Mirrorless Macro with Nikon Z7 & Nikon PB-6 Bellows

Nikon Z7 with Nikkor 85mm on PB-6, PS foto stacked

Already last year I digged up into macro photography with magnification of 1.0 and higher dedusting the solid build mechanical beauty macro bellows Nikon PB-6. After some test shots with my new mirrorless Nikon Z7 I was not really sure that this old technology is still useful with mega-pixel chips and cropping in lightroom. Therefore, I decided to check this a bit more systematically. It is an odd couple, the Nikon PB-6 was introduced 1983 and discontinued whereas the Nikon Z7 hit the market 25 years later in 2018. Hence, the Nikon FTZ adapter makes it fit.

How does the Nikon PB-6 bellows function?

Here I assume you understand the handling of macro and bellows, as there are plenty in the internet:

Set-up for macro magnification test

As test object I picked a sheet of millimeter paper from my school time and marked some scaling information with a pencil.


This makes the measurement of the macro magnification factor a bit easier. The practical resolution is about 1 mm. Just by counting the small red boxes in x- and y-direction it is easy to calculate the macro magnification. The overall setting looks like this.


I picked my small lens collection – from new to very old:

Here are the macro magnification results, which differ a bit from Nikon PB-6 manual in the right most column. I get slightly higher factors with the Nikon Z7 even though the chip is slightly smaller 35.9 x 23.9 mm² than SLR.

Macro MagnificationNikon handbook
Nikkor 50mm1.14.34.0
Nikkor 50mm reverse4.13.9
Nikkor 85mm0.72.82.5
Nikkor 105mm1.74.03.0
Rodenstock 50mm1.04.3
Miranda 50mm4.4
Soligor 135mm1.7

Which advantage has PB-6 bellows compared to macro lens?

Comparing Nikkor 105mm at closest distance of 314mm and highest macro magnification 1.1 with Nikkor 50mm on Nikon PB-6 at 208mm with macro magnification 4.3 shows more details and is still sharp in the middle. The biggest advantage of the bellows is the high magnification factor and focus handling. It comes with the great slider on the rail which makes focusing so much easier on a tripod. If I use a macro lens without bellows, I rather move the object to focus, not the camera.


Here is an example with low magnification 7 stacked shots with Nikkor 50mm (reverse Nikon PB-6 at 48 mm, Focus infinity, f5.6, macro magnification 1.4) compared to a single shot with the Nikkor 105mm (f11, macro magnification 1.1). I do not see any advantage for the bellows. All the effort using the bellows is only worth if you go on higher macro magnification starting with 2.0.

The performance of the Nikkor 105mm without PB-6 is astonishing sharp, straight lines, and great contrast. If the magnification requirement is < 1.1 the macro lens without bellows is still the best optical and practical option.

Which lens performs best on PB-6 bellows?

Nikkor 50mm, Rodenstock 50mm, Miranda 50mm are best if we go for highest magnification with 4.3, 4.3 ,4.4 respectively. But overall, I see a slight advantage with the Nikkor 50mm focused to infinity with magnification 4.0 in terms of sharpness and contrast. This is also the last reasonable working distance. Getting closes is a lightning nightmare.

Has the reverse mounting advantages?


The Nikon PB-6 has such a nice and simple mechanism for reversing lenses – just for that reason I did the sample shots. But for the Nikkor 50mm I did not see any advantages, rather a bit more haze. There is no better sharpness nor better colors in the reverse setting.

How does the macro lens perform on the PB-6 bellows?

As my Nikkor 105mm is AF-S the missing aperture ring makes it almost useless. You can manually or arbitrary select an aperture by hand but you cannot keep it stable nor do you know which f-stop you finally captured.


The sharpness in the middle is great but fading out on a flat surface at the corners – which is a bit unfair test as the distance increases and therefore it is out of focus by definition. But I rather stick with the natural fit of the 50mm AF-D and if I need more distance I will pick the 85mm AF-D with magnification up to 2.4. But I assume that one of the old Nikkor Micro lenses like 55mm and 105mm with aperture ring will do better. The 200mm micro is probably not so useful as it only reaches a macro magnification of 1.0 according to Nikon PB-6 handbook, which is odd as it reaches that out of the box.

