Going back to crop

After almost a decade with a full format camera, I am considering swapping back to a crop sensor. Why? You might ask. To explain this I have to start early in my digital camera career. I started out with a compact Canon G6. 1/1.8” sensor and quite good quality. Soon I realised that photography was what wanted again after years away from a camera. So I ended up buying my first DSLR, a Canon 350D with a Sigma 24-70mm Lens. This was a great camera. One day I came across the Canon 7D I knew I had to have it. The lust for quality images grew. The quality was, in my opinion, strongly related to sensor size and the purchase of a Canon 5D Mark III was a fact.

In 2016 I realised that my expedition across the Greenlandic Icecap was going to be without my dear Canon 5D Mark III. The reason was that I had to drag along at least the 24-70mm f/2.8, a spare battery and a charging system for those 7,4V batteries. My solar charging system was only at 5V. This meant that I had to bring some bigger and heavier gear to accommodate my full frame. Ending at over 3 kilos of equipment. The result was a Sony RX100MK2. And luckily the images looks great.

A while after the expedition I got hold of a Canon M100. A nice little camera with a 15-45 lens and a 22mm lens. Both are quite acceptable but not close to the quality of the 5D. I bring along the smaller M100 on my mountain bike trips. If the trips are long I almost always regret not bringing better gear. I did how ever ditch the 5D because of its weight while packing for the trip. If the trips are short I go back later with my big camera to get those images. The M100 is a good camera, but the selection of lenses Canon got for the EF-m mount is not. There is barely a handful of choices and they are all entry level ones. Of course I could have had the adapter and bring my full size lenses, but then again the compact format of the M100 is a bit wasted.

Værnes as the sunset were about to end (Fujifilm X-T4 w/XF16-80mmF4)

And then a good offer from Fuji got me thinking. I’ve selected so big and heavy gear that I have upgraded myself away from mobility. The alternative I got isn’t a real alternative because I know what I could have had. And here is where the Fuji X-T4 comes into play. With professional quality glass in the 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR it is weighing in at total of about 1 kg. About 350g more than the M100 with the kit lens and almost a kilo less that my Canon 5D with a 24-70 f/2.8. The size is acceptable as well. I could have done a lot with the 5D to get it lighter, but the fact is that the body alone is close to a kilo.

The question now all comes down to the quality of the image. And quality does not necessarily come from the amount of mega pixels on the cameras sensor. My Canon 5D Mark III got 22.3 megapixels, my 5Ds got 50.6 megapixels and my M100 24.2 megapixels. Even if the pixel count on the M100 is higher that the 5D Mark III, the 5D produces better results. To understand this one have to analyse everything from quality of the glass to the sensor technology.

The difference between the tiny mirrorless Canon M100 and the Fuji X-T4 is that Fujifilm wants the X-4T to be used by professionals and are following the camera lineup with a lineup of high quality lenses.

After almost a month of testing I’ve come to a conclusion. It is actually the X-T4 that will get to tag along on the next trips.

Starting with photography?

Have you been thinking of becoming a photographer? After years with a camera (or more) I’ll try to share my perspective and give you some advice on how to begin.

The no cost start

I have two, potentially, expensive hobbies. One is biking the other is photography. I call them both hobbies because I don’t earn enough to be a professional in neither. The one thing that annoys me the most is the fact that people for some reason needs to spend a months income just to try out a new hobby. I believe that the more you spend on figuring out if a hobby is worth doing, the harder it is to admit that it’s not. You kind of force yourself to like biking if you spend €5,000 on a bike. And the same goes with the camera.

What to choose?

This is why I’d recommend a no cost start. The only thing you’ll need is a camera of some sort and most smart phones today have an acceptable camera. An other option is to borrow a camera from a friend. At no cost, there is nothing at stake. Go for a walk. See if you can find anything you like to photograph. Maybe join a friend who already do photography for some tips and inspiration.

And don’t think that that one trip to the local woods is enough to determine if you will go on with your photographic carrier. Give it a month or two.

Kicking it up a notch

So you’re still out taking pictures and have figured out that you’ll upgrade from your phone to something that will give you better results? Still I’d recommend you to keep the cost low. The lower the stakes the better are the results. If you start searching for information you will find a load of forums recommending different camera equipment that you MUST have but the fact is that you really don’t need anything for a good start (remember your phone). All modern cameras today will yield acceptable results. It’s mostly about personal preference.

If you have the possibility to visit a local store hold the cameras you should do so. How the camera feels in your hand is totally different from a reviewer’s opinion on a Youtube video. Dials and knobs have to be placed so that you feel that you can reach them. And since a modern camera is more or less like a computer, you need to be comfortable with all those menus and how they work.

When you have decided on brand based on these tests I’d recommend you to buy a entry level kit with interchangeable lens. Today one normally talk about Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) or Mirrorless camera. There is pros and cons for both systems. As a starter you will be fine with both. Again it is a personal preference, but it seems like most camera brands have their focus on the Mirrorless cameras these days.

If you haven’t already you will find out that there is something called crop factor. And there is a load of discussions on forums on the topic. Basically the old 35mm film has the definition of a full frame sensor in the digital world. Meaning that a full frame sensor is 36x24mm. If a sensor smaller then it has a crop factor higher that 1. So a APS-C that is 23.6×15.7mm will be 1.525 times smaller than a full frame and therefore has the definition of beeing a 1.53 crop factor.

You will find professionals using both full frame and crop factor cameras. Crop factor cameras are often smaller and lighter. Same goes with lenses. Crop factor gear is often priced lower as well.

So my general recommendation is to get a entry level mirrorless kit. In this segment there is a handful alternatives.