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06-23-2022, 12:49 PM - 8 Likes   #1
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The thrill of being unfaithfull for just one morning...

Today, I visited Wex Photo's Newcastle-upon-Tyne store, mainly to pick up my new HD Pentax-FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited (), but also to attend their 25th Anniversary event, at which the major camera brands (sadly, not Ricoh) were in attendance with all their current equipment offerings. I'm content with my Pentax equipment, but as I haven't tried any others for a while, I thought it would be interesting to talk with the reps and play with some gear.

My main observation from all this was, all of the brands are turning out some really nice equipment these days. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, FujiFilm, and OM Digital Systems (Olympus) had their full range of cameras and lenses on display (and to try). Even the budget models feel decent enough, but the higher-end offerings from all of the brands are great... all of them, without exception. I would be happy to shoot with any of the brands based on what I saw and tried today.

There were two stand-out cameras - along with their available lenses - that left me with a warm, cosy feeling that - in the unlikely event I should ever want or need to switch - there's a direction I could see myself going in... and both surprised me, as they're quite different.

The first was OM System's new OM-1, which I tried with the MkII version of their 12-40 f/2.8 "pro" lens. I liked everything about this camera and lens. Build quality is really solid, the finish is excellent, it's really compact yet easy to control with my quite large hands, the combined weight of camera and lens is a dream yet still feels well balanced in the hands, weather-resistance is unparalelled (officially, at least), EVF quality is just amazing, image stabilisation is eye-wateringly good, AF speed is silly fast, manual focusing on the lens feels lovely. Just... wow. What a combo.

The second - and I credit this oddball choice to my growing love of shooting with tunnel-viewfinder film cameras - was FujiFilm's X-Pro3. I've never used a camera quite like this before. It feels really nice in use, the controls are very retro (in a good way), the hidden-as-standard rear screen with secondary pseudo-film-box-end-tab display is - to me - wonderful, the hybrid electronic, optical, or optical-with-electronic-overlays viewfinder so very clever, and the selection of smaller, reasonably-fast prime APS-C lenses is lovely. The compromises? Well, the OVF is a far cry from using a good penta-prism viewfinder, and it's optimised for one focal length, with crop rectangles shown for others - which means that, depending on focal length, you can be working with quite a small area. Then again, the EVF didn't seem nearly as nice as OM System's OM-1. I like that the main LCD is hidden in normal use, but since it only flips down, you can't have that main LCD flat against the body. Even with these compromises, I loved the X-Pro3.

If I wasn't already heavily invested in - and, frankly, completely happy with - Pentax (I am, in both respects), I could see myself choosing either of the above... which, I'll say again, is surprising, because they're quite different and have significantly different advantages and compromises - but I'd be delighted to shoot with either, regardless of my current preferences.

I'm staying with Pentax for now, though... at least until my current cameras wear out, but most probably long after that Since my main reason for visiting Wex was to pick up my lovely new HD FA31, it's a fairly safe bet that I'll keep shooting Pentax - but maybe by then one of my lottery tickets will have come good, and I can branch out


Last edited by BigMackCam; 06-24-2022 at 01:44 AM.
06-23-2022, 01:04 PM   #2
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@BigMackCam that xpro scaled viewfinder sounds like quite a negative. If Pentax did that we would be slaughtered. I often wonder about defecting to something more technologically advanced but apart from the significant "bang for buck" disparity, you have to wonder if there are other undesirable aspects that go unreported but would drive me bananas! I love both my KP and K3. Ergonomically they are excellent, and the tiny little limiteds .... ***sigh*** if I were to defect, Fuji would have been a strong possibility because they are cool, but that viewfinder sounds a bit dealbreakerish
06-23-2022, 01:13 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
@BigMackCam that xpro scaled viewfinder sounds like quite a negative. If Pentax did that we would be slaughtered. I often wonder about defecting to something more technologically advanced but apart from the significant "bang for buck" disparity, you have to wonder if there are other undesirable aspects that go unreported but would drive me bananas! I love both my KP and K3. Ergonomically they are excellent, and the tiny little limiteds .... ***sigh*** if I were to defect, Fuji would have been a strong possibility because they are cool, but that viewfinder sounds a bit dealbreakerish
The X-Pro3 is a weird camera. In practical terms, that hybrid OVF / EVF is really better suited to the fixed-lens X100V... but the X-Pro3 offers the advantage of interchangeable lenses. In my mind, in some ways it's a competitor for Leica's rangefinder cameras, and in terms of the OVF alone it has similar limitations - but the EVF and combined OVF / EVF functionality offers flexibility that Leica can't yet match. I don't for one minute claim that the X-Pro3 would be a replacement for DSLR (it really wouldn't, no way), though it could certainly hold its own with other mirrorless platforms when using the EVF. With a trio of nice wide-to-normal primes, though, I think it would be a blast to shoot with the OVF and hybrid OVF-with-electronic-overlays...

