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GFx or E-PLx or NEX

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by osmyth, May 31, 2011.

  1. osmyth

    osmyth Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    May 31, 2011
    York, UK
    Hello all,
    I'm looking to replace 3 gadgets with a compact system camera.
    It needs to be very user friendly and produce good stills and video (without PP) in Auto mode (for my wife) but have reasonable manual controls (for me).

    It doesn't need fancy features, so 720P, zoom and continuous AF will suffice for video. I'm not looking for a big range of lenses or expensive ones, say 14-42 (or 17/20) and 40-200 max (and AF, won't be doing MF).
    Need a good range of adjustments in Auto mode, so saturation, sharpness, etc, to get decent SOOC jpegs.

    I'm going to ask the comparison question in a slightly different way:

    If you didn't buy a certain model - why?
    If you own one of the above what are its shortcomings, how do you live with them day-to-day and do you want to change.

    I'll throw out a few for starters:
    The E-PL1 AF could be better (does the E-PL2 solve that?).
    The GF2 JPEG engine could be better.
    The NEX longer zoom lens is very expensive.

    Thanks very much in advance.
     
  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes, the E-PL2 AF is now on par with the Panasonic cameras for speed. The back LCD is also on par with the Panasonic. These were probably the two areas in which the PEN was falling behind the Panasonic series, so now that those are fixed we can really enjoy the benefits of the Olympus body such as sharper images, less noise, and in-body image stabilization.

    Yes, that is a problem. The GF2 doesn't have the JPG image quality. Perhaps you should consider upgrading to the G3 instead, which has a similar 16MP sensor to the GH2, but is shrinking in size to be more like a GF-2 with integrated viewfinder. You'll get better image quality as well as an integrated EVF, without increasing the bulk too much.

    The NEX has an Alpha mount adapter which will allow you to mount all of your Sony and Minolta A-mount lenses. There was originally no AF with this adapter, but a firmware update solved that.

    However, there are a lot more limitations with the NEX than just lens selection. :) The NEX doesn't even have a hotshoe... how are you supposed to control your lighting? We all know the biggest difference between a snapshot and a professional photograph is the lighting... the NEX takes great snapshots with incredibly fast burst rates, but can't use controlled lighting (studio lighting, flash lighting, etc.) like the Micro Four-Thirds system can. It also has no EVF available, and the microphone has no standard attachment, only a single stereo accessory mic that may as well be a built-in. You can't use a standard 3.5mm external like the Micro Four-Thirds system. There is only one flash available for the camera, which doesn't even look like it'll get past the oversized kit lens on the camera.

    Plus... the NEX has a cumbersome menu and control system like the E-PL1 which I also hate. :)

    Personally, my top two choices for compact system cameras at the moment would be the Olympus E-PL2 and the Panasonic G3 (still coming). The Olympus E-PL2 is what I actually use.
     
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  3. Covey22

    Covey22 Mu-43 Regular

    91
    May 3, 2011
    New England, USA
    Thanks to the eval unit that came with a lens I'm reviewing, I've had a lot of shoot time between the GF-2 and my personal E-PL1. Some immediate thoughts:

    1. Yes the AF issue is quite noticable on the E-PL1, especially with the kit lens (Oly Mk 1 14-42). Using any of the fast pancakes (20 1.7, 14 2.5), the issue becomes less apparent in operational use. Honestly, I was very dismayed with the PL1's AF until the primes showed up, it was literally night and day, the Panny's AF is tenacious and locked on with a vengeance compared to the Oly's la-de-dah approach. On reflection, the margin is much smaller with primes, but still there.
    2. The GF-2's rear control dial is nice - you have to get used to the turn=adjusting whatever shooting mode you're in, i.e., A mode means it adjusts aperture, whereas pressing it once and turning it puts you into EV comp. This is what is missing from the E-PL1. However, I'm absolutely unsold on the GF-2's menu system. It's about as unorganized and insensible as I've ever seen over the years and cameras I've owned.
    3. The GF-2's touchscreen I can give or take - I'm sure it's useful to someone, just not me. The iPhone power players probably like it (I have iPod Touches and and an iPad, so I'm know my way around the iOS environment), but poking at the screen to switch shooting modes is not my idea of a good time. I *like* the Oly's dedicated Mode Dial - at a glance, I can at least tell what my Shooting Mode is at. That's the old-style photographer in me.
    4. The JPEG rendering in the Panny is blah. Love Oly's rendition. That being said, I'm a RAW file shooter, so it's all the same when it hits Lightroom for me. But for folks who live in JPEGs or are dependent upon them for some part of their immediate output workflow phase, the Oly is the clear winner.
     
