Advice: First camera for graphics designer

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by vimar, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. vimar

    vimar New to Mu-43

    Nov 11, 2015
    Hello everyone,

    I am looking for a camera as a gift for my girlfriend who is a graphics designer. It would be her first camera and the cost is set at around 600 euros for a kit. Overall, I would like to buy a small, versatile camera that will allow both of us to learn about lenses, manual settings, etc. at not overwhelming a cost. Later on she may upgrade to whatever feels appropriate.

    For a complete beginner (as she is) the a6000 and nx500 stood out as most discussed, but all I can judge are sheet specs. I have no experience with, for example, APS-C vs m43.

    I will try to give you some idea of what she might need or use it for and will be very grateful to hear your advice.
    • The camera needs to be relatively light and small, so I was looking mainly at mirrorless (the choice a6000 or nx500 has been tearing me for the last few days).
    • I believe she would use it mostly for travel, sceneries, panoramas, "family" pictures and macros. Then also she may use the pictures for posters or patterns in her graphics work. Low light performance is important. She will certainly post-process each photo. There will be the occasional video - either family or short-movie. 4k is always a bonus, but nothing to die for.
    • For the first year I don't think she will buy new lenses and if she does, I don't think more than one. So the kit lens will matter a lot. Think of her as a beginner hobbyist with a small bag.
    • Touchscreen and flip-up screen for selfies are welcome I suppose, but an EVF equally so. I am no photographer, so I can't judge, but an EVF seems crucial.
    • The camera will be used mostly without a tripod. I saw that nx500 is a bit shaky?
    The more I read about the debate a6000 vs nx500, the harder the decision becomes. However, given the current uncertainty of needs and preferences, I feel that a m43 might be a better choice. Something like Panasonic GX7 or Olympus E-M10 (or 5). The lens selection seems wider and cheaper and as far as I understood 16MP on m43 is very similar to 24MP on APS-C in terms of IQ.

    Any other suggestions are also welcome.
  2. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2013
    1) The nx500 is a Samsung, right? There have been rumors that Samsung might be getting out of the mirrorless camera business. I won't speculate any more on that and that does not necessarily mean you should avoid Samsung, but it would be worth researching and thinking about.

    2) The Panasonic G7 checks almost every box you mention here. The newer Panasonic cameras have a decent kit lens. The G7 doesn't have the reportedly magical image stabilization that some of the Olympus cameras have, but the kit lens does have stabilization. The G7 is a quite good video camera from what they say.

    3) Any of the modern micro 4/3 cameras is nice, there's just some feature variation, with the Panasonics typically being better for video and the Olympi being better for stills (largely due to the image stabilization). In your budget range, models like the GX7, E-M5, E-M10, E-M10 ii, and GM5 could all match her needs, depending on personal decisions on the value of various features.
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  3. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    Well since the NX500 is Samsung and their future in cameras seems to be a great big question right now I would stay away.

    Between the E-M10 and GX7? If you think video is a BIG feature then I would get a Panasonic, they just do video better. But other than that they are close in many ways, each better in some. A kit zoom plus maybe the short telephoto zoom and a faster prime of two for low light would be a great place to start.

    Versus Sony? m4/3 has a better / larger / cheaper lens selection.
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  4. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I would definitely pick the NX500 over the A6000, if only to get the excellent $200 30mm/f2 pancake. And the touchscreen, which makes a huge difference in usability. The EVF is a question mark, but I think EVFs seem to appeal primarily to people who were photographers in the old days of film SLRs. Most people today seem very well adapted to using rear LCDs only, as they're fully accustomed to doing so with nearly all P&S digital cameras and smartphones, which are the only cameras many people will have used in the past 15 years. This is just my observation - I definitely enjoy an EVF and need one to be on at least one of my cameras, but I wouldn't say I use it any more than 50% of the time. Likely less. I hold my cameras up, down, and around for composition too often to be restricted with an EVF all the time...

    Even if Samsung left the camera industry tomorrow (they won't) they already have a great selection of lenses and the NX500 is a well-featured camera that could serve someone for many years to come.

    If I bought an A6000, I would try and get a cheaper body-only deal and then try and maybe get cheap primes from Sigma, or their 35mm/1.8. The zooms in the E-mount system are...poor.

