Friday, November 13, 2009

Wet November, and reactions to the Ricoh GXR Camera System

Stormy Seas, on The Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver BC.

The last few weeks have been somewhat dull on the photography front, as rain has kept me indoor for the most part. I was thinking of taking some shots at the local Remembrance Day ceremony, but chose to just observe this year. I think it was important for me to go to the ceremony without my motivation for going being photography. In some ways I think it would have been nice to take some photos, but at the same time it was nice to be at an event without thinking that I had to take pictures. I am hoping to get out with the Olympus E-410 for a few more hours before I post my review, sometime in the next few weeks.

Camera News:

The most interesting news, in terms of cameras, this week was the announcement of the Ricoh GXR, which uses exchangeable lenses with the sensors attached to the lens, rather than the camera body. I'm not sure what to think about this system to be honest. My first reaction was disappointment, I was really hoping for a 1.5x crop camera that would compete with the likes the Olympus EP-1/2 and the Panasonic DMC-GF1. There are advantages to Ricoh's design, such as little to no chance of dust entering the system, or that the lens and sensors are made for one another. The thing is, that there are different kinds of sensors, some small like compact point and shoots, and some are going to be 1.5x crop (DX) size sensors. The choice to do this most likely has to do with size, in terms of the camera body, and the idea of it being a compact system.

I do like the idea of having interchangeable lenses on a compact camera, but of the cameras on the market right now, or the ones that will soon be on the market, none of them have really capture me to the point that I would want to have one as my compact camera solution. Right now my Olympus E-410 seems to do a good job of filling the roll of a compact camera, although it still isn't quiet there. I think when Canon or Nikon releases a compact, mirror-less camera we will see things start to move forward. Other camera companies always seem to start the revolution with new ideas, while Canon and Nikon perfect them. I think the main reason we have not seen a mirror-less camera from either of the big two players, is that electronic viewfinders still are not up to the quality and speed of optical viewfinders. That leads me to my next set of thoughts.

The entire concept of the mirror-less camera is something I am still hesitant to buy into at this point. Firstly, due to the current limitations of electronic viewfinders (EVF from now on), and secondly, the effect said viewfinders will have on battery life. So far, none of the compact mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras have very good battery life, compared to modern semi-pro DSLRs. That is one of the big issues I have, as it is rather nice to go out and shoot for an entire afternoon with only one battery. Secondly, non of the mirror-less cameras have a built in EVF, which means it is either another expense, or something else to loose when you are out shooting.

The next reason I have been resistant the idea of the mirror-less cameras is the speed of the EVF. If all you shoot is family portraits and landscapes, the EVF will be just fine. In fact, even capturing basic movement will be possible without too much trouble. The stumbling block is fast action, like sports, and wildlife photography, where speed can be very important. Once the short comings I have seen are overcome, I'll be one of the first people to buy a mirror-less camera. The size and weight of modern DSLRs can be too much, but then again, you look at the 4/3s DSLRs and realize that it isn't always the case. I would still love to see a 35mm frame DSLR in the same form factor as a 1980s film SLR though, and would most likely buy that first if one came out.