I’ve been having great fun trying digital cameras for about 10 years now. It hasn’t been all that expensive, either. Invested a couple hundreds in one of the very first digicams available, and then added here and there to climb up the digital ladder, so it was a progressive process. In the meanwhile I learned to buy very smart, and resell pretty well, so all in all a much, much cheaper hobby than racing cars, golfing or sailing…
One thing you become in the process is a little picky. A little hard to please. You get to the point you discard a hot new body within hours because some quirk annoys you, or IQ doesn’t match your very specific needs. I can say I’ve had some pretty fancy cameras, and, more importantly, I’ve come a loooong way in my hobby.
The last GREAT camera (one of the best ever, really) I used was the Nikon D700. It’s FF, it handles like a dream, and IQ is earthshattering. Overall, it’s pretty sweet. Then I got bored with DSLRs, wanted some fresh air, something new, a spark. I decided to check where m4/3 was at (had never ventured into mirrorless at all). I don’t even remember how I narrowed my choice down to the GX-1. I had a couple of Olympus bridges in the past, but hadn’t tried any of their 4/3 offerings (DPR “conclusion” tabs in each model’s review always turned me away from them, slow AF, small, dim VFs, noisy sensors, etc). I guess I might have browsed the DPR m4/3 round-up and found the GX-1 looked really gorgeous (I’m very influenced by aesthetics in a camera). Anywa, it got here. Fresh out of the store (which is rare, I usually buy used). Damn, it even smelled new 😉
Why do I love the GX-1 so much ? First, it’s frigging beautiful. To the eye. In the hand. I remember getting it out of the box and thinking “Wow, that’s a nice little cam”. Second, it’s an awfully SMART camera. Lots of physical, *and* touch controls. Brilliant interface. The engineers at Panasonic either are photographers, or have talked to a lot of those, because the camera is extremely easy to operate, and the interface quickly totally seamless. What I mean by that is that the camera never hinders, slows or interrupts your creative process. It does exactly what it needs, exactly when you want it. And gives you feedback in real time (full time “Live View” is, with portability, the greatest strength of mirroless cameras). It’s a fantastic tool to LEARN, as every single adjustment you make to your settings (be it a major photographic decision like aperture or shutter speed, or a more digital subtelty, like white balance) appears instantly on the screen before you hit the shutter. The obvious advantage of that is to see your “keeper” (the pictures you actually don’t end up trashing or never laying an eye on again) skyrocket. And last, the image quality is pretty flawless, very close to what you’d get with a high end DSLR (and better than most older ones).
After using the GX-1 as my primary for 5 months, I come to realize it’s the near perfect camera for me, at this point. Portraits are my main interest, but for a while I wanted to pursue that “one body, one lens” exercice suggested by portrait master Kirk Tuck, so the “normal” focal range (equivalent to 50mm in 135mm or so called “Full Frame” film photography) seemed like a good choice. The Summilux 25mm F1:4 is an expensive and rather ugly lens, but it’s bitingly sharp, blurs backgrounds beautifully, has gorgeous contrast and color signature, and loads of character. It hardly ever leaves my camera.
So what happens when you finally land your near perfect cam ?? You just take great joy using it to turn you vision into actual images, without worrying too much about the flavor of the month, or what fancy camera manufacturers are going to release next.
Though, Panasonic, I woudln’t mind you making a super GX-2 with built-in corner electronic viewfinder…
If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.