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Economy - Equip. Cost & Heft

It can seem like the camera equipment for shooting Bokeh Panos needs to be large, heavy and expensive, but if the size, weight or price is putting you off then this section is for you. High quality second hand equipment is coming down in price all the time and combinations that aren't horrible to carry around all day are possible with some careful choices and a bit of compromise. 

Rough Guide

To manage lens weight I start by restricting focal lengths between 85mm - 135mm. This way you can still get pretty large entrance pupils (up to 75mm) without everything getting too heavy. This will also help with workflow, as will larger image sensors. Mirrorless cameras are usually lighter and have a few useful features for shooting panos. This advice should serve you well, but there are still some stand out good and bad options here.

 

For example; A Nikon Z9 and Sigma 105mm f/1.4 lens would produce some lovely bokeh panos, but the combo weighs 3KG and cost 7,000 (new). However, you could get pretty much the same results (75mm entrance pupil) from A Sony A7c and a Samyang 135mm f/1.8, which weighs less than 1.3KG and cost 2,200. Although that's second hand that is from a shop (MPB), so you could get cheaper prices if you don't need a warranty. If you're willing to make a few sacrifices you could get the weight and price down quite a bit lower still, so let's take this to an extreme...

€175 APS-C DSLR

Nikon's first small purpose build DSLR can be picked up for next to nothing. This meant I could spend most of this budget on the lens, which worked out as a 127mm f/2.7 equivalent on this 21 year old, 6mp APS-C CCD sensor.

Nikon D100 (€2000 in 2002) €25~

Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 AF-D - (1987) 150~

Entrance Pupil: 47mm

Weight: 1.2KG (2.65lbs)

# Frames: 32 | Equiv. Lens: 34mm f/0.72

 

I had to use JPG over RAW here, so as not to get frustrated with the poor buffer speed when shooting these 32 images (hand held). It's important to note that using a smaller sensor will not effect the results you can achieve from a lens, it will only mean you need to shoot more images to get to this same result (this would require only 15 images from a full frame camera).

€200 APS-C Mirrorless

Like the DSLR, this small n light Sony mirrorless camera also uses an APS-C sized sensor. The 'N' variant improved the original NEX 5's resolution, dynamic range and noise performance while not costing much more, so is worth choosing to get the best value today.

Sony NEX 5N (€700 in 2011) 75~

Konica 85mm f/1.8 - (1970) 125~

Entrance Pupil: 47mm

Weight: 0.7KG (1.54lbs)

# Frames: 47 | Equiv. Lens: 27mm f/0.56

 

Despite being 9 years newer than the DSLR (above) I still had to avoid RAW and use JPG, so as to not get crazy bored when shooting this hand-held burst (48 shots). The controls of these early Sony mirrorless cameras were terrible (compared to a decade older DLSR), but having the rear screen show a live view all the time was massively more helpful when trying to align the pano frames so this ended being a nicer experience overall. Being able to adapt to more older, cheaper and often prettier rendering lenses limits you to manual focus, but that's much easier to use here and can actually be a plus when shooting a pano as they're not so easily knocked.

€375 APS-C Mirrorless

Sticking with the little old Sony mirrorless camera and combining it with the new Samyang 75mm AF lens can cut your weight down a further 200g to a ridiculously light half a kilogram for the entire combo. That's so light it feels like a toy and represents the best entrance pupil for the weight that I can think of. Realistically I would recommend spending a bit more on a newer camera to improve the overall experience for this kind of budget, something like a Sony NEX 6, or A6000. This will bump up your weight and price a little, but I think it would be worth it. 

Sony NEX 5N (€700 in 2011) 75~

Samyang 75mm f/1.8 - (2019) €300~

Entrance Pupil: 42mm

Weight: 0.5KG (1.1lbs)

# Frames: 36 | Equiv. Lens: 30mm f/0.72

 

Apologies for the above image being shot on a full frame Sony A7III (an 880g combo), it's all I had at the time, but this should be quite possible on an APS-C camera also. If you are more interested in a full frame combo with this lens you could get the weight down to 740g with the Sony A7c, or 700g with the original A7, if you don't mind losing in-body image stabilization (see below). If Samyang ever make this lens for the L-Mount (which they now might) then the weight could potentially come down to 650g with the Sigma FP.

€500 Full Frame Mirrorless

This relatively small n light Sony mirrorless camera uses a full frame sensor, so will improve your workflow by reducing the number of images you need to shoot, or allow you to use longer lenses. Although it's nearly a decade old now it still produces fantastic images. 

Sony A7 (€1300 in 2013) 350~

Sigmatel 135mm f/1.8 - (1970) 150~

Entrance Pupil: 75mm

Weight: 1.45KG (3.2lbs)

# Frames: 47 | Equiv. Lens: 34mm f/0.46