What is the advantage of reproduction lenses?

The Rodenstock Rodagon 50mm 2.8 performs very well – in particularly the corner sharpness with closed aperture is better than any other lens here in the test. I assume that the Rodenstock higher priced Apo-Rodagon-N and Apo-Rodagon-D perform much better. I also read a lot good results with Nikon El-Nikkor 50 mm f/2.8N . Another option is the Schneider Kreuznach Apo Digitar 4.5/90. This is no surprise as these kind of lenses were designed to have magnification factors > 1.0 and are sharp on flat surfaces which is nice for photo stacking.

How does this compare to standard lenses?

You might argue that this is a lot of overhead for macro. Just use my standard zoom and crop. Well, here is what you get with the flower scene from above Nikon Z7 Nikkor 28-70@70mm closest focus f8.0:


and cropped in:


and compare this with macro magnification 4.3 even without photo stacking:

Nikkor 50mm reverse on Nikon PB-6 at 208 mm, focus infinity, f5.6
macro magnification 4.3

Final conclusion

This you can do only with the bellows: macro magnification 3.0 up to 4.0.
Nikkor 105mm micro at focus 314mm on Nikon PB-6 at 208 mm

There is a clear advantage in order to reach macro magnification higher than 1.0 with bellows like the Nikon PB-6 on a mirrorless camera like the Nikon Z7. There is now way to crop macro lens pictures down to the details you can get with the bellows at macro magnification of more than 2.0. With photo stacking you get really amazing results.

But this comes with a lot of disadvantages:

  • depth of field is really thin: without photo stacking almost useless and focusing even with the great support of Nikon Z7 is not easy;
  • much more handling effort: as you need a solid photo studio like set-up;
  • only still objects: moving or even flying objects are impossible;
  • needs a lot of light: bright sunlight or multiple light sources are a must as the bellows distance at 208mm eats a lot of light on its way;
  • more finishing work: reviewing the pictures and photo stacking the final scene requires a lot more time, like 10 Min to hours in the darkroom back in last century;
  • missing lens CPU connection: the old bellows do not transmit the data from the lens to the camera and you cannot set-up the lens from the camera. That requires not only a lot manual settings like f-stop at the lens but also a lot of manual documentation and EXIF tweaking afterwords.

If you consider buying a used or new bellows I recommend to pick one with build in „lens connectivity“ like the Novoflex automatic series although I think the maximum extension of 116mm is little bit too short – here I used the Nikon PB-6 with 208mm.

My macro conclusion:

  • for most macro shots I will use the Nikkor 105mm micro
  • for the very view „full-macro-hobby-days“ I will get the Nikon PB-6 bellows with either Nikkor 50mm at close distance and magnification factor 4.0 or Nikkor 85mm for more object distance and magnification factor 2.8
  • the best lens is the one you have with you – even the Nikkor Z 24-70 f/4.0 can do nice pictures
  • finally, I will wait for the arrival of the Nikkor Z 105mm Micro S in 2021 according to Nikon Z roadmap before any new investments

Now it is up to you! What is your opinion?

Original Nikon Coolscan Software on Intel Mac

Need to buy software for your new Mac

If you have one of the old but still excellent Nikon Coolscan like the 5000 ED you cannot run the original scanner software build for PowerPC G3 or G4 on your new Intel Mac. One solution is to buy up-to-date software like

But there is a simple way to make the Windows-Version of the Nikon scanner run on your new Mac: Use a windows virtual machine and up-to-date drivers for the scanner.

or installing a virtual machine on your Mac

This is what I did:

  1. Install a virtual machine that supports USB2.0 running Windows. I used VirtualBox 5.1.14 and Windows 10:
    1. Install VirtualBox:
      1. VirtualBox platform packages for OS X host
      2. VirtualBox Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack
    2. Get and install a Windows 7, 8, 10 license, CD or Image in the Virtual Box
  2. Configure a folder on your MacOS for usage in the virtual box for windows. Here you will later store your scanned images. I run MacOS 10.11.6 (15G1217) on a MacMini with 1 TB SSD and 4 TB HDD.   [I will add some screenshots later.]
  3. Configure the Device and USB 2.0 connection of your Nikon scanner for exclusiveusage in Virtual Box. [I will add some screenshots later.]
  4. Install the Windows version of VueScan (Demo is enough) on your virtual Windows. This will install the most current driver for the Nikon scanner. Test with VueScan if your scanner is available and do a test scan. I used VueScan 9.5.70.
  5. Install the Windows version of original Nikon Scan software on your virtual Windows. I used Nikon Scan 4.0.3.

and getting great usability

as the virtual box behaves like a screen you can switch between Windows and MacOS very naturally. The Nikon Scan software runs just fine: quick and now problems with clock-rate or driver settings.

What is Nikon’s business future?

What is Nikon’s business future? Today, I surfed around and collected some (weak) signals and came to a clear conclusion „not that bright“.

Sales in cameras are shrinking since 2010 due to more smart phone used as cameras or camcorders. Here is a nice graph by statista

Infographic: Are Smartphones Killing Digital Cameras? | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

even if the drop is not as „planned“ in 2016 in this chart. If you look at the updated data from 2016 in the original cipa source it is still or just  24.2m shipments.

The problem for Nikon is that it is weak in the „mirrorless“ and „GoPro“ camera „left over market“ where Fuji, Olympus, and Sony take market share while Canon is still the standard   DSLR competitor. The Nikon D5 and D500 are well received in the market which makes the management motivated to stay on due course. BUT Nikon’s turnover and profit relays heavily on its „Imaging Products“ as you can see in the latest business report. Like a frog or lobster in hot water getting cooked here, we have shrinking turnover with still OK profits. BUT the official business plan for „Imaging Products“ has higher turnover for 2017 and 2018 on page #12. How can Nikon grow in two years with 10% in a market that is shrinking between -10% maybe up to -30% per year? Where is the secret product that can do that?

The MID-TERM business change program from 2006 which targeted at more diversity with three existing and three new business areas failed after 10 years and is now replaced with a restructure plan. 

All the new real hot topics like cameras for robots, drones, cars, smart phones; Internet (of Things); biotech; machine Learning, … are not even on the agenda. Just have a look at page #7 listing excellent technology competencies of the 19th and 20th century. But none of the 21st. With Nikon’s 8% R&D budget there is a lot of room to make Nikon’s future iff Nikon puts it on the right topics. There is no acquisition in the „mirror less“ camera game, nor photo sharing on internet, video processing or machine learning! What about integrating the camera smoothly in the business process of professionals in the news, sports, or portrait business? Or target the semi-pro wedding photographers with an experience for the whole attending family members?

2017 will be a critical year for Nikon with its 100th anniversary. This will give Nikon a lot of air time. Hence, we are waiting for very cool camera models that take a bigger market share in the shrinking marked window between smart phones, mirrorless on one side and Leica et. al. at the other side. The painful retirement plan for more than 1,000 employees is    not the news you which for a big party.

Here are some ideas


[After I wrote this blog post on Sunday some more news came out].

I think it is right to cancel the DL line as announced and my above concerns were enforced by Nikon’s loss statement and Nikon’s new financial figures (be aware that Nikon’s fiscal year ends March 2017).

Time to sell my Nikon equipment 🙁

What do you think?

Sony RX100 final race: III vs. IV

Just one year after the release of the Sony DSC-RX100 III the next version was announced this month: Sony DCS-RX100 IV. As the body and the lenses are the same, I asked myself if it is worth to buy the new IV or get a decently prices III in August 2015.

