I Was Wrong About the Pixii Max

This post is by Ron Dawson from The Online Photographer

Comments are completely up to date at 8:05 a.m. Wednesday and also at 12:20 p.m.

So my 12-step program has a basic principle…”when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” I was wrong on Monday. Hans Muus and other readers (and friends, privately), made the point that the Pixii is a real rangefinder, meaning it needs a FF (24x36mm) sensor to let FF lenses be “themselves.”

Carl: “I see an actual valid point here. If a major goal of this camera is to be able to use Leica M lenses, then you need a 24x36mm sensor for the lenses to work ‘right.’ I’d have no use for my 35mm Summicron to be turned into an effective 52.5mm, etc, etc.”

Oren: “It’s even worse than that. The APS-C Pixii has the same problem as the Epson R-D1: the shortest FL for which there’s a finder frame is 28mm, or 42mm-e. So you can’t actually take advantage of the integrated RF/VF with any FL short of normal. Even if one were willing to buy new lenses to compensate for the crop factor, the body is useless for those of us who see the world through a 35mm-e field of view.”

I was not only wrong but perhaps the exact opposite of right: The Pixii might be a camera that should only be FF.


The Peugeot 604 I mentioned might be where I got my allergic reaction to one-offs when it comes to mechanical things. I’d rather have something common and mainstream, things there are a lot of and that a lot of people buy. Repairability and parts availability are much better, and replaceability is generally much easier as well. I once had a one-of-a-kind Leica lens and was uncomfortable with it—or rather uncomfortable with just the idea of it—because I knew it could never be replaced if I lost it or if it was damaged. I suppose I shouldn’t have worried (I think the guy I sold it to is still using it happily), but it nagged at my mind.

There’s one more issue, which is that one-off things can be harder to resell. I knew a guy in Wisconsin who hand-built speakers. His bread-and-butter had been repairing JBL L100’s, and he had lovingly made a special bespoke pair of L100 lookalikes with premium Focal drivers and gorgeous handmade crossovers in a beautiful hand-finished cabinet. They sounded great, but he wanted $5k for the pair. The problem was, he hadn’t laid the foundation to sell box three-ways for $5k. They’d need a name, name recognition, a market presence, reviews, and a warranty to be sold for that much, and they had none of that. It’s not enough for you to be convinced they’re worth $5k; if you want to protect your investment, you need other people to also be convinced they’re worth that much. If the guy had $1,200 into them and wanted $1,800, that I would have considered. But he hadn’t earned the extra $3,000. That’s one thing real companies work for: the name, market presence, the support network with ongoing parts availability, and also the reputation! That’s why they get to charge more.

When I was younger, every now and then you’d come across a guy offering a no-name preamp or something for sale for two thousand dollars, who tried to tell you that it got fantastic reviews when it came out, it was very rare, and it had cost $4,000 when it was new so it was a great deal at half that. The problem was, the guy who built it had gone out of business, he had only built 17 or 45 or 82 of those preamps, most people had ever heard of them, and nobody was going to pay two grand for an unknown quantity when you could get a perfectly clean used conrad-johnson for similar money.

I might be odd, but I’d probably rather have a new Toyota Corolla Hybrid than a 10-year-old used Ferrari that’s been modified. The Ferrari would be nothing but expensive headaches, whereas the Toyota would be supported by one of the best service networks and be replaceable at short notice with an insurance payout. In the Toyota, you could drive the carpool, you could transport the dog, it would hold luggage, and you wouldn’t worry too much about parking-lot dings and nicks. It’s a “better” car, for one definition of better. (Of course, I’ve never driven a Ferrari, so it’s easy for me to imagine I’m immune to their charms.)

I still think the best camera you can buy these days—okay, for stills—is a Fuji X-T5, along with a few Fujicrons and any other specialty lenses you might want.

APS-C works for me.

But okay, yeah, the Pixii, that should be FF—so the Pixii Max really is a good thing, and it would be the one to get, if you like what Pixii brings to the table. Or if one-offs appeal to you.


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Featured Comments from:

Richard Tugwell: “From what I’ve heard, a brand new Ferrari is also nothing but expensive headaches. Gorgeous, of course.”

Mike Plews: “Back in the ’80s Mrs Plews and I were negotiating the purchase of a Peugeot wagon. We were about to pull the trigger when the dealer told us that Peugeot was pulling out of the US, so the deal was off. Too bad, as a Peugeot wagon would have been perfect for us.

“We ended going down the street to the Saab dealer and threw down for a four-door normally-aspirated 900s with a stick. Wonderful car but a terrible hangar queen. As for APS-C, I’m a believer. My first digital camera was a Nikon D70 and it delivered excellent files (for my needs) for a decade. I eventually bought a D7100 which still suits me just fine; your mileage may vary. If I somehow felt the need for mirrorless, a Z50 or a Fuji system would be lovely. Being retired, my needs are much different from a working pro, but APS-C makes a ton of sense to me. It delivers smaller cameras, smaller files, smaller cost and terrific output. What’s not to like?”

Raphael: “The APS-C Pixii would of course have been ‘right’ had they made APS-C lenses for it, say an 18mm ƒ/2.8, 23mmƒ/2, and 35mm ƒ/1.4, and a lower magnification viewfinder with matching framelines. The only technical problem being color shift in the corners with wide angles.”


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