Experienced photographer taking first dip into M4/3 on a budget

MKan

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Hi Everyone,

I feel a bit guilty joining a forum, offering nothing but jumping straight in to asking for advice but here goes anyway.

I'm an experienced photographer originally working in film, mostly while at uni but a bit commercial too, using old SLR systems like canon AV1, pentax k1000 etc as well as other formats like 120mm and 5/4. Switched to digital with Nikon D70 and later D90 which I still have. I have found, as my life changed I took the DSLR out less and less and over the last two years it has barely seen the light of day, being far too bulky, with all my photos taken on an iPhone. Frustrated by the limitations of the phone camera and the number of opportunities missed over the years I've decided its time to sell up and move to a camera that suits my new needs. I need something small, interchangeable lenses, ability to do a lot of things manual or at least aperture priority and be able to creatively use depth of field. I largely shoot street/documentary and natural light portrait photography. Micro 4/3s really seems to offer cameras that do what I need with a variety of lenses and plenty of room to upgrade lenses over time. I hardy ever shoot video but might have more if my D90 had been HD (I occasionally work on short films with friends). My budget is about NZ$1000 but I'll outline the price of the various options anyway as prices from different stores and markets differ so wildly.

These are the options I'm considering:

Olympus OMD EM10 Mkii

Positives:
Seeing this in the store initially attracted me to the idea of buying a new camera
I liked the metal body
I like the tilting screen
Negatives:
Its an older model, will it be supported as long?
Is there technology in this camera that isn't as good as the Mkiii that I don't understand but will when I start getting into the format?
No 4k video

Body price: $709
14-42 lens kit price: $911
14- 42 & 40 -150 lens kit price: $980

Olympus OMD EM10 Mkiii
Positives:
Latest model
4k video
Negatives:
Don't like the idea of a plastic body as much
Not such a big fan of a fully articulated screen

Body Price: $1198 (no cheap store had it)
14-42 lens kit price: $999
14-42 & 40-150 lens kit price: $1370

Panasonic Lumix GX85
Positives:
I really like the style of this camera
It can charge from USB on the move
I like the tilting screen
Has 4k video
Negatives:
Price

Body price: $997
14-42 & 25mm f1.8 lens kit special offer price: $1196

I would prefer to spend $1000 but can stretch to $1200 if its really work it. The pancake zoom might be my everyday lens. I probably wouldn't use a long zoom much but a 25mm 1.8 would get a lot of use. I can always pick it up later though at $260.

Please let me know your thoughts, tips, picks of which I should go with or if there is a camera I have missed.

Thanks for taking the time to read!

Mkan
 
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retiredfromlife

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All three are good. The EM10 MK2 is a bit more customisable and a metal top and bottom plate but the Mk3 has easier menu's for Olympus slightly less customisable buttons and plastic top and bottom plates.

The Gx85 is very nice, some don't like the viewfinder as much, and Panasonic has a wonderfull touch screen interface.

If funds can stretch the G85 (G80) is a bit more advanced and is very good value for money, an is one of the more popular cameras at his time.

One thing Olympus has that Panasonic does not have are the night time live composite modes if you are into night scenes.

Tough choice, try before you buy if possible as handling is a big part of the experience.
 

ionian

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Hey Mkan - welcome to m43. All the options you are considering are good cameras so you are unlikely to go wrong. however, think about the glass - you said you want to take the pictures that your cell phone can't, and you may find the kit lenses a little slow for any sort of shallow depth of field work. Primes are going to be your friend for this.

I don't know what the used market is like in NZ but it's certainly worth a look. You may be able to pick up something cheaper or better, such as the EM1.1 for the same sort of money.

Out of the options you list, the G85 is probably the best camera but the Em10ii is the best deal. The G85 offers video capabilities that you say yourself you are unlikely to use.
 

gnarlydog australia

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I recently bought a E-M10mk2 for my niece for AU$502 from these guys: Olympus E-M10 MK 2 (BODY) Digital Camera with AUST OLYMPUS WARRANTY | eBay
It says shipping within OZ but maybe they can ship to NZ for a fee
Camera is capable but I don't think it's metal cover, looks metalized to me and scratches will shop up as black underneath
If you know how to use an old school camera (manual focus) you can then fit SLR lenses to it with a cheap adapter.
 

fransglans

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Why don't you look for second hand? And put the money into great second hand glass? I bought a outdated but still great Panasonic gx7 for 175usd a couple of days ago. With 1000shutter clicks. It has 1/8000 mechanical shutter speed, tilting evf, great grip, retro look. What's more to like? And that gives you lots of bucks to buy something like a Panasonic 25 1.4, a wow lens!
 

Saledolce

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I have EM10.ii and I find it a joy to use and touch it. I think that's what I would pick from the deals above. I don't like the idea of a more plasticky feel, and I don't care about 4k video.

