Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New street cam?

I'm always looking for a good street camera for my students and others who can't afford a Leica M-series camera (especially the $6K Leica M8 digital rangefinder.

Here's what I look for:

1. Size: It should be small, fit in the hand easily, not a huge monster that will intimidate people.
2. Weight: Light is good.
3. Quality: I don't want excessive noise. That rules out just about every compact camera out there--although I've had good reports about the Canon G9.
4. Manual control: That, too, rules out most compact cameras.
5. Speed: Although I focus manually using a tab (and teach how to add a tab to any lens in my street photography course), AF speed is important.
6. Sound: Shutter release should be quieter than your typical clanky SLR. Mirror slap must be well damped.
7. Durability. My Leica M3 film camera has been by my side for 30 years, and has only been in the repair shop three times although I've run thousands of rolls of film through it. That's durable.

Many cameras fulfil 4 or 5 of these qualifications, but not all of them.

Currently I'm intrigued by the Olympus E-420 with the 28mm f/2.8 Pancake Zuiko lens. It clearly meets my size, weight, and manual control requirements. In a conversation with a fellow camera reviewer who has had his hands on this camera, I feel this camera is small enough and light enough for street use. It has a large enough sensor so at 10MP image quality is probably OK. Sound and speed will require a field test, which I'm hoping to do soon. I'm reasonably sure, however, that it will fail in the durability department.

For $700, getting 6 out of 7 would be very nice.

I'll keep you posted.

No comments: