I started with the initial goal to have a small equipment so the size / weight would not bother me and on the other hand the quality of the pictures should not be worse that the quality those bunky DSLRs were able to deliver. I didn’t want to carry huge amounts of stuff including tripods etc.
A link to the past – Gear History (Click here if you want to see what I am using now!)
My first choice in 2012 was the Sony NEX-5N. It had a very small body but on the other hand an APS-C sized sensor so it was able to deliver great quality. I bought the camera with the kit lens and was happy – for the moment. It fit in my pocket and I was getting a nice quality so who needs more? Well, probably everybody who starts with photography because sooner or later you “need” faster lenses, more zoom, greater macro capability etc. But the NEX-5N with the Kit lens was a great start.
I stayed with the Sony NEX system for quite a while and bought new models and several lenses. Additionally I was searching for some compact camera to “have it with me at any time” so besides the Sony NEX models I had some compact cameras, too. These are some of the cameras and lenses I used during the last years (I still own the Sony NEX-5R).
The Full Frame Experiment
After having several cameras with an APS-C sized sensor like many others I thought that using a camera with a Full Frame sensor would make my pictures even better and when Sony released the Sony A7 I was sold immediately – only to downgrade to Micro Four Thirds cameras afterwards but more on this later ;).
I bought the Sony A7 and the Zeiss 55mm F1.8 FE lens and thought that this would be everything I need when it comes to quality – but I was wrong. Both are very good pieces of equipment, don’t get me wrong but it was just not right for me. The lack of a stabilizer and the tiny depth of field when shooting with large apertures were unforgiving so I ended up having many more blurred and out of focus pictures than with me NEX cameras. It was more of a tripod setup and I realized that I was far away from my initial goal – having a small and versatile setup with no need for a tripod.
Still, it’s a great camera and a fantastic lens and many people are more than happy with it. With the Sony A7 II the stabilizer ist now included in the camera but no, I will NOT buy it (yet) :).
New Olympus gear (and later Fuji in addition)
I know, let’s not look at the past any longer and check what’s in my camera bag (and the bag itself).
I decided to “downgrade” from the Full Frame path to Olympus MFT cameras because they are all about what I initially wanted. They are small, have great stabilizers and the lens setup is amazing. Most prime lenses are sharp, have a large maximum aperture and still fit in your pocket.
After I tried the Olympus OM-D E-M1 I was sold to the system. The stabilizer is so good that handheld shots are possible even at a shutter speed of one second (or even slower sometimes). The Olympus PEN E-P5 also has the 5-axis stabilizer and even though it’s not as efficient as the one in the E-M1 it’s still amazing for handheld shots and the camera fits in your pocket. The depth of field is much more forgiving than on a Full Frame camera when shooting with large apertures and you can still achieve nice blurred backgrounds and bokeh. The eye autofocus is excellent and I nearly never have an out of focus portrait shot.
Below is the kit I am was using in 2015. Three cameras (One OM-D, two PEN) fit in my small ONA Bowery bag, all with lenses and there is still room for two extra lenses. So usually I am walking around with three cameras and 5 lenses – all fitting in the bag you see below. Try that with a DSLR. My favorite lens is the M.Zuiko 75mm lens. It’s incredibly sharp even wide open and it’s perfect for great portraits (and cat pictures, he he). But all the other Olympus M.Zuiko prime lenses are great also and highly recommended.
In the meatime I sold some of the lenses and cameras because too much choice is not good for my creativity, I am thinking too much about the gear I should use instead of concentrating on photos. I also bought a Fuji X-T10 in addition. Since I like to change my equipment often I bought the Sony A7R II in the meantime and sold the Micro Four Thirds equipment. I hope I will be satisfied with the current equipment in 2016 and stop buying and selling so much stuff :).
Current equipment (end of 2015)
The ONA Bowery Leica Edition Leather Bag is my everyday camera bag. It fits my Fuji X-T10 with the XF23mm F1.4 lens and the Sony A7R II with the Sony Zeiss 55mm F1.8 lens. It doesn’t look like a camera bag and it can also be used as a fashion statement ;).
The little sister of the Fuji X-T1 – same photo quality, smaller body. I really like the Fuji jpgs and the 1/32.000 max. shutter speed is very useful if you want to shoot a lens with a large aperture wide open in daylight.