G80/85 is weather sealed and I find it a very interesting camera, AF-C should be better than the Oly, while Oly should win in stabilization. If you are ok with that body size (EM10 is smaller), I think EM1.i could be an interesting option as well.
 

gnarlydog australia

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Why don't you look for second hand? And put the money into great second hand glass? I bought a outdated but still great Panasonic gx7 for 175usd a couple of days ago. With 1000shutter clicks. It has 1/8000 mechanical shutter speed, tilting evf, great grip, retro look. What's more to like? And that gives you lots of bucks to buy something like a Panasonic 25 1.4, a wow lens!
I always buy used if I can but so far almost all the Olympus cameras needed to be service: buttons not responding, rubber peeling, shutter jamming
Every time I bought used I insisted that the seller had to have a receipt for the camera bought from Australia (not international)
Since Olympus Australia offers 2-year warranty (that legally can be extended) I have made use of that 7 times so far, on several models (E-M5, E-P5 and E-M1)
Used is great (I don't need the new camera smell) but warranty is essential in this case
 

Gerard

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I would buy a good lens first. New or used with a warranty.
You can't go wrong with any of the bodies. A 6 yr old Olympus Pen Mini, either 1 or 2, isn't a world apart from the newest bodies. Maybe in features, not so much in image quality.

An 'old' body with a quality lens gives more than the fanciest new body with a 'mediocre' lens, like the 'kit lenses' that you mention.

If after a while you think this m43 system is too big and find a iphone good enough, you wont loose that much money, when selling your quality lens, while the price drop for a body will be a lot steeper.

BTW Welcome to the forum.
 

RogerM

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You're in NZ, I'm in NZ...
One word; 'Trademe' :)
The Panasonic bodies are a better bet, in general, second-hand.
Have a look to see what's currently available, check the reviews and get back to us.
$1000NZ is plenty for a nice body and some excellent glass here.
Cheers!
 

wjiang

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Welcome, fellow kiwi!

First I'll address those options:
  1. E-M10 II - you won't really miss anything going this way compared to the other two bodies, other than 4K video. In general, don't expect much support for any of the E-M10 models as Olympus consider it entry-level.
  2. E-M10 III - not what I'd go for, it's pretty much the same as the above except they actually dumbed it down somewhat from the Mk II for beginners. If you're after 4K video, the next one is better.
  3. GX85 - the EVF is of the field-sequential type, which some people find uncomfortable to use. It's also physically smaller than that of the E-M10s, though the perceived magnification is higher. It's got 5-axis in-body stabilisation but not as good as that in the Olympus models. BTW there's also this kit: https://www.photowarehouse.co.nz/sh...ras/digital-dslr/panasonic-gx85-12-32mm-black, which would be my pick over the 14-42mm due to having a useful 12mm and being so compact. The 12-32mm is one of the few 'kit' lenses that I'd recommend people keep (and I have, despite also having the 12-40mm Pro).
Out of those, the last combo seems a better fit for what you like to shoot - a fast 25mm f1.7 and a non-power zoom 12mm, as opposed to a tele-zoom plus a 14-42 EZ. You have to manually extend the 12-32 but as long as you leave it out, you can shoot with no power-on delay. With the 14-42 EZ you have to wait for it to extend during power-on. The 12-32 is also a little sharper than the 14-42 EZ.

I would recommend getting black over the silver models, unless you don't mind the fake silver finish being banged up to reveal the dull grey metal (or worse, plastic) underneath. Black wears down too but looks more like old-school wear. Do try them out in a shop, the difference in feel and operation between the E-M10s and GX85 (and Olympus and Panasonic in general) is substantial.

With your budget, those are probably the most decent options for buying new in NZ. I wouldn't bother shipping from Australia, the price differential is not big enough to be worth it. I would echo others' suggestions to buy used, with some caveats. There is a small but decent used market in NZ for m4/3 equipment, both on Trade Me and from reputable stores like Auckland Camera, Photo Warehouse, Photo & Video, and ProGear. One downside - you have to be prepared to wait quite a while for interesting stuff to appear at reasonable prices... we're a small country. It may be more prudent to get a first body and lens to get used to the system before slowly picking up lenses second-hand along the way.

I've had no problems buying used - of the bodies and numerous lenses on my kit list, only the 7.5FE and PL15 were bought new. Out of a history of six bodies and I don't know how many lenses, the only problems I've had have ironically been with new items, which resulted in warranty claims. I figure anything sold by a reputable seller on Trade Me (which feels a bit more trustworthy than the likes of eBay, incidentally) is likely to be okay since any problems would have resulted in warranty/CGA claims anyway.

FYI... Forget the E-M1 Mk1 - it's a great body to buy at used prices, but you would be looking at body only for your budget in NZ - the ones I've come across on occasion have been around $900 for 10k shutter activations (I bought mine for about that much). More in your budget: recently I've seen a couple of great condition E-P5s go for $400 and a GX85 + 25mm f/1.7 for just under $800. There's currently a nice Lumix G7 14-42/45-150/25 f1.7 kit starting at $500 and a GX7 14-42/45-150 kit starting at $450. The very good fast primes of the system typically go for about $300-$500.
 
