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08-14-2017, 02:30 PM   #1
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Thoughts on joining the mirrorless movement

Since my start in photography I have always admired the Leica rangefinders from a distance. The small form factor is just so elegant. The idea of not having a great big flapping mirror to interrupt the creative process also appeals.

Nowadays there is a mirrorless revolution going on in digital photography. Snappers have a seemingly endless choice from various manufacturers in mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. There is also a whole lot of sensor sizes to choose from, even full frame if you have deep pockets.

A MILC holds a whole lot of appeal. The cameras are smaller than DSLRs (mostly). Adapters for legacy lenses are available in just about every flavour of camera body and mount. The small size means that it can be taken along more often to more places than a DSLR. The smaller size means it is less noticeable, ideal for street photography and other photojournalism. Few things scream "look at me" more loudly than walking down the street with a DSLR. The lack of mirror makes them quieter, ideal for things like pictures during a wedding service.

I have now started looking into acquiring a MILC plus K mount adapter for myself. I don't see it replacing my DSLR - more of a backup (or toy if you like). I therefore checked out some possibilities. I haven't come up with a clear answer yet. In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I actually need a new(ish) K-3 body and that money spent on a MILC will delay that purchase. On the other hand, I might as well wait for the K-3 replacement before committing funds. A MILD would tide me over nicely.

At the outset, let me say that a DSLR lookalike like a Samsung NX10 or Fujifilm XT1 is not for me. I want the rangefinder look. Otherwise, I might as well have another DSLR.

So let's look at the choices. The first obvious choice is the Pentax K-01 - K mount, compatible with the lenses and flashes that I already own. What's not to like? The lack of an electronic viewfinder is a bit of a deal breaker for me. Decades of shooting with an SLR pressed to my forehead means that it will be a hard habit to break. The odd form factor forced by the K mount means that it is no rangefinder lookalike. According to reviews, autofocus is not great. On the plus side it is a K5 without a mirror, meaning good IQ. And it has focus peaking, which is nice with manual focus lenses. I may yet get one.

The there is the Pentax Q family. The tiny sensor means that the any K mount lens attached to it comes with a focal length multiplier of about five, depending on which model you get. Also, the official Pentax adapter is quite expensive. So, no thanks.

Nikon makes a thing called the J1, also with a tiny little one inch sensor. Again, no thanks.

The Micro Four Thirds holds some appeal. A wide range of bodies and lenses are available. Even Leica if you want. The Olympus bodies look nice and they are available at very good prices on the used market. However, they don't come with a viewfinder. You can get an electronic viewfinder as an a separate accessory but there are few on the used market and new ones are expensive. A used body and new EVF means used K-3 money. The focal lenght multiplier here is two, which is something I can live with.

This brings up the APS-C MILCs. There is no shortage of them. Samsung, Sony, Canon, Fujifilm etc. all have some very nice products on offer. But not Pentax, sadly. Once again, the entry level models do not come with EVFs. In some cases there isn't even the option of one One is reduced to holding the camera at arms length to take pictures. Keeping that display powered up eats up the battery much quicker than expected. Also, the smaller bodies means smaller batteries. Meaning even less battery life. But I digress. Shorter battery life comes with the territory here, one must adapt to that.

What I would really like is a Fujifilm X-Pro 2. It has a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder which is all very clever. However, it is also very expensive. A compromise of sorts is the XE1 (or later XE2) with built-in EVF and rangefinder styling. It is so retro that it even has an ISO dial! Still quite expensive but very desirable. The more I think of it, the more I like it.

Has any of you gone over to the dark side joined the mirrorless movement? Which camera did you get? Did you get the body only with K mount adapter? Or did you get the kit lens as well? And how did it work out? Were your expectations met or is the MILC now gathering dust?

08-14-2017, 02:43 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Have a good go at shooting with the EVF before you commit. It's not for everyone. I find EVF's distracting and love the view through a prism. But, many others don't seem to mind looking at a tiny digital approximation of what the camera sees, so only you can be the judge of whether it will work for you or not. Obviously, less moving parts and a smaller package appeals to many. And there are technical advantages as result of that.
08-14-2017, 03:09 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by MarkJerling Quote
Have a good go at shooting with the EVF before you commit. It's not for everyone. I find EVF's distracting and love the view through a prism. But, many others don't seem to mind looking at a tiny digital approximation of what the camera sees, so only you can be the judge of whether it will work for you or not. Obviously, less moving parts and a smaller package appeals to many. And there are technical advantages as result of that.
I'm going to agree with Mark to some extent here, in that EVFs aren't for everyone - that's for sure.

Personally, though, I *love* using the EVF on my A7 MkII and Hasselblad HV (Sony A99). It doesn't feel tiny at all, and it's no more an approximation than an OVF - in fact, it's more accurate in representing exposure, DOF and bokeh rendering etc. (since you're seeing fairly closely what the sensor will capture), and is great in lower (if not *very* low) light. It has advantages and disadvantages, and which of those matter is very much down to the individual and their priorities. I will say that, given good light and an AF lens, I'd pick OVF just because it feels more natural. But there are times where I really do get the benefit from an EVF, and times where an OVF simply can't compete (and vice versa, of course)
08-14-2017, 03:18 PM   #4
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I first acquired a cheap lumix G1, to see if there was advantage to the 2x crop factor with MF telephoto lenses - birding etc. Pretty much both my K-r, and then my K5, outperformed that older model in terms of IQ so there wasn't. But it has a good spec with an evf that still bears comparison with much more recent cameras, and the original fully articulated lcd. It was useful for checking out a variety of old lenses and I currently have adapters for just about all the main legacy mounts except OM. However for general use I find the MFT sensor limiting - everything is normal or telephoto pretty much. For playing with vintage lenses it has been superceded by my apsc samsung NX20 and is mainly used just for snaps eg ebay pics and situations where I don't want to risk the K5 or NX20. The 14-42 kit lens is good and very useful, definitely don't get a milc without (unless you have the range covered with a better af lens). The main point of this or the G2 would be just to pick one up for a minimal price (< $100) to check out the genre. Easily acquired on the s/h market.
I use my NX20 a lot because it has significant focusing advantages over the K5 - 5x/7x mag in the evf or on the lcd at the press of a button = nailed critical focus. Mainly lives on my FD 400mm f4.5 at the mo ( a lens without an equivalent in the pentax legacy lineup), you can check results my posts 300mm lens club. The main reason I got it was: good spec, articulated lcd, decent reviews, CHEAP (significantly less than an equiv Sony/Nex). But I suspect a sony is probably better IQ. I have been a bit disappointed with the noise as soon as I up the ASA - but then that's in comparison with the K5 which even today still measures up well for that. And LR3 doesn't recognise SRW format so I have to go through adobe DNG converter.
As well as the focus tools with MF, a characteristic of the milc is that it's wysiwyg with MF - since stop down aperture priority is the mode, you see the depth of field as well. Because the evf autocompensates its brightness, you can blithely stop down a lot before the evf struggles and goes dim.
My most significant advice is don't get one without an evf.

08-14-2017, 03:30 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MarkJerling Quote
Have a good go at shooting with the EVF before you commit.
What he said...^ ^ ^

Three times now, I have seriously considered the Sony A7/A7II and three times, I was put off by the EVF. It may be due to differences in individual perception, but I have found the view to difficult and to be sort of like watching TV with the screen tuned to Game mode. There is also the vertigo thing due to screen lag and IBIS interplay. Again, the experience is obviously better for the many satisfied owners of the A7 line and I may be representative of an outlier group of potential users.

The other thing I might add is to seriously evaluate the build quality and ergonomics and whether it feels natural to actually use the camera for image capture. If possible, check how adapted lenses REALLY work on your model of choice and consider that the better adapters (those that don't leak light and/or focus well beyond infinity) are not inexpensive. If the body claims weather sealing, research whether it is deemed laughable.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 08-14-2017 at 03:40 PM.
08-14-2017, 03:37 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
What he said...^ ^ ^
Three times now, I have seriously considered the Sony A7/A7II and three times, I was put off by the EVF. It may be due to differences in individual perception, but I have found the view to difficult to be sort of like watching TV with the screen tuned to Game mode. There is also the vertigo thing due to screen lag and IBIS interplay. Again, the experience is obviously better for the many satisfied owners of the A7 line and I may be representative of an outlier group of potential users.
My experience exactly.
08-14-2017, 03:41 PM - 1 Like   #7
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If you really want a faux rangerfinder milc then you have the Fujifilm X-E1/2 or the Panasonic GX7/8, etc.

