Sunday, February 24, 2019

niche camera brands

[on being accused by my nephew of liking niche camera brands]   I wouldn’t say that I like niche brands.  I began as I do almost everything else by doing a lot of research.  What were my needs?  What sort of camera/lens combination best suited how I intended to use the gear?  When I seriously entered the DSLR world, I concluded that Olympus’ ruggedness and excellent glass best suited my needs at the prices I was willing to pay.  In retrospect I don’t think that was a bad decision. 

Then when Olympus quit making DSLRs, I did some more research.  The only camera manufacture making rugged camera gear like Olympus, was Pentax; so I began accumulating Pentax gear.  Was Pentax a niche player?  The thought never crossed my mind.  I have seen that term mentioned but not in a present sense.  Some of those predicting bad things for Pentax suggest that Pentax might save itself by “becoming a niche player,” but Pentax isn't one quite yet.  Their owner, Ricoh certainly doesn’t think so. 

As to glass, I think Olympus has had a better reputation than Pentax, but I’m not positive about that.  Much of Pentax’s film era glass is considered as good as it gets.  I do know that other brands have adapters so that they can use Olympus Zuiko glass.  Also, in the case of Olympus mirrorless gear, one of the things that keeps Olympus solvent is its excellent glass.  (But Tony Northrup has a video out predicting that Olympus will go out of business within two years.  I haven’t watched it yet.

As to Nikon, you were the one that started me looking into it.  I had no initial desire to get any Nikon gear, they were not producing rugged weather-resistant gear except for the big, heavy pro stuff which I wasn’t interest in, but I began researching it from time to time.  They started adding weather resistant gear.  By the time I seriously considered Nikon, I had a substantial quantity of weather-resistant gear from Pentax and so didn’t absolutely have to have that from Nikon.  Still, the D500 (my first Nikon purchase) which has good weather resistance, and I do plan to get one or two weather resistant lenses eventually. 

As to looking at brands I have heard referred to as “niche,” Hasselblad, Leica, and Sigma, I have from time to time considered the Sigma.  I just looked up their Faveon camera activity:  and it doesn’t look as though they are continuing the fight.  The Faveon system attracted the attention of a lot of engineers.  As an alternative to the Bayer system it has appeal, but Sigma hasn’t managed to make of a success of it, and I never read a review of a Sigma camera that caused me to want to buy one. 

I have a Ridgeback/hiking friend, someone who is on the list to receive my hiking photos who likes Leica and he tried to talk me into getting one not so long ago.  Leica’s best cameras are Rangefinders as far as I know, and I do have a fondness for Rangefinders.  My first serious camera, the Olympus RC 35, was recommended to me by a Douglas Engineer many years ago.  Susan and I agreed to get our own wedding presents.  She got herself a sewing machine and I got an RC 35.  What I told the Douglas Engineer at the time, was that I wanted something lightweight and rugged that I could take on hikes.  He recommended the RC 35 which had and still has a good reputation.  It wasn’t weather resistant, but I had a very nice weather resistant leather case that I kept it in when I wasn’t using it.

Leica does seem to have a loyal following.  The camera my Ridgeback/hiking friend recommended had a Panasonic equivalent that was $200 cheaper.  I told him about it, and he hasn’t responded to me since.  Why does one buy a Leica?  Rumor has it that people who like to flaunt their wealth, buy Leicas, but I don’t know.  

As to Medium Format camera makers,  Hasselblad, Mamiya, Phase One and Pentax, and a few others, they have interested me a little from time to time.  I considered getting the Pentax 645 at one time.  Ken Rockwell actually bought an earlier film version:  I considered the DSLR version which is now at 645 Z.  But it was too heavy, cumbersome, unique.  It would involve a lot of work for very little (at least for me), but Pentax produced a cheaper, and some argue better Medium Format camera than the competition; so it has a following among very-serious photographers, and Pentax’s owner, Ricoh is glad to have it on their shelf. 

No comments: