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Photography

The Elusive Search for a Small, Light Full Frame Camera

Scott Kelby explains that size and weight are not good reasons to switch to mirrorless cameras from DSLRs:

It’s time to face it — the new full-frame camera bodies from Nikon, Sony, and Canon aren’t really that much smaller (if at all), and if they are lighter, we’re talking a few ounces (not pounds). This isn’t awesome because one huge reason so many people were attracted to mirrorless in the first place was the dream of a super high-quality camera without the bulk and weight of a DSLR. That dream is fading away as many of the new bodies being released are relatively close in size and weight to their DSLR counterparts.

Kelby goes on to add that if:

you actually want a legit super lightweight mirrorless body and lens, you almost have to leave Sony, Canon and Nikon full frame and go with a crop sensor or Micro 4/3, like a Fuji or a Lumix with a fixed pancake lens (nothing wrong with Fuji’s, Lumix or Olympus cameras btw, all three make great mirrorless cameras), but if your goal is a lightweight carry-around camera that takes great photos, why not just use your iPhone’s camera instead?

This post resonated with me. I own a Canon R5. There are times I am happy to carry it. But quality Canon RF lenses are both heavy and expensive. For example, Canon’s RF 50mm F1.2 L USM lens weighs over two pounds (950 grams) and costs $2,299. That’s a heavy and expensive kit.

Sometimes, I want to go light. For those times, I have the Ricoh GR III. The Ricoh is small and light. It fits in the palm of my hand. It has a fixed 28mm f2.8 lens and a crop sensor. I think it takes better pictures than an iPhone, especially in low light. But the Ricoh lacks a viewfinder and the ability to change focal length. The screen on the iPhone is great and the iPhone 12 Pro offers three focal lengths.

If you want a small, light full frame digital camera, Leica has two options available: the Leica M and the Leica Q2, each with either a color sensor or a black and white sensor. However, Leicas are expensive. And the Leica M lacks autofocus. I know not everyone values great autofocus, but I sure do. The Canon R5 autofocus is amazing. And the Leica Q2 — like the Ricoh GR III — has a fixed 28mm focal length lens. But the Q2 is much bigger and heavier than the Ricoh GR III. The Q2 won’t fit in a pocket but the Ricoh GR III will.

I would love a small, light full frame mirrorless camera with a viewfinder. But right now, the options don’t seem appealing.

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