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i NEED digital manual focus camera advice ...
Old 11-02-2012   #1
paulfish4570
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i NEED digital manual focus camera advice ...

... but any advice must leave out leica cameras, and full-frame dslrs. i simply cannot afford an M9/ME/Mm body, or a canikon full-frame body. i would like to buy new.
i like the files i get from my x100, so i suspect i'd like a same/similar-size/quality sensor.
i want a digital focus/composition hit rate that equals that of my r2m and ME super when, for example, shooting my grandchildren at play. recently, i shot my three grandchildren at a nice playground, using my x100, r2m and ME super. i exposed maybe 30-35 frames total of ap 400. i made 150-plus x100 frames. more than half the film frames are keepers. maybe 20 of the x100 frames are keepers. there is no difference in rate of keepers when shooting static stuff.
with my x100 set on "manual," using the little focus button on the top right of the back with my thumb, and my right forefinger-tip on the shutter release, i cannot get off a shot quick enough to catch my grandchildren at play. this is more of a body issue involving declined fine motor skills, not a camera issue.
i am much quicker focusing the lenses of my slr and rf with my left hand, and hitting the shutter release near simultaneously with my right forefinger.
i'd like to use my current lenses: pentax-m 50/1.4 modified by ferider for coupled rangefinder use with m-mount bodies via adapter; and/or my un-modified pentax-m 50/1.4; and/or my nikon e-series 35/2.5; and/or my nikkor 50/2. i'd be willing to sacrifice use of those lenses with a digital cam. the fuji x-e1 and x-pro1 might be in the picture with the fuji 35/1.4.
so, what say ye: ricoh gxr with EVF? NEX 5n with EVF? NEX 6 or 7? pentax or nikon dslr with crop sensor? many of y'all know what i shoot. i much appreciate y'all's advice.
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Old 11-02-2012   #2
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oh yeah: i am a 50mm equivalent focal length guy. i very seldom use anything wider. the x100 with its 35mm equivalent almost always is too wide for me. with people subject, i like to maintain a "normal," respectful distance, even with my grandchildren.
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Old 11-02-2012   #3
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What's the budget? I have had a similar dilemma over the last few months. I ended up getting a used Canon 5D for my manual focus M42 lenses. However, in your circumstances, I really think a Nex 5N would be the best choice. It has focus peaking (very rangefinder-like), and it wlll let you use virtually all of your lenses with a minimal crop factor. Plus, it fits your requirement for a new (not used) camera.
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Old 11-02-2012   #4
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Paul:

Man, there are a lot of choices out there right now. I think the question is how well you adapt to technologically driven focus compromises. In my case, I happen to like adapters and EVFs, which may put me in the minority of photographers here. If you don't have a problem manually focusing on an EVF, and if money allows, in your shoes I would buy a NEX 7. I have the NEX 5 and I have been happy with the image quality. The NEX 7 fixes my main objection to the early NEX form factor, which is enforced chimping (or in my case a silly kludge involving a Hoodman viewer and >gasp< rubber bands). But if you like a 50mm FOV, there are many nice 35s out there that will get you there on an APS-C camera. A Fuji XP-1 would also work nicely, but once again, you have to learn to live with the camera's limitations. I have one of these and use frequently with M-mount lenses, as well as lenses from SLR manufacturers.

I have also watched the OM-D's prices anticipating that at some point in the next year they will drop. But the 2x crop factor on these cameras make them a poor choice for you, given what you have written about your preferred focal lengths above.

The GXR has a great reputation with RF lenses, but it doesn't sound like that is what you would be using. My suggestion would be to try to handle as many of the cameras you are interested in, in person so you can see how you interact with the particular set up you are testing.

Good luck and let us know what you choose.

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Old 11-02-2012   #5
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Paul
I have a Nikon D5100 and before that a D60. These are 1.5 crop factor bodies. I've been through a slew of "consumer" lenses, and I now shoot 90% of my images with the camera set to M and I am using a 1980's vintage manual focus 24/f2.8AIS ($189 in EX condition) because it gives me that 36mm FOV that I love. I also have the new Nikkor 35mm/1.8 DX automatic lens ("52mm FOV") and it is fabulous for the $200new. I have three versions of their 50mm lens and my hands down favorite is the old manual focus semi-pancake design ($59 in EX condition !).

