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NEX, Fuji and the hunt for a poor man's Leica

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by dixeyk, Jul 23, 2015.

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  1. dixeyk

    dixeyk TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 18, 2012
    Bellingham . WA
    Kevin
    Form the very first time I picked up a digital camera I saw the potential for using manual focus lenses with these new systems. Of course it took a few years for things to really become more viable with the introduction of mirror-less. I started off using m43 (Olympus then Panasonic), moved to NEX, Fuji and now back to NEX.

    Although I wasn't really pining for a Leica. What I wanted was something to recreate the experience I had shooting film when I started using compact RF cameras like the Konica Auto S2, S3 and Olympus 35RC as well as my all time favorite SLR the Olympus OM1n. Those cameras were small, fast, light and easy to focus (the OM1n had a enormous OVF).

    That brings me to the Leica...I've had the opportunity to use an M8 not that long ago and while i liked the lens (a CV 40/1.4) I wasn't overly impressed with the camera. It was well built but it seemed outdated even back then. I did however find that cameras like the Fuji and Sony struck a really nice balance allowing me to use my old lenses and still have a modern experience. After all digital has a lot of advantages over film and if I wanted a pure analog experience I would still shoot film. I still have a closet full of film bodies. I use the term "Poor Man's Leica" to mean a digital back that supports my use of old school manual focus lenses (why I prefer 40 year old lenses to native ones is a whole different post). The Poor Man's part of it is pretty obvious because I think shelling out $10K for a body and lens is ridiculous. Even if I had the income to support that kind of hobby I wouldn't. If I was staring at 10K that I could spend on camera gear I would immediately go out and book some travel. Life is made up of experiences and that's what I choose to spend money on.

    Recently I made the switch to Fuji. I really hadn't had any issues with the NEX I had been using for the three years prior but I was drawn to the idea using a camera that promised better image quality and a MORE analog experience while still being a modern digital back. The Fuji bodies even actively evoke the Leica M look with their industrial design. But, what I found is that for my purposes the Fuji didn't quite hit the mark. It's a fine camera to be sure but at the current time it doesn't do a great job of being a digital back for analog lenses.

    So is the NEX/Alpha platform really the Poor Man's Leica? No, it's not. It's not because the Leica is a system and it includes lenses as well as a body. It's a true rangefinder with one of the finest available stable of lenses. It also includes the M, R as well as myriad of digital offerings using everything from FF to m43 sensors. The Sony is also a system and it has the distinction of being affordable, very high quality, easy/cheap to adapt to use just about any lens out there (including Leica) and great focus peaking makes it a boon to folks wanting resurrect their old lenses. That position will only get stronger if/when we see the Olympus designed 5 axis IBIS makes it's way down from the FF A7 bodies to the APS-C models.

    So why come back to Sony? Well, it may not be an affordable Leica but it is one hell of a camera. For me it delivers exactly what I wanted. It's small, fast, light and easy to manually focus. It also delivers great results. it's not the BEST camera. I don't believe there is such a thing but it has proven to be the best camera for ME.
     
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  2. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    712
    Feb 17, 2015
    My experience has been much the same Kevin.
    I inherited my Grandmother's M3 and my dad's Canon VI-T. I had the M3 CLA'd and put a few rolls thru it. I can appreciate it for the fine mechanical piece that it is, but film is expensive, at least for me. Between the two cameras I also have a couple of really nice old lenses which I decided I'd like to try.
    I scrimped and saved up and got a used Nex-7 and a couple of adapters. Haven't looked back since. My D7000 is still there, sitting in the bag, ready to go at a moments notice. But I find the experience of using the Nex with the old glass slows me down to where I'm not just shooting from the hip. I actually have to think about the exposure and how I want it to turn out. It's been a good choice for me and has allowed me to make use of some family heirlooms that hadn't been used in decades.
     
