The Irresistible Allure Of The Older Sister

Whilst I’ve tried a fair few cameras over the last eight years or so (I’d guess over 200, film and digital combined), there haven’t been many that I’ve absolutely hated.

Partly because I tend to like to do my research first, and buy something that has a decent reputation. And partly because on some level virtually all cameras capable of making a picture are magical machines in my view.

Similarly though, there haven’t been many cameras that I’ve absolutely adored. 

Of my remaining cameras, I would say perhaps five are in this category – the Ricoh GRD III, Panasonic Lumix LX3, Pentax Q, Pentax K100D and Pentax K-m.

With each of these, whilst none are perfect, the irritations or flaws they do have, in my perception, are so minor they don’t impact my love of using them, and I can’t see a time when I would want to part with any of them.

What happens then though, is that one’s mind starts down a path of connected curiosity.

I start to wonder if, because this particular camera is this good, and that it proves what this company are capable of, it’s perhaps likely that they made another camera at least close to holding the same appeal for me.

So I start researching the cameras that surrounded, preceded and superceded my favourite one in their range, to see if I can discover another as adorable, or perhaps even a fraction more so.

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Examples of this exploration based on my collection I mentioned above are –

– The Pentax Q7, which is very similar to the original Q, but with a slightly evolved and slightly larger sensor.

– The Lumix LX7, which superceded the LX5, which superceded the LX3 I have, but was so similar the jump wouldn’t be worth it, so I’ve skipped up to looking at the LX7. But I wouldn’t rule out an older LX2 either.

– The original Ricoh GR Digital, which is simpler than the GRD III I have and has a lower resolution sensor (8MP versus 10MP) and a reputation for even more contrasty and film like images than the GRD III. And at some point when the later GR with its APS-C sensor becomes affordable enough, I’d be interested in trying one of those too.

– And with the K100D, the K-m is its successor, so I already did that research and made that purchase!

Putting this another way, it’s always seemed to me a little like dating one girl, getting on brilliantly with her, but a few months in, wondering if she has an older (or indeed younger) sister who’s just as attractive – and perhaps even more so.

With cameras though, fortunately it’s a far less destructive behaviour!

How about you? When you’ve found a camera model you really love, has it led you to explore others that are similar, that were either siblings at the time, or that preceded or superceded it? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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17 thoughts on “The Irresistible Allure Of The Older Sister”

  1. My main 2 cameras are my Nikon D750 with a Sigma 150-600 mm F5-6.3 DG OS Contemporary and a Sony DSC-RX10M4 wikth with 0.03 s. AF/25x optical zoom. The main difference that I see in post is that the Nikon full frame images tend to have more detail than the Sony mirror-less’s. When I am traveling light I take the Sony.

  2. Sometimes close relatives are great! I had a Lumix LX 5 and lived it. Sold it as part of the finance package of upgrading to Nikon full frame (abandoned due to weight concerns of the brick-like D 750. Picked up a Lumix LX 2 for $25.00! I’ve taken some of my best beach and vacation family photos with it. Best deal I’ve done with a related camera!

    1. I bet it was like coming home again, picking up the old LX2! I’ve been tempted by them, I have the LX3 as you probably know. Does the LX2 have the film colour presets, like dynamic b/w and so on?

      1. No, unfortunately it doesn’t. Most of the time I just shoot JPEGS with this camera, and amp up the colors and contrast. Gives great images, and I’ve printed a few at 16×20 size with beautiful results! And it fits in my pocket!

      2. I’m a big fan of the Lumix range, they seem to get it right with many of those cameras.

        I’m currently trying to find out which other Lumix cameras have some kind of dynamic b/w mode, because I love it so much on the LX3 and GF1. I believe after around 2008 they included it on a range of Lumix bodies, not just the higher end and micro four thirds ones.

