Finding photos: a camera shortlist

Last weekend, I wrote about downsizing my photo equipment, in an effort to actually ensure that I start to take a camera with me when I leave the house.

Well, we’re a weekend later, and I still don’t know what I’m going to buy. But I think I’ve figured out what I’m going to try.

So without further ado, the nominees:



Candidate one is the legendary Leica.


  • Cost. Leicas are expensive. If I sell all my gear, buy a used Leica with one (used) lens, I’ll probably also have to chip in some cash.
  • Weight. Many online reviews describe the Leica M as ‘a tank’. While it is definitely a less bulky option than my current DSLR setup, it weighs in above the other cameras in the shortlist. (Leica does sell other cameras, but I’m sure they’re not as good. That will bother me.) (I think.)
  • Is it that great? There are a surprising number of articles on the internet designed to convince the reader that the Leica is good branding on a mediocre camera.


Quality. There are endless articles detailing how [insert other camera here] is superior. They show you specifications. The other camera will have more megapixels. Or a tiltable screen. Or autofocus. They’ll tell you that it’s a less pleasant experience.

And then they’ll show you pictures. They will talk about the technical superiority of the non-Leica image. They’ll zoom in on something that you couldn’t see in the original photo to make their point. They’ll show you more noise at ISO 12800. They’ll claim the colour is more accurate on the other camera.


In every single picture in every single article, where the reviewer attempts to compose and take the same photograph twice, once on a Leica, and once on something else … and the picture taken with the Leica is better.

It’s crazy. It might not be sharper (it usually is). It might have more noise. Or ‘less accurate’ colour. But it’s always better.

I mean, what the hell. If it takes better pictures, it’s the better camera. That’s how these things work.

And I constantly prefer the images from the Leica.



Candidate number two is the full frame mirrorless Sony.


  • The look. I know. It’s not supposed to matter. But look at the other two candidates. Then look at this candidate. Yeah.
  • The size. The Leica might be heavier (barely), but the Sony is bigger — smaller than a DSLR, but the largest of the available bodies. Sony lenses are also bigger, on average, than their Leica or Fujifilm counterparts. If the goal is to go small, Sony might not achieve that.
  • Lenses. Size aside, Sony has the weakest choice of made-for-the-camera lenses.


The specification. There’s no doubt about it — the electronics in Sony’s cameras are superior. It performs more tricks, and performs them better, than other cameras. Hell, other camera manufacturers tend to use Sony’s parts. Sony gets them first.

Sony wins every side-by-side stat comparison hands down.



Candidate three. Fujifilm.


  • Sensor size. The Fujifilm X-series cameras do not have full frame sensors. (Some Leicas, to be fair, also do not.) (But they are inferior.) Full frame looks better.
  • Mixed reviews. These cameras have excellent reviews. Across the board. But comparisons always seem to have a but. With Leicas, the ‘but’ is the price. Sony cameras don’t get a ‘but’. The ‘but’ worries me. Adobe doesn’t handle the RAW format well. The colours look off. And so on.
  • Not the best camera. There are arguments that the Leica is the best camera in this list. There are arguments for the Sony. Fujifilm simply does not stack up, side-by-side. It may be the best value for money of the three. It may be the best fit for me. But it sure ain’t the best camera.


  • Cost. It’s by far the least expensive option here. I’ll be able to fully kit it, or pocket some money (probably) after selling my current Nikon gear.
  • Size. It’s smaller and lighter, by a fair amount. There’s a trade-off in sensor size and specs. But, it’s there.
  • Updates. Fujifilm has a reputation for releasing firmware updates that add new features and make huge improvements to their cameras. Sony and Leica only fix bugs, and leave the user to buy the next camera if they want the latest features.

The verdict?

Is yet to come.

Now I have to spend silly amounts of time playing with cameras in shops, while fending off salespeople.

Photos, where art thou?

Lately, I have been pondering the photographs I take.

Or, rather, the photographs I don’t take — as much as I love photography, it seems that my camera spends most of its time on a shelf these days. The Maggie-a-day is too often an old, out of sequence snap. And if I’m not on holiday or on some kind of a specific photographic mission, it’s a safe bet that I do not have a camera with me.

No camera, no photos. And it’s all about the bulk.

When I moved to the UK, I bought a cheap (but decent) digital camera. Because I was moving to Europe, and I was going to want to take pictures, naturally.

And I did. And I loved it. But digital cameras that were not DSLRs pretty much sucked at the time. So as I realised my love of photography, I moved to a DSLR. I own a giant magnesium beast of a thing. After six years, it still takes great pictures. I have great lenses for it. They too are great beasts of things. I carry around this mass of magnesium and glass when I carry my camera with me. It’s heavy.

So …

Going to work? No camera. Too heavy.
Taking Maggie to drama class? No camera. Too heavy.
Heading out to the pub with friends? No camera. Too heavy.

Every day, every situation … I don’t have my camera. And I miss it, but not so much to constantly have a giant weight hanging off my neck.

But things have changed

In 2011, Pentax came up with their mirrorless system camera, a first. And five years later, they’re pretty much as good as my DSLR — the best of them are arguably on par with any DSLR. And they’re smaller. Lighter. More portable.

And I miss taking photos.

So I’ve made a decision. I’m ditching my camera.

My DSLR, and all my lenses are destined for a shelf of a used camera shop, or an eBay auction. And I’m going to take the money, and buy myself something smaller and more versatile. Something that can take up little room in my bag, but be out on a moment’s notice. Something that won’t give me back problems carrying it around.

The question is … what?

Ultimately, that will depend on my budget (unknown – I haven’t started to shop around my current kit), and my taste. But there are so many options out there.

Fellow photo enthusiasts … what would you buy, if you were out looking for a little camera. For a little bit of street photography, portraits, urban exploration, and travel. I need a list of things to play with.


The morning coffee and cameras

A cool idea that we hope to never use: The Stolen Camera Finder.

The concept is pretty simple — every digital photograph has information tagged to it in an exchangable image file, known as “exif data”. This contains some basic information about the photograph: the make and model of the camera, camera settings at the time of the photo, the date and time of the photograph.

Cameras (and photo software) can add other information to it — such as the “artist” and copyright information.

The Stolen Camera Finder takes a photo you upload, reads the EXIF data, and searches the web for photos with the same data — helping you figure out who has your camera.

Of course, we just tried it, and received zero hits, despite pasting our photos accessibly all over the Internet — if the program cannot find our photos on Flickr and Facebook, it’s not terribly well designed.

But a great idea, all the same.

Image found at Fuck Yeah Pretty Girls. Credit unknown.
Webcomic is Cereal With a Fork.