(Don't Play) The Mirrorless Camera Game

May 15, 2014

Today, Josh published an article outlining his exploration of the mirrorless camera world. I had told him on Twitter that I would write a response article, but as I brainstormed what to write, I found the article turning into a general gear recommendation list.

hate gear recommendation lists.

Here’s the thing with photography gear: given any combination of gear, the lowest common denominator will always be the photographer.

Give a talented photographer any set of functioning equipment and he will make outstanding photographs.

This isn’t a new concept; CJ Chilvers has been preaching this for years, Ben Brooks wrote about it just the other day, and Chase Jarvis even wrote a book about it. What is “it”? Pick a camera and a lens that you love and use it. Make a lot of photos. Give the photography game a few weeks, months, or years, and then you can start playing with extra bodies, fast lenses, and professional lighting.

Since buying my beloved Fuji X100S, I have made more pictures (and better pictures) than ever before. I was “limited” by a 35mm-equivalent fixed lens and a pocket-sized 16MP sensor, but these “limitations” rarely ever presented a situation that I wasn’t able to work around. If I needed to shoot sports, I still had a 200mm lens and an old Nikon body. But it hasn’t been touched in the entirety of 2014, or the majority of the last half of 2013.

I will take a moment to plug the Fuji system of cameras and lenses. The entire platform features the same 16MP sensor—which produces fantastic images, by the way—and the Fujinon lenses are outstanding (especially considering their price, size, and speed.) Given any budget, you will produce images of equally fantastic quality; the only difference is the frame of the camera and the amount of buttons and dials on the body.

If I had to recommend one camera to anyone, it would be the X100S. Everything is built to top-notch quality, and what it cannot do means that what it can do is that much better. And it can do everything you need it to.

If interchangeable lenses are a must, the best body today might be the X-T1, Fuji’s newest model, which has a retro DSLR-style body (right now, it’s my next dream camera.) If it’s too much for the more casual photographer, the X-E2 would be my pick. Or the recently replaced X-E1, if you’re on a budget. Remember, all of these cameras have the same sensor, and use the same lenses. The only difference is appearance, UI, speed, and “pro-user” features. And price.

But that’s all I’m going to say in the form of a recommended gear list. Don’t make the mistake I made: spending more time shopping for the perfect camera than shooting with one. Don’t play the game. Pick something you love and get to work.