  3. With cameras, I usually know what I want and there aren’t a lot of cameras around that have exactly what I think I need, so I tend to just get these.
    When I had the K20D I loved everything about it except the sensor, which while it was great, had horrible noise at higher ISOs and I could never get natural looking details out of shadows. So I got the K10D and that was it – though the K10D body isn’t as nice to hold or as refined to use as the K20D, the sensor trumps everything here. The related cameras (K-m and K200D) have smaller pentamirror viewfinders so they’re not for me – I like to focus manually.
    Then I had a K-r as a small camera to take anywhere (same size as the K-m I think) and it was great, but the small pentamirror also bothered me – so I sold that and bought the K-S1 which remains really small and has a great pentaprism, the same as the K-3.
    The K-50 was given to me, I didn’t expect to own that one… but it’s quite fun to use and it’s weather resistant so it ended up having its place.
    I like my cameras to have in-body stabilization, so that always ruled out Canon and Nikon. I also like them rugged, which rules out (for me) Sony – a lot of the Sony DSLRs of the “golden era” (2000s) are dying or are dead – same as the Konica-Minolta DSLRs. Sony just doesn’t build a long lasting product and I’ve experienced that in other types of products as well. So I just don’t trust Sony anymore.
    Then what is left is Pentax and M4/3, and Pentax has the advantage of all those old, cheap and absolutely wonderful lenses so I’m basically set with Pentax for the long run. There’s newer cameras that I think I’ll own one day (with Pentax of course I’m including all things Ricoh) so I’m pretty set with my gear I think…
    As far as compacts, I might have another one someday but for now I don’t really see the point… when a DSLR with a small prime is so compact and light to carry around.
    So no, I’m not looking at sisters or cousins of the cameras I currently own… only some non-related ones like the Pentax full frame K-1… I do want that one someday…

    1. Chris, thanks for your Pentax experiences. As you probably know, on the DSLR front they are my favourites too.

      Originally I went the K10D route because of the larger VF and the pentaprism not pentamirror. That was when I was shooting manual lenses (mostly M42). I also had the magnifying viewfinder eyepiece too. This combination worked pretty well, but still fell far short of the viewfinder experience of an old Pentax M series SLR for example. I only realised relatively recently that the crop factor of APS-C also affects the size of the viewfinder, so even a 100% 0.95x VF (I think the K10D has this) is still much smaller than a 100% 0.95x SLR, something like an ME Super.

      I tend to mostly use newer lenses now, and the K100D and K-m are fine. Focusing with an A series 50/1.7 is perfectly feasible unless I do it for hours on end – which I don’t – and the other three lenses I have are AF so it’s less of an issue.

      I had a couple of earlier Sony A series, the a100 and a350, and both gave lovely results, but didn’t feel anything like as good as the Pentax DSLRs. Just more plasticky and cheap feeling, and the handling wasn’t quite there. They were reliable enough the time I had them. But I bought a Konica Minolta 5D a few months back, and whilst I enjoyed it for the few days it worked, it died soon after. Reading online, reliability seems to be a big issue with that model. Perhaps this carried through to the early Sonys, which were after all essentially rebadged Minoltas?

      Do you have a Pentax Q? If not, with your love of Pentax it might be something you’d enjoy. Unbelievably compact, I mean the K100D, K-m etc aren’t big, but the Q is like a third of the size and weight, perhaps less, and the menus, functions etc are very very similar to the DSLRs of the same era. It’s CMOS but with the dynamic b/w mode I nearly always use it doesn’t matter so much as with colour images.

      1. Thanks for the reply…
        No I haven’t had a Q yet. I’ve thought about it! But for what they go for even on the used market, I think if I wanted a small camera I’d get an older Panasonic with something like a 20mm f/1.7 or 25mm f/1.7 lens.
        The big issue with the Q for me is that I’m now so used to using a viewfinder… focusing on the back screen just doesn’t get me that experience. Even with my newer DSLRs, I could use live view with focus peaking to nail manual focus, and I never do it – I just have to use the viewfinder.
        And good point about the viewfinder of the APS-C cameras not comparing to the film-era Pentax cameras. My P30T viewfinder looks good… as did my K1000 when I had it. But I just haven’t shot film in a long time…
        And the viewfinder, which to me is a huge part of the photography experience, is what causes me to desire a K-1… despite the size and despite the fact that I think 36MP is overkill. I would manage I think 🙂

      2. I used to feel very similarly about the viewfinder experience Chris, especially when I was spoilt using film cameras like the Pentax M series, Contax 139 Quartz and 167MT, and Minolta X-700, all of which had glorious viewfinders, especially with something like a 50/1.7 lens.

        I think over time I’ve just got used to using compact digital cameras with screens, so my preferences have changed. I thought when I came back to a K100D last summer (about 18 months after selling my K10D) I’d find the VF very limiting, but it’s fine. Again as I mentioned in a reply, using mostly AF lenses now is a factor – my eyes don’t need to concentrate so hard to focus manually, which even with the K10D which has a very good VF, gave me a headache and tired my eyes after a while.

