Tuesday Trends: DSLR vs Mirrorless…Is The DSLR About To Go Extinct?

The “trend” we will be looking at today is the topic of the Digital SLR (DSLR) versus Mirrorless cameras and the prevailing thought that the DSLR may be going into extinction soon.

I read the same articles and watch the same videos as you guys do and I saw that this topic was trending on YouTube for a couple of weeks.

Funny thing, I had thought of doing an article about this some time back as part of my “Tuesday Trends” series but I hesitated to post the video because I thought people might not find it relevant. It’s actually a topic of debate that’s been going back for several years!

I’m guessing what might have reignited this debate was this article on Petapixel in which Ricoh marketing general manager Hikorki Sugahara decided to buck the trend and stated that “mirrorless is a newcomer” and seems to imply that because of this people are flocking to these new systems but he predicts that the same people will return to the Digital SLR in 1-2 years. It’s an interesting article of which you can read in full here:

Ricoh Thinks Mirrorless Shooters Will Switch Back to DSLRs in 1-2 Years

I have my own views on this which I will share with you here, but first let’s look at what each system is.

WHAT IS A DSLR?

As mentioned above, a DSLR is a “Digital Single Lens Reflex” camera. The word “reflex” basically means it has an optical system of mirror, ground glass, prism, and eyepiece to form an image.

WHAT IS A MIRRORLESS CAMERA?

A Mirrorless camera is just that. It does not make use of a mirror between the lens and sensor. There is no mirror to move up and down. Some models may use mirrors elsewhere such as for the viewfinder but the important thing for “mirrorless” cameras is that there is no mirror between the lens and sensor.

The image is transferred electronically to the rear LCD. Higher end mirrorless cameras sometimes also have an EVF or electronic viewfinder.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

Here’s the accompanying video I made for this article. While the written article you are reading contains more information, the video makes up for it with raw grit and candid humor 🙂

I didn’t want it to go on so long, but I guess I yak too much! Anyway, in this video I introduce some new “videography techniques” if you can call it that lol 🙂

I will attempt to refine these production techniques in future videos. Remember folks, this is all for your entertainment!

DSLR PROS & CONS

The DSLR has been taking a beating recently by the “experts” and mirrorless proponents but still has a lot of things that make it highly desirable.

First off, it is the last link to actual film SLR cameras. Despite the “film vs digital” thing, a Digital SLR is in many ways an extension of the film SLR in the digital realm,

The most obvious link is the optical viewfinder. While DSLR’s may have sensors and other electronic elements, the good old optical viewfinder is built upon the same concept and engineering as your good old fashioned film cameras SLRS.

Before I start drifting off, let me just put the pros and cons into a more easy to follow numerical scheme:

DSLR PROS:

  1. Optical Viewfinder The view from a large, high quality optical viewfinder is still hard to beat, especially if focusing in daylight. “Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby!” as the song once said 😊
  2. If the LCD ever fails, and sometimes it does, a DSLR with an optical viewfinder can still function for picture taking. A mirrorless camera with a broken EVF or LCD will be completely useless.
  3. Usually fast shot to shot times, less lag.
  4. Battery life is better on the newer DSLR cameras because it does not need to continually supply the LCD or EVF with power.
  5. Very fast AF possible.
  6. Focus Peaking may be available, depending on model, via Live View
  7. There are a ton of native lenses available for the DSLR and for potentially lower prices if buying used.
  8. A large DLSR balances better with long and/or heavy lenses
  9. This is subjective, but many people report that the DSLR feels more solid or better built than their mirrorless counterparts.
  10. Superb video options available on today’s DSLRs
  11. Choice of APS-C and Full-Frame options
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Nothing compares to using a true optical viewfinder especially outdoors!

DSLR CONS:

  1. DSLRs are often large, heavy, and bulky
  2. Lenses are often larger than the equivalent mirrorless lenses
  3. Many older DSLR lenses were optimized for film cameras, not digital sensors.
  4. The Optical Viewfinder cannot support focus peaking
  5. Contrary to what I’ve read, I find it harder to focus manual lenses at night or low light through the optical viewfinder.
  6. Focus confirmation chips not as accurate as focus peaking with fast lenses
  7. Limited ability to adapt lenses due to mirror being in the light path between lens and sensor
  8. Not inconspicuous or stealthy
  9. Potential shakiness at low shutter speeds due to mirror slap.
  10. You look old and unhip with a DSLR!