Check out the used or refurbished Nikon DSLR's. I am much happier with the D5100 now that I am using the manual lenses.

Oh . . . I installed a Katzeye focusing screen ($120) that made things a lot easier for these old eyes.
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Old 11-02-2012   #6
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As you already have a few K-mount lenses, buy a 28mm or 35mm Pentax-A lens and one of the Pentax DSLR's. For the rare occasions when I need a decent digital shot, or a copy of a silver print (using a low priced Pentax macro lens), I have a K5. No problems with focussing manually, it is quite small and it is very adaptable. There are also the lower priced bodies from Pentax which are lighter, smaller and cheaper. Why make things complicated?
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Old 11-02-2012   #7
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Try the micro-4/3 camera of your choice with a 25mm f/1.4 DG-Summilux.
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Old 11-02-2012   #8
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Total curve ball here: Nikon V1 with 10-30mm kit lens. Especially now that they are discontinued and heavily discounted. Calumet UK are selling them off for £299.
Yes, the sensor is smaller than m4/3. However with the relative low pixel count and decent sensor it performs above its station. The killer feature though is the fast autofocus and fps, great for photographing fast moving kids.

Also Nikon have recently released an 18.5mm 1.8 (50mm equivalent with the crazy 2.7 crop factor).
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Old 11-02-2012   #9
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i think 1.5 crop factor is as far as i want to go from full frame.
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Old 11-02-2012   #10
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Start with the lenses. If you would like to use ALL of those lenses, then you can count out the DSLR's and instead "focus" on the NEX or Fuji or other bodies that will take adapters to mount all kinds of lenses.

Myself, I pre-ordered a NEX6 since it seemed to best fit my needs. Others like the Ricoh or the Fuji. They're all good.

However, if you think that just using your Nikon lenses would suffice, I would recommend the Nikon D7000 (if your budget allows). Manual focusing should be easy; if not, you can install a Katzeye focusing screen (I had installed one on my D200 when I had it, and the screen made a HUGE difference for manual focusing).

The D7000 would then allow you to take adavantage of a whole slew of AI/AIS lenses... yeah, I know, unleash the GAS.
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Old 11-02-2012   #11
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To be perfectly honest with you. An X-E1, as much as I like it, will not do what you ask. It may be able to mount all your lenses, but the EVF manual focusing is not up to the task of moving children, unless of course you zone focus. For a more studious use, fine. For action not.
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APS c sensor options
Old 11-02-2012   #12
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APS c sensor options

Paul

I came away w/ the following interpretation of the info -
- x100 too slow for the grand kids
- - don't like to use full auto af mode on x100 (would be fastest)
- - don't like to use zone focus or pre-focus to a spot?
- focus faster w/ old manual film camera then x100 in this situation

Xp1/xe1 in full af is going to be a hair faster. 28mm equiv currently fastest combo af wise. Manual focus w/ Fuji lenses much better than x100, but still does not quite have feel of real manual lenses. All your lenses w/ adapter can work on the xp1/xe1 body. Manual focus w/ mag assist if required. 3x and 10 x. No AA filter, best high iso support. People have reported a shimmering effect on edges when things are in focus in evf but I don't have good enough eyes to c it. Xe1 has advantage of built in diopter support

Nothing is as fast as a dslr such as Canon or Nikon in full af mode. Try a d3100, 5100, or 7000 from Nikon w/ 35 1.8 afs lens. Dslr flange distance too great for adapter usage of rf lenses. Menus can be very confusing at first if u have never used dslr. AA filter and next best in terms of iso.

Ricoh gxr w/ a12 m module option. Mf only, focus peaking and multiple level of mag support if required, customizable lens info support including distortion, aberrations, etc. there are Nikon ais to m adapters out there for your ais lenses. One of the few cameras out there w/ both normal and electronic shutter. Absolutely dead quiet in electronic shutter mode. Needs a external evf otherwise rear LCD only. No AA filter and not as good as others in terms of high iso. The absolute bet solution outside of drf for using rf lenses, especially wide angle ones.

