This has been going on for a long time and I am certainly as guilty of it as the next person. In the end film and sensor formats are to a large extend arbitrary sizes, often chosen for practical reasons a century ago - reasons that may not be that up to date. Nevertheless the photography world has - quite some years ago - declared fullframe to be the gold standard for many things. I guess of course that a lot of this was (back then) meant to dacle that "now we can do digitally what we could do with film" by keeping up the same standards as with film. There are of course benefits to a larger sensor, like the aesthetics of a more shallow depth of the field, but those may well be answered by asking "why then not medium format?".
Even more so, a shallow depth of the field can be achieved reasonably well (unless you are photographing larger objects like cars etc) on APS-C cameras with lenses that have the required aperture. Do those lenses come at a cost? Yes, but so do fullframe sensors.
My own two cents
Personally what it comes down to for me is to go with APS-C as a nice sweetspot between portability, dof and the available systems for the chosen sensor-size. Would I really want to go beyond that I thing my choise would be mdium format as there really is a lot happening in that space right now with both Hasselblad and Fujifilm putting systems that are affordable (by medium format standards) and way more compact then in the past.
I have tried this lens for a few months and so before having it leave the house I'd like to give a few impressions of it.
First of all: the optics of this lens are really nice and so is the built quality, there is really nothing bad I can say here. The only exception maybe that the aperture-ring on mine was a little too smooth for my taste. The images I took with this lens were absolutely sharp, so there are no complaints on that front.
Of course my comparison was with some of the more recent Fujifilm lenses and so I was somewhat disappointed by the autofocus on this lens: it's clearly audible and not as fast as say my 50/2 or 23/2. Having said that: this lens is quite a bit older then those and also was part of the first line of Zeiss AF lenses. What eventually prompted to sell the lens again was much more that I didn't end up using it as much as I thought I might.
So while this was propably I really great lens when it came out I would now rather consider the 35/1.4 or the 35/2 from Fujifilm if you are looking for an equivalent to the classic 50mm normal lens. Personally I don't think I'll replace it with a new "normal lens" right away as I didn't end up using it as much as say the 50 on my Leica.
When deciding on a camera (starting from scrath) the thing you should be looking at is not so much the camera itself, rather you should be considering what system you want to get into. After all when switching camera-bodies later the camera will be gone, lenses and other accessories however are likely to stick with you for years to come.
When I recently bought a Zeiss Touit 32mm for my Fuji I actually got a really great deal, I paid roughly half-price on a lens in great condition that was almost new. But while that was a great deal, the thing that struck me was that there was maybe a handful of those lenses for my system out on ebay. Now compare this to something like looking for a 50mm lens for your new Nikon system. Their lens-mount has been around for decades and people have been buying and selling those lenses for just as long and if you don't need autofocus you will have even more options then you've had in the first place.
On the other hand systems like those from Fuji or Sony are the new kids on the block, with Sony being at somewhat of an advantage as far as third-party lenses are concerned since the only third-party company producing autofocus lenses for Fuji right now is Zeiss (Those lenses are great, but it's three vs a large assortment for Sony).
There are of course other factors to consider, like APS-C vs. 35mm fullframe, but the availablility of lenses on the used market and the lens-choices you have in general are important ones in my opinion.
There has been this thing about personal growth in any form of creative pursuit (but also life in general) on my mind lately aber moving out of my comfort zone. For the longest time mine had been to photography nature and landscape only. It was great: I didn't have to talk to people and I could be all by myself all the time. And while I love nature and beeing outside I still cannot help but thinking I did all this for all the wrong reasons. After all maybe I didn't do all this because I loved it so much but rather because of my anxieties towards doing something else?
Whenever I did do something else it was great fun and I enyoed it a lot. But that of course really didn't keep me from not trying to do more of it - I might have to get over my anxiety of getting others to collaborate in what I was doing after all. Of course I knew that there was not really anything probelmatic about it: just talk to people about taking some portraits. But then again: someone might say no, of course they can't if you never ask. So there you go, problem solved ...
Obviously this is not the kind of struggle that is resolved once you know about the problem you're having, but that may be a starting-point to get there. So in that spirit I am happy to say that I've taken a few portraits as of late and despite some starting-difficulties I feel like I am imroving and (most importantly) I have fun doing it. I also notice (and that's no surprise) that my issue really isn't the actual shoot but getting people to do them with. So I guess there is my task for the next months.
Continuing to think about this matter (really: why can't I let go? I don't to be focussed on this) I'd like to talk little about what draws me to different systems. Especially what I feel may be really neat about Fuji and Sony.
Fuji, my current setup
What drew me to Fuji in the first place - and still does - is fairly simple: it's a high quality compact system with a bunch of stunning lenses. Being an APS-sized mirrorless system means that cameras and lenses are lightweight, at the same time the quality of the equipment is really great. I currently own 2 Fuji lenses (XF 23mm f/2 WR and XF 35mm f/2 WR) and both of them are really great lenses. They are well built, robust and have great optical quality. I own a single Zeiss lens for the system: the Touit 32/1.8. This is also a great lens of outstanding quality. Its autofocus may not be as great as the newer Fuji ones, but that's really all there is to this. So yeah, nothing to complain.
There was another bug point thet drew me to Fuji: ergonomics. In many ways their cameras and lenses work like classical cameras. They have aperture dials on the lenses and loads of dials on the camera to set things in a very direct way. I really am very fond of that. The one thing I don't like about my Fuji equipment is that the lenses I own all use focus by wire when used in manual mode. This really is something I am disliking, but that's about it.
Sony, the contender
So what let's me even consider Sony after using the Fuji stuff for a few months and being happy with it?
Interoperability with the 35mm world without any crop-factor or anything.
The general aesthetics of the larger sensor.
Another stunning lens lineup.
There is also whan major drawback: I'd have to give up on my beloved dials for everything.
The Sony part of this post may look rather short: but some of there factors (mainly their lens lineup) weigh heavily. Of course even I were to decide to switch there are things to consider. When I went to Fuji I made the choice to spend less on the camera (I just got an X-T10) and more on a few great lenses. I feel that with sony I'd have to spend more on the camera-side of things (I'd gravitate towards the A7R at this time) and then see that I'd still end up with one or two nice primes. Since one of the things that really draw me to this system are the Loxia primes (and some of the other Zeiss lenses) this might be getting expensive really quickly.
Conclusion, for now...
For now I am certainly going to stick with my current system for a while. THere will be a trip to Scandinavia later this summer where I am sure the Fuji equipment will perform greately. In the meanwhile: if somebody wants to lend me some Sony equipment to play around with that would be great ... In all seriousness: getting my hands on some of this gear and trying to form an opinion that way may really be a helpful thing.
It's not a secret that I am quite happy with my Fujifilm gear. Recently I found myself browsing through the assortment of Zeiss Loxia lenses and wondering if Sony may be a better choice. I have to say: all this anxiety about gear is really toxic. Just had to get that off my chest.
So this blog does not look all that dead right now I'll give a bit of an explaination as to why nothing is happening: I'm simply moving. And this will take up quite a bite of time over the next few week(ends) so my posting on here and also on sites like flickr is a bit less.
Let's start this off with a confession: like many people in the photography-world I am a bit of a gearhead. After all: who doesn't like shiny new things, really good industrial design and so forth? But this is not what it is supposed to about: photography is - in my mind - meant to be a creative endeavor rather then a game of technical optimization. Sure there is room for both but all to often the technical side dominates everything, even images posted on interned forums are mainly looked at for aspect such as sharpness, any vignette that might be visible, grain/noise, need I go on? Instead we might all be better off to assume that the technical side is the way it was intended, unless we are asked for feedback on this, and look at/talk about the actual image.
A random photograph to make this less dry
Talking about images is of course way more difficult then talking about technlogy: no more easy answers on right or wrong, no more technical measurement of what is "better". Instead very personal reasoning of what is good or bad needs to be expressed in an understandable and relatable way.
Let's create a place for this
There used to be a few pleasant little places on the web for this kind of talk. The kind of small internet-forums where people would comment on each others images in a positive and constructive manner, where technical talk can be about personal experiences with a given piece of kit and not about specs that you can look up at whatever the favorite review-site of the day is. So does this not exist or do I simply not know about it? Even if does exist there may be room for more then one such place: after all, in the age of internet giants like facebook there is a certain charm to the small tight-knit community off somewhere in its own corner of the web. One might even say those are essential for keeping the web to be dominated even more by large social networks.
In my mind the classicel internet forum is an ideal platform for this kind of undertaking: it provides a well more understandable way of making content accessable to everone interesten then the ever more strange "activity feeds" of the social networks that are being presented to us sorted in some way nobody who has not spend a lot of time researching understands. How about a simple chronological order that gives you the option to find something again and now if somebody has replied to a thread after you have last looked at it from the overview?
Software of choice
My current contenders are FluxBB and Flarum, with Flarum being slightly in the lead because I feel like trying something a little different. Flarum takes a lot of its clues from Discourse (a software I find really interesting) while being build in php, something that as quite an advantage for me as a php-developer. With the forum software covered a thing that remains is image-hosting as flarum does not natively support uploading images to the forum server when posting, also in the long rund you end up with a lot of data this way - keep in mind all this has to also be backed-up.
Do stand by for further announcements
This project is actually already quite far along, so in a few days you should see an update with a link to what I am up to regarding this whole thing. In the meantime there is still some stuff I have to go through and some smaller things to decide. So there might be a post about that as well.