“Roar!” 2019. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/1.2L. DSLR’s can shoot fast and offers tons of options for native lenses at more affordable prices on the used market. For example, Canon’s new 85mm f/1.2 RF for their R Mirrorless cost $2699 new. The 85mm f/1.2L in EOS mount versions I & II can be found on the used market from $1000-1500 respectively.

Ok, next up is mirrorless…

MIRRORLESS CAMERAS PROS & CONS

Mirrorless cameras have a lot of virtues and benefits but they also have their shortcomings. Here are some pros and cons for mirrorless:

MIRRORLESS PROS:

  1. Smaller and lighter than their DSLR equivalent cameras.
  2. The easier it is to carry, the more likely you will take it with you and use it.
  3. Image Stabilization in body more common in mirrorless cameras than DSLRs.
  4. Lenses are also smaller and often lighter, but still of high quality.
  5. Very fast AF possible, but usually with higher end models.
  6. Focus peaking. Very useful with manual focus lenses
  7. Easier to focus at night or in low light due to LCD or EVF “gain” which makes for a brighter image in the viewfinder or on the LCD.
  8. The ability to use many more legacy lenses through the use of adapters. The absence of a reflex mirror in the light path makes this possible.
  9. Potentially less vibration at low shutter speeds due to no mirror slap.
  10. Superb video options available.
  11. Choice of APS-C or Full-Frame or even smaller 1″ sensors.
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7r above are incredibly popular for use with adapted legacy glass.

“Autumn Leaves” 2014. Sony A7r, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Rangefinder “Dream” lens. Focus peaking and the EVF on the mirrorless A7r made it much easier to achieve sharp focus with fast lenses. In fact, I find it invaluable for this purpose.

MIRRORLESS CONS:

  1. May feel too light and flimsy, depending on model.
  2. EVF may still feel like looking at a computer screen vs the DSLR optical viewfinder.
  3. Lag time. I find both my Olympus OM-D EM-5 and Sony A7r to have slow startup times and sometimes a lag after a shot is taken. This might be due to the “refresh” of the screens but it could make a difference between getting the shot and losing the shot.
  4. Potentially shorter battery life as battery is needed for everything.
  5. Native lenses, while growing, is still limited compared to DSLR lenses thus less native options, but plenty of alternative options if you’re willing to use adapters.
  6. Does not balance as well with larger lenses.
  7. Because of the small size, controls can feel cramped and ergonomics can suffer.
  8. You look like a modern day camera geek with a mirrorless camera! 🙂

CONCLUSION

Wow, that was a mouthful! And more than I ever wanted to write! I even missed on one of the main points I wanted to make and that is…

If we do not see a Canon 1DX Mark III or Nikon D6 for the Olympics or even in a couple of years, then it is very possible that the big badass PRO DSLR bodies will go extinct. But I still think the DSLR will survive in the from of the “little” cameras such as the Canon Rebel series, Nikon D35xx series, and maybe even the mid-tier 7D or D7000 bodies.

Personally I say, have one of each! Now you might say something like “That’s too rich for my blood,” to which I would say come on now, you know photography is an expensive hobby but with the options you have these days, especially on the used market, you could easily have a good quality DSLR and mirrorless for under $500. It doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest folks.

DSLR or Mirrorless? Life is short, have both! 🙂

I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic so if you have one, feel free to leave a comment! Happy shooting folks! 😎👍🏻

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Photo Of The Day: “Quiet Town” Contax T3

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“Quiet Town” 2018. Incheon, Seoul, South Korea. Contax T3, Kodak Gold 200

The businesses and buildings of Incheon are amazingly colorful. Yet, for some reason this part of town was very quiet even during midday. I believe this was a Saturday, though I’m not 100 percent on it. All I know is that most restaurants were closed and it was already past noon. Very few people were out. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone! 🙂

If any of you guys out there know exactly where this area and why it was so quiet here, feel free to drop a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

This was shot last July as I wandered through this outskirt of Seoul, South Korea, on an unplanned layover due to airline delays. The camera in my hand was the Contax T3, loaded with Kodak Gold 200.

