How I put together the Ultimate Walk-Around Camera (for next to nothing)
There isn’t a day that goes buy where you don’t see a post about how you HAVE to go Mirrorless and STOP USING DSLRs. Now I certainly understand Mirrorless Cameras and why people may want them. I just don’t understand the “HAVE TO” part of the reasoning that DSLRs HAVE to go away.
The fact is, for the most part, Mirrorless cameras would be just as good if they had a mirror than if they didn’t. A Sony A7R III would still be an excellent camera and sensor even if it had a mirror (a99?) and of course would still have an annoying menu (lol).
The reason that most people like mirrorless cameras, even listening to the manufacturers, is that they are smaller and lighter than DSLR. THAT is the main difference.
Now, I’ve shot with a DSLR for well as long as I have been digital and shot with SLR cameras when I shot film. Currently I shoot with a Canon 6D MKII. Great camera for a good price. I also use the Canon BG-E21 Battery grip. I’ve used battery grips on my last 3 cameras, I love the ergonomics of a battery grip and how it fits my hand. I also, since I shoot star trails and time lapse, love the battery life of two batteries. Now of course that makes my camera larger and heavier. But the fit in my hand and quite honestly, the weight just never has been a problem for me…at all. Now I’m not a backpack hiker and even when I hike, I’m not one to bring my whole kit with me, But the camera weight is fine. It fits in my hand wonderfully, I mostly only use a hand-strap as I’m not big on neck straps. Weight on the end of your hand (believe it or not) feels a lot less than on your neck. To sum up, the weight of a DSLR just has never been an issue for me.
But (Big Butt), I will admit that in some instances I actually would like a smaller lighter camera to carry around. When I am in a big city, it’s not the weight of a large camera that bothers me but just how “Noticeable” it is. You get a lot of “Hey nice Camera!” from Street people. And if you are trying to take an inconspicuous “Street Photo” it’s hard to be just that. I also thought, on some of my hikes, they really aren’t great photo opportunities yet my phone isn’t good enough for me (Still at iPhone 6sm) and I’d like to have a good camera if an opportunity popped up and I hate regret.
I thought it would be nice to have a small, lightweight camera for those certain situation, or even just to carry in the truck.
Now of course I could rush out and buy a new Mirrorless, it’s not out of the question. A Fuji X-100F. It’s a nice enough camera. But it’s a fixed lens and it’s $1300! As a professional Photographer. I don’t have that kind of money for …um…cameras (the Pro Photographer Paradox) I could get a XT2. It’s got interchangeable lenses…but, it’s more than spent on my Work camera.
So, how could I find a workaround?
Well, sitting in my closet (since the new camera) is my Canon 6D. It’s a compact (smaller than 5 series) interchangeable lens Full Frame DSLR. Its lightweight (1.7lbs). I also have Canon’s amazing little and cheap (inexpensive cheap) 40mm 2.8 Pancake lens. It comes in at just .29 lbs. and it’s so small that people mistake it for a body cap. I pulled the battery grip off this camera, threw on a Peak Design SL3 (lite) strap and a 32GB SanDisk Pro card and I have the perfect walk around camera. I walked around with it the whole day yesterday in downtown San Diego over 9 miles and I didn’t even know I had a camera on me. And the picture quality was OUTSTANDING.
I at first wondered about the 40mm focal length. I first thought about a Nifty-Fifty but I have to say for my work, I’m the one person on the world that HATES that focal length. Now I think 35mm for street is ideal and as it turns out 40mm is really close enough. It worked for most everything I wanted as I wandered the streets. But how about out on a trail? This is really where I thought it just would not work for me. But I have to say it did. I did have to change my position/perspective a bit from what I would with my 17-40mm (at 17-24mm) but it just wasn’t the problem I thought it would be.
So, what is so great about it:
- Small & Lightweight. At a total weight with lens, card and battery of 900g (1.98lb) in comparison a Fuji XT-2 with a 23mm lens comes in at 1.51 lb. A Fuji XH-1 (which they made larger) comes in at 1.88lbs. A Fuji X-100F comes in at just over 1 lb. (but is fixed lens) I’m just using Fuji for comparison since it often the recommended change, but Sony’s and Olympus weights would be similar. Some actually heavier. All are good cameras
- Great Battery life. I can get 500 frames out of 1 battery
- Interchangeable lenses. Yes, I usually keep my 40mm lens on. BUT I have the option of using ANY of my other Canon lenses if need be. And I’ve always bought lenses that make sense for Landscape Photographers that need to carry things some distance (i.e Canon 70-200 4.0 Non- IS as opposed to the 70-200 2.8 IS) My 17-40mm is still lightweight and the 24-105mm is super versatile IF need be.
- Great Low ISO performance. This camera was my go to Star/Milkyway/night camera
- Great feel in hand. The grip fits my hand, it’s not awkward at all like some ‘thin” cameras are
- Outstanding Full Frame image quality, 20mp of goodness. Printable to large sizes
- None of the “well it’s small but… (Small Butt)
And the cost to me? Well it could have been nothing. But I opted to go for a new smaller Peak Design Strap ST3 SlideLite strap, (half the weight) so it cost me $50 bucks
You could put together this for a great price though now. Canon refurbished has the 6D for $799 currently (spring sale 4/23/18) and the 40mm 2.8 Pancake for just $160. I buy a lot of refurbished items and they have all been great. So, for $960 you’ve got an amazing Full Frame lightweight walk around camera…PLUS it could be your everything camera (I do NOT have an Affiliate relationship with Canon Store)
IF, you already have a lot of Canon EF-S lenses OR are largely into video you could substitute a refurbished Canon 80D with the 24mm 2.8 Pancake (38mm equivalent) for about $906 total (as of today)
Anyway, that’s my story. I REALLY like this thing. It’s a great combo and a lot of fun. But, yes, I’ve still got my BIG DSLR. It’s awesome too
Sample Images (edited in LR) ( i thought about posting SOOC, but then why? I never leave things 98% of the time SOOC)