On one of the DPR fora, a photographer was saying that amatuers should pick their cameras for their ergonomics, since all of today’s cameras are capable of making great images. He compared buying a camera to going to the shelter to choose a dog, and said you need to get the one that speaks to you.
For myself, I most emphatically disagree.
I am an amateur photographer, albeit a serious one who works on my photography every day. I have exhibitions, but make no money from them — in fact, printing for a recent show cost me several thousand dollars in materials. I sell prints, but gain no money from that, either; the “customer” makes a contribution to a charity of my choice.
When I pick a camera for a project, I pick the one that will allow me to make images that are the closest to my visions. I am currently using a GFX 100 for my main project. It is a long way from the most enjoyable camera to operate that I own, and even further from the most pleasant camera that I’ve ever used. I don’t like to use it nearly as much as the GFX 50S, which I also — for now, anyway — still have. The reason is that I like the images from the GFX 100 much more, and they will allow me to make finely detailed large prints with less aliasing than the GFX 50S would give. There are things I hate about the GFX 100 user interface. Yet I continue to use it. Why is that? It’s because I get better images — well, better for my uses. The pleasure of getting the result I want far outweighs the pleasure of using the camera.
For years, I made images with a Betterlight Super 6K and a Linhof Master Technika. Were they fun to use? No, they were thoroughly unpleasant to use. The back needed to be tethered to a laptop, and it was hard to see the screen outdoors. I had to bring along a separate stand for the laptop. Setting it up took forever. Yet I happily used it because nothing that was more convenient would allow me to get the images I wanted.
Yes, today’s cameras are great. But when it comes to shooting in a specific situation, they are far from fungible. The GFX 100 makes great images, but there are fluid situations where speed or quiet is important for which an a9 is a far better choice. I could shoot sports with a GFX 100, but I prefer to do so with a D5.
As to bonding with our gear, I have yet to find a camera that I couldn’t figure out how to use to make images that were within its wheelhouse, although there was one camera — the Sinar F — that made me the happiest when it was replaced by a Linhof.
The most enjoyable digital cameras in operation have, for me, all been M-mount Leicas. I’ve had an M8, a M9, and an M240. They all were tactile joys. The sound of the shutter was sublime (some more than others). The stripped-down menu system was easy to use. They were small, and with a Thumbs-Up, fit my hand well. The finish was superb. I sold them all long ago. Imprecise RF focusing and framing, parallax, and a few other things made them not as good at making the images that I wanted to make as the a7x cameras of the day, which could use the same lenses. The a7x menus were awful. The fit and finish was just passable. But they used the same lenses as the Mx cameras, so the transition was easy.
So I don’t want a camera that makes my heart sing (I still have one of those, a Nikon S2, but I never use it). I want a camera that will let me make the images I want to make.