It’s funny, whenever I’m here in the States my preferred film stock is usually at ISO 400 or above but whenever I’m on an overseas trip, I prefer a film like Kodak Gold 200. The main reason is that I anticipate doing a lot of outdoor shooting in hot and sunny weather whenever I’m in Asia. In New York, I prefer shooting indoors or when the Sun goes down. It all makes sense!

I’d love to explore Seoul again, this time for an extended period. I want to try more of the food and photograph more of the sites, especially at night.

On the camera side of this article, which I know you guys have come to expect… 🙂

You guys know how I feel about the Contax T2 especially in light of the dramatic price increases. I used to recommend the T2 over the T3 because only three years ago you could find the T2 for $300-500 but today, the prices for the T2 have gone so sky high that it is approaching T3 prices which is anywhere from $1500-1900.

At these prices I no longer recommend either. That’s mostly due to the potential electronic issues these cameras have demonstrated, both personally on my copies and from other accounts. The prices are too high now for such a risky buy!

But, if you have your heart set on a T2 or T3, today I will say that if you could find a T3 for not much more than a T2, get the T3! Why? Much sharper optics. Less finicky focusing.

Sure, I remember in my 2016 review, I stated that I liked the T2 better because even though the lens is softer than the T3, it was sharp enough and has “character.” Yes, I said that but it was more charming when the camera was like $300-500! 🙂

At the prices the T2 commands these days, you might as well go for broke and get the T3 if you must have one of these Contax cult cameras.

Happy shooting folks!

Five Reasons Why You DON’T Need The CONTAX T2…Though You May Want It! 😀

The CONTAX T2 is one of the most famous cameras in the world, maybe more today than in its heyday in the 1990s.

It is arguably one of the greatest point and shoot cameras of all time. Heck, even I asked in my 2016 review of this camera “Is It The Greatest Point And Shoot camera of all time?”

Today I want to offer a counterpoint so you might consider this an addendum to our original review. My admiration for this little gem of a camera hasn’t changed but due to recent and dramatic increases in price things should be seen in that context.

The T2 has, if anything, become more popular, desired, and expensive on the used market since the last time I wrote about it here. Prices are reaching what I consider ridiculous levels!

The T2 is a great camera, no doubt. But just like a rock star who passes away, its reputation only gets bigger with age and mythology begins to cloud reality.

As part of my “community service” to my fellow camera lovers, I have decided to buck the trend in this article. Instead of continually glorifying a camera that doesn’t need any more glorifying, I’m going to give you FIVE REASONS why you DON’T need a CONTAX T2!

It might seem hypocritical that someone who owns the T2 is writing this but it actually makes more sense that you should hear this from someone who owns and uses the T2 don’t you think? 😊

WHY HAVE THE PRICES GONE NUTS ON THE T2?!

The CONTAX T2 prices are trending as of today at $700-1200 USD more or less, depending on model, condition, package, etc, etc. In comparison, when our review came out in the fall of 2016, it was around $500.

And in comparison to that, I picked up my current T2 in 2013 for around $300. Can’t remember exactly, but it was the low $300’s.

“Nice!” 2018. CONTAX T2, Kodak Gold 200. We can all agree that the CONTAX T2 is awesomely “nice” but at today’s prices, do you actually need it? 🙂

The CONTAX T2 was already popular and “hip” for years with camera lovers and hipsters alike. It’s been said that the recent upsurge in prices of the past couple of years is perhaps due to celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Chris Hemsworth using and flaunting their possession of the T2 on social media.

Hemsworth has apparently declared he had gone “total hipster” with the T2 and shooting film.

I can’t blame the celebrities for wanting to shoot the T2. Don’t we all? And the more film shooters, the better it is for all of us who want to keep film alive.

However, the T2 was hip and cool long before Jenner or Helmsworth picked it up! In fact, it’s very likely that they picked up the T2 because they knew how cool, hip, and iconic it has become. And their social media presence may have caused a spike in interest in this camera and film photography. Not necessarily a bad thing.

What we didn’t need was a spike in prices because celebrities are shooting it! Come on now, really? Why is it that this society worships celebrities so much?

