I’m often surprised by how many people I see taking holiday pictures on large, expensive SLRs. When you look at it these cameras are pretty bulky to carry around, and they’re not cheap to buy in the first place, so why do so many people choose them over the alternatives?
Well I guess there’s an association between the best photographers and these cameras, so it’s easy to see how you might get drawn to them in the hope of getting a similar result with your own photography. After all we all want the best possible pictures, and maybe we have to accept carrying a big camera as a sacrifice to achieve them. But what if we didn’t? What if someone made a high quality camera which could match the image quality of an SLR, but which was a convenient size to carry around in a bag all day? Well over the last few years some manufacturers have started making cameras for this exact purpose, so let’s take a look at the new range of high-end compact cameras looks like…
One of the first, the Fuji Finepix X100. Very popular right from the start, both for its fantastic retro feel, and for the high quality images it can produce. The fixed 35mm lens didn’t put people off, and the enthusiastic take-up gave other manufacturers the confidence to make their own versions which would create a whole new market segment for digital cameras.
The Olympus OMD. Similar to the Fuji but this camera brought interchangeable lenses to the party, which removes one of the big advantages SLRs always held over compact cameras. Now you could carry a range of lenses and still not need a huge camera bag.
The Sony A7R. With this camera Sony proved that you didn’t need to have a retro style to sell an expensive compact. These cameras look modern from every angle, and take the performance game even higher by including larger sensors than the Fuji and the Olympus.
It’ll be interesting to see if, given we can now buy such high quality cameras in a compact form-factor, sales of SLRs will fall back to professionals only. Who knows, maybe in a few years even professional photographers will be using this style of camera and big camera bags will be a thing of the past!
(see Geoff’s work at The Brisbane Photo)