Sony’s press release, some first reviews at the new camera and dpreview, a side-by-side feature comparison and picture quality comparison are already out. The difference in image quality is probably not there. I would like to add a complete list of differences in the following tables based on the specification RX100 III and RX100 IV at Sony. The first part of the table depicts major advantages of the IV vs III:

RX100 IV


Major Improvements
Movie Recording Resolution

4k Video:

XAVC S 4K: 30p 100M
3’840 x 2’160

HD Video:

XAVC S: 30p 50M

1’920 x 1’080

Video High Frame Rate (HFR)
“slow motion”

1’000 fps for 2″

30 fps for ?“

60 fps for 30″

30 fps for ?“

Shutter speed

1 / 2’000 s

1 / 2’000 s

Shutter speed electronic

1 / 32’000 s

Automatic expose

30″ – 1 / 32’000 s

2″ – 1 / 2’000 s

Shooting speed:speed priority / continuous

16 fps /

5.5 fps

10 fps /

2.9 fps

Viewfinder OLED

2’359’296 dots

1’440’000 dots

Minor Improvements
Autofocus speed

AF system used in α7 series

Movie file size max battery life

4 GByte

2 GByte

Shooting functions (additional)

Timecode (TC) / User Bit (UB) / Photographer
Name & Copyright / ISO Auto Minimum Shutter Speed / PC Remote

Minor Impairments



Power consumption
LCD / viewfinder

1.9 W /

2.3 W

1.7 W /

2.3 W

Battery life: images
time imagestime video

280 images

140 Min

45 Min

320 images

160 Min

50 Min

Difference not clear to me
Picture Profile

Off/PP1-PP7 (Black Level, Gamma (Movie, Still,
Cine1-2, ITU709, ITU709 [800%], S-Log2), Black Gamma, Knee, Color
Mode, Color Level, Color Phase, Color Depth, Detail, Copy, Reset)


Self-Time addtionally

5s start delay,
5s and 2s inter shoot delay

USB power supply

“Playback requires Sony charger AC-UD10”,
but would any USB charger or computer work, too?

Focus Area

“Expanded Flexible Spot”, what is this for?

Exmor RS
“stacked CMOS sensor“

Speed improvements are clear but is low light
performance at high ISO also better?

Smartphone connectivity, Smart Remote Embedded, Wi-Fi, NFC

Any improvements?

Market introduction




List price at market



Street price 07/2015



The heavy price tag of additional € 470 is worth if you are

  • using video: the 4k video and slow motion of 40x is something special in the market and especially for a camera of this small size and weight;
  • high speed shutters: the 32’000 is an incredible shutter speed allowing 1.8 aperture at bright light if you want to control depth of field or to get high speed sharp

The better viewfinder, hopefully faster and more accurate autofocus, and the hopefully better performance at higher ISO, longer automatic expose times probably do not justify the price difference. Anyway, I will spend the extra money as I have finally found my
“point-and-shoot” camera.

Still, there are a few things that I will miss with the RX100 IV:

  • GPS function build in the camera, optionally available to turn & off for each shoot
  • USB 3.0 support
  • Better protection of the Zeiss lens, while it is closed

Even Sony figured out that additional items can be sold with such a small camera. Picking the right accessors is the next part of the hobby. Sony has a nice web page for this:

  1. Additional battery NP-BX1 or the ACC-TRDCX charging Kit
  2. Memory card, fast, and big 😉 64GByte 280 MB/s e.g. SanDisk
  3. Maybe, the extra grip AG-R2
  4. Camera bag like LCS-RXG

Update: There is a comparison also done now by dpreview here.

Do you have some more insights on this? Any experience yet? Just share it…

FX, DX or MFT?

Combining the very small pocket camera like Lumix GM5 with an additional semi-professional body like Olympus OM-D is a strong argument for Micro-Four-Thirds compared to the big Nikon D750.

Yesterdays visit at our local camera store and a very helpful consultancy finished this option for me. As I like taking low-light pictures with fast lenses and without flash the small CCD sensors have major disadvantages according to measurement made by DxOLab:

  • ISO 495: 1″ The Sony RX100 III
  • ISO 896: MFT best Low-Light ISO rating is given to the excellent Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
  • ISO 1347: APS size like Sony A6000 and I assume also for Fuji X-T1 which I used to do nice shorts up to ISO 1600 with visible loss of quality.
  • ISO 2956: Nikon FX family or even remarkable ISO 3279 for Nikon Df

The benefit of MFT vs. 1″ of one stop is compensated by the Sony with the bright lens of 1.8 vs. 3.5 at the Lumix.

