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.
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
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!)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!