Total noob

Discussion in 'This or That?' started by ryanlogic, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. ryanlogic

    ryanlogic Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2012
    Antakya, Turkey
    I've been drooling over cameras for a while now. I would really like some practical advice.

    I've borrowed my friends t2i and played around with a few other 4/3 cameras... But after watching tons of reviews and doing lots of research I think mirrorless is the way to go, and it seems like micro 4/3 is the direction to invest.

    I've never take a photography class, and I'm relatively ignorant to most of the things on here that people talk about. That being said, I'm not the typical consumer. I've been learning ISO, aperture, and different lenses... And I think it would really behoove me to invest in something I can grow into.

    I take a lot of pictures, and many people tell me I have a good eye. I come from an art background and appreciate a good composition.

    Now that I'm a full time university student, I've gotten involved in a lot of student organizations and charities and stuff and I've been taking pictures with my point and shoot... People have been asking me to photograph events and I really enjoy doing it but I am feeling get the picture.

    I'm pretty much torn between three options.

    My initial budget will be around $1500 in August. I'm not a rich college student, I will be saving as much as I can to get to that number by the end of summer.

    1.) Do what everyone I know tells me to do, and buy a canon rebel and invest in a few lenses to play with.

    2.) buy a $500-700 range m4/3 kit and a few lenses.

    3.) buy a OM-D EM-5 and maybe an entry level lens.

    I'm honestly leaning towards the OM-D... I like that it's weatherproofed, because I could end up shooting in the rain and around water (my current point and shoot is waterproof and has come in handy more than once for that reason.) additionally I like the build and the style. the Add on grip seems like a good option and I like the addition of an EVF.

    that being said, I'm not sure if I should buy a cheaper m4/3 body and more lenses.....and let the OM-D line evolve a bit. Looking at how Olympus expanded the digital pen line, it seems like Olympus will likely build off of this success and keep coming out with more similar cameras with upgraded features.... Maybe a higher res. viewfinder and better performance...

    If you were a serious noob with 1500 what would you do?
  2. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    When the EPL2 came out and then the EPL3 I was tempted to upgrade to those bodies (and kit lens mkii), but I realised that new lenses would increase my possibilities much more than those bodies.
    And decent lenses will still be decent on whatever body comes along.
    I am waiting for either the OMD to become cheaper, or more likely a cheaper body with some of its features coming along.
    But then you want an m43 now, and you've identified the dilemmas you face, and I don't know the answer.
    There is always the thing that with technology there will always be something better coming along sometime. I suppose I'd opt for a cheaper body than the OMD and use the spare money for lense/s you think you'll want.
  3. JimmyK

    JimmyK Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 11, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    Real Name:
    James Knodell
    My advice would be pick a system, then start with a modestly-priced camera and one or two of the best lenses you can afford. Good glass will serve you well for years and undoubtably through any number of bodies. You can always move up to a more elaborate camera as you progress, but if you start with good lenses, you won't need to replace cheap glass as your abilities grow.
  4. redington

    redington Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 28, 2012
    I'm also a complete noob. I'd suggest starting with a basic kit that looks good to you and has the features you're looking for. I'd look at the G3 or whichever of the pens looks best to your hands. If you buy used, especially fro here, if you feel the need to upgrade your body you won't lose much money on the deal. After a month or so of shooting a bunch and looking at what people here are shooting and with what lens, you'll get a good idea of what you have, what you're missing, and what you want moving forward. I have a pen mini. I love it, but really wish I had an EVF. I'll add one if I can find the money. I also wish I had the pannie pancake lens, and it's on my wish list.
  5. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    For a college student and if action photography isn't a high priority ... I suggest a GF3 or GX1, both are small, travel easily but pack a real punch in IQ. If you're local to SoCal, I can let you play with a few ยต/4/3rd and dSLR, you can inspect the results of each camera in order to help you decide your fate.

  6. Pokemon

    Pokemon Mu-43 Rookie

    May 26, 2012
    I'm a new noob too and after everything i have read i really think you should get the OMD EM-5 slightly used (to save some money) and start with one good lens. See how you like it and then you can always add on. It seems like the best m43 camera out there. I really want to get one too... but in time to come as i'm flat out broke! Just ordered a Leica X2 which has really set me back.
  7. brunerww


    Mar 5, 2011
    ryan - I vote for option #3. I traded in my T2i for a GH2 because I am a still and video guy - but even if I was a still-only guy and had my T2i today, I would trade it in for the EM-5. Carrying that heavy antique mirror-box around gets old -and the EM-5 is just as good a still camera as any APS-C DSLR.

