Thursday, September 06, 2018

Camera Tech Update

Nikon new full frame mirrorless! Canon new full frame mirrorless! Fujifilm new APSC mirrorless! Expected Panasonic new full frame mirrorless!!

Oh gosh, must be time for another photo tech blog (will get back to Svalbard shortly).

The photographic world has changed since the last photography tech blog post, going from when:
  • the key battle was between DSLRs (Canon vs Nikon)
  • to the key battle was between DSLR (Canon & Nikon) vs mirrorless (Sony)
  • to now, where its between mirrorless systems (Canon vs Nikon vs Sony vs ...)
As someone who has been mirrorless since the 2013 trip to Greenland I certainly welcome these new developments and greater competition.

I sometimes see YouTube videos on the lines of "what's in my camera bag?" Well I don't have a bag or single setup as it depends what I'm doing but these are some typical configurations. That's the thing about interchangeable lens cameras, you can pick the configuration you want for a given situation. So here are a couple of configurations...

First up there's the basic walkaround setup which is Sony A6500 + the 16-70 F4 zoom:

This covers the main zoom range, reasonable aperture and weight. For the Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race I switched to the slightly longer zoom range of the 18 - 135 lens together with external microphone (and dead cat) as in:

This is pretty flexible setup for both stills and video, able to record 4K with audio and wide range of focal lengths in a relatively small package weighing around 900 grams. However the aperture range isn't not great, particularly at the long end of the zoom.

The A6500 has pretty good sensor able to produce images and video in most conditions but in low light I tend to switch to primes. For wandering the old town of city like Geneva at night, a favourite pair of mine is the 16mm/f2.8 and 30mm/f1.8 as they fit in two coat pockets so there's no need of a rucksack:

If I was taking just the one prime lens it would be neither of these but the lovely 24mm f1/8. The A6500 + 24F18 won't be as good as (say) the A7SII but then few cameras are. For Morocco took the 24mm for night time video and the 18-135mm for everything else.

While these configs are pretty lightweight compared to others (e.g. Canon/Nikon DSLRs or Fuji APSC mirrorless) there are times when something even smaller is required. For example gigs where interchangeable lens cameras are "professional" and hence banned, I use the pocket sized Sony RX100mIV:

It's pretty good 4K for something so small though of course the sensor size means that it won't be as good in low light as the larger A6500 (and note the sensor stabilisation is a lot better in HD mode than 4K).

For Morocco I took the RX100 and the A6500 as part of a two cameras / two lenses approach. The RX100 was good for street photography where the A6500 can be more intrusive. As noted, for the A6500 had the 18-135 zoom and 24mm prime lens pair.

The two camera / two lens approach was also used in Svalbard, where the two cameras were the A6500 and DJI Mavic Pro drone and the two lenses were again the general purpose 18-135 mm and a 70-300 mm zoom for wildlife.

All cameras are compromises: mine is driven by wish to keep size and weight down while maintaining quality and features. As noted in an earlier post there are also things I'd like to see improved in the Sony APSC camera range.

Fingers crossed for something new also coming from Sony...


Bursledon Blogger said...

I'm thinking about new camera so this has been useful, as you say compromises, i really like portability so the little underwater Fuji we have is great to stick in my pocket and i don't have to worry about getting wet, but i miss the 16x optical zoom of the lumix. I clearly need to read up on mirror less.

Great pics from the far north, looks like a great trip.


JP said...

Hi Max,

The Lumix long zoom makes it a great travel camera - I know people who have it and they take great pics. I got the RX100 to be similar stick in pocket portable. Its a good time to start looking into mirrorless as so much happening. I haunt sites like and on YouTube the likes of Tony & Chelsea (for tech, Thomas Heaton for taking photos). They can explain the various trade-offs of each system and camera. What I like about Sony APSC range is they have the largest ratio of sensor to camera body size and industry leading features.

Thanks for comments on far north - Norway is an amazing country to visit and really not that far from here