    In the M4/3 camp, I would get an older generation model (GX7 or E-M10) which are still superb cameras with the 14-42mm kit lens, and then add either the 20mm/1.7, 25mm/1.8, or the new Panasonic 25mm/1.7, whichever is able to fit in the budget. Image stabilization + a fast prime will much more than make up for any reduction in ISO performance.

    Note also that the A6000 doesn't really have much better ISO performance in the real world than M4/3. At the pixel level, the quality is actually worse, so you need to downsample to the same 16MP resolution as M4/3 to get about 1/2 stop of improvement in terms of noise.

    That said, the A6000 is very well priced, has a good feature set, a solid sensor when attached to nice lenses, and very good tracking autofocus performance. The lack of a touchscreen and the poor lenses are really my only reservations about it, but they're big ones for me.
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  5. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Real Name:
  6. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    My suggestion is for an E-M10, black and silver maybe. Why? Because it's beautiful
    She is a graphic designer so I suppose she cares about how things look. And usually you have to visually like the camera you get, I mean, photography is about what you see. You can spend hours comparing specs but in the end it also matters what you see every time you pick up the camera.
    I'd surely go for the cheapest kit with the "big" lens (14-42 R II) not the pancake one (EZ version). The LCD screen tilts but not enough for selfies.

    The G7 is great but it looks like something designed by a tank designer. Personally I even like the style but...

    Otherwise, if you want to go super small, the GM5 is an option. This is a camera you can keep in the bag and forget about it until you need it. But having a smartphone you already have a camera for "just in case". And the E-M10 is no doubt ergonomically better.

    Technically all of these cameras, and APS-C too, are on par in real life conditions. The difference is often so small that is hard to spot even in a lab test. You have to add like $2000 to see a real difference.

    I'd advice against the latest models: there is not real value in paying a premium price for a recently released camera like the E-M10 II for example.

    EVF is a really nice to have in sunny days and it helps to focus on the shot you are taking.

    Extra lenses are not needed but a good fixed lens ("prime") is what really gets the best out of the camera sensor. For example a 25mm or a 45mm depending on the preferred type of photography (portraits, landscapes, etc.). Eventually, if ever, one would feel the need to get one, maybe only for the low light capabilities.

    With m43 lenses are smaller and often a little cheaper when comparing lenses of similar quality from other systems. In the m43 world there are no "super budget" lenses as most are very good, even the lowest priced ones.

    There are a few extra things that you'll probably need: an extra battery, sd card, a decent tripod, etc. so consider these too in the budget.

    This is a m43 forum: expect a little biased opinions :)
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  7. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    I'm a graphic designer and I love my camera setup.

    Probably an em5ii (with just a kit lens to start like the 12-32). Then in the future slowly add the 45mm, 7.5, then a lens like the 60 or 75. If you don't need weather sealing, then the em10ii would be fine.
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  8. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Real Name:
    David Dornblaser
    I second either the E-M10 II or E-M5 II. I think that the 14-42 R II lens is underrated and would be a good "kit" lens.
  9. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Real Name:
    Lets see. Samsung is not likely to get out of the camera business any time soon. I think they have a better lens line-up than Sony. Their lens prices are pretty good too.

    On a budget though it would be hard to beat a used kit including a Panasonic G5 and any two "kit" zooms; normal and telephoto. I'd go for the 45-150 and any of the normal zooms.

    It would fit your budget and offer a lot versatility while learning what direction her photography might take.

  10. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Real Name:
    As a graphics artist, that has never effected my decisions about cameras. Olympus/Panasonic is a system you can grow with and the system quite broad to fit many purposes. Your two other cameras your screening, well not so much of a system.

    Any of the standard kit lens is a good idea to start with. That can help you define or judge future needs without spending much money.
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  11. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    It totally does depend on how many lenses the person really plans on using, though. If you only need the basics (wide, standard, and long zooms, fast normal prime, fast portrait prime) any of the systems above can happily fulfill your requirements. I find it's really quite important to be honest with yourself about what you want out of a camera when you buy it.

