Feb 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm #1285803
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
Okay, I could use some help or at least differing viewpoints on the positives and negatives of the various camera choices out there…
I've been shooting with a Canon G10 for the last 5 years or so. It was my first real digital camera (previously coming from a Nikon SLR) and was, at the time, my compromise solution between the portability and carrying ease of a small P&S and the greater creative freedom and image quality of a SLR. Overall it's been okay… the portability has been nice but the image quality and lack of full DSLR capabilities has bothered and at times limited me.
I'm finally in the position to get a new camera. I'm mainly focusing my attention on the m4/3 systems or equivalent size systems from other manufacturers. Initially, I thought I had my mind made up that I was going to go with the Pani G3. I liked that it had an integrated EVF in addition to the articulated screen. It had a reasonable range of shutter speeds (particularly interested in long exposures), pretty good image quality up to moderate ISO and has a pretty impressive range of compatible m4/3 lumix lenses to pick from.
Lately though, I've been leaning towards the Sony NEX systems, particularly either the 5n (within my price range) or the 7 (more than I really want to spend). I like that the low light performance is generally very good and I'm happy to see a bulb setting is available. What I don't like is the lack of an integrated EVF on the 5n and the limited range, at the moment, of E mount lenses. I'm not really interested in collecting a bunch of different adaptors to support a bunch of different lenses.
Ultimatley I hope to have, at least for backpacking trips, a ~2 lens kit + body that can cover 95% of my needs.
I'll be honest, I don't know all the terminology for the specifications of either camera. I'm not into pixel counting. I don't have any brand loyalties. I just like to experiment with changes to shutter speed, aperature, ISO, etc. and see what results. I want to get the best results I can in a smallish package. I primarily photograph landscape, and do not want to have my images suffer (as much) from less than ideal lighting conditions.
Just considering the bodies, the NEX 7 seems like my preferred camera but the cost is a bit discouraging. The 5N seems to have similar performance to the 7 but without the EVF and the really handy double control wheels. I'm not sure where I end up after that… Lens selection wise, the Pani wins at the moment. Decisions, decisions…
IFeb 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm #1840997
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
To preface my comments i have an EPM-1 the 14, 14-42, and 45.
The first question is what lenses do you want. I buy based on what is available now and not what a manufacturer says will be available. For me the key lens was the 45 1.8 for portrait. I wanted something with easy dof control. Sony did not have that lens so micro four thirds was my choice. So if sony does not have the lenses you want now I would wait or buy something else.
As far as high iso goes ask yourself how much do you need. I would say that the Nex has a little less than a stop more high iso that the g3. But i think the epm1 is useable at 1600 and the g3 is good to 3200. Do you need one more stop? I am not too concerned with high iso as I upgrade bodies every 3 years or so eventually i will have better high iso to go with the lenses i have purchased and the current level meets my needs. If you really need that stop you need it but for most applications I dont need it. The other thing to consider is that to get the same dof you need to stop down the sony about one more stop so the iso advantage is really only there shooting the same speed lenses wide open
Autofocus is faster on u4/3. I would try them both.
Ergonomics are better on u4/3. Sony even more exagerate the small body big lens issue that occurs with the longer lenses.
I dont think you can go wrong with either as the lenses you want are availableFeb 18, 2012 at 6:38 am #1841135
@ken_bennettLocale: southeastern usa
I had a Canon G7 that died just before a trip two years ago. Luckily for me, we were in a large city with a decent camera store (Penn Camera, now sadly deceased), so I had a range of options for a new camera the same day. I originally thought I would just buy the G10 or whatever the top Canon compact was at the time, but once I was able to handle the G10, the original Sony NEX camera, and the Panasonic GF1 side by side, the GF1 was the easy choice. With the 20mm f/1.7 lens, it has been my primary hiking and travel camera ever since.
That fall, we purchased my wife a Panasonic G1 kit with the 14-45 and 45-200 zoom lenses. I have since added the Panasonic 14/2.5 and the Olympus 45/1.8, and bought a Panasonic GH-2 kit when it was on sale from Amazon before the holidays. So we are pretty heavily invested in the m4/3 system. (Up next I want the 7-14 zoom and maybe the 100-300.)
