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Camera size and useability
Old 03-20-2019   #1
Archiver
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Camera size and useability

What is the optimal camera size for you?

On the weekend, I was shooting video for an event using a mirrorless camera on a monopod, and carried my M9 around my neck for the occasional still image. As I had to be very mobile, the M9 was a good choice due to its relatively small size and weight, compared with a DSLR or larger micro four thirds camera like the GH4.

But some issues with fast moving subjects got me thinking about autofocus, and I realized that it's not that easy to get a small, high quality camera with excellent lenses. The Fuji X cameras are pretty close, but the lenses can protrude a fair bit. The Panasonic GH and G cameras are quite chunky, especially the G9, and if you want longer reach or very fast lenses, the size and weight goes up.

The upcoming Panasonic S1 is bigger and heavier than the Canon 5D Mark II and the lenses are all kinds of large. Just to remind myself of what I escaped, I put my 5D Mark II with 35L alongside my M9 with Voigtlander 35/1.4, and breathed a sigh of relief.

For dedicated shooting, I like a camera somewhere from Panasonic GX85 or Olympus E-M5, to Leica M9 in size. I'm okay with the Panasonic GH4 with 12-35/2.8 but that's as big as I want to go.
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Old 03-20-2019   #2
karateisland
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Good question!



Every year or so, I hear the siren call of a new full-frame camera, but then remember the lens size penalty and return to my X100F. To my mind, it's nearly a perfect camera, so the only move I would consider making is to an X-E3 with a 35mm attached.


Yes, there is higher quality to be had out there, but I'd rather have a small, comfortable camera I can take with me anywhere. I can't go much larger than the X100, which I think might count me out of the full-frame game entirely.
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Old 03-20-2019   #3
mcfingon
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A Sony A7S with Elmar-M 50/2.8 makes a nice size package for me. Or the 55 Sonnar autofocus lens if things are moving faster.
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Old 03-20-2019   #4
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A Pentax MX was a little on the malnourished side, while a Nikon D700 is too big (or rather my carpel tunneled hands find it painful to hold). A Leica M3 or Canon EOS650 seem to be perfect for me, while a Leica III is a touch small, I forgive it that for the freude it gives me, and the ease of keeping it in my pocket.

With a different holding method, the Rolleiflex 3.5F is perfect, while the Hasselblad 500cm is a bit much, but that stays in the camera bag til needed.
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Apart from that have a Rolleiflex 3.5F, the odd Minolta XD7, Hasselblad 500cm, a Topcon Super D and an Intrepid 5x4 large format (not the half of it but I am clearing them out, honest).

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Old 03-20-2019   #5
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If I need picture to be taken with next to 100% confidence, I'm using 5D MKII with L lenses.
I'm not considering any camera with EVF as something close to it due to low batteries capacity and so-so panning.
Any Leica M is cute camera to travel and take street, reportage pictures and static objects, but if I need to have pictures in focus of moving objects those are useless cameras.

Then I'm concerned with size, I'm using Canon 500D with AF ASPH pancake. It fits in the pocket.
I looked at Leica CL images yesterday and IQ difference is next to insignificant to Canon 500D.

And If I really need it small, I'm using my 8MP Lumix with Leica AF ASPH OS normal zoom in it. This one is smaller than small mobile phone.
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Old 03-20-2019   #6
Richard G
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This is a key question. I notice that for people around me the Leica Q or the new CL has become the answer. I’m happy with my M9-P, but latterly mated most often to the tiny 28mm f5.6 Summaron-M.
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Old 03-20-2019   #7
karateisland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
This is a key question. I notice that for people around me the Leica Q or the new CL has become the answer. I’m happy with my M9-P, but latterly mated most often to the tiny 28mm f5.6 Summaron-M.
It's just too bad the CL doesn't have a smaller AF 50mm equivalent!
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Old 03-20-2019   #8
Michael Markey
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I have Leica ,Sony, Richo and Canon.
First three bit on the small side .
Unless I really feel that I need to use a small camera , I`m most comfortable with the 5D3.
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Old 03-20-2019   #9
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The optimum size depends on one's photographic goals.

For my personal goals, the cameras I used with an optimal size are:
  • Canonet G-III QL-17
  • Zeiss Ikon M
  • FUJIFILM X100, X100T
  • FUJIFILM X-Pro 1, X-Pro 2

I always avoided using large lenses.

The smaller, older SLRs I used were heavy. Back then size was not an issue because photography in public spaces was not considered a threat. At that time I was unaware of rangefinders.

I did commercial sports photography for a short period of time. Back then, the Nikon 300 was a good compromise between size and performance. Once I worked with a real sport photography pro. He used the Nikon D3. He hit 200K actuations every six months or less. This a large heavy, loud camera and he used large, heavy lenses. But they were money makers.

I did commercial interiors photography on a weekly basis for about 6 years. The cameras were always on a tripod. I swapped my Nikon D700 bodies and Nikkor ultra-wide zoom lenses for a pair of FUJIFILM X-T1 with the XF 10-24/4. I made this change because of size and weight. It turned out the X-T1 had more dynamic range than the D700. Not only was the XF 10-24 smaller and lighter, it outperformed the Nikkor 17-35 and 16-35 zoom lenses as well.

The X-T1 didn't make the list I because I never use it for personal work. I didn't enjoy using the X-T1 body even though it made life easier in terms of logistics, simplified the lighting effort I spent on site and reduced the time I spent in post-production.
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Old 03-20-2019   #10
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The Fuji XPro1/2 is pretty much the perfect size and weight for my use. However, the longest lens I use with these cameras is the 50/2 (75mm equiv.). The XPros seem well balanced with shorter lenses which works okay for me since I seldom use long lenses anyway. The longest Fuji lens I have is the 55-200. I sometimes use it on an X-T1 but it's a bit unbalanced to me. The XT1 with shorter lenses is okay but a little short in the hand. I'm sure an accessory grip would make it handle better.

For smaller cameras, the X100 models handle really well. I guess it's the design because it doesn't feel like a tiny little camera when I use them. And for a pocketable camera, the Ricoh GRII is optimum for me.

I have to admit the most ergonomic cameras I've owned have been Canon EOS models. They're heavy and the tele and tele-zoom L-series lenses are like boat anchors hanging from my shoulders which is why I no longer use the system. But the shape of the cameras--even the low-priced Rebel models--always felt good in my hands.
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Old 03-20-2019   #11
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I like my Leica IIIg it fits my hands quite nicely, l have small hands though, likewise l also favor the Pentax MX
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Old 03-20-2019   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archiver View Post
What is the optimal camera size for you?
Normally, size is not of primary importance to me. Image quality is more important. When I need high image quality, I prefer to use a medium format or large format camera.

However, when I need to use a small 35mm film camera, I like:
Canon QL17 rangefinder
Leica M6 rangefinder
Contax G1 rangefinder
Pentax ME SLR
Nikon N70 or Nikon EM SLR

When I need to use a small digital camera, I like:
Canon G15 or G11
Fuji X-Pro 1 or X-Pro2
Olympus Ep1 or Ep3
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Old 03-20-2019   #13
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While shooting I like something M sized, but I prefer to carry a more comfortable camera, the baseplate of the M has sharp edges that really hurt my hip bone sometimes.
The X100 is nice to carry, but almost too small to shoot.
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Old 03-20-2019   #14
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There was a time when I carried the Canon 30D + 17-55 everywhere in a shoulder bag, and it seemed fine for years. Then I moved to the 5D Mark II + 24-105L and that was okay for another year or so, but I felt the pull on my shoulder more and more over the last months. When I got the M9 it was a revelation; then I went even smaller with the Ricoh GXR, Fuji X100 and Olympus E-M5. Maybe I'm just not used to it any more, but I dislike the size and heft of any midsize or larger DSLR, especially the lenses, for everyday carry.


If I'm doing paid work, though, I still break out the 5D Mark II. It's dependable and takes commercially pleasing images. But I won't carry it around for a day's shooting, no way.
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Old 03-20-2019   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcfingon View Post
A Sony A7S with Elmar-M 50/2.8 makes a nice size package for me. Or the 55 Sonnar autofocus lens if things are moving faster.
John Mc
Use that with the Tech Art Pro and the Elmar will autofocus on the Sony A7II series and up.

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Old 03-23-2019   #16
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In that situation I wouldn't have used the M9 if I'm shooting moving subjects. The smallest camera I've used that has great AF and pretty decent high ISO capability is the Sony A6000 with the OSS 50mm lens.
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Old 03-23-2019   #17
Richard G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lxmike View Post
I like my Leica IIIg it fits my hands quite nicely, l have small hands though, likewise l also favor the Pentax MX
This must be one of the best reasons for still using a Barnack: they are so compact. I was using my IIIf as my main camera for months the last year or two. The M2 seemed like a weighty giant in comparison. The collapsible 50 Elmar is a marvel.
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Old 03-23-2019   #18
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My M9 and Epson are my BIG cameras anymore, my daily is the X-E3 with the 18mm. Any others in the Fuji line seem ungainly on it. Even better are the M mount lenses I have, it seems to love the CV25/4 but I have a little trouble focusing with these old eyes.
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For what I do, I need a physically large camera
Old 03-23-2019   #19
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For what I do, I need a physically large camera

Dear Archiver,

I use Canon and Nikon digital cameras the most. I prefer a gripped body, or a pro-sized body, because I use telephoto lenses almost exclusively.

I find that the Canon 1D series, a gripped Canon 7D, and a gripped Nikon D300 all suit my needs well when shooting digital. With film I use a Nikon F4S, Canon A2E with the vertical grip, and a Canon F-1 with the MF motor drive.

I use lenses with focal lengths up to 600MM, and shoot mostly handheld nature and wildlife shots. With lenses of those focal lengths and weights a gripped body or film body with a motor drive makes holding and balancing the camera so much easier.

If I am just taking scenic pictures or pictures of family and friends I am happy with smaller film and digital P&S's. I love my Fuji X-10 and my Canon S-90 and G-11 for that kind of stuff.

I also carry a Panasonic FZ200 and a Fuji S-1, one in my car and one in my truck for use when a nature shot presents itself when commuting to and from work. They do pretty well for quick shots of that deer or eagle I hadn't planned on seeing.

Regards,

Tim Murphy

Harrisburg, PA
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