Choosing my first M43 camera. Grateful for your advice.

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by horace, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. horace

    horace Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Sep 24, 2016
    Northumberland
    Martin
    Hello All

    As a newcomer to micro four thirds cameras, I'd be very grateful for your advice in choosing my first body and lens.

    In my youth, I had a keen interest in photography (back in the days when 35mm SLRs were the weapons of choice). Since then, I've been recording my growing family with a succession of digital compacts. They've done their job well, but it's time to take back a little more control.

    A friend recently let me borrow his E-M5. That was enough to convince me that M43 was for me. I like that camera a lot, but think I'd prefer a more compact form (rather than the mini-DSLR one of the E-M5). I had a brief flirtation with a Nikon D3200, but it seemed big, slow and rather 'clunky' compared to the Olympus.

    A bit of research has led me to consider cameras such as the GX7 and E-P5. My budget for camera and lens is around £500. It appears that cameras a generation or two old sell for very reasonable prices on the used market, and seem to remain largely competitive with current models (minus a feature or two I can probably live without). I might be wrong about that, of course, but the price difference between (say) a used GX7 and a new GX8 is huge. I could buy a lot of nice lenses with that money, and that's what I'm leaning towards.

    I like to shoot in manual mode (though I'm happy to leave auto engaged for grabbed shots).
    Landscape and portraits are my main interests.

    Video is of little interest. Brief clips on holiday and kids birthdays is about it for me.

    I'll use an LCD, but much prefer a viewfinder. The GX7 has one built in, the E-P5 requires an accessory (which seems well-regarded, but looks rather ungainly to me. Perhaps not a big issue though). Reviews suggest the GX7 finder is likely to be good enough for my needs.

    All cameras seem to come with a dizzying array of extra features these days. Many of these are superfluous (to me), but might be fun to play with. Who knows...No doubt I'll pick it all up as I go along. On the face of it, as long as I have a dial for aperture and one for shutter speed, decent autofocus and image stabilisation, a viewfinder and a corkscrew (along with a nice Shiraz), I'll be fine.

    Bottom line: I've found a nice clean GX7 body for under £250. I'm tempted. The remainder of my budget would buy a used Panasonic 25mm F1.4 - I used to use a 50mm lens for most of my photography back in the day, so a 25mm would make a good first lens, I think. Is the f1.4 worth the premium over the F1.7? If not, I could get the latter and put the leftover cash towards another lens (the olympus 45mm looks good).

    Is my thinking sound? Grateful for your views. Please feel free to recommend other cameras/lenses if you think they might suit.

    Many thanks

    Martin
     
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  2. Johnny The Greek

    Johnny The Greek Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Aug 19, 2015
    Go for the E-M10, either Mk. 1 or Mk. 2. If you don't need weathersealing, you can buy a used one (and the new ones aren't that expensive anyway) for less than the price of a new 17mm f1.8 lens. I love mine enough to the point where I'd actually buy another one as a backup.
     
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  3. horace

    horace Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Sep 24, 2016
    Northumberland
    Martin
    Thanks.

    I could probably live with an E-M10, but instinctively I am more drawn to the form factor of the GX7/E-P5.

    I don't need weathersealing.

    I suppose it will all come down to how the camera feels in the hand. That's more important to me than pretty much anything else.
     
  4. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Veteran

    370
    May 15, 2016
    Syndey, Australia
    If you "much prefer a viewfinder" and are drawn to the E-P5 you will need to purchase the VF-4 external viewfinder.
    This is what I have. Nice since you can remove the viewfinder when not needed, which is most of the time for me.
    If you have a limited budget the VF-4 maybe too expensive. If you can wait a bit save up for the EM10 mkII kit if you want the viewfinder maybe cheaper than a EP-5 plus VF-4
     
  5. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 Veteran

    404
    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    Simon
    The GX7 is a wonderful camera, and for £250 I think you would struggle to find something better. That leaves you with £250 for lenses; I'd suggest the Panasonic 25mm 1.7 and the sigma 60mm, which will give you a standard and telephoto well within your budget. Use the extra £15 to buy a spare battery. You may never need anything else but if you do want some zoom flexibility or something wider, you could pick up one of the older kit zooms from eBay or mbp for £60-£70. They tend to be decent.
     
