We write about a broad range of cameras on B&H Explora. But which ones do we have at home and use regularly? Read on to find out.
Cory Rice: FUJIFILM GFX 50S II
After testing, renting, and dreaming about FUJIFILM’s GFX cameras for the past three years, I finally took the plunge and bought a GFX 50S II two months ago. I have no regrets. Paired with the GF 110mm f/2, it becomes one of the best camera and lens combinations I have ever used for portraits. Opened up, backgrounds melt into oblivion while subjects are rendered with staggering fidelity and detail. After nearly a decade fighting with “color accurate” Sony skin tones, FUJIFILM’s color science has provided a welcome breath of fresh air. I’ve even found myself incorporating film simulations into my post workflow for quick edits.
I’ve used the 50S II to shoot at ISOs I would never dare with my other cameras, and have yet to reject an image for noise. Much ink has been spilled waxing poetic over the low-light capabilities of new cameras. This is the first camera I am confident taking into any environment short of complete darkness, knowing that I can bring home usable images. The 50S II feels like a cross between a mirrorless and full-frame DSLR in your hands. Noticeably heavier than my Sony a7R IV, its bulk is nothing compared to older medium format DSLRs. With a smaller lens, it even flirts with everyday camera status.
Robert Sansivero: Nikon Z7
I never felt truly happy with a digital photo camera until I picked up a Nikon Z7. I had dabbled in other brands as I explored different photographic styles and each one had limitations and a unique image quality that did not appeal to me.
But the Nikon just felt right. Many of the images I create push the dynamic range of a camera, and the Z system has not let me down yet. I like to open up my shadows and focus in on every detail. In both of these images, lifting the shadows and subtly bringing light in allows me to get a very cinematic, painterly style that just feels natural to this camera system.
I also rarely need to adjust my colors after a shoot. The tones and hues closely match my lighting and look natural right out of the camera.
Coupled with the vast array of Nikon Z and adapted F lenses, I’m able to get very clean and sharp images without being too clinical or absent of personality. I currently have two Z cameras in my collection and I’ll be adding the Nikon Z8 very soon.
Todd Vorenkamp: FUJIFILM X-T3
My current workhorse is my FUJIFILM X-T3. I have had this camera for years and have become very comfortable with its capabilities and limitations. I love the size and weight and can carry it all day long without noticing it. I also really enjoy the rich FUJIFILM image quality.
I moved over to the world of mirrorless cameras years ago with the FUJIFILM X-T1 (now my backup camera—super small and lightweight, the X-T1 and I haven’t been able to part ways!) and I never looked back. I shoot prime lenses on the FUJIFILM cameras, almost exclusively, including some adapted Nikon lenses from my previous camera bag. I also throw on an occasional fun Lensbaby optic to unleash some visual creativity!
Is it time to upgrade since the X-T3 is getting a bit old? I did not upgrade to the X-T4 because it was larger and heavier and had the same sensor and processor as the X-T3. I am debating if I should upgrade to the FUJIFILM X-T5, but feel like I do not need the additional megapixels for my style(s) of photography—although the size is fantastic (awesome to see they slimmed it down from the X-T2, -T3, and -T4!) and the stabilization would be a great tool to have, as well.
Rachel Leathe: Minolta 110 Date Zoom
A couple of years ago, on a recommendation from a friend, I picked up a Minolta 110 Date Zoom 35mm point-and-shoot film camera.
We’ve been inseparable ever since.
The 110 was a favorite of Chinese artist and photographer, Ren Hang. His subversive, colorful images of his nude friends made him a very controversial figure in China and a celebrated artist abroad. His work also helped put the 110 on the map.
It has a blinding flash, hit-or-miss focus, and a miniscule viewfinder. It’s basically the antithesis of a modern digital camera. Shooting on the 110 is expensive and slow. And it can be infuriating at times. You may spend a small fortune on a roll of film, countless, precious hours shooting it, and another small fortune to develop it. All to discover that the entire roll is not viable.
But the risk is not without some reward.
I love that the 110 is pocketable. I love the delay between shooting the images and seeing them. I love my neighborhood film lab (shoutout to westlab nyc). I love the process of scanning film. And I love sharing those images with my friends.
I realize that shooting film makes nearly no sense financially or technically, but the results are far dearer to me than my digital images. I’ll be forever grateful to the friend who introduced me to the 110.
