My digital camera history (2016 Edition)

Posted August 15, 2016

About 7 1/2 years ago I wrote a blog post that outlined my digital camera history.  Since that time, I’ve gone through a good number of digital cameras.  At certain times, I owned more than one at a time because there was a period of time where I thought I was going to get more into wedding photography.  I actually owned the first three cameras listed below at the time I wrote the first blog post but I didn’t list them in that post because I was currently using them.  Now that those cameras are history, they are included in this 2016 edition.

1. Canon Digital Rebel

DigitalRebelThis is the camera that got me serious about photography.  At the time, this was a ground breaking product.  It was the first sub $1000 DSLR to come out on the market.  After I got this camera, I started to really study and understand photography.  Before, I was just happy to take snap shots of whatever I was looking at, but after I got this camera, I started to study and understand about aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, etc.  I shot a number of weddings with this camera.  This was also the start of my envy of lenses that I could never afford.  This camera served me very well, but looking back on the camera, the LCD screen was tiny, the camera was super slow, and pictures that were produced were only 6 megapixels, but looking back at the pictures, I was quite happy with the results that came out.

 

2. Canon Digital Rebel XTi

Canon_Digital_Rebel_XTiThe XTi was a camera that was two generations newer than the original rebel, but I still used it as a backup to my rebel when I shot weddings.  I was so comfortable using the original rebel that this got little use, even though the picture quality was excellent and it had a 10 megapixel sensor.  The grip was just too small for comfort, but it was still a great backup camera.  Eventually, I sold it to my brother and sister-in-law.

 

3. Canon 40D

canon_40dI feel this was another big jump in the quality of my gear.  This camera became my main camera for weddings and just everyday shooting.  I had already sold off the original rebel and the XTi was still my backup camera.  The build quality of this camera was definitely a step up from any other camera I had owned or used before.  It also had a 10 megapixel sensor and was a very responsive camera to use.  Along with the camera, I started to have better lenses, which enhanced my experience as well.

 

4. Olympus E-PL1

olympus-epl1-review-01-topIn 2010, my wife and I moved from Southern California to Philadelphia.  We love being in Philly, but one thing that was a big change for us was living in the city and just walking around a lot more.  Because of that, I didn’t want to lug around a big camera but I wanted something that had great image quality.  This is where the Olympus E-PL1 came in.  This was my first dive into mirrorless cameras and I have never looked back from that day.  I loved that camera and the pictures it produced.  One thing that I definitely lost was a quick focusing camera, but the image quality was awesome.

 

5. Panasonic G5

I wanted to stay with the same lens mount system, but I wanted something that could do better video.  This is where the Panasonic G5 came in.  It had a few good features, including a silent shutter, a flip out LCD screen, but ultimately I realized that video wasn’t a direction that I was going to get into.  Picture quality was good but there was nothing special about the camera.  Even though I didn’t get into video that much, the video quality was really good but it didn’t have any manual control over the video.

 

6. Olympus E-PM2

I decided to go back to simple and compact.  The Olympus E-PM2 was definitely that camera.  This camera was the size of my past point-n-shoot cameras, but at the same time it allowed me to use my existing Micro 4/3 lenses that I had from the Olympus E-PL1 and Panasonic G5.  I used this camera for a number of years and it served me pretty well.

 

7. Fuji x100s

x100s-frontI decided to go a whole different direction and felt like I wanted to downsize and simplify my camera and gadget life in general.  The Fuji x100s was definitely a whole different direction.  It had a fixed lens and it definitely had a retro look to it.  Looking back, this is one of those cameras that I wish I still had because it was fun to use.  There were so many manual dials and the picture quality was awesome and it had it’s own unique Fuji look to it.  After a while, I realized that it didn’t quite match my shooting style.  In my opinion, it was more of a camera for street photography.  My style is more portraits and candids.  This was definitely a fun camera and I wish I didn’t have to let it go but I wanted to be practical about things.

