Ah, time for a good old “what are you your favourite cameras” post…
I’ve been photographing with intention since around 2005, first with camera phones, then with a Nikon Coolpix, through hundreds of film cameras, after first stumbling through the entry gate with a humble Holga 120N, and through perhaps as many digital cameras since.
This is my core arsenal today.
DSLR for colour – Pentax K100D
As much as I love digital compacts and all their convenience and portability, I can’t imagine not having a DSLR, for the more immersive experience, and to enjoy the beautiful lenses I have (more on these in a future post, no doubt).
The golden age of digital cameras in my eyes was when sensors were CCD and only 4 or 6 or 10MP, and delivered lovely warm, natural colours.
There are a number of DSLRs I’ve had that meet this criteria – the Sony a100, Minolta Dynax 5D (very briefly), Samsung GX-1s (a clone of the Pentax *ist DS2) and also on the Pentax front, the K10D, K100D and K-m.
I still have and love the K-m too, but the K100D feels the optimum balance of simplicity and performance.
DSLR for black and white – Pentax K30
The K100D has no in-camera black and white setting, but the K-m does. That said, it’s output is too many shades of grey for my liking, not the more dramatic inky blacks I favour.
The K30 however has far more adjustment for in camera b/w shots, and after some trial and error, I’ve been able to set this up to achieve results I like straight out of camera.
Whilst it’s not as simple and delightful to use as the older K100D or K-m, nor does it have a CCD sensor, it does feel great in the hands, and allows me to shoot b/w straight out of camera with those lovely old Pentax K mount and M42 lenses.
Compact DSLR – Pentax Q
The Pentax Q is essentially the K30 that was left in your pocket on a hot wash cycle and shrunk drastically.
It’s an amazing camera for all kinds of reasons, not least of it feels like using a baby Pentax DLSR, complete with interchangeable lenses.
Mostly I use the 01 Standard Prime lens, equivalent to 47mm and f/1.9, but the 07 Mount Shield lens makes it even more compact, and like a pocketable point and shoot digital Holga.
The 02 Standard Zoom gives me a wider option of 28mm at the wide end, but really if I want something this wide and compact I’m more likely to use the Ricoh GRD III or Lumix LX3.
Compact fixed lens – Ricoh GRD III
As I’ve raved about on more than one occasion previously, the GRD III offers probably the best handling and user interface of any camera I’ve used.
Add the cracking 28mm f/1.9 lens, great build, pocketable size, and high contrast mono mode, and you have a camera you can set up exactly how you want, then use with point and shoot portability, freedom and simplicity.
Compact Zoom – Panasonic Lumix LX3
When I don’t want the fixed lens restrictions of the Ricoh, I turn to the Lumix LX3.
Mostly I use the Zoom Resume function to keep the lens at 35mm (the camera remembers even if you switch it off), but sometimes I’ll use the full 24mm wide angle.
The LX3 doesn’t, for me, have the best handling right out of the box, and needed some DIY mods that are ugly but effective.
But that combination of Leica designed lens and sensor is very special indeed, and the user interface is almost as good as the Ricoh – and indeed if you don’t need quite so much depth of customisation, the LX3 is probably a better option.
Oh and its Dynamic B/W mode delivers moody deep b/w images straight out of camera.
Ultra Compact – Panasonic Lumix XS1
When even the Pentax Q, Ricoh GRD III or Lumix LX3 are too bulky and complicated, I turn to the smallest camera I’ve owned, the Lumix XS1.
Fortunately, aside from its super compactness, it has a pretty decent lens, and even better, a similar Dynamic B/W mode to its older, bigger sibling, the LX3.
It could easily be the only camera I need, especially if size and cost are a factor, it was the cheapest of all of the above, at just £12. At this price, pretty flawless.
So there we are, my super six!
How about you? Which are your favourite cameras?
Do you have one above all others, or do you feel the need to categorise them like me (and sometimes even make up new categories to justify keeping a camera you can’t bear to let go of!)
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).
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