Thinking about what my next camera will be

Since I sold my Fuji X-E2 and its lenses, I miss having my own camera. Of course, I’ve had the camera of the iPhone 11 since, and I can always borrow my wife’s DSLR, but, somehow, it doesn’t feel the same.

There is something exciting about owning a camera — and by camera I mean a device dedicated to photography, not a phone: getting to know how it works, its strengths and weaknesses, etc. After a while, the camera becomes an extension of yourself, and you don’t really think about what each buttons does, it becomes natural, like getting familiar with a car when changing gears becomes a second nature.

Tim Coleman wrote an interesting article last week on Techradar: Why I’ve just bought a compact camera instead of an iPhone 13 Pro. This is what he writes about his new camera, the Ricoh GRIIIx:

Another big bonus is my new compact camera’s size. High-end cameras are usually big, bold and scream “professional money-making photographer, coming through”. But not the GR III X. It’s stubbier and narrower than your average smartphone, albeit a bit deeper to accommodate that brilliant image sensor.

But it still slips into your pocket and it is properly inconspicuous in a way that no other large sensor compact is. Out and about, you can get it out like your phone and no one really bats an eyelid. This is a great camera for observational street photography and everyday snaps. If that’s your thing, it’s undoubtedly one of the best compact cameras you can buy.

The “slips into your pocket” part is what matters to me. The biggest pain with the Fuji X-E2 was its size. Not that it was a big camera: with a small “pancake” lens it was actually very compact, but it was not compact enough to fit into a pocket. Taking my camera with me meant bringing a bag, or having a lanyard around my neck all day, which was annoying during hot summer days. This little annoyance convinced me way too often to leave the camera at home, and just rely on my phone.

I love the camera on the iPhone 11. Pictures are good, sometimes very good, and in challenging situations, like direct sunlight or dark environment, it performs better than many cameras. I won’t even get into the other benefits of a smartphone compared to a regular camera: permanent backup of photos, access to powerful editing apps on the device and native sharing capabilities, and — of course — much better at video recording; all of this in a body roughly half the size of the smallest compact camera, with much better battery life, and carrying one or two extra lenses when a different focal length is needed (especially the very useful ultra wide angle now pretty common on phones).

The other day, I was looking at family photos, and the ones that stood out the most, the ones where I thought “oh that’s a nice picture,” and the ones I added to the Favourites album were almost always pictures taken with my Fuji or Olga’s Canon EOS D200. Not only the pictures looked sharper, the textures richer, but it was clear that I had put more efforts into each shot. They were simply better photographs. Sure, some of the other great ones were taken with a smartphone, but to me, they didn’t not have the same glow, the same “for eternity” look.

So, the question is: what should I do now? I’ve had the Ricoh GRIII on my radar for a few months now — mostly thanks to the enthusiasm of YouTuber Kai W — and my answer is to wait and see how much the photography will improve on the next iPhone. Then, I will decide what to do.