**Update** Since writing this, I have abandoned both of the final choices shown. I am now on to a whole new list of ‘possibles’. Result to follow…
After many years sticking to an SLR after disappointment with a bridge camera, I have had to come to terms with a sobering truth. I’m not using it. I just don’t take it out. It requires a camera bag, attracts attention, and as a result, I have taken very few photos in the last three years. I want to take photos. Not for the blog, but to document the last chapter in my life, the new things I have seen in Norfolk, and the times I enjoy out with Ollie, or the visits from friends and family. Despite the availability of my new smartphone, I cannot ever get used to using this as a camera. I need a viewfinder, not a screen at arms length.
I would like more options when shooting, an element of control not offered by phone cameras, and something substantial in the hand. So I have done what I do best, research. Endless hours on the Internet, with a list of must-haves, and don’t-needs, exploring the camera market in 2015. I have a maximum price in mind, excluding many possible contenders. The issue of portability is key. If I carry it around, I might actually use it. I am less concerned about megapixels, more about usablility. How it feels in the hand, and how the control system works, and suits my requirements. Is it fairly incongruous, and does the lens meet my needs? What of the pedigree, and of owners’ reviews? I have had to eschew the fast prime lens, and I cannot afford the larger sensors. Some examples are so large, I might as well stick with the SLR. Others don’t have a viewfinder, and basic modes for use by a complete novice.
Over the years, I have owned some marvellous film cameras. The incomparable Canon T90, the reliable Canon A1, and the state-of-the art (at the time) Minolta Dynax 7, with the superb 24-105 lens. My forays into the world of digital have been reluctant. A Fuji 610 compact, leading eventually to a very well-specified Fuji S5 Pro, with a Nikon lens and add-on flash. On the way, I tried an Olympus super-zoom, with a slow telephoto lens, and lamentably slow write-speeds to the memory card. I got Julie various digital compacts, including a very useful Samsung only a couple of years ago. But she prefers her phone, so be it.
I now feel the time has come to move on. A one-body solution, with modern write speeds, multiple functions, and fast zoom lenses. They are finally here, and well-thought of too. After much deliberation, I have narrowed my choice down to just two. The Fuji X30; retro-styled, attractive to look at, and well thought of. It is hampered by a small 2/3 sensor though, and softness in the lens. Then there is the more recent Olympus Stylus 1. This has a 28-300 zoom, with a constant 2.8 aperture available. It has a metal body, and a tilting screen, as well as a viewfinder found on the flagship Olympus cameras. It also benefits from the marginally larger 1.7 sensor, and the reputation of Olympus from the old days. It is about £50 more expensive than the Fuji, and less attractive to the eye. So my friends. Many of you are photographers. Some use compacts, others use 4/3 mirrorless systems or high-end SLR cameras. What do you think? I would value your advice. I really would. For those of you who find all this tiresome and uninteresting, my apologies.