Camera Nirvana: The Ultimate Trio

I’ve done a fair amount of swapping, chopping and changing over the last year or two since my last three longer-term companions, namely the Nikon D700, D7000 and Canon G12. The D700 and a Nikkor 28-300mm lens was sold off in order to get the all new and revolutionary Nikon D800 which was creating such a buzz at the time you could feel the vibration. I was an early adopter having pre-ordered, a move which I now regret but that’s a different story (see previous post).

The G12 and D7000 (along with all the DX lenses) got traded in to acquire, what would be, my ultimate travel kit – an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and a decent range of glass covering most focal ranges. Yet another revolutionary camera, a Micro 4/3 format mirrorless system to take the challenge squarely to the mid-level APS-C DSLR market. I’m still wowed by the features and functionality of this brilliant camera. The final piece of the set came fairly recently. I had drooled over the Fuji X100, a retro styled APS-C compact that was being labelled as the “poor man’s Leica”. Sadly, it didn’t quite live up to the hype and the forums were full of complaints about various issues. Over time, the issues were mostly sorted but then Fuji brought out the X100S and claimed a total of 69 improvements over the original. I mulled over the prospect of a swift online purchase but resisted temptation until the fatal move of walking into a camera shop where they had one on display. The final piece was acquired there and then.

I’d never been totally happy with my D800. I was convinced it had the dreaded left focus issue and the focussing just seemed, in general, too much of a hit or miss affair. A few weeks ago I finally let it go in order to trade up to a D800E. I think my suspicions have been confirmed without doubt as I am infinitely happier with the results I’m getting from the D800E.

So, the terrific trio as they stand:

CameraTrio

The Nikon D800E, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Fujifilm X100S (captured by the not so wonderful Galaxy S3 Smartphone). Can it be better than this? Well, at this very moment I can honestly say “No.” I am currently residing in Camera Nirvana. There are no other cameras on the market (or about to come on the market) I would rather have replace any of these three.

They each fulfil a specific and unique role without much, if any, overlap. The Fuji X100S is my Walkaround/Street camera. Small and unobtrusive that fills me with a wonderful sense of nostalgia every time I handle it and gaze down at the black and silver. It’s a modern classic, of that there is no doubt. It frees the mind of having to think about lens choice and the physical controls make you want to play and experiment with different settings rather than forcing you to. Image quality is superb whether it be RAW or JPEG and the low light performance is astounding. I can’t ever envisage wanting to part with this machine.

The features and functionality of the OM-D still amaze me. The tiltable touch screen that focuses where you place your finger then fires off a shot instantaneously. The IBIS image stabilisation that keeps the image rock steady allowing you to use shutter speeds way below those you would normally use for hand-held. The 10 fps burst mode – almost up there with the Nikon D4 and so many others that momentarily escape my recollection. Then there’s the fantastic range of lenses available for the system. I have the 12-50mm weatherproof kit lens, the Panasonic 7-14mm, 20mm and 100-300mm and the Olympus 45mm. I’m seriously considering getting the Olympus 17mm f1.8 and/or the 75mm f1.8. The camera, complete with vertical grip and all lenses fit in a small bag that’s light and easy to carry around. It’s ideal as a travel system.

When image quality is paramount the Nikon D800E is still top dog two years after it’s initial release. For those competition winning landscape images or exhibition prints there is simply no better DSLR. The ability to crop extensively and still retain excellent resolution really proves the point of having a 36 megapixel camera. Dynamic Range is unsurpassed and the level of detail is just awesome. This is another camera which is, quite simply, irreplaceable.

The only camera of these three I’ve been remotely tempted to replace has been the E-M5 with the new E-M1. However, after reading a few comments and weighing up the pros and cons, I just don’t think the benefits of doing so are great enough to warrant the additional expenditure. It will certainly have to be another revolutionary camera to make me want to swap and change any time in the near future.

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