    The GX-1 and GF-3 are fine cameras too, but they lack built-in viewfinders - and, for me, the G3 is a great still camera, but provides less room on the left side to grip the camera than I personally am comfortable with.

    By August, you may be able to find the EM-D used. If so, I would get one (for less than $1000, if possible) - and a couple of fast, relatively inexpensive prime lenses, e.g., the $400 Oly 45mm f1.8 portrait lens plus a $290 Panasonic 14mm f2.5 wide.

    Good luck with your decision - and welcome to m4/3!

    Hybrid Camera Revolution
  8. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Real Name:

    Back in "the day" beginning photogs were frequently steered to a Pentax K1000, a 50mm lens, and a lot of Tri-X.

    The theory being that the student would spend little time in learning the equipment and a lot of time learning photography. I think that is still a valid approach in the digital age. Equipment varies but the basics of exposure transcend equipment, and even film vs. digital.

    AFAIK there are no low-cost digital systems with controls similar to the old Pentax (shutter speed dial on the camera top, aperture control on the lens, "ASA" (ISO) control was part of the shutter speed button). The Fujifilm X100 fits into your budget, but it's a niche camera and does not lend itself to general photography. I would not assign it to the "beginner's camera" class.

    My recommendation would be to pick up an inexpensive 4/3rds body, a lens that is close to "standard", and spend a year learning photography. Smaller, lighter than a DSLR and so likely to actually be with you rather than left at home.

    Limiting yourself to a single lens and inexpensive body will mean some missed shots; you're unlikely to catch the runner sliding into home plate, or a beautiful shot of the full moon. However what you will do, assuming you apply yourself, will learn to "see" as the lens sees, the relationship between ISO/Shutter speed/Aperture, RAW vs JPG, and perspective.

    I assume you have a computer, being a student. Having software to process your RAW "negatives" is part of the learning process. I would recommend LightRoom to start. It has a better database than Elements, a flatter learning curve than full PhotoShop, and there are lots of available resources for help, both online and in the library.

    So, if I were a "total Noob" and wanted to actually learn photography rather than a specific system (and I wanted to stay with digital) I would go with this list:

    Olympus E-PL1 camera body only $150

    Olympus electronic view finder 2 $212

    Olympus 17mm $270

    Two 8gb class 10 memory cards $20

    Bryan Peterson books:

    Understanding Exposure $15

    Understanding Shutter speed $17

    Adobe PhotoShop LightRoom 4 $150

    Olivia Bampton book:

    Lightroom 4 - the Missing FAQ $32

    Total: $ 866 plus tax and shipping

    Again, this is a "learner's kit" and will not be all things to all photographs. You ain't goin' birding with that 17mm lens, and macro shots of flowers 'n bugs will have to wait. (The Panasonic 20mm would, perhaps, be a better choice but they are not always available). The electronic viewfinder is pricey at $212, but holding the camera using the EVF is, to me, a much more stable method than using the screen.

    Put the camera body on manual, enable the "Superuser Menu" to gain easy access to shutter and aperture controls, and have at it. Aperture priority will come later.

    Once you're absolutely comfortable that you can frame and shoot at will you'll be ready to move onto something more capable (read "complicated" and "expensive") and you won't lose much on your gear. (Camera systems aren't "investments" - they're "expenses"). One clue that you're ready - you'll know what ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to set before you look in the viewfinder.

    Note that before the year is over you'll probably want to purchase a good tripod and ballhead. A good tripod and ballhead will last for years, and "fit" a wide range of camera systems if you purchase wisely. Off camera speedlights are another area that you will want to investigate - but I would hold off on these while you're learning the basics.

    Just my opinion, YMMV.


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  9. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Real Name:
    Addendum to Fmrvette:

    Jim, good advice. Here it is a bit more expanded.

    Again, get the basic camera rather the one with all the bells and whistles. You want tospend your time learning technique and aesthetics, not how to operate the camera. A camera like the GH2 has an incredible learning curve.

    Once you are enrolled or get your Student ID you are eligible for the academic version of software at substantial savings. They are the same software package, but for less or even token costs. Usually schools have licensing agreements with most major software companies and lesser ones too. Size matters. I paid $10-15 for full blown MS Windows at my present college, at my previous university it was $7.