        I would like to try a full frame DSLR, not least of all to see what the VF is like. This is why the Canon 5D is on my camera wish list!

  4. This is exactly how I ended up shooting the Olympus E-M10 II.

    My Olympus E-PM2 used the sensor from the E-M5 and was very compact – honestly too compact for my hands. Despite this, it was still a joy to shoot.

    I went to a local “Drink and Click” event sponsored by Olympus and Panasonic at a local brew pub and tried out the E-M5 II and was instantly hooked. It took everything I loved about the E-PM2 and put it in a slightly larger and easier to use package, then for good measure, added all kinds of goodness like the SuperMenu, High Speed Shutter synchronization, better ergonomics – you get the idea.

    Now, I know you’re thinking, “he said the E-M10 II, not the E-M5 II…”

    After the event, I was in my local camera store and saw the price tag on the E-M5 and said “Nope, not in the budget”. But next to it was the E-M10 II which had an added rebate (the E-M10 III had just launched) making it 50% cheaper than the E-M5. After some quick research, I discovered that the E-M10 Mk II was for the most part, the same as the E-M5 II, with some minor deletions. In short, I was getting 95% of the E-M5 II, for 50% of the price. Easy decision to make.

    I guess you can say I ended up with the middle sister.

    1. Sounds a bit like Goldilocks Rob, the middle sister was just right!

      I have looked into Olympus M43 a few times on and off (I still have a Lumix GF1 which I can’t let go of, but haven’t really found a great lens for it), but I struggle to get my head around all the models and types! I wouldn’t rule them out sometime in the future.

      1. The GF1 is a good little camera. Knowing your penchant for smaller cameras, the Lumix G 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Power OIS is a great option. Its a small, lightweight zoom with optical image stabilization. With the 2x crop factor of MFT, you’ll get a 28-84mm field of view (35mm equivalent). I imagine you got the standard 14-42mm zoom with your GF1, so you’ll already be familiar with this range.

        It’s only downside is that it’s a power zoom, so zooming may not be as precise as you’d like.

        The Lumix 20mm is a great little lens as is the Lumix 25mm f1.7 Panasonic did such a great job on the 25mm that the Leica version of that lens is not worth the premium in my opinion. I chose the Panasonic 25mm over the Olympus as it was $50 cheaper and just as good.

        I’ve had beautiful results with an adapted Takumar 50mm f1.4, but unless you have focus peaking, you might find getting precise focus difficult. I believe the GF1 has magnified focus assist in lieu of peaking.

        Adapted lenses can be a double edged sword however. The lens + adapter makes the kit bulky and heavier.

      2. Rob, many thanks for your input. This is my story so far with the GF1 –

        https://35hunter.blog/2019/04/21/one-month-one-camera-april-2019-iii-last-dance-of-the-lumix/

        https://35hunter.blog/2019/06/14/the-7artisans-hybrid-lens-thats-almost-got-me-keen-on-micro-four-thirds-again/

        In short, I had the 12-32 Lumix lens which was a great match for the GF1. But after what seemed an innocuous drop from a bench, the camera no longer recognises it. It was the only native lens I had for M43.

        I have gone the M42 option, and the output is wonderful with Takumars, my Flektogon 35/2.4, the Helios 44-2 and others. But I just find it a bit too fiddly these days, plus as you say, the extra bulk and shape make it awkward and heavy to handle.

        For a few years I had a Sony NEX3N, which I liked far less then the GF1 in terms of output, but the smaller size. Tilting screen, and focus peaking made it about the best possible digital option for shooting M42 – and indeed any – vintage lenses. I don’t regret selling it, and perhaps the ideal is a smaller Lumix with focus peaking and tilting screen? I don’t know the range very well.

        I also picked up a 7Artisans lens, which actually works very well with the GF1 too. But somehow it still just seems to lack something.

        I think if I hadn’t had the LX3, I’d like the GF1 far more. But the LX3 does everything the GF1 does, in a smaller, lighter package, and with a fantastic lens built in. The M42 option for me with the GF1 just doesn’t have the appeal I thought it would, and I guess I’ve just drifted closer to favouring digital compacts these days.

        Cameras like the LX3 and Ricoh GRD III are pretty much unbeatable for my needs.

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