You may already own your perfect camera

We are in a world where we are led to believe that new is best. A world where manufacturers will convince you to give up your hard-earned cash for the newest and the brightest.

I am not immune to this and believe in the world of photography, this is particularly true.

If you have the means, then the tantalising desire to upgrade your gear is ever-present. It seems that each month there is a new announcement, a new technology you have to have and reasons why your current kit should be confined to the bin (or eBay).

I spent years getting used to my kit, learning the art of photography. During this, I also spent a lot of time, money and effort, chasing the best I could afford.

Looking back, I think I was hooked on product reviews and YouTube videos that promoted new gear or gave me reasons why I needed to upgrade.

Don’t get me wrong, trying new gear is part of the process. We are not all Sony shooters or Canon fans, and you have to test and try equipment to work this out.

I have had many analogue and digital cameras and loved and loathed them all in equal measure.

One such camera is the Fujifilm X100V. It’s presented as the best street photography camera. The EveryDay-Carry (EDC) any half-decent photographer would have stapled to his side.

I get it, it’s a lovely camera and it’s a thing of beauty.

I spent years trading up to get one. Starting with the X100 S, then the T and eventually the V. Each I enjoyed shooting and each camera gave me increasing capability and lust for more.

I personalised each one to make it feel like my own individual camera (my post about this is one of my constantly read articles) and I’ve tried all the presets, film simulation ideas, set-ups, tips and tricks etc.

I was part of the “in crowd”, the owner of the street camera.

But then something happened…   

Along the way, I decided that I would go all-in with the FujiFilm system and started to believe my Olympus Penf was outdated technology.

The Micro-four third sensor was old-hat and I had to go for APSC if I were to be credible.

So, after years of shooting (and learning and being happy with my photos on the Olympus system), I sold the Penf in favour of an X-T4. A decision that kept me awake at night.

The ghost of YouTube haunted me throughout this journey – countless videos telling me X system was better than Y. X photos would not be as credible because…    Even though I had a multi-page feature in Olympus Passion magazine this didn’t seem to be enough!

To be clear, there are many videos out there that state the opposite, that the camera you own is the best tool, but in a world where there is pressure to be the best, have the best and be recognised, these get drowned out.

My idea was simple. My X-T4 would be my “professional” or my “serious” camera. My X100V was my EDC.

My perception and approach changed which I could blame the pandemic for, but I do not think is fair. What happened was that I used the X-T4 very little. It’s a fantastic camera and does a great job. But it’s largely stayed in my Billingham waiting to see the light.

The X100V was used. There were odd days I would take it out on walks. Stuff it in a jacket pocket and shoot away. But…

I was never 100% happy with the colour set up and I seemed to spend more of my time in post than I ever used to.

Annoyingly a lot of shots were blurred. The camera seemed to struggle and I started to worry that, as I get older, my ability to shoot sharp shots (or the shots I wanted) were over.

The X100V simply became something to be proud I owned and was great to look at. I stayed on the shelf.

Then I got curious and started to ask myself why. I first checked and noticed that the X100V did not have stabilisation. I knew that when I bought it but on everyday use, this became a big deal. I also noticed that the Olympus stabilisation is far superior to the Fujifilm system and I had utilised it to its fullest potential in the past. Fujifilm simply did not perform the same.

I like the Fuji system of manual dials, but it did not feel intuitive – it never has on any Fuji camera.

I learnt with the Olympus system and that feels natural to me. If a shot isn’t working it used to be second nature to twist a dial or make a change on the Penf, without having to think about it.   

The X100V seemed like a little too much effort and I was not 100% sure when I got home that the image I saw on the back of the camera was crisp or clear.

Increasingly this happened and it started to annoy me. I noticed the X100V stayed on the shelf and I chose to simply take my phone with me and leave my EDC (the X100V) at home.

I had realised I had sacrificed pixels and pride for ease of use and the simple joy of photography.

The cameras I enjoy the most are the ones that are intuitive to use and I trust their results. The camera’s like my Ricohmatic TLR, my Bronica ETRS and… my Pen f.

I found myself doing my usual, Googling “X100V vs Penf”, doing the same searches on YouTube… but this time, something was different.   

I’ve stopped watching all those photography videos and reviews (mainly as I no longer commute), so didn’t have them in the back of my mind nagging away at me.

I realised that whatever was written or said, it didn’t matter.

The specs of the X100V and the Pen f are different, but not a million miles apart from one another. And why should that matter?

Some of my favourite photos were taken on the Olympus system and a great majority of them with the Penf.

A group of people wait to cross the street in New York
NYC, 2019, Penf and 17mm lens

The challenge now, was whether a Penf would be an option anymore as Olympus no longer exist and there has been no replacement to the camera, which means the stock is scarce.

Thankfully I have managed to find a good example of the Penf and have traded in my X100V. As a testament to the capabilities of the Penf, trading in the X100V and the leather case is worth the same as a “like new” Penf with the equivalent 17mm lens (which was always one of my favourites (see photo above)).

An Olympus Penf digital camera
Welcome back to the family Olympus

In some ways this is frustrating as I sold all the lenses and accessories I used to have for the Penf, but, as time moves on, the system is becoming cheaper so I can acquire the lenses I enjoyed using in the future at a reduced price.

I am not knocking the X100V, it’s a great camera and a brilliant system. It’s simply not for me.

I talk a lot about Gear and GAS on my site and YouTube (I am as guilty as anyone else), but I have learnt the golden rule of photography – do what feels right for you.

Ignore the PR and the marketing. Those YouTubers with millions of followers chasing likes and subscriptions to gain more revenue from you (you know the ones) and do what is right for you.

If you have not found your ideal camera yet, then by all means experiment, trial and test… But remember, the camera you own at this very moment, could be your perfect camera.

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