    Here is Adobe's site Adobe Creative Suite 6 Student and Teacher Editions

    If the company offers academic or student/teacher version, but not directly through school, other sources may be campus bookstores, directly from the company, and sometimes slightly cheaper than the company's site, on line. Shop around for prices even academic versions can vary substantially.

    If you will be taking photo courses, you may wish to learn if the department requires a minimum image size.
  10. zpierce

    zpierce Super Moderator

    Sep 26, 2010
    Minneapolis, MN
    Real Name:
    If you are truly new to "serious" photography, I would suggest a simple route. As others have suggested, I'd start with a mid range body (used off of this forum if you are open to that). A G3 would be my suggested starting point, but any body would do. I started this hobby completely fresh. After doing a bunch of research I decided to give M4/3 a shot. With no legacy lenses that I needed to support, it seemed like the way to go.

    I started with a G1 and the 14-45 kit lens. That kept me happy for months as I learned the basics of photography and shooting a serious camera. Once I started to understand the basics and get a good feel for the camera, I started understanding the limitations of my kit lens and added a fast prime for low light (the 20 1.7) and a tele for longer reach (the 45-200). Those kept me busy for quite a few more months as I learned about shooting at those focal lengths, dof, etc. After about a year I started to reach the limits of my G1 and the GH2 came out and I upgraded. Since then I've traded most of my lenses now and have the 14-140, 100-300, 14, 25, 45, but the long and the short of it was that it took me a couple years to learn and evolve to where I could really take advantage of a higher end model camera, and the nicer lenses. For the first year or so, I took tons of great photos (per my evolving ability), and had a blast with the G1 and a few simple lenses.

    Long story short, based on my experience starting fresh with photography and m4/3, my suggestion is to start with a basic or mid range body and kit lens. Don't wait till you save up $1500. When you have $500, pick one up and get started. If you are relatively new, you won't know what to do with an EM-5 and / or $1500 worth of lenses. By the time you get competent enough to make good use of any of it, newer / better stuff will be available, current stuff will be cheaper. Also you can get a feel for what lenses you want to buy. You can run out and spent 500-1000 on lenses, but depending on what you find yourself gravitating to, there are different lenses you might want. You may find you love shooting birds and want the 100-300, or portraits and get a 45, or night shots with a f1.4 or f1.7. I would have had no idea when I started out.

    Start simple, but most importantly, just get started!
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  11. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I totally agree with Jim. To many options dilute the learning process. In the beginning rein in the desire for what is new and glitters ... KISS is the way to go.

  12. D@ne

    D@ne Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 23, 2012
    OM-D body ($1000) + Panasonic 25mm ($539 retail...I'm sure you can find one used or on sale) or Panasonic 20mm ($359).

    I (personally) take 99% of my photos with the 25, as it's a very practical focal length, and the OM-D gives you the best of what's currently on the market (as far as bodies go).

    I don't the point investing in older technology if your budget allows the best. If I could start over, I would have just bought I would have ended up with in the end, from the get-go.
  13. zpierce

    zpierce Super Moderator

    Sep 26, 2010
    Minneapolis, MN
    Real Name:
    What I ended up with wasn't available when I got started. If I'd started with the best at the time, I'd have had an outdated camera before I knew how to take advantage of it.
  14. ryanlogic

    ryanlogic Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2012
    Antakya, Turkey
    I should have mentioned that good 1080p video would be great. I would like to record speeches during banquets and events.. And I would like to record spiritual talks and lectures.

    I'm not intimidated by an advanced camera, I'm a dedicated and fast learner... I jus want the biggest bang for my buck.

    I appreciate all the advice, seems like a great little community. keep the advice coming!!!

  15. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    A used G3 can be had for $500 or so with kit lens.

    Add the very popular and proven Panasonic 20mm for $350 or so.

    Then You got a great starter kit with enough power to keep you busy for quite some time for under $1000.

