What is the Best Camera You Have Ever Owned?

What is the Best Camera You Have Ever Owned?

Forget technology updates, larger sensor capacity, and more dynamic range. If you could only choose one camera to shoot with for the rest of your photographic life, what would it be?

What camera have you owned or do you still own that just puts the excitement back into your photography. I don't mean the camera that captures the best images by that statement, that's simply down to the photographer. I mean what camera just feels right? The one that makes you think, "what will I capture today?" The one that excites you to use, even if the motivation for taking photographs for that day is non-existent. We all have a camera like this and whether it's a distant memory like them good old days, or whether you still have the camera in your collection, there must be one that resonates with you, shall we say, at a higher level.

Technology Overload

It feels like these days with all the new megapixel sensors and the next big thing in camera technology we are constantly bombarded with a must-have scenario to improve our photography. And of course, we all know this to be untrue; the camera captures the image, the photographer first sees the image. How the resulting image turns out is down to the photographer's knowledge and skill of their craft and subject matter, and no amount of megapixels is going to improve their photography; quite the opposite in fact as the mistakes will only be amplified.

Technological advances in photography are increasing at hell for leather pace, which is not a bad thing at all, and welcomed in my books. But when is enough, enough? Only yesterday when you finally sorted out the menus of your system and got to know your camera do the manufacturers bring out the next best thing. Yes, it's an upgrade, and yes it can simply do more than the $4k camera that you purchased only 3 months prior.

Now honestly, this is a great thing, and as mentioned I welcome it, as progress can surely do only one thing: provide the photographer with enough technology in their camera to be able to advance their craft.

Choose your Camera

So, going back to the title of this article, this is the best camera I have ever owned: the one above, the Fujifilm XT-3. If you have ever owned one or currently use one you may know what I mean. If you have never and don't in fact like Fuji, that is entirely your prerogative, and below in the poll, you will be able to indicate your preferred brand. I'm going to keep it to brands as there are so many cameras out there, the poll would be endlessly scrollable, but I'll get to that later.

The Fuji XT-3 for me was the camera I didn't know I needed, and it's as simple as that. I'm not going to harp on about sensor size, ISO capabilities, or anything to do with the technology contained within this camera. I am simply going to wax lyrical about the buzz I felt when using the camera. What it was capable of in terms of technology is insignificant compared to how it made me feel when using it.

This is Just Right

This camera excited me to use it. The aesthetics, the ergonomics, everything about it just felt right, including the menu, and I would look for things to shoot. Subjects that I didn't normally shoot or didn't normally interest me, suddenly had a new air of photographic interest and I would look for ways to capture them so that I could just study the resulting image.

Now by no means are these images in this article anything worth giving a second glance to, but I do remember capturing them all and that's because of the buzz I felt when using the XT-3. This for me is what photography is all about; the buzz, the excitement, the whole experience. The camera just felt right in my hands, it created excitement around photography again. Not that I had lost it or perhaps I should say not that I had noticed I had lost some of the excitement. This camera however made me notice that I had.

Unknowingly Stagnant

To be honest, I didn't feel good when I discovered this as I thought I was progressing and challenging myself at every opportunity. But that hadn't been the case. I mainly photographed landscapes, except when in the studio obviously, so I would seek out the light and the composition thinking every time that this was an opportunity to experience and learn something new. But this wasn't the case as I had become unknowingly stagnant in my approach to my photography; photograph, edit, repeat, no buzz, no experience gained. Even in the studio: light shoot, edit, repeat. Don't get me wrong I still loved what I was doing and enjoyed every minute of it but I was missing something more and I never noticed it, until I shot with the Fujifilm XT-3.

Skin tones were just right, details seemed to pop more in the landscapes, everything was the same but different; in a better way. I felt excitement when shooting with the camera, the same excitement I remembered when getting my first camera. Now you could say that it's because a change is as good as a rest and yes, it could be that, but for me, I'll stick with the fact that the Fujifilm XT-3 is the camera that I didn't know I needed. It's the camera that brought back the buzz of photography I didn't know I was missing.


Like most of us, we have the brands that we stick with or we move across them until we find the camera and system that just clicks. In my constant learning cycle, I've had the pleasure of using Sony, Fuji, Nikon, and even way back in 1997 my parents owned the Kodak DC210 which I honestly wish I still had. More from a nostalgia point of view, as we lovingly remember it as the Kodak brick, due to the awkward ergonomics of it.

My current setup of the Nikon Z7 II is for me due to the long-standing relationship I've had with Nikon cameras. I do like them and am confident that by using them I'll get the results that I am after. Not always the case, however, but the chase is definitely worth it.

Regrettably, to purchase the Nikon I had to sell the Fuji along with my drone, lenses, kidneys, and other items, and to be honest I use the word regrettably lightly as the Nikon Z7 II is an exciting camera to use and produces the results I am after for my images. I will one day own another one. Not just for nostalgia but to get shooting with one again. Perhaps in their next incarnation, the Fuji XT-5 will be something else, we can only wait and see. One thing I'd like to request though if anyone from Fuji is reading this, make sure you release a silver and black model. Yes, I know it's only aesthetics, but oh my, did the XT-3 look good like this. 

What's Your Camera?

So what camera do you still own or do you wish you still had? I've waxed lyrical about the non-technology reasons why I loved the Fuji camera so much, the buzz, the excitement. What's your camera of choice and why?

There's a poll below with manufacturers but not the models as there would be too many. I'd also love to hear in the comments the model and why?

Gary McIntyre's picture

Gary McIntyre is a landscape photographer and digital artist based on the west coast of Scotland. As well as running photography workshops in the Glencoe region, providing online editing workshops, Gary also teaches photography and image editing at Ayrshire college.

Log in or register to post comments

I completly agree with your take on FUJI... its the white whale system for me. I love the feel the way the images look, almost everything about it. I just don't have a reason to own it.

Thanks for reading Stephen. Perhaps one day a reason will present itself.

All Fujis. I have the XT30 and just purchased the XS10 specifically for the IBIS. Great JPEGs, film simulations, and unlike the bloody Canon G7X I have as a necessary point and shoot the Fujis connected quickly and easily to my iPhone.

It's actually one thing I never tried when I had it Eddie, was connecting it to my phone. XS10 looks great for video. Thanks for reading.

I think the images are worth more than a second glance. Great article, too. I'm not sure I've ever really loved a camera. I got quite attached to my first DSLR (D90) as it helped me fall in love with photography, but was more than happy to sell it when I upgraded and never missed it at all!

Many thanks, Jonathan, and yes the D90 was/is a great camera also. Think it's discontinued now but still loads of them for sale. My first was film and then Sony digital A200 if I remember correctly, then from there Nikon. Thanks for reading.

In 1976 I bought a used, the Netherlands' made, Cambo 4x5" for $300. That was a lot of money for me and it took me several days of thinking about it. It included the camera, case, tripod, lens & Polaroid back. I used that camera in community college, ArtCenter and for the first 25 years of my career before going fully digital in 2005. Five years ago I started doing documentation of historic buildings and industrial sites which require that I deliver 4x5" black and white film in addition to prints which are then archived in libraries, museums, historical societies and Information Centers. Quality never goes out of style.

What a great history of that camera Dennis, and still using it today. It must be a good weight to lug around but worth it. And as you say 'quality never goes out of style'. Thanks for reading.

I bought a Fuji X100s some years ago because I loved the look of it. After a few months I sold my Canon gear and now use primarily Fuji (X-T3/4) for all my work. Fuji has soul, unlike all the other major brands with a couple of exceptions. I upgraded to the X100V a year ago and that is my favourite camera. They are far from perfect, but it feels old time rather than using a computer and makes the experience enjoyable. I shoot for two reasons - to get a decent quality image and for enjoyment. I get both of those from Fuji.

Sony a7iii. It's getting long in the tooth, but, still the best camera I've owned and still do. I love the AF speed and reliability.

When I'm dying to shoot something, anything, I'll usually go around the house shooting random stuff just so to feel the shutter button and so I can hear and feel dials. "Click. Click click click. Click"

BTW, I don't see a poll.

I know what you mean by the click, click, click. It's just so much a part of the enjoyable experience. Thanks for reading.

Many people say great things about Fuji.

For me, the one with the magic has been the Nikon Z50. It's my "lucky" camera.

I suggest that we do our best with APS-C because subconsciously, we feel free. Smaller, lighter, no expectations. Pick up that FF and the pressure is on.

Jim, you've probably nailed it with that 'smaller, lighter, no expectations' that may indeed be it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

I don't really love any camera I have ever owned or used. Each one has had something that wasn't quite perfect about it - some shortcoming somewhere that causes me to miss some of the images that I want to get.

But the closest anything has come to being a perfect camera was my friend's Canon 1Dx Mark 2 that I used for a week in Alaska. It's very similar to my 1D Mark 4 that I have used for years and years, but has a little better overall image quality (and I will not ignore image quality because it really is of such utmost importance).

I am extremely comfortable with the ergonomics and "user friendliness" of Canon's 1D series of cameras. But the fact that they don't automatically detect and focus on an animal's eye drives me crazy and often results in frustrating shooting experiences.