Nex5n/nex6 second fastest to dslr in terms of af focus speed. Native lenses are not as good as Fuji in terms of iq, not as rich as Nikon in terms of breadth. Best af lenses currently are Zeiss 24, Sigma 30 and 19. Sony has some new lenses coming out which they hope will make more serious photographers happy, such as the 35f1.8. All your lenses can be adapted to the Sony. Focus peeking and mag support as required but no lens correction like the Ricoh or Fuji. Like the gxr, 5n needs an external evf. Worst thing about Sony is the UI compared to other cameras except maybe dslr.. specifically on the 5n is the placement of video button and that it cannot be disabled, unlike new nex6. I hate that video button so much that I did the so call hillbilly solution, used the new air cured rubber compound and made a surround barrier around it. I lost way too many shoots due to accidentally engaging movie mode. U need to disable, wait for the movie to write to sd card before u can take that picture. New nex6 allows for this botton to be disabled. Nex6 may have faster af then any other Nex due to new sensor which has both contrast and phase af support, only time will tell. Canon eos-m has similar sensor design and reports are coming in about slow af performance. Not sure if fw updated will help if this ends up an issue w/ nex6. Sony has got the best video capability and maybe the best universal digital back for legacy lenses. AA filter and as good as dslr in terms of high iso for 5n. Not sure in terms of nex6 yet. Nex5 does not have normal hot shoe. Nex6 first to have it.

As others have said, best to handle them yourself, especially if u can rent for at least a couple of days. All tricks u learned on x100 will almost all apply to xp1/xe1.

Gary

Last edited by GaryLH : 11-02-2012 at 09:52. Reason: Fixing sentence structure and added more info and spelling
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Old 11-02-2012   #13
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Paul, I have the GXR and GF1. The GXR with focus assist mode 2 (much better than mode 1, which is equivalent to NEX's focus peaking) will probably give you the fastest manual focus speed and accuracy outside of real RF. However, for small kids (I have two), it will still not be fast enough. So I suggest you look into OMD + Panny 25/1.4 if you want it small, or it will be DSLR if you really need the speed.

The X35/1.4, while nice, would probably focus as fast as the Panny 20/1.7, which is the slowest AF lens in m4/3 land and totally not adequate for small kids in my experience.

Best wishes.
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Old 11-02-2012   #14
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my new daughter-in-law has a NEX-5n but no EVF. how much do NEX adapters run? depending on cost, i might buy a nikon ais adapter just to try it out with lcd ...
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Old 11-02-2012   #15
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getting some wonderful advice so far ...
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Old 11-02-2012   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulfish4570 View Post
my new daughter-in-law has a NEX-5n but no EVF. how much do NEX adapters run? depending on cost, i might buy a nikon ais adapter just to try it out with lcd ...
Anywhere from 29 to 59 for most of the third party stuff. The best are over 150.

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Old 11-02-2012   #17
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Paul,

For the situation you described, why not just use the AF-S mode with the X100? After all, pressing the AFL/AEL button is using the AF system anyway.

I always prefer manual focus mode with my X100 and XP-1. But the OVF in AF-S mode should yield more keepers than the OVF mode in M focus mode. The same is true for the EVF except the EVF let's you control the focus-region size which can help too.

No doubt the X100 is not the best camera for people in motion.

Do you use the audible focs confirmation beep? This can be helpful, but it won't tell you if the focus point is where you want it to be.

Some people claim AF-C works best for moving children, but I have no experience to share. I do know AF-C mode uses more power.

I know you asked specifically about MF digital camera options. I am compelled to mention a used D300 is currently the least expensive, best AF camera I have used for moving children. A nice used body and the old 50/1.8 AF lens should be less than $700. There are numerous tutorials on line that describe exactly how to select the AF menu parameters for moving subjects. Honestly the AF performance is amazing. In burst mode it will adjust focus on moving subjects in between shutter cycles. It wil lock on to a subject and follow it changing ocus as it moves.
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Old 11-02-2012   #18
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Original question was about *manual-focus* on digital.

Yes, lots of very capable AF cameras. But, with manual lenses on a digital body the options go down a bit.

I tried 4/3 E410 with a katz eye screen and was OK for manual focus. I suspect E3 or E5 will be better. Even better would be a Canon 5D or any other full frame DSLR.

Currently I have settled for the Nex5n. With the viewfinder and focus peaking I can shoot with Nikkors youth soccer with as good or better success than my wife's canon AF DSLR.

One heads up, you will need to be using fairly fast lenses and mostly open during focus.
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Old 11-02-2012   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ezzie View Post
... but the EVF manual focusing is not up to the task of moving children, unless of course you zone focus.
Is any EVF up to the task of moving children? I'm shooting kids with a good DSLR (Nikon D300) on autofocus and it's still difficult sometimes.

