Friday, February 5, 2016

Why I Am Keeping My Sigma DP Merrill Cameras

I've tried every camera under the sun to get that combo of sharp lens and lovely sensor marriage. I've tried Sony and Fuji. I've been using the Sony A6000 with wide angle zoom and kit lens (kit lens not sharp!). I've used the Sony series NEX 5 & 6 extensively. It made sense to use the A6000 upgrade. I've recently picked up a Fuji X-T10 with the new 35mm F/2 WR lens. I always buy my cameras on or around either Black Friday via B&H Photo or on a major sale day. I recently tested the Sony 10-18mm wide angle lens on the Sony A6000. The kit lens is a wonderful focal length zoom and small,  but it isn't is sharp. That's sad. Sure, you can get some sharp shots with it at times, but the outer edges are usually soft. It's frustrating to use a lovely camera such as NEX 5, 6 and A6000 with what would be a perfect small kit lens when it's that soft.  I like Sony A6000 with their lenses though and have made it work due to the size factor and it's a joy to use for the most part. So much potential and the 11 frames per second is wicked cool. (Announcements for the new A6300 just came out!) I liked the wide angle zoom a lot, but quite frankly didn't want to invest in so much glass for this system. If I did, it would be better to invest in the FE lenses as they would easily attach to the full frame A7 series cameras if I ever decide to spend that kind of cash on a full frame camera. Mostly it's the size of the bigger files on that A7 series  that I don't want to contend with and the need to upgrade my Macintosh. Ugh!

Anyway, I sent the Sony 10-18mm lens back. Why? I think the prices on the Sony lenses are higher than Fuji, which I wanted to test again, and I don't want to invest a ton of money into Sony as I honestly wanted to give Fuji another chance. It comes down to APS-C or full frame. Right now, I am happy with APS-C size files and the A7 series files on their latest A7RII would drive me nuts I think. So, I sent for a Fuji X-T10 with 35mm WR Lens. You see, I am on a quest to get one system that does everything right in a very small package. It's a failed quest, because not one system does everything right. So, now I am on another quest, to use different small cameras that I like. I prefer the smaller cameras. I don't want to shoot D-SLR anymore. I'm tired of the weight on my back. (Yes, back problems.) It takes the joy out of using the camera if I have to think about carrying the weight. This is why the iPhone is such a joy to use, though not the highest of quality. The only thing it gets wrong is the file size. It does everything else right, including the ease of sending files via WiFi to various websites.

I am testing the Fuji X series right now. The Fuji X-T10, to be exact. It's the smaller sibling to the Fuji X-T1, which I passed on due to price and size. This is my second try at Fuji products, the first having ended with my selling the slow AF Fuji X-E1 camera. The little Fuji X-T10 is about the same size as the Sony A6000. The grip on the Sony is so much nicer. The Fuji grip is annoying as hell. I don't know how many times I tapped buttons and changed settings on it. Seriously! But you can add a grip for over 100 dollars. Oh, please! Okay, done crabbing. I deal with it. (You can, come to find out, hold the Menu button for a few seconds to lock the buttons so they won't change while using the camera. Press and hold the Menu button for a few seconds again to unlock it.) Instead, I'm learning to hold the camera with a smaller grasp, not as safe, but it works. I am getting used to the settings and menus again as well. You recall I have been in the Fuji camp before with the X-E1 and the kit lens. (Kit lens is lovely compared to the Sony kit lens).  Fuji X-E1 post & Final Results Here & Here

Such a bummer when the first Fuji didn't work out, even with firmware updates. I loved their lenses, but the slow AF and missed focus compared to the much faster NEX series AF system drove me bonkers. I sold the Fuji figuring I would wait until the AF was close to Sony's speed. I was so pissed off I bought the Sigma DP2M Merrill camera, (to ease the sting of such a let down), and even with the issues Sigma has with eating batteries and having to shoot low ISO to get the best results the prints were so spectacular that it was like wearing a new pair of eyeglasses that allowed you to see details again. The cameras were that good.  I'm glad that first Fuji didn't work out! I would have probably never tried the Sigma cameras! Plus, it was around black Friday that I bought them and they were reduced drastically. Wonderful for me.

