (7334.3)
    Question: I'm tired of dragging my DSLR arond, and being that it's 4 years old now, it's frustratingly outdated as far as noise levels limiting ISO to 400 if I want to stay free of grain, but my shakey hands limit the shutter speed. It's also reeaaaally heavy, and I'd like something a bit more portable since I feel terribly wrong if I'm out in the world without a decent camera (the fujifilm pocket camera isn't really pulling it's weight).

    So what's the best intersection of portability and ability in the world of cameras currently?
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2010
     (7334.4)
    What's the current DSLR you have right now?
  4.  (7334.5)
    I've got the Pentax K10D. I'd love to upgrade to the new Pentax DSLR that was recently released... but it's also just really heavy and difficult for me to hold steady at low shutter speeds.
  5.  (7334.6)
    rachel,

    Depends how small you want it, and how much you want to spend.

    The micro 4/3 stuff is really nice, though the focussing on the Panasonics is markedly better than the Olympus models. The Olympus lenses are really nice, though- in an ideal world, the Panasonic body and Oly lenses are a good combo. Also, hipsters are going nuts about mounting old Leica M-mount and similar lenses on them with adaptors. If you have one of these cameras anyway, it's a nice option the day you find a vintage lens bargain on ebay or in a used camera shop. Obviously, stuff goes a little manual when you do this, but such is life.

    The Samsung NX-10 is a similar, and has an APS-C sensor. Considering the size and price. It offers decent low-light performance and snappy focussing. The mount is a bit odd- the available lenses are limited- a crap zoom and a decent enough fast pancake.

    Going down in size somewhat, a friend of mine has a Leica X1, which is fantastic, takes amazing pictures (APS-C sensor, like a lot of midrange DSLRs), but unfortunately costs a small fortune. It's awesome, mind you- focus is a bit pedestrian but image quality is terrifyingly good. Slightly cheaper would be the strange Ricoh GXR, with the prime lens unit- which would give you a fast lens and APS-C sensor in a compact unit (the zoom lens for the GXR is underwhelming).

    Cheaper than that, you're looking at small sensor compacts. For something flexible, but relatively usable, that shoots in raw, the Canon Powershot G11 is a really good deal. Another friend carries one of those around in her bag all the time, and has nothing bad to say about it in terms of practicality. Obviously, it's a compact with a zoom lens, but despite that you can get away with a lot. She uses it handheld with a lot of zoom in dark auditoriums, and seems to do OK. Mind, it's Canon, so it isn't going to have the most reliable autofocus in the world, but it's still a hell of a nice little camera for the money. Really worth considering.

    Another option is a small DSLR- the Pentax K-X is fairly nicely priced, small, and pretty decent in the dark. It's also available in a variety of crazy colours- which sounds flippant, but sometimes it's a lot less threatening than a traditional Darth Vader black unit. A lot of people are scared of SLRs pointing at them, they look too "professional", but a lurid colour can offset this. It's smaller and lighter than what you're using, and if you're not using a gigantic lens, it might be worth a look. File under "try before you buy" though, in case it's still much.



    Personally, I carry a Ricoh GR Digital 3 as my bag camera, and have it with me 95% of the time. It's small, compact fixed focal length (28mm equivalent, F/1.9). It has surprisingly good low light performance, and extremely snappy startup and focussing- as well as the ability to set a default focal depth so you can literally snap shoot without focussing when you need to. I added the accessory shoe optical view finder and the ever-ready case, which means it's easy to use in bright sunshine, and can be thrown in a bag until needed without getting dusty or damaged. That setup makes it a lot like carrying a small rangefinder around- a brilliant street shooter.

    It's a much much underrated camera, and if you treat the raw output with care (Lightroom 3 beta is absolute dynamite right now) it produces some astoundingly good images. Not everyone likes fixed focal length, of course- it's a matter of taste. I'm used to it though, in the spirit of "run what you brung".

