We are rocketing through summer now and many will be about to go on holiday, are on holiday or have come back from holiday. Even if you’ve been “staycationing” this year, you’ve probably been using your camera out and about.
Martine has been doing lots of research into a new camera for her own travels, so she reports on options for compact systems which may tempt you.
Do read on….
Smaller camera systems
Those of you who see me on Line + Light days invariably see me toting a rather ancient (at least by digital standards) Nikon P7000 with which I take pics of you all doing your stuff whist training with us.
I bought this particular camera as a replacement for my trusty Canon G9, which had encountered dust within the casing and was generally showing signs of fatigue after heavy use. The Nikon has now gone the same way, and whilst I have delighted in its optical quality for such a pocket sized body, I have craved a zoom longer than 7x.
Wide ranging built-in zooms have long been the prevail of bridge camera systems, and whilst I’d seen many people out with us toting round 24x and 35x (and longer) all-in-ones, they were generally only jpeg enabled and felt rather cumbersome next to my P7000.
Sony’s RX10 and Panasonic’s FZ1000 tempted with their f2.8 lenses and 1″ sensors, but when placed alongside the school’s Canon 60d, frankly weren’t much smaller, and monsters compared to the P7000.
I know how much you value the opinions of Bob, Dan, Paul and myself when it comes to investing in gear, you know we will do the homework, spend our money carefully and live by the consequences of our purchases.
So, you will be sure that when it came to replacing my travel, family and holiday camera, I was going to do all the maths and read every review going. I suffer just as much with an inability to test kit before I buy, and that’s why I value the service we can provide for tripod and flash accessory gear through my ambassadorship with Manfrotto. Nope, when it comes to cameras and lenses, I just have to bite the bullet and hope I’ve got it right.
Two cameras were rivalling for my attention this last month and I daresay either would have made me very happy, which is why I’m going to tell you about two rival systems….
The first is FUJI’s XT-10, the new baby brother to their flagship XT-1 which Bob sings about to us (and with good reason). The XT-1 is Fuji’s CSC (Compact System Camera) pro-body, and for around £1100 gives a top quality camera to attach their large range of high quality lenses to. This summer, the XT-10 has been released, at £499 (body only), and other than a lack of weather sealing seems to offer identical image quality and a slightly smaller housing which makes it that bit more pocketable. I was planning to buy it with their pro spec 18-55 and 55-200mm lenses (they offer budget zooms which are optically decent, but are in plastic housings, so not as robust as the others). The kit came as a bundle through WEX or London Camera Exchange at £999. Every review I’ve read describes how cracking the XT-1 system is to use, and how superb the images are from it. Whilst the XT-10’s tested were only pre-production, with the same sensor as the Xt-1, the results weren’t likely to be called into question.
The rival contender was Canon’s G3X, a 1″ sensor camera offering a built in 25x zoom (25-600mm) and weather sealing but no EVF (electronic viewfinder). This came at a whopping £799, with the EVF at another £199 which placed it budget-wise alongside Fuji’s larger sensor XT-10. Again, pre-production reviews suggested good optical quality, but no one had done proper testing.
So, what to do?
Agonising handling sessions came into play once the G3X arrived in London Camera Exchange (I think the model I ordered to view was one of the very first into the UK), and this was placed with the XT-10 on the counter and compared.
Immediately, the G3X raced ahead. Start up time was swift, no discernible shutter lag and no evidence of hampering camera shake (600mm is hard to hand hold, however steady you are, and I’m NOT). This is not to say the Fuji suffered from these faults, it was just as nippy, BUT to carry around a single body with a built-in lens, or have a kit bag with 2 lenses? I was also stopping with the Fuji at 200mm, the Canon went to 600mm! I’d need a third lens to match that range. To listen to Bob when he tells me of blobs on his sensor which ruined a day’s shooting last week or choose something where blobs are not a consideration? Hmm…. Take a gamble on that 1″ compared of the joy of a 4/3rd’s?
The credit card flexed, and as a result, I’ve deliberately shot 1000 frames this week to put it through its paces (My brother kite surfing in the Solent, James’s school ‘Lion King production, his rock band playing their end of term gig and his leavers’ assembly on Thursday) and I’ve got results at 600mm, at 3200 ISO hand held, high contrast across water into the sun, and that’s just about the best road test I could give it.
Results? Monster!! No obvious fringing, barrel distortion, steady image stabilisation, no shutter lag, great tonal range and easy operating system. Deffo need the EVF in bright light so I’m now £1000 lighter in the wallet with the whole system, but trust me, you’ll see me toting this baby about on the autumn courses and if things carry on the way they seem to be going, you’ll be considering one for your second body one the prices start to drop a bit. I would dearly like to NOT have needed to spend so much on a holiday camera, but with its release only being days before my vacation, I was kind of caught between a rock and hard place.
I’ll bet they’re a couple of hundred lower by autumn and then, just then you should look a little closer. And if a 4/3rd sensor and interchangeable lenses are the real deal for you, the Fuji XT-10 ranks as the one to beat.
images below – boat on the Solent 600mm hand held
James’s rock band at 3200 ISO
Adobe Lightroom 1&2 Saturdays 28th Nov & 5th Dec £75
If you’re shooting lots of pictures this summer and you’ve not thought about how you’re going to store them for easy retrieval, or how to improve or enhance them, you ought to join us for one of our Adobe Software courses.
Bob is up first with Adobe Elements 13 training, the perfect all-in-one choice for archiving and manipulating your images for print or web output. Delivered in two enjoyable Saturday sessions, Bob takes you from installation and import to getting to grips with the photoshop side of things where sizing, colour correction and retouching will add a new dimension to your image making.
For those who plan to shoot high volume work, investing in Lightroom might be a better option. You don’t have the Photoshop interface to play with unlike Elements, you’d need to subscribe to the Adobe CC (Cloud subscription) to get the full interface. However, with a sophisticated Raw Processor and file cataloguing structure at your finger tips you’ll be using software which all the pro’s work with. Dan’s workshops take you from first import, and setting your catalogue structure up, to export at the end of day 2.
Both courses run at The University of Nottingham and there’s a discount for booking both stages together.
Visit Line and Light to find out more about this and all other courses available, and book your place today.