The Big Decision

Infrared image captured using a converted Olympus EM5 and 12-40 lens. Processed in Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro.
Infrared image captured using a converted Olympus EM5 and 12-40 lens. Processed in Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro.

When I recently made the switch to Fuji I had a plan. I knew the release of the XT2 was imminent. I knew I could buy a used XT1 for a good price. So my plan was to buy the XT1 and use it until the XT2 came out. I would then buy the XT2 and have the XT1 converted to shoot infrared. Then I could sell the Olympus Micro 43 equipment. Great plan but it hasn’t quite worked out and I have a big decision…

I was out shooting landscapes at the weekend with the Fuji XT2. As the weather conditions threatened to be dangerously bright, I decided to take my EM5 infrared conversion along. I spent the day predominantly shooting with the XT2 which performed well (as expected) but I also shot a few infrared images. This that’s made me question my plan for the EM5.

The results from the infrared EM5 are simply superb. I can’t see what more I would gain by converting a Fuji XT1 to shoot infrared. The images won’t be any sharper, they won’t be any larger and I also run the risk of the Fuji lenses suffering hotspots. I know my Micro 43 lenses are fine with a couple of exceptions. In short, I want to keep my infrared EM5.

This decision means that I will also need to keep at least the Olympus 12-40 and Panasonic 45-150 lenses. It then doesn’t make sense to sell the standard EM5 body as the prices are quite low now. It would therefore be better to keep this as a backup body. And if I’m keeping the EM5 I may as well keep the Olympus 9-18 lens.

In short, I concluded that I should keep half my micro 43 kit, possibly sell the Fuji XT1 and sell all my Olympus prime lenses (I tend not to us them). I also took a closer look at the quality of the images from the Sony A7r with my Canon L series lenses. The image quality from this kit is nothing short of exceptional so I won’t be selling those either.

Looking at my other kit I still have a Sony RX10 which I love. A Canon G7X which fits nicely in my pocket. A Hasselblad X-Pan three lens kit and a Bronica SQAi with 4 lenses. These last two are film cameras and whilst I don’t use them often, I don’t want to part with them.

What I can conclude from this is that I either have too many cameras or that I don’t get out enough to use them all. I have decided that the problem is that I don’t get out often enough. Apologies for my ramblings but sometimes the best therapy is sharing a problem.

28 thoughts on “The Big Decision

  1. HAHAHAHAHAHA! So very recognisable! Now go see a shrink to find out what psychological problems are truly behind all this:-) Which kind of giant emotional hole you are trying to fill with lenses:-)

      1. 🙂 Personally I’m still very interested in full frame, but still lacking funds. I’ve been to Scotland recently and walked around there with the OMD EM1 and the 40- 150 pro lens in a backpack that I turned into a chestpack and an OMD Em10 in a shoulder bag. I liked this set up, I didn’t have to change lenses.

      2. Yes, it’s very comfortable to use the same system with different lenses and it wasn’t extremely heavy. It was about as heavy as I was willing to carry and still enjoy my walk. I also find the OMD EM10 better for macro because it’s lighter and smaller and therefore easier to move around. The EM1 seems to have focus stacking, but I haven’t try that yet. But I do keep seeing photos online that are almost three dimentional and have a really nice clarity, and they all turn out to be made with a full frame. So maybe the Canon 6D or a Sony for wide angle and the OMD for tele….

      3. In all honesty, I don’t think that its the Full Frame sensor that’s giving the 3D look. It’s much more likely to be the processing. Usually its some form of sharpening and contrast adjustment (selectively) that gives this appearance. Save your money and download Nik Sharpener Pro.

      4. I wouldn’t know, I don’t now the first thing about processing and frankly I kinda hate it. I still solely use FastStone and simply try to shoot as good as I can. The only problem that really bothers me is the noise versus sharpness problem.
        I often wonder if you really need all that processing, I read some National Geographic photographers also hardly do this. It sometimes looks to me as if your work has slowly been looking more and more processed, as in too sharp, too unnatural. I often see a harsness in it that I don’t see in nature. You mention sharpness as lot, and that made me wonder if this is really that important in landscape pictures. Often your eyes don’t perceive a landscape fully sharp from front to back. By this I don’t mean it should be smeared of course, like some cameras do.
        I probably should learn more about processing, but then I would also need a bigger computer and wallet;-)

      5. You have raised a few questions here. If your worried about noise v’s sharpness (and I do recall exchanging a few emails with you about this) a Full Frame DSLR would probably be the way to go. Having said that, I’m really impressed by the Fuji’s performance. I’m sure most of the National Geographic shooters claim to be purests and not process. If your shooting RAW then you won’t be able to do it all im camera – digital cameras simply don’t work that way. Yopu probably do see some harshness in my images which is probably due to the way I have been downsampling my images. I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the settings and know I have used the Preserve Detail option as well as Downsample Sharper when I shouldn’t. Perhaps I will try to be a little more careful.
        If you do decide to do some processing, start with the Nik Collection of filters as they are free.

