Dec 1, 2012

What's on my mind, actually

Since in China (it's already 2 month!), I wrote Blogposts in my living room, at the airport gate, on the plane and some more places, but I did not write one from the all and foremost celebrated blogging locations at all - a Starbucks. Today, I'm going to fill that gap, as every "modern bohemian, digital native, mobile worker, not having somewhere else to be" should.

In my case, I eventually planned to go out to the next Starbucks here in Solana Mall just to get this one post done (seems I am slightly beyond that frontier of digital native birth years anyway). Still, here I am, sipping my Caffe Americano, tall (which in fact is the smallest cup you can buy - never understood why they dont just call it as it is - small, anyway still an expensive piece of drink for some "hot water") and writing these lines into my girlfriends iPad. I can literally hear you thinking "what is that guy talking about digital natives, having to borrow an i...or whatsoever...Pad from his sweetheart".

I must admit, I never have been an early adopter when it comes to hardware. For me it just doesn't pay of paying that extra money for doing real world tests on "beta" stuff. I jumped on the iPhone train with #4 (without S), and will eventually go with the new "4th generation" iPad Mini. I also stick with my MacBook late 2009 (though upgraded a bit - 8GB RAM, 160GB SSD, 500GB HDD) and not get the Air - or new Pro models, yet.

As some of you might starting to wonder where I am going, as this is about photography most part of the day, let's link to the initial subject I extended to write about: my struggle to decide on how to further extend my photography gear. That's what's in my gearbag today:
Fujifilm X100 together with
some Flashes, Lightstands, Modifiers and small stuff (memory cards, card reader, wireless triggers)

Being happy with the X100 and it's fixed lens concept ever since buying it last spring, I am now beginning to hit the 35mm lens restrictions. Not because I could not learn much more using it creating much more stunning pictures, but because I miss the creative possibilities of highly compressing, tele lenses for portrait work, or even landscape or travel stuff. I did shoot everything from Makro (only test wise, at this moment I do not think I will ever get much into that type of photography) to landscape to cities to portraits (more environmental ones, considering the 35mm which in fact are not even real 35mm but only due to the X100 sensor's crop factor) and in each kind of shot I could learn and improve continuously, never even having to worry about lens or camera constraints.

In China however, I started to get into the Strobist thing a bit, and did my first steps along that way with results I before never would have thought being able to achieve. But with that, the restrictions especially of the X100 lens began to evolve as an limiting factor. Every indoor portrait needed a lot of cropping, the background compression in small shooting environment is nothing less than unsatisfactory, and possible shooting positions are more than limited.

Thus said, as a consequence I began thinking of how to expand into more flexible (means interchangeable lens) systems. Several options crossed my mind:
(1) Staying withe Fujis X-line, getting the newly launched X-E1
(2) Buy into one of the major camera systems Canon or Nikon
(3) Try the Mirrorless alternatives from e.g. Sony or Olympus

For the moment, I am tending towards going with option (2) Canon. The Fuji line seems - at least at the moment - to restricted in lense choices, as well as there is no full size sensor option, and Sony or Olympus just don't hit my nerve momentarily.

That said, the possibilities keep seeming endless for the Canon option:
(-) Full size or cope sensor
(-) Second hand or new model
(-) Lens choice to start with (and having to consider everything else - maybe not the card reader, to be bought for that new system as well - memory cards, spare batteries, case, strap, etc.)

Luckily, just today I came around a youtube video from Zack Arias talking about investing wisely, explaining two different options (back in 2011) he could imagine to go for starting from scratch:
(A) 5D Mark II, 85mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4 or
(B) 5D Mark I, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8 (which he was suggesting)

As we are end of 2012 already, I am wondering if Zack would now substitute the used Mark I by an used Mark II, anyway we would still be talking about roughly EUR 2,000.- of initial investment incl. 1.8 lenses. Keep in mind that in my case this equipment would be used hobby-wise mainly, and that sooner or later I would want to add a good zoom lens for traveling as well. As I do not so much care about all that "fancy" stuff, I would wish to have fully user definable programs (miss that now on my Fujifilm, not being able to quickly switch between an off camera flash setting and an high auto iso small aperture natural light setting instantly), tethering and remote (without cable) triggering capability.

Still, there is the option of staying with crop size, getting a 7D, which undoubtedly offers an impressive value for money ratio. I do not need the high continuous burst rate at the moment, as well as I am used to the single focus point of the X100, but wouldn't it be nice to have some good in focus shots of my ever moving neves and neviews?

As I finished my coffee already a while ago, and this Starbucks post thing really expanded to a lot more lines than planned, I'll sum it up here and now with: not decided, yet - will keep gathering information, as I am in no hurry and will keep shooting with my X100. Deadline to decide: January 2013, when back home in Austria, and the options for buying camera gear (with intl warranty) are there again.

Greetings, Steve

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