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Camera for my needs..

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by dducky007, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. dducky007

    dducky007 New to Mu-43

    Feb 24, 2012
    I've been researching pretty heavily on the 4/3 camera's and the newest PS to determine what is best for me and I just can't come to a decision. So I wanted some of the veteran's on here to help guide me the right direction. Below is my listed of needs for a camera, help me choose what you guys would if you were in my shoes...

    1.Budget, no more than $600, can include buy used equipment

    2.Needs to be portable, fit in a pocket at times, for ex. Out at night and want to snap some shots

    3.Needs to be able to take pictures on the fly with little to no light

    4.Ability to shoot HD video

    5. Easy to learn, menu changes..

    6. Built for the future budget, for ex. Brand that will most likely have the most accessories and easily purchased at a decent price from most stores

    Obviously I have been eyeing the E-pm1 and GF3, but, I did go to Fry's today and get a hands on look on the Sony and Samsung. All of them were nice to me, I just can't decide. I'm willing to buy an older model as well.
  2. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    Number 3 is going to be hard to achieve with ANY camera. "Photography" is Greek for "drawing with light." No light means no photo! Little light means a little photo (quality-wise little, not physical size). Your best bet is a wide-aperture lens, but that means something that doesn't zoom, so you'd have to live with either the Panasonic 14mm or Panasonic 20mm lenses.

    The Olympux XZ-1, Panasonic LX5, Canon S100, and Canon G12 might be more in line with your needs. Otherwise, you'd have to buy an E-PM1 or DMC-GF3 and one of those above-mentioned lenses. The Sony and Samsung are great cameras, and they do noticeably better in low light than Olympus or Panasonic, partly because of the larger sensor and partly because of the increased technology, but keep in mind that zoom lenses from these cameras are pretty large as well. Even though the NEX-5n with 18-55mm lens is as small as the E-PL3 with 14-42mm lens, the NEX-5n doesn't have as many on-body controls, hotshoe, etc.
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Get the E-PM1. Of course each camera has its strengths and weaknesses, but the E-PM1 is the only one out of your considered choices which can meet each and every one of your listed requirements along with some unspoken ones we can derive from your list.

    The GF-3, Sony NEX, and Samsung NX all put you out on requirement #6. The GF-3 is stripped down and doesn't take accessories like hotshoe flash, external mic, or electronic viewfinder. Same thing with the Sony NEX except for one body model (the NEX-7, which is out of your stated budget in requirement #1), but no matter which body you choose there is no real "system" built around the NEX like there is for Micro Four-Thirds. You only have a handful of lenses and such to select from. The Samsung NX system has better native options than the Sony NEX system, but it doesn't have as much backing for third-party adapters (something which the NEX has a lot of support for, but is second to Micro Four-Thirds). Out of your choices, the only models which allow a hotshoe flash are the E-PM1 and Samsung NX. If you're looking at improving your photography for the future, then this is a very important consideration.

    The E-PM1 is part of the Micro Four-Thirds system which has the best selection of lenses and accessories, plus it's an Olympus PEN which means it can use all the other accessories like high-grade EVF (VF-2 or VF-3), 3.5mm stereo mic adapter (EMA-1 or SEMA-1), PenPal bluetooth device, Macro Arm Light, clip-on Remote Flash Commander, etc. The Olympus system is very modular, so every body is built to take on all the accessories (which allows the smallest entry-level body like the E-PM1 to be used at a bare minimum for the minimalist shooter or fully decked out for the more advanced user). The GF-3 won't take any extra accessories or flash, although it has the same great lens selection as the E-PM1. The Panasonic system is not modular, so all the features are either included in the body or not. That means that if you want the best functionality you need to get the biggest, highest-end body. For instance, if you want external mic you need a GH, if you want an EVF you need a GH or G, and so on. The GF-3 is the bottom of the line, so it has the least built-in features. The Olympus system being modular, all these features are available through a one-time purchase which can be used on all future bodies. In fact, even though the OM-D already has its own built-in EVF, it STILL lets you use the VF-2 or VF-3 in case you want the variable-angle functionality of it.

    The E-PM1 is also one of the most pocketable cameras of the bunch (#2), along with the GF-3, and has great detail retention along with good high-ISO performance (#3). The NEX would provide the best high-ISO performance, but that is negated by the lack of wonderful fast lenses like the Micro Four-Thirds system (which go as fast as f/0.95 if you can afford it!). So in the end the Micro Four-Thirds system can do the best in low-light, but the E-PM1 more than the GF-3 because the E-PM1 isn't as noisy at high-ISO as the GF-3 (hope that all makes sense).