    Example of the Ricoh punching above its weight:

    KW correction

    (Yeah, so I love that little camera, not exactly unbiased about it any more)


    Sorry, that was a bit longer than I intended. A few random thoughts, anyway.
  6.  (7334.7)
    I've got the Pentax K10D. I'd love to upgrade to the new Pentax DSLR that was recently released... but it's also just really heavy and difficult for me to hold steady at low shutter speeds.


    @ Rachæl Tyrell- You mean, this one?

    wow

    I hope you've already chosen which bank you're going to rob.

    I've heard good things about the Canon 550d/ Kiss- x4/ Rebel T2i
  7.  (7334.8)
    God, how long did the 645D take to finally come out? It does look like fun, though.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSlick
    • CommentTimeJun 5th 2010
     (7334.9)
    The Canon 550D is astonishing, had mine for about a month and when teamed with Adobe RAW it's incredible.
    • CommentAuthorkuru93
    • CommentTimeJun 5th 2010
     (7334.10)
    @rachel the upcoming Sony NEX-3 might work for you Sony Style
  8.  (7334.11)
    There's always a medium format camera... Assuming you have somewhere to buy and develop the films.

    Speaking of such, here's me using my new Moskva-5 before reading the instruction manual and discovering that the red dot doesn't mean "next shot is ready";

    damn

    The rangefinder might be off on this one, but I won't know for sure until I test another couple of rolls. "Human error" tends to be the most common cause of my cameras not working right.
  9.  (7334.12)
    Oooh yes, the Sony APS-C compact too, I forgot about that. It's great to see all the high quality compact options out there now..
  10.  (7334.13)
    microclimate - Goodness! Fabulous advice! Thank you! I've got... some annoying and specific needs. My vision is really awful, so I can't rely on myself to accurately manually focus - that is, unless there's a very large live-viewscreen. Aaaaaand, my hands shake, so I need either really great low noise options for high ISO settings, or anti-shake. Aaaaaand I've become addicted to RAW, so that's pretty important. And I'm really clumsy, so I'd need something that's not too fragile.

    The thing is, when I bought my Pentax, I was aware that there were smaller cameras that could suit my needs as far as image qualtiy, but... I really got the DSLR because, to sell myself as a "photographer" or at least "artist for hire with a camera" (i'm not sure if I can count myself as a "photographer" proper, since I'm still rather illiterate when it comes to the technical aspects of things, and have never developed or shot with film) I knew I needed the sort of camera that people find aesthetically impressive/intimidating to attract clients. And it's worked.

    However, I maintain, that aside from wildlife or very technical photography, when it comes to artistic photographs, it's got very little to do with the camera. Sure, using a pancake lens is great for that short depth of field look that makes everything more dramatic, and I use that look often, but.... a a good camera isn't going to make a bad photographer good.

    Anyway.

    Hmmm. The Pentax K-X might be a good idea. I like your point about the colors making it less intimidating. Christ, it's just that my current Pentax, with the battery, weighs 793g / 1.7 lb, which is a fucking heavy thing to be carting around in your bag at all times, and has an ISO that tops at 1600 and is REAAAALLY grainy at 800 already. The K-X is 580g / 20.5 oz, which is an improvement, but that's hard for me to conceptualize. Here's where I've been comparing and considering and looking at... Looking between the Pentax K-x, X90 / Olympus PEN E-P1, P2 / Sony Alpha NEX-5 / Lumix DMC-GH1 / Canon 550D ... and wow. They are all lovely. Of course, everything I've listed is faaaaar out of my price range at this point.

    Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

    And oh GOD YES William George, that camera has been the thing of my DREEEEAAAAMS, but that is the Pentax I could not even pretend I could afford.
  11.  (7334.14)
    It absolutely is the photographer that makes the picture, undoubtedly. The best camera is the one that you brought with you, and are comfortable using - every time. No amount of expensive hardware can replace idea, intention and judgement, or even a sense of mischief.

    Oh, and I love the fact that you used your DSLR as plumage. Respect due for the chutzpah.