I also think it’s the crazy collectors stockpiling on this camera that’s raising its prices as well. And of course, the shysters on eBay trying to take advantage of the situation.

In any event, the prices on this camera are getting to the point where I don’t think it’s such a good value any more. Don’t forget, one of the main things I touted as a positive in my 2016 review was the fact that it was much easier to find and MUCH cheaper than the T3. But now it is approaching T3 prices, and that’s in only two years!!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

In my longest (15 minutes!) and most candid video yet, I talk about why you really DON’T need the CONTAX T2…though you may want one! 🙂

There’s a lot of information in the video that did not make it here. I like the use of captions to help my viewers scan through parts if they need to, I know no one has 15 minutes to look at the whole video! 🙂

I also offer a few good alternatives for your money and there’s actually many more alternatives that could’ve been talked about but no one has that much time to put in the video and YouTube has a time limit!

Frankly, if you listen to the reasons, it’s all pretty much matter of fact, common sense. No one really NEEDS the T2, not even I! We just want it! 🙂

CONTAX T2 FOR SALE IF YOU WANT IT!

PERSONAL NOTE

I know there are a lot of “Crazy Passionate” people, as I always say, to whom anything sounding remotely negative will set them off so as a warning, I do say some things in this article (and related video) that might sound negative but understand this…

The things I am writing and saying are from a person who has used CONTAX and Yashica since the 1990s. I’ve used all the cameras in the T Series and currently still use a T2 and T3 for my personal family pictures. Needless to say I LOVE the CONTAX brand!

But that doesn’t mean these cameras can do no wrong. And I have no vested interest in selling cameras or anything so I’m just telling it as I see it. It’s just my own experience with these cameras, your experience may vary! And of course, it’s just my opinion and as an unnamed actor once said to me about himself “I ain’t nobody!” Ah, a lesson in humility that I’ve never forgotten 🙂

So without further ado…

Reason #5: Everybody & Their Mother Wants The T2!

Since it seems everybody and their mother wants the T2, what could be more unhip and uncool than doing what everybody else is doing? 😀

Get yourself a cheap, lesser known camera and make it famous! Now if Kendall Jenner or Chris Hemsworth had done that, THAT would’ve been really cool!

Don’t do something or buy something just because everybody else wants the same. And don’t, in heaven’s name, get it just because some celebrity shoots it!

Reason #4: The Contax T2 Is Made By Yashica/Kyocera

This is the part that might bother some “crazy passionate” people but if you’re paying up to $1000 for this camera, you’re buying a Yashica not a Leica.

I’m no brand loyalist or camera elitist I’d probably take a Yashica over a Leica any day because I could get them cheaper but just like cars, just like watches, there’s such a thing as prestige and brand reputation in the camera world too. Sometimes it’s perceived and sometimes it’s real.

The Yashica Family Tree. From left is the Yashica 230-AF (1987), the CONTAX T2 (1990), and the Yashica 300 Autofocus (1993). Yashica could make awesome AND not so awesome cameras 🙂

A CONTAX might be a better cut of Yashica, but it’s still made by Yashica. Please refer to the video for a better explanation of this.

Reason #3: It’s A Near Thirty Year Old Electronic Camera

All electronics are prone to failure as they age. The Contax T2 is no exception. The problem here is that the T2 is MUCH more expensive than your typical point and shoot film camera, even great ones like the Olympus Stylus Epic, the Konica Hexar, or the Ricoh GR-1. They’re all going up, but not so much as the T2 has.

There is only one place I know of that will officially repair them. It’s in Nippon Photo Clinic in New York City. Their contact information is:

Nippon Photo Clinic, 37 W 39th St #401, New York, NY 10018 (212) 982-3177

I spoke to them a few months back and they confirmed at that time that they work on Contax T series cameras.

Now here’s the thing. If it’s something simple, a competent repair shop can fix it, but if it’s something specific, ie, circuits, etc, you may be out of luck and have an expensive paper weight.

REASON #2: Not A Good Value At Current Prices

As the prices continue to go up, the T2 is really not a good value for money. But you didn’t need me to tell you that! You know it! You just want it! 😀

There are many options on how to get more camera for the same $700-1200 that you might pay for a T2.

Again, I am myself a CONTAX fan and I say you could possibly swing a CONTAX G2, maybe with a lens for the same money. I also give a few other options, please refer to the video for that.