    The E-PM1 shoots Full HD video in AVCHD (allows continuous shooting) with full manual control (#4). And speaking of video, it's the only one of the bunch which takes a standard mic jack for external mic, which is just as important to getting professional quality video as external flash/strobes are for professional quality photography. By an external mic I mean real video microphones like shotgun and boom mics which are rubber mounted if placed on the camera or can be taken away from the camera. What Sony and Samsung call an "external mic" is just another microphone you plug into the camera which does the same thing as the built-in mic. The only advantage you gain with that is you can put a muff on it.

    For a menu system (#5), the Olympus cameras have the best.. but you have to turn it on because it's not on by default. This is the Super Control Panel which was present in all the Olympus DSLRs, and can also be used on the PEN cameras. Check out this thread with some initial settings to get you started on the E-PM1 (same as the E-PL3, essentially): https://www.mu-43.com/f42/brand-new-e-pl3-some-questions-22008/

    Best part of the E-PM1 is that although it is the best suited body to meet all your requirements together, it is also the cheapest by a long shot! Which brings us back to #1 (budget)... :biggrin: That will give you money to spare to outfit the camera with a suitable fast lens (in particular, to meet requirement #3 - low light), of which the Micro Four-Thirds system will give you plenty of options.

    Again, I'm only comparing the cameras you listed for consideration, and only on how they relate to your listed requirements (or related requirements).
    • Like Like x 1
  4. dducky007

    dducky007 New to Mu-43

    Feb 24, 2012
    Excellent post Ned, I'm sure that took some time so I really do appreciate it. I have been heavily leaning towards the GF3 but after reading your opinion, I think the E-pm1 could be the winner. My only gripe on the pm1 is no built in flash, I'll need to see just how much big the external flash is and if I can pocket it with the flash attached.

    Out of Curiosity, what would you have recommended that wasn't on my list?

    Thank you as well Shnitz.
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The clip-on flash is very small. It'll fit into a coin pouch or any other little compartment you can find. You may think a pop-up flash is important now, but trust me as you grow in your photography you will learn to never use it if you want good quality photos (though this one is still useful because it is actually a Remote Flash Commander for wireless units). Most of us only use hotshoe or off-camera flash when we need flash light, or we use a wider aperture lens to shoot in ambient light.

    On an Olympus camera it's nice to have the pop-up because it does work to control wireless remotes and can be used alongside the VF-2 or VF-3 viewfinders. With normal hotshoe flash you can only use one or the other - flash or viewfinder. I would never actually use it as a flash itself though, only as an optical trigger.

    On the GF-3 you don't have the option of using a viewfinder and you don't have a remote commander, so the advantage of the pop-up is completely lost.

    Well... actually, I would still pick the Mini, lol. :biggrin:
  6. killerwombat

    killerwombat New to Mu-43

    Dec 18, 2011
    I would suggest a GF2 + 14mm or 20mm.

    - currently very cheap, both new and 2nd hand
    - is as pocketable as any other in this class
    - can handle low light as best as any in this class, especially with a large aperture prime
    - has a hot shoe for flash and EVF, unlike GF3
    • Like Like x 1
  7. dducky007

    dducky007 New to Mu-43

    Feb 24, 2012
    Another question

    I've been looking around on Amazon for an e-pm1 and a GF2, it seems I get better lens deals with the GF2/GF3. So my question is this, how easy is it to put a panny lens on an E-pm1? Is there an adapter needed? How interchangeable are the 4/3 accessories?
  8. killerwombat

    killerwombat New to Mu-43

    Dec 18, 2011
    Lenses are interchangeable, almost all others not compatible between brands (exceptions include the Olympus VF-1 optical viewfinder with no electronics).
  9. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Flash and Lenses are all completely interchangeable.

    The GF-2 is a lot older, so it's bound to be cheaper. A lot cheaper. :)  It is also a very good and capable camera as well, which shouldn't disappoint. It's not as modern as the E-PM1, but has more external controls and a very solid build. If you want an electronic viewfinder though, the LVF-1 that's available for the GF-2 pales in comparison to the VF-2 or VF-3 available for the E-PM1 or any other PEN. It wasn't until the LVF-2 that Panasonic put out a good accessory viewfinder, but that one only works on one camera at the moment - the GX-1 (and likewise, if you invested in an LVF-1 you would be unable to use it on the newer GX-1 body). It's doubtful the VF-2 will ever stop working on any Olympus Micro Four-Thirds body, as even the E-M5 which has a built-in EVF still allows you to use the VF-2 on top of it! The Olympus viewfinders are backwards compatible right back to the E-P2 (the E-P1 is the only anomaly which has no accessory port), and appear to be going forward compatible as well.

