pen, panny, sony, nikon: HELP (buying a new camera)

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by mnr3, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. mnr3

    mnr3 Mu-43 Regular

    41
    Nov 3, 2011
    the good news: I'm finally going to treat myself to a new camera, and there are plentiful good choices.

    the bad: the number and variety of models available overwhelms even the best-intentioned and modestly informed buyer

    summary: I'm drawn to mft for the typical reasons--IQ in a format that I'm more likely to bring along than an slr, but still offering the flexibility of a lens system. asking the forum for feedback on a few models and to be a sounding board for my thoughts

    history: I have so far skipped dslrs altogether. I had a nice rebadged sears/ricoh k-mount with a made in japan 50mm f/1.4 that I cut my teeth on in the 80s. still love it. later picked up an AF nikon 35mm w/2 lenses & a 4mp canon p/s (A95), so it's time, and I'm trying to whittle down which system I'll buy in to. for the record, I have the following lenses:
    pentax mount 50mm f1,4 MF only, but aperture ring of course
    a crappy k-mount zoom, as above
    Nikon 50mm 1,8, G, so no aperture ring, and no AF on the newer mid-level nikon bodies
    Nikon 24-85 f3,5, AFS, G. a pretty decent mid zoom that has me considering just picking up a d5100 body and be done, but I could just as easily dump it for some cash. it's minty, does full frame, and got decent reviews for a plasticy short-lived lens.

    other than that, I have no commitment or investment in any brand or format, and have gravitated towards a smaller format like MFT or NEX. the sony bodies seem nice, but I'm less impressed by lens availability, esp. for the price
    the Panasonic G3 looks like a solid entry into the field with low risk, as does the G2 on clearance, but I don't want to grow out of anything too quickly, so gh2 is possible, and one could add all the offerings from Olympus too (though it is maddening that both Pan and O have only a tiny letter difference between substantially different bodies; G, FG, GH, P, MP, LP ?)

    so what will I shoot? until more time for creative stuff, mainly moving kids & family, some architecture and street scenes, though the biggest challenge will probably be my daughter on ice skates (indoors, white ice+dark subject, quickly moving, at a distance)--although knowing the limits of the subject, I won't be expecting miracles and will prob. just rely on video for that (hence the more than passing interest in the GH2). but I would rather sacrifice video quality for still control/performance

    as for budget, I'd say I could swing the gh2 or new pen3 with a kit zoom, but lean a little bit more to the next lower body with either an extra prime/pancake. the g3 and pen 2 (L?) would seem to offer a nice value/quality ratio as I wet my feet in digital (e.g. I know about DOF, exposure, etc. from film, but little about jpeg engines/raw and playing with white balance. and zilch about video settings). so any comments welcome to the 2 millionth "what camera should I buy?" thread. I guess I would esp. like to hear experiences with the Olympus and Panasonic bodies; possibly using my 50mm K-mount, why a pen or g3 really fits my purposes better than sinking any more money into the nikon standard
     
  2. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Quick couple comments...

    I think the latest Panasonic and Olympus models offer some big advantages on focus speed. This could be a big help with high-speed kidlets.

    Out of the latest models, in my opinion, the Panasonic G3 and the Olympus E-PL3 (with Franiec grip) probably offer the best bang for the buck, while still giving you some manual controls. E-PL3 may be a bit of a stretch on value, especially if you want the EVF accessory, but it does have advantages with smaller size and in-body stabilization. The G3 has the latest m4/3 sensor.

    If you look at the last generation, I think the Oly E-PL2 and Panasonic GF2 (some kits with the great little 14mm prime) are great bargains right now. Neither have a tilt/flexi screen, but you do have built in flashes in both (E-PL3 has an included little hot shoe flash). The GF2 has a touch screen, though, it isn't best of breed from what I have read.