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3dpan

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I would include eBay (Aus) in your search.
I bought my as-new E-M5II with 12-40mm PRO lens for $1500 NZ almost a year ago from a seller in Aus.
Oly Service in Chch agreed to pick up any warranty service if required. (It hasn't been so far).
Our exchange rate with Aus is good, and there is more to chose from over there.
 

Levster

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Discount the E-M10 Mk III, apart from 4K it appears to be an expensive step backwards from the Mk II. I've had both the GX80 (85) and E-M10 Mk II and I'd pick the GX80. The benefits of the GX80 in my mind are:

  • Viewfinder on left - for a right eye shooter I don't accidently change focus point with my nose as much!
  • Touch pad auto-focus (with your eye to the viewfinder you can use your thumb to move the focus point about). The implementation on the E-M10 Mk II is poor compared to the GX80.
  • Superior video quality.
Plenty of people would pick the E-M10 Mk II for different reasons. Try them both if you can and see what one feels best.
 

Mattyh

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Coming from your background I would suggest the Panasonic G80/85 just for it’s handling benefits over the smaller cameras you’ve mentioned.
 

pondball

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@MKan Welcome to mu-43... with the questions you've asked you've come to the right place... best camera forum on the internet imo... informative, friendly... and we're all full of GAS (lots of threads here to help you spend your hard earned $$)

I moved from Nikon FF to mu4/3 just over a year ago. I knew nothing about what to expect from the "downsizing" except that everyone here seemed to love their equipment no matter what model it was, and they were willing share their photos and experiences with each other too! It's a fun group. While my initial intent was to dive in at the high end with the em1mkii the $$$$ made it impossible to justify, not when I saw what members here were showcasing with both entry level and mid-range models of cameras and glass.

I "settled" for the em5mkii and instead vowed to build my kit with as high a quality of glass as I could afford (thus my kit in signature below). The em5mkii, although it has an articulating screen has been a really good camera so far both in terms of build, weight and ability to use in manual mode. I bought mine new along with the 12-100/Pro to start me off but have added both the 25 and 40-150 through the Buy & Sell threads here. If you have some time before making a decision then I think you'll find there are some good options available here in mu-43.com. I agree with @3dpan... and if you could find a kit like the one he lists below it would be a very good start indeed. Here at mu-43.com there are many showcase threads to give you an idea of what is possible with any body/lens combo or what is available from members (sample: 12-40 Pro, Buy & Sell). There is even a Video section and a thread specifically devoted to filmmaking where they should be able to answer some of your video questions.

I bought my as-new E-M5II with 12-40mm PRO lens for $1500 NZ almost a year ago from a seller in Aus.
Oly Service in Chch agreed to pick up any warranty service if required. (It hasn't been so far).
Our exchange rate with Aus is good, and there is more to chose from over there.
 

pellicle

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I always buy used if I can but so far almost all the Olympus cameras needed to be service: buttons not responding, rubber peeling, shutter jamming...
Used is great (I don't need the new camera smell) but warranty is essential in this case

to me, that's pretty darn damning. I've had a few used Panasonics and none had any problems. I know this goes back and forward but to me the Olympus seem to be more prone to failure of simple things in bodies

Ok ... there's the can of worms opened ...
:hiding:
 

DynaSport

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A couple of things, if there is any way to put your hands on the cameras before buying, I would highly recommend it. I wanted smaller when I switched from a dslr to m43, and bought the smallest camera I could find at the time (an E-PM 1). And then really didn’t like it much. I wanted to. I tried to. But I didn’t. I later bought a G6 which was like a mini dslr, and I liked it much better. I personally don’t like the feel of the small bodies like the E-M10, but many do. That’s why I say hold one and play with it first if at all possible.

Next, while I think to kit lenses are actually pretty good, they don’t give you much dof control. If that is important to you, you will be disappointed. If you can pick up a kit with one for a good price, you might as well, but you’re going to want a prime lens as well. The good thing is that there are lots to choose from and some are not expensive at all.
Finally, as as far as used is concerned, I have bought quite a bit of photography gear used over the years and have had good luck with it. I don’t think m43 cameras are as robust as my old Canon gear, but I bought my current camera used and so far I haven’t had any issues with it. I have had two cameras I bought new die on me outside of the warranty and I replaced them instead of repairing them.

Good luck and welcome.
 
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Christop82

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Get the 12-40 with whatever body you buy. It's worth it. I highly recommend the E-M10II as well.
 

DynaSport

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to me, that's pretty darn damning. I've had a few used Panasonics and none had any problems. I know this goes back and forward but to me the Olympus seem to be more prone to failure of simple things in bodies

Ok ... there's the can of worms opened ...
:hiding:
I’ve bought 4 M43 cameras. Two Panasonic and two Olympus. Both my Panasonics died. Both my two Olympus are still working fine.
 
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