Quality compact for 'active' stuff

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by nickthetasmaniac, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    Hi folk!

    Well I've returned from my latest adventures and five months of intensive travel photography, across a whole bunch of different locales and situations, has got my thinking about the evolution of my kit and gear for the future.

    I never thought I'd reach this point but at the moment I'm happy with my interchangeable kit. Everything I have serves it's purpose and serves it well, and it's been about a year now since I've bought (or actually wanted to buy - shock horror...) a new lens. The new 12-40mm has me tempted for its quality and sealing, but frankly it can wait for my next adventure to somewhere damp and cold (Baffin Island perhaps?).

    That said, the hole I have been feeling, and the one that's stirring my previously dormant G.A.S., is that of a quality compact. If you've followed any of my posts here you've probably gathered that I'm pretty into 'adventurous' outdoorsy stuff. Of late I've been getting more and more into shorter, more serious trips that respond well to the 'fast and light' ethos. This is mainly in the form of very rough, off-track hiking and slightly less hectic trail-running.

    Over the past 6 months I've begun to feel that my OMD kit is a bit of a hassle for this kind of stuff, and frankly my iPhone just isn't cutting the mustard as a compact replacement.

    So, here's what I'm after...
    - A compact, quality body that will complement, not replace, my interchangeable gear for the stuff mentioned above, and probably also for a fair bit of travel/street photography.

    A few things to consider...
    - I've been shooting primarily with primes for nearly two years, so while I'll certainly consider zoom options they definitely aren't a requirement.
    - I have high expectations regarding IQ - none of the 'rugged' compacts I've used have met these.
    - Price is a consideration, but it's not the most important element.
    - I don't have any of the compact MFT primes (14/f2.5, 17/f2.8, 20/f1.7), if you were going to suggest a compact MFT body.

    Suggestions? I've got a fair idea of what I'm interested in, but I'd like to see the direction others would take without any prompting :smile:

  2. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    • Like Like x 2
  3. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    That was certainly on my short-list - pretty much perfect concept although I'm yet to be convinced by the Nikon 1 bodies... I'll have to find a real one to play with...
  4. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    I've already begun to save up for the AW 1 & 11-27 combination. Loved my J1 when I had it, only reason why I got rid of it was due to lack of native lenses.

    But since you want something to complement your current gear, this shouldn't be an issue. :smile:
  5. Geoff3DMN

    Geoff3DMN Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia
    Real Name:
    I currently use a Canon S110 but if I was buying now I'd be very tempted by the Panasonic LF1.

    To me the main advantage of a smaller sensor camera is to save on size and weight and if the camera ends up the size of an LX7 then I don't really see the point and that really means choosing between cameras like the S120 or the LF1 or at a stretch the Sony RX100 (and even that camera is a bit thick to be easily pocketable IMO).
  6. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Real Name:
    The soon to be announced Panasonic GM1 with the ultra compact 12-34 kit zoom perhaps ?? Useful general purpose focal length for hiking and travel I think.

    Nice m43 sized sensor (it houses the same sensor as the GX7 which tests have shown is for all intents and purposes on par with the EM5/EM1/GH3 sensors) and paired with that new collapsing zoom will apparently be even SMALLER than the already small LX7....from reports its the size of the Sony RX100. This little sucker will fit even in skinny jeans, not to imply either you or I wear skinny jeans but you get my point ;) A big plus is that its still an ILC....so you could always bring it along as a second body to utilise and take advantage of an already great collection of m43 lenses you have.

    If you want to go something totally different and are not too bothered about remaining with the m43 system AND can live with a fixed focal length then consider the GR....incredibly well designed user interface, the best I have seen, super intuitive button and dial layout, super 'corner to corner' lens matched to an excellent AA filterless sensor. Nothing I have tried in m34 (and I've used the best) matches it for resolution and sharpness....depending on what you had in mind it could be an excellent option....and not mch bigger than 2 iphones stacked on top of each other.

    Good luck mate...you will have many excellent options to pick from.
  7. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 20, 2012
    Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
    Real Name:
  8. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    I was thinking about taking the small-sensor P&S route and I don't think it's for me. Basically, I've felt since owning the GH2 for two years that the current crop of 16mp are *enough* - I haven't yet felt like they're a limiting factor in my photography. In turn, this makes me feel pretty comfortable buying a fixed-lens camera like the GR without the urge of GAS in 12 months.

    On the other hand, I reckon that something like a S110 will, given a few months, start to frustrate me...

    I've tried the RX100 and while I'm bloody impressed by the engineering, it didn't excite me as a camera...

