New camera to me: Knowing need from want.

March 26, 2013

The day I fell down the digital interchangeable lens camera rabbit hole. Day one I only had access to the E-PL5 and kit lens, but it did not take long before I started accessorizing. The day before chaperoning for my daughter on a school trip to D.C. Olympus served me well even moving on to a different body (E-P5), but I moved on. Prime motivator initially? It was fun acquiring and learning different systems.

Fast forward through many systems until recently I made another change. Brands involved this time? Pentax to Fujifilm, but it really does not matter. Will it stick? Only time will tell. Reasons? I had a specific set of realized needs that superseded previous wants.

Been entertaining the idea of taking a hobby since childhood a little more seriously. More on that soon, but for this I should settle down with a system. A previous chosen mirrorless set up failed when the system folded unceremoniously. Pentax was up next and while spectacular image wise I missed the portability of mirrorless. Not saying mirrorless is superior. Just better fits my specific needs.

Chose Fuji. No lab test, charts, specs, or dxo marks. Bought an X-Pro1 and found myself staring at the back screen and computer screen in disbelief. Not just because it created great images, but that it did so effortlessly. But the information stated below applies regardless of your  chosen brand.

Ok. Fine. Need another body. What next? GAS (Gadget Acquisition Syndrome) reared it’s ugly head.

But I have learned to first know yourself and your specific needs before buying in to a system and that there are general rules that apply regardless of personal needs.

General considerations/needs:

Through system churn I had learned some key factors to consider unless you have unlimited access to funds to buy everything.

  • Lenses reign supreme. Cameras are what most people consider first, but lenses tend to have a larger impact on the resulting image. DOF? Lens. Light gathering? Lens. Sharpness? Lens. Contrast and colors? Lens and lens.
  • Buy used cameras and lenses whenever you can., Adorama, B&H, ebay, and your local camera stores are your best friend.

Knowing self/Personal needs:

“Get that X-T2!” GAS bellowed. “It’s brand spanking new and now has retsin, scrubbing bubbles (that may be the Saturday house cleaning chemicals talking right there), and rich Corinthian leather. You have got to have those.”… Not what the features were actually called, but for my purposes they may have well been. This comes from knowing yourself and what you need.

  • Retsin (Dual SD card slots): Would be awesome to have, but I have had plenty of fantastic cameras without these so it was not a showstopper.
  • Scrubbing Bubbles (24.3 MP): Admittedly I was stuck on the X-T1’s MP count at one point myself. Then I got an X-Pro1. Non-issue.
  • Corinthian Leather (4K Video): Personal. I rarely ever shoot video and 4K is overkill for my purposes when I do. Bought a camera specifically for 4K once. Used 4K in the wild exactly never.

Armed with this experience for the first time ever I stared GAS in the face and said no.

For your consideration: Knowing self I knew my main goal was a solid portrait rig, preferably with a grip, and choice of lens has more to do with a good portrait rig than the body. A brand new, admittedly awesome, X-T2 currently lists for $1,599 (body only, no lens, no grip) as of this writing. But with a little diligence, patience, and good timing the three items below were purchased for $1,426.00 combined.


This works with any system chosen. 2 beautiful things happen when a new version of a popular camera appears. Typically the previous version is discounted even new like the time I purchased an A7 for just under $1,000 when the A7II was released. Secondly many owners of the previous model will trade making them readily available on the used market.

Plus if you are intent on getting the latest body then buy the lens and grip used and you can still save hundreds of dollars. Same applies when a new lens comes out. Is there an older version with a similar feature set? Buy that one instead. Again if you have unlimited funds go for it. But in my experience you will be just fine without the latest and greatest and the subject/client will not notice or care about your gear version. They are only interested in the result. In the example above no subject will say:

  • “I don’t know. I really wished you had about 11 more MP.”
  • “This shot is nice, but you really should have had 2 card slots. What were you thinking?”

One last time to be clear these are important features, but not THE most important features. Funds no limit go for it, but for all others you can make your funds go further with a little diligence, patience, and good timing. Happy shooting.



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