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Newbie - decisions/decisions??

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by winrow3745, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. winrow3745

    winrow3745 Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Jul 26, 2011
    Hello All,

    I am new to buying a "proper" camera after having an Ixus 30 for many years and I am ashamed to say resorting to my HTC Desire camera phone for the past year.
    My situation is that I do a lot of walking and do travel about quite a bit on my motorbike and have recently become more and more frustrated with the ability of my phone to get decent shots, inc. colour reproduction (I have seen some amazing sun rises recently) and inability to zoom to any decent degree.
    Friends of mine swear by the 550D, so that is where I started my search. After thinking about the size of that model I came to the conclusion that I would end up back in the situation of not taking the camera out with me due to my laziness and not wanting the carry the thing around.
    This then led me to look at the G2 Lumix which seemed to fit my needs very well and even though its not very small, I hoped that it would be small enough for me to bother taking it out with me all the time.
    The problem is though that while handling the G2 my attention was very much drawn to the GF2, which looked even more what I originally thought about, size wise at least and looks to be the kind of thing that I would be able to chuck into the pockets of my walking trousers.
    I then started to read the reviews etc and found the PEN range and they seem to also fit the bill really well as well.
    So I am now in somewhat of a dilemma, the G2 has a view finder and I have really struggled out in sunlight when trying to take pictures on my phone, even to the point of just aiming the phone in the general direction and hoping for the best!
    How difficult is it to see screen on these modern day cameras in bright sun light?
    They all seem to have video, which is something I'd like, just in case.
    Overall I suppose I don't want to have an excuse not to take out the camera....
    My budget is in the £300 range really.

    Cheers in advance for any pointers/opinions.

    Andy.
     
  2. winrow3745

    winrow3745 Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Jul 26, 2011
    Oh and having a flash is also a major consideration for me so that I can use the camera in a few badly lit real ale pubs in the Winter!
     
  3. bilzmale

    bilzmale Mu-43 All-Pro

    All the cameras you mention are interchangeable lens design and you have come to the right forum for advice. I recommend handling as many of these as possible in a shop to see how they feel. Having owned 3 Pens and sold them I prefer the form factor of the built-in EVF of the Panasonics.

    On a tangent are you sure you want to go the :43: 'interchangeable' route. If you are then any of the cameras you mention will do the job and will grow with you as you add lenses. If you want something more pocketable you might consider one of the 'serious' compacts with a fixed zoom lens. Possible models include the Olympus XZ1, the Panasonic LX5, the Canon S95 or the Samsung EX1. These would be closer to your budget and a step up from the Ixus you currently have in terms of image quality and user control.

    Good luck with your decision.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. winrow3745

    winrow3745 Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Jul 26, 2011
    Thanks for the reply bilzmale,

    With the 4/3 format it will give me more scope to grow into rather than just replace or leave in the drawer in the future.
    I've always made the mistake in the past of buying the point and shoot cameras and then getting frustrated with the pictures I get out of them.
    So I thought if I get a "proper" camera it will last me a lot longer and I will get more use out of it.
     
  5. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I happened to be in both John Lewis and a Jessops yesterday and noticed that they were selling Olympus E-PL1's for 279 pound with the kit lens. While this is not the latest model, image quality wise it is generally as good as the rest of the micro 4/3 cameras.

    It has a more simplified user interface than some of the other Pens, but would probably suit you just fine. Any investments you make in lenses and accessories could then be used on a later model body if you decided to upgrade in the future.

    K
     
  6. Danny_Two

    Danny_Two Mu-43 Regular

    182
    Oct 30, 2010
    London
    When on your bike do you carry a bag or carry the camera in a pocket or under the seat?
    The G models are too big for pockets, but would probably go under the seat of a non sports bike, I've carried my G1 on my bike in a small rucksack without any discomfort, if it fitted under the seat i'd be inclined to take it with me more, but it doesn't on my bike.
     
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    All the cameras you mention has an electronic viewfinder available, but with the GF-2 and PEN cameras you will need to purchase the viewfinder separately. However, that allows you a modular design where you can take off the viewfinder for smaller packing and choose when to add it to the bulk of the camera or not. They are also variable-angle finders, meaning you can angle them up all the way to 90 degrees, making them somewhat more useful than the integrated viewfinder of the G2. The VF-2 for the PEN series is a much higher resolution viewfinder (1.44 million dots) than the LVF for the GF-2 (220 thousand dots), and is the same resolution as the integrated EVF on the G2.
    In my opinion, the best video capabilities of the cameras you mentioned (G2, GF-2, and PEN) are in the PEN cameras, as they will all take any standard 3.5mm stereo microphone. G and GF series Panasonic cameras can't do that, although the GH series (which was made for video capabilities) will. I would buy a GH over a G camera if I wanted an all-integrated style camera, as the GH is an overall higher grade body (with better sensors, too). However, for the compact modular bodies (Panasonic GF or Olympus PEN), I prefer the PENs.
     
  8. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    The G2 has a stereo mic input on the side of the camera (next to the lug). The G3 however does not.


    Each of us will have a different opinion (because we all own different gear and tend to be biased to what we ourselves own). Here are my biases...I have owned an E-PL1 and E-P1 and currently have an E-PL2 and G2. If I were only allowed one camera it woud be the G2 (with the E-PL2 coming in a close second). I suggest that you go to a store (if possible) and holding them and see what feels right to you. What feels right to me or Ned or kevinparis or whomever is really not important...what feels right to you is. You're the one that has to live with it. It will also give you a good perspective on size. For instance I was surprised when I got my G2 to find that is really isn't that much bigger than my E-P1 with a lens mounted on it. Go check them out and see which fits your hand better, which controls you prefer and which feels right.

    The reason I favor the G2 is simple ergonomics. For me the G2 is significantly more comfortable to shoot with and the controls are all where I expect them to be. I like the Olympus cameras as well but I find I have to menu dive quite a lot more and I do not care for the rear dial on the bottom part of the body on the E-P1/PL2. I find it fiddly and too easily changed for my tastes. As to the EVF and the LCD...it's really a matter of taste. The built-in EVF on the G series is the same quality wise as the VF2. The VF2 flips up which is very nice but the G series cameras have a flip up and twisting LCD which provides a bit more creative options. It depends on what you like. Also, the VF2 is an extra $200 on the PENs so considering your budget is around 300 pounds I suspect that could put quite a dent in it.

    From an IQ perspective they are all quite good with the GH2 being the best of the bunch but in the real world I doubt you'd really notice much difference (with stills) however with video the GH2 is quite a lot better. That said, I find the 720p video that you get from the PENs and the G2, GF1 is more than adequate for my needs.

    Really all of the cameras you are considering are terrific and you really can't go wrong.
     
  9. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    I suggest you modify a pocket to hold your G2 and ... persevere.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Don't let obsessing about gear get in the way of taking pictures. These are all good cameras. None of them is going be perfect (there is no such thing). You will always have to adapt to your gear in some way. Find one that feels good, learn to use it, play to it's strengths and adapt to its weaknesses.
     
  11. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    good advice all around... especially the big about holding the camera and seeing if it feels comfortable

    I only mentioned the E-PL1 because it was available new at a price that was actually under the OP's budget..... the G2 is 100 pounds or 30% more expensive

    once a scotsman always a scotsman when it comes to a bargain :)

    K
     
  12. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    VF-2 costs almost as much as G2 body
     
  13. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Thank you for that clarification! :)
     
  14. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The VF-3 is supposed to be significantly cheaper, but still rather high resolution (920,000 dots, as opposed to the Panasonic LVF's 202,000 dots). I think that would be worth waiting for if you want an affordable accessory EVF. It even has a shoe lock - a simple yet important little thing. ;)
     
  15. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    The main reason I knew that is that I bought the G2 because of it (and I still had to look to make sure). :eek:
     
  16. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Any idea what the VF3 is going to run? If it's well priced that will be a nice option.
     
  17. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    No idea... I just know that they said the price is supposed to be its main selling feature over the VF-2... which admittedly was the biggest thing driving people away from the VF-2 and even the PEN system because of the cost of the VF-2. So smart move, if you ask me.
     
  18. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I think the smarter move would be to lower the price of VF-2. It shouldn't cost nearly as much. G2 has similar EVF and the entire body (new) now costs $300, only slightly more expensive than VF-2 alone. VF-3 will be less versatile as it features much lower resolution and thus would less than ideal for manual focusing (high magnification).
     
  19. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    Until we actually look through all the viewfinders while focusing, we don't know and can't assume it will be worse ... for that job.
    I'm of the opinion that our eyes detect on-focus areas in perhaps a non-obvious way using an EVF and I'm not sure more resolution=better use for manual focusing.
    Of course for everything else, more is better!
     
  20. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    A good example of this is the fact that the E-P1 LCD is actually quite good for MF despite being lower resolution than the competition.