I suspect some of the readers of this blog aren’t big on film. I must confess that when I do the math for a film camera and factor in how long it will last compared to a digital camera that will work well for years but is outdated in about 18 months, I come out ahead with film. Consider the cost of a new Nikon D3500 (or a Canon T6). On sale at Costco it is about $500.00 with two lenses. If you stay with the Nikon system, the lenses will stay with you to the next camera should you decide to upgrade later. A good 35mm SLR camera will cost you about $50.00. That leaves you with $450.00 to develop and scan or print your film. At about $15. For developing and $7 per roll of film that’s $22.00 for 36 frames. It ads up to 20 roles or 720 frames of film. There are trade-offs, however. The 35mm will be used. You can’t take 300 pictures when you go out on a weekend and there’s not instant feedback on your pictures. The benefits include becoming a better photographer because you only get 36 pictures at a time (making your selection and “eye” more discerning), you will never loose your photos because of a software or media card update, and no one will hack your photos. But this isn’t about trying to get you to toss out your digital camera. In fact, it is just the opposite.
My search for a good small, portable unassuming street camera took a turn last summer when I was preparing for long motorcycle trip. Space was at a premium and I wanted to be able to do video (can’t do that with your 35mm SLR) and post pictures to friends and social media. Fuji has some very nice offerings but the prices set me back, so I passed. I really like the look of the X-T1 and the APS-C sensor. It’s retro look and larger sensor in a compact size was attractive. The have other cameras in their line up that looked good but the price was a stop sign. While examining the Fuji line up at my local camera store the clerk suggested I look at the Olympus OMD-10, a micro four-thirds (MFT) camera. Initially I rejected the advice due to the small sensor.
I bet you can figure out I ended up buying an Olympus. I am crazy about the options I get with the MFT system and this little camera. It does everything I was looking for above, small, video, high quality digital photos, completely manual or shutter or aperture priority shooting modes. Like every consumer camera it has preprogramed shooting modes for macro, sports etc. but I never use them. The dynamic range is excellent and it is both small and very comfortable in my hand.
I don’t do camera reviews in the traditional sense. If you’re looking for a technical review of the OMD-10MII or MIII go to DP Review or maybe Ken Rockwell has looked at it. In this blog I’m more concerned about what it does for me as I make choices about photos for personal use and occasional sale. One big advantage in the MFT world is the agreement by the manufactures to not make lenses proprietary. Any MFT lens from any manufacturer will fit any other MFT camera. I bought a Panasonic 25mm f1.7 lens immediately (50mm equivalent) to get the additional low light and prime lens sharpness.
After the trip, which included three national Parks and 3,000 miles, I put the camera in the car as the always-have-a-camera-with-you model. It’s small size and full control seemed to want to hide in the corner of the trunk. After a couple of months, I happened to be playing with the Voightlander Vito B mentioned in the last post. Surprise! The two cameras are nearly identical in size. Really, look at the photos above. Quite by mistake I fell into the perfect digital street camera. As an extra bonus the rear screen tilts making above the head and shoe top pictures a snap (if you’ll pardon the pun.)
There you have it. If you’re looking for a small, high quality, mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera for small spaces and vacations where an obvious DSLR would get in the way, check out the Olympus OMD-10MII or MIII. Added bonuses include a built in Wi-Fi antenna that will let you both activate the shutter from your smart phone or tablet and download to your mobile device.
One last thing, I write this blog because I have this crazy voice in my head that tells me do it. I don’t have any sponsors and don’t receive any commission when I mention one of my new finds. If you try out the Olympus and buy one, I recommend you find a local camera shop to do business with. It’s good for you and your community to have an independent camera shop nearby.
Until next time. I’m playing with a Nikon F2 SLR. Even though it’s 60 years old it looks like a winner. I’ll keep you posted.