It’s an odd mix, actually. Two radically different destinations within days of each other. One is the seat of sophistication, culture, the finer things. The other is vast, wild, untamed. And the photographic requirements of each reflect that diversity.
Paris, France. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, South Africa. I’ll be in both places next month.
But, which camera to bring?
If only Paris, I’d bring along a rangefinder-style mirrorless shooter. Discrete, light, refined and perfectly suited to the Parisienne scene. Like Cartier-Bresson, I’d breeze about Le Pont de l’Europe appreciating life on the street, and as long as I had a sufficiently wide lens, the architecture and cityscapes that artists have captured for centuries.
If only a South African safari, I’d favor the fast acting DSLR, with precise autofocus, weathersealing, longer lenses and a proper grip. I’d want to sling it over my shoulder as I rode and then hiked into the brush, waiting for the pounce (preferably not upon me), the stare, the charge, the very wild of it.
Why not both you say? Because of the weight restrictions on the smaller flights and a concern for carrying too much gear into unknown terrain, I’m going to try to stick with just one.
Here are the candidates:
1. Fujifilm X-E1. If you read my review (click the name of the camera to the left), you know that I love this camera and system for all the reasons I gushed on about. The longest lens is the 55-200 though and it isn’t exactly the toughest camera on Earth. The AF speed is good enough for many things, but the faster pace of wildlife shooting isn’t one of them. Just offered firmware updates (bless you, Fujifilm) are said to improve AF performance. We’ll see.
2. Nikon D600. This is a top shelf full frame camera. It’s somewhat heavy but with capable focusing and a tougher than average build (still not as good as Pentax though). Good long lenses are readily available for rent. Image quality is top shelf. This is the workhorse of the family.
3. Sony Nex-6. See Ed’s two-part review by clicking the name to the left. In my view, this is more computer than camera (remember, I’m partial to the Fujifilm experience) but its expanding line of lenses and great sensor performance make this a real contender. And, with Sony’s LA-EA2 adapter, regular Sony A-Mount (i.e, SLR) lenses can be used on the NEX. Most importantly, you also get improved DSLR-style autofocus speed and tracking with this adapter. But the clicky wheels and goofy menu system? Yikes.
4. Micro 4/3. Smaller bodies, smaller lenses, smaller sensor. While I liked the Olympus OM-D E-M5 quite a bit, I’ve come to appreciate the fact that the bigger sensor cameras do deliver better pixel level quality and low light performance. Still though…
5. Hybrid. This goes against my one-and-only-one camera desire. But an X-E1 for short stuff and a… uhm, a… uhm… something else… for longer stuff might just do the trick.
6. Something I haven’t considered (but could perhaps rent). I’m all ears.
What would you do?