    While not directly relevant, a scenario I've heard fairly frequently is that someone might buy an APS-C DSLR hoping to upgrade to an FF DSLR, but deep down they aren't really interested in paying the price for a single, decent FF lens, let alone a body. Or worse yet, they only buy FF lenses that aren't optimized on their APS-C bodies, and so they spend more for worse results, and end up with a frustrated of course they don't want to spend $2000 for an FF body.

    For myself, I know that I can't justify the price Fuji and Sony demand for their lenses, nor have I invested in the high-end M4/3 offerings because the budget ones offer such good results, so recognizing that has left me satisfied with the system and the variety I get from it.
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  12. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Have you considered keeping it a little more simple by going with a premium large sensor fixed lens camera? You mentioned you don't think more than one lens would be purchased for a long time and maybe never. Fixed lens cameras typically have better specs than the kit zoom that comes with cameras and your budget would not allow for more than that lens. The kit lenses are typically short zooms with an f3.5-5.6 aperture. This means that they won't let in much light indoors and so you will have to crank the ISO up to compensate. Far enough that you start to get really noisy pictures.

    Some strong considerations:

    Panasonic LX100 - has an m4/3 sensor and an f1.7-2.8 zoom lens. This is 2 stops faster than the standard f3.5-5.6 kit lens you get with any ILC. A m4/3 zoom with f2.8 aperture is about $1000. Big advantage in low light. Has 4K, viewfinder, manual controls, etc. Small tradeoff in sharpness vs m4/3, but more than offset if comparing to shooting a slower kit zoom at a noisy high ISO setting.

    Sony RX10/Panasonic FZ1000 - closer to small DSLR size, but have a ton of zoom and fast apertures compared to the short 14-42 or 16-50 kit lens you'd get with an ILC/DSLR. The tradeoff is a slightly smaller 1" sensor which means a little less low light performance. But the aperture is also faster on these (F2.8) than a kit lens which means it may be a wash. If you think you want a ton of zoom without packing big lenses, look at these two.

    Sony RX100 III or IV. The smallest camera you can find with big camera image quality. It has a 1" sensor, too, but a fast f1.8-2.8 zoom lens to help make up for it. Pop up viewfinder and pocket size. the IV version adds 4K video and some high speed shooting functions but it costs a lot. III version is just as good otherwise.

    I'm all for m4/3 and mirrorless, but I think you have to know you are willing to drop an extra $1000+ on just the lenses for it to make a lot of sense over the cameras I mentioned above. Most friends and family that buy cameras with lens mounts never buy another lens. And a mirrorless or DSLR with just the kit lens is not a particularly spectacular photo setup.
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  13. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Yes, it's a shame. My mom had several times wistfully expressed a desire to use her old Olympus OM lenses again on a modern camera, so one year I bought her a mirrorless camera that was on heavy discount along with an OM adapter. Of course she only uses the kit lens...

    I've contemplated getting her a fast prime for indoors, but I'm not even sure she'd use that. So in the mean time, we'll continue getting strobed with on-camera flash, haha...
  14. vimar

    vimar New to Mu-43

    Nov 11, 2015
    Thank you all for the suggestions. I learned a lot from them :)

    I am now choosing between:
    • m10 w/ 14-42 IIR for 500 euros (I read that the EZ is a risky pick as many end up for repair. There is the option m10 + 14-42 EZ + 40-150 for 620 euros);
    • GX7 w/ 14-42 for 500 euros;
    • GX7 w/ g20 mm/f1.7 ii asph for 600 euros.
    I will go for the silver versions as @Klorenzo@Klorenzo suggested.
    The m10 has better looks and IBIS, while the GX7 has better video, more versatile EVF, touchscreen focusing while composing with the EVF, faster AF, etc. so I am favoring it. I was wondering, however, how the stabilization in video compares between the two. Is Panasonic's in-lens stabilization sufficient for stable video? I have seen that Olympus's is fantastic, but 1080p/30fps is disappointing..

    Finally, what do you think about the two choices of GX7's kits/; 14-42 vs g20 + 100 euros? I am not sure what focal lengths she will prefer, so the zoom is a safer bet, but it also seems that the g20 is a good deal and the zoom could be picked up used for less.

    Thanks again!