I've been happy with the image quality and user interface of all three cameras, and the lenses are simply very, very good. The older cameras (GF1 and G1) are good to mid-range ISOs, while the GH2 provides surprisingly good images up to ISO 3200, and I have one shot of my daughter shot at ISO 6400 that makes an excellent 8×12 inch print. The fast prime lenses make a difference, too, in that I don't often need the nose-bleed ISO values to shoot usable photos.
My other cameras are a Canon 5D Mark II at home and a pair of Canon 1D Mark IV bodies at work (sadly, those are owned by my employer), plus a very wide range of prime and zoom lenses – pretty much everything on the Canon wish list. But for walk-around photography I often take the two m4/3 cameras, the 20 and the 45, and just go looking for photos. They weigh a lot less, which is nice on my poor shoulders, plus they are quiet and unobtrusive, so I can shoot candid photos without being noticed. Our graphic designers use the photos without complaint.
So, all that said, my personal thoughts are that the m4/3 system is more complete right now, with a wider range of lenses and accessories. The NEX image quality is outstanding, and the new NEX-7 looks like it will be a nice camera with more controls than the NEX cameras I've handled recently. But I have no complaints about the m4/3 system.Feb 18, 2012 at 7:27 am #1841150Feb 18, 2012 at 11:32 pm #1841465
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
That's just it, Rick… I don't want to be stuck any longer in the realm of a P&S. I used to have an SLR with a small but useful collection of lenses. An unfortunate event left me with me just the body and one lens. Given my, more or less, clean slate at the time, I opted to transition into the digital realm with a "one size, fits all" approach for the sake of convenience and portability.
Now, I'm in a position to build back up a collection of lenses around a particular body or system. I don't want to go back to a full size SLR but I want the level of performance and range of options that come with it. Hence I'm interested in the improved portability and weight savings offered by the m4/3 and similar systems as they seem, in my mind, to more or less be the best of both worlds. I realize I'm still giving up a little in the IQ realm compared to a high end SLR but I've already made up my mind not to go back there.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank all of you for your insights. The current array of available lenses for the Pani m4/3 is impressive and pretty compelling. I guess I'll need to do some more reading on the various G series cameras offered by Pani and see which, if any, can meet my desires similarly to the NEX cameras. Deep down, the NEX really offers most of what I want for the camera itself but the lens selection is pretty lacking at the moment and I really don't want to deal with collecting and/or carrying multiple adaptors and full size lenses.
Might be time for a trip to the camera store again to the do the compare and contrast…Feb 19, 2012 at 2:05 am #1841473Feb 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm #1841589
@footeabLocale: Pacific Northwest
1) Get camera with a hard on/off switch with detent so when in a Very light sil nylon or cuben bag it won't turn itself on and you have a dead battery! As soon as you "add" a carry case for its "protection" you may as well look for a slightly heavier camera that doesn't need said carry case. I've never carried in carry case ever and I do most of my rambling off trail where stuff gets banged around a LOT.
2) Get one with an EVF. Saves battery life. See what you are doing. I will never buy a camera without one. The fuji part optical part EVF looks amazing! I have not seen the alpha a35/a55/a65/a77 in person but I betcha its great as well.
3) Winter use? Yes/No? If Yes, get a bigger body so you can use it with thin gloves. This really depends on how large your hands are though. Personally I like to be able to shoot one handed without worrying the camera will slip and go rocketing down the mountain.
3a) If bigger body, there are many low end DSLR's that are cheaper than M4/3 with better IQ and nearly the exact same weight. All the C/N/S/P brands here.
4) Articulated screen. If it doesn't have it, you can't shoot macro work well. You can't shoot odd angles at all either. Think waterfalls here as a easy example.
Anything better than this IMO is up to the end buyer.
Obviously many disagree with me =)Mar 1, 2012 at 9:38 am #1847255
@jacobdLocale: North Bay
The 5N is very capable but Sony is still behind the curve with their lenses, so unless you are interested in using manual focus legacy lenses, it may not be the best option. It would also be nice to have an integrated EVF, which future versions may have. I'm not convinced the external EVF is a good option for backpacking.
If you are interested in legacy lenses, or even modern SLR lenses, you really don't need a bunch of adapters, just one will do if you keep to one lens mount. I have built a system of several Cosina Voigtlander lenses. With one lens mounted to the camera I can carry the other two inside a ZPacks hip belt pouch, along with spare battery, remote, and two filters… it's a very compact system, but not for everyone.