I think that the new Canon R3 would be my favorite camera, hands down. But it will be years and years before I will ever be able to afford one.

Thanks for reading and commenting Tom. I've read and heard so many good things about the Canon 1Dx and the 1D but have very rarely had the opportunity to try them. My son owns the RP, which I know is not of the same caliber but I do love the ergonomics of it.
The R3 looks like a beast of a machine when it comes to specs for continuous shooting and video. Hope you get it one day.

I've never shot with a Fuji, but I do like the aesthetics and size of them.
For me the camera is a tool, so I have no fav brand or model.

I loved my Canon 20D because it allowed me to grow massively as a photographer after years of stagnation shooting film. I loved how simple it was and how it fit into my hands. I'd never go back to it though.

I currently have 2x Sony A7R III bodies and various lenses. I love this camera as a tool. It is, in my humble opinion, the best camera I've used. I love how the "smarts" genuinely help me to get the shot I want and not worry about playing the technical trade-offs against each other. I love the quality of the output. I love the ease of use (honestly, Sony _is_ easy to use). I love the feel in my hands and the layout of the buttons, though the Panasonic G9 did have an edge with the front programmables.

With the Sony, I also know that these functions are not facilities unique to this model and/or brand. But for all that love, it's just a tool that I have no emotional attachment to and I'd happily move on to another model or brand if it worked better for me (and I could afford it).

So... Best camera I've ever owned? Probably the one I use now.

Thanks for reading and commenting Jon. Yeah, I did like the quality of the Sony A7RIII and the glass, stunning camera, and lenses. I, unfortunately, couldn't get past the menu system which is not Sony's fault, it was my patience as I never took the time to program the user menu, so kept getting frustrated at the camera when looking for functions instead of blaming myself for lack of patience.

Could you not pick up a used X-T2 and 18-55 to keep that love affair going Gary? its essentially the same camera as the T3, and still serves me well. I reckon you could pick the kit up for about £500/£600

You are right Stuart and I did actually have an X-T2 for a few months, but never took to it as much as the 3. The reason for this I cannot explain. I also had the X-T1 for a little while when it was first released but the lens range wasn't as big then so we parted ways quite quickly. I am hoping for something in the future from Fuji that tops the X-T3/4 but we'll have to wait and see. Thanks for reading

Yeah im the same, interested to see what's next Gary. Last year I picked up an X-T20 used, so I could have a compact setup, didnt really use it much at first but kind of fallen in love with it recently.

That camera would be my D300. Before that I'd shot with a number of Nikon film cameras my favorite there would be the F100 and the F5 which belonged to the army and they took it back when I got discharged. For almost a decade I didn't pick up a camera and then when the F100 came out I snapped one up. I loved it and shot with it until I jumped to digital with the D100 which I grew to loathe. That was in 2004 and for Christmas on 07 my wife bought me the D300 In 2015 I bought the D750 and replaced it with the Z7II last September. With the exception of the D100 they are all my favorites

Thanks for reading Leroy. I enjoy the Nikon system and I actually purchased the X-T3 while shooting with the D850, mainly for weight as we were meant to be heading to Everest basecamp before the pandemic hit. I needed a smaller lighter camera for the trip. Glad I did, really glad I did as it totallymade my mind up to sell the D850 for the lighter Z7ii.

Haha the D100 was my first camera. it was a terrible camera in terms that it was very slow and very clunky but if you had enough light it could produce some pretty good images. I've got a bit of a soft spot for it because it was my first "real" camera. I worked for 6 months at McDinks when I was 16 to save $300 to buy it. I rode my bike 5 miles in the middle of July of midwest USA to the nearest grocery store to meet up with a dude that was selling it because he was in the middle of a divorce. It came with 3 batteries, two 2gb CF cards, a tenba bag that at the time was worth more than the camera, and a 50mm f1.8D lens that i still have. I went out and shot photos every day on that sucker. eventually I out grew it. My dad said he was going to send me an 18-200mm lens he never used and when the box showed up on the door step there was a D90 inside the box. I couldn't believe how much more capable the D90 was lol. I've been shooting ever since! But yeah in terms of practicality that brick was horrendous lol. It chewed through batteries and the shutter sounded disgusting hahaha. I still love that ugly brick though.

The noise on the D300 was a real turn off for me. I had a D700 and there was just too big of a difference between the two. I really wanted to like the D300.

I never had any problems with noise. And considering the D700 came out almost three years after one would be reasonable in expecting for it to have better specs and performance including noise. and bear in mind when I bought my 300 there was no 700

I know the feeling. I have a Fuji x100V and love it. But I am more of a serial monogamous, when it comes to cameras. I fall in love with each new camera, and for a while, it's the only one I use. For a while. I've owned many cameras, but the ones I still shoot are the Olympus M1 Mark III, II, I, Nikon D850, Nikon FM3a, Fuji x100V, probably in that order of frequency. Basically I'm a camera slut.

I do have fond memories of my Nikon D700 (there was something about those files), and my Nikon F5 which I still have but is too expensive to shoot with the current cost of film/processing.

The one I have in my hand.

Nikon D850. In my opinion the best DSLR ever built and maybe the best that ever will be built. It can do it all.

I had an X100-S a while back that I miss just having around for kicks as I loved the files. The Nikon D3s is the best camera I've ever had and will never let it go. Even today (online) the files look amazing and it never fails to do what I ask of it. It's big and bulky but I just *love* it. The only wish I had for it is that it had an LCD grid in the finder.

"If you could only choose one camera to shoot with for the rest of your photographic life, what would it be?"

There is not one camera that can do it all, so this is such an unfair question and I feel it promotes tribalism. I have a reasonable variety of cameras from film to digital, and vintage and modern lenses and I would have a lot of trouble figuring out which "one camera" to stick with because I constantly switch from one to another based on what I want to accomplish, or feel like shooting.

Thanks for reading Christian, the article is geared towards a feeling you get with a camera and not what the actual camera can do. Every camera has its limitations in one way or another, but every now and again you get a camera that just clicks with you and is a pleasure to use at anytime.
Tribalism isn't even suggested as we all have different manufacturers we prefer. As you say you constantly switch based on what you want to accomplish, the right tool for the job, so to speak.

Easily the Canon t7. It's the camera that got be taking pictures again a an adult, I few years ago I all of a sudden had an immediate desire for a camera, nothing fancy. No offense the t7, but it looked like a beginner's, a camera exactly like the camera I needed to figure out how to take pictures again.

I had to look it up as the UK market has a name change. 2000D over here, glad it got you back into photography again. Thanks for reading.

Different cameras for different categories.
DSLR...D600 is more than sufficient
Mirrorless...still love the Fuji XT1 although the Nikon Z9 would be my choice for FX
35mm...Nikon F2a with F5 standing next to it
Medium Format...Hasselblad 500 CM along side Fuji GX680

Which one would I choose overall? The Hasselblad 500 CM or Nikon F2a

Thanks for reading Timothy. Nice range of cameras there.

It's wonderful to see the so many camera options from so many readers. Love it when people are passionate about their photography....and their equipment. Thanks for the article sir.

For me, it's the Fujifilm X-T2 & X-T3. I've had several of Canon APS-C (T3i, T5,XT) cameras. Also Sony mirrorless APS-C (a6000, a6300,a6500,a6600) and Full Frame (A7ii, a7iii). However, none of those compared to the feature set, dollar value, and overall shooting experience that Fujifilm has provided. Even with higher resolution camera's with better sensors and video, I don't see myself ever leaving Fujifilm. Even before editing, everything looks great straight out of camera. Plus the lens selection is great. Even 3rd party options are on par with the best. Although pricey for APS-C, even the worst Fujifilm lens is excellent for general or professional usage. The camera body offers an exquisite shooting experience too. There's literally a dial, knob, switch or button for everything.

It's the tactility when using them, you feel that you are involved with the process and not just using a piece of equipment to capture an image. Thanks for reading and commenting.

WOW! That's a hard question. For film it's my Minolta 9000 for digital it's my Sigma SDQ-H although my Sigma FP with the EVF-11 is a very, very, close second. If it had a Foveon sensor It would be #1. I've shot with a lot of other cameras, mostly loaners/beta loaners from different companies, but the IQ was pretty much the same. Only the Foveon showed a big difference, and the prints are over the top with depth and detail. It has it's issues, but there is always an easy work around. I come with 50 years of experience in the business and 50 years of shooting film so the Sigma/Foveon is a piece of cake to work with. When it comes to IQ the Foveon's are they best and the B&W's are excellent. There are 14 color settings in the SDQ's DPQ's and the FP's and I find a few of these settings are dead on for some of the films I use to shoot. The Sigma color or B&W is so different. I know people will say you can change your image in PP, but I do it in the camera, like when I use to shoot film, my 9000 and my M4 I hate to PP it's a waste of time.
So for me..................SDQ-H with a Foveon or Sigma FP with a Bayer and their 14 color plus B&W settings, plus the Sigma Photo Pro is an excellent piece of software, and, and it's FREE!
Be Safe and Sane
Roger J.

