Picking a camera under $500

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by abhisheks77, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. abhisheks77

    abhisheks77 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 26, 2013

    My friend is looking for a camera (his 2nd one, he had PnS Canon earlier). He is not into serious photography and open to both, fixed lens and non-fixed lens camera. I believe, fixed one should be convenient for him to carry it, if he is not into experiments and learn down the line. I was looking at reviews of Stylus-1s, which is $383 reconditioned right now, with president sale discount. Few questions -

    -Being president sale on reconditioned cameras, E-PL5 is also cheap (if he choose to go with non-fixed lenses). How is it with kit lens (14-42mm) in comparison to Stylus 1s ?

    - He was searching something under $500. What other options, I can read about and compare here?

    - Stylus 1 is expensive than Stylus 1s on Olympus website (reconditioned cameras). I thought 1s is latest and should be on heigher side. Am I missing something ?

    What do you suggest?

  2. InlawBiker

    InlawBiker Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 1, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    Real Name:
    If I could only have one camera with a $500 budget it would be the FZ1000. He might have to buy used to get one though, or an RX10 (version 1), or LX100 for that matter. I would rather have one of these than a system camera with a kit lens.
  3. kauphymug

    kauphymug Mu-43 Regular

    May 1, 2015
    Cowford, Florida
    KEH has
    PL6 - $208
    14-42 -$72
    both ex+ free shipping
    • Like Like x 1
  4. ashburtononline

    ashburtononline Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 21, 2015
    New Zealand
  5. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    New GM5 with 12-32 lens is $439
    Comes with 3 years warranty if bought before end of March.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I think there are three fundamental practical things that differ between fixed lens cameras:
    - size
    - how good are pictures in low light (sensor size and lens aperture)
    - how much can you zoom in and out

    A lot of zoom means a "small" sensor, like the Stylus 1, but this means bad low light performance (indoor, sports, etc.).
    To also have something good in low light you need something bigger like the FZ1000 or the RX10. The TZ100 is a little borderline.

    Good low light performance and little zoom means the RX100, LX100 (about the same zoom coverage of the kit lens). These do not magnify much but start with a wider angle (12mm vs 14mm, m43 equiv).

    For many people better camera equals more zoom. Give them a RX1 ($3000+) and they'll be very disappointed.

    With an ILC camera you can get anything but you need to add a few lenses. With the kit zoom only you get about the same performance of the RX100 or the LX100 and zoom range too. Add the 40-150 or a fast prime and you get something more.

    About the Stylus 1s vs kit zoom I suppose the kit zoom+m43 sensor wins but you are comparing a 14-42 to a 14-150 (m43 equiv), in other words a 3x zoom to a 11x.

    It is also probable that he is going to look at pictures on the PC or TV screen only or even a tablet. If this is the case you are not going to see much difference anyway. You may see a difference on medium size prints, or if you crop a lot but if that is often the case you took a camera with too little magnification. And with good light all are very good, to see a significant difference in IQ you need a good prime lens.

    For a travel camera I'd go for a little zoom, for street/family shots a shorter range could be fine. It really depends on the usage.
  7. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    Olympus EP5 on one of the fire sales that are currently happening. Full featured camera with lots of room to expand.

    Alternatively, a GM5 kit for a much smaller package at not much more cost.

    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    I'd look at the GM1 kits for $399 or the GM5 kits for $439. They're something that wouldn't be much bigger than the P&S he probably had and can really be used in that mode while giving much better image quality. Either would be a simple kit and easy to fill out if he wants to down the road with one of the 35-100 or 45-150 f/4-5.6 and some small faster prime (20 or 25 f/1.7).

    The Sony RX100 I/II or LX100 aren't bad options either, I just dislike power zooms. It was one of the main reasons I sold my LX100. Since he has a P&S already he should be fine with the need to turn the lens when he turns the camera one (like the lens extending on the P&S) while gaining the more direct zoom control during use.