    I have the E-P3 and think it is fantastic. Nothing different IQ wise from the E-PL3, but the build quality is fantastic... solid and a little more weighty. You also gain the built-in flash, some additional processing power (incremental) and a somewhat better IBIS implementation (no idea on delta). Also, we will have an announcement next week on the new top end Panasonic compact, the GX1. It looks like an updated GF1 with the G3 sensor and updated image processor. I know a lot of people wanted a built-in VF, but I think it looks great (and I also like the more modular VF approach, take it with you if you need it).
     
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  3. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    989
    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    If you've never shot DSLRs, and your only film kit was what you mentioned, you aren't going to outgrow anything. I came from a long history of film (first as a hobby, and then with a formal education in it), moved to digital when I worked for a newspaper with early Canon SLRs like the D60, and got into m4/3 late this summer. I don't feel that the G2 is below my level at all. Many professionals are picking viewfinderless cameras like the Panasonic GF2 and Nikon V1s, which are even "lesser" cameras than the G2. The G2 has fully manual controls and a viewfinder; there's nothing missing from a technical sense.

    Even the G3, which I've lambasted for fewer controls, still has full manual modes; while it is scaled down a bit with design decisions I don't agree with, it is still a fully capable, manual camera for serious photographers. A very knowledgeable pro here, DHart, uses one as a backup to his Canon 5D MkII, with characteristically unapologetic results.

    If you are shooting action, like your daughter on ice skates, then you probably want to go with a DSLR, as m4/3 cameras use contrast detect AF, which makes it a lot more iffy to try and shoot action. The D5100 uses the same sensor as the D7000, and the same autofocus system as the D90, so it's definitely capable of capturing action. You'll need a fast telephoto lens for that as well, which doesn't exist in m4/3 land. Something like the new version of the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 will give you exactly what you need for sports and moving subjects. If your Nikon 50mm is a G lens, then it is also AF-S, and therefore focuses on all Nikon digital bodies. Nikon didn't make any 50mm G, non-AFS lenses. Still, the 24-85 isn't that great of a midrange zoom for DX cameras, because it isn't really that wide.

    If you're willing to look at other brands, I can vouch for Pentax and Canon as having very respectable systems. The advantage of the Pentax K-r, for example, is that they have a 50-135mm lens and 16-50mm lens that are both top of the line, yet relatively cheap. If you need more, Sigma makes that 70-200 in Pentax mount as well. The image stabilization is built into the body, so even if you want to use your 50mm f/1.4 (which optically, I'm sure is as good as lenses made today) it would have image stabilization. It also feels pretty fulfilling to get new life out of your first system, trust me :)
     
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  4. mnr3

    mnr3 Mu-43 Regular

    41
    Nov 3, 2011
    thanks Kyle. you bring up a good point about the EVF; it's one reason I hadn't put the smaller gf on my list. I've always had a VF, though don't use it much on the p/s given how awful it is.
    the 14mm prime is indeed interesting. doesn't really make sense to me to go mft only to put a monster zoom on a diminutive body.
     
  5. mnr3

    mnr3 Mu-43 Regular

    41
    Nov 3, 2011
    schnitz,
    good call on the nikon 50--it's def. not af-s, of that I'm sure, so it may be the D version. don't have it on hand, but I know it wasn't af-s. that along with the "average" nature of the 24-85 is why I'm not too committed to sticking with N (unless I go "all in" and bump up to a d7000 or an older d90)

    a main issue for me is the classic "best camera is the one you have in hand" idea, i.e. for the few times I would want that dslr with a fast, heavy, expensive zoom, there would be 200 times that i'd rather have the smaller format m4/3 because I know I'd bring it along.

    good comment re: outgrowing the camera. I guess what I should have said is I might rather pay the extra $250 (relatively modest in the scheme of things), for example, between model x and y, and gain the better low light performance (or other spec) and not suffer too early from upgraditus. but I appreciate the thought

    I also agree, regarding the old 50mm/1.4. I'd love to get it back in the field. for that matter (question to all), do any of the various systems/viewfinders stand out for dialing in focus (& other settings) on the older MF lenses?

    finally, am I right that the NEX has some nice specs but lenses are pretty pricey and limited compared to the alternatives?

    thanks for the patience folks. I know how tedious newbie threads can be from my other areas of interest (where I'm the old codger groaning)
     
  6. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I don't think they are expensive compared to m4/3 lenses (I'm looking at you 12mm), but there just isn't much of a selection for Nex yet (especially primes), and the lens that are there are not well-regarded. Even if you figure the overall IQ is balanced out by the larger Nex sensor, you still have the issue that large Nex lenses make the system less portable.