Howard Gotfryd: FUJIFILM X-Pro2
My father was a photojournalist, and I have been around photography since I was kicking about in knee pants. Because of my father, I was a dedicated Nikon user once I was old enough to purchase my own. By 2017, I had sold off all my film cameras (Nikons and a Leica, with an assortment of lenses) and a cement block of a Nikon N7000 rather than have them languish in the closet.
A pending trip to Italy compelled me to find a camera that would travel well, be easy to use, and would not have a Leica price tag. Since I was comfortable with the rangefinder format, I purchased a FUJIFILM X-Pro2 and 23mm, 35mm, and 56mm lenses. This kit is all I ever need because of the way I photograph and what I photograph.
My X-Pro2’s menu confused me until I became accustomed to it, at which point I decided I liked working with this camera a great deal. When I saw the results of my efforts from this first trip, I knew I had found a camera that I could work with comfortably. This “poor man’s Leica” is compact, dependable, captures sharp images when desired, renders acceptable bokeh, and handles images of bright light and shade like, well, a Pro.
Mos Khan: FUJIFILM X-Pro3
I’ve always gravitated toward FUJIFILM's interchangeable mirrorless X system cameras, and the one I’ve held onto the longest is the FUJIFILM X-Pro3. Is its tucked-away LCD kind of a pain? You bet. But I do appreciate its rangefinder-like viewfinder and its reductionist approach to photography while keeping modern bells and whistles.
I’ve only used the XF 23mm f/2 R WR Lens (equivalent to 35mm on a full-frame sensor), and I find the focal length perfect for most of the things I end up shooting (usually my dogs). The X-Pro3 is built around a smaller (but very capable) 24MP APS-C sensor. I’ve always loved FUJIFILM for its stills performance, and I think the colors that this camera delivers are top notch and pretty hard to beat for someone like me who’s pretty resistant to doing any kind of post editing. The film simulations are fun to use, as well.
It's got a fantastic build quality that feels great in hand, too, thanks to its reworked ergonomics. If you’re looking for something similar features-wise but in an even smaller package, the X100V is another camera to look out for (especially if you don’t need a lot of other lenses). For my needs, however, the X-Pro3 is compact enough, and boasts a ton of intuitive, external control dials. Its 24-megapixel sensor and hybrid viewfinder offer a ton of value for someone who only really shoots on occasion.
Stepan Andranikian: Sony a7R V
My go-to photo camera for the past few months would without a doubt be the Sony a7R V, I really can’t get enough of it. As a guy who primarily does video work, I’m often working with cameras that have a megapixel count on the lower end—12MP at most. But zooming in on a photo with an a7R V makes me feel like those ’90s movie hackers who say “ENHANCE” and, with a single mouse click, magically punch into an image 3 bajillion times without absolutely obliterating the pixels. The a7R's 61 Megapixels is a fun time. The number of insanely high-definition bird photos that I have sitting on a hard drive at this point is nothing short of concerning, but I can’t help it; with the AI autofocus, getting this camera to miss focus on fast-flying critters has pretty much become an extreme sport for me.
Jill Waterman: Nikon F3 HP and Sony RX 100 VII
I regularly use not one but two cameras for my long-term series, the New Year’s Eve Project. Since I started my documentation in the film era, in 1984, adding to my archive of black-and-white negatives is very important to me. Hence, my primary camera is a Nikon F4 HP with a 35-70mm f/2.8 NIKKOR Zoom and a Sunpak flash unit.
Shortly after the millennium, the advent of digital and the growth in popularity of compact rangefinder-style, integrated-lens, point-and-shoot models such as Canon’s G series and Sony’s RX 100 series inspired me to add a second camera—and vivid color—to the mix. The feather-like weight of these cameras makes it nearly effortless to carry one around my neck or over my shoulder, and then simply power it up and shoot from the hip as an alternative to my analog captures when the mood strikes—often during the recycling time of my flash.
While my F3 is fully manual (including the focus!) I generally use my Sony RX 100 VII on intelligent auto, with its tiny flash set to rear curtain sync for some atmospheric effect. There’s a different feeling to these color pictures than what I can get from my trusty Nikon and Ilford black-and-white negative film, but the added choice is definitely a benefit.
Which camera do you gravitate toward the most these days? Have you tried any of the cameras mentioned above? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the Comments section, below.