There is one stop differences between MFT vs. APS and even more compared to FX. Why is this? It is simply the size of the sensor pixel which make the differences.

So overall, MFT is not small enough for a real pocket camera and not good enough for the semi-pro cameras. That’s why I will choose the Sony RX 100 for the pocket and either Fuji or Nikon for APS or even FX camera body.




Fujifilm System Cameras

Fujifilm proves to be a major player in the digital age of photography. And that is really amazing as Fuji started with making motion picture films more than 80 years ago. Today, Fuji is strong in machines that print photo albums, big and small traditional prints in photo shops around the world, on the one hand and shaping the camera market with superb digital cameras and lenses on the other. The success of digital print with their acquisition of XEROX is of course very much hidden from the public. But I remember my dedicated photo dealer from Kronberg near Frankfurt who fell in love with his new Fuji-Xerox printing machine around 2002. The public probably first recognized the shift with Fuji release of the X100 at photokina in 2010. Setting the tone for retro-look digital camera with excellent image quality and good old usability with buttons and menus like on computer screens. At the same time profits from „chemical“ film business dropped from 60% to Zero in a decade. Overall the Economist nicely phrased it 2012 in on sentence:

„Kodak acted like a stereotypical change-resistant Japanese firm, while Fujifilm acted like a flexible American one.“

Anybody in doubt about the successful shift from analog to digital world was convinced by Fuji’s release of the X-T1 in 2014 – the flagship for the x-series. This nice body replaces a traditional semi-pro camera, is much smaller and lighter, features a great digital viewfinder, behaves well in low light conditions and more.

I tested this nice body with the extra hand-battery grip and the standard zoom 18-55mm 1:2.8-4 for three weeks and like many things:

  • First it works like my old Miranda. I love setting manually shutter-time, f-stops at the lens, and ISO with solid dials. For me it even outperforms the Leica on useability. This is perfectly described in Fuji camera catalog

„Each engraved marking on the dials reminds you of the essential appeal of using a precision photographic tool. The X-T1 brings you back to the very essence of photography – the control of light – and it comes via the manual shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity and metering dials. Including the drive dial, all five dials are intuitively arranged on the camera’s top-plate and the use of double-deck dials both simplifies operation and streamlines the elegant design.“

But there are a view things I wish to be better:

  • There is not GPS sensor included. Adding these few extra Euro to a expensive camera is not a price issue! And the strange argument of the camera industry that GPS drains battery is just an excuse. Using WiFi to get GPS from a smart phone also drains. And all I want is a button where I can say manually to get GPS data now.
  • WiFi connection and Remote App really sucks. Here you can see that Fuji is strong on digital cameras but misses the boot on internet, social media, and connectivity altogether.

Looking at the overall Fuji x-series offering I also miss a pocket size camera like the Lumix GM-5. This is quite natural as the xf-lenses are much bigger than MFT. But there is still a convincing collection of smaller and less expensive Fuji x-series bodies out there.

Overall the Fuji X-T1 can replace my Nikon world completely.

Leica experience. Like it… later…

Leica sounds like old fashioned analog camera. Right. But Leica is also high-end full frame rangefinder digital camera for professionals and my use-case (2) semi-pro. Leica’s old M system made it to the digital world. With it’s current Leica M and Leica M-P the old value of manual cameras and the advantage of digital cameras merge very nicely.

Leica is famous for its lenses and photographers. For me Leica was always linked to the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and of course real German engineering and manufacturing quality.

Be aware, that Leica is very different from any other camera:

  1. Manual focus: combining the rangefinder and the viewfinder into one large, bright view with a brighter double image in the center;
  2. Only aperture priority: set the shutter speed automatically, or fully manual expose;
  3. Really, really expensive: Leica M with only one lens is more than €7’000.