REASON #1: It’s Too Damned Expensive These Days For What It Is!

And what is it? It’s a nearly 30 year old point and shoot film camera that relies on electronics. It has moving parts and could potentially fail on you at any time. It’s quite a gamble really!

The Sony RX1III: A Modern Day T2?
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PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF YASHICA/CONTAX ELECTRONIC ISSUES

Just for folks who may think my warnings/hesitation about Contax/Yashica electronics are baseless I have included this as a reference.

It may have been a quality control thing but some folks claim to never have had a problem with their Yashica and/or Contax cameras. And others report they are unreliable. I’ve experienced more than my fair share of Contax glitches and here are a few:

Contax AX: Two cameras. Focus problems. Shutter siezed right at the end of my CONTAX AX YouTube video review!

Contax T: Loose screws from prolonged use. Bad meter.

Contax T2: Lens won’t retract. Camera won’t fire. Loud motor. Focus issues. Batteries were new. Removing batteries remedy most problems but they happened again.

Contax T3: Camera freezing up when least expected. Lens wont retract. Batteries were new. Removing battery remedies the problems but they return unpredictably.

Contax TVS Original: Died in the middle of first roll! Fatal! Returned for refund.

Contax N Digital: Sensor died on camera I reviewed. Fatal! Friend reports it’s not repairable and now an expensive paperweight!

It’s not that the T2 is unreliable. It has been one of their more durable and reliable models, I give them credit for that. But I’ve had two T2’s at different times in my life and experienced glitches with both of them.

You have to understand an electronic glitch doesn’t always mean an electronic failure. But it could lead to that!

I find that I can use CONTAX cameras comfortably, within reason. Mindful that something could go awry when I least expect it, thus I’m gentler on them than I would be to say, my Canon or Nikons.

Thankfully nothing fatal has happened to my only T2 now but I always get the feeling something’s about to give. Knock on wood hope not! 😀

BOTTOM LINE

I hope this article (and video) help some of you who are on the fence about the T2. Maybe it has the side effect of making you want it more! Wouldn’t be surprised, such is human nature 🙂

As I said at the end of my video…Hey it’s just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt and do as you wish! And I can’t blame you for wanting to shoot the T2, I really can’t! Whatever you do, I’d love to hear from you. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Canon EOS M 18mp (Original) Images

With the recent release of the Canon EOS R system, and the Nikon Z6/Z7 just before that, it seems that these big two Camera Legends have finally embraced the mirrorless camera segment.

Fans and critics (myself included) have complained that the big two did not give it their all when entering this market back around 2012.

Instead, their initial offerings, Canon’s 18mp EOS M and Nikon’s 10mp V1 and J1 respectively, seemed more like an appeasement to their base and to those who might otherwise have been enticed by mirrorless pioneers Olympus, Panasonic and/or giants like Sony. But this criticism seems to have been rectified with the new full frame mirrorless releases.

Today, we will look at some images from the EOS M, Canon’s first foray into the mirrorless camera segment.

The 18mp EOS M was praised for its APS-C sized sensor and image quality but criticized for its slow, subpar AF. Not what Canon fans expected.

As mentioned before on this site, I’ve had my EOS M since 2013. I only got one when they were having a close out sale which included body and the 22mm f/2 STM lens for under $300.

I’ve used it sparingly over the years. Somehow, I never sold it. The turtle slow AF was reason enough to sell it but I think it’s the camera’s image quality when combined with that superb 22mm f/2 STM that made it a keeper for me. All pics here, unless otherwise noted, were made with the M and 22mm f/2 lens.

Looking on these pics now, it does make me think quite hard about how I might acquire one of the new full frame mirrorless bodies from either Canon or Nikon 😊

But don’t sweat it folks. I stand by my statements that I no longer crave the latest and greatest but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider the new cameras once the prices come down 😀

There is something great about the older EOS M and you know what that is? Despite its slowish AF, the camera is capable of excellent images and…It can be found on the used market for MUCH cheaper than the new EOS R! Have a great day good peeps!

