Shooting The Moon part 2
11th January 2019
Camera Obscura
17th March 2019
Shooting The Moon part 2
11th January 2019
Camera Obscura
17th March 2019

I don’t intend to change cameras.

Change Cameras? No way!

Some of my commercial clients insist on full frame. But, if it were up to me that isn’t what I would use for any of my shoots.

I really like my littlest Olympus. For me it is the perfect tool. It’s the one I use the most. The camera is compact – I can fit it in my pocket – the alloy body means it is robust, the weather seals allow me to take it out no matter how hard it is raining and image quality is amazing. It’s fast to focus and the image stabilisation enables me to take sharp images in very low light without having to raise the ISO.

It also looks great.

Throughout history, artists’ tools have been aesthetically pleasing works of art in themselves. Camera manufacturers, on the whole, seem ignorant of that and bring out some really ugly pieces of machinery.

Black and White image of a bumble bee.
The high shutter performance and fast focusing are important factors in some of my photography.

Toy cameras

Of course, there are those who deride smaller mirrorless cameras. That’s not surprising. When one looks at the Nikon/Canon marketing influence. Those two companies ruled 2/3rds of the DSLR market. They made a strong case for bigger cameras and people do buy into what the manufacturers tell them. Having a £6000 breeze block hanging around your neck was the sign of a professional.

The combined weight of a Canon 1Dx and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens is nearly 3Kg. Some years ago, I ended up with a sore neck once from carrying a much lighter DSLR combination around Helsinki for a day. Luckily, my wife is a very good clinical massage therapist. She was able to fix me. That experience led me to getting a much better strap system, and ultimately to smaller cameras

Abstract image of someone's feet walking on the other side of the street.
Street Photography in Helsinki

Historically, the difference was bigger…

For the first 12 years of mainstream digital photography, there was a big difference between the image quality of 35mm and crop frame sensors. The full frame bricks dominated the professional end of the DSLR market.

With the miniaturisation of technology, I wondered why full frame DSLRs grew to be much larger and more unwieldy than their analogue 35mm predecessors. I am convinced to this day that the huge size was done purely for marketing; big is best. (Sometimes, I joke that those incredibly expensive and huge cameras and long lenses for some photographers made up for inadequacies in other areas!)

…now, it’s a load of crop

Sensor technology has changed dramatically over the last 5 years and crop frame cameras produce amazing quality images. For the majority of photographers, and I include many professionals in this, the need for the extra performance that might be brought by owning a larger camera is now outweighed by ergonomics. Furthermore, the image performance of many smaller frame cameras is better than full frame cameras were just a handful of years ago. If that performance was good enough for professional photography that recently then there is no reason why it shouldn’t be now.

My Olympus OM-D E-M1ii is on a par with the Canon 5Diii and the latter is still used for filming some Hollywood movies. QED!

A long time ago…

The 35mm film SLR were once referred to as a “micro-format” and that was seen by up and coming photographers of the 1960s and ’70s as a big advantage, allowing a far more versatile approach to shooting than was possible with their 120mm predecessors. DSLR cameras like the Canon EOS-1D X and the Nikon D5 are bigger than the 120mm film camera I cut my teeth on. Furthermore, their price bracket is higher than some medium format cameras, which are physically around the same size.

Guillemot preening each other, with a shallow depth of field, out of focus water glittering behind. When I can achieve images like this, I have no desire to change cameras.
Shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M1ii

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

There are, of course, differences in depth of field, between a 35mm sensor and a crop sensor, but I can achieve a smooth, out of focus area with my Olympus cameras when shooting birds. However, usually I am stepping down the aperture in my photography to increase the depth of field. One of the big mistakes a lot of photographers make is not considering whether the depth of field is too shallow. Just because you can shoot at f/1.2 doesn’t mean you should.

Don’t change cameras!

I’ll have to admit that I was sorely tempted by the new Sony full frame mirroless range. The size of these cameras have shrunk down from previous models and, having experimented with a couple, they are the bees knees. However, I am not going to change cameras in the foreseeable future because I am happy with my E-M1ii and the E-M5ii that do everything I need.

I’ve written before about buying a new camera and what you should consider when doing so. That is, to date, one of my most popular blog post. I would never advocate that you should change systems.

If you enjoy shooting with your camera and are pleased with the results, then there is no need to change. Any limitations to your photography are most likely to be with your creative skills and not with the camera. You can learn new skills and improve your photography far more cheaply than you can investing in a new camera.

Bike at a summer cottage in Finland

Environmentally, there is a good argument for sticking with what you’ve got. A lot of photographers are doing just that. Cameras have become so good, there is little need to change. People are also moving away from needing to buy more ‘stuff’ to clutter their lives.

They will not change cameras any more. This healthy attitude is affecting camera sales. Over the last six years the sales of interchangeable lens cameras has just about halved.

The Environmental Impact

As people become more environmentally aware they also realise that owning new stuff doesn’t bring happiness. Manufactures could start offering physical upgrades to old cameras. A new sensors and shutters in a 12-year old DSLR would give it a whole new lease of life. Or, how about digital conversions of old SLR cameras. I would love a digitalised Olympus OM2n!


  1. Ian Hill says:

    I agree Ivor, I have an Olympus OM-40 and I love it, I love the grainy film look, as far as DSLR’s go, my first one was a canon 750d, it has produced some amazing images. I also bought a 17-40L (I considered the ’16-35, but couldn’t justify the price difference) that set up worked fine for me, however, I yearned for the wide angle shots that the lens can produce so shelled out for the 6d mkii, this purchase was based on the fact that the 750d had a ‘vari-angle touchscreen’ a feature that I absolutely love, but getting back to your original point, I will not be changing or replacing any of my camera’s, I am very happy indeed with the systems I have and can’t see any point in changing, maybe a few more ‘L’ lenses in the future, but not any day soon.

  2. Graham Thorpe says:

    Well said Ivor . As regards the Sony mirrorless full frame you were tempted with …still requires the heavy and expensive full frame lenses . When my Panasonic 4/3 broke ( I fell down) I replaced with Fuji APSC …regretting that now because the lens range just isn’t as good . For example on the Panasonic these days I could have 12-60 and 55-200 both 2.8 much lighter and a 24-400 equivalent range . Sorely tempted to go back to 4/3 for size /weight and the image quality would be just fine . The Oly 12-100 is a very convenient range too ..just wished it was wider than f4 .

  3. Pete Pfeiffer says:

    I 100% agree with this position Ivor.

    For most photographers (professionals are the exception) exploring what you already own and exactly how to use it to achieve the desired images will add satisfaction to the hobby. I believe there are 2 reasons to change your camera: 1) the one you have no longer functions (broken, lost, or stolen); 2) your creative vision is restricted by your equipment.


  4. Ivor says:

    I knew this would come back and bite me. A photo agency are insisting I use full frame for my work I do for them. :O

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