Please suggest a camera for me
December 21, 2020 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Thinking about getting a new digital camera, unsure what to shop for.

For several years I kept photography as my main hobby and used Canon products, but eventually stopped doing anything commercial and downsized from my 5D and a bag of glass to an Olympus OM-D E-M5, an adaptor, and some old manual focus Nikon lenses.

Here we are now maybe 8 years later and that Oly body is finally failing, and I think it's time to look for something new. I've never been the type to keep up with the latest hardware so now I'm totally at sea.

Here are my requirements, more or less in decreasing order of importance:

- Lenses with great DOF. I want to be able to take a good portrait so I want that separation between subject and background, and not through some software. Right now I use some old manual-focus lenses adapted on to my Oly body and they stop down to f/2.0 and that's perfect. 50mm and 85mm (or equivalent) are my favorites.


- I'd love to finally move back to AF lenses. Primes are fine if they're cheaper, I'm comfortable with swapping lenses constantly.

- Size: I'd prefer to stick with the m4/3rds size (or equivalent, if there's some new hot sensor I know nothing about). I have no desire to return to full-frame sensors and a back-breaking bag.

- No big preference on the manufacturer. Any modern camera is going to have a sensor sufficient for the Instagram-able stuff I want to produce. I do a lot of shooting in low-light situations, though, so if there's a brand that prioritizes super-high ISO without garbage grain I'm all in.

- Decent wifi / bluetooth for iOS devices.

That's about it. If there's some incredible unit on the market with a fixed prime lens with no swapping I'd even consider that. If I need to take wider-angle shots I often find myself using my phone instead of my camera, so see above re: prioritizing shallow DOF lens / portrait stuff. I'm intentionally not stating my price range because I haven't decided yet and I don't want to restrict your answers.
posted by komara to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
One of my friends loaned me his Fujifilm X100S on a trip to Taiwan because I was sick of carrying my SLR around. They’re a rangefinder-type camera with an optical viewfinder and great ergonomics. I liked it so much I bought my own - I have a Fujifilm X100T and it’s fantastic. It doesn’t have an interchangeable lens, but the series has a great 35mm-equivalent f/2 lens, is easy to carry, and is just a pleasure to use. I think the current ones (they’re up to the fifth -V revision now) have a soft framing for 50mm and I think 85mm viewpoints, and more than enough resolution to get there. Real flash shoe, too.
posted by doomsey at 10:49 AM on December 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

The micro four thirds works seems to be in flux right now, with Olympus having sold off their camera business to an investment group, and Panasonic focusing on larger sensors.

The Fuji X100 series is fantastic (I have a T). And they actually do have interchangeable lenses — sort of. They make a wide angle and a telephoto adaptor that you can pop on.

The rest of the Fuji line is also fantastic. There are a bunch of different bodies in SLR or rangefinder styles, and they have a large number of prime lenses with apertures in the 1.2-1.8 range. I have an X-Pro2 and a bunch of fast primates, and I love it. Not quite as small as M43 but I can put the body in one jacket pocket and a small prime lens in another.

Some of the Sony full frame bodies are amazingly small. Even thought the lenses are bigger than four thirds lenses, the small body may counteract it.
posted by jonathanhughes at 11:06 AM on December 21, 2020

If you’re going to stick with Micro Four Thirds, you’re probably not going to do much better than the E-M5 Mark III.

As far as portrait primes are concerned, the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 is cheap and good. If you want even shallower DOF and better looking bokeh (with autofocus), you can spend more money and get better results. The Olympus 75mm f/1.8, Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2, and the Olympus 45mm f/1.2 are all excellent, with pricetags to match.

The smaller 4/3 sensor means worse DOF and ISO performance, which is why full-frame mirrorless cameras are in vogue right now. To make up for the worse ISO, the E-M5 III has excellent image stabilization, which means you can shoot handheld in low light at a slower shutter speed.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:07 AM on December 21, 2020

I have a Fuji X100F. It's bloody fantastic. I didn't realize how much the cumbersome was of interchangeable lenses was bogging me down since I got this Fuji... I honestly haven't picked up my DSLR this year, I always reach for the Fuji.

This doesn't answer many of the requests you've out forward, but I saw doomsey's response and felt compelled to add my two cents. The X100 format is a great exercise in realigning to photography as a set frame rather than an (infinitely) flexible frame. It's excellent for portraits. I'm relearning my landscape photography approach in a joyful, experimental way. And that's worth some word of mouth encouragement to may e get your hands on one as a rental/loaner just to test it out!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:09 AM on December 21, 2020 [5 favorites]

They make a wide angle and a telephoto adaptor that you can pop on.

Yes. I have both. The wide angle one I use all the time. The telephoto one is a waste of space for a bunch of reasons. Better off cropping, do not buy.
posted by doomsey at 11:09 AM on December 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Looking at the details on the Fujifilm X100F and its digital teleconversion (thanks, doomsey and late afternoon dreaming hotel) I'm this close to sold. The example images I've seen on various sites make me think this might be exactly what I need.
posted by komara at 11:11 AM on December 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Normally I don't pull the trigger this fast on bigger purchases but I found a good deal on the X100F and so it's done! Thank you all for your input, I appreciate it.
posted by komara at 12:36 PM on December 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

Nthing the Fuji. I have the x100t. It is indeed freaking amazing. The richness of the shots are amazing. Very easy to program the buttons specifically to how you shoot. You never have to take your eye off the viewer. And yeah, not having to carry around lenses is huge. You get used to simply moving closer to something if you want to zoom.
The bokeh on the largest aperture is some of the best I have seen.
posted by jtexman1 at 5:52 AM on December 22, 2020

I splurged for overnight shipping - something I never do - as a treat for myself. Camera arrived yesterday and I haven't had a full day to play with it yet but I love it. I keep a pretty dark house interior at night and areas that were problematic for my Oly are no issue now with the X100F. Can't wait to do some daylight shooting. I love the form factor and the buttons and customizability. And the images it produces, of course. Thanks, y'all, for the recommendations.
posted by komara at 9:14 AM on December 24, 2020

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