    Skip the GF-3 though. The E-PM1 is a much more expandable camera with better performance in just about every way, yet the GF-3 normally sells for more. You'd have to be getting one crazy killer deal to make it worthwhile.
  10. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    You keep saying "accessories." What do you mean by that; what accessories do you see in your future? Both Olympus and Panasonic are part of the micro 4/3 consortium. Lenses completely interchange with full compatibility. SD cards are universal. Flashes are universal, although Olympus cameras can take advantage of a wireless feature on any camera with an R at the end (fl-50R, FL-36R, etc). The electronic viewfinders don't interchange. "Accessories" like underwater housings are camera-body specific and obviously don't interchange. Filters are obviously universal, as are anything that you would screw onto the front of a lens. Tell us what you want to do, and we'll give you an answer. The GF2, for the most part, is just as capable as an E-PM1 or E-PL3.

    I also disagree that the E-PM1 is the only camera that meets your above criteria. The Sony NEX and Samsung NX cameras take better night photos (by virtue of both superior technology and a 60% larger sensor, which means that given the same exposure settings, you have 60% more light hitting the sensor), while being either just as small, or nearly as small. NEX cameras also have clip-on flashes, and the NEX-5n can take a viewfinder (which, if the VF3 is considered "high-grade," then the Sony one is heaven sent). The NEX cameras, however, can't take an external microphone, which is a big deal if you're doing more serious video. If you won't be buying an external mic though (which is likely if you're looking for a pocketable camera), or using an external audio source and combining later, then it's a non-issue. The micro 4/3 cameras also don't have a fast zoom available, so if you really want pocketable with low-light capability, one of those super point and shoots is a better choice.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Well, I don't exactly consider a clip-on flash to be an accessory that will carry you into the future. :)  Hotshoe flash, yes.

    As far as both other systems being pocketable, I didn't consider the Samsung NX200 as all the other Samsungs are really large, and I didn't consider the Sony NEX-5n for the viewfinder. Of course I knew there would be isolated exceptions, but as an overall system you can't beat Micro Four-Thirds. The feeling I'm getting from the OP is that he wants a system he can grow in.
  12. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Other than a P&S, this is going to be tough. None of the mirrorless cameras are something you'd want in your pocket that often. Yes they can be made to fit, but unless you are seriously into big baggy pants, it's not going to be that comfortable for very long.

    If this is a major want, then the S100 is your best bet. Good quality in a slim P&S package.

    What are you going to be doing with these images? The S100 maybe all the camera you need.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. dducky007

    dducky007 New to Mu-43

    Feb 24, 2012
    As always I appreciated all the reply's and have repped in return.

    Here's my background and reason for my research. My last camera was a Lumix tz5 that I bought several years ago. Loved the camera, did what i needed, and fit in my pocket. I don't have any photography background but have always been interested in it. I always wanted a DSLR but they are just to big to lug around. I want to be able to take BOKEH type pictures. I'm not sure my TZ5 was able to or I just didn't know how too. I also think it's wise to buy a camera for the future, something that I only have to buy a new body and reuse accessories like lens, flash, etc.. On top of all that I want to be able to record good video.

    I did look at the S100 but found the menu confusing to me, me and the camera rep were both confused browsing through the menu to change certain settings. So it left a bad taste in my mouth.

    I have kids and I travel often, constantly taking pictures of the area or just the hangouts that I end up at. Currently I am planning a Vegas trip in 2 months and would like a new camera prior.
  14. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    If you require bokeh type pictures, take a look at the images threads of the 45/1.8, 25/1.4 and 20/1.7. Those are most commonly shown off for that.

    If you are used to the Panny menus, why not stick with a Panasonic body? GF3s are insanely cheap on the used market. Many will disagree, but I find the Oly E-PM1s menu system far more confusing than any of the Panasonics or the S100.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. cz9h3d

    cz9h3d Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 18, 2012
    SE Michigan
    As a fellow newbie with more $$ than sense, I've gone through a similar decision process recently (and continue to revisit).

    #1: As soon as you enter the interchangeable lens camera realm, be prepared to spend. Lenses cost a lot!

    I will disclaim that I'm a recent GF3 purchaser (and I have a great deal on a like new unit, if interested:) . I easily could have purchased an E-PM1, also a nice camera. I'm moving up from a Canon S95, which I'll continue to keep and use when I want maximum portability. As a compact move up, that's important to me. I went with the GF3 because I did put value in having the flash on board for when I need it (the E-PM1's is easy to clip on, but I didn't want the bother of it.). I don't have a need for a hot shoe, so that didn't factor into my decision. I also have the new 14-42x lens, which gives me a very small zoom. In addition, I have a 14mm prime (really small), and a 45-200 tele. We're talking over $900! Ouch! Am I crazy or what? And I'm sure it's a pittance compared to most others on here. Oh, I also like the touchscreen on the GF3.

    If I were you, I would look hard at a used GF3 (kit with 14-42 are getting close to $300). However the E-PM1 with its in body image stabilization has lenses that are a little smaller (unless you want to be cutting edge and pay for a 14-42x). Olympus just ended a promotion with both a zoom and tele for $575. That was a nice deal, then just save up $180 for a 14mm used prime, and your good to go!

    A used E-PM1 could also be attractive. You'll see postings here, but fredmiranda.com is where I just bought my tele lens - a huge buy/sell marketplace for enthusiasts.

    Glad to learn the E-PM1 has a microphone input. That would be nice to have on occasion ( i just bought a clearance Kodak Zi10 for the microphone input). But I'm not a huge fan of AVCHD, but that's pretty much where everything is going.

    Lastly - the GF3 is the "whipping boy" for the enthusiasts, who havent forgiven Panasonic for removing the accessory port and dumbing down the features - they should have changed the name to clarify its positioning for move-ups. Neds pretty nice about it, but don't get me going about Tedlof in the DPReview forums.

    Given the importance of size and budget, E-PM1 makes the most sense for you, assuming you're okay with the add on flash. Im sure I'd lose both the port cover on the camera and the cover on the flash quickly if I had gone this route. I wonder if the E-PM2 will have a built in unit?
    • Like Like x 3
  16. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Having a confusing menu is a temporary thing. You can get used to it. If you want this as a travel camera that will be with you all the time, I would suggest dummying up something the size and weight of a GF3 + 14mm lens and sticking in your pocket for a couple of days. That may not be something you can get used to.
  17. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I'll weigh in here...

    I am a former GF2 owner and current E-PM1 user. First let me say that I like both cameras quite a lot and each has things to recommend them. The GF2 has IMHO a slightly more convenient set of controls in that it has a thumbwheel that can adjust aperture when pressed. I LOVED that. The built-in flash is handy but I typically shoot available light so it wasn't a HUGE consideration. It's fast, small and has terrific IQ. The biggest drawback for me is the fact that the only EVF available for the GF2 is the LVF1 and while it isn't a bad EVF its nowhere near as good as the Olympus VF2 or the built-in EVFs on the Panasonic G cameras (also had a G2).

    I think the E-PM1 is a definite step up from the GF2. The EPM1 feels faster (to AF and shot to shot), has better auto WB, better metering, is a bit smaller and with some tweaking has almost as good set of physical controls (for my purposes) as the GF2. The addition of the Olympus Super Control Panel really evens things up. If you're a fan of Olympus color...(like the flash that wasn't a big deal for me). Also, IBIS is nice. I shoot a lot fo legacy glass and while I never issues with the GF2s lack of stabilization it's a handy thing to have if you want/need it. The E-PM1+Panasonic 14 is about a small a kit as you're gonna find without going to a high end point and shoot. Fast, quiet (the Panasonic 20 BTW is not a quiet lens) and a real joy to shoot.

    They're both quite good but in the end the E-PM1 gave me enough more that making the switch made sense.
    • Like Like x 2
  18. dducky007

    dducky007 New to Mu-43

    Feb 24, 2012
    Due to the pricing and availability, I think I am picking up a GF3 with a 14mm and 14-42mm zoom for around $450.

    I can't find an E-pm1 cheap anywhere and I would still have to buy a pancake lens to carry around. With the 14mm and 14-42mm zoom, I can use those with a future body later down the road.

    I appreciate all your help and i really wanted to pick up an E-pm1 but like I said, they are kind of hard to find unless you pay top dollar. Cheapest I found it is 430 and the cheapest I can find a pancake is 230.
  19. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 23, 2012
    I'm in Canada, so this may be irrelevant, but I found my e-pm1/14-42mm combo at a big box store recently for $379 (499, 100 off, open box 5% discount). On top of that, I went with one of the popular panasonic 14mm's that are all over ebay for $169. Still not as cheap as $450, but worth hunting for if if it's the model you want. Keep an eye on stores that have low-price guarantees (who beat others by a %), etc. Patience is required though...not sure if you're in a hurry.
  20. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    This is good logic, and I think you made a good choice with that in mind. :thumbup: The glass is a better investment than the body.
    As much as I prefer the E-PM1 body, you picked the GF-3 for just the right reason.
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