I was actually just reading about the Sigma cameras when writing this article Roger. It's honestly something I had never even considered, not as a camera, but with there being very little advertising for them. Glad to hear it's your camera of choice. Thanks for reading.

Gary, great shots! My best camera I ever had? No doubt, Nikon z6. In the past I used to have lots of fun with an old Pentacon SIX (despite all the quirks).

Many thanks Peter. I've got to admit my partner has the Z6 and it's a great camera which I steal to do videos with. Thanks for reading.

Gary McIntyre said,

"Thanks for reading Christian, the article is geared towards a feeling you get with a camera and not what the actual camera can do."

I can't really separate the two, because the feeling I get from using a camera is based almost entirely on what the camera can do, and on the technical quality of the final images that it produces.

If a camera doesn't have enough pixels to clearly resolve all of the fine hair and feather detail in my wildlife subjects, then when I am out there shooting, I have this sick feeling inside of me the whole time I am using it, that everything I am doing is in vain, because the final images won't be good enough for everything that I would like to do with them (like print huge 48" or 60" prints).

I do love the ergonomics of my 1D Mark 4, and the way it feels so comfortable in my hands. And the menus are very easy to use and it is real easy to find what I want in the menus (much unlike my 5D4).

But the overall shooting experience is almost entirely driven by my thoughts about what the final image quality will be like. Yup. When a big buck deer is bounding toward me and I am trying to track it in the viewfinder, I am thinking about the fine hair detail and how completely it will be resolved. Image quality is really everything if you care about seeing all of the hairs and feather filaments more than anything else.

"If a camera doesn't have enough pixels to clearly resolve all of the fine hair and feather detail in my wildlife subjects, then when I am out there shooting, I have this sick feeling inside of me" - I understand that feeling very well!

I do wonder though, is that a change from your earlier days and how do you view your earlier work now? Especially the stuff you shot with a 50D (the most disappointing Canon I've ever owned)...

Some images I love that were shot on a 20D or 50D and many on a 70D, but the resolution of those is nothing compared to an A7R III. I still look at the 20D images fondly but find that new images have a higher bar to meet for technical quality - Do you find yourself in the same boat?

You ask a good question, Jon.

I wouldn't say that my mindset is different now than it was years ago when I was using a 50D. Back then, I knew the images weren't all that I wanted them to be, but there really weren't any cameras available that would or could produce images exactly like what I wanted. So I had to settle, and find satisfaction in those images, even though I ultimately wished they could be a whole lot better, in terms of clean resolution of extremely fine detail.

Now, I still don't own a camera that produces images that are everything I want them to be, but I know that there are cameras available that come very very close. Only problem is, I fall far short of being able to afford any of those cameras. And so I am still having to settle for images that aren't quite everything that I want. But at least the technology exists now, and I know that someday within the next 5 or 10 years I will be able to finally buy a camera that truly satisfies me.

I know what you mean! May pay to revisit those photos though...

I recently had a look at some images from a 20D... Changing the process version in Lightroom allowed me to pull a huge amount more out of the images, better highlight recovery, less shadow noise, better sharpness. Add in a few minutes in Topaz Sharpen AI (and another 20 in Gigapixel for the keepers) and the images look almost as good as a modern camera.

About a camera that truly satisfies... I don't think such a thing would ever exist for me! Partly because I recognise that I'm always changing, so what I want in a tool changes.

So far the Canon R5.

For me it's got to be the Mamiya RB-67. Bought my first one in the 70's and several more after. They made me a ton of money over the years. Now, {don't laugh} I love my Sony A900. Does all that I need from a camera.

started out in school with a Minolta x-700 and 570 liked them. Moved up to a Olympus OM3. Loved it and the lenses, From there purchased Used Contax RTSIII that had been factory refurbished and 3 Zeiss lenses. Best lenses I"ve ever had. From there went to a few Nikon Film cameras, but never purchased by dream F3. My favorite of the 35mm film cameras is hands down by far the Contax RTS III.
Now for Digital, It's Nikon. To invested to change brands but I am experimenting with mirrorless. D850 is still the nicest Nikon camera and digital camera I have owned, but I have had opportunity to play with a friends Z9 and wow, what a camera. Thinking about trying a used older Fuji for a small carry around camera, just don't see it as worthwhile yet.
PS. I have a Sigma Quattro H which is by far the most fun camera in the digital age, but it's got to be shot slow and with low ISO's. If they ever get a new full frame Foveon out again that solves the ISO issue, I may find myself making a purchase.

Also in school, we shot Canon. That turned me off Canon forever. Although the Modern F1 body was quite nice.

One last edit: The sample images in the article look amazing!

More comments