    Did you check out Steve Huff's Nex7 review with comparison to the E-P3? I thought the following picture summed up why the more portable m4/3 system is a better fit for me. Yes, there is some perspective going on here, but the Nex7 body is roughly same size as the E-P3. It is deeper, but that is due to the larger grip and, of course, they managed to build in a viewfinder. But then you throw the much larger Zeiss lens on the 7 and, to me, this has a much different portability factor than the m4/3 system.

    photo-91.

    The Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera Review by Steve Huff | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS

    On the other hand, if you are more interested in adapted lenses, it would be hard to argue the Nex 5N or 7... though, I still think the Ricoh GXR looks interesting.
     
  7. elandel

    elandel Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 16, 2010
    Milan, Italy
    Well if you want etc.etc. camera with excellent IQ and good iso performance I think the choice is between Panasonic and Olympus.

    Trying to give advise is always difficult and so what I usually do is give my experience.

    I started with a DSRL (long time ago with a Canon FX reflex film, but that was centuries ago) Nikon, and then went to Olympus Epl1, then traded it for a Pentax K5 (which I still own but don't use anymore) and came backj to m4/3, that is probably addicting with a G2. Gas cought me on and I bought a GF1 (mainly for the 20mm attached), an EP2 and Epl2. Well I now have the GF1, EP2 and Epl2 with which I'm very happy with.
    I take photos of moving objects (no, not starships at their fastest) like soccer players etc. obiviously not for professional, and street, architecture, landskape etc.; well never had anythink to complain given that I know the pros (many) and the cons (fewer IMHO) of the system. I use4 my legacy glasses and have fun when I can.

    So wat can I say? IMHO the best buy is the Epl2 if you don't need the fastest still AF of the EP3 (with moving objects its another story) or a Pana GH2 if you like best movie and still options and can live without IBIS or G3 if you don't want to spend all that cash and have the best compromise.

    But in any case its all up to you.

    What I can say is that for non professionals m4/3 is a sure buy.
     
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  8. Kiwi Paul

    Kiwi Paul Mu-43 Top Veteran

    729
    Aug 15, 2011
    Aberdeen Scotland
    As an owner of both the G3 and E-PL3 I can recommend both of these. I don't have a favorite.
    The E-PL3 is very compact, extremely well built, has an excellent tilting screen, handles very well (ergonomics and controls) and produces stella photos.
    I have found the screen hard to see in bright conditions so an EVF is a must under those conditions and I strongly suggest the EVF2 not the EVF3.

    The G3 is less compact but still very nice camera with an excellent built in EVF, flip out touch screen, boasts the latest 16Mp sensor too. The ergonomics and controls are fine (well for me anyway), performs well and it also produces excellent images.

    The lens selection for m4/3s is excellent and no doubt more lenses will be added in the future.

    I'm very pleased with my system and would never go back to DSLRs again, the compactness of m4/3 is just too convenient and I'm happy with the image quality and performance it offers.

    Paul
     
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  9. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    AF in a high contrast situation like a skater on ice will be fine, especially with the newer bodies and lenses.

    Personally, my vote is G3. Checks all your boxes, and at a reasonable price.
     
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  10. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Richard Elliott
    Asking the opinion here of which camera system is better is like going into a Honda dealer and asking them which is better: Honda, Toyota or Nissan. :biggrin:

    Nikon was not out when I made my decision for m43. It was primarily one of size and ecosystem, which eliminated Sony. Along with little gotchas by Sony like the proprietary hot shoe.

