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Author Topic: Digital downgrade.  (Read 4836 times)

twentyclicks

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Digital downgrade.
« on: March 19, 2010 »

Well folks, advance apologies for the long post but any help appreciated!  I'm away until Monday but look forward to any responses.

As I continue to drift towards a more minimalist life I am re-examining the things I use and am contemplating if there is an alternative that might be more appropriate to my situation.  With regards my photography this concerns my digital SLR - Nikon D300 + 18-200 VR lens.  Frankly it is an awesome piece of kit.  It takes my old lenses, is built to last, is exceptional at high ISO, is intuitive in the Nikon tradition, and once I figured the way to set it for me - produces wonderfully rich images.... when I take pictures with it.

It's not as big as a D3, but it's still too beastly to have with me all the time (and as much as I love it, I feel I gel better with my old film SLRs). Look out for a "For Sale" post soon - maybe after everyone gets paid  :D

The film SLRs are going nowhere. They'll always be there for SLR duties, but I do need a digital for quick turnaround and to slip into a pocket /courier bag etc.  OK, the output won't match the D300, but the pro-compacts today should still print to A3 (well, full-frame) which is frankly enough for 98% of use.

I'm really stuck between the Ricoh GR3 and the Leica D-Lux 4.  Any opinions welcome.  Shoot alternatives at me if you like and I'll try to explain my choices.  Documentary /landscape biggest uses.  Don't need a big zoom.  I'm not a big flash user, but would rather use an external flash if I must.  My photographic heroes are Jim Brandenburg and Sam Abell... and renaissance paintings - I love the rich detailed darkness of oil paintings that the image comes out of.

So far:
  • Not a micro 4/3 camera - really excellent but still going to be too bulky for a lot of situations.
  • Not a Sigma - too slow.
  • Not the Panasonic that is the same as the Leica - I need to leverage the credibility of the red dot if I use this tiny thing for a paid shoot.  To a client, without it I am some joker; with it, I get a pass as thoughtful and individual (hey, if it gets you by until they can judge you on the photos...)
  • Not one of the other Ricohs - quality lower, lenses slower.

As I see it:
Ricoh +ve
Ergonomics
High-res screen
Nice fixed f1.9 28mm lens (with wide 21mm adaptor)
Quick 'snap-focus' mode.
Universal RAW format - any software.

Ricoh -ve
Video not HD
External viewfinder is electronic (expensive)
No image stabilisation
Heard they can be pretty unreliable.

Leica +ve
f2 24-60mm zoom adds usability
3 image formats - 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
HD video
External viewfinder is optical - simple / cheap.
All accessories for the Panasonic are cheaper & fit it
Image stabilisation

Leica -ve
Zoom lens perhaps not as great as the Ricoh prime.
RAW format not supported by my software (Aperture 2 - and my computer can't run the OS for Aperture 3)

^^^^ That last point is actually a bit annoying because I really can't see me affording a new computer & software soon, and I am leaning towards the Leica.  Their own software is probably ok.
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chris

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2010 »

A vote for the leica here, My dad had one for a while but he sold (and regrets it) it and upgraded to an M8. I used to steal his compact all the time and I loved it. If you were going to buy any compact camera why not make it a leica! On the other hand what about the olympus pen? Roughly the same price as the Leica and its quite small, I'm no expert but it carries a lot of the same features as a DSLR plus you have the option of other lenses should you desire.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2010 by chris »
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Kirth

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2010 »

I would go for the leica myself.

If you are selling the D300 & Lens messae me. I will take it off you.
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twentyclicks

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2010 »

Thanks guys, it's a hard thing to do.  I guess I can always get a Nikon digital again in the future if needs dictate.

Chris, the Olympus is great but with the lens is still going to be too big to take everywhere...I think.
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chris

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2010 »

Chris, the Olympus is great but with the lens is still going to be too big to take everywhere...I think.