Last edited by BigMackCam; 06-23-2022 at 01:28 PM.
06-23-2022, 01:19 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I think the X-Pro3 has a good reputation amongst the street togs for it's abilities and stealth as well as the reasons you mentioned. It is small enough, if not quite pocketable.

To be honest all camera brands have been beyond good enough for a while now and holding these things is enticing.

06-23-2022, 01:24 PM - 1 Like   #5
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It's interesting isn't it. I always thought Fuji would be perfect but when I tried out a few in the Covent Garden store I didn't like them, which was confirmed over a two day trial with an xt3.

You can read specs and reviews all day long but there's no substitute for trying something. I think Pentax holds up pretty well.
06-23-2022, 01:25 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
@BigMackCam that xpro scaled viewfinder sounds like quite a negative. If Pentax did that we would be slaughtered. I often wonder about defecting to something more technologically advanced but apart from the significant "bang for buck" disparity, you have to wonder if there are other undesirable aspects that go unreported but would drive me bananas! I love both my KP and K3. Ergonomically they are excellent, and the tiny little limiteds .... ***sigh*** if I were to defect, Fuji would have been a strong possibility because they are cool, but that viewfinder sounds a bit dealbreakerish
The X-Pro is basically a rangefiner, so there is really not any comparison to Pentax models.
06-23-2022, 01:27 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
The X-Pro3 is a weird camera. In practical terms, that hybrid OVF / EVF is really better suited to the fixed-lens X100V... but the X-Pro3 offers the advantage of interchangeable lenses. In my mind, in some ways it's a competitor for Leica's rangefinder cameras, and in terms of the OVF alone it has similar limitations - but the EVF and combined OVF / EVF functionality offers flexibility that Leica can't yet match. I don't for one minute claim that the X-Pro3 would be a replacement for DSLR (it really wouldn't, no way), though it could certainly hold its own with other mirrorless platforms when using the EVF. With a trio of nice wide-to-normal primes, though, I think it would be a blast to shoot with the OVF and hybrid OVF-with-electronic-overlays...
I am busy regressing into the world of film! All this technical tomfoolery, hybrid OVF-with-electronic-overlays... Well, it smacks of witchcraft! I am quite beside myself! I need to sit down with a strong cup of tea and a healthy dose of radio four! But be warned, if I get so much as a sniff of an x-trans sensor, I shall have to call a policeman!


Enjoy the 31 lucky dawg

06-23-2022, 01:39 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
I need to sit down with a strong cup of tea and a healthy dose of radio four!
LOL. Maybe listen to a few archived podcasts of the Home Service, or the Shipping Forecast on continuous loop?

While you're at it, could you see if you can get @BigMackCam to come back in off the ledge?

- Craig
06-23-2022, 01:47 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
I am busy regressing into the world of film!
I know, and I'm on a similar (if slower) trajectory

QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
All this technical tomfoolery, hybrid OVF-with-electronic-overlays... Well, it smacks of witchcraft! I am quite beside myself! I need to sit down with a strong cup of tea and a healthy dose of radio four! But be warned, if I get so much as a sniff of an x-trans sensor, I shall have to call a policeman!
The thing that got me with that X-Pro3 is, shooting with just the OVF, it was like looking through one of my tunnel viewfinder cameras, like my favourite little Olympus Trip 35 - even down to seeing the lens obscuring the bottom right corner of the view. But then, being able to overlay a histogram or other stuff in that corner, or - wait for it - over-exposure flashing highlights, was pretty amazing. It's not the same as shooting with a film camera, nor - in OVF / hybrid modes, at least - with a dedicated DSLR or mirrorless... it's somewhere in between, and I really liked that.

The X-Trans sensor is the one thing that puts me off this camera, as I've seen and read so much about raw conversion / post-processing issues - but I think I'd have to try it for myself to draw any conclusions, as there's a lot of brand-biased mis-information out there. I get a general feeling that X-Trans raw files require quite special handling, but I'd need to find that out for myself.

Anyway, it's all pretty academic - I'm happy with my Pentax kit (and my film cameras)

QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
Enjoy the 31 lucky dawg
Ta We'll have to see whether it's good enough to tear me away from the HD FA35/2 or my Sigma 30/1.4 Art... but it sure is a nice lens, whatever my eventual conclusions

Last edited by BigMackCam; 06-23-2022 at 02:16 PM.
06-23-2022, 01:47 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by c.a.m Quote
LOL. Maybe listen to a few archived podcasts of the Home Service, or the Shipping Forecast on continuous loop?

