What I want in my next camera…
Since I recently sold off my Panasonic Lumix GX80 to raise essential funds for potential University accommodation fees I have been wondering what features I would like in my next camera. The decision to sell off the GX80 was quite an easy one to make as it wasn’t getting as much use as I would have liked and in the time I owned it (just over a year maybe 18 months) I discovered some operational issues that made things harder than they needed to be. Firstly though lets look at the pros & cons of the Lumix GX80/85.
- Smaller & lighter than a DSLR. You can carry a whole kit in a tiny bag and work an all day event without feeing the strain.
- Rangefinder style doesn’t look like a “real” camera so can easily pass for a non professional one. Can be useful for venues that don’t allow “professional” cameras (whatever they are!).
- Tilt up screen ideal for low angle shots or candid shots like they used to do with Twin Lens Reflexes back in the day.
- Great image quality in a small package.
- These cameras eats batteries for fun. Definitely need at least 3 to get through a full days shooting and aftermarket ones have lower capacity. Aftermarket batteries don’t last nearly as long 🙁
- Inability to power the camera over USB and charge the battery at the same time.
- Battery life especially in cold weather. Back in February last year I was on the Brighton seafront doing an early morning shoot and the batteries were losing charge really quickly.
- Buttons are too small and there is no distinction between them. I had to constantly look to see which one I had pressed.
- Focus accuracy not always the best.
- Ergonomics, for its size the GX80 has a tiny handgrip which always make you feel like you’re holding it by your fingertips. Sure you can buy a thumbgrip but then you lose access to the hotshoe on top. The fact that companies like JB Designs and now Panasonic have brought out additional grips shows that there is an issue if you have large hands. Even the Olympus OMD-E5/10’s suffer from this and they are SLR styled.
- Quality lenses cost more than the equivalent full frame versions.
Don’t get me wrong these are great little cameras! All I am saying is that knowing what I do now I wouldn’t have one as my main camera for serious shoots because of some of the issues I have encountered.
So with that out of the way it’s time to get round to what I am looking for/would like to have in my next camera.
I personally love razor thin Depth of Field shots that make the subject “pop” from the background. Which is the reason I like fast primes. Zooms are ok as a standby but they would have to be constant f2.8 all through the range so no kit lenses this time. When I had a twin zoom kit I found that for my style of shooting I hardly ever used them. Instead my main workhorse was the M43 equivalent of the “Nifty Fifty” at f1.7. My lens preferences now would most likely be 35mm, 50mm & 85mm at a fast aperture (f1.8 or better) for my style of shooting.
Ergonomics. This is an important feature for me. I’d like to know that my camera is securely in my hand and all the relevant controls are logically placed. Not having to worry about if I’m going to drop it will let me concentrate on taking pictures.
Battery life is another requirement. With nearly all cameras today using some form of Lithium Ion/Polymer batteries these days if your battery dies during an event your screwed. Back in the 35mm film days I made a choice of picking cameras that took AA batteries as these were readily available.
Low light performance also matters as I sometimes work in less than ideal conditions and flash is just a non starter. I’d also like to try more low light work e.g. photographing live bands, night portraits etc., so need better/cleaner image quality at high ISO’s.
Tethered shooting. This would fall into the “nice to have” features for when I’m shooting in my home studio. I’ve seen how much more useful it can be for both the photographer and the model to see a larger size picture on a screen. You can check the lighting and posing much better than on a small LCD screen on the back of the camera. The fact that many pros like to shoot tethered is a positive bonus.
Ultimately what I want is a camera that doesn’t feel like a computer with a lens attached. As for video at the moment 1080p is perfectly good enough for my needs. If I needed a more serious 4k rig I would most likely go for the Panasonic GH5 as it is best suited to that role.
At the moment I’m feeling a serious itch to move to full frame. I’ve ruled out the current “flagship” models as they are way outside of my budget, I prefer to get the best I can along with a decent 50mm lens as a starting point. So watch this space!!!