Point taken, I had a little look at the specs page and It does seem like a great little camera, Almost wish I had gone for one now insted of the DSLR!
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suspectmonkey

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2010 »

The Olympus is one I have been considering.  It's not quite compact sized, but its certainly a lot smaller than my 50D, especially if you get it with the 17mm pancake lens.  And you still get the benefits and flexibility of a D-SLR.

How about a Panasonic LX3?  I know you have discounted the Panasonics based on the brand name, but I'm going to assume that was tongue in cheek :P  After all, if you turn up at a paid shoot with a compact I doubt the subject is going to be discerning enough to decide whether or not your compact is worthy of the job.  If a paying client could tell the difference between a Panasonic and a Leica they would probably be taking the photos themselves... but thats just my opinion.  As a photographer I know the appeal of the Leica brand but in the digital era I just dont know if their kit is really worth the extra price over some of the Panasonics which are virtually the same.  
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suspectmonkey

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2010 »

Leica -ve
Zoom lens perhaps not as great as the Ricoh prime.
RAW format not supported by my software (Aperture 2 - and my computer can't run the OS for Aperture 3)

^^^^ That last point is actually a bit annoying because I really can't see me affording a new computer & software soon, and I am leaning towards the Leica.  Their own software is probably ok.

Oh, regarding the last point, can Aperture 2 read Adobe DNG files?  If so then you can download the Adobe DNG converter for free from their website.  When you have a batch of RAW files from the Leica you can convert them into DNG, and hopefully if Aperture 2 can read them work away.  I had to do this when I bought my 50D as Lightroom 1 couldnt read the 50D raw files.  Thankfully I can now read them using the LR3 Beta until its released!  There are some good reasons for considering DNG files anyway so its definitely worth having a look at that site, and it may provide you with a viable work around.
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chris

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2010 »

The Olympus is one I have been considering.  It's not quite compact sized, but its certainly a lot smaller than my 50D, especially if you get it with the 17mm pancake lens.  And you still get the benefits and flexibility of a D-SLR.

How about a Panasonic LX3?  I know you have discounted the Panasonics based on the brand name, but I'm going to assume that was tongue in cheek :P  After all, if you turn up at a paid shoot with a compact I doubt the subject is going to be discerning enough to decide whether or not your compact is worthy of the job.  If a paying client could tell the difference between a Panasonic and a Leica they would probably be taking the photos themselves... but thats just my opinion.  As a photographer I know the appeal of the Leica brand but in the digital era I just dont know if their kit is really worth the extra price over some of the Panasonics which are virtually the same.   

Its more a reflection of the world we live in. I fell foul of it aswell intantly discounting cameras made by panasonic, sony, samsung etc in favour of the big names. Although those brands are good they are seen almost as toys. It's a shame on one hand as some of these products are decent and can turn a perfectly good picture but on the other hand the more cemented a name like Nikon or Canon become the more you know you are buying into something thats going to last and be consistently good.
Leica kit has to be the best no question, they produce the sharpest lenses in the world. I've read that apparantley they produce and sell their stuff with very small profit margins. They simply make cameras for the love of making cameras which is refreshing to see from a company with such a big reputation.
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suspectmonkey

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2010 »

Its more a reflection of the world we live in. I fell foul of it aswell intantly discounting cameras made by panasonic, sony, samsung etc in favour of the big names. Although those brands are good they are seen almost as toys. It's a shame on one hand as some of these products are decent and can turn a perfectly good picture but on the other hand the more cemented a name like Nikon or Canon become the more you know you are buying into something thats going to last and be consistently good.

Definitely agree with that, and I must say I often have much the same attitude myself.  After all, I shoot Canon and when I was buying my first D-SLR I only saw it as a choice of two; Nikon or Canon.  I didn't even look or consider the offerings from Sony, Olympus, Pentax etc.

