If you’re like us, you have a long list of cameras you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, and your desires remain unfulfilled. Gear Patrol’s series “Want This, Get This” presents a lust-worthy shooter along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. This week, we’re celebrating two DSLRs that recall the golden age of film while also delivering next-gen features.
You’d be hard pressed to find a photographer who still shoots film, but digital cameras, though rife with bells and whistles, are steadily leaving many lamenting the days when photography was simple — when cameras were made of metal and button clutter didn’t get in the way of taking stunning shots. Nikon’s Df ($2,750) reassures the brand’s old-school customers that they’re not long forgotten. The Df is essentially a remake of the Nikon FE, one of the most lauded film SLRs in photographic history. But that isn’t to say that the new Df is archaic; rather, it’s the camera for the photographer who wants the latest DSLR internal technology but with the external aesthetic and ergonomics of a camera held in photographic veneration.
When you buy the Df, you’re buying a camera with the same 16MP full-frame sensor as the Nikon D4, which is Nikon’s flagship DSLR and costs a cool six grand. But the sensor isn’t why you buy the Df (though it doesn’t hurt). You buy the Df because it’s made of magnesium alloy. You buy it because all of the exposure dials (remember those?) are metal and because it doesn’t bother with features that still-shooting photographers don’t use, like video. But most of all, you buy the Df because it’s compatible with every Nikon autofocus lens ever made and every Nikon F-mount lens made since 1959. While the Df isn’t cheap, it isn’t a camera you’ll be replacing any time soon.
Olympus OMD E-M1
For thirty years Olympus manufactured their OM-series film SLRs — and with those cameras came some of the finest lenses ever produced. Olympus always adhered to a rather straightforward photographic philosophy: well-built cameras plus surgically sharp lenses equals outstanding photographs. That philosophy didn’t change when Olympus threw their hat into the digital ring. In 2012 Olympus decided to re-launch their OM series on a digital platform; they called it the OMD E-M5, and it was heralded by many reviewers as the best camera of the year. Recently, Olympus launched the E-M5’s successor, the OMD E-M1 ($1,399), which builds on every strength of its predecessor.
It’s no wonder Olympus is advertising the OMD E-M1 as a pro-level machine: it is a mirrorless camera that’s built like a magnesium alloy tank. It’s weatherproof, it’s freeze-proof, and it fits in your hand as well as the OM film cameras of yore. Olympus has equipped the E-M1 with a brand new 16MP sensor, and with phase and contrast autofocus and the ability to shoot at ten frames per second, you’ll never miss another shot. Like the Df, the E-M1 is unstoppable in terms of compatibility. Olympus, Panasonic, and Voigtlander all produce lenses for this camera, and through the use of simple adaptors, the E-M1 is compatible with Olympus Four Thirds lenses and micro Four Thirds lenses. While it might not have the aesthetic panache of the Df, the E-M1 is lightweight, discreet, and will produce smashing results with each photograph. And at fourteen hundred bucks, this is a retro-styled beast you can afford.