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  4. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    JPG "quality" comes down to personal preference.

    Generally, Panny are more technically accurate, however, some say they look "plain" compared to the Olympus, which some complain are a bit overcooked.

    In the end, though, I don't think any of these cameras are really the solution you're looking for, and would recommend either an "advanced point and shoot" or a superzoom/bridge camera. Unless you are printing REALLY big, you will be hard pressed to notice the IQ difference, especially if comparing the slow zooms you list above to the "fast" lenses in something like the Oly XZ1.
     
  5. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I have a G2 and an E-P1 (and formerly had an E-PL1). IMHO the difference in JPEG quality is pretty small. To my eye the Olympus JPEGS are a bit more pleasing but I suspect that is because they are more saturated. You can tweak the Panasonic settings to approximate the Olympus look. Both cameras are capable of lovely JPEGs straight from the camera. For me the biggest difference is in the handling department. For me the G2 is much easier to use, the EVF and flip out LCD are a real treat to use an the button layout is superb.

    I agree with the previous post that suggested you consider a super zoom or advanced compact. I have a Panasonic ZS3 (super zoom) and it is a very cool little camera. It does HD video, a very sharp 25-300 Leica lens and does wonderful stills (including macros). I could take just that camera traveling and not feel like I was missing much. It's a great carry everywhere camera.
     
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The single dial on the E-PL2 actually works identical to the Panasonic push-dial, except on the E-PL2 you push up on the dial instead of in on the Panasonic. I prefer the two dials on the E-P1 and E-P2, but the two-in-one dial on the E-PL2 and GF-2 are the next best thing.

    In regards to the image outputs, I agree that it's personal preference about things like color rendition, but the E-PL2 is a clear winner for noise control and detail retention over the GF-2.
     
  7. osmyth

    osmyth Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    May 31, 2011
    York, UK
    Thanks for the replies so far.
    To shed some more light:
    I currently have a Pentax K-m (2000), a Panasonic FX500 and a Sony HC96 DV camcorder.

    I will be selling the camcorder and FX500.
    I'm happy to keep the Pentax and buy a P&S that does HD video with zoom/CAF. Alternatively, sell all 3 and buy a CSC.
    I'd like to retain the 'quality' of a (near) dSLR type.

    The Panasonic G3 is too much money.

    I'm not too bothered about dial types.

    If I went for a P&S it would need at least 8x zoom. When I looked at them I was a bit concerned about video quality on a CCD sensor, so started looking at a CSC.

    Having seen a video comparison of the E-PL2 v NEX3, the NEX seemed better.

    Agree that the PL2 jpegs seem a bit over-sharpened and over-saturated, so probably seem 'better' to the average person.
     
  8. c5karl

    c5karl Mu-43 Regular

    144
    May 31, 2011
    Fairfax, Va., USA
    Don't rule out a G10

    If you're looking for a step up from an advanced compact, you might want to watch for good prices on the G10.

    The G10 caught my attention when Costco was selling them online for $350 with the 14-42 kit lens (back in January). It is a step down from the G2 or GF2, but all the differences were things I could live with when you consider the price. The viewfinder is really lousy, but if you're comparing it to a GF2, it can be better to have a bad viewfinder than none.

    I'm only an occasional photographer. I wanted better low-light performance than I could from your basic point & shoot. And if I was going to spring for a decent camera, I wanted the option to upgrade lenses (and maybe a new body) over time. At that price it was an easy decision.

    It sounds like the arrival of the G3 means the G10 is being phased out. Maybe that will mean clearance prices. Some quick Google research shows that street price for the kit is more like $450-500 right now. But if you do see a deal, you shouldn't rule it out just because it's the kid brother of the Panasonic G series.
     