      6. Yes, we’ve talked about full frame and loss of detail because of noise. I’m disappointed each time when I have a good bird shot for example and see the fine feathers disappear due to noise reduction. I do shoot in RAW, but really feel no need to process a whole lot. Just some minor tweaks. But perhaps you could enhance them much better than I can:-) I did believe this National Geographic photographer when he claimed he just shot as best as he could and otherwise discarded the shot, but even if they do a lot of post processing, they leave things looking natural most of the time. I sometimes find the photos of people that process them heavily unnaturaly beautyful, but I know many people like this.

  2. Hi Robin,
    great picture this one!
    I don’t have as much kit, but I entirely agree with you: micro 4/3 and aps-c (and full frame) are different systems, each as afvantages and disadvantages and it makes sense to keep all of them. I have a pentax ks1 and an olympus pen, and I feelnperfectly ok in keepping both and chosing one or the other (or both) depending on where i go and which pictures I want to take.
    Tanks for sharing,

  3. Any good cameras ive sold I ended up regretting selling. If in doubt dont sell. Im really regretting letting the Sigma DP3M go. Olympus Trip 35, XA & 35RC will never be sold now.

  4. I faced the same dilemma over the past 4 years. I still have my Panasonic GH1 that was converted to infrared. I bought it on eBay 4 years ago for $200. At the same time I was using a OMD-EM5 with a 12-50mm lens. I also had a Panasonic 14-140mm and an Olympus 17mm f1.7 lens. I also was using a Fuji XE1 and loved the film simulations. I upgraded that to the XT-1 and the 18-135mm and suddenly I felt like I was almost back to the DSLR sizes of the past. I did not like the way Fuji handled leaves and foliage and the details looked mushy to me. So the point is, because my old Panasonic Infrared is still my most favorite camera, I sold the Fuji and just stayed in the micro 4/3rds with many lower cost cameras and lenses readily available to me. I currently am using the Panasonic GX8 which is very comfortable for me and works with my great selection of lenses. I am committing the micro 4/3rds system for good. P.S. – I do have a version of the SONY RX100 camera line which I use everyday instead of relying on my iPhone for picture making.

    1. Micro 43 is definately a great system to work with. Shame about your decision with the Fuji. Are you are an Adobe users and shooting in RAW format? I have found quite a few converters to be miles better than Adobe with the Fuji RAW files.

      1. I am using ACR and that may be part of the problem. But with working 45-50 hours a week, I just do not have the time to be a scientist also. I do guess what soured me was the high cost of Fujifilm lenses.
        The 16-55mm sounded great until I found out it was unstabilized. With the M4/3 I have stabilization on all of my lenses. And all of them work on my Panasonic Infrared Converted GH1. Plus, the size and weight of the gear was my final reason for my decision. Good Luck with your conflicts. Thanks for your Blog and your pictures make me jealous.

      2. Thank you. I can’t disagree with you about the cost of the best Fuji lenses. I suppose they are on a par with the Canon L series. What worries me is that Olympus and Panasonic have started to bring out “pro” lines which is just an excuse to charge more and drop the quality on the other lenses. Lets hope I’m wrong.

  5. Only you can make the decision but you do seem to have an excess of cameras and systems. Do you not wish you had one of the others when out and about. You seem to get out more than me at present.

    1. I have to disagree Ralph. There is no such thing as too much equipment. Actually, my downfall is that I try to take too many competing systems with my at times. This is the downfall of lightweight gear. Your tempted to carry just as much. The only thing that I sometimes find myself regretting is when I don’t pack the Infrared.

  6. Hi Robin,
    Ask yourself…introspect…if you had to go for only a single camera which one it will be…i.e.which one you would reach out automatically for…when you have your answer, put a stone over your heart and sell the other one…without regret or qualms.
    Your photography will benefit because now you’ll not be burdened by the nagging self-doubt,”‘which one …?”