    Today I would give Nikon a good look, but would still lean strongly to m43 for the ecosystem and more open standard.

    Ultimately the decision has to be made on what you want to get out of the camera. Any one can be a good choice, any one can be the best choice, if it delivers what you want.
     
  11. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    I've used the SMC Pentax-M 50/f1.4 heaps on my GH2 - it's usually one of two lenses in my bag... Can't recommend it enough, and using it on a mirrorless body (especially one with an EVF) is very fast and easy, just stick it in Aperture Priority, magnify to focus, and shoot :smile:

    https://www.mu-43.com/f81/pentax-50mm-1-4-smc-pentax-m-k-mount-image-thread-6540/

    and my flickr set for Pentax glass on the GH2 (mostly 50/f1.4 and 50/f1.2)

    Pentax on Micro Four Thirds - a set on Flickr

    As an all-rounder I'd personally recommend either the G3 or GH2, mainly because of the fantastic sensors, fast-AF, articulated screens and built-in EVFs. Which one would really be down to your personal taste in ergonomics...
     
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  12. hunyuan7

    hunyuan7 Mu-43 Regular

    140
    Aug 31, 2011
    It sounds as if you are willing to carry a few items on yourself (e.g., camera body, a lens or two, etc.). You can consider building a Pentax DSLR system. They have smallish pancake prime lenses. You will find that the lens pricing can actually be less than investing in parallel M 4/3 lenses.

    Building a system also means having a good flash. Well, I don't know of a dedicated micro flash for a micro 4/3 camera.

    Also, another idea is to buy a Flip video camera for under $200.00, and it will be no more of a burden than carrying your cell phone. The Panasonic G3's video, to my surprise, is slow at autofocusing--at least when compared to my Sony HX5V digicam. Its rolling shutter effect is also more severe than I thought.

    Having said all that, I still enjoy shooting with my Panasonic G3, but I do have an eye on acquiring a Pentax system and picking up a Flip video :wink:
     
  13. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    The Pentax pancake primes (DA Limited series) have great build quality and are very small, but they're also very slow (for primes - f4, f3.2, f2.8 and f2.4), expensive (all more than $500USD) and have decent, but definitely not amazing IQ.

    It does if you have any intention of shooting flash, which many don't....
     
  14. mnr3

    mnr3 Mu-43 Regular

    41
    Nov 3, 2011
    nice set with your 50mm, and it looks right on the gh2. agree about the flash, which is why having faster primes is nice.

    great advice in this thread guys; I'll have to start scouring lens threads, following trends in the holiday pricing and try to get my hands on a few bodies to get a feel for them. the good news is that it sounds hard to go wrong, really.
     
  15. mnr3

    mnr3 Mu-43 Regular

    41
    Nov 3, 2011
    I suppose this could be a new thead, but..

    well, trying to decide between the G2, g3 & GH2. The last one looks quite nice but I'm wondering if it might not be a better purchase later on, since I have no native lenses right now and no deep commitment to the format just yet. and no need for the better video. though it is tempting. G3 would seem to be best compromise of IQ and functionality, though I'm wondering if the G2 at $300 isn't the best value for entry into the field, albeit with a lesser sensor (but maybe better interface?) esp. if B&H gives the $100 lens rebate again (now gone). any thoughts on that?

    and while I know there are a few lens threads, I'm wondering (esp. if I can do a body only purchase) if I should skip the kit lens or not. the 14-45 seems available only as separate purchase these days; the 14-42 adds less than $100 to the packages, but that's money that could go to a prime or better zoom. hmm.

    also a clarification: all m43 lenses fit these bodies, but Pan. uses on-lens OIS whereas Oly does in body, (right?) so it makes sense to stick with Pan. glass for Pan bodies?
     
