Upgrading from compact superzoom and looking at dual lens kits: GF2 vs GF3 vs PL1s?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by RedLightning, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. RedLightning

    RedLightning New to Mu-43

    5
    Mar 10, 2012
    Hello everybody, newbie here. I've been looking to buy a m4/3 camera to upgrade from my current compact superzoom and would like to hear everybody's suggestions.

    I have been using a Panasonic TZ10/ZS7 up until now which has served me well until now, but I have started to feel its limits in low light/indoors and have been itching to learn more about photography anyway, especially as I will be having a destination wedding in Guam in April. (Plus I spilled hot wine on the zoom lever on the TZ10 and it's all gummed up now in cold weather which gives me an excuse to buy a new one, hehe.). I've been looking at mirrorless cameras since I really like the portability of my compact, and m4/3 because it seems to have the largest selection of lens available.

    I am looking at the cheaper dual lens kits because they seem to offer the most value and versatility given that they are not much more than the body only or single lens kits. It also feels to me that it would give me a lot of variety to learn on before I go out and buy more lenses.
    The Panasonic 14-42X kits looked attractive from a portability and usability standpoint, but the posts about the image quality issues have scared me away for now. (Given that I am a beginner moving up from a compact I probably wouldn't notice, but I wouldn't feel right paying premium price for an inferior product)

    As for what I'm taking photos of, I've taken photos of mostly landscapes and people when I was using my compact. I really like the video feature on my TZ10 so video is a big plus too.

    All three kits are going for slightly less than 35,000 JPY in Japan (US$425) (my budget).

    After digesting the information on the web and these forums for around a week, these are the conclusions I've drawn about each one. However I am still a total beginner so would appreciate some second opinions on this.

    GF2 (LUMIX G 14mm /F2.5 ASPH. H-H014 + LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm /F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ MEGA O.I.S. H-FS014042)
    Pros:
    - Has the hotshoe so more future-proof than the GF3 while still having almost all its features
    - Stereo mic for videos

    Cons:
    - Older hardware than GF3 so body is worth less on the resale market
    - Slightly larger/heavier


    GF3 (LUMIX G 14mm /F2.5 ASPH. H-H014 + LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm /F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ MEGA O.I.S. H-FS014042)
    Pros:
    - Lowest price (slightly)
    - Newest hardware and hence body is worth more on the resale market than the others?
    - Lightest/most compact out of the options

    Cons:
    - No hotshoe for EVF, external flash, etc. in case I want them in the future
    - Mono mic only


    PL1s double zoom kit (M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm F3.5-5.6、M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F4.0-5.6)
    Pros:
    - Built in IS which may especially come in handy if I eventually want to play with adapted lens down the road?
    - Hotshoe for EVF/flash
    - Included lenses comes with largest focal range

    Cons:
    - Oldest body and thus least features - doesn't support AVCHD video
    - Larger/heavier than the GF2 or GF3
    - No built in flash
    - Neither lens results in a pocketable setup and are slower than the 14mm prime you get in the Panny kit so not as good in low light?

    At the moment I'm leaning towards the GF3 because it's slightly cheaper and more portable and everybody on the forum seems to be saying that I'll be selling the body and keeping the lenses sometime down the road anyway.

    If anybody has any other suggestions I haven't thought of, I'm open to hearing about them also. For a reference of what prices are like in Japan you can check this site . It's in Japanese, but model numbers are universal and the pictures already tell you which kit it is :)

    Thanks again!
     
  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Between the two Panasonics, I would definitely get the GF-2 over the GF-3. The GF-3 is the most limited in functionality, not allowing you to use any external flash, electronic viewfinder, or external audio. It also has a very cumbersome control system which is much too touch-screen based.

    However, I would go for the E-PL1s. This is a Japanese model which is not available to the rest of the world, and includes the newer kit lens (later seen on the E-PL2) and reduces the limitations of the E-PL1 such as maximum shutter speed (back to 1/4000s instead of 1/2000s). This camera will hold its value as a collector's item down the road.

    Out of all the newer Olympus cameras with the sharp image quality (from the E-PL1 to the E-P3), this camera is actually the one which has the best capabilities to shoot in overly bright conditions, since it has a base ISO of 100 as well as a max shutter speed of 1/4000s. The E-PL1 has a max shutter of 1/2000s, and the E-PL2 started with a base ISO of 200.

    Mostly though, I would get it because of its better coverage in the kit lenses. You're going from a superzoom compact, so you might miss the broad focal ranges. The E-PL1s dual lens kit will bring that back for you, but the Pansaonic kits will limit you to 42mm as the longest reach.

    If you went for the GF-2, I wouldn't even bother with the two lens kit as those two lenses are too redundant. The 14mm could be used for everything the 14-42mm can be used for, giving you sharper images, better DOF control, faster shutter speeds, smaller packing size, and only requires you to walk closer to your subject sometimes. Instead, get the one-lens kit and use the extra money to save up for an m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 to complement the 14mm f/2.5. It's only another $400, and I'm sure ditching the 14-42mm will do a bit towards acquiring that.
     
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  3. mcumeda

    mcumeda Mu-43 Regular

    102
    Sep 25, 2011
    The E-PL1 has a built in flash.

    I had an EPL1, and I really enjoyed it. I haven't had any experience with the Panasonics, but you get ibis with Olympus, which can be helpful.
     
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  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    ...which acts as a Remote Flash Commander to wirelessly control all your external R-series flashes from the camera itself (whether using TTL or manual). It can also be used for flash control with the VF-2 or VF-3 viewfinder attached.

    This is actually one of the main reasons I would go for the PEN... the VF-2 and VF-3 viewfinders are leagues better than the low-res LVF-1 available for the GF-2. The VF-2 and VF-3 will work on every PEN camera and even the upcoming OM-D. The LVF-1 on the other hand, has already been replaced by the LVF-2 (which has similar quality to the Olympus VF-2) and they are NOT cross-compatible. An LVF-1 purchase is not a good investment for the future.

    As well, every PEN camera except the E-P1 (which was pre-accesosry port) will take the EMA-1 external mic adapter to get audio from any standard 3.5mm stereo microphone (which is what many modern shotgun mics and boom mics use - any video mic that's not XLR is probably 3.5mm). You mentioned that the E-PL1 doesn't support AVCHD (which only the new generation PENs do). This is true, but in my opinion I'd get MUCH better video quality with external audio support than I would by switching from 720p AVI to 1080i AVCHD. External audio to video is as important as external flash to stills. With the option of interchangeable manual lenses (including specialized HD video lenses), as well as external audio support, the PEN cameras are ALL capable of professional quality video recording... though the newest ones are better than the older ones (the E-P3, E-PL3, and E-PM1 support 1080i AVCHD, while the E-M5 has fixed the rolling shutter jello effect when used hand-held). All will use the same accessories, so only one purchase will hold you for all future PEN and OM-