 

8. Samsung NX500

samsung_nx500Now that I decided to move on from the Fuji x100s, it was time to research what system I would move into.  I had sold all my lenses when I bought the x100s, so this time I was starting from scratch, which was kind of exciting.  I did want a camera that had a bigger sensor than the micro 4/3 camera lineup.  I also wanted a camera that I could grow into as far as a lens lineup was concerned.  I had been hearing a lot of great things about the Samsung line of cameras.  One thing that a Samsung digital camera definitely has is features.  It’s like they thought of every kind of feature a digital camera could have, even if you didn’t need it, and put it into one little device.  The NX500 took really good pictures and had a lot of great fun features, such as a nice timelapse video feature.  You can find an example of one that I took here.  Not long after I purchased the camera there were talks about Samsung selling of their digital camera business.  There were also a lot of complaints that we hadn’t seen any new lenses for the Samsung system.  In other words, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a camera system that I was going grow into in the long run.  It’s too bad because I really liked what the company was doing.  Although they haven’t officially got out of the business, there hasn’t been any activity in quite some time.  Maybe they’ll have a reemergence, but it would definitely be a little too late.  They lost my business.  I’m happy to say that I didn’t invest that much into the system.

 

9. Sony a6000

Now we come to the present…. well, at least the present camera system.  After getting rid of Canon, I stuck with the micro 4/3 system (Olympus E-PL1, Panasonic G5, and Olympus E-PM2) for quite a while.  The two cameras after that were pretty short lived.  I can honestly say that I think I found the camera system that I can stick with for a little while now.  Also, I believe that the frequency of camera changes will slow down.  After feeling a little bit burned by the Samsung NX500, I naturally looked to see what was it’s main competitor.  In comes the Sony a6000.  It was a great camera with many great features.  The thing that made it a great camera and what makes Sony a great system to stay with is the great lens lineup.  It is not as extensive as Canon and Nikon’s lens lineup, but there are enough lenses out there and Sony and other third party manufacturers seem to be very invested in the Sony E-mount system.  The a6000 had a 24 megapixel sensor.  In comparison, the Canon Digital Rebel had a 6 megapixel sensor.  As far as mirrorless cameras were concerned, up to this point, this was the best mirrorless camera that I owned and it was almost on par with the performance of my old Canon 40D as far as auto-focus was concerned.  The only reason why I speak of this camera in the past tense and why it’s part of my camera history is that I couldn’t justify keeping two cameras.  I got an insane deal on a Sony a7.  I do miss the small compact size of this camera.  Of course, they have already come out with a newer model in the a6300, but this is still a great camera.

 

Final thoughts

I will admit, I’ve had more digital cameras than most people in the past 7 1/2 to 8 years.  Of course, the first couple were due to the increase in wedding shoots that I had during that time.  The last couple of cameras before getting to the Sony system was just a matter of searching and experimenting with different systems until I found the right fit.  This is just a look back of what cameras I have owned in the past.  This doesn’t include the past smart phones I have had as well.  Let’s face it… those are digital cameras as well and in fact some people’s main camera.  Even though this is a look back and there have been a lot of cameras I have owned, when it comes to taking pictures, it’s not always about the gear.  I feel like I have grown in my photography, but why so many cameras?  Let’s face it, I’m a gadget guy too.  Even though I feel like I’m at a great comfortable place as far as my camera gear is concerned, I’m always looking at the latest and greatest.  I can happily say I definitely have less envy and temptations to own the latest and greatest, but I still like to see what is the latest and greatest.  🙂

For now, I will continue to enjoy taking pictures of my family and just documenting what is going on with our lives.  At the same time, I continue to try to improve in my photography by taking on the occasional wedding and family portrait jobs.  The next time I write this kind of post, I do hope that I won’t have too many cameras to write about.  As my wife would say…. “We’ll see about that.”  🙂

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