  9. shoturtle

    shoturtle  

    823
    Oct 15, 2010
    put a msc lens on a epl-1 and it af just as fast as the epl-2. It is a lens motor issue not body AF.

    But the epl-2 does have a much nicer lcd screen. And if you mount a panny 20 1.7 on the epl-1 if focus pretty quickly. And it does produce better jpegs then the panny.

    The nex are better low light sensor. But you are limited with the flash and lenses currently. They did announce new lenses, but we will not see some of them till the end of the year and the middle of next year. And the current kit lenses are pretty soft.
     
  10. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    But the next does not allow a standard external microphone. It only has one accessory mic which is still attached to the camera, and may as well be built-in.

    Audio control in a video is the same as light control on a still photo. It makes all the difference in creating a professional looking product. The E-PL2 will allow you to plug in any kind of 3.5mm stereo mic with the EMA-1 adapter.
     
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I won't comment on saturation, but the E-PL2 images are not oversharpened. They actually do retain more fine detail and sharpness from the lens, due to the weak AA filter and the same image processing engine as in the E-5.

    If you're comparing similar images, especially noise controlled at high ISO, you will start to see the artifacts come up from oversharpening in other cameras. You do not see these artifacts in the E-PL2 or the E-5.
     
  12. osmyth

    osmyth Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    May 31, 2011
    York, UK
    c5karl, thanks, will look into the G10.

    Ned, appreciate the comments. I'm in the position of being between a P&S and something with a bit more 'quality' for a one gadget solution (however I am happy to keep the K-m and get a decent P&S for cusual/video use). The Nex issues you mention aren't really issues for me as I won't be getting an external mic or flash. I think the flash is even less of an issue on the Nex because of it's good low light abilities.

    I'm more interested in general IQ, usability and the like, not advanced features or functionality.
    One thing I've not mentioned is zoom lens size for video, but I'll ask that in the lens forum.

    Thanks.
     
  13. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    The biggest difference in the 3 is definitely the UI. You should really try all of them and see which "fits" you and your wife, and if she will accept the increased size the larger sensor brings over a P&S or superzoom.

    While these cameras are noticeably smaller than equivalent DSLR kits, they are much much bigger than just about P&S today. You will not be able to put any of them in a pocket with a zoom lens attached (well, maybe a large coat pocket).

    M43 has done a much better job of optimizing the size of the entire system. NEX does a great job of getting a tiny body, but not so great with the giant lenses attached.
     
  14. osmyth

    osmyth Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    May 31, 2011
    York, UK
    Just some info on UK prices, with a std kit zoom lens:
    Nikon P100 - £280 (460 USD)
    Pana G10 - £280 (460 USD)
    Nex-3 - £300 (490 USD)
    GF2 - £400 (655 USD)
    E-PL2 - £455 (745 USD)

    Makes the E-PL2 seem a bit overpriced, or the Nex-3 cheap!
     
  15. Covey22

    Covey22 Mu-43 Regular

    91
    May 3, 2011
    New England, USA
    So - just to update for those looking for some more operational insights. I took the eval GF-2 on a walk-about as part of my lens review for this site. Not having a proper handstrap, I just took the neckstrap and wrapped it around my wrist old-school SLR style. An immediate challenge is the touchscreen. Every time it bumped against anything, my shirt, my pants leg, a setting would get changed. I think half my shots ended up on a random WB setting, and if not that, the focus point was way off because it interpreted a another bump as an AF point override. Overall, I'm glad I don't own the GF-2 as a personal unit because this type of behavior makes me doubt the veracity of my settings. I want to be focused on finding and taking photographs, not double-checking my shooting setup.
     
  16. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    That would peeve me off too, Armando!

    I occasionally had that problem with my E-P1, because I found the dials and dial buttons were sometimes too sensitive and would sometimes get put out of place during my fast-paced shooting. The E-PL2 is actually a lot more solid in the button/dial setup, even if it is lacking one dial from the E-P1/P2. I would definitely not get along with a touchscreen, I can tell you that right now... I can't use iPhones either, btw. ;)
     
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