I think more important than image quality of a camera is ergonomics (size, feel of the camera in your hand, UI/UX of menu and button system, responsiveness, haptic feedback, build quality, and weight/compactness).
What good is image quality if the camera weighs 1000 pounds?
It seems a bit useless if your camera has the best image quality in the world if you don’t take it out and shoot with it.
Thus for myself, this seems a good tradeoff:
Always better to have worse image quality in exchange for a more compact, lightweight, and ergonomic camera.
For example, I would still prefer to have a RICOH GR III camera (opposed to a Leica Q2) because the RICOH GR 3 still weighs a lot less, is much smaller, and better as an everyday carry camera. If I needed supreme image quality, best to bring out a Pentax 645z digital medium format camera.
Why not a phone camera?
I’m a big fan of phone cameras, but this is my thought:
A RICOH GR camera isn’t much bigger nor much heavier than a phone, yet the RICOH GR makes probably 5-10x better image quality than even the best image quality phone camera.
If your primary motive with photography is to make great visual artwork, image quality is important.
If you like the way the photos look, the image quality is good!
Of course image quality is subjective. And the only test for image quality is,
If you like the way the photos look, then it has good image quality!
Pocketable or non-pocketable?
Another epiphany: all cameras can be classified as being pocketable or non-pocketable.
- Pocketable: RICOH GR or a smartphone camera.
- Non-pocketable: Pretty much all other cameras.
My theory is that we should “barbell” (embrace the extremes) with cameras. Better to own a RICOH GR II (pocketable) and a Pentax 645z (supreme image quality) than to own a full frame camera which isn’t really pocketable, and the image quality isn’t quite as good as digital medium format.