Paul, if you are intent on shooting with manual focus, then all the old tricks are still important: the right focusing screen or RF patch and good old direct hand-on-helicoid focusing, not "fly by wire" focusing. No wait-for-EVF-to-update.
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Old 11-02-2012   #20
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Focusing on moving subjects is either hi-tech continuos AF or lesser tech and a bit of predictive focusing coupled with sufficient DOF.
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Old 11-02-2012   #21
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NEX-5N or NEX-5R with EVF and the to-be-released-in-December 35mm f/1.8 (SEL35F18) Sony E-mount lens, which would allow Hybrid/Phase Detect Autofocus (only with NEX-5R, NEX-6 and future NEX-7 successor), perfect for photographing fast moving children ... I would highly recommend also getting the 50mm f/1.8 (SEL50F18) Sony E-mount lens, as I have never owned a 50 mm (though 75mm equivalent) this good. Or perhaps a NEX-6 with the same combination of lenses, though I prefer the NEX-5N/5R EVF, due to its placement and flexibility (the OLED panel inside the EVF is the same).

Even if you will primarily use it for manual focusing, I highly recommend at least one or two native lenses, just in case you plan to hand it to a non-camera savvy person to snap a photo of you or something else at some point in the future.

Of course, as an added benefit, you also get the easiest manual focusing ever with these NEX cameras, using the magnification and the focus peaking, and the ability to adapt just about any lens ever made ...
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Old 11-02-2012   #22
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Nikon D300 or D300s or a D90 with a KatzEye screen should give great results, but be aware that without a FF sensor, you won't get a huge viewfinder. One of the reasons I started lusting for a FF D700 was because I started shooting with a cheap-o Nikon FG-20 and absolutely loved the comparatively drive-in-sized finder, since I grew up on crop body Nikon DSLRs
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Old 11-02-2012   #23
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Actually, this is more of a shooting technique decision than an equipment decision.

Maybe best to work backwards . . . . "I shoot moving kids like this: yadayadayada. I have these lenses: yadayadayada. What body accommodates this technique and those lenses?"

->->

Using manual focus lenses, shooting moving things (I almost never do this), I zone focus and go to f8 aperture for DOF, ISO400, set shutter speed with a test shot for exposure, and take whatever the gods of Mt Nikon bestow upon me.
My DSLR does this well, but it's really the lens with DOF marks that makes it work.
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Old 11-02-2012   #24
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Don't overlook the tried and tested zone focussing system which may help with candid shots of kiddies.

I have a couple of m4/3 cameras and have used a number of legacy lenses on them without focus issues. Having been a microbiologist for over 40 years I am we'll used to focussing microscopes and this is the same as manual focussing with the legacy lenses, this may account for my lack of issues.
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Old 11-02-2012   #25
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zone focusing at f2-f4 in poor light is pointless, for me. i know how to do that stuff. i actually do that stuff. i repeat: i am fast enough with two hands, no matter how wild they are running. i cannot make more than one digit on my right hand do this with the x100. zone focus is no good when the shot might be as close as 5 feet, or as far as 25.
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Old 11-02-2012   #26
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Having similar criteria, my current choice would be the Nex-5n. Without a lens around $350 new and adapters for legacy glass are around $10..... hmmmm.
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Old 11-02-2012   #27
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another solution - if kid shots aren't most of your work, just dedicate a few rolls of film for them (assuming film body and fast manual focus lens lets you do the job).

Also I find flash a good help in such conditions - bounced or diffused, with slow enough shutter speed. Flash isn't enemy.

I wouldn't buy new camera for some kid shots, rather work out something with existing gear, as pointed by greyelm. But that's just me and probably I'll change mind when I'll see my grandkids.
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Old 11-02-2012   #28
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What about a camera with a much smaller sensor, like a Ricoh GRD? You get a lot of DOF for free.
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Old 11-02-2012   #29
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xe-1. i got mine this week. i think it's going to be everything i had hoped the NEX-7 would be. it feels like a camera, fast AF, as wide a range of lens adapters as you'd want, no focus peaking but it does have touch-to-magnify in a convenient place. i'm very excited.
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Old 11-02-2012   #30
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oh yeah, the built in diopter is great
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Old 11-02-2012   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulfish4570 View Post
zone focusing at f2-f4 in poor light is pointless, for me. i know how to do that stuff. i actually do that stuff. i repeat: i am fast enough with two hands, no matter how wild they are running. i cannot make more than one digit on my right hand do this with the x100. zone focus is no good when the shot might be as close as 5 feet, or as far as 25.
Paul,

