Monday, January 6, 2020

Camera Size and Some History

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia. Fuji X-T20, Fujinon XC 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OISII lens

The standard cliche is that big guys prefer big cameras. So maybe I’m an anomaly, but I’ve always preferred small and light cameras.

I don’t think I would have any trouble qualifying as a big guy — before a compression fracture of the spine and advancing age robbed me of some height I was 6’2” plus, and weighed about 250 pounds. And as for hand size, in my playing days I could pick a basketball off the floor simply by grasping it from the top with one hand. But I've always preferred smaller cameras. They fit my hands just fine and I’ve always hated to carry around unnecessary weight.
 In 1978 I dumped my Nikon F2 and Nikkormats and began a 13-year love affair with the Olympus OM system that lasted until aging eyes dictated a change to the Canon autofocus system.

I stuck with Canon for 24 years, moving with them into the digital world with larger cameras and heavier lenses. The tipping point for me came in 2010, when I hauled two bodies and a basic set of three zooms and a 50mm macro lens on a trip to Israel and Jordan.

Sweating my load on the long walk into Petra, the ancient city carved into rock, I chanced to meet a man who was carrying only an Olympus EP-2 body with the 14-42 kit lens and a VF-2 viewfinder. We talked for a few minutes, then I asked if I could hold his camera. What a revelation!

I had been reading with some interest about micro 4/3s, so when I got home, I ordered an E-PL1, then later, a pair of E-M5s and some lenses. However, the wedding photographer for whom I frequently worked as a second-shooter did not like the files, so I held onto my Canon kit for weddings, only upgrading my 5D Classic to a 6D.

Last year, I made the break complete, selling all my Canon stuff, and later, most of my m4/3s equipment, and buying Fuji X-system bodies and lenses. I was surprised to find that a Fuji X-T20 is actually a little smaller than an Oly E-M5 and did not handle as well for me. I had reached my small-size limit!

However, no problem! A nifty little black leather half-case from Amazon made it handle just right. I'm happy with my choice, and my primary photographer is happy with the files, which she (a Canon 5D4 shooter) describes as "pretty."

The problem with a full-frame system is not the size of the bodies -- I could be happy with a 6D -- but the size and weight of the lenses. Sony A-series bodies are only marginally larger and heavier than a Fuji X-T2, but when you add a working kit of lenses, the weight saved by the lighter body doesn't make much difference to the overall load.


  1. Seeing your Syracuse Gothic reminded me of so many hours in the darkroom burning/dodging my prints. But all our darkroom work didn't really alter the reality of the scene. It just had the effect of emphasizing the subjects without altering them. Yes, major scene-altering Photoshop has been moving more and more the photograph from a choice moment (Susan Sontag) to a chosen non-reality. There is some danger that photography will cease to be a final word and will become a fabricated world. But this cat's been out of the bag for a long time and will never get back into it.

  2. So true . . . Thanks for your comment.