If price is an issue stop reading. A full Leica M equipment is the equivalent to a small car:

Leica shopping list Price
Leica M 240 6.520 €
SUMMICRON-M 50mm f/2 1.990 €
SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH 4.645 €
90mm f/2 APO ASPH 3.520 €
SUMMILUX-M 21mm f/1.4 ASPH 6.590 €
UV-Filters 4x 400 €
Multifunctional Handgrip M 750 €
Artisan & Artist for Leica Bag 269 €
SF 58 Flash 300 €
Visoflex EVF2 Electronic Viewfinder 400 €
TOTAL 25.384 €

So, no price discussion beyond this point here.

Today, I played around with a Leica M including the Handgrip and the Summicron-M 1:2 35mm ASPH lens. This is a real camera. The manual focus requires some practice but runs quite smooth and naturally. Changing aperture is easy and not hindering at all. Even full manual mode is nicely supported with indicators in the viewfinder.

I have mixed feelings about the electronic viewfinder you can put on top. You can turn it up by 90° and therefore offers a lot of flexibility. But the picture is not really crisp and the mechanical feeling is not Leica-like – because it is build by Olympus 😉

I was a little bit disappointed by the sharpness of the test pictures. I printed fotohits test pictures of a Leica M with Summarit-M 35mm 1.2 and a Nikon F810 with Nikkor 24-70 2.8 G ED on 20x30cm² prints and compared them. Believe it or not: the Nikon is sharper even though this is a zoom lens! Looking very closely to the pictures I believe the test rather compare the JPEG algorithm quality and maybe less the optical. Leica JPEG shows many JPEG artifacts.

Leica vs Nikon





Anyhow. I will buy a Leica M, once I don’t know how to spend my money. Some products just have to be very expensive – like a Ferrari – otherwise they will never become a far dream or wish. Feeding five people and paying mortgage as of today leaves enough time to wait for the right time: Leica! Like it, later.

Bean counting on size & weight

Very honestly, I am not a bean counter. But here I somehow enjoyed the engineering skills making excellent beautiful high end  cameras so small and light. I asked myself how much more do I have in my pocket if I choose MFT or Fujifilm x-mount system. Here is a comparison:

Camera lens [mm F] W [mm] H [mm] D [mm] Weight [g]
Sony RX100 III Zeiss 8.8-25.7 1.8-2.8 101,6 58,1 41,0 290
Lumix DMC-GM5 no lens 98,5 59,5 36,1 211
Lumix DMC-GM5 Lumix 12-32 3.5-5.6 98,5 59,5 60,1 281
Olympus PEN E-PM2 no lens 110,0 64,0 34,0 225
Olympus PEN E-PM2 Olympus 14-42 3.5-5.6 110,0 64,0 56,5 318
Fujifilm X-M1 no lens 117,0 67,0 39,0 280
Fujifilm X-M1 Fujinon XF 18 2.0 117,0 67,0 72,7 396

The Sony is clearly a pocket camera and offers the smalls Height and Depth with a fixed lens. The Lumix wins the Width dimension and the Olympus offers shortest Depth amongst the interchangeable lenses.  Weight is a clear win for the Lumix. The Fujifilm plays in a different size and weight league.

In the end it is a race between Sony and Lumix. But the above table is not completely fair, as the Sony offers „much more light“ with F=1.8-2.8. Getting this with the Lumix MFT lenses  pays a high price on weight and size:

Camera lens [mm F] W [mm] H [mm] D [mm] Weight [g]
Sony RX100 III Zeiss 8.8-25.7 1.8-2.8 101,6 58,1 41,0 290
Lumix DMC-GM5 no lens 98,5 59,5 36,1 211
Lumix DMC-GM5 Lumix 12-32 3.5-5.6 98,5 59,5 60,1 281
Lumix DMC-GM5 Lumix 12-35 2.8 98,5 59,5 109,9 516
Lumix DMC-GM5 Lumix 14-42 3.5-5.6 98,5 59,5 62,9 306
Lumix DMC-GM5 Olympus 14-42 3.5-5.6 98,5 59,5 58,6 304
Lumix DMC-GM5 Lumix G 20 1.7 98,5 59,5 61,6 298
Lumix DMC-GM5 Lunix G 14 2.5 98,5 59,5 56,6 266
Lumix DMC-GM5 Olympus 25 2.8 98,5 59,5 59,6 306