Consider Samsung for a moment. Samsung has a good selection of AF lenses, with more on the way (of course). It's only speculation at this point, but they are expected to announce the follow up to their NX200 any time now, which is rumored to have a built in EVF and beefed up processing power in a nex-like package. Their mount won't allow for use of legacy glass, but that aside, this camera should have huge potential for a larger segment of users that will happily take advantage of the native lens lineup. Although I'm happy with my 5N, I'm very interested to see how this develops… (I expect Sony will also eventually release a 5N-like body with a built in EVF)Mar 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm #1847614
i've been using the panasonic cameras pretty much exclusively now for a few years. last year i took a gf1 to nepal for 3 months, and recently been spending massive amounts of time shooting on a GH2 in the grand canyon backcountry. they are the perfect compromise for me. lots of lens choices, low cost, and low weight.
if you want to see the gf1 in action, here is my trip to nepal photos – http://www.danransom.com/TripReports/?p=387
and here is some video almost all shot on a gh2 – http://www.danransom.com/TripReports/?p=427
pretty amazing what you can do with less than a grand nowadays.
the sony's are great cameras, i'd probably have one if there were better lens options. the sensors are much better than pannys. but, you have to weigh the disadvantages too (weight, cost, lack of evf, bigger lenses, and fewer lenses).Mar 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm #1847621
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Seconded. The E-M5 will be the breakthrough body for µ4/3 for a host of reasons. This is the camera you want.
Ships at month's end.
RickMar 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm #1850407
I've already pre-ordered the Olympus E-M5. Rugged, compact, with in-body image stabilization and an improved sensor. This camera looks to be pretty nice.
The micro 4/3 lenses that are currently available are excellent, and are much smaller than the Sony NEX system lenses. This is what turned me away from the Nex cameras. The bodies might be small, but the combination of NEX body and lens is too large.
The Olympus E-P2 that I have been using is a terrific camera, and the E-M5 looks to be even better.
With the m4/3 system, you get interchangeable lens versatility, and excellent image quality in a reasonably small package.Mar 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm #1850413
@dirk9827Locale: Pacific Northwest
I would concur that the latest round of m4/3rds and Sony offerings are quite nice. The edge on lenses right now belongs to the m4/3rds crowd, but Sony has so much financial backing I could see them making inroads in that market.
If you haven't seen it, Robin Wong has a rather positive hands-on appraisal of The Olympus OM-D E-M5.
I would love to try many of these new cameras. The Olympus has great sentimental value to me, as a former OM film user. But if you weren't willing to invest that kind of money in a camera, you can buy the older (and I should say, slower focusing) first-gen PEN cameras w/lens for $200 . Yes, they blow out the highlights much more easily (older sensor), don't have the dynamic range and are a very different beast the the latest Olympus. But at under $200, EP-1 it's a relative bargain if you just wanted to try out m4/3rds. And people have had good results with them – the JPEGs from Olympus are generally very good. RAW performance offers less headroom for improvement.Mar 7, 2012 at 9:46 pm #1850428
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
After a lot of visiting photo stores here in Tokyo, reading catalogues, and online reviews, I'll be going with the OM-D (what the OMD E-M5 is called in Japan), too. I compared it to the Fujifilm X1-Pro, the Pentax K-01, the Nikon V1 (which I'm still considering… the sensor might be smaller than the rest of the batch here, but there have been some surprised, excellent reviews. It also seems like an ideal small travel camera), the Sony Nex 7 (aside from being too big with their lenses… not so very different from my Nikon D7000, I refuse to support Sony and Panasonic cameras in Japan because they purposefully remove the English menu system so that non-Japanese have to buy the export models… which come at almost two times higher prices), and the upcoming Ricoh GXR 24-85 lens unit (I already use the GXR system. It has absolutely gorgeous color rendition, very sharp resolution, and the best and most intuitive user interface of any camera system I've used, but each camera unit makes the system very expensive, and no matter how I try to work through the module system's advantages, I just cannot get comfortable with the ambiguity of which module to bring… sensors being different sizes… plus its AF is so maddeningly slow that I often miss street shots of people or of animals in the mountains).
The Olympus OM-D has all that Kai mentions. WIth the weatherproof body I can take it out while hiking in the rain and not worry… which very often happens. I'm not too thrilled with the design… too angular for my taste, and tries to hard to harken back to the 70's… it doesn't house a prism, and yet sports a prism box on top…???