    1. I thought about this for a long time and have concluded that I wouldn’t be happy with only one camera. I have tried owning a single camera. The Canon 5D was the closest I came, but it never really worked for me. I always find a limitation that I don’t like. What I can do these days is partner a camera with the type of photography I want to do. If it’s travel I like the Olympus. If its trekking to get to a photo location or Urban work its the Fuji. If its all out landscape work within easy reach I will use the Sony. The XPan is Panoramic and really can’t be beaten for this whilst the Bronica is for pure indulgent enjoyment when I don’t want to worry about the images.

  7. Interesting dilemma to be in. Although I have been doing photography on and off fo many years, my first camera was a Zenith 35mm in 1970 and there have been far too many in between. My biggest purchase mistake was in the early 1980s, a Leica 35mm with 50, 35 and 135mm lenses. In the day it cost me around £6000 for the set and I sold it seven weeks later. I didn’t get better results from it simply because it was my ability, or lack of it, that governed the picture quality. It was a hard lesson but well learned.

    I gave up for many years until, a couple of years ago, I was bought a Nikon D3300 as a very unexpected Christmas present. I really enjoyed getting into digital but due to minor mobility issues, I was not getting out and about as much as I would have liked and even the entry level Nikon with a couple of lenses was too bulky.

    In July this year, I was in Sheffield near where I used to live and visited Meadowhall shopping centre. The boss went into Primark so I knew I had an hour to kill and I found myself in Jessops where I fell in love with a camera without knowing anything about it or even picking it up. I fell in love with a, for me, totally unknown Sony a6000 which I bought.

    Since getting it, I have totally fallen back into photography and have expanded my kit with a few lenses, and I still kept my Nikon which I am experimenting with for video.

    Sometimes it is not the best kit on the market which help you to take good pictures but any inspiration you get from kit can help you take them. I still cannot get out and about much but when I do, my Sony kit comes with me and each time I take what I feel are better pictures than I ever have done.

    The fens of Cambridgeshire where I now live are flat and, to some, even boring but I am inspired to search out the pictures I would never have taken before. This apples even mor when I get the odd run out to the beautiful North Norfolk Coast.

    So yes, I am rambling on for which I apologise. But it isn’t always all about the kit, it about the inspiration and love of photography that counts.

    1. Hi Graham,
      I totally agree that its not all about kit but what seems to happe a lot more tehse days is that the kit gets in the way of the creative process. Sometimes though we pick up a camera and know that its right for us. The ergonomics of the camera and its usability are vital if we are to do our best work. I suspect you have experienced this from what you are saying. As for the fens, they are flat and featureless. But look closely and they have a wonderfull open feel to them. You certainly get a lot of sky in that area. I have only visited the Norfolk coast a few times but it was always an enjoyable outing. I hope you continue to enjoy your photography.

  8. I don’t mean to sound rude, but you seem to have an enormous amount of gear for a lightweight photographer. Your pictures are great whichever camera you use, far better than anything I can manage. So why not just choose one system and stick with it for a few years before trading it in, by which time technology will have moved on and you can make a significant jump in quality? Just a thought…

    1. I don’t think your being rude but raising a legitimate point. If I took out all the equipment on a shoot I would agree. But shooting with just one system means that I can usually shoot with a small shoulder bag and carry a body and three lenses. The reason you think I have a lot of gear is that I’m stuck with three systems; ignore the film cameras as they are for fun and enjoyment. Typically I would expect to have a full frame and a CSC. The CSC is for trekking and travel work whilst the full frame is for more commercial shoots. Despite this, even my full frame is a CSC but it’s too bulky to be considered lightweight.
      As for buying into a system, I have been using the EM5 for almost 4 years. The XT2 is a jump in quality which is what I was trying to achieve by the move. At one point I thought I could manage without the full frame but I had to buy back in.

  9. a very detailed and excellent infrared image Robin, as a long time Nikon user from film days and then moved on to digital full frame my last two camera’s were D800 and now D810, and are more than very pleased with the processed image quality I get. But I agree they are becoming heavy to carry around, if I did decide to go for a lighter system I would not find it easy to choose with what is on offer. My Wife and I with my friend did run the Nikon owner group in the West Midlands. I have yet to see a photographer when I am out shooting that is using the Fuji system.

    1. Thanks John.
      In all honesty, I’m not sure there are many Fuji Landscape shooters. I think the XTrans sensor isn’t for everyone and it not easy for Landscapes. Having said that, it does deliver the goods with careful processing. If you want lightweight the Olympus kits are a good alternative as is the Sony A7. You would even be able to use your Nikon lenses via an adapter.

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