Pleasantly bewildered

is probably a good way to describe my current feelings concerning my equipment. The 550D has changed so many things in a short space of time.

Canon 550D 28mm f1.8

In previous posts there was some discussion about the nature of digital photography and the increased workload it places on the photographer. Since using it the 550D has reduced mine for the following reasons:-

Jpgs straight from the camera are sharp, with excellent colour, and provide me with 51MB files with no need for interpolation, or creating multi-image panoramic stitches. The number of files I need to process from raw has significantly decreased.

As of ten days of heavy use, including changing lenses in high winds, there is not a single dust spot on the sensor, thus eliminating the need for spot removal. (I do realise this may change)

I can use up to ISO 800 with no need to use noise reduction software.

All of the above have considerably reduced the amount of time I have to spend on each image. Add in the fact that its a light camera, with autofocus, excellent HD video capability and extremely good high ISO performance and the camera becomes a tool that allows me to spend more time taking pictures and less time editing them.

I didn't expect this, the announcement of the camera seemed to appear out of nowhere, without the usual predictions, and "leaks" that seem to give advance notice of new equipment. I also never expected it to perform so well, some of my previous experiences of Canon led me to significantly underestimate what it is capable of.

So a pleasant, and very welcome, surprise.

So where does that leave everything else I use?

Canon 5D Mk II 28mm f1.8

The Canon 5D MK II still gives me the speed, build and high ISO performance that I need for commercial work. Plus the imminent firmware upgrade should take its HD Video capability up a notch. With the new version of DPP I'm able to get better results than before. Its still my most used and longest lasting digital camera. However I am cutting down on my lenses for the Canons. I'm keeping the new 10-22 zoom for the 550D plus the 28mm, 50mm & 85mm f.1.8's for both. I use telephotos rarely and the 85mm on the 550D will work very nicely for me.

Leica M9 Voigtlander 35mm f1.7 Heliar

The Leica M9 still gives me my "ultimate" image quality. The files it produces are still the best I've seen. It will still be my camera of choice when I don't need AF. I'm going to use it with just two lenses - my 35mm & 75mm Voigtlanders. To provide a light very high quality outfit.

Panasonic GF1 20mm f1.7 pancake lens

So where does this leave my m4/3 system? Easily the most used of all my cameras over the last year. I currently have 3 cameras plus a lot of lenses, both "native" and adapted.

I am having serious "heart v head" conflict over this. As readers here will know, I am a great enthusiast for m4/3 and I would love to keep the whole system. However even though I can afford to keep it, I am reluctant to hang onto equipment that I don't use. I can say for sure that is what is going to happen. The 550D is light enough for me to choose it almost every time over m4/3. Add in the better performance overall and its difficult to justify leaving that at home and taking out a m4/3 camera. I'm not particularly sensible about what I do, but even I won't deliberately choose to take out a camera with less resolution just for the fact that I think its a "nicer" camera. This is how I make my living after all. When the size/weight/quality equation meant either back-breaking DSLR's or smaller lower-resolution cameras, then I was happy to choose the non-disabling option. However I now have a real alternative, and I can't see myself using my m4/3 system anywhere near as much as I have done previously.

I've come to no firm conclusions on this yet, other than to have decided to definitely keep the GF1 + 20mm & 45mm lenses. I always have a use for a small, discrete camera with decent video and I prefer the results from the GF1 over the Olympus E-P2. I will decide what to do eventually, though I'm in no hurry.

Panasonic GH1 7-14 Zoom

Words - D
Images - D & A