Since I, very reluctantly, converted to digital five years ago, I've been complaining and whining about the same old things: too many gadgets on modern cameras, too many menus, too small viewfinders, too much plastic... very little that caters for slow photographers, photographers who take their time and who want to focus manually now and then.
Don't misunderstand me. I love the gadgets too, and at the moment, I'm having a great time with the GH1, particularly when it's firmly placed on a tripod for product photography or video. But now and then, I need to get back to the roots, but first I have to find them. They are not necessarily the OM-system that still floats around in my drawers, although they might be.
So here's a bit of thinking aloud. The target is to find a camera/system for manual focusing, mostly portraits and probably mostly b&w. It must have a good to great viewfinder, spot metering and there must be at least one great portrait lens available for the system. I don't care for vertical grips for portraits, since i tend to tilt the camera in the opposite direction (even when the grip is there ).
The obvious solution would be to buy an OM 85mm or 100mm f/2.0 (The 100mm f/2.8 doesn't cut it and although the 90mm f/2.0 macro is a great lens, the focusing scale is optimised for macro) for my OM-3 and OM-2S. Cost: $500-1,000.
Another film solution would be to buy a Contax RX. I have the Zeiss CY 85mm f/1.4, and the RX is available for less than $300 in very good shape. The Aria is nice to, but diopter adjustment relies on changing eyepieces which can be difficult to find. The RTS is too heavy.
Or I could buy a Nikon FMsomething and use the 105mm f/1.8 that I also have. Unless it's an FM3A, they are mostly dirt cheap, and somewhere between 2 and 300 dollars should do the job nicely.
Another Nikon alternative would be the F6, but it's $1,500 second hand. The advantage is that it will work flawlessly with all of my other Nikon gear. Or an F3?
Then there's the Kodak SLR/n, which absolutely qualifies for slow photography. Very slow, from what I've heard. Available for between 500 and 1,000.
At last, the two totally non-exotic alternatives, the D700 ($1,500 to 2,000 used around here) and the ur-5D for 1,000 plus adapters. But the D700 is just another Nikon, and as good as it is, it may have too few limitations for this project. It's simply a D300 with a bigger sensor. And only Nikon lenses may apply. The 5D is a more obvious choice, since it can use almost any lens created on earth, but it's ugly, I don't care too much for the files that come out of it and the ergonomics are beyond hopeless. A bit in the opposite direction of where i want to go.
So where should I go. Is this only blabber from a grumpy old photographer who's tired of plastic-fantastic this Monday morning, or will any of these alternatives lead me towards a new, shining truth?
PS. Yeah, yeah, I know... medium format. But not this time around... I think
Edit: My current gear? Nikon and Fuji F-mount bodies, a GH1 and OM film gear.