“Kiss” 2015. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Funnel” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. I’m not a huge fan of “state fair” type food, including funnel cake, but the light on that plate was delicious 🙂

“Ride” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Note, the EOS M gives images that at first glance are reminiscent (in a good way) to photos from the latest generation iPhones, such as the iPhone X., in terms of color and sharpness. Of course, with an 18mp APS-C sensor, it also offers higher detail retention and resolution.

“Hey You!” 2014. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. This photo was shot using the built in “Miniature” Creative Filter. The filters can be fun if used sparingly.

“AMC” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Elmwood” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The 18mp EOS M is capable of excellent night shots, low noise and good retention of details.

“Turbulence” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. In my opinion, the EOS M original is not well suited to action shots due to its turtle slow AF. But a shot like this is easy for the M 🙂

“Boy Wonder” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The 22mm f/2 STM is capable of nice portraits with good bokeh, provided your get in close and your subject can stay still for the shot 🙂

“Primates” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Manila, Philippines.

“What You Want?” 2013. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.using the EOS M’s Grainy B&W Filter.

“Ghetto Blaster” 2013. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Many people rave about the Olympus B&W art filters, but to me the Grainy B&W filter on the EOS M is better!

“Flower” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The versatile 22mm f/2 STM is capable of “florals with bokeh” as well as street work.

“Bottled Water” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Manila, Philippines. They sure love their purified water in this country and in hindsight they were ahead of the game on this! But a lot has to to with not wanting to get sick from that tap water 🙂

“Twisted Sister” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Farmingdale, NY. The pic says it all 🙂

“AutM Leaves” 2015. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Hello, Goodbye” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

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Manila In B&W With The Ricoh GR-1 Film Camera

“Hotel City” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. There are so many hotels in this city! And so many beautiful hotels at that. This one is the Rizal Hotel near Manila Bay. I was very close to the building and despite having the GR-1 with its 28mm lens, I wish I had a wider lens. Yes, there is such a thing as not wide enough! 🙂

Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines, is a fascinating, lively, and colorful place that in my opinion is better suited to color photography than it is for black and white photography.

“Mall Town” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Mall culture is alive and well in the Philippines. They love their malls! I hate to admit it, but I frequented many malls during my visit and they were all great. They take their malls seriously in Manila! 😊[[[[[[[[[[[[

However, as a B&W fanatic, you and I both know that everything looks good in B&W anyway 😀

With that in mind, I couldn’t help but take my Ricoh GR1 along for this recent trip.

Now you may or may not recall, but in the last post I mentioned bringing along two of the greatest point and shoot film cameras along for this trip.

I used those cameras with color film so that means the GR-1 was NOT one of those two cameras, despite the fact that it could easily be in that same list of “greatest.” So what does this mean? It means I hope you’ll stay tuned as I have more goodies and surprises coming your way!

This article will show some photos taken with the GR-1 and Kentmere 400 B&W film. I developed this roll in D76.

Looking back on the photos, I wished I had shot more than one roll with the GR-1. That’s the problem with taking too many cameras 😊 In fact, I could’ve easily used it as my only film camera and I would’ve been happy with that.

Here are just some photos from the trip. Not meant to be an artistic showcase, just the things I saw in Manila and some thoughts on them. Where I can, I will try to give you some commentary.

“Intramuros” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. This is the famous walled city at the heart of old historic Manila. I shot this through a dirty window using both the iPhone X and the Ricoh GR1. I was surprised at how much detail came through from both! The detail here is really limited mostly due to the film grain when compared to the iPhone photos.

“SALE” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. I love fashion photography but mannequins are as close as I usually get to fashion models 🙂

“BGC” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. A scene from Manila’s vibrant “BGC” district, a hip financial and social center.

“Manila Floods” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. It rained nearly every day of the two and a half weeks I spent there. They don’t call it the “rainy season” for nothing.

“OOMA Sushi” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Had a good meal here. Not sure why the man is smiling, but I certainly don’t know him! I just took a quick grab shot 🙂

“Lucban Church” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Heading out a couple of hours southeast from Manila, I visited the small municipality of Lucban in the province of Quezon where I saw this beautiful and historic church that dates back hundreds of years. This is the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church otherwise know as “Lucban Church.”

“Free Fall” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76. Youngsters having fun at this man made waterfall at the Vila Escudero, a resort about an hour away from Metro Manila.