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  6. algold

    algold Mu-43 Regular

    29
    Apr 8, 2016
    Alex
    It's very personal, but I was pondering exactly the same camera choice a few months ago. After playing with GX7 and E-P5 for half hour in the camera shop I walked out with a slightly more expensive E-M10 II. It just felt better for me.
    If you are considering E-P5 with an external EVF - E-M10 II is a better choice imo. If you prefer a rangefinder form of the GX7 - just go with it, they are all good cameras.
     
  7. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Veteran

    370
    May 15, 2016
    Syndey, Australia
    Being an Olympus owner I hate to say it but Panasonic seem to have less problems if you follow some of the forum topics here. the GX7 owners seem to really like them as well.
     
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  8. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    289
    Jan 10, 2016
    Toronto
    Rob Campbell
    It sounds like you're already leaning towards a GX7 and have one picked out. They're excellent cameras. I moved from a GX1 to an EM5 a few years back, but there were things about the GX1 that I loved. The GX7 is even better.

    I like the PL25 f1.4 a lot. It's my go-to 25mm prime. I haven't shot the f1.7 but there were some reports that it was very soft. If optics are important to you, you might like the f1.4 more.

    good luck!
     
  9. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Rob
    I'd vote for Panasonic G7 or e-m10 in your price range. If you want very small, a used or leftover GM5 would be good (they were just recently discontinued, but you may stil find some new ones )

    All three have viewfinders.
     
  10. horace

    horace Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Sep 24, 2016
    Northumberland
    Martin
    Thanks for all the advice so far.

    The extra cost of the viewfinder makes a used E-P5 rather more expensive than a used GX7, which is a consideration. Otherwise, there doesn't seem much between them.

    I'm getting the impression that I won't go far wrong with any of the cameras mentioned so far. The GX7 remains top of my list. Along with a 25mm lens and a short telephoto for portraits (maybe adding one of the kit zooms for travel/holiday use), I'll be set.
    I will check out the E-M10 just to be sure.

    Thanks

    Martin
     
  11. horace

    horace Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Sep 24, 2016
    Northumberland
    Martin
    Funny you should mention the GX1 - I just spotted one for £80. Looks like a lot of camera for the money.
    When I was a youngster, my art teacher (a very talented photographer) was keen to instil the basics, insisting that a manual camera would keep beginners 'honest' and that a good 50mm lens (in the right hands) was all that was required for general photography. 'Zoom lens? Were you born with no legs, boy?'

    Pentax K1000 - fond memories.

    I sometimes wish Adobe Lightroom had the option to simulate the gradual appearance of a monochrome print in a tray under red light. I'll never forget the joy of seeing my first print being born (it was a terrible print, but that's not the point...). I have absolutely no idea how to use Lightroom - another learning curve to negotiate.
     
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  12. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I would seriously consider the 20mm f/1.7 if you're getting a Panasonic body - it's very sharp and a lot cheaper than the PL25. For what you're shooting it doesn't sound like the slightly slower AF matters a lot.
    For portraits - the Olympus 45mm and Sigma 60mm are both decent performers. The Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 is more expensive, but is a bit sharper across the frame wide open and focusses closer than the 45mm.
    For kit zooms, the old 14-45 and the new 12-32 (both Panasonic) are both well regarded.
     
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  13. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    301
    Oct 12, 2013
    If you want rangefinder-style options with a viewfinder built-in, there are only a few options: the Panasonic GM5, GX7, and GX80, and the Olympus Pen-F.

    GM5: a teeny camera with few buttons. It sounds like you specifically want something a bit bigger and with more manual controls.

    GX7: You've already looked into it -- highly regarded, as you know. Here in the US, used models haven't depreciated much -- they tend to be more expensive than the Olympus E-M10 and E-M5, which are equivalently good cameras in SLR form.

    GX80: The new version of the GX7. It adds better stabilization, a better shutter (to avoid the shutter causing vibrations that affect the image), better video (irrelevant for you), and slightly better image quality. It's the camera I plan to buy. I don't know UK prices, but I checked Park Camera, a UK store, and they are selling the GX80 with a 12-32mm kit lens for 499 pounds. (They also claim to offer 50 pounds "cashback," which I don't really understand, but might mean you actually pay 450 pounds.)

