So recently I wrote about how smartphone cameras are getting so good that, as a casual/enthusiast photographer like me, lugging a separate camera and lens during my travels is no longer an attractive option for me. Smartphone cameras has gotten so good that I feel it is no longer worth the effort in bringing all that extra gear with you just so you can take good travel photos when the device in your pocket can do an amazing job all on its own.
And so it pains me to have to consider downgrading or leave my OMD EM5 MII camera gear and lens behind moving forward.
The thing is, I still enjoy taking photos other than using my smartphone. The act of composing my shots and pressing the shutter button on a DSLR or MFT system is still an enjoyable part of photography for me, one that cannot be replicated on a smartphone. And because of that, I still want a separate camera that I can easily and conveniently bring with me on my future travels. I still want to take photos that are still superior as compared to those of a smartphone. Though the gap is closing in terms of image quality, the step up in image quality is still substantial when pictures are taken from a dedicated camera.
But what are the alternatives? MFTs are small, but lugging extra lenses can be a hassle. And good lenses are usually heavier due to the use of good quality materials (metal housing with extra glass elements)
Compact shooters are the next alternative. They are getting really good, especially the Panasonic LX 100 MII. I have been eyeing that compact camera for a few days now and was almost ready to pull the trigger, spending almost a thousand dollars on a smaller camera system.
But for some reason, I cannot overcome the hurdle, this nagging feeling that I might just regret getting it. I think, I am so used to an MFT system or a DSLR, especially its comfortable handling that just holding a much smaller camera is something that I may not get used to anymore.
Sure, it’s compact but the size just makes it a little more difficult to handle. The Panasonic LX 100 MII, in this case has a number of drawback that I feel might impede me from truly enjoying the use of this camera.
Firstly, lack of in-body image stabilisation of IBIS. I feel that the Olympus MFT system with its IBIS is so good that I cannot tell the number of times the IBIS has helped me in getting good stable shots in low light settings. Without IBIS in this case, I don’t really know how shots will ultimately turn out.
The touch screen is also fixed in place, which makes getting shots in odd angles or from a height so much more difficult. The Olympus OMD system has a fully articulating screen, a feature that I complete take for granted until I handled the Panasonic LX 100 MII. The lack of such a screen is a huge negative for me.
There are other shortcomings like lack of weather sealing, and lack of the ability to change lens (this is a compact camera after all) which I can live with, because first of all, I don’t see myself using the camera is extreme weather situations and secondly, the lens attached the Panasonic is pretty good. It’s a relative bright Leica lens within a range of zoom that I am comfortable with; f1.7 to f2.8, 24 to 75mm equivalent zoom lens. Based on reviews, the lens is actually quite decent, and it’s almost pancake-like when retracted, portable enough to store inside a small bag or large jacket pocket.
There is another Panasonic alternative the GX9. This is more closely related to the MFT system, with the ability to switch lenses but after comparing it closely to my current system, the overall weight and size is not that much different from my current Olympus MFT system.
There are other options from other brands like Sony, and Canon, but each of them has its own shortcomings.
So in short I am so conflicted that I have called for a timeout in deciding which camera system to buy. I may not even buy a new one. Maybe I will just buy the Olympus zoom pancake lens for my current Olympus MFT system and call it a day. Who knows.
Nice post and interesting thoughts. The gap is definitely closing here but for hobbyists I think a camera will still edge it – certainly for the time being. The low-light capability of smart phones is purely computational and isn’t the same as a controlled, long exposure from a camera. Then there’s the variety of telephoto lenses which you won’t find quality alternatives for on phones. And the ease of shooting in RAW on cameras and having that full control over what your photo looks like, compared to it looking as Apple/Google want it to. That said, I am going to end up taking more on the iPhone 11 when it arrives to see how it compares to the E-M1 mk ii on a more like-for-like basis.
Thanks for the comment! I agree with you low-light capability on smartphones still has a long way to go, including the options to choose your lens and style of shooting. I guess one has to find their niche and interest into the kinds of photography they are interested in. I for one, love street/landscape photography. Perhaps I just have to find a camera that suits my style more and just enjoy the process!