But still, for what I want the camera for, it is the best I've seen of the more portable digital cameras. Plus the new lenses coming out from various manufacturers is astounding. Have any of you seen the new Voigtländer Nokton F0.95 (17.5mm and 25mm), specifically designed for the m4/3 cameras? F0.95 is incredible! Since I do a lot of low light photography I'd love to get one of these.Mar 8, 2012 at 9:09 am #1850534
I'm anxiously awaiting the OM-D as well. Unfortunately, I shoot a lot of video, and I'm not sure the olympus will match the GH2 in this regard. We'll see.
The image quality looks impressive though, and the weathersealing. I've heard mixed reviews about the ergonomics, so your impressions are promising.
Lots of people seem to think it doesn't quite "fit" in their hands. Any thoughts?
– DanMar 9, 2012 at 6:17 am #1851007
To (future) OM-D users: what lenses are you going to use when backpacking?Mar 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm #1851339Mar 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm #1851353
I am actually also thinking about Canon G1X instead E-M5 + 12-50mm combination.
First the canon is lighter by 100grams. The canon is 534 grams while the Olys are 636grams combined.
Then the 12-50mm sharpness also pales in comparison to G1X lens.
Not to mention G1X is much more pocketable than the E-M5.Mar 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm #1851362
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
I also looked at the Canon G1-X, but have you seen how slow the file writing is? It's no different from my Ricoh GXR.Mar 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm #1851364
I'm scared where cameras are headed. The G1X is an $800 p&s. The E-M5, Nex7, etc. all are near the cost of a D7000.
I'm all for a smaller, lighter, more packable D7000 and would gladly pay the same price for it…..but until that comes along….Mar 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm #1851391Mar 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm #1851393
Yep. I do want something smaller, lighter, and still with high IQ as a second camera for when I don't want to carry my D7000 so the Nex-5N is at the top of my list and at $700 is already pushing my self-imposed budget. The touch-to-focus screen and instant feedback from adjustments (shutter speed, aperture, iso, etc.) is pretty slick.Mar 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm #1851394
the canon g1x looks like it has some potential, but it lacks what i want the most – ultra wide angle lenses. it does have a optional housing though, which is appealing for slot canyons and scuba…
as for m43 lenses, on my gf1 or gh2 kit i carry the 7-14, 14-45, and 45-200. that's a 14-400 35mm equivalent, all in a ridiculously small package. depending on the hike, i'll leave some of those out. if i'm in alpine areas, i'll take only the 7-14 to capture lakes and high peaks.
dust on the sensor is totally preventable if you use basic care. keep lenses clean. change them only when you need to, etc… dust happens, but it's not a big deal, and can easily be removed in post, and cleaned for your next trip. i've done multiple month trips with m43 cameras, and the dust hasn't been an issue. it's hardly a reason to worry. the benefits of an interchangeable lens system far outweigh the limitations.
but everyone has different needs. i still consider the m43 to be the most versatile backcountry photography kit, and the best compromise for me. but it might be too heavy for some. not high enough quality for others. too cheap for some, and too expensive for others.
the great thing is there are hundreds different options now, and depending on what your needs are, you can probably find something.
heck, the gf3 is selling now for close to $300, with a kit. that's a steal by any measure.Mar 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm #1851396
I don't have the lens issue myself. I use the 35 1.8 100% of the time in the back-country and 98% of the time overall with my D7000. Occasionally I'll pull out the 85 1.8 for posed portraits or 55-200 for sunsets, otherwise I just zoom with my feet and crop as necessary.Mar 9, 2012 at 6:11 pm #1851415Mar 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm #1852115
@dirk9827Locale: Pacific Northwest
The discussion regarding cost is quite valid – like Chris pointed out, some of these smaller cameras have less capabilities at a much higher price point than existing dSLRs. And this does make some sense – trying to pack that technology into a tigher space. It's like how laptops are more expensive and less capable than equivalently priced desktop PCs.
The question I have is where is the dSLR segment moving – I have to think that this emerging market for smaller cameras hasn't gone unnoticed by the Nikon and Canon. The question in my mind is will full frame sensors ever come to mid and lower range DSLRs, and if so, when?
I really wonder where the market is headed, especially with the emergence of cell phone cameras that do a fairly respectable job.
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