Cheapest entry to "good" IQ?

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by russell, Mar 18, 2011.

  1. russell

    russell Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 28, 2010
    Victoria, Australia
    Let's say that all of the factors you cared about in a camera suddenly ceased to matter, except for reasonable image quality in unchallenging circumstances (outdoors, daylight, static subjects) and, most of all, price. It also has to be digital and have a wide-to-normal zoom capability. By reasonable IQ, I mean suitable for printing in a book. (I'm not yet aware what the page size will be.)

    What would be your choice?

    I've committed to this project (local history- then & now streetscape photos) but don't really want to muck around with film any more. At the same time I can't afford the E-P2 setup I've been lusting over for months. Just wondering if there's something old and unfashionable in the used market that might fit the bill just for this project? For example, how far back in the Canon DSLR lines can you go before image quality starts to be noticeably lacking in a medium sized print?
  2. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    If you're talking Canons you could go back to something like a 350D or ideally a 20D and still be amazed at the results, but it will depend on what lens you attach to it. A 20D body will cost less than $AUS300. The biggest drawback I find with the 350D and 20D is the tiny 1.8" screen. The earlier 300D and 10D would be cheaper again but there was a noticable step between these and their 8MP successors.

    Do you need a full-sized SLR, though?
  3. jimr.pdx

    jimr.pdx Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 5, 2010
    near Longview ~1hr from PDX
    Real Name:
    Jim R
    I'd say 8 megapixels will serve, and likely six - that would allow plenty of good used larger-sensor cameras do the job. From the 4:3 side of things, I was enamored of the E500, a great camera that took better images than anything that I tested. I really need IS of some sort for what I shoot, and the IQ on the E510 was much lower on the in-store test shots I printed - so I went 2nd best in that price range, which at the time was a 10Mpxl Sony A200. Even now though, testing that E500 is a happy memory - WB excellent in mixed light, great punchy images and easy to customize. I wish that sensor had made a comeback in an IS body, but the megapixel race left it behind.

    Really though, anything in the :43: universe uses excellent sensors that would print nicely in a book of 8x10 images or more. G1 may not do video, but it could make a fine book! :smile:
  4. ccunningham

    ccunningham Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    Well, if the book isn't really large, and the lighting situation and subjects aren't challenging, many cameras will do.

    If you don't want to spend much, how much are you talking about? And what kit do you want for the money (accessory lens wise)? Any special preferences (small size, high frame rate, weather proof)?

    I'll pretend I can spend $400, and I don't have issues with buying used from a reputable seller.

    If you want small and with interchangeable lenses - A Panasonic G1 would likely be a good candidate, it's pretty flexible with good IQ and controls, and I've seen it for less than $400 used, with kit 14-45. I think the G2 body was on sale recently for around $300.

    With Olympus, I would think a 300/330, 4x0, 5x0, 6x0 would do, and some of the older models aren't terribly expensive, typically less than $400 with kit lens.

    If you aren't cropping much then a good 6MP camera like a Nikon D50/D70 would do, or a Pentax K100D/K110D, or a Canon 10D or 300D. Typically these are all available used with a kit lens for $400.

    I've seen E-P1 used kits for less than $400 if you want something like that.

    I've seen prices lower than $400, but often it seems that good, clean gear that hasn't been heavily used seems to creep up pretty close to $400 if they include all the other accessories, such as the battery and charger, and a kit lens.
  5. billzilla

    billzilla Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 16, 2011
    E-PL1 refurb kit on Amazon for $369, free shipping. Hands-down best buy/deal and cheapest entry into m4/3.
  6. Bruster

    Bruster Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 14, 2011
    My first DSLR was the brick-like OLY E300. In retrospect it wasn't that bad and many of the best images I have today came from THAT camera. Pick one up for a steal on E-Bay. Then you can slowly accumulate lenses that will, with an adapter, be useable on your one-day E-P3! Down side...tiny screen, no live view, rather heavy. 8 Mega. Up-side, good images, viewfinder and the same lenses u'll use later. At the time there were pro's using the camera! I went on to the E400-series, but IMHO, that series is far behind.
  7. Bruster

    Bruster Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 14, 2011
    Oops, I think I may stand corrected on the lens issue.
  8. icase81

    icase81 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 22, 2011
    Philly, PA
    Adorama has a refurb (refurb by Olympus, so good as new) Olympus E-420 with a 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens for $269 with free shipping. Its got live view on the LCD, and in body image stabilization. Seems like an E-P1 with a more DSLR look that takes xD and CF cards instead of SD cards.
  9. russell

    russell Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 28, 2010
    Victoria, Australia
    Hmmm thank you all for the responses so far. I deliberately didn't mention a price because any expenditure at the moment will land me in the dog house! But if there's nothing under 250 then it's hard to argue against the extra 100 for an EP1 kit.

    I suppose all it lacks for me in the long run is an EVF but it's a whole lot cheaper than anything with a good EVF. A cheaper used DSLR trumps that in a way with an OVF although not so much for manual focus work (macro) which would be my main reason for wanting EVF in the first place! None of this is necessary to the project at hand, anyway.
  10. zpierce

    zpierce Super Moderator

    Sep 26, 2010
    Minneapolis, MN
    Real Name:
    How about a Nikon D40. No frills, inexpensive, yet excellent IQ.
  11. QualityBuiltIn

    QualityBuiltIn Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 1, 2011
    Edinburgh, Scotland

    I think the Olympus E-420 is just about the lowest price new kit available, at least here in UK.
  12. texascbx

    texascbx Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 30, 2009
    Fry's has the A33 with kit lens for 700.
  13. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    $700 for an A33 might be a bit steep
  14. russell

    russell Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 28, 2010
    Victoria, Australia
    Hmmm... help me... I am tempted by the DSLRkside...!

    Having considered them as a quick fix and finding them comparable in price to an EP1 anyway... I now find myself asking, do I really love the way it looks enough to be prepared to suffer the performance disadvantages? AF speed and VF quality... hmmm
  15. bilzmale

    bilzmale Mu-43 All-Pro

    The E-420 is sold but Adorama has an E-520 twin lens kit (with IBIS) for $420. A better option if size is not a concern.