The good thing about the Sigma DP Merrill cameras are the files. The bad thing about the Sigma cameras is that every other camera file fails by comparison. Bad because the Sigma's do have their limitations in every day use for kids, sports, fast moving subjects. Oh well. The convenience of the ease of use and ability to shoot in the lowest of light is the compromise. Yeah, I know. Sigma doesn't have that. I've already delved into it.

I have so many little cameras that cover all different focal lengths, and I want to buy a few Fuji lenses for the new X-T10, because quite frankly, the files look pretty darn good. (Not DP Merrill  brilliant, as the Fuji files still show smearing in zoomed in details, but whatever!). The Sony & the Fuji both have the fun factor, but the edge goes to Fuji if you grew up shooting film. The dials are sublime. Having said that, I do love shooting with the Sony cameras too. The amount of hate for the Sony cameras because of the lack of retro look to them is just plain stupid. They are also such a joy, and dare I say it, even easier to program than the Fuji cameras. Hey, I'm using both, so I should know. It's been a while since I shot with Fuji though, so I do know the Sony menus more. Okay, I'll give you that. But honestly, the Sony is a joy to use. It just is! The only complaint, which is a big one, is that the kit lens is too soft, and the lens selections are kind of expensive for the better glass. If Sony made that kit lens as lovely as the Fuji kit lens, then I'd be a happy camper. Alas, they keep upgrading the NEX, oops, A6000 series, but keep that shitty kit lens the same. Sony, change the kit lens to sharp. Please! Lower your prices on good lenses. Please! Sony makes all of the sensors for other cameras but they use them first. They have the advantage. But, they don't do everything right. Their kit lenses, and cost for a decent lens is just ridiculous.

Okay, back to the Fuji X-T10. I like it, and I'm keeping it. I love the Fuji lenses, but don't know if they will look ridiculous on the smaller camera. Right now I am happy with the lovely 35mm F/2 WR lens on it. It is a wonderful lens. It is that good. Don't believe me, go read a great review by Chris Weeks about it and the new Fuji X Pro 2 camera. He knows Fuji. He shoots them professionally. He makes his living off photography. I trust his review and this is the reason why I wanted to give Fuji another try. I'm glad I did. I love them now. It is only going to get better with the new Fuji X Pro 2 camera, though the price for just the body is a whopping $1699 for an APS-C Sensor body. Oh well. It's a pro body so...

Now, to the point of the title of this article as to why I am keeping the Sigma DP Merrill cameras. No other camera brand has the Foveon sensor. They all use either CMOS or CCD, (rare, but the Leica D-Lux 4 has it, which is why I am keeping it.) No other camera has taken the title for most detailed 3d layered shot with Kodachrome-like colors. None. Period. In order to get close, I'd have to shoot Kodachrome film again. So, I'm keeping the Sigma DP Merrill cameras. They are small powerhouse medium format quality dream cameras for people with bad backs! LOL! I can't give them up. The only thing saving me from selling them is the size factor, and beautiful prints. I was going to downsize to one system, and quite frankly, not one system does it all in regards to quality, size, convenience, prints, ease of use The only thing the Sigma cameras don't have going for it is the ease of use in many cases where you just want a shot of kids or indoor low light shots. Hence the other brands I'm using as well. If the Sigma did all of this like the Ricoh GR, Sony or Fuji, I'd dump the Ricoh GR Sony and Fuji in  heartbeat. Yes, in  heart beat. Fuji comes close with the overall files, but they still have some smearing and the details do get lost upon closer inspection. Now, having stated that, each camera system has a place in my heart for various reasons. Design, use factor, file output, lenses, which is why it's always great to have different systems for different reasons. It's all in what you like to shoot. So, not to put down the other brands because I do like them a lot, but I am always thinking in the back of my head that the Foveon sensor is king. LOL! Yeah, many will disagree. That's okay too. Once you go Foveon, it's hard to ignore the inferiority of other brands.

Okay, on to some files from the Fuji & Sony


                                          Sony A6000 camera





















                            ...and the Fuji X-T10 with 35mm F/2 WR Lens











































 The Fuji Rig

So, what do you think of the shots from these cameras?