A comparable Sony/Zeiss lens at MFT is the Lumix 12-35mm F2.8. But it is long and heavy, lifting the weight of the Lumix up to 485g, and the depth of 109,9mm makes it like a big box in your pocket. The fixed focal length pancake lenses both from Lumix and Olympus give a much better pocket feeling. As a compromise I would then choose the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 with the Lumix 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 as the standard zoom and pick a fixed focus Lumix G20mm F1.7.


Finally, the winners in the competition for smallest and lightest are:

  • Sony RX100 III with fixed mounted Zeiss lens,
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 in the category of exchangeable lens cameras.

Here is a great web-page comparing the two camera sizes also visually.

Adding a new compact – say Sony

Digital compact cameras with fix mounted lenses both zoom and fixed focal length are the choice for many. But if you really look for highest quality the choices are very slim. Bright lenses, small body, and high quality sensors are basically owned by Sony RX100 and Fujifilm Finepix X.

Overall, the choice for my use-case „(1) snap-shot“ camera is very clearly the Sony RX100 III. It is not only very small (101.6 × 58.1 × 38.3 mm³), light (290g), and ergonomic, but also bright and sharp with its 1:1.8-2.8 Zeiss Zoom 8.8-25.7mm. This is a typical 24-70mm zoom in the FX language. 20 MP is also more than enough for this use case. The magazine fotohits offers all technical data and  details test results.

It only misses the GPS sensor.

That’s why it is on my Amazon watch-list. The official price is €850 and with €720 online it is a fair deal.

Fuji just released their new X30. Foto Hits technical details. Maybe check again? It is bigger and heavier: 423g, 118.7×71.6× 60.3 mm³  but offers a longer zoom: 7.1-28.4mm which translates to  28-112mm in FX. And misses a GPS, too. It has only a WiFi interface to smart phones to capture location data to store them in the pictures.

This blog has a nice Sony RX100 comparison also with Lumix GM1.


The Micro-Four-Thirds world

Kodak, Olympus, and later Panasonic joined their forces two win in the world of digital cameras that are smaller then Nikon’s or Canon’s DSLR. They created an „open standard“ to win this new market: First the „Four Thirds“ and later the „Micro-Four-Thirds“ (MFT). The word open is a relative term. For me as a software guy this is very closed as these standards are patent protected and available only under non-disclosure agreements. But for standards in photography this is much more open than the rest of the business ecosystem.

The MFT describes the size of the the sensor imaging area with 17.3×13.0 mm², the mechanics and electronic interfaces of the lenses. The size of the sensor is bigger than typical 1-inch and is 30% smaller than APS-C. It was designed purely for mirror-less digital photography and video in mind.

With the huge success of mirror-less digital cameras like the Olympus OM-D and Panasonic Lumix series there are more than 20 camera models, more than 25 zoom lenses, and more than 40 fix focal lenses in the MFT market. Several Olympus, Panasonic, and Leica lenses have an excellent quality reputation.

  • Olympus only newest camera bodies in MFT
    • Small, that could fit to use-case „(1) snap-shot“
      • PEN E-PM2
      • PEN E-PL7
      • PEN E-P5
    • Bigger, that could fit to the use case „(2) semi-pro“
      • OM-D E-M1
      • OM-D E-M5
      • OM-D E-M10
  • Panasonic Lumix only newest camera bodies in MFT
    • Small, that could fit to use-case „(1) snap-shot“
    • Bigger, that could fit to the use case „(2) semi-pro“

The small bodies, high quality, and retro look of the MFT cameras also offer good useability.

To-Be-Done here:

  1. Pick the right small Lumix
    1. nice GM1 Review
  2. Pick a small and bright lens
    1. great interactive overview
    2. MFT overview