I bought a 2nd hand Fujifilm X-E1 and about this I would say that EVFs aren't so good in bright sunlight. Also, Fujifilm kind of cook the colours. They look good but don't necessarily represent reality. Be warned about raw conversion also. There are plenty of blog posts about the watercolour effect when using Adobe Raw for conversion and also apparent poorer high iso image quality on the newer X-E2, XT1 generation sensor. Anyway, it's a nice enough camera and it's high iso images look surprisingly great. Just be warned that it isn't that much smaller than a Pentax using the DA Primes, or FA43mm or FA77mm. The X-E1 is also very slow to AF although this is a 1st generation camera. Definitely worth a try if you can get a good price 2nd hand. About adapters, be aware that you are just making up the registration distance so then the camera/lens combination is going to be the same volume wise as using a camera from the origin mount.

If you really want small, I reckon M4/3's is the way to go. Small camera plus small lenses. Value wise I reckon the Olympus E-M10 II is the pick of the bunch but you lose the rangefinder look you are after.

Sometimes it's nice just to try something new. It's the human condition although not necessary great for our pockets!
08-14-2017, 04:35 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
A compromise of sorts is the XE1 (or later XE2) with built-in EVF and rangefinder styling. It is so retro that it even has an ISO dial! Still quite expensive but very desirable. The more I think of it, the more I like it.
I like mine (XE-2): solid enough, good build, feels nice in the hands (I have small hands), light/compact.
The EVF works good (the rear screen turns off when you put your eye in front of the viewfinder: nice), if you can "adapt" your eyes to it, but it does the job: WYSIWYG ... simple as that.
Great little carry-on companion when I go out birding with the heavier gear.
Also great for portraits ... quite sharp with the "kit lens.
Battery is "OK" ... don't expect too much of it.
There are quite a few new lenses available ... pricey. With an adapter, you can use tons of different lenses from different brands.

You probably could pick a lightly used one for much cheaper than what I had paid for new.

08-14-2017, 05:12 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
Since my start in photography I have always admired the Leica rangefinders from a distance. The small form factor is just so elegant. The idea of not having a great big flapping mirror to interrupt the creative process also appeals.

Nowadays there is a mirrorless revolution going on in digital photography. Snappers have a seemingly endless choice from various manufacturers in mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. There is also a whole lot of sensor sizes to choose from, even full frame if you have deep pockets.

A MILC holds a whole lot of appeal. The cameras are smaller than DSLRs (mostly). Adapters for legacy lenses are available in just about every flavour of camera body and mount. The small size means that it can be taken along more often to more places than a DSLR. The smaller size means it is less noticeable, ideal for street photography and other photojournalism. Few things scream "look at me" more loudly than walking down the street with a DSLR. The lack of mirror makes them quieter, ideal for things like pictures during a wedding service.

I have now started looking into acquiring a MILC plus K mount adapter for myself. I don't see it replacing my DSLR - more of a backup (or toy if you like). I therefore checked out some possibilities. I haven't come up with a clear answer yet. In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I actually need a new(ish) K-3 body and that money spent on a MILC will delay that purchase. On the other hand, I might as well wait for the K-3 replacement before committing funds. A MILD would tide me over nicely.

At the outset, let me say that a DSLR lookalike like a Samsung NX10 or Fujifilm XT1 is not for me. I want the rangefinder look. Otherwise, I might as well have another DSLR.

So let's look at the choices. The first obvious choice is the Pentax K-01 - K mount, compatible with the lenses and flashes that I already own. What's not to like? The lack of an electronic viewfinder is a bit of a deal breaker for me. Decades of shooting with an SLR pressed to my forehead means that it will be a hard habit to break. The odd form factor forced by the K mount means that it is no rangefinder lookalike. According to reviews, autofocus is not great. On the plus side it is a K5 without a mirror, meaning good IQ. And it has focus peaking, which is nice with manual focus lenses. I may yet get one.

