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One All Around Camera, Light and Professional: Does it exist?
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Jen Mills
(Dyaxen) - F
One All Around Camera, Light and Professional: Does it exist? on 08/09/2009 07:09:06 MDT Print View

It's a lot to ask of a camera, but the search is worth the inevitable discovery. I'm going to be buying a motorcycle within the next couple of months to live on. It will have everything I own, which needless to say is not very much even now. Price is no object (within reason). I do freelance writing, photography, and graphic design, and therefore end up taking about every kind of photo there is. I do landscapes, weddings, artistic, and modeling photos. I've been searching for a massive upgrade to my camera anyway as I've recently gotten a lot more business and need to step up my work. Combine this with my need to travel, and pack light, and we have a dilemma: How to have a professional camera for all flavors, preferably with only one lens (2 if needed). I won't have much space on my bike, but I'll make room if I have to since photography is a big part of my life. The key part here is that I need an all in one machine, as compact and professional as possible. Waterproof would be a major plus but it's merely a dream I fear... Thanks in advance for any advice/suggesstions :)

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: One All Around Camera, Light and Professional: Does it exist? on 08/09/2009 09:18:53 MDT Print View

I've been looking at the new Olympus EP-1 for an upcoming project. Apparently DSLR quality, with interchangeable lens, but much smaller and somewhat lighter (~1 lb.). It looks very nice--maybe someone here has had experience with it?

Benjamin Evans

Locale: Atlanta
an excellent choice is the Panasonic Lumix LX3 on 08/09/2009 16:15:40 MDT Print View

Lumix LX3 or Sister Leica Dlux4

I have the Lumix and it is an exceptional lightweight, small camera,with excellent build quality, and fantastic results. A google search will lead to many excellent reviews.

I particularly like the wide angle and speed of the leica lens.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
One All Around Camera, Light and Professional: Does it exist? on 08/09/2009 23:40:27 MDT Print View

First off, how light are you talking? Also, are you looking at DSLR or trying to go lighter in a newer digital non-slr? Does your publisher have requirements such as needing RAWs?

It's worth mentioning that there are some very light non-digitals, but for your use, you'd probably burn up too much film for practicality.

DSLR wise, a Nikon D60 is reasonably light and more compact than many of the other models. It's quite flexible with a 18-55 and 55-200 lens. Granted, I've wished for more zoom and occasionally for a wider lens, but that's what I pack on 99% of my professional jobs. I've seen 18-200mm lenses, but am not sold on the compromises that necessitate the advantage of getting one lens.

My problem is all of the rest of the crap I carry for it, but I could easily pair it down to a polarizing filter and a ND and extra batteries. No way around it though, giant memory cards are the way go to for traveling when you never know when you'll offload.

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Some light/small models i've seen good reviews for... on 08/10/2009 15:06:56 MDT Print View

I'm going to limit this to cameras that have raw mode as 'professional.'

In the compact category, the Lumix/Leica LX3 as mentioned before or the Sigma DP-1 or Canon G10. The Sigma is capable of amazing image quality due to a large special sensor but has a fixed wide lens.

In the DSLR/EVIL category the new Olympus EP-1 looks really nice as well as the Olympus E-420/520/620 series. The Lumix GH-1 also looks good. Note that these are 4/3 format sensors which have slightly worse noise performance at high iso but are still miles away from the compacts.

I have the Lumix LX3 and like its performance/weight/compactness ratio. I'm waiting for the next revision of the Oly EP-1...

This is a good resource:

Edited by erdferkel on 08/10/2009 15:10:29 MDT.

Alexander Laws
(goldenmeanie) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
momos and cameras on 10/08/2009 19:21:47 MDT Print View

No offense... but, no one is going to hire you for any real work, be it editorial, wedding, etc., if you show up with one small camera and a single lens. Mybe Terry Richarson, but not you. Not a good start to stepping up your game. Really, not trying to be negative... just being honest. One camera and one lens? Nikkon F3hp and a normal 50... 1.8 will do. Will last a lot longer and continue to produce better results than anything digital and disposable...

I still get paid to shoot film... so can you.

Light and compact? Toyo Field 45CF. Shoot large format and scan your negs... No digi can touch it. Of course, someone will certainly steal that off your momo...

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: One All Around Camera, Light and Professional: Does it exist? on 10/08/2009 23:56:38 MDT Print View

There are amazing photographers that produced significant bodies of high impact work with basic cameras (links to photographers not cameras) such as manual focus rangefinder often with a single lens, or a cheap SLR like the Nikon FM-10 with a cheap zoom lens, or even a consumer grade digcam like the Olympus 4040. Most of us aren't at this level though... so we need image quality and whatever help the equipment will provide for compelling images.

IF my primary goal was going after in high quality images in all environments I would pay the weight and bulk tax and bring a semi-pro, or pro DSLR with high quality glass (typically a mix of primes and f2.8 or f4 high end zooms), and likely have two bodies so I wouldn't have to swap lens at a critical moment and at least two flash guns which support wireless triggering.

IF I would looking to a camera that was first "compact" and second provided decent versatility and acceptable image quality in most situations I would pick the new Panasonic GF1 along with the optional digital viewfinder. [I have been using the slightly larger Panasonic G1 for the last year]. The GF1 is not pocketable, but pretty close. Good image quality to ISO 400, usable to 1600 for decent size prints with post processing. Interchangable lens (which are way smaller and lighter traditional SLR mounts). But it can't do "everything". No fast enough for active sports. Not sensitive enough for low level available light photography, and a very so/so flash system which would be a handicap in some situations. The G1 is the camera I most frquently use because it's not a pain to carry. That said, when I really care about the images, and especially when I don't get second chances like shooting the live part of the wedding I wouldn't use the G1. I would pull out a large sensor DSLR.

IF I was looking for a camera that could go into my coat pocket and give me the the best image quality (with a fixed lens) Leica X1; Sigma DP-1*, DP-2. Goes in the coat pocket with a zoom lens (at the cost of image quality) Panasonic LX3, Canon G10, 11 or S90. The LX3 is my daily carry and typically my backpacking camera. I have gotten pleasing images with this camera but there are lots of situations (especially lower light) when it's not that great.

There are lots of camera review sites. Off the top of my head I would recommend looking at, observations from,, and news stories from


Edited by verber on 10/09/2009 16:56:11 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: momos and cameras on 10/09/2009 03:23:25 MDT Print View

> no one is going to hire you for any real work, be it editorial, wedding, etc., if you show up with one small camera and a single lens.
So buy a couple of very cheap second-hand film cameras with lenses and tote them along. Don't have to use them of course - don't even have to carry any film for them!


Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Re: momos and cameras on 10/09/2009 11:07:20 MDT Print View

Wow, that Toyoview is like a lightweight Crown graphic or Super graphic, very cool.

Alexander Laws
(goldenmeanie) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
toyo on 10/09/2009 11:28:43 MDT Print View

The ToyoFields are super cool! We use the all metal version with a revolving back... but when I was teaching a yearly workshop/class at CalArts, a few of the grad students had purchased the carbon 45CF model ($500 with student discount) and I thought it was great! Very light! We shoot large format with a toyofield as often as we can get away with... especially when working for the shelter mags... but if space is an issue or when time is an issue, as is usually the case when shooting anyone of "importance", we grab our Mamiya RZ ProII's...

Rob Harrison
(robhar54) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
The limitation with compact digitals.... on 10/09/2009 11:52:37 MDT Print View not so much the image quality--which these days can be pretty darn good with any of the compact cameras mentioned above that shoot RAW--it is that you can't get the extremely shallow depth of field you can get with almost any film (or large sensor digital) camera with a fast lens. (OK, image quality does suffer in low light with small sensor cameras, so that's also a limitation.) This has drastically cut down the number of keepers I get when I'm using a compact digital. I still do use it, but I sure would like more.

The larger sensor compacts have more potential in this area, but I'm afraid I'm not going to be happy until I can afford a full-frame digital. Sigh.


Years ago I traveled the US for a summer with only an Olympus OM-1md and a 50/1.8 lens. It was a fantastic travel kit, and with maybe a 50/2 macro instead (if you could find one) it would still produce superb images. Costco does a pretty good job of scanning film for quick review, and if your images get selected for publication you can always have them professionally scanned--and end up with a 100mb file that can be published in any magazine or book. (In fact...I have done that recently with OM images--well, one book and 8 or 10 magazines.)

Maybe I'll try that this weekend....

Rob in Seattle

PS. Oops, sorry, I forgot the bit about weddings, models and such being part of your work. You need a full frame digital for that. :-) And a compact for rides. (At least that's the conclusion I have come up with for myself--I also ride a bike.) Or,if price is truly no object, just go straight to the Leica M9. My current fave review site is Besides writing reviews, he is a pro photographer doing weddings and architecture...and he rides a motorcycle.

Edited by robhar54 on 10/09/2009 12:02:58 MDT.

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Re: The limitation with compact digitals.... on 10/09/2009 14:26:36 MDT Print View

Yeah, that is the trick, especially for weddings. Since shallow DOF is a function of the physical aperture size and distance to subject, getting that creamy bokeh for anything other than macro takes physically large glass ('circles of confusion' from photo class).

I used (and still have) OM-1 and OM-2 bodies with the 28mm and 50 mm lenses. Great little cameras, but I can't get the mercury battery that makes the meter work :(.