    After evaluating where you stand after a few months, you have a few hundred bucks to spend on other stuff - perhaps another lens, hot shoe flash, etc.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 App
  16. zpierce

    zpierce Super Moderator

    Sep 26, 2010
    Minneapolis, MN
    Real Name:
    It's not about intimidation, it's about where you will get the most value for your bucks as a new photographer. You won't appreciate custom settings until you've explored hundreds of combinations through thousands of photos (for example) I'm a technophile as well, this isnt about ability to adopt new tech. It's about where are you going to get bang for your buck as a "total noob". :)

    A GH2 might be worth looking at if you want good video as well as an advanced body that's a pretty good bargain right now. A GH2 w/ 14-140 and a 20/1.7 would give you a ton of video and still options for 1500ish.
  17. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Honestly, this is the best advice that I've seen yet in here for $1500. You just get one lens, but it'll be a good lens and you'll start off with a good body. You can always add more lenses down the road, but it's not so easy to go backwards and upgrade what you already have. So start off with the best quality items you can afford. The OM-D E-M5 with Leica 25mm f/1.4 Summilux looks like the best quality items for that price.
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  18. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    It is all about becoming good photographer. Good photography is as much art as it is craft. Too much or too sophisticated hardware tends to dilute your focus on the basic elements of a good exposure and a good image. KISS allows you to manage and concentrate on the basics. Good photography is like math, the stuff you learn in week one is necessary for the homework in week two. Learning how to master a certain focal length, a particular lens takes time and usage. Having beacoup options available all at the same time only slows down the learning process, once again dilutes the process and lengthens the learning curve.

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  19. ryanlogic

    ryanlogic Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2012
    Antakya, Turkey
    in the end, it's just going to come down to what makes the most sense long term.

    It's obvious that there are two camps forming around this discussion.

    A.) KISS, learn the basics, become a good photographer.

    B.) buy the best you can afford. something you can grow into.

    It makes more sense to buy a more rudimentary setup and plan to upgrade from the learners perspective... No sense buying a Mercedes when you don't even know how to drive.....

    On the other hand, I don't know if and when I will be able to upgrade... money doesn't exactly come my way by conventional standards. I am afraid that if I get a cheap or older body with less features that I might want later, that I won't be able to upgrade when the time comes because I'm too busy spending my financial aid scrounging around for food and shelter (I'm not exaggerating.) On the other hand, I might find work again (next summer?) and be able to buy all the gear I want... But it's definitely not guaranteed.

    I earned some money and paid my rent for the next semester in advance, so when my financial aid comes, I should have the money I mentioned by late August.

    The reality is, I've been wanting a camera since the the iPhone 3GS came out which is when I started taking a lot of pictures... I know it's just a phone, but it really go me going. and then I took a trip to Mexico City for a few months and I did t have a camera so I missed the opportunity to document the trip... I vowed I would never be camera-less again, so I did a bunch of research and bought a good travel camera (Sony tx-5.) I've been taking tons of pictures with that camera and it's been through more adventures than most. Then I finally got my Associates degree, and got into USF. I quit working full time, sold my car and all m belongings, moved next to the school and dedicated myself to studying. Being a full time student has given me the opportunity to really get involved in the community. I go downtown every week with a group of people that brings students downtown to feed about 300 homeless people on a weekly basis. I joined the electoral board and started documenting our weekly progress. We have a bunch of events coming up in fall and I would like to have a good camera to use to document everything for our website and Facebook page. We had a few people that usually did the photography for the banquets and stuff, but they all graduated and either moved on to grad school or started working.

    I guess my point is: I have a goal, I have a good eye for photography, and I am willing to learn. Furthermore, this might be my only opportunity to invest in quality equipment.

    Im still leaning towards the OM-D because of the above.

    I'm not exactly a stubborn man, I'm willing to be persuaded by a logical argument. And I totally agree with the KISS approach, and if I was just getting into this as a hobby without a specific goal... I would probably save my money and buy some basic gear for starters..

    I need to get gear that will get the job done. Am I missing anything?
  20. brunerww


    Mar 5, 2011
    Ryan - this changes my Oly OM-D EM-5 recommendation. The OM-D EM-5 doesn't output 1080p and its maximum video clip length is 29 minutes. The Canons are worse at 12 minutes.

    If you want to record speeches and lectures, I strongly recommend the $749 Panasonic GH2. It outputs true 1080p video with unlimited clip length, and is also a very capable still camera. With another $750 or so to spend on lenses, I would still get the 14mm f2.5 and 45mm f1.8 - but I would add the new $220 Sigma 30mm f2.8.

    The Panasonic 25mm f1.4 is indeed a great lens, but it is expensive and would consume almost your entire lens budget - leaving you with a single focal length. Too limiting, in my view.

    You can cover the same range of focal lengths for less money with a slow zoom lens like the $272 14-45 f3.5-5.6, but faster lenses will give you more flexibility in low light.

    Again, hope this is helpful,

    Hybrid Camera Revolution