Digital cameras

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Ricoh GR (CMOS)
Fujifilm X-E1
Contax TVS Digital (coming soon)
Leica Digilux 2
Leica M9-P (coming soon)
iPhone 6

Ricoh GR (info)

Ricoh GRDigital - 2013

This camera is simply amazing. It's not popular, but it's probably the best quality fixed lens point and shoot compact camera with manual controls, customisation, settings, and... Everything, really. And the size... The size is small, really truly pocketable camera with an amazing lens. Of course the history of the Ricoh GR starts with the 35 mm film GR series: GR1, GR1s, GR1v, GR21, and all the digital GR until this one GR digital V (or simply GR, 2013), and the current one GR II (2015, like this one, but with the WiFi included).

Now, if you don't care about the WiFi you can get the GR I for half of the price of the GR II. Really the only difference it's not worth double money. For around 360£ you can get a great customisable camera with a sharp bright 28 mm equivalent lens (a bit too wide for me, but more flexible). If the previous digital GRs had a small sensor, this one has a APS-C CMOS sensor, the same one you will find in the common non-fullframe DSLRs. You can shoot manually, or fully automatic, or whatever you like. You can customise it as you want, and its menu is clear and simple.

To highlight also some of the limits of this camera, I really miss a viewfinder here. Even just optical, not necessary Electronic one... Even just a tiny hole like the Mju's, but enough to frame. The screen is great (rgbw, with white pixels, very sharp and bright), but with a viewfinder this camera would be perfect. Or even a N.A. scope like the Yashica T3 Super. Another limit might be the fact that the camera is not weather resistant, but I care less about it. The new GR II could have proposed something in this sense, without a flash but with a viewfinder maybe, also to differentiate the new version from the older GR.

This camera is just a bit bigger than the Sony RX100 (another great little one) but with a super larger sensor. The Ricoh GR has the same sensor of the Fuji X100t, and even if I like Fuji I must say that this Ricoh feels more versatile. Another great point is the body: a design that just fits to your hand naturally, and a magnesium chassis with a great solid feeling.

You can buy the older film analog Ricoh GRs for less money, they also are great cameras, slim, small, and with an amazing quality. Huge fan of Ricoh (acquired by Pentax few years ago btw) for this series.

ScaryRicoh GR

Fujifilm X-E1 (info)

Fujifilm X-E1Digital - 2012

The Fuji X series is just great, and it's very popular among photographers of all kinds, amateurs or professionals. Cameras such as the X100, the XPro-1, and this XE-1 started a new chapter for Fujifilm and the digital camera industry itself. It's like if at some point companies understood that the future of the digital cameras was to point to the past, to the film cameras, and they took the right path to it. Sure, powerful cameras on smartphones really helped this turn I think, since the consumer and the prosumer segments could just avoid the entry level digital point and shoot cameras altogether, demanding for something more.

The XE-1, as for all the X series cameras, brings back the joy to control a camera in a simple, yet traditional, way. Not with the crappy digital modes and menus, but real knobs, rings, physical buttons and feeling. Aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO, on the camera. The digital technology just helps in a right way, and no more than that. Electronic viewfinder, screen, settings to save and recall, information about the exposure... Everything in the right place.

Shooting with the X series cameras is a joy. I also used and thought to buy an X100 before choosing the XE-1 to play with its interchangeable lenses, but the feelings are consistent. The lenses are great, amazing quality even in the included zoom lens, the 18-55 mm Fujinon XF, good sharpness and quality. Later on I bought the XF Fujinon 27 mm 2.8 pancake, very compact yet good and light. With it the XE-1 becomes about the same size of an X100, which is good for street photography. I still use the 18-55 when I need to be more flexible, and have the extension macro ring when I experiment with close up shoots, or trying to set up my homemade scan lab for my 35 mm films (getting there, but still much work to do to reach this quality). I will write a post about this topic too.

ArkonaplatzFujifilm X-E1

One more thing... iPhone 6 (info)

iPhone 6Digital - 2014

This is an outsider, meaning that it's not a camera per se. The quality though, is pretty amazing considering where it's packed. A tiny camera and sensor capable to render pretty cool shots. Until the iPhone 4 cameras in smartphones were enough just to take some random snapshots, but now you can start to play on a little bit more serious level of snapshots. There are applications that let you play, within the device, with the postproduction, almost like a mobile Lightroom (and better than the real mobile Lightroom from Adobe). VSCOcam, for example, or Snapseed.

iPhones (smartphones anyway) can also be very discreet for street photography, since people are used to see them around all the times, even walking on the street. You don't need to clearly point it to the subject, the camera is wide (28mm), and it can take photos even with clicking the remote control of the earphones. Now that Apple removed the digital "CHACLACK" sound of the shutter it's also very silent.

The smartphones will be always more and more capable, and I think the entry level point and shoot cameras will just stop to exist at some point, merged with the mobile devices. What cameras will look like, I don't know (maybe more Lytro?), but I know for sure that digital and film cameras will both keep living together for some more time.

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