The only lens I have for the Fuji. It’s my substitute for the M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 because there is nearly no distortion and it allows to separate the subject from the background even with a focal length of 35mm. I addition it delivers excellent results even wide open.
I couldn’t resist and bought the Sony A7R II in December 2015 – I was longing for better subject isolation with wide angle and normal lenses and I wanted less noise in my images so I bought the Sony flagship. I hope this camera will stay now for a longer period of time ;).
My everyday lens on the Sony A7R II. I like the “nifty fifty” point of view and with 42 megapixels it’s possible to use it as a 18 megapixel 85mm F1.8 portrait lens in APS-C mode. It’s amazingly sharp wide open and very versatile.
My small fisheye lens for the Sony A7R II. It’s only an APS-C lens but 18 megapixel is enough for me, I don’t use the lens very often so I prefer it to be small and light.
This adapter is required to use the Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART lens on my Sony A7R II. The autofocus using this adapter is good (at least in daylight) and the adapter is neither too heavy nor big.
This 35mm lens delivers amazing quality on the Sony A7R II. It’s big and heavy and with the LA-EA3 adapter it’s even worse. I still love the quality so it’s a compromise I am willing to take. I wish there would be a native version for the Sony A7R II so it would be less topheavy and features like the continuous eye autofocus would work.
Sold in 2015
The M.Zuiko 8mm F1.8 Fisheye PRO costs about 1000 bucks (July 2015), not cheap for a fisheye lens but well worth it. It has a large aperature of F1.8, a minimum focus distance of 2.5 cm from the front element and has a nice bokeh – it’s possible to create some unique results thanks to these specs. I wrote a review of the lens that you can read on this homepage.
The Panasonic Leica 25 mm F1.4 has a very creamy bokeh and is very sharp already at it’s largest aperture, most of the time I use it F1.4. You can create a very special look with this lens that is hard to describe. Besides the M.Zuiko 75mm lens this is lens use the most for sure.
What can I say – the Noctricron ist one of the best if not the best lens for Micro Four Thirds. I bought it as a substitute for the M.Zuiko 75mm lens since the focal length makes it a little more flexible, a review including many photos will follow in the future for sure ;).
The M.Zuiko 60mm Macro lens is not only great for macro work but it’s also a nice portrait lens. At F2.8 the maximum aperture is not as good as the M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 lens but due to the focal length it’s still good for portraits. It’s incredibly sharp and also weather sealed. In combination with the stabilizer in the Olympus cameras it’s possible to create very good macro pictures.
The Samyang 7.5mm F3.5 Fisheye lens has no autofocus and is a very special wide angle lens. The distortion is not everybodys cup of tea but I love the effect from time to time and the lens is very sharp.
The M.Zuiko 9-18mm is the lens for you if you like wide angle lenses (like I do) and you don’t want the fisheye distortion. It’s very small, sharp and the zoom range is great for very wide angles and also a normal view at 18mm (36mm equivalent).
The M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 is a 35mm equivalent “standard lens” with a wide aperture. It has a very special look and is great for low light pictures or street photography if you want to have lots of the surrounding in the picture. I love the lens due to the special character and the very fast autofocus!
The M.Zuiko 25mm prime lens is your choice if you want a little less wide angle (and less distortion for portaits) than with the 17mm lens. It is a great indoor lens for all kinds of pictures and also on the street it is very capable. I like the lens due to the very nice micro contrast it delivers, the pictures have a nice 3D pop.
the M.Zuiko 45mm F 1.8 prime lens is a “must have”. It’s cheap but delivers great, sharp pictures. It’s the right choice for portraits or for the street if you want a little more distance. It’s so small that it fits in every pocket, highly recommended.
What can I say, this lens is the best – period! It’s sharp wide open, the autofocus is very fast and the bokeh is awesome. This is the lens you want to have for your Micro Four Thirds camera if you don’t care about the prize. it’s worth every penny and my first choice for great portraits and if you need some distance to your subject. Yes, it’s a little bit larger than other MFT prime lenses but this lens doesn’t make compromises, it’s all about quality. I wrote a review of this lens that you can read on this homepage.
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed the ride and if you would like to purchase one the items I showed you I would appreciate if you would use my affiliate links so I get a penny or two out of it. It doesn’t cost you more and helps the site growing, thanks!