“Night Lights” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 developer. The lights on the open air rooftop at the SM Aura mall in Manila. Considering this is ISO 400 film, I think the Ricoh GR1 did pretty good with this shot.

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GRD Love: The Original Ricoh GRD Revisted

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“Moose” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp 🙂

It’s hard to believe, but based on the stats for these pages the original Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp digital point and shoot camera remains a favorite for those visiting this blog!

Despite me telling you of its issues, how it’s an old camera, how some of these cameras may not even be working any more, y’all ain’t having it cause it’s still one of the top two camera reviews visited on this site! 🙂

Here’s a link to my original review The Original Ricoh GR Digital Review.

That’s ok by me though because I still do absolutely love the original Ricoh GRD and still use it on a regular basis. Despite it coming into the market in 2005 and long discontinued, it still has a very loyal cult following largely based on the beauty of its black and white files.

Here are some recent and not so recent shots with it. The majority of the shots I’ve not posted before. When I used to post of photo sharing sites like Pbase or Flickr or 500px, you could be sure they’d have been posted but blogging kinda makes you lazy. Well me, anyway! The camera does have its quirks and is prone to acting up, but I still love it!

Thanks to those of you who have written to say you got one of these babies based on our review. It warms the cockles of my heart to know you shoot it too. Remember, it is you and I, US, who love this camera, who are keeping this Camera Legend alive. I call you guys the “Cult Of GRD” and I dedicate this post to you 🙂

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“The Razor’s Edge” 2015. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp

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“Black Building” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp with GW-1 wide angle converter (21mm equivalent), NYC. I don’t know the name of this building, hence I call it “Black Building” 🙂

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“Low-rider” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, New York.

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“Quick Draw” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, NYC. Whenever I walk the city streets, I’m always looking for characters. To me the street is much more interesting when you tie the culture with the characters that dwell or live there. I caught this cat as I was walking out of a stationary store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I knew I had to get a shot!

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“The Dream Team” 2014. Two of my favorite photographers, these cats are better known as the “Dream Team.” Has it been that long dudes?! Shot at the Photo Plus Expo show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, NYC.

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“GR Noodles” 2014. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, NYC. Ah, the wonders of Vietnamese noodles 🙂

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Monday Mystery Camera: The Polaroid X530 Foveon Sensor Camera

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The Polaroid X530 is a 4.5mp digital point and shoot camera introduced by Polaroid Corproration in 2004. It is the first point and shoot camera to feature the Foveon sensor.

Founded in 1937 by Dr. Edwin Land, the creator of the famous Land Camera series of instant cameras, Polaroid has over the years strayed far from the original company and became known more for selling items they imported/distibuted and rebranding them under the “Polaroid” label, rather than actually making the products themselves.

The actual maker of the X530 camera is somewhat of a mystery which we’ll try to solve today. At its heart, and the thing that distinguishes the X530 from any other low budget point and shoot camera is the tiny but powerful 1/1.8″ Foveon X3 sensor. The official specs say the camera has 4.5mp, but compared to Bayer sensors, it is something more like 1.5mps. I suspect most of our readers will already know about the Foveon sensors used in popular Sigma cameras.

If not, just know that the Foveon sensor is laid out differently from the well known Bayer sensors found in the majority of digital cameras. The difference, as is often said, is that the Foveon sensors can, pixel for pixel, deliver higher clarity, color fidelity and resolution. So a Foveon sensor with for example, a 5mp sensor delivers almost 15mp’s in Bayer terms. That is the theory anyway. As always, if you’re interested in this technology, I recommend my readers to do a little research with that “search” bar on your favorite web browser 🙂

Back to the camera though, while it has the Foveon X3 sensor, the 3x optical zoom lens was made by Ricoh and the camera body itself, apparently made by a company called “World Wide Licenses Ltd” which according to Bloomberg’s company description: “World Wide Licenses Ltd. designs, develops, and markets digital imaging products.”

THE POLAROID X530 IMPRESSIONS

The X530 body itself, to me, looks like it could fit right in with the cheap Vivitar, Sakar, and yes, even Polaroid point and shoot cameras that you might find at CVS, Walgreens, and Best Buy. You know, those really cheap, under $50 cameras that you see while you’re waiting on line in those stores. Let’s face it, we sometimes get curious about those cameras, but since we are more “serious” photographers, we could never get ourselves to buy one of those cheap cameras, could we? 🙂

Anyway, as I said before, the main thing that distinguishes the X530 from those pharmacy store cameras is the Foveon sensor in it, and to its credit, that’s a biggie.

