Jun 072016

So, I got a Leica Q.  It is a fixed lens camera with a a prime 28mm focal length lens, bright F/1.7 max aperture and a full frame 24 megapixel image sensor.

The camera is absolutely superb.  I posted a few pictures earlier and I will post a few more here and there, but it is a spectacular camera.  It is extremely responsive, with superb focus accuracy, intuitive controls and excellent image quality.  Most importantly, the lens quality is just stunning.

However, the Q, as good as it is, does not cover all bases.  It is a superb walkaround camera for street shooting, architecture, etc.  It does well with landscapes.  It does well indoors.  It does a lot of things well.  However, it is still a 28mm lens and for some things it  does not work all that great even if you are OK with a fair amount of cropping.

The Q covers about 65% of the photography I do very well, but there are a few things for which I need a different camera (or two since you can never have enough cameras):

-Portrait: you can do portraits with a 28mm when you want the background involved.  However, sometimes you want a lot of subject isolation and a 28mm lens is not ideal for that.

-Weather sealing: the Q is not weather sealed, for some odd reason.  It is not a huge deal for me, since I live in dry Southern California.  However, I felt a bit uncomfortable when taking pictures on the beach with both sand and water around.

-Telephoto: while I do not do telephoto a whole lot, I do need it occasionally.  For serious telephoto, I can use my spotting scopes, but that is best done from a stationary spot.  If I want to take a telephoto capable camera hiking with me, that does not work.  Another thing I found is that

-4K video: the Q has fairly decent video quality, but it is 1080p60 and it does not allow external mic input.  As my kids are growing I find myself using video more and more.  Naturally, I do not want to have a separate camcorder.

-I want a camera with a built in flash.  I find the built-in flash extremely useful for fill-in on sunny days.

-I want a camera that I can potentially take snorkeling, skiing, etc.

All jokes aside, I am trying to get all of this accomplished with as few cameras as possible.

Basically, a flexible outdoor walkaround lens with telephoto capability can not be the same lens that provides shallow depth of field for portraits.  Similarly, unless I want to get an underwater case, the snorkeling/skiing capable camera is a different piece as well.

Hence, what I am ending up with here is a potential assembly of four different cameras.

As I have mentioned earlier my primary interchangeable lens system has been Micro 4/3 and I am generally quite happy with it.  Now, that I have the Q, I put my previous primary camera up on Ebay: Olympus E-M1 with two F/2.8 Pro zooms that I have.  However, I have an older Micro 4/3 body (Pansonic GX-1) which takes rather good pictures.  I decided to hold onto the GX-1 and pair it with my 45mm F/1.8 Olympus lens to use for portraits.  With this combination, neither the lens nor the body are stabilized, but for portraits, I can’t get away with long exposure times anyway, so it should work fine.  Either way, I like the idea of keeping at least one interchangeable lens system camera around in case I need to add a new capability in a hurry.  Technically, I still have Nikon D90, so I can also use that, but there I would need to buy a new lens.

For telephoto and 4K video, I am leaning toward Sony RX 10 Mark II whenever it becomes available.  The sensor on it is a bit smaller at 1″, but it is large enough for general outdoor use and the F/2.4-F/4 lens with equivalent focal length range of 25-600mm is very appealing.  I know this camera has excellent video capabilities and it has some manner of weather sealing.  It is not as good as that on higher quality DSLRs, but it should be sufficient for me.  Most importantly, it gives me 600mm equivalent focal length with F/4 aperture.  That is better than any of the walkaround zoom lenses I am aware of.  Micro 4/3 lenses of this type go out to 280mm equivalent.  APS-C walkaround zoom lenses go out to 450mm equivalent at most (Sigma and Nikon make 18-300mm lenses, while Tamron has a 16-300mm model).

That leaves me with a big question mark on what to do for an underwater camera.  I quality underwater case is close to a thousand dollars and it adds bulk.

On the other hand, all the “tough” cameras like Olympus Tough series, etc have really mediocre image quality.

Leica X-U has good image quality, but is expensive.  I am not sure I can afford another Leica any time soon.

Perhaps, I will get a waterproof case for my cell phone in the meantime, and use that.

Generally, the whole camera selection I am ending up with is not cheap:

1) Leica Q is $4250 (if you can find one in stock)

2) ILC body with a prime lens for portraits (80-90mm equivalent) will run you a minimum of $1k (if you were buying one new)

3) Sony RX 10 Mark III will run around $1500 once it is available.

4) Leica X-U if you were to get one is close to $3k.

That adds up dangerously close to ten thousand dollars.  I think I will enjoy the Q for a while and concentrate on selling gear I do not need for the time being.  If I really find myself with an urge to get a walkaround lens, Nikkor 18-300mm to sit on my Nikon D90 should scratch the itch for a little bit.  My brother uses one and while the image quality is merely OK, it is a very flexible option.

In the meantime, I do enjoy the Q…


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