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CSC : Digital Compact System Cameras - This new category of digital Compact System Cameras with interchangeable lenses was mislabeled for a time as "Mirrorless Cameras" by those forgetting about "Mirrorless" Rangefinder cameras.  Such confusion is easily understandable, since interchangeable rangefinder cameras were only recently introduced in 1932.  hmm.    CSC or Compact System Camera is probably the best category description to date, although I am fond of the old RFF desigation of  CEVIL  indicating Compact Electronic Viewfidner Interchangeable Lens.   This forum is here at RFF because via adapters these cameras offer an inexpensive way to use rangefinder lenses on digital cameras -- in addition of just about every 35mm SLR lens you can think of.  All  offer the photo enthusiast an incredible array of adopted lenses which was not possible before these new digital formats.   This group continues to grow in popularity and new camera models! 

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CEVIL dilemma - could use some input
Old 03-28-2012   #1
Ken Ford
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CEVIL dilemma - could use some input

I've been biding my time waiting for the right CEVIL system to come along. I want it to supplement (mostly replace, really) my Leica RF kit. I currently work with and carry a 35 & 75, plus I have a 28, a 40 and a 90 but do not usually keep them in the bag. A built-in eye level finder in the usual RF position is essential to me.

First, the NEX7 was announced. I thought this might be the one; I have a deep distrust of Sony's market loyalty (MiniDisc, anyone?) but I was willing to overlook it for the right system. Due to the delays I haven't had a chance to handle one yet.

Then, the Fuji X-Pro1 popped up. This sounded perfect with the OVF and EVF overlay. My biggest concern was that sometimes Fuji products seem like they should have spent a little more time in the oven before they were released. That, and they don't offer a 35mm equivalent yet and will probably never make a 75mm-e prime. Again, I haven't found one to check out.

This was all a rhetorical exercise until just recently when my tax return ended up to be more than expected.

If I were to buy an NEX7 I'd go with the kit zoom with a Leica M adapter and add native primes later; the Fuji, probably just a body, adapter and the 35mm. The Fuji would be a serious budget stretch.

I'm interested in hearing from others that have considered these two system cameras, what they decided for themselves and how they arrived at their decision. It's a major investment for me and other people's experiences would help me direct and focus my own analysis.

Thanks!
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Old 03-28-2012   #2
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Don't forget Ricoh.
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Old 03-28-2012   #3
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I ended up buying a NEX-5N + EVF. I thought about the NEX-7, but the Steve Huff test shots with wide-angle M glass turned me off to it as an option. (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2011/1...xr-comparison/). I had the advantage of giving the 5N a rather extensive test drive as part of my day job, which helped to seal the deal--still haven't gotten a NEX-7 in for review, but Sony tells me one should be coming soon.

I wrote up my personal experience with the 5N for my blog, which I hope you find worth the time it takes to read--http://www.daguerreotyping.com/?p=2112

When I shoot M glass with the 5N, I generally ISO to auto and shoot in shutter priority, adjusting the aperture as needed via the lens. If I'm in a particularly dim situation I'll bump the ISO to 6400 manually, keep the lens wide open, and shoot in aperture priority.

I've also shot with the Ricoh GXR and the A12 M mount module. It feels much better than the NEX in my hands--although I have a Gardiz leather half-case for the 5N coming in that I hope changes that--and its control layout is superior. But I lose the ability to use the Hawk Peng M adapter and the Ricoh LCD EVF is nowhere near as good as the Sony OLED EVF. Both support focus peaking. My for-work review of the Ricoh system just published, if you aren't familiar with it--but keep in mind that it's written for a more general audience--http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2401858,00.asp

I had a very brief hands-on with the X-Pro1 at CES. It handled well, but I was locked down to a trade show booth. Hoping to get a chance to really shoot with it soon.

Hope this helps!
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Old 03-28-2012   #4
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I bought the NEX 5n with the EVF accessory and the Hawk adapter too. I think this combination will produce good quality prints using the RF lenses I currently own. My main reasons for buying the 5n are:

Package size - I'm an avid motorcyclist and wanted a small camera as storage space is at a premium. Also the thought of beating up my M8 was something I am concerned about. Jostling around in the hard bag of my bike is a concern. Yes it would be in a sturdy camera bag but vibration is a worry. Will the 5n hold up? Who knows but it didn't cost $2500 either.