    Pen-F: Based on what you describe, probably the ideal camera for you, but also a lot more expensive. The reviews basically say that if you have extra money, it's a wonderful camera, but doesn't really offer a lot more than the GX80.

    It seems like the used GX7 would be a good option for you. If you can scrounge up the extra money, a GX80 would get you all the newest latest and greatest plus would give you a zoom lens and a warranty. As for normal lenses, I think I'd recommend the 20/1.7 over the 25/1.7 (I own both). The 25/1.7 is fine, but there's something magical about the 20/1.7 -- I think a lot of people on this forum would agree. I've also heard there's something magical about the 25/1.4, but somehow nobody really feels that way about the 25/1.7, even though it produces nice photos.
     
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  14. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 Veteran

    294
    Mar 18, 2015
    I think you have done your research properly and should go with what you originally thought. I love my GX7 and think it is probably the best rangefinder shaped body that you can buy in terms of cost. I don't understand why people recommend the EM10 (mk1) as it is a worse camera in nearly every way except viewfinder and ibis. I would not want to trade those in for the electronic shutter of the GX7 and the superior ergonomics.

    I have not owned the PL25 but have seen that european prices of that lens have gone down ridiculously far (saw one today for 330€ new). I own the P20, and it is really nice but the PL25 is a better lens.
     
  15. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Rob
    That's was my first slr experience too. Loved that camera. Remember the exposure needle? So simple and you get surprisingly good at predicting the result with it. Fond memories. I still have one. It's as elegant as a brick compared to a modern DSLR :)

    Anyway, you can't really go wrong with any MFT canes. They're all pretty good. Focus speed and accuracy will likely be the difference you most notice between the older and newer.

    Used G7, GX7 and E-M10,mkii will all we've you well for a long time. Much depends on your form factor preference. G7 is the most hand-filling and ergonomically best for my hand. Has 4K video which is nice. GX7 is great rangefinder style, e-m10 will remind you most of that old Pentax in Silver. It's the most compact but somehow the controls fall nicely to hand.

    Go to a store like a Best Buy and play with the different forms. How they feel, how your fingers fall to the controls and which menu system seems most logical to you are all important. You can't buy a GX7 there but you can get a feel for GX8 which is similar.

    If you're shooting your kids, mostly indoors, a fast 15, 17, or 25 prime would be perfect. Build out from there.

    Good luck. We look forward to seeing your pictures.
     
  16. horace

    horace Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Sep 24, 2016
    Northumberland
    Martin
    Thanks again - plenty of very sensible advice there.

    I reckon I'll go with the GX7. At the price, the risk is small - in the event of it not pushing my buttons, selling it on shouldn't involve much loss. I'm comfortable with that.

    As for the lens, well, the 25mm F1.4 does seem a bit of an extravagance, but I'm sorely tempted - it is my preferred focal length. Camera bodies may come and go, but a good lens will always be a keeper. I am in no way swayed by the Leica badge, of course. Well, OK, I am a bit - maybe it's a mid life crisis thing. Still, probably less dangerous than buying a Harley Davidson. Cheaper, too.

    Suddenly, that lens seems a dead cert - and paired with the GX7 will be exactly on budget. It's kismet (or something).

    Now, where did I leave my slippers?
     
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  17. algold

    algold Mu-43 Regular

    29
    Apr 8, 2016
    Alex
    you will also need a spare battery for the camera. have fun with your new toy :)
     
  18. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    289
    Jan 10, 2016
    Toronto
    Rob Campbell
    awesome! Post lotsa pics! :)
     
  19. horace

    horace Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Sep 24, 2016
    Northumberland
    Martin
    Spare battery = good advice.

    I'll get one.

    I fear the requests to see pictures will quickly be retracted the moment I post any. I'll get there...
     
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  20. svenkarma

    svenkarma Mu-43 Top Veteran

    566
    Feb 5, 2013
    mark evans
    Happy GX7 user here. I've shot Raw and used Lightroom for several years, but recently I've started using Snapseed (free) on a tablet, wi-fi'ing jpegs over from the GX7, and I prefer the results and the workflow.