Yesterday I bought a new camera. It's not as if I'm short of cameras - between the two of us, we have 7 DSLRs, 1 compact system camera, 2 compacts - and now another one.
The decision wasn't taken lightly. My previous experiences of compact cameras haven't been exactly exhilarating - but then, they can't really be expected to live up to the quality of DSLRs. The small sensor means crowded pixels and noisier images. There are few controls - as to be expected for point-and-shoot cameras. No opportunity for using filters, or doing long exposures. And I really got fed up of the mode dial being moved too easily, so that I wasn't using the settings I thought I was.
But why did I want another compact camera anyway? Surely enough is enough?
If I'm going out to photograph birds (or anything else that needs a long heavy lens), I really don't want to have to take another set of equipment for the odd landscape or habitat shot. The same when I'm out with the macro gear for plants and insects. And also when I (occasionally have the time to) go out with a video camera. So the idea of having something pocketable for those odd shots is appealing.
Large sensor compact cameras are now on the market, and getting excellent reviews. They have fixed focal length lenses (around 35mm equivalent), but I can live with that. So finding myself in Norfolk on a miserable drizzly afternoon, I went to WEX at Norwich to take a closer look.
Three cameras came under scrutiny. I didn't like the look or the feel of the Ricoh GR - just personal preference there. The Nikon Coolpix A was a lot better, with controls similar to the DSLRs, so it felt comfortable. Neither of these had viewfinders, and neither seemed able to take filters. OK, there were add on viewfinders, but they didn't do anything except remind you what was in the frame - not even telling you what was in focus. That left the Fuji X100s.
This camera seemed to have everything, but was twice as heavy as the others, and the most expensive by far. The built-in viewfinder could give the same information as the LCD screen, and something at the front unscrewed so you could use filters and a lens hood. And even a wide-angle adapter. The controls were different to anything I'd been used to, so there would be a bit of a learning curve there. And there were a few too many dials on the top plate. But after a bit of deliberation, interspersed with looking at a few other potentially useful accessories for other things, I decided to buy the camera.
This morning, the camera has its first outing. In a bitingly cold northerly wind and bright winter sunlight, both of which made my eyes run, I set the camera on auto everything, and headed for the harbour at Brancaster Staithe. Then to the RSPB reserve at Titchwell. We'd been photographing birds there yesterday before the rain came in, so it was relatively easy to limit myself to a few landscapes, discovering a few settings, and photographing the few flowers that were still in bloom.
This is a whole frame - filled the histogram end to end with no clipping
Actual pixels and the colours, especially black against white in bright sunlight, show no fringing. The red letters really did have an outline.
One of the few flower shots - this is about half the frame - the best I could do in the wind. But the camera is obviously capable.
So far, I'm impressed with the results, but, oh dear, the exposure compensation dial on the top does move rather easily, and several times I found I was unintentionally over-exposing!