The there is the Pentax Q family. The tiny sensor means that the any K mount lens attached to it comes with a focal length multiplier of about five, depending on which model you get. Also, the official Pentax adapter is quite expensive. So, no thanks.

Nikon makes a thing called the J1, also with a tiny little one inch sensor. Again, no thanks.

The Micro Four Thirds holds some appeal. A wide range of bodies and lenses are available. Even Leica if you want. The Olympus bodies look nice and they are available at very good prices on the used market. However, they don't come with a viewfinder. You can get an electronic viewfinder as an a separate accessory but there are few on the used market and new ones are expensive. A used body and new EVF means used K-3 money. The focal lenght multiplier here is two, which is something I can live with.

This brings up the APS-C MILCs. There is no shortage of them. Samsung, Sony, Canon, Fujifilm etc. all have some very nice products on offer. But not Pentax, sadly. Once again, the entry level models do not come with EVFs. In some cases there isn't even the option of one One is reduced to holding the camera at arms length to take pictures. Keeping that display powered up eats up the battery much quicker than expected. Also, the smaller bodies means smaller batteries. Meaning even less battery life. But I digress. Shorter battery life comes with the territory here, one must adapt to that.

What I would really like is a Fujifilm X-Pro 2. It has a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder which is all very clever. However, it is also very expensive. A compromise of sorts is the XE1 (or later XE2) with built-in EVF and rangefinder styling. It is so retro that it even has an ISO dial! Still quite expensive but very desirable. The more I think of it, the more I like it.

Has any of you gone over to the dark side joined the mirrorless movement? Which camera did you get? Did you get the body only with K mount adapter? Or did you get the kit lens as well? And how did it work out? Were your expectations met or is the MILC now gathering dust?
After making a pain of myself over here asking questions, I purchased a Q-7 in December 2014, primarily to be combined with the K-mount lenses I already had to create a new birding kit. I ended up doing some backyard testing before I decided the Sigma 70-300 was best suited for that duty. Actually, I have two bags for the Q-7, one containing the birding kit, and the second containing 01, 02, 06 lenses, and a Hoodman, I take that second kit when I need a quiet / inconspicuous camera {as inconspicuous as a yellow camera can be}, for example when I'm asked to take pictures during church, because I love the whisper-quiet leaf shutter.

That next summer my Canon Rebel died {something like 18 months after I purchased it}, and I ended up purchasing a K-30 to replace it. I did consider the K-01 instead, but my experience with the Q-7 convinced me more than ever that I could never be happy with an MILC without an EVF {yes, I have tried Sony cameras at Best Buy, and I would be happy with an EVF}. For a while, I was taking as many pictures with the Q-7 as with the K-30, but now, 26 months after I got the K-30. I take probably two-thirds of my pictures with the K-30.

Currently I have no expectation of replacing the K-30 with a MILC. Actually, I have no expectation of replacing it with anything, because it is the ninth camera to have the title of "my primary camera" , and only two of them lasted less than 48 months. However, I have said that if Pentax made a decent larger-sensor MILC, say a K-07 {the name I privately use for a MILC based on the K-70}, with an EVF, I would make a good faith effort to come up with the money to purchase it within six months of its release {and I guess I would have to redefine "failure camera" so the K-30 wasn't included, if the K-30 was retired for this reason}
08-14-2017, 05:59 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
Has any of you gone over to the dark side joined the mirrorless movement? Which camera did you get? Did you get the body only with K mount adapter? Or did you get the kit lens as well? And how did it work out? Were your expectations met or is the MILC now gathering dust?
Fuji XE1...new U$ 300,used 150-200ish....with the firmware updates is BANG for $....16/50 + 50/230 vario zooms and 27mmf2.8 is a good way to start....6-700 US.

A speedbooster and K to X adapter gives you 2 sets of manual lenses AND the film simulations to "play" with.
08-14-2017, 06:17 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
Since my start in photography I have always admired the Leica rangefinders from a distance. The small form factor is just so elegant. The idea of not having a great big flapping mirror to interrupt the creative process also appeals.