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  3. rbelyell

    rbelyell TalkEmount Regular

    76
    Jan 18, 2015
    i had a full rx1 kit, which imo offers the best sensor/lens modern imaging experience one can get. it was everything they said it was, in a positive way. i think sony is doing great things, especially with their FF line.

    nonetheless, i sold the rx1 and now am happy as a clam using my lowly 6mp epson rd1, the actual first real digital rangefinder, with leica glass. unlike the m8/9 it has a 1:1 optical vf, has no color or focus shift, no sensor corrosion issues and doesnt require IR filters on my lenses to render black. i dont print bigger than 8x10 or so, and to my eye i cannot beat the look of the images from the ccd sensor or the experience of the camera. i have zero regrets, and virtually no GAS whatsoever. i do have an x100 for when i need iso 3200 or just feel like autofocus, and an epl5 for when i need extreme telephoto. but for 90% of what i do, i do it with epson and no regrets! in fact, ive gotten more compliments on my work in the last 6 months than in the year or so i used the rx1.

    i know they at some recent time got a patent for something like a digital version of the old contax AX, which was a film camera that provided an autofocus experience with contax manual focus zeiss glass. if sony did something like that in digital, i think i'd reconsider my primary tool.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  4. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    Well, welcome back.

    I personally have never shot film, other than a few low priced point and shoots. The opportunity to immediately see the results of what I was shooting rather than have to fill up a roll, then have to send off the film and finally get the images back, only to realise I only had 4 or 5 good ones was irritating.

    I bought a few early ditigal point and shoots, but not until I bought into the NEX platform did I start to take photography seriously. I love the idea of compact, reasonably priced camera that produces nice images ideal.
     
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  5. dixeyk

    dixeyk TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 18, 2012
    Bellingham . WA
    Kevin
    Nice to be back.
     
  6. Nexnut

    Nexnut TalkEmount Top Veteran

    I posted something almost identical on a neighboring forum a while ago, lol. 3 decades of film, mostly Kodak (Tri-X, Kodachrome, Ektachrome), my love for the OM-1 & 2 (as well as for the Nikon F2 & F3) and the return to Sony after an (ongoing) teco-meco with Fuji. I also mentioned the idea of 'returning to the roots' with a compact (OM-1/2), digital, fully manual no-nonsense (video, pet smile shutter release, ...) SLR with a 16-24MP FF sensor - no chimp screen (menus) - no AF, original set of control dials, battery and SD card slot, RAW only, ... everything else could be done on your PC. I said it before too, but I've used my main camera, a Nikon F3 for close to 25 years without looking left or right until it died on a rock in Iceland. I had a bunch of other cameras back then but I never felt the need for anything else when I was shooting it. (R.I.P. baby)
    Anyway ... looking forward to something more basic and manual (not Leica, even though I could afford a decent kit). I've still got a nice stash of frozen rolls in the fridge and some old bodies waiting to be used again one day but I guess digital has spoiled me for good.

    (BTW: my Nikons went through hell more than once but didn't have a single tiny speck of dust in the OVF after 25 years. I wish I could say the same about the NEX-7 and my Fujis but nope).
     
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  7. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    349
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    Well, if you want to shoot a RF, and a digital one at that, then only Leica provides it. Period.

    If you want a camera system that allows to shoot RF lenses, then the Sony A7 is a good option.
     
  8. rbelyell

    rbelyell TalkEmount Regular

    76
    Jan 18, 2015
    that is 100% not true. epson made the first digital rangefinder, not leica. in fact, they put it out shortly after leica declared a digital rangefinder was not possible to make. a short trip to the rangefinder forum will show that many, including myself, still use this camera to great effect. it has many advantages over the digital M series, just a few of which i outline above. everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. that you may not like the epson is fine, but that doesnt mean the camera doesnt exist or that it somehow isnt an actual digital rangefinder.
     
  9. dixeyk

    dixeyk TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 18, 2012
    Bellingham . WA
    Kevin
    Well as rbelyell pointed it the Leica digital M isn't the only digital RF and the options aren't simply an M or an A7. You can shoot RF lenses on a variety of bodies but I assume what you mean is shooting RF lenses without a crop sensor. That said, this isn't about shooting a RF. I have a closet full of RF bodies. There are features about shooting a RF that make it enjoyable to me such as compact size and easy focusing but those are not exclusive to Leica. An Olympus OM1 or Pentax MX offer those as well. There are also things that I do not like about RF's such as the much longer minimum focus distance of RF lenses. This is about finding something that replicates the good parts and combines them with a modern digital experience.
     
  10. dixeyk

    dixeyk TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 18, 2012
    Bellingham . WA
    Kevin
    I agree. I love the idea of a minimalist camera. My needs are pretty basic. I shoot available light, run in A mode, set the aperture on the lens and dial in some exposure compensation and I'm good. About the only things I ever dive into the menus for on my NEX are changing the peaking color and formatting the SD card.
     
