Entries in strange (21)
In between the multitude of pocket cameras (I was browsing through the photo section of a local electronics store), there rarely appear to be any surprising models. Perhaps it is the simple consumer approach (commodization) or the simple lack of R&D resources or simply the lack of focus, but it strikes me as quite odd that putting most pocket cameras next to each other, one will hardly notice a difference in anything but their brand-name, and perhaps their external design. Granted design (i.e. ergonomics) is important but we are talking about operations which are in any case going through menus and drill-downs. Some people focus a lot on the operations aspect of a camera when they make the choice. I believe I don't put as much attention as that per se although it figures into my perception of how the camera feels. The Pro-grade cameras all feel powerful in the hand - heavy, solid, and most of them quite refined. They still may have tons of buttons and dials, of which I am not the biggest fan, but the M8 and M9 have really spoiled me in terms of expectations. The ease with which I can maneuver with the M system has become a breeze.
Out of curiocity, I have been taking a look sideways to the M. I am familiar with the operations of the Canon Pro-level cameras, having used a 5D II, 1Ds, and 1Ds II and one easily transitions from one to the other. I imagine it is similar with the Nikon gear. But when one comes to the pocket cameras or the micro-four-thirds, one finds great variety of systems. Over the past 1 year, I've tried a bunch of them and am continuing with that experimentation.
One of the cameras that grabbed my attention is the Ricoh GR Digital IV mostly because of the praise it received in the context of street photography (ironically, I didn't get to use it in the context of street photography). One of the major advantages it brings is speed in focusing (thanks to a dual-AF-focus system), small sensor (i.e. large depth of field), ruggid construction (metal housing), wide-angle without bells and whistles (28mm equivalent - oh, and fast at f1.9), and (probably not for street) macro mode (going down to a couple of cm from the front element). All of this added together, and this has been a good camera.
I spent few weeks with it trying to wrap my head around looking at a screen to compose and taking a picture with a shutter which felt decidedly different from my M9. And I couldn't. Menu functionality, again, felt much more complicated than the M9 but still not too complicated or unknowable. The image quality is what made me keep the camera for quite some time. Pocket cameras have rarely blown me away (with the exception of the iPhone camera which is miraculous being much much tinier). But it was not destined to be a long-lasting relationship and this little baby went to ebay.