|Eight years and going strong.|
I have three cameras: A Panasonic GF1, a Canon EOS 20D, and a 5D Mark II to which I have off-and-on access. While I love the GF1 and think that mirrorless developments are the only thing that have fomented real innovation in the camera world, the power of the SLR model is undeniable. Whenever I enter a truly demanding environment, I carry along my EOS cameras.
Yes, they weigh a lot. Yes, they aren't quite inconspicuous. But when getting a shot really matters, my GF1 stays home.
For example, I was just outside trying to photograph some bees that have come out of hibernation early because winter never happened in New England, this year. Yeah, I have an obsession with bees. Bees are not exactly slow-moving. For their size, they never stop, and they move like the dickens. If I tried doing this with my GF1, nearly every outing would be a failure.
Yes, mirrorless is advancing quickly, and implementing one in a demanding environment is becoming feasible, but they weren't before, and really aren't quite there even now. For that, even though I lambast Canon, I use their cameras. And when I come out of a difficult situation with multiple good shots, I, if sometimes briefly, love them.
The romance is out of them, but I think that is because they have become tools as opposed to something romantic. That's why so many pro photogs like Leica so much, because there is romance in the cameras. They have their Nikons and Canons, but those may as well be Craftsman. They are tools for creating photos. With romance, just as with Leica, it's not about the photo, it's about how you got there.
I've never had much respect for that philosophy, but I can at least understand it. I sometimes lose perspective in the drive for ever-newer cameras and technology. I sometimes forget that the camera that has been serving me well for nearly eight years is still the thing that I instinctually grab when I worry about the environment that I might be entering.
I sometimes forget that the sorrow of a failed photo counteracts whatever pleasure I get from holding a camera. I sometimes forget, in my frustration with the company, that the tools that they made have produced most of the photos that, when I look back upon them, elicit the smile of a memory relived. I sometimes forget that while the camera, seemingly so tactile and real, breaks, fades, and is eventually forgotten, the photos, in all their ephemeral humanity, are forevermore.