Following on Thinking About Cameras and the smart things in its comments, here are some conclusions and a prediction.

Prediction · These are electronics-driven consumer goods, right? Given that, the future is obvious: Inside another decade, you’ll be able to get something with the specs of the mighty D3 and it’ll fit in your pocket.

My Sensitivity Problem · I’m sorry that I went for a few years without comments on the blog. I got emails of course, but not as many, and sharing them with the world was extra work.

Clearly the GR-D2 is an interesting camera; but probably not something that’ll solve my shooting-inside problem. If they’re actually out on the street in Japan and one jumps out in front of me as I walk through Shinjuku, I might give in.

For the low-light problem, there are some useful incremental steps to take. First, I could upgrade my old *ist D to a current K10D or K100D, both of which have shake reduction. The K100D is more or less exactly the same form factor and weight, which is good; the K10D adds a few pixels and weatherproofing and so on, at a fairly moderate size/weight cost.

Then, there’s a faster lens. The obvious candidates would be Pentax’s 43mm 1.9 or Sigma’s 30mm 1.4. Mind you, the Sigma is almost as heavy as the whole Pentax body. But maybe that’s OK; this is a special-purpose lens, for shooting children and colleagues, not the kind of thing you’d walk around a city with.

Finally, one could just go completely fucking nuts and pick up a D3.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Justin Watt (Nov 11 2007, at 22:14)

Fucking nuts for me would be a Canon 5D with some of the features found in the new 40D (dust reduction, live view, and an auto focus lamp). It's a big camera, but not D3 big.


From: Andrew Brown (Nov 11 2007, at 23:08)

Isn't the 43mm 1.9 about the same price as a whole new anti-shake body? It's an interesting trade off, if so.

One general thought: if the camera bodies are going to get better and smaller as you predict, then it ought to make more sense to get lenses now, since they are already about as good as they will get. I just bought a 77mm 1.9 lens in the same series, and -- however expensive -- it is phenomenally good and (perhaps a small point) future-proofed against the day when Pentax brings out a body with a full-size 35mm sensor. Lots of modern digital lenses won't work properly on a full-size sensor or on film.


From: John Wilson (Nov 12 2007, at 00:00)

"Mind you, the Sigma is almost as heavy as the whole Pentax body. But maybe that’s OK; this is a special-purpose lens, for shooting children and colleagues, not the kind of thing you’d walk around a city with."

There are a couple of Street Photographers in Leeds in the UK who might not agree with that!

Lloyd Spencer ( uses this lens on a Nikon D80 and captures some amazing images.

I'd add another voice to the group in praise of the GR Digital. It's a lovely camera to keep in your pocket and the ergonomics are near perfect.


From: Janne (Nov 12 2007, at 01:28)

The Sigma is a good lens and I used it for over a year - wicked sharp in the center, and if you stop down a bit it's ok in the corners too (at wide open you're not going to have anything in focus in the edges anyhow so the performance there doesn't matter all that much).

It is a pretty hefty lump, though, and that front element is big and intimidating enough that it became a real issue when doing street photography; people would actually react when you point it at them, and negatively. By contrast, the 35/2 I'm using now - or the 21/3.2 - are so small and harmless-seeming nobody seems to mind. Doesn't seem rational, I know, but there's probably some interesting psychological mechanism at work here, with "big and heavy looking" = "serious, important, commercial".


From: Luke (Nov 12 2007, at 06:20)

I use mostly a Pentax K10D and K100D with two limited lenses (31mm & 77mm) and the 16-45 zoom (rarely used).

The K10D focuses faster than the K100D, esp with the limited lenses. While it's fast in daylight, in low light, autofocus is slow and inaccurate. The K100D, while slower, is accurate.

The K10D, because of its bigger sensor, is more difficult to hold steady in low light. If you use the K10D and the 43mm, you'll have an even bigger problem holding the camera steady.

The K100D with the 31mm I can keep steady down to 1/6th. The K10D I need 1/15th (sometimes 1/10th if I'm lucky).

If you are serious about low light work, you should forget about Pentax and go with the Canon 40D or Nikon D300. Both have much improved autofocus (speed and accuracy) over the Pentax bodies.

I also have the Sigma 30mm lens on a Fuji S3 body, which together are a darn heavy combination. But it lets me handhold sharp shots at 1/6th or so.

Beware camera review sites - they report autofocus speeds in good light. None report what the experience is like in light where at ISO 1600 you have light sufficient only for 1/6th at f1.8 or f1.4.

My other issue with Pentax is their autoexposure system is no match for Nikon (or presumably Canon). In bright light (say f11 @ 1/250th @ ISO 100) the K10D badly underexposes shots. A Nikon D40 gets it right 99% of the time. In flat light with limited sky autoexposure is fine - as is indoors, usually.

My two cents.


From: David Magda (Nov 12 2007, at 07:15)

Another choice is the Canon with a 50mm f/1.8: at only about $100 it's quite a good value for what you're getting.

This set up is described at:

I like the following line from the above link:

<blockquote>I’m always a fan of the argument that the camera equipment used is less important than the wetware of the person holding the camera.</blockquote>


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