Nowadays there is a mirrorless revolution going on in digital photography. Snappers have a seemingly endless choice from various manufacturers in mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. There is also a whole lot of sensor sizes to choose from, even full frame if you have deep pockets.

A MILC holds a whole lot of appeal. The cameras are smaller than DSLRs (mostly). Adapters for legacy lenses are available in just about every flavour of camera body and mount. The small size means that it can be taken along more often to more places than a DSLR. The smaller size means it is less noticeable, ideal for street photography and other photojournalism. Few things scream "look at me" more loudly than walking down the street with a DSLR. The lack of mirror makes them quieter, ideal for things like pictures during a wedding service.

I have now started looking into acquiring a MILC plus K mount adapter for myself. I don't see it replacing my DSLR - more of a backup (or toy if you like). I therefore checked out some possibilities. I haven't come up with a clear answer yet. In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I actually need a new(ish) K-3 body and that money spent on a MILC will delay that purchase. On the other hand, I might as well wait for the K-3 replacement before committing funds. A MILD would tide me over nicely.

At the outset, let me say that a DSLR lookalike like a Samsung NX10 or Fujifilm XT1 is not for me. I want the rangefinder look. Otherwise, I might as well have another DSLR.

So let's look at the choices. The first obvious choice is the Pentax K-01 - K mount, compatible with the lenses and flashes that I already own. What's not to like? The lack of an electronic viewfinder is a bit of a deal breaker for me. Decades of shooting with an SLR pressed to my forehead means that it will be a hard habit to break. The odd form factor forced by the K mount means that it is no rangefinder lookalike. According to reviews, autofocus is not great. On the plus side it is a K5 without a mirror, meaning good IQ. And it has focus peaking, which is nice with manual focus lenses. I may yet get one.

The there is the Pentax Q family. The tiny sensor means that the any K mount lens attached to it comes with a focal length multiplier of about five, depending on which model you get. Also, the official Pentax adapter is quite expensive. So, no thanks.

Nikon makes a thing called the J1, also with a tiny little one inch sensor. Again, no thanks.

The Micro Four Thirds holds some appeal. A wide range of bodies and lenses are available. Even Leica if you want. The Olympus bodies look nice and they are available at very good prices on the used market. However, they don't come with a viewfinder. You can get an electronic viewfinder as an a separate accessory but there are few on the used market and new ones are expensive. A used body and new EVF means used K-3 money. The focal lenght multiplier here is two, which is something I can live with.

This brings up the APS-C MILCs. There is no shortage of them. Samsung, Sony, Canon, Fujifilm etc. all have some very nice products on offer. But not Pentax, sadly. Once again, the entry level models do not come with EVFs. In some cases there isn't even the option of one One is reduced to holding the camera at arms length to take pictures. Keeping that display powered up eats up the battery much quicker than expected. Also, the smaller bodies means smaller batteries. Meaning even less battery life. But I digress. Shorter battery life comes with the territory here, one must adapt to that.

What I would really like is a Fujifilm X-Pro 2. It has a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder which is all very clever. However, it is also very expensive. A compromise of sorts is the XE1 (or later XE2) with built-in EVF and rangefinder styling. It is so retro that it even has an ISO dial! Still quite expensive but very desirable. The more I think of it, the more I like it.

Has any of you gone over to the dark side joined the mirrorless movement? Which camera did you get? Did you get the body only with K mount adapter? Or did you get the kit lens as well? And how did it work out? Were your expectations met or is the MILC now gathering dust?


I ended up going with an olympus as a support for my other cameras. I really prefer the 4:3 aspect ratio that it gives over the 3:2 ratio. Im actually very surprised on how it is really punching above its weight, and now that ive gotten a couple better primes, it makes a world of difference in quality in low light situations. I know its not a range finder, but don't count out the m43 systems because they really have gotten better in image quality. As far as the view finder goes, i have one of the models that have it built in and although i had my initial doubts on getting something with an evf, i found the Olympus being the only one that didnt make me sick. Who knows maybe the newer milc models will get even better, but never really did like the way the fuji, panasonic, and especially the sony behaved.


