One of my resolutions this year was to shoot photos with camera, develop them, print them and make a real physical album. So I spent about 15 days researching which camera to buy. This research consumed about 2-3 hours everyday reading many many blog posts along with watching many youtube videos.

Even after all this research I don’t think its easy to make a decision. If you have narrowed down your choices to 2-3 cameras, I think its quite an accomplishment. Because I was nt able to narrow down at all. The more youtube reviews I saw the more confused I got.

Luckily I have quite a lot of friends who shoot on daily basis. I got a lot of advice. The only real piece of good advice that helped me was from my friend Ben.

What is that you want to shoot? And why do you want to shoot?

These two questions got me thinking. And after a little bit of thinking I found my answers. I want to shoot good portraits. With those answers I filtered my options to narrow down to a camera that is more fun to shoot potraits.

Dont buy an SLR because its the best

SLR’s are great but they are very bulky. Recently Nikon D750 has amazing reviews all over. It’s a great camera and has all advanced features like Wifi. Most of my friends bought Canon 5D mark II but they dont use it, because its huge and it takes a lot of effort to carry a huge backpack and carry your SLR and extra lenses around. It’s just not feasible. Over time I just stopped carrying my SLR and my interest in photography died.

If you are starting to like photography and want to pick it up please DON’T buy an SLR

Buying a camera is like buying a car.

  • Are you comfortable using it everyday?
  • Try out all the buttons on the dashboard and see what they do
  • Are you looking for speed / performance?

I don’t see SLR’s part of my normal life. With SLR’s out of the herd there are nt much options left. Pretty much mirrorless cameras fit the profile of small and pro-grade cameras.

Olympus

Olympus OMD EM1

My bud Justin Edmund has been using it and he loves to shoot with it everyday. He has invested in MFT (micro four-third) lenses and he loves his 75mm a lot. I held it and it is not small enough. It is a serious camera and takes amazing photos. Somehow I did not feel that it was small enough in my hands. Moreover I was wondering if I were to invest in MFT I would pick Sony over Olympus since they have stellar reviews. Don’t get me wrong but OMD EM1 is a fantastic camera and one of the best MFT camera out there.

Sony

A6000

The best budget camera out there. For 550$ this body is a steal. Its got interchangeable lenses, built in Wifi, 24MP APS-C sensor and tilt screen. If you want to stay < 1000$ this is pretty much the best camera to get. My buddy Vasanth loves his A6000.

A7II

Best pro grade mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. 24.3MP sensor, Full frame, Fast AF, built in Wifi with NFC, Magnesium alloy and tilt monitor. Takes the best pictures. This is the camera to buy if you can afford about 2500-3000$. Unfortunately does not have a lot of lens options. Zeiss 35mm/f2.8, Zeiss 55mm/f1.8 are great lenses to get. Every lens costs about 1000$ so its quite an investment. If you are planning to stick with Sony mirrorless camera investing 4000-6000$ on lenses will work out great since all sony mirrorless will support E mount lenses. I’m sure Bhanu will argue how Sony makes the best mirrorless cameras and are #1.

FujiFilm

XT1

Looks very similar to Olympus OMD EM1 and performs similarly too. Except the fact that XT1 has slightly bigger sensor both are really great cameras. However lenses is where is makes a difference. Fujinon lenses are the best lenses I have used. If I have an extra 2000$ I would pick this camera up with out any hesitation.

My Pick: X100T ✓

After a lot of research I ended up getting X100T. My reasons were simple. This is the third iteration of the X100 series from Fujifilm. Launched in Sep 2010 its been refined and perfected for 5 years. All reviews of the this camera says its takes really sharp portraits. Moreover one limitation it posses is, “It has a fixed lens”. Wait a minute thats bad isnt it. NO. I think for a guy like me who is yet to master the art a limitation like fixed lens will force me to stick with it and perfect my art on top of it. Moreover the reviews claimed its the best lens Fujinon 23mm which is equivalent of 35mm. This is the most compact camera of all the cameras I shortlisted. It has Wifi too.Moreover X100T looks like a retro rangefinder film camera. I dont think any camera can beat the look of that.

If I had 20 grand to throw on a camera I would get a Leica M240 with summilux 50mm. But the closest affordable Leica is Fuji.

Few annoying things I observed about X100T:

  • I often switch on the camera without noticing it. I think they need to make the lever a little longer so that the index finger can feel it.
  • When I set the OVF (Optical View Finder) to Eye Sensor and use the OVF the view finder works for a second or two and switches off. Neither the monitor or OVF is powered. I simply have to switch off the camera and switch it on which is really annoying.
  • Switching on flash is about 3-4 clicks and the menu is really hidden. Might have to create a shortcut into one of the Fn buttons.
  • Battery drains faster than you think since I often leave the camera ON unintentionally. Always carry an extra battery.

Great things:

  • Focus is fast and awesome.
  • Great low light performer. Just get a small manfrotto tripod for low light shooting.
  • Small size. Easily fits in my regular backpack.
  • Produces a lovely Bokeh