While you're at it, could you see if you can get @BigMackCam to come back in off the ledge?

- Craig
I sang a few bars of the Archers theme and my equilibrium was reestablished as for Mike, he is ours for a while yet now he has an fa limited he has to work his way through the full set before moving on to the DA* s
06-23-2022, 01:51 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Nice write up, thanks
06-23-2022, 01:51 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Today, I visited Wex Photo's Newcastle-upon-Tyne store, mainly to pick up my new HD Pentax-FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited (), but also to attend their 25th Anniversary event, at which the major camera brands (sadly, not Ricoh) were in attendance with all their current equipment offerings. I'm content with my Pentax equipment, but as I haven't tried any others for a while, I thought it would be interesting to talk with the reps and play with some gear.

My first observation is, all of the brands are turning out some really nice equipment these days. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, FujiFilm, and OM System (Olympus) had their full range of cameras and lenses on display (and to try). Even the budget models feel decent enough, but the higher-end offerings from all of the brands are great... all of them, without exception. I would be happy to shoot with any of the brands based on what I saw and tried today.

There were two stand-out cameras - along with their available lenses - that left me with a warm, cosy feeling that - in the unlikely event I should ever want or need to switch - there's a direction I could see myself going in... and both surprised me, as they're quite different.

The first, was OM System's new OM-1, which I tried with the MkII version of their 12-40 f/2.8 "pro" lens. I liked everything about this camera and lens. Build quality is really solid, the finish is excellent, it's really compact yet easy to control with my quite large hands, the combined weight of camera and lens is a dream yet still feels well balanced in the hands, weather-resistance is unparalelled (officially, at least), EVF quality is just amazing, image stabilisation is eye-wateringly good, AF speed is silly fast, manual focusing on the lens feels lovely. Just... wow. What a combo.

The second - and I credit this oddball choice to my growing love of shooting with tunnel-viewfinder film cameras - was FujiFilm's X-Pro3. I've never used a camera quite like this before. It feels really nice in use, the controls are very retro (in a good way), the hidden-as-standard rear screen with secondary pseudo-film-box-end-tab display is - to me - wonderful, the hybrid electronic, optical, or optical-with-electronic-overlays viewfinder so very clever, and the selection of smaller, reasonably-fast prime APS-C lenses is lovely. The compromises? Well, the OVF is a far cry from using a good penta-prism viewfinder, and it's optimised for one focal length, with crop rectangles shown for others - which means that, depending on focal length, you can be working with quite a small area. Then again, the EVF didn't seem nearly as nice as OM System's OM-1. I like that the main LCD is hidden in normal use, but since it only flips down, you can't have that main LCD flat against the body. Even with these compromises, I loved the X-Pro3.

If I wasn't already heavily invested in - and, frankly, completely happy with - Pentax (I am, in both respects), I could see myself choosing either of the above... which, I'll say again, is surprising, because they're quite different and have significantly different advantages and compromises - but I'd be delighted to shoot with either, regardless of my current preferences.

I'm staying with Pentax for now, though... at least until my current cameras wear out, but most probably long after that Since my main reason for visiting Wex was to pick up my lovely new HD FA31, it's a fairly safe bet that I'll keep shooting Pentax - but maybe by then one of my lottery tickets will have come good, and I can branch out
I don't suppose you asked them why Ricoh weren't involved in the event

06-23-2022, 02:05 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by c.a.m Quote
could you see if you can get @BigMackCam to come back in off the ledge?
QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
as for Mike, he is ours for a while yet
I'm going nowhere, lads It was fun to try some different gear, and nice to know there are - for me, at least - some viable alternatives that I'd find interesting and fun to work with... but I'm genuinely happy with my existing kit. Pentax all the way
06-23-2022, 02:07 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by slartibartfast01 Quote
I don't suppose you asked them why Ricoh weren't involved in the event
Apparently, they just don't sell enough Pentax and Ricoh gear - which is also why they don't stock them in their satellite stores, but only in the main mail-order warehouse (which I believe is in Norwich). I did ask if they would continue selling Pentax, as the recent offers and subsequent discontinued status of some lenses was a bit concerning, and they told me they absolutely will continue with Pentax...
06-23-2022, 02:08 PM - 1 Like   #15
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I know what you mean. The other camera makers have some nice cameras & lenses. If I weren't shooting Pentax, I'd more than likely be in the Sony camp with an a7III & a7IV by now. Probably an a9II as well.

Nikon would be my next pick, but they're kind of Pentax like in terms of AF performance among mirrorless bodies. That should say enough. Hahaha! They're pretty far behind. The Z9 is the only Z-mount camera that has very good AF, but that costs an arm & a leg. Maybe the upcoming Z6III will resolve the AF woes......
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