  11. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    349
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    Ok, so where is the Epson these days? Can I go to a photo store and get one? Nope... It went down the rabbit hole... Plus, please point me to the part of my post where I wrote that I don't like the Epson; just for fact check, you know.
     
  12. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    349
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    Ok, I already replied to rbelyell above. As to what you write, it is pointless. Of course it is possible to shoot RF lenses in several platforms. What I ment to say, and apparently was not clear enough, was that if you want to shoot RF lenses on a RF camera, of the M mount variety, then the Leica system is the only option. The Epson does not count, it is not made anymore.
     
  13. dixeyk

    dixeyk TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 18, 2012
    Bellingham . WA
    Kevin
    I understand that if you want a CURRENT RF body and RF lenses the digital M is your only option but discounting the Epson because it isn't made anymore is ridiculous. None of the adapted lenses I use, any body with a NEX on it or a majority of the M and LTM lenses are made anymore (I've seen a number of M8/M9's with a 40 year old discontinued lens on it). What difference does any of that make? On top of that I never stated I wanted to shoot RF lenses on a RF body. What I said was...
    Before you go around telling us how pointless what we are saying is be sure you understand what was is being said in the first place.
     
  14. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    @pbizarro@pbizarro - this thread is not about looking for a digital rangefinder. There are lots of things about Leica M other than the fact that it uses a rangefinder.

    Even without invoking manual focus or legacy lenses, I think there's a lot in common between a kit of A6000, Sigma 19, Sony 35/1.8, Sony 50/1.8 and what you'd find in a Leica bag, compared to say a DSLR and the usual zoom lens.
     
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  15. dixeyk

    dixeyk TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 18, 2012
    Bellingham . WA
    Kevin
    I agree, the point of the Leica M was to create a small, capable kit that produced great results. I think that a number of mirror-less cameras share that same design ethos.
     
  16. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    349
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    You are talking about lenses, I was talking about the Epson camera... different things altogether. M and LTM lenses last a lifetime, not so with a digital camera...

    I could also say that you could understand what I was saying in the first place...

    Whatever...
     
  17. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    349
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    I don't want to belabour the point, but the OP stated clearly that:

    "What I wanted was something to recreate the experience I had shooting film when I started using compact RF cameras like the Konica Auto S2, S3 and Olympus 35RC as well"

    So, I just offered my opinion that to recreate the experience of shooting with a film RF in the digital age, the only option is to shoot with a digital Leica M RF camera. I don't think this is stretching the subject, or is it?
     
  18. dixeyk

    dixeyk TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 18, 2012
    Bellingham . WA
    Kevin

    Well, that would make sense if that was what I said but I didn't. If you're going to quote me use the ENTIRE thing. I think it provides the context for the post.

    "Although I wasn't really pining for a Leica. What I wanted was something to recreate the experience I had shooting film when I started using compact RF cameras like the Konica Auto S2, S3 and Olympus 35RC as well as my all time favorite SLR the Olympus OM1n. Those cameras were small, fast, light and easy to focus (the OM1n had a enormous OVF)."

    If you disagree that's fine but when you decide to use a dismissive term such as pointless to describe someone's opinion you're going to get a reaction.

    That said, none of this is truly worth getting worked up over so I'm bowing out of this conversation. This is a gear centric forum where folks come to talk about their hobby. It's all good silly fun but not truly important in the grand scheme of things, In a week I take my beloved wife in to have a port put in so she can start 12 weeks of chemo. Then I go about explaining to my 12 year old son what is going on and having him not panic about his mom...THAT is important stuff. This is simply a diversion and I think more fun for all if we can keep things light.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  19. rbelyell

    rbelyell TalkEmount Regular

    76
    Jan 18, 2015
    that is simply foolish, of course it counts. they ARE in business and in fact--and facts seem to be something you do not understand--it still services two of the three models of rd1 it put out! and reply with with civility not snarkiness, ok? it is always the emply barrels that make the most noise. youve managed to piss off the OP and pretty much everyone else here. if you cannot contribute in kind, then i suggest not contributing.
     
  20. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    Best wishes/thoughts/prayers for your family, Kevin. As you point out, it takes some perspective to enjoy a site like this without getting bogged down by the occasional bad encounter. I'm glad to see you back on the site lately.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
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