Thursday, September 13, 2012

Photographic Waffling

Sony NEX-C3 with Helios 44-2 2/58 M42
Sony NEX-C3 with Helios 44-2 2/58 M42 (Photo credit: pvera)
Or "Adventures in Gear Acquisition Syndrome."

As of a week ago, I started using what would be my fourth camera of the calendar year, fifth if you take into account the previous 12 months:

Sony DSC-HX9V - Bought somewhere in May 2011, a fantastic camera but lacking manual controls and it has a Sony G lens instead of a Carl Zeiss lens, which to me is the quality standard for Sony cameras. I still own this camera, but it is being "evaluated" and will probably find a happy new home really soon. If you want to shoot HD video, and you don't care about manual control over video, this is your camera. 

Nikon 1 J1 - Bought around December 27, 2011. This one I call the "expensive mistake." Too little, too early for too much money. Nikon really dropped the ball with this one, since Sony, Fuji and Canon all issued  Compact System Cameras (CSC) with APS-C sensors. Sold it at a loss but it funded my next camera ...

Sony DSC-HX100V - Bought somewhere in the first quarter of 2012. Imagine the innards of the Sony DSC-HX9V in a DSLR-like body, with a monster Carl Zeiss 30X zoom. This was one hell of a camera, but it had a fixed lens and eventually we parted ways. Taking into account depreciation, I think I broke even on this one when I sold it. And yes, it helped fund the next camera ...

Nikon D5100 - My first DSLR since the Nikon D50. This is one hell of a camera, but Nikon over-represented its video capabilities. The autofocus hunts like crazy during video shooting, which is infuriating. If you are a creative type, and you use manual focus, you can take cinema-like video with it. If on the other hand you want to take videos of your kid playing then you are basically screwed. I got this camera refurbished, extremely inexpensive and I still own it. I don't want to sell it unless it is to somebody I know that will enjoy it since it is almost about to be declared obsolete. This is the camera that got me bored about autofocus (what's the point if the camera does everything for you?) so I started shooting with legacy lenses. While hoarding lenses I realized that the Nikon had a terrible weak spot: it can't meter on non-CPU lenses, which means it can't do aperture priority. This means that you have to set aperture, shutter and ISO by hand or by using a light meter.

Screw that.

I also discovered that there was an insane amount of activity from people using CSCs with adapters and legacy lenses, especially with Sony NEX. This happened right in the middle of the Photokina rumors season, so I had to sit tight and wait to see what came out. The NEX-5R is an awesome camera, but I really don't need a touch screen, and the new auto focus pixels are going to waste if all I do is shoot manually. The NEX-6 and NEX-7 are still too far from my budget, so that left either the NEX-5N or maybe a NEX-3F.

Then I ran into a guy running what by all means was a fire sale on eBay and immediately bought his NEX-C3, which came bundled with a Pentax 50mm f2 lens. The cost? Less than if you subtract the current street value of the 18-55mm kit lens from either the NEX-C3 or the NEX-F3. And I had just sold my 35mm f.1.8 Nikkor DX, so out of pocket it cost me $200 to move on to this camera.

I also picked up adapters for my Minolta Rokkor primes, my two Soviet-era M42 thread lenses and a Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 I borrowed from a friend. It cost me $48 to adapt all of those lenses to work on the NEX-C3. And this is with full matrix metering and with aperture priority available!

I've been shooting it with the Pentax pretty much nonstop since it arrived, and I am really pleased. It is tiny, it is simple to use, and except for the shutter being so damn loud, it is perfect. Today I started shooting with my other lenses and everything works perfectly, even the Soviet lenses.

And I am exhausted from all of this camera switching. I think I need to put a moratorium on camera body buying until at least December 26, where if I am lucky I should be able to poach me some ungrateful rich people on eBay ditching their unwanted gifts.