Choosing a new pocket camera


The images for this post are supplied by the excellent Camera Size that let’s you perform scale comparisons for—wait for it—cameras.

I loved my Olympus O-MD E-M10 MarkII. It was the most fun I’ve ever had with a compact camera, right down to not being able to say the name fast. They say the best camera is the one you have on you, and I simply never carried my Nikon DSLR because it was too bulky. By contrast, #BaDumTish, this camera was always on me, and as a bonus it mostly had improved specs.

The Nikon D90 compared to the Olympus O-MD E-M10 MarkII

Careful readers would have noted my past tense above, because in the space of two months the whole system fell apart. My two prime lenses karked it, the rear LCD stopped turning on entirely, its SD card reader routinely unmounts halfway through transferring images, and the electronic viewfinder no longer activates when it sees my face, which I take personally. Someone more creative than me could shoot photos blind with this, but I want to see what I’m doing.

It’s strange; I thought I treated this camera well. Maybe I forgot I was in a dust storm, or within EMP striking distance from a rouge Canon employee. I could get it repaired, but now I have reservations about long term reliability, and I figure I may as well take the opportunity to put the money towards an upgrade.

I would love to go full frame, just as I’d like to own an apartment in Australia and Singapore, and perhaps travel to the moon. I’ve been researching the Pentax K1 Mk-II for a while; I even reserved a rental at Ted’s to give it a try, but they’re a special order and booked out for months. I can see why; they’re almost half the price of similarly spec’d Nikons and Canon full frames, and the latest Sony mirrorless kit.

The other, vastly more realistic option is to acknowledge I’ll only ever carry small cameras, so to go the entire other direction and see what the best fixed-prime compact is with a larger sensor, given I basically had my main prime welded to the Olympus anyway.

The Pentax K1 Mk-II next to the Fujifilm XF10

The good news is we’re spoiled for choice in this area. Clara and I instantly liked the Fujifilm XF10 in store, with one of Fujinon’s gorgeous fixed 28mm ƒ/2.8 equivalent lenses. It’s pictured—HA!—with the full frame Pentax above. But reviews are fair at best, not least because it’s missing a hot shoe and has middling image quality.

The other Fujifilm is the X100F, the fourth in the now-legendary X100 series which everyone loves. I enjoyed testing the manual dials in store, just as I did with my Olympus. But I’m not sure if it’s just Clara and I, but we find Fujifilm’s rear buttons, menus, and modes utterly confounding. Her X-T10 delivers amazing photos, but it’s a routine source of frustration for us. Don’t email me.

The Fujifilm X100T versus the Ricoh GR III

The other option I’m intrigued by again is the Ricoh GR. I looked at one briefly before getting the Olympus, and since then they’ve come out with an even tinier GR III model. It has all the controls I care about, a 28mm equivalent ƒ/2.8 lens, image stabilisation, and still retains an APS-C sized sensor which is mindblowing to me. It doesn’t have a flash, which I never use. It also lacks a viewfinder, but perhaps ashamedly I’d mostly stopped using the one on my Olympus.

There are no right or wrong answers here, but I think I’ll be saving for the Ricoh. A certain famous camera reviewer says he doesn’t see the point of it, which probably works in its favour too.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Hi!

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