    The E-M5 Ken mentions wouldn't be bad either but might be intimidating if he's just looking for a P&S as the LX100 probably would be as well. Sure they can be used in auto/program but he might not want to.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    You can get new in the box E-PL6 + kit lens for $299 so I'm not sure it make sense to look at KEH to save $20. IMHO
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Real Name:
    How about the Olympus PEN PL-6 two lens kit? 14-42 IIR + 40-150 R for $399? It'll give him an M43 sensor and a wide focal length range if he doesn't mind changing lenses. It'll be a step up from his P&S, and an entry to the ILC.
  12. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    My first choice in the next few hours would be the E-PL6 + kit lens for $240 if you get the refurb with the president code on the olympus outlet online store.

    and yes... I'm tempted... It would make a great combo with my 14-42 EZ.

    [EDIT] Sorry.. apparently the E-PL6 is not available anymore. oh well...
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  13. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I'd probably try to find an lx100 on sale
  14. listers_nz

    listers_nz Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 22, 2013
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Real Name:
    I find these kind of questions quite amusing in terms of the gear suggested. It is a bit like asking a car enthusiast what sort of car you should buy when all you really wanted was something to take to the shops once a week!

    You should ask your friend the following questions:
    • How big a camera is he wanting - no point suggesting something like a FZ1000 if he wants something to fit in his pocket
    • What is he wanting to take pictures of - try and get some idea of whether he wants wide angle, lots of zoom, photos at night, etc
    • Where is he going to use it - if he is going to take it to the beach, skiing, out in a canoe etc, then something that isn't tough/water resistant isn't going to cut it
    • What is he going to do with the photos - show them on his computer/TV, post them online, print them, hang them on his wall, etc
    That should help you get an idea of what type of camera you should be looking at.

    If you end up down the superzoom pocket size point and shoot road, then there should be some pretty good deals around on "last year's" Panasonic ZS50/TZ70 since they have just announced new models.
    • Like Like x 2
  15. travelbug

    travelbug Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 20, 2014
    if he's the outdoorsy type who enjoys a lot of water, he should definitely check out the olympus tg series, especially the refurb ones with an additional 'presidents' discount.
  16. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Suggest that he get a better smartphone with a good camera. If he has a specific reason why that's still insufficient, ask why. Solicit suggestions based on that.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. abhisheks77

    abhisheks77 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 26, 2013
    Thanks for all nice suggestions. It seems, I need to work with him more to get his preference first. I will read about these options more and will shoot more questions, if I have. He visited store today and liked Stylus-1s and E-M5 (with 14-42mm). Now ultimately it come down to fixed vs non-fixed lens camera, if we assume that 14-42mm can little more sharper than Stylus-1s for few more minutes in evening (dusk time)
  18. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    If he gets the photo bug, the E-M5 allows him to buy additional (faster) lenses. And, he could probably sell it with little loss at that price if he finds it is not for him. The E-M5 is still thought of as a decent camera despite newer models arriving on the scene.

    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. Benzy

    Benzy Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 18, 2014
  20. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I assume the 14-42 is a little sharper, but only in its specific range. So that little extra sharpness at dusk...depends.

    I found to "m43 equivalent aperture"(*) for the Stylus-1 and it is a fixed 6.4. The kit is a 3.5-5.6. This means that already at 42mm you have only half stop of ISO difference (on two identical sized m43 sensors). Zoom after 42mm and the Stylus-1 wins, because you have to crop, and crop means "smaller" sensor. On the wide end you have two or one full stop and here the kit definitely wins.

    Looking at the samples in this review I found them quite good (except for CA in the corners):

    Olympus Stylus 1 Review - Samples

    For zooms IQ evaluation is usually a little complex: for example many are very good on the wide side, acceptable in the middle, and quite bad on the extreme tele end. So when you compare a 14-42 and a 14-150 it really depends on how you do it. Stop down both lenses at f8, at base ISO, and the sharpness difference probably get smaller (at base ISO).

    If he wants to shoot his son recital or football match then I'd really go for a m43 camera and a longer lens, at least the $99 Oly 40-150, because these situation are quite demanding even for an m43 sensor (and photographer).

    I'm not trying to muddy the waters for the sake of it, just to suggest you not to focus too much on that little sharpness edge that in real life can be hard to get (on the kit lens, with casual shooting).

    (*) this assumes identical sensor tech performance, just different sizes, so it is just a reference. The Stylus is BSI design so could even have a little advantage here.