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Opinion on gear for a new photograper...

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by MrKal_El, Nov 30, 2014.

  1. MrKal_El

    MrKal_El Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 24, 2011
    Hey guys...I am trying to put together a kit for a friend that wants to start to slowly get into photography & not willing to spend too much...

    His max budget is ~$600-$650...

    I was assuming a PEN kit with either a Sigma 30mm or Oly 25mm...

    But not sure if there is a Panny body, and or Lens choice that anyone else thinks is a better buy at this price point...

    Thanks everyone.
  2. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    If I had $650 to spend on an m4/3s kit it would be: E-PM2 + Sigma 19/2.8 + Oly 45/1.8 + Oly 40-150. All used.

    Hard to make a good suggestion for your friend without having any info beyond budget.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. MrKal_El

    MrKal_El Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 24, 2011
    He really just wants to start to learn, and wants at least 1 prime... Hopeful to upgrade in a year or two..
  4. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2013
    If your friend wants to get slowly into photography, he can start by buying a used m43 kit with a zoom lens. If he needs low light later on, he can add a prime slowly. And there's nothing wrong with using an older generation sensor either. A used E-M5 is a nice body to start with and has everything a person needs. Likewise, a used GH or G Panasonic bodies. It all comes down truly on how he likes handling wise, because a camera that stays in the bag remains in the bag and a lot of that has to do with user handling issues.
  5. Bif

    Bif Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2012
    San Angelo TX
    Bruce Foreman
    For starters one of the best values is the Panasonic Lumix G6 with 14-42mm f3.5 to f5.6 (ver II) "kit" lens priced at $647.99 at B&H. While "lens snobs" put that "kit" lens down it is really a lot better than most give it credit for and the ver II is better than the previous version.

    The focal length range covers what I call "workhorse" wide angle (28mm equiv) to short telephoto (portrait perspective) which is quite flexible. And that range will give him a good chance to learn what other focal lengths he feels he needs. The usual range of exposure modes allows even rank beginners to get good photos yet nothing limits his potential growth as a photographer.

    And if the video bug hits him, this camera allows full manual control when he is ready for that.

    Built in EVF and fully articulating LCD, and the list goes on.
  6. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser

    Nov 16, 2010
    What about E-P3 with kit 14-42 and maybe Oly. 25mm 1.8 or 45mm 1.8? E-P3 with kit lens should be pretty cheap. The all metal E-Px bodies are just joy to use and E-P3 has built-in flash and very responsive software/AF. The colours are beautiful from the Oly. 12 MP sensor. Only downside is the high ISO performance, which isn't actually that bad.
  7. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    There's so many choices . I would have your friend go to a store and decide whether he wants a rangefinder or dslr form factor and go from there . I would also start with cheap kit 14-42mm plus 1 prime .
  8. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    What does he want to shoot? Any idea? That will determine whether MFT is the ideal system for him, or whether he'd be better off with something else. The current deals on Sony NEX stuff are pretty hard to beat for example, and the a6000 sensor is a good bit better than the G6...
  9. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    My GX1 has been a fantastic learner body for me. While the sensor isn't quite as good as something like the E-PM2, the body is much nicer to use than anything this side of the E-M10, in my opinion. It's nice having the dedicated controls the clickable command dial, and the nice grip while maintaining a small form factor. And the bounce-able pop-up flash is handy, too. The dynamic range is really the only place where it falls down in image quality compared to modern M4/3 sensors. Noise performance is very similar.

    They're also available for absurdly low prices. I bought mine over a year ago for a little over $300 with the kit lens, open-box. It's been enough to teach me about photography and see what I like to use and why. It's why I'm going to be upgrading to a GX7 and not something like the E-M10. I also made a conscious choice to pick the older, more expensive model when looking to compare it to the E-PM2 or Sony NEX-3N that I "knew" I was going to buy when I walked into the store, because of their better sensors. Handling is important, and the interface on Panasonics is just really solid.

    It also couples really well with the Panasonic 20mm/1.7, which is definitely one of my favourite lenses. Great focal length, astonishing image quality, and so tiny. When using pin-point focus on the touchscreen, the slow focus speed is also totally overblown.
  10. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    +1 on all points

    Start them with a 14-45 zoom used is fine and any m43 body is fine. Maybe toss in a used 45-200 for good measure. That will be under budget and very capable stuff.

    IFF they get keen try a manual focus legacy 50mm as the next addition.
  11. Itchybiscuit

    Itchybiscuit Photon Mangler

    Dec 10, 2013
    Glasgow, Scotland
    The OP would have been safer asking 'how long is a piece of string?'. :wink:

    Your friend should buy a Panasonic G5 with the kit lens - not too expensive and if he/she wants to trade up, they can keep the lens and sell off a low shutter-count body to partly fund the transition. It's what I would do. (I have a G5 with the older 14-42mm kit lens and it's a keeper)
  12. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee Subscribing Member

    May 3, 2013
    If the friend is comfortable buying used, I've been recommending either EPM2 or GM1 with one of the wide-ish primes (14mm or Oly 25mm, whichever fits the budget). And yes, I recommend a wide/normal prime over a kit zoom.

    Zoom vs. prime is a debatable recommendation, so here's my reasoning: I start by asking if the friend wants a hobby or a camera that takes nice pictures. This is the big differentiator for me. Someone looking for a hobby has the attention span to work around a prime lens and appreciate its benefits. And a fast prime will return the sort of images that immediately illustrate the reason for getting a good camera. A prime is less user-friendly but more instantly gratifying. A prime will deliver the sorts of images that easily justify bringing an ILC rather than an iPhone.

    Someone just starting and bringing an f/3.5 zoom lens to an indoor situation is going to be disappointed and frustrated with the results. Either flash will activate, and the results will not be special, or long shutter speeds will return blurred images. A fast prime will give results that pop in a way an iPhone or traditional point-and-shoot can't match, even without a lot of experience.
    • Like Like x 3
  13. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    If the friend is just experimenting with photography at this point, there's no need to go new with things; the used market offers tons of beautiful gear for next to nothing costs.

    Olympus E-1: $120 or less. A professional camera built better than anything µ4/3 has yet to come up with. All manual controls, great feel, legendary Kodak sensor.
    Olympus ZD 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 v1: $120ish. For the cost, the best kit lens in the world. Fast, sharp, pro-quality at all focal lengths. Comparable to the µ4/3 12-40 f/2.8 pro quality-wise for a tiny fraction the cost.
    Olympus ZD 40-150 f/4-5.6: $50. Fifty bucks giving 80-300mm ffe range. Nuff said.
    Olympus ZD 25mm f/2.8: $140. Nice pancake prime. IMO, the best prime focal length to start photography with.
    New BLM-1 battery: $20. Always good to have new power sources for older equipment.
    New 8Gb CF card: $30.

    Total: $480. Benefits include a great learning camera (more manual/less computer-driven), 28-300mm ffe coverage, a great small prime, one pro zoom, increased system flexibility with the zooms' range, and weather-proofness. Oh, and that amazing shutter click :) 

    One could also change out the E-1 for an E-500 for the same price getting a few extra mexapixels while still holding on to the legendary Kodak sensor.

    Might just be a way to squeeze more ability and shooting options into a moderate budget. I know it would win me over to photography a lot faster than a newer µ4/3 camera with a slow kit zoom or a couple of standard-length primes.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I think I'd change my recommendation after thinking about someone in the learning mode. While the E-PM2 is a fine camera, the lack of physical controls do make it harder to learn on, imo. As others have suggested, something like the E-P3 or G series from Panasonic may work better.
  15. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    It is impossible to recommend based on the minimal criteria.

    Any Olympus PEN will be good. Absolutely no need for the latest and greatest, so get whatever is an absolute steal on the used market.

    Save the money for lenses. 14/20/45 is a good combo, especially if you get them as cheap as I did ;-)

    But some people must have a zoom lens and would feel uncomfortable changing lenses.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    It's pretty impossible to answer this question. There are so many factors to take into account. Such as, what type of photos does your friend want to take? It is true, they may not know that right now, but it does make a difference. If they want to go to activities where there is a lot of action or they have active kids, a camera with good focus tracking may be called for. Or do they plan to take a lot of low light indoor shots where they don't want to or can't use a flash, such as at a concert? Low light performance and a fast lens will then be very important. You get the picture.

    Honestly, if I was starting from scratch with a budget, I'd probably try to get one of the Sony a6000s that are marked down right now. I haven't heard good things about the Sony kit lens though, and I don't think the Sony lens line up is as good as the m43 line up right now, but those things can change.

    Alternatively, there are many cheap entry level dslr kits stupid cheap.

    If going m43, the EM-5 at current prices is hard to beat. I use a G5 and like it a lot, but I got it at a stupid cheap price when the G6 was coming out. That's how I tend to buy my camera bodies. So, while I truly lust after a GH4 right now, I'll wait until the GH5 is coming out to get one. Unless I've changed my mind by then. :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  17. kadamnation

    kadamnation Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 13, 2013
    Boston, MA
    This was where I ended up a few years ago when I asked friends to recommend me a good learner starter body... Bought a GX1 with Kit lens for $650 exactly, as it happens. With that in mind I'll vouch that it was a great choice, /for me/: unfortunately any thread like this is flawed because so much depends on ergonomics, personal preference, and desired output!

    Given everything that is out there on the market today, I'd probably support the recommendation to pick up an E-M5 (built like a tank, good manual controls, great performance, IBIS helps a new photographer, and the camera looks and feels good): three of my coworkers got E-M5's used this summer, and even though they all want to shoot different things, they're all satisfied so far. For learning I'd recommend a good standard zoom (I've heard the 14-45 is good, but the panasonic 14-42 II or the smaller 12-32 are b&h nice too... I'm not personally as into Oly's consumer Zooms), and then either the Panasonic 20mm (sharp, autofocus, small) or a legacy standard prime like a 40mm or 50mm. To use the system outlined above, if they want a hobby, they may enjoy how much a manual lens teaches about aperture and focus: but if they want to take pictures, a small, fast, wide or standard prime like the 20mm or Oly 17mm may be best. (17mm > 20mm for low light, due to focus speed). Some combination of those things should be within your described budget.

    And then again, if their goal is to take photos of birds and animals at the park or zoo, maybe all of my lens suggestions are rubbish and they should get a 45-200mm zoom! Totally depends. Good luck!
  18. Ramsey

    Ramsey Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    This is such a great combo for a beginner, i don't see any downfalls in this. Sure, you could switch the Sigma for the Panny 20mm f1.7 (bit more money) but still, almost all the boxes are ticked. Small form factor, 16MP body, cheap as hell and covers many focal lengths. All lenses are in the top 5 of the best bang for the buck category. If you decide you want better/larger body (or more buttons) ¸and/or better lenses, you can always sell without losing the house (since you bought the body used and the lenses don't lose that much value).

    Great suggestion.

    Agreed on what someone said about kit zooms being more user friendly but primes having that wow factor.
  19. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    If you have $650 to spend on a m43 starter set, here's what I would do:

    - For the camera, I'd go with a used G5, which can be had for $200 (even less if you look around). It gives you a good EVF, great ergonomics, and a fully articulating LCD.
    - For lenses, I'd look for a used Panasonic 14-42 II kit lens ($125), and 45-175 X Vario PZ ($225)

    This puts you at $550 for a kit that will cover the 35mm equivalent of 28mm-350mm. This now leaves you with $75-100 to buy a small camera bag, an SD card (16GB should be more than enough), two spare batteries, and a CPL filter which will do wonders for colors in outdoors photos, and can be shared between the lenses since they both have 46mm filter threads.

    For someone just getting in to photography, using a prime lens is going to be extremely frustrating because they're limited to a single focal length, something they're likely not used to if they've shot with a compact camera or cell phone before. The kit zooms will be more than adequate for shooting outdoors during the day, and if they want to improve their pictures then have them look at picking up a prime.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. flamingfish

    flamingfish Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2012
    I think the E-M5 is still running around $500 used, body only, so that doesn't leave a lot of room in the budget for lenses.

    Since the OP's friend doesn't know what types of photos he wants to take yet, I would include a zoom in the package. The Oly 40-150 is good value for the price, although if he goes with a Pana body he might want a Pana lens for the image stabilization.

    How about an E-PL5? (Particularly if you act quickly enough to use the Cyber Monday 25% off code at the Oly store.) It's a worthy compromise between an E-PM2 and an E-M5 -- gives you more manual controls than the E-PM2.
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