That's kinda why I say to work backward from your technique, rather than from your equipment.
How do you shoot? What hardware does not work with your technique?
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Old 11-02-2012   #32
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my film stuff is just fine, for kids or anything else on my palette. i'd like a digital with 50mm equivalent that i can focus myself, or autofocus fast enough to catch those kids. and really, i like compact, too. gotta wonder if any dslr can fill that bill ...
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Old 11-02-2012   #33
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I really think that a DSLR would be best for your needs. For that, you'd have to take into account the following considerations (I'll speak to the Nikon products):
  1. Manual focusing ease / viewfinder brightness and coverage
  2. AF Considerations:
    • The type of AF module
    • How many focus points
    • The type of focus points (cross-type or not)
    • The positioning of cross-type focus points - a wider horizontal spread is preferred.
#1 and #2 typically go hand in hand. The better #1 is in a body, usually the better #2 is (everything else being equal). Unfortunately, the cost is proportional as well.

So, I would say that for a Nikon DX DSLR, find the sweet spot. Start with the latest release and see if your budget will allow for it, then start working your way back, both in terms of price point and release date.

Good luck!
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Old 11-02-2012   #34
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I know you've said the crop factor option would need to be no more than 1.5 but the OMD is phenominal with the 25mm Summilux in manual or auto focus mode. If you didn't want to pony up for the pricy Summilux the camera would still be pretty awsome with a 24mm OM mount Zuiko and adapter as a purely manual focus rig with equivalent 50mm focal length. The EVF of the Olympus is a huge leap ahead of the X100 in it's clarity and response.
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Old 11-02-2012   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulfish4570 View Post
my film stuff is just fine, for kids or anything else on my palette. i'd like a digital with 50mm equivalent that i can focus myself, or autofocus fast enough to catch those kids. and really, i like compact, too. gotta wonder if any dslr can fill that bill ...
Omd with 25mm Panasonic 1.4 should do no?
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Old 11-02-2012   #36
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Paul,

I'd recommend either a Nikon D3100 for use with the manual Nikkors you own (manual focus, no built in lightmeter but a pocket lightmeter is easily carried and used) or a Ricoh GXR with M-mount unit and VF-1 viewfinder for the Leica-M lenses you have.

As of today I own them both and both are very capable of getting good shots with vintage lenses. The Ricoh is faster in metering but slower in focusing (could be me, less than 24hr owner), the Nikon is faster in focusing but requires the handheld meter.
The Nikon is the less pricey solution for sure. But, you could spring for a D3200, which is 24 megapixel IIRC
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Old 11-02-2012   #37
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Don't know if the Pentax k-01 is a consideration but Adorama has them onsale right now for$346.95
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Old 11-02-2012   #38
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I was ready to get the 6 but picked up a lightly used 5n for about 1/3 the price. Have had it just long enough to become acclimated and do some tests with my Canon FD glass. Very, very pleased!! Focus peaking makes legacy glass useful (again) at last. Results better than expected, and, best of all, the frustration index has dropped to zero.
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Old 11-02-2012   #39
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Maybe a crop sensor dslr with a focus confirmation adapter. I have one for Olympus OM lenses to use on my Canon 10D. When using it, the AF point/points selected will light up in the viewfinder when I am in focus. If you like the beeping AF confirmation sound, then that setting will work too when manual focusing.

The only draw backs are you have to reprogram it when you change to a lens with a different focal length and for shallow depth of field, you may have to use the micro focus adjustment to nail the focus. The default setting works well for moderate and deep depths of field. Sometimes the default micro setting is spot on for a lens.
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Old 11-03-2012   #40
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I have a D90 that I frequently use for photographing my granddaughter. With it I use Nikkor AIS, D and G lenses from 24mm to 105. The AIS is always used MF, the D mostly MF but occasionally AF and the G lenses almost always AF. Except for the slightly sloppy plastic manual focusing on the G lenses, which I rarely use, this has worked out satisfactorily for me.

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