    Edit: Did you also consider Vibration Reduction/Image Stabilisation/Anti Shake as a factor, by the way? Depending on how it's done, it can give you an extra couple of stops worth of stability, which can kick ass if you're not one of those annoying statue people.
  12.  (7334.15)
    Well, that's what sold me on the Pentax in the first place. I knew that the Canon was "THE" camera, but the I.S. in Canaon is in the lenses, and they are craaaazy expensive. Both Pentax and Sony had it IN the camera, and I nearly got the Sony since my mom gave me her old Minolta lenses, but every review of the Sony said it was very noisey and had those purple vignetting problems, so I went with the Pentax. I've been really happy with it... until now. Like I did with my last camera, a Sony cybershot (gosh, I miss having infrared filter! everyone's skin looks FLAWLESS), I've gotten to the point where I've learned the camera well enough that I'm now limited by the technical aspects of the tools I'm using, and it's really frustrating. I can't push forward much further. I could try a new lens, but... I thought a pancake lens is the best solution for low light situations, and it's just not enough to meet my demands.

    The anti-shake is really important for me because my hands are not steady. But. If the camera has amazing low light ability, and I can use an ISO of 1800 without noise, as long as I can be at 50 or higher with shutterspeed, I could manage a to not fuck it up. 15 is iffy. 30 is still holding my breath and hoping.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeJun 5th 2010
     (7334.16)
    Wow. Yeah...anything I could have suggested has been trumped by the stuff already said.

    Two pics from today.

    "Welcome To My World"


    "Play It"
  13.  (7334.17)
    Rachæl (yeah, I had to paste the dipthong, I admit):

    1/15 is more than iffy for me, I have to admit.

    A friend of mine uses a Sony DSLR and the Minolta anti-vibration lenses (whatever Minolta called it before Sony bought them), and swears by in-body and lens-based antishake all on at once for extreme haxx. Me, I am totally sold on Nikon's VR 2. This is a 1/30 handheld:

    The Sprawl

    (Not stunning artistically, but I was delighted that it worked out at all, as there was a nasty localised strong wind whistling along between buildings)

    Anyway, it seems that there's a tonne of good anti-shake options. Always nice to avoid one manufacturer holding all the cards.

    Oh, also, the problem with Canon is that the entry-level lenses are something of a disappointment, usually lots of corner softness, and physically flimsy, some corners cut. When you go for their better lenses they are fantastic, but things get far more pricey. If you're at all interested in budget or midrange Canon bodies it can be worth avoiding the kit lenses, often you'll get better quality for your money from Tamron or Sigma glass on the front, assuming that you don't want to spring for full-fat Canon stuff. That said, no idea how good the anti-vibration stuff in Tamron or Sigma lenses is (though doubtless the interwebs know).

    I should stop being a camera obsessive at you, really- but I do hope that you find something that suits you well, and gets out of the way while you make the images that you're after.



    Edit:

    Oldhat,

    Wow, that looks a hell of a lot more fun than my Saturday, which was sitting indoors gazing mournfully at the sunshine while builders ripped my bathroom floor up, and the neighbours hammered back in a grumpy manner.
  14.  (7334.18)
    Me, I am totally sold on Nikon's VR 2. This is a 1/30 handheld


    Hahaha... yeah, I've got an 18-200 vr nikon lens, first two days I had it I spent taking 'impossible' shots and marvelling at what I could get away with, the thing's incredible - could get sharp pictures at 1/8 at 200mm inside.
  15.  (7334.19)
    I really got the DSLR because, to sell myself as a "photographer" or at least "artist for hire with a camera"


    @ Rachæl- I've read in many sources that customers want to see a photographer holding the latest and biggest, even when it's not needed for the shot. You may want to keep that in mind when contemplating your next purchase if the being a pro is the goal.
  16.  (7334.20)
    JonCarpenter,

    Holy crap, you lunatic :) I suspect that VR or no, you have a somewhat steadier hand than I.


    William George,

    Depressing, though I can believe what you say. Of course such reasoning means missing out on hiring people that operate like this:

    Henri Cartier Bresson- portrait by Jane Bown
    (Henri Cartier Bresson, portrait by Jane Bown)


    Their loss, I guess.

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