08-14-2017, 06:54 PM   #12
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I think about the mirrorless cameras occasionally. I had an original Q but it I could never just carry it alone, I had to carry my K-30 too and the the K-30 got most of the use since it outperformed the Q so much. Olympus, Fuji, Sony, all sort of fit the bill, but if I do any it will be for fast autofocus. I'm a little intrigued by the Sony a6000 as it supposedly has a fast autofocus, has an EFV, and the price is coming down. I'll have to do some research before I would buy any, Whatever I would get, I would have to get a couple of native lenses to use that autofocus, I don''t see a lot of reason to adopt K-mount lenses since I have Pentax cameras for those. I should probably sell some of the lenses I don't use that much
08-14-2017, 09:53 PM   #13
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I have a K30 and a K3, but last year I bought a Panasonic GX85 to have something smaller to throw in my briefcase for work trips. I am quite pleased with it, and of course now the price has come down a few hundred bucks. The EVF is not great, but not terrible. I have a friend with an Olympus OMD-EM1 that has a much better EVF. However, the live view monitor is very good, and I find myself using it often with lighter lenses. My kit came with the 12-32 and the 45-150, and I just added the 100-300 last week. I am pretty happy with all of these lenses, considering the price. I do a lot of wildlife photography, usually in low early morning light, so I did a side-by-side-by-side comparison of the K30, K3 and GX85 at ISO3200. The GX85 won that comparison, sad to say. Also, this summer I dropped it from waist height onto a concrete sidewalk, after which it bounced down a couple of concrete steps, but it is still working fine, which I guess says something about the build quality. I have a Fotodiox K-mount to MFT adapter, and have been playing around with some of my older Pentax manual lenses. The focus peaking works well and the highlighting is a little easier to see than on the Pentax cameras.
08-14-2017, 10:05 PM   #14
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You could always try a X100 series as it is nice and smallish and gives you a taste of the hybrid viewfinder. They to are not cheap. I have borrowed a X100 and X100S .
08-14-2017, 11:29 PM   #15
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I'm not the sort of person that keeps any particular camera a long time, to the point that I would consider it a fault of mine. In fact, I've sold every digital camera I've ever owned except two, and without even thinking about it I've owned at least 15 digital cameras, probably closer to 25. One of the two I've kept belonged to someone dear to me that passed away. The other is my first generation NEX-3. I've also had a NEX-6, which was wonderful, and a Sony a5000 which was decent for the money, but ultimately didn't quite do it for me. Ultimately I never used the NEX-6 that much because, I don't know. Somehow I just kept ending up grabbing my NEX-3. The 6 was a fine camera, with a great EVF, and would definitely please those that need a viewfinder. I especially liked how the instant review could be viewed in the EVF, thereby relieving the need to pull your eye away. But for me, my NEX 3, with my flip-up screen hood, and either the 16mm 2.8 or my adapted Konica 40mm 2.8 just works for me.

I usually find myself shooting horizontally, with the screen tilted up and the camera at about the level of my belly button. It probably looks goofy as all get out to people watching me work, but who cares. I enjoy it. The thing always nails exposure and focus, better than any DSLR I've ever had, and is both small and light, but still has enough of a grip on it to not be massively tedious. It's not going to work well for either large lenses or flash work though. On the other hand, with the flip-up hood shut, its awesome for hip shot street photo in moderately noisy situations, especially with the 16mm.

But definitely, if you are the type who needs an EVF, to do flash work, or to change settings a lot, get a NEX-6 or one of its newer brothers. Or go with a Fuji, which are also very nice. I bought my NEX before Fuji even announced the X pro 1, otherwise I might be trumpeting Fuji.

---------- Post added 08-14-17 at 11:35 PM ----------

I forgot to mention, but I recently purchased the Meike 28mm. It's a nice, compact, lightweight lens that is a bit hazy wide open, but sharp as a razor stopped down. I highly recommend one if you purchase any apsc or 4/3 mirrorless camera, especially for the price. It's the first new lens I've bought in many years.
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