Thankfully I made the right choice though Kirth, no point settling for second best with Nikon :P ;D

I do love Leica cameras though, especially the older ones.  They are beautifully made and I would love to have one for reportage/candid style shooting.  Its one of those brands that makes you want to go out and take photos.  The Panasonic would most likely end up with similar results, but without evoking a fraction of the emotion.  Personally for me it would be hard to decide whether to go with my head or my heart!
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twentyclicks

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2010 »

Argh.  All good points.

Chris, I've always tried to note the quality of other brands where due :)  My parents had Pentax & Olympus cameras that were great.  I used a Practica for years and fell into Nikon for the lens system and the sheer ergonomics (maybe slightly influenced by some photo heros).  Saying that, I've always said they make crap compacts - my sister's Canon was way better!

SuspectMonkey - thanks for the RAW converter info, that looks like a life saver!  When I re-looked at the specs and measured it out the Leica really is tiny.  I'm likely to have grip tape on it anyway, and just use my film for any contract jobs (they can just wait and pay more into the bargain ;-) so valid point about the Leica/Panasonic.   
Panasonic LX3 doesn't have the same quality control or warranty, but I have insurance anyway (which will be a bit cheaper now I guess).

Now, if it was the X1...nearly small enough, single lens minimalist dream, sensor as big/good as the D300...aw, its £1400... maybe worth saving for.


Haha, if you know me at all you'd prob bet on the Ricoh right now  :D

Watch this space...
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twentyclicks

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2010 »

Finally took the plunge.  And the winner is... the Ricoh GR-D III
My subconscious knew immediately, but my dithering resulted in saving £100! 
It'll take me a while to play with it and tune in my style, but there'll be some shots up soon.

Of course Nikon will now release a fast fixed-lens pocket camera with the D300 sensor next week... but that's the digital world we live in.
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suspectmonkey

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2010 »

Nice one on the Ricoh.  A fella I know has one and loves it for those days when he cant be bothered lugging his SLR.  Looking forward to seeing some photos from it!

I see Panasonic have announced a LX5 to replace the LX3 - tempted!  Thankfully they seem to have stuck with 10.1 megapixels rather than upping the pixel count for the sake of marketing.  Also the zoom range of the lens is slightly improved. 

Mind you, price wise I doubt it will be all that different from the Olympus micro 4/3rds range, so its whether to splash out the money on a fixed lens poor-mans Leica or an interchangeable lens Olympus.  Hard to know, as a fixed lens is currently more appealing to me as I'm fed up carting lenses around with me.  Expect to see some of my D-SLR kit go up on the classifieds in then near future :)
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twentyclicks

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2010 »

Got some great shots with the Ricoh the other night.  It's so intuitive to use, and I have it with me now nearly all the time.  One below, more here on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twentyclicks/sets/72157624640123324/

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suspectmonkey

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2010 »

Looking good... the dynamic range in those images looks impressive!  I'm still totally undecided as to what pocket sized shooter I'm going to go for, but I think I've ditched the idea of a small interchangeable lens camera as it kinda defies the point if I still end up taking a couple of lenses on a trip.  Something like the Ricoh with a fast fixed zoom might be just the ticket... Just out of interest, what do you make of the build quality?  I've never had a chance to play with one, but does it feel good and solid in the hand?
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twentyclicks

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Re: Digital downgrade.
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2010 »

Build quality seems fine to me.  Buttons and switches feel nice, but like a mobile phone toggle you have no idea if it will continue to work for 3 weeks or 10 years...  Guy in Black & Lizars said they stopped stocking them as there were so many problems, but on the other hand I remember a few years ago hearing a lot of praise for reliability.  I decided in the end that it is digital, so who knows what I'll be doing with it if it lasts more than 3 years.  Besides, I am mechanically sensitive - the advantages of the camera outweighed any concerns in this area.

Calumet at Boucher Rd had it in stock if you want to play, or you can check mine out sometime - I will at least have the batteries charged and say hello  ;)

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