Have you looked at the Sony A850? Full frame, Sony or Zeiss glass, reviewed here:
Luminous Landscape Review of Sony Alpha 850

If money was no object, an M9 with the f0.95 Noctilux 50mm would be a killer rig...amazing bokeh

Alexander Laws
(goldenmeanie) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
Leica on 10/09/2009 14:56:39 MDT Print View

Yes, that M9 is super sexy.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Light and compact film cameras. on 10/09/2009 16:27:50 MDT Print View

"Light and compact? Toyo Field 45CF."
Gee, that's 3.42 lb without lens. My Speed Graphic is 5 lb with lens and could be reduced to probably 4 lb by removing irrelevant gizmos (I won't do that). I have some antique sheet film cameras that use I think 9 cm x 12 cm film that are much lighter, but it's hard to get the film and holders.

For professional use, medium format film cameras are interesting. For my own use, antique Zeiss and Voigtlander rangefinders.

The reality is that digital cameras have gotten so much better that I'll use mainly digital.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: The limitation with compact digitals.... on 10/09/2009 16:42:57 MDT Print View

> OM-1... great little cameras, but I can't get the mercury battery that makes the meter work :(.

The OM-1 was a gem. It's possible to update the circuit powering the meter to work on the voltages of modern batteries. You might want to check around you area to see if you can find someone who will make this adjustment for you. People also claim that the 675 Z/A with a bit of filler is close enough to the correct voltage to work well. I have no experience but there are plenty of information on the web by people who are keeping their older cameras and light meters functioning properly.

> Go with M9 and 50mm

I loved using Leica M series cameras and lens... but I have to say that I have more "keepers" with a highly responsive (D)SLR. The Leica was faster to operate when my prefocus was good... but if I needed to readjust I found that a god DSLR would auto focus quicker than I could. Of course an M in the hands of a master with trump me every time (unless I get luckly which is more likely to happen with a DSLR and a decent framerate).

Hmm... we have gotten pretty far afield from backpacking and photography.


Edited by verber on 10/09/2009 17:09:43 MDT.

Rob Harrison
(robhar54) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
OM repair on 10/09/2009 17:46:12 MDT Print View

True, we're heading off topic here, but just to finish up....

John Hermanson of Camtech is THE repair guy for the OM series cameras.

I have had several OMs CLA'd by John (including the OM I took on that trip in 1976 and still use), and they have come back just perfect.

The Olympus mailing list is a great resource for used gear and knowledge:

Rob in Seattle

Alexander Laws
(goldenmeanie) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
light on 10/09/2009 20:33:55 MDT Print View

Walter, I was simply pointing out that the 45CF is lightweight imaging powerhouse... by no means an UL pack camera... I would be happy to carry it on a mortorcycle, not that either of my Ducatis have luggage compartments.

Yes, we are way off topic here... or are we? anywho... yes, digital is here to stay. In the consumer/prosumer market it can't be beat... until next year, and the year after that... thank goodness for credit cards, camera brokers and fleabay.

I was simply pointing out that much can be done with a manual 35mm camera body and a normal lens... for little money... and with little space taken up. Clients and prospective clients usually don't care what you've taken a photo with, so as long as they are pleased with the results... so, no you do not need the latest and the greatest in budget busting gear... especially if you are just starting out... putting together your book. 35mm is a great travel camera... and a wonderful learning tool. Nothing wrong with the small negative, though most photo editors do hate looking at 35mm contact sheets...

Just sharing some insight with someone (OP) who appears to be entering into the business... didn't mean to upset the rest of the professionals who already know better ;)

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Re: OM repair on 10/09/2009 21:49:21 MDT Print View

Wow, didn't know of these resources, thanks. I think i did hear about people fixing those classic Gossen lightmeters to work with non-mercury batteries at one point...

Ross Williams
(xavi1337) - F

Locale: Korea
M9 on 10/11/2009 06:40:05 MDT Print View

The M9 will do most of what you want. It lacks in sports and long telephoto work, but it doesn't sound like you do much of that. It is a far lighter system than a dslr, with better quality and cheaper than a D3x. You will want at least three lenses though: 32mm, 50mm, and 105mm for portraits. Of course most wedding photographers carry more than one body and switch between a wide and tele lens. If money is really no object, buy two!

The Mamiya 6 is also the best hand held medium format camera out there, and it is lighter than a dslr as well. Again a normal and a tele lens will be needed.

Its not about the camera though, plenty of good work can be done with almost any camera.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: M9 on 10/11/2009 09:44:08 MDT Print View

+1 of the Mamiya 6... and several other medium format range finders. I never owned one but got to use a friends a number of times. Like the M9 fast moving (where movement location can't be predicted) or long shots down work, but for other things they are great.

The one thing I am not sure about these days is low light performance. It used to be that film had a huge edge modulo that the processing was time consuming and involved chemicals and a darkroom. These days the best performing DSLRs certainly are better than the film I was using 15 years ago... and maybe modern films as well. I don't know.