If it sounds like I’m cutting down, aka “dissing” the X530 body, I’m not but maybe I am! For me, I was actually attracted to its low budget looks. I’ve always loved cameras that looked like underdogs, but had monster sensors under their covers. That’s why I loved the Ricoh GR series. That’s why I wanted to love the X530.

The zooming action was smooth, albeit slow. The AF was moderately slow, but perfectly adequate for stills I would imagine.

IMAGE QUALITY

Now right here is where I have to stop. I have to tell you image quality remains a mystery to me. Why? Because the damned thing is not working!!

Well, the camera itself works fine. Everything seems to function, but the sensor itself is dead or seems dead. All I get are black frames. I have tried everything I could to resurrect it, short of taking it apart, which I’m tempted to do.

But most of what I have seen on the very few X530 links on the web shows this camera to have very good to excellent image quality, at its best. It does seem to show that Foveon “pop” that I have seen in the Sigma cameras. This is probably as much of a testament to the talented photographers who used the X530 as it is for the X530 itself.

THE X530 URBAN LEGEND

Legend has it that the X530 was recalled before it was supposed to go to market, but that some shipments were sent without this knowledge or without approval, thus making it into the hands of a few lucky photographers. At least, that’s what I’ve read on the web.

At the same time, I also read a press release from 2005 saying that Polaroid was announcing the X530’s availability in the U.S. through Circuit City and Walmart.

My opinion is that it was indeed available, but only for a very short time before Polaroid pulled the plug on it.

This is not unprecedented. It has happened very recently with a Polaroid product called the Polaroid Socialmatic. The Socialmatic was an Android based camera with a cool “Instagram” look to the design and what appeared to be a working tablet on its LCD screen plus an onboard printer for quick prints.

This product received a lot of hype prior to its release in 2014, but Polaroid quickly pulled the plug on it shortly after it came to market. As I had been curious about the Socialmatic myself, what I gathered by looking at sales and auctions was that the camera had some reliability issues relating to its battery and operations. Most of the ones for sale had dead batteries and could only be used while plugged in using a charger.

The apparent replacement for the Socialmatic is the Polaroid Snap which is still on the market and seemingly doing well. The $99 or under Snap seems to be what Polaroid had hoped the Socialmatic should have been. For me though, I wanted that on board tablet and the Socialmatic’s cool looks so I’ve passed up on the Snap for now. And I’ve stayed away from the Socialmatic too because of its issues.

And I would’ve stayed away from the X530 except I got it for $30 and because I collect old, weird and decrepit cameras 🙂

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The Polaroid X530 is scarce. At the same time, it’s not like there’s a lot of people looking for them, save for hardcore Foveon fanatics.

I like the Foveon concept and its images, but I don’t think I’m what you would call a hardcore fan. I was a very early Foveon enthusiast in 2003 or 2004, I greatly enjoyed the Sigma SD14 in 2007, and have used several DP models. However, there was always something that kept me from crossing the line into fanboy territory. That’s a subject for another time, another post.

Again, I did not seek out the X530. I was actually looking for something else entirely when I came across this one. I did have a passing interest in the camera many, many years back, but I could never find one when I was looking, plus there was and still is very little info on it.

I got the camera with box and everything for $30. It looked mint, the functions performed smoothly, but as I said the sensor is dead. I use it now as a decoration in my homemade camera “museum” 🙂

It’s hard to put a value on this camera, but I would say a fair price would be, maybe $30-50, certainly under $100.

Do remember that you can get a Sigma DP1 for a little over $100 these days and the DP2/DP2s for a little more than that and they will do everything better than the X530 could.

BOTTOM LINE

The Polaroid X530 is an interesting camera. But as they say, “Pics, or it didn’t happen!” For me, it didn’t happen.

I would not call the X530 a Camera Legend, but certainly an interesting model in the legend of the Foveon sensor with an interesting history behind it. If you can find a working one under $100, consider yourself lucky and I’d love to hear from you.