    Soooooooo... At the moment I think I'm choosing between a GR, which has (much) better IQ and provides a more engaging shooting experience (in my opinion) and the AW1 with 10/f2.8, which has the significant benefit of being sealed. Hmmmmmm...
  9. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    I'm not that familiar with your image posts and recent things seem orient toward street photography, so I think I'm missing something. Can you point me in the right direction for the activities you are looking to shoot?

    I've been on the hunt for a new camera to bring on the mountain bike (replacing an LX5). A VF would be nice, since so many shots are in bright daylight.

    Is weather sealed really important for you? I decided that I rarely shoot in the rain, so I let that go as a requirement.

    What exactly is wrong with the current kit? What are you shooting? How important is focus speed on a moving target?

    I took the G6 on the mountain bike yesterday with the kit lens (it's the only small zoom I have) and I'm asking myself why I didn't do this to begin with. I thought it would bother me clipped to the camelback strap, but I didn't notice it. I can't one hand pull it out and shot while riding (yet), but I probably shouldn't do that anyway. :tsk:

    I think the list of compacts is when known, so I'm interested in the recommendations to see if I overlooked something subtle.
  10. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Real Name:

    The GR is my first Ricoh.....it will not be my last. The size, balance, contours, button/dial placement...EVERYTHING about it just feels so damn RIGHT. It was a toss up between the GR and the Nikon A and they were so close in so many way, both equally superb both giving amazing output for something so small, I was on the verge of going for the 'A'...but after holding both in hand at a local store it was a no contest, I just knew the GR would be camera that I would just love to hold and use and take everywhere. Nothing has changed in the 3 months since....in fact not too long after I got the GR I also picked up the Sony RX1 which I still use and like VERY much, but if forced to chose a desert island camera between the 2...it would be the GR.

    The new GM1 I fear will be possibly lacking in manual controls, however the officla announcement is only a few days away so perhaps worth keeping an eye on. To my understanding it WILL have an EVF and the excellent GX7 sensor for sure.....re the kit zoom word is that it is quite good. If the camera ticks a few boxes you could always go 'body only' and plonk the Oly 12/17/45 or P14/20 on it.

    I know nothing of the Nikon stuff but lots of S.C. folks seem real happy with their 1" Nikon gear.
  11. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Real Name:
    I don't doubt it when you guys say the Ricoh GR is a great camera, but I can't get in love with 28mm FL. I have the P14 and an E-PM1, so if I did love that FL, I think putting the P14 on the E-PM1 would give a nice kit as well. Even as small as that kit is though, it's not pants pocketable for me. I could certainly put it in a jacket pocket though. I don't know, size and features and quality always seem to bump into each other and there are always compromises. I have a tiny Canon SD1100 which isn't great, but is so tiny I can carry it and forget I have it. Other than the fact that it has a zoom, I'm not sure it is really better than my iPhone though.

    Really though, if these are the toughest decisions we have to make, our lives are pretty good wouldn't you say?
  12. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Real Name:
    First world problems indeed.
  13. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    The three things I mainly shoot are landscape, street and travel, although the last two end up being quite interchangeable. By profession I'm a hiking guide so I spend a great deal of time in the Tasmanian mountains, with a striking variety of people. I like and work towards a documentary/journalistic style of photography and something I'm particularly interested in pursuing is applying this style to landscape photography (focussing on the stories of people-in-place, rather than just place). For this, something simple, efficient and unobtrusive would be perfect.

    While my OMD is very, very good, it still projects the image of a 'serious' camera, even with smaller lenses - it's a tool that people notice. It's also (slightly) too big and heavy to be truly portable (for instance, when hiking it lives in my rucksack, rather than being attached to the outside of it, which means photo-ops are restricted to breaks where I can take the pack off, which gets old when there's 27kg in it... Likewise, on trail-runs I'm more inclined to leave it at home, and if it does come along it lives in my hydration pack until I get to my destination.

    So, basically, I want something that is there all the time.

    Sealing would be helpful, but it's not a deal-breaker.

    Thats basically my memory of the GRD mkI, and is the main reason I'm interested in it (along with that fantastic sensor). Unfortunately my local camera store (the only one in Launceston) has never had either the GR or Nikon A in stock so I can't handle either. I'm heading to Sydney in a couple of weeks so I'll try and have a play then.

    Like you guessed, the GM1 is out not and while the size looks fantastic, the control interface is aimed squarely at the consumer market. Connecting with the gear I'm using is a huge part of enjoying my photography and I feel like the GM1 would just end up giving me the s h i t s.

    Sucks that it didn't end up having an EVF...

    A year ago I would have agreed, and I still find the 50mm (equivalent) focal length more comfortable. That said, during my last Europe trip I found myself increasingly using the ZD 12mm (24mm) as my go to day-to-day prime, so I think I'll get used to a 28mm.