High(er) ISO - I think the 5n will work very well to 3200. I don't like the way the M8 files look much above 320.

Wide Angle - Ability to handle wider than 35mm lenses without color shifts or losing corner detail. I have 12mm and 15mm CV lenses that I'd like to shoot jpeg.

I'm sure the Ricoh would do all of theses things too. However the Hawk adapter allows for some close focusing situations that might be interesting.

VBR,
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Old 03-28-2012   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aristophanes View Post
Don't forget Ricoh.
Ricoh has something with a built-in EVF in the upper corner? That's an essential feature for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpfisher View Post
I ended up buying a NEX-5N + EVF...
Good information - thank you! I'll read up in your blog and what Steve Huff posted. I'm not as worried about wide angle performance with non-native lenses, but it's definitely something I need to research first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cincyMAT View Post
I bought the NEX 5n with the EVF accessory and the Hawk adapter too...
More good info! I did look at the NEX5n when it first came out, but I really don't want an external EVF and I didn't care for the menu system. IQ from the 5n does look exemplary, though!
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Old 03-28-2012   #6
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OM-D ?
The camera is called E-M5, it has a built-in EVF, among other useful features.
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Gxr Vf + A12
Old 03-28-2012   #7
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Gxr Vf + A12

I came to the GXR from the GRDIII, which has grown to be my pocket notebook, so was used to Ricoh controls that are by now second nature. That's worth a lot.

The GXR's optional viewfinder has eye relief (essential for me), and can be ratcheted for diagonal and 90 degree composition--which I like from my TLR and Bronica experience. Although I have the P10 module as a travel-zoom, I use the A12 90%. Today's kit is the GXR + M4, plus 15mm Heliar, 35mm Color Skopar, 50/1.8 Canon, 85/1.9 Serenar.

Caveat: I have no NEXperience! But am happy with Ricoh's compact 1.5X solution.
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Old 03-28-2012   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox View Post
OM-D ?
The camera is called E-M5, it has a built-in EVF, among other useful features.
An interesting option, but it falls short on an essential requirement - that the VF be in the corner of the body like a traditional RF.
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Old 03-28-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Ford View Post
An interesting option, but it falls short on an essential requirement - that the VF be in the corner of the body like a traditional RF.
Having just handled an E-M5 last night, I have to say you might want to handle it before ruling it out. The camera is a tight little piece of work, and with it's dimensions it really isn't that far away from the corner. I understand wanting to be able to keep the left eye open for additional view of the scene, but you can do that with the E-M5 even with it's placement of the finder. Not to mention a slew of reasons as to why this camera may be claiming a place in my bag very soon...
  • 5 Axis stabilization with every lens you stick on the body, even non-natives? Awesome.
  • Great lowlight performance with live exposure feedback in the viewfinder? Way useful.
  • 9 FPS? (does turn the stabilization off however) Less useful, but really handy when needed.
  • Still a sexy little beast with classic OM lines? Gorgeous.
  • The most rock solid mirrorless I've held yet? Essential.
  • All kinds of other features I can't even get into with devoting a whole page to it...
This camera is seriously a killer piece of design and photographic equipment. I'm also swooned by the X-Pro1, but for the price the E-M5 may be hard to overlook.

Last edited by PrecisionCamera : 03-28-2012 at 13:03.
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Old 03-28-2012   #10
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Originally Posted by PrecisionCamera View Post
Having just handled an E-M5 last night, I have to say you might want to handle it before ruling it out. The camera is a tight little piece of work, and with it's dimensions it really isn't that far away from the corner. I understand wanting to be able to keep the left eye open for additional view of the scene, but you can do that with the E-M5 even with it's placement of the finder. Not to mention a slew of reasons as to why this camera may be claiming a place in my bag very soon...
  • 5 Axis stabilization with every lens you stick on the body, even non-natives? Awesome.
  • Great lowlight performance with live exposure feedback in the viewfinder? Way useful.
  • 9 FPS? (does turn the stabilization off however) Less useful, but really handy when needed.
  • Still a sexy little beast with classic OM lines? Gorgeous.
  • The most rock solid mirrorless I've held yet? Essential.
  • All kinds of other features I can't even get into with devoting a whole page to it...
This camera is seriously a killer piece of design and photographic equipment. I'm also swooned by the X-Pro1, but for the price the E-M5 may be hard to overlook.

When does the EM5 go on sale? It's tempting since I have a few mft lenses. Can you comment on the EVF?
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Old 03-28-2012   #11
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I do hope to track down one of the new Olys to check out, just because. It does look like an amazing piece of kit.

I managed to find a NEX7 in stock at the local Sony Outlet, so I'm hoping to stop on the way home to check it out. I doubt I'll be buying anything before I've had a chance to look at the Fuji and possibly others.
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Old 03-28-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thardy View Post
When does the EM5 go on sale? It's tempting since I have a few mft lenses. Can you comment on the EVF?
They should start flowing in around beginning to mid April.

I can comment (although not terribly much), and that is the first thing I inspected about the E-M5.

To boot: I hate EVFs. I like my optical, I trust my eyes more than a sensor, and there is never any delay through pure glass as opposed to EVF lag.

However, the E-M5's EVF is a whole other beast. We were in a dark room, and it still looked great but not overpowering. The lag nil, although some more thorough testing would have to confirm it's near-nonexistance. It looks great however, it's uncluttered an all the HUD info is perfectly visible without being obnoxious. One thing I particularly enjoyed about it was the instant exposure feedback, really helpful for not chimping every three seconds to check the exposure, it just tells you in real time and visibly.

I still love my OVFs, but this EVF makes the difference seem negligible.

Additionally: The AF is fast fast fast, and the stabilization is slick!

Last edited by PrecisionCamera : 03-28-2012 at 14:31. Reason: clarity
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Old 03-28-2012   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrecisionCamera View Post
They should start flowing in around beginning to mid April.

I can comment (although not terribly much), and that is the first thing I inspected about the E-M5.

To boot: I hate EVFs. I like my optical, I trust my eyes more than a sensor, and there is never any delay through pure glass as opposed to EVF lag.

However, the E-M5's EVF is a whole other beast. We were in a dark room, and it still looked great but not overpowering. The lag nil, although some more thorough testing would have to confirm it's near-nonexistance. It looks great however, it's uncluttered an all the HUD info is perfectly visible without being obnoxious. One thing I particularly enjoyed about it was the instant exposure feedback, really helpful for not chimping every three seconds to check the exposure, it just tells you in real time and visibly.

I still love my OVFs, but this EVF makes the difference seem negligible.

Additionally: The AF is fast fast fast, and the stabilization is slick!

Thanks. I may preorder this one.
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Old 03-28-2012   #14
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Quote:
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Thanks. I may preorder this one.
Silver

or

Black

We will have the kits too, but that can be figured out when they arrive if you'd like.

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Old 03-28-2012   #15
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I would not ignore the Ricoh GXR Mount unit. Purpose designed and built for rangefinder lenses. I use it with 28, 50, and 90mm lenses. Works beautifully.
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Old 03-28-2012   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox View Post
OM-D ?
The camera is called E-M5, it has a built-in EVF, among other useful features.

I have to say that if I was in the market for something like the OP describes ... the OM-D would be it.

I'm not the least bit put off by the 4/3 format and I think the sensor will be a gem. The Xpro I'm not so keen on for some reason and to me those Nex's look a lens wiith a camera attached!
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Old 03-28-2012   #17
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To boot: I hate EVFs.
So do I. I've hated every single one of them I've looked through - including those recommended by others who've found one good enough for them and produced good photos. So I do tend to be sceptical. Your comments, as a fellow EVF-hater, make me think I should have a look through this one, though, to see if it can change my mind.

...Mike
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Old 03-28-2012   #18
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I've been biding my time waiting for the right CEVIL system to come along. I want it to supplement (mostly replace, really) my Leica RF kit. I currently work with and carry a 35 & 75, plus I have a 28, a 40 and a 90 but do not usually keep them in the bag. A built-in eye level finder in the usual RF position is essential to me.

If you want to use the same lenses on your CEVIL camera, the best bets today are the Ricoh GXR and NEX-5N, perhaps followed by the NEX-7 but you'll need to investigate how your lenses fare on that body. It isn't all bad news on the NEX-7. All three cameras offer focus peaking which and view magnification as focus aides. The GXR has two flavours of focus assist.

If you mostly use the 35 and 75, you'll be looking for a ~ 21 - 25 and 50 if you want equivalent fields of view, but perhaps your 28 and 40mm lenses will suffice on the crop camera.

Another alternative would be an M8 of some flavour, unless you want a CEVIL camera for their specific advantages (macro, very long telephoto, live view...).

Are you a right eye shooter? If the viewfinder placed on the left is a must-have because you are right eyed want to keep the other open, then only the NEX-7 will manage all you want. On the off-chance that you are a left eye shooter but left mounted viewfinder traditionalist, then your nose will be in the LCD screen of a NEX-7 or X-Pro 1. Probably also on the NEX-5N as well. I'm a left eye dominant shooter and find the GXR viewfinder keeps my nose away from the back of the camera. On my 5N I was always cleaning it. Your nose may vary.

By the way, I had the NEX-5N with Hawk adapter - it's a great combo if you enjoy getting up close to a subject. At full extension, the Hawk helicoid would reduce my Zeiss 25 from 0.5 meter minimum focus distance to about three finger widths in front of the lens (say 0.06cm or so).

I ended up selling the 5N and keeping the GXR. I miss the Hawk adapter but get by with a Leitz OUFRO (10mm I think) M - M adapter/close focus ring.

Ricoh GXR M Mount / ZM35/2 / Leica OUFRO ring | Dog | Handheld

What sold me on the GXR was the fact that I could throw virtually any M lens on the camera and get from the lens everything it is capable of, edge to edge. I don't always need that, but when I do, that ability is there.

Given the rate of change in the CEVIL area I am also not keen on paying up to buy camera-specific lenses. Keeping and adding to my rangefinder lens collection I saw/still see as one way of avoiding vendor lock-in, using M lenses as a portable lens solution for any popular compact camera with a short back focus distance (thus allowing for adapter depth). The GXR with M Mount module performs just that much better because it was designed from the outset to run M lenses and like the M9 and M8 has no anti alias filter.

The NEX-5N runs a close second, and has its own advantages. I was in line to buy a NEX-7 until confirmation of the problems it has with wider lenses started to come out; since then though I've seen some photographers doing well with even a CV15mm so I'm not sure what to think about that camera.

On a crop camera I shoot a ZM18 and ZM35 most frequently so won't purchase a body that can't handle these well, although in the case of the X-Pro 1 I'd be willing to purchase the XF35 as it does look excellent and is priced well for what it is. The XF18 however doesn't work for me at all, which leads me to my last comment - from what we've seen so far (significant smearing away from the centre frame, worse as the focal length decreases) it doesn't look like the X-Pro 1 will be an easy choice for those shooting mostly M lenses, at least not if edge to edge performance matters and it doesn't matter for all photographers or subjects.

The NEX-5N with a Hawk adapter, with or without the EVF, is a relatively low cost point of entry - use your existing glass. The GXR is a little more, with the EVF included. Actually, similarly outfitted to run M glass, the NEX-5N, NEX-7, and GXR all come in within a couple hundred dollars of each other.

Or... Maybe you should bide your time a little longer?
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Old 03-28-2012   #19
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I was able to spend about a half hour with an NEX7 and kit lens tonight, and I'm not seeing anything that would turn me away. It's smaller than I would have liked, but workable - the control layout is generally good, and the Tri-Nav system is great.

The EVF is fine for my needs; it's capable of back button AF like my Nikons. I probably wouldn't be using any of my M mount glass with it so that's not a concern - I would instead use Nikkors and Zuikos, each of which I already have in 24mm and 50mm.

I really, really dislike cameras with auxiliary VFs of any kind. I've had too many bad experiences with them and finally swore off them a few years ago. I have a zero chance of buying a 5n or a Ricoh with an external EVF.

I'll try to hold off until I can lay hands on a Fuji, but the NEX7 impressed me.
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Old 03-28-2012   #20
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Did you consider adding a good used M8 + 50 ?
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Old 03-28-2012   #21
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Financially out of reach from what I've seen, and I would still need more glass. I can't see how an M8 could work for me.
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Old 03-29-2012   #22
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I've posted this a few times already, but why not once more
I had the NEX5N + EVF and used it for M lenses. This worked nicely, only problem was lenses that have deep depth of field. For example a 28mm f2.8 lens. Wide open it was ok to focus with Sonys peaking, but stopped down to f4 it was almost impossible.

I bought a GXR M just because it was offered to me at a good price in and I was curious.
Long story short: I sold the NEX and still have the GXR.

Ergonomics of the GXR are much better. The viewfinder is worse by specs, but it does not exhibit the strong colors and contrasts the Sony OLED has which makes it easier on the eyes (altough I miss the resolution and auto toggle).
The EVF is really the ONLY thing the NEX had over the GXR, and this was not as clear cut as it seems.
Sony = bigger, higher resolution
GXR = easier on the eyes, better with high contrast scenes, better with glasses

but what sold me on the GXR was their mode 2 focus assists. This is not a peaking like sony has, but a high pass filtered image. It works supremely well. Focusing even the 28mm at f4 is easy without zooming in.

second thing that the GXR does better and is important to me: for perfect focus you want to magnify the view sometimes. The NEX does this by pressing a programmable button. Push it, and it magnifies, push it again and it zooms out.
on the GXR it is also tied to the shutter: if you are zoomed in, and you half press the shutter, you see the zoomed out, clear view of the subject. release the shutter, and you are zoomed in again with all the focusin aids you have enabled. awesome for classic focus-recompose technique.
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Old 03-29-2012   #23
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An interesting option, but it falls short on an essential requirement - that the VF be in the corner of the body like a traditional RF.
Interesting requirement.

Perhaps the rumored next version of the Digital Pen would be just what you're looking for. But this is in the future, not relevant to the question at hand. I'm just saying.
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Old 03-29-2012   #24
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I have to say that if I was in the market for something like the OP describes ... the OM-D would be it.

I'm not the least bit put off by the 4/3 format and I think the sensor will be a gem. The Xpro I'm not so keen on for some reason and to me those Nex's look a lens wiith a camera attached!
Did I sense a change of tune, Keith?
I seem to remember at one time you're dismissing the m4/3rd system because of the sensor size.

But I'm with you on the Nex cameras look. Althought Nex 7 is a bit better, size wise.
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Old 03-29-2012   #25
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I lied.



After giving this a lot more thought last night and today, I've decided the Fuji is just too far out of reach for me financially. That, added to the results I'm seeing from the new Sigma 30/2.8 pushed me over the edge into ordering an NEX7. I can see myself using this 30/2.8 and a Sony 50/1.8 the majority of the time.

I came to the realization that non-native MF lens use is going to be a sideshow for me, so I can live with the implementation of MF focus aids in the NEX. I'm not entirely sold on peaking yet, I'll probably rely mostly on magnification for the moment when using legacy glass.

I really don't have much of a desire for the kit lens, but at $150 it's worth having to make selling the camera easier down the road if needed.

Thank you all for your thoughts - they were a great help!
__________________
"If you can control yourself and just loathe us quietly from a distance then by all means stay." - Joe

M6 - Leicavit M - RapidWinder - Motor M
28 Ultron - 35 Summicron ASPH - 40 Summicron - 75 Summarit-M - 75 Color-Heliar - 90 Elmar-C
X100s, NEX-7, N1V1, oodles of filthy Nikon SLRs and DSLRs, some OM gear, an XA, Retinas, a 4x5 and a lonely 500C/M
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