first non-compact digital camera

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by jjpeterberger, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. jjpeterberger

    jjpeterberger Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 18, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    Hello All,
    This is my first post to this forum and I'm looking for suggestions.

    A little background...I grew up with Nikon film cameras, mostly using an FE-2 with a motor drive. I shot mostly outdoor/landscape images during backpacking and bike touring trips. About the time the first digital SLRs came to the mass market, I stopped shooting and shelved my equipment. Most of it is now gone to other homes, sadly, and I'm looking beyond my currently wonderful, pocket sized, Panasonic TS3.

    I want to do more than just point and shoot in similar settings to my past photography, i.e. outdoors, landscapes and travel shots. In fact, next summer, my wife and I will hop on our touring bikes and cross as much of the globe as we can in a year or so. I expect to shoot some video, but not much. I'm primarily interested in still photography.

    My wants/needs are not quite going to be met (I believe) with a full-sized DSLR setup. While I'll still carry the TS3 in my pocket for snapshots while riding, I'd like to have a more capable camera, easily and quickly available, in my handlebar bag. This means it needs to be fairly small and lightweight. In my head, I've ruled out cameras that feature a non-removable zoom lens, only because I like the idea of interchangeable lenses.

    Mirrorless-lens cameras are new to me but, as a system, they seem to fit my needs. I've looked online and read quite a bit about the Sony alpha cameras as well as the Olympus and Panasonic MFTs. I have yet to handle any of these so the ergos are still unknown. At this point, I have no brand loyalties to cloud my judgement and price is definitely a factor. Since this camera will be traveling through less than ideal conditions over an extended time, I'll be trying to spend less than the cost of my bike!

    Currently, the top-end MFT cameras are a bit out of my desired price range but that leaves a large number of current and older models to choose from. I'd rather spend a few extra dollars on an additional lens than on the camera body.

    Based on this long-winded you think the micro 4/3 system is the appropriate approach for my intended usage? If not, where should I be looking? If it is, do you have a model or two I should be focusing my efforts on (pun intended).

    Thanks for the help,

    Enjoy the ride
  2. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Yes, it certainly is well suited for you.

    First question: how important is an eye level viewfinder to you? Or are you comfortable with just a rear screen?

    Secondly, normally a travel camera is recommended with an all-in-one zoom (e.g. 14-140mm on µ4/3), for ease of use. But you specifically mentioned being attracted to changing lenses. Is that right? What lens range do you want to have for your travels? It depends on the type of shooting you plan to do.
  3. jjpeterberger

    jjpeterberger Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 18, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    Thanks for such a quick answer.

    Since picking up my first digital compact a few years ago, a TS-1, I quickly realized that an LCD viewfinder was inevitable. I much prefer the ergonomics of a viewfinder since that is how I learned to take photos.

    For lenses, I'd be most interested in a wide angle prime lens for the bulk of my shots and a reasonably fast, moderate zoom for days off the bike playing tourist.

    Since I'm not wedded to any system at this point, an all-in-one zoom setup isn't completely out of the question. However, my biased preference would be for interchangable lenses... ;-}

  4. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    The Sony A7(r) cameras are probably out because they dont currently have the lenses to meet your needs.

    Most M43 users are arent particularly brand loyal between Oly and Panny whose cameras and lenses are interchangeable. For the camera the Olympus E-M5 would be great (available for about US$600 refurbished) - it is weatherproof and has the latest sensor technology. Ideally for lenses - the 12-35 2.8, 35-100 2.8 (so 24-200 covered with fast weatherproof zooms) and a fast prime - 25/1.4 - for very low light. However, your budget might not stretch that far.
  5. battleaxe

    battleaxe Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I would suggest going to a local camera/electronic store that carries Sony, Panasonic, and Olympus mirrorless cameras and see which feels better to you. A few years back I was also interested in looking at mirrorless cameras, and had no brand loyalty(and sort of still don't), but then I held the cameras I was looking at and almost immediately ruled out the NEX-3/5(which just came out at the time) out. I liked everything I read and saw on the internet about them, but once I held it, and played with the interface I knew I didn't click well for me.
  6. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    A Panasonic G3 (used) or its replacement G5 (or the latest G6 if price is OK for you) should be well priced, and it has a viewfinder.

    The Panasonic 14mm prime lens (28mm wide angle equivalent) can be had for only a couple of hundred. Add the Olympus 45mm f1.8 (90mm equiv) for a few hundred, and there you go. There aren't any reasonably fast, moderate zooms IMHO: the 12-60 Olympus [edit: I just noticed it is actually 12-50, so less range than I thought] is the right range but rather slow, and the f/2.8 standard zooms are too short to get you beyond the 14mm and 45mm range of the 2 primes I suggested. They are also rather expensive, relatively.

    battleaxe is right, feel can make a difference if the ergonomics are bad, but, by the same token, some cameras with good ergonomics will feel wrong until you adjust.
  7. Bokeaji

    Bokeaji Gonzo's Dad O.*

    Aug 6, 2011
    Austin, TX
    not sure if its been mentioned, but consider buying used
    we have a lot of people even in these forums that buy stuff, barely use it, then sell it to buy the next best thing
    you might stumble on an amazing deal
  8. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Try and find a used E-M5 (it has a nice integrated VF), many are selling now due to the newer bodies. The Panasonic G-series are a little bit bigger, but may suit you if DSLR-like ergonomics are important.

    As for lenses, the affordable fast wide angle primes are the 14 mm f/2.5 (28 mm FoV) and 17 mm f/1.8 (34 mm FoV). The 14 is much cheaper than the 17 actually. Unfortunately there are no native zooms that are 'moderately fast' - all are either the typical affordable f/3.5-5.6s or the expensive f/2.8s...
  9. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Most important questions:

    - What's your budget?
    - What focal lengths do you enjoy shooting most?
    - Why have you ruled out compacts other than 'you like the idea'? I think I'd rather have a Sony RX100 than an older 12MP MFT body with a kit zoom, f'r instance. It's tiny, it's light, it's fast at the wide end, image quality is very good (though not as good as modern MFT systems, particularly in fine detail land, and very limited 'shallow DOF' options, if that's your thing..)

    My last big cycle tour (NYC to Chesapeake over a 14 day stretch) was with a Canon 5DII, and while the image quality was great, the setup was...not ideal. My 'perfect' travel system for backpacking is a microFT setup because it allows a full range of focal lengths in a relatively compact setup. If I were cycling I'd go for an E-M5 and one of the 2.8 normal zooms (the 12-35/2.8 based on size and weight, only just) and add a 45/1.8 for longer/low light, and consider a 9-18 ultrawide. All primes while travelling is a non-starter for me, but it's really a matter of personal taste. This isn't a cheap system by any measure, but all will fit an an Ortlieb bar bag (or similar) with ease. This sounds like a fantastic trip of a lifetime, so I wouldn't want to be without a great camera. It is about personal priorities though.
  10. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
  11. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    My good friend shoots Nikon full frame. He has about 5 lenses. His 300mm cost $3000. D700 camera itself was $2000. Each zoom he buys is $1500. His 105mm macro was a good $1000 or more. He's spent $10,000 in the past two years.

    Another friend has a Nikon D5100. She wants to buy her first 50mm 1.4 but it will cost her $500. Then if she wants the telephoto zoom that's another $300. Does she want to try a macro? What about a longer prime? Anything she buys will be in the hundreds of dollars. She can buy old Nikon lenses for $100 which might autofocus, but they won't meter. (Note: Sigma did make a wide constant f1.8 zoom for $1000 for these!)

    I personally bought an Olympus PM2 with 14-42 zoom for $400. I bought an amazing Pentax 50mm 1.7 for $30. I also have the Konica Hexanon version of the same lens for about the same price. In all I have these lenses: Bower fisheye for $200, 11mm converter for $100, 14/2.5 for $75, Vivitar 28/2 for $100, 28/2.8 for $20, Sigma 30/2.8 for $130, 40s, 50s, 135s, $99 40-150mm, 200/4, and probably a few more. Camera meters with any of them and I don't mind focusing. My budget for all was $2000 and I'm still about $600 below that. I don't know if I'll use the spare money for a 20/1.7 + a 45/1.8, a 12-40/2.8, or a 75/1.8. I do know it's smaller than my friends' kits and a lot cheaper.

    So, that's just my story of how m4/3s works for me. Hopefully it will for you too :) Oh, and if you want to stay with compacts, which I almost did when I made the choice a year ago, I picked the Olympus XZ-2. Seems like a good choice for a compact.
  12. angusr

    angusr Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 21, 2011
    Hi. I felt the need to reply to this thread from a fellow cycle-tourist's perspective. The short answer is that yes, mu43 is very much an appropriate system for your needs. It is so varied in size and cost that it is an appropriate system for most needs!

    Over the years I've cycle toured with 4 basic camera setups: a high end compact (Canon S45 and S70); a mid-range tiny P&S (Canon Ixus/Elph ...); a Lumix GF1 with 14-45 in a handlebar bag and most recently a Lumix GF3 with 14mm and oly 45mm lenses (one on the camera, one my bag). There are some snaps up here: , though only the Hebrides pics are from the GF1, the rest from compacts (I lost my GF1 the next year so bought a cheap replacement and haven't got around to putting up the most recent tours).

    I find I can fit the GF3 with any of the small primes in the back pocket of my cycling jersey and that with the 14 and 45mm primes, I can cover almost everything that I want to take pictures of. Warning - since getting a better camera, I haven't wanted to use my point and shoot so you may want to consider how often you will pull your new toy out of your bag in preference to the old one in your pocket!

    I'm not sure from this if you mean you want an EVF as well as the rear screen or not. If you do, I'd get one built-in or it will get lost or damaged on a bike - OMD E-M5, G5 or G6 are then your choices. This may or may not matter to you, but in my opinion the EVF of the OMD sits flat enough against the rear of the camera for it to be pocketable in a cycling jersey (I've tried it), whereas those of the G5, G6 and GX7 do not. If you don't need an EVF, then the fabulous deals on the GX1, E-P3 or E-PL5 will be hard to beat and these bodies are a bit smaller.

    Having said all that, I've just ordered an E-P5! I'll make a decision on which body to take before my next trip, but it would certainly come on a trip of a the length you seem to be planning.

    Happy shopping!
    • Like Like x 1
  13. stargate

    stargate Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 14, 2013
    You will (I assume) have limited space and carrying ability on a bicycle, so I would think that GX1 with 9-18, 20 and 45-150 will cover any situation likely to appear. Add the external EVF for additional shooting comfort. All these fit in a very small bag and the weight is negligible. A small travel tripod will prove usefull too.
    For my style of shooting I would use the 9-18 about 80% of the time, the 20 15% and the tele zoom only for details etc.
  14. jjpeterberger

    jjpeterberger Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 18, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    It's been a while since I first began looking into this question. Now our tour is just over 2 months away!!!

    My waterproof??? P&S died, due to salt water entry, in January while only 10-15 feet below the surface. As it turns out there is a short notice in the manual that states you need to replace the camera seals on a yearly basis to maintain its waterproofness. Unfortunately that single small warning buried deep in the manual was missed (x2) and appears to be the culprit in the demise of both my earlier TS1 and latest TS3. It looks like my next camera will be the only one I'll be taking with me.

    After reviewing my budget and needs vs wants, the EM5 will need to wait until after this trip. It had become THE camera I was looking for but new is too pricey and finding a used model hasn't worked out. For the upcoming year, I believe I'll be well served with a camera that has a good sensor, is fairly compact, is not necessarily weather proof and has only an EVF built-in. With the current advertised deals out there, the EPM2 and EPL5 kits look like wonderful options to start from.

    From what I've been able to find, the electronics are virtually identical and the kits both contain an accessory flash. The main differences seem to be... 1) The EPM2 kit includes both the 14-42 and 40-150 lenses whereas the EPL5 has only the 14-42 lens. 2) The EPM2 EVF is fixed in position but the EPL5 EVF can rotate out up to 170 degrees. 3) The EPM2 physical interface was designed to work like a P&S with minimal external controls. The EPL5 has an additional control wheel. Am I missing anything else important?

    With the current offers...a new EPL5 kit is $100 more than the EPM2 kit. For a long bike tour, I'm leaning towards the EPM2...saving some cash, the versatility of having two lenses, but giving up a control surface and the articulating EVF compared to the EPL5.

    Am I on the right path?

  15. jjpeterberger

    jjpeterberger Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 18, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    I jumped in...

    After putting my thoughts into words and leaning heavily towards a E-PM2, I found a used E-PL5 and 14-42 kit lens for sale on this sent, now the wait begins! The E-M5 would have pushed my budget too far but now I have a bit left over for ??? a short prime? the 40-150 zoom?

    GAS GAS GAS, baby

    Enjoy the ride,
  16. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg

    As for the extra money, personally I think its great to have a long option, e.g. 40-150mm. Then save for a prime. They are worth it.
  17. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Right now this is the best deal in mirrorless. It has the same sony sensor as the EM5, and its quite small (although the 2 lenses included make it less compact). This with the tiny panasonic 14mm (Ebay has them unused from kits for $175 or so) will be a very compact 28mm equivalent kit. Ergos aren't great, but it is a tiny tiny camera so that comes with the territory.

    There is also a deal with just the kit zoom for $319.

    The great thing about m43… You can use the lenses with a body with more features if you like the system (5axis IBIS in some Olys, Pro grade video in Panasonics).

    If you want an EVF, look at the G5 or G6 (G6 has really really good video options).

    Sony makes really exciting cameras, some of the most innovative around, but they are spread kind of thin. They currently support 3 lens mounts and the only mount with a good range of lenses is the DSLR range. They also have an unfortunate history of abandoning tech. I would keep my distance for now. I think the NEX system might be orphaned.

    Edit: looks like I was late on this post… Enjoy your new camera, have fun on your tour, and post pics here when you can!
  18. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Correction, two lens mounts. The E mount and the Alpha DSLR mount. The FE and regular E lenses are fully compatible, just one type covers a full frame image circle and the other doesn't.

    While Sony's glass offerings have been so so at best, most of their first FE lenses look excellent (the 35 and 55 are. Haven't used the 24-70 but it gets good reviews); the next year will tell if they deliver on the promise implied by the lens roadmap. I'm optimistic, with Zeiss on board, that they'll deliver a lineup akin to the alpha lineup, which includes some great glass. Their recent 'NEX' releases have also been strong (A6000), and there is better third party support for NEX than for MFT (eg touit lenses).

    MFT is definitely the more mature system, however.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. csnite

    csnite Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 21, 2012
    I think a great minimal setup would be the 40-150 and any of 4 fast primes, Panasonic 20 1.7, Panasonic 25 1.4, Olympus 17 1.8, or Olympus 25 1.8. The Panasonic 20 is the cheapest and smallest but can be slow to focus in lower light. It is however a specatularly sharp little lens. The Panasonic 25 is the most expensive but the fastest and arguably the best quality. The 17 is expensive but wider. The Olympus is very new but fast and a good performer and a little cheaper.

    I would probably say pick up the Panasonic 20 and the Olympus 40-150. This should set you back about $500 and would really give you a solid kit with some length and low light ability. The 20 being a pancake would also allow you to have a very small kit if you need it.
    • Like Like x 1
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