What camera systems are worth it?

Given that my feelings for Canon’s lackluster approach to mirrorless cameras, I’m now obligated to look for a new camera system, and that has me looking at cameras I’d previously ignored.

Fujifilm’s X system is a recent entrant into the interchangeable lens mirrorless camera fray (note that not all the cameras in the X line sport interchangeable lenses, or similar sensor sizes or body types). The X-E1 received a gold rating from DPreview, and the new X-M1 is looking like another good camera as well. The interchangeable lens cameras in the X line feature a large APS-C sized sensor that looks a lot better than the Canon SLR sensors. As for price, Amazon has the X-E1 at $799 with a kit lens so the camera begs consideration.

If the X system has a fault, it’s the lens lineup. There are some nice looking primes and a few zooms, but the widest of the lenses is 14mm. With the 1.5x crop factor, the lens falls short of my wide-angle expectations. The cameras look good enough that I’m considering lens mount adapters like those from Metabones, but even they don’t have much to work with. Carl Zeiss has the recently introduced Touit series for Fujifilm X and Sony NEX, but those run richer than my budget.

Metabones does have some more adapters for Sony’s NEX system, including a Canon EF adapter that supports autofocus and another one that reshapes the light path from Canon’s full-frame lenses to neatly cover the APS-C sized sensor of the Sony NEX. So now that I’ve opened the door for adapters, I’m looking more closely at the NEX system again.

I’m naming the Sony NEX and Fujifilm X systems because they both boast sensors as big as or larger than the sensors I’m familiar with in Canon’s crop frame SLRs, but package them in very compact cameras. As much as I love my Lumix LX3, as much as the Micro Four Thirds Lumix GX7 makes my socks roll up and down, the small sensor sizes result in long depth of field and more noise than these Fujifilm and Sony systems.

I’m in good company looking at these cameras, though. Trey Ratcliff dumped his Nikon for Sony’s NEX system and David Hobby, better known as the Strobist, estimates he’ll “probably make more pictures with this [Fujifilm X100s] camera over the next year than all of my other cameras combined.” The X100s isn’t an interchangeable lens camera like the X-M1 and X-E1, but it shares the same sensor. (Actually, it’s worth noting that the feature Hobby really loves about the X100s, the leaf shutter with insanely high flash sync speeds, isn’t a feature of Fujifilm’s interchangeable lens cameras. Leaf shutters are pretty much only found on cameras with non-interchangeable lenses, like my small-sensor Lumix LX-3.)

Fujifilm X-M1