Tuesday, 17 April 2012


The past weekend came and went in a bit of a blur. Saturday was a long and tiring working day and by Sunday the weather had turned very cold and the fair had left town so I didn't venture out. Instead, I pondered over the equipment I would need if I was going to take things seriously.

Opinion becomes very polarized about what gear is necessary on the street. There are the 'purists' who think that the best shots can only be achieved by paying homage to the past masters and demand a rangefinder (preferably Leica) and the highest quality lenses. Others still believe that film is best. Some get hung up on megapixels and sensor sizes.

The simple fact is that there isn't a one size fits all solution. Memorable and thought-provoking photographs can be taken with any camera that has ever been made.

There is so much conflicting information and advice on the internet these days that choices seemingly become harder and harder to make.

Here is some good advice :
"The best camera is the one that is with you…" - Chase Jarvis.
"Let the camera choose you" - unknown source.

My interpretation of the Chase Jarvis quote is that you can capture the moment with any camera; composition is the most important element of a (street) photograph. The second reference suggests that the camera that you are physically comfortable with, in terms of it's size, weight and feel and that you are emotionally happy about carrying around and shooting with is the one for you.

In my last post I mentioned how uncomfortable I felt, literally and figuratively, handling my SLR on the street - it was bulky, conspicuous and awkward to use. I could obviously purchase a fast prime lens or two as these would be much lighter then the wide zoom but the camera still wouldn't feel 'right' for taking candid shots and would probably draw attention.

My list of equipment requirements for street photography are : Small; Lightweight; Fast Focus; Image Stabilization; Availability of Lenses.

I've been looking at all the options available and for me it's a no-brainer. The best equipment for me will be one of the Compact System Cameras. Having used Canon since 1981 when I traded my first few pay checks for an A1 I was hoping there would be something in their line-up to fit the bill. Unfortunately, the closest they have come is the G1X and that has slow auto-focus and a slow fixed zoom lens. Shame!

So, I've decided that the time has come for me and my Canon SLR gear to part company. I can't afford to run two systems and this is the trade-off that has to be made. My current system will be sold in the next couple of weeks and the funds reinvested.

The available options included the Leica which is obviously too expensive, the Sony which is expensive, lacks lenses and (if I may be so shallow) is not aesthetically pleasing, the Samsung which apparently buffers RAW slowly and the Micro Four Thirds offerings from Panasonic and Olympus.

The choice has to be one of the 4/3 cameras. They tick all the right boxes and have a huge array of interchangeable lenses. The Panasonic GX1 gets the new 16mp sensor and is a great camera, I love the Olympus EP-3s styling and fast focus and now there's the OM-D E-M5 with the large sensor and fancy image stabilization about to be released on the world. Any of these and a couple of good prime lenses will do for me.

Decisions, Decisions!

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