  16. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    989
    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    In photography, cheaping out on the body (given that it still functions fine) is ALWAYS the best decision; put all of your money towards lenses. The GH3 will be out soon enough (definitely no later than when you're just getting familiar and comfortable with your current camera), the GX1 is already about to be shipped, and Olympus is bound to eventually introduce their own SLR-style body. Maybe it will have phase detect AF, like Nikon and Sony have on their live-view cameras, so that the 4/3 lens lineup will finally have a home for those non-professional users who want a contemporary camera but don't want to spend $1,400 (pipe dream, but I was just discussing it in another thread). Overall, don't worry about sensor performance; it's not like the G2 is unusable. Heck, it uses the exact same sensor as the GF3, which Panasonic just released this year as a brand new camera! If that money is the difference between you having an extra lens, like the 20mm or 45mm, then definitely save your money on the body.

    The 14-45 is a marginally better zoom than the 14-42mm, but just go with whatever you run across. My recommendation is that they're all close enough in performance, that you should just look in the Classifieds section here, and buy from someone that bought themselves a kit, hasn't even unpacked the kit lens, and is putting it up for sale. If there is a 14-45 for less than $200, then great, go for it. Otherwise, just get a 14-42, as I'm seeing them in the for sale section for as little as $60 (for a first generation Olympus one, with slow AF) to $160 (for a brand new, Olympus II R version). If you're seeing packages with it for less than $100, then just get the 14-42, because it's almost the same. Poring over small differences between kit lenses isn't a useful time investment.

    Sticking with Panasonic lenses is only important if you want to keep IS. Personally, I don't see it as a big deal. If the lens has it, then great, but optical performance is much more important to me, followed by price. IS really is just icing on the cake; if my lens comes with it, then I'll use it when necessary. I don't view image stabilization as the great savior that the marketing department makes it out to be, just a nice feature. I use a 40-150mm Olympus lens on my G2, and I love it. The Olympus 40-150 seems to be noticeably sharper than the Panasonic 45-200 OIS, and the Olympus 75-300 is apparently sharper, albeit slower, than the Panasonic 100-300mm.

    If I were wanting a portrait lens, for example, or short telephoto without the need for macro, I'd much rather have the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 for $400, than the Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 with image stabilization, for $700. If you notice, the best-regarded Panasonic lenses, the 7-14mm, 20mm, and 25mm all don't have image stabilization.
     
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  17. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Because you don't really need IS on short focal length fast aperture lenses.

    ... And you left the 45/2.8 off your list of the best regarded Panny lenses ... I have never seen a review anywhere that faults any aspect of it's image quality, only AF speed and price.
     
  18. taran

    taran Mu-43 Regular

    90
    Oct 19, 2011
    I would merely point out that if you look at the FX Nikon DSLR pro bodies, all have been selling near their retail value despite heavy use. Certain models like the D3S have gone up in value.

    There are many Nikon users who could sell their 2 year old FX bodies for 90% of what they paid for them, this simply is not the case with m43.

    I agree many economies of scale push great features into our hands at even the base model "level", but let us not forget there are many satisfied Leica M9 users out there :smile:
     
  19. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    989
    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    I'm not talking about increasing your budget to encompass a "better" camera. I'm talking about, if you have an $1,100 budget, it's better to get a less-featured or last-generation camera and put that money towards lenses. My statement is in regard to the difference between, let's say a G2 with 14mm, 20mm, and 45mm lenses, versus a GH2 with only a 14-42mm lens. In two year's time, both the G2 and GH2 will be obsolete, so at least have an investment that will carry forward. Besides, by then Panasonic will probably have a fire sale for leftover GH2 bodies for $350, like they did a few months ago with the GH1.

    Also, I see many people with DX Nikon setups that are dreaming about getting a D700, but they have a D5100 and buy something like the $150 Sigma 70-300mm lens, because they can't justify the price difference for a Nikon $580 70-300VR. I'd put up my properly-fitted D200 setup against their eventual D700 with whatever garish setup they have any day. A D700 is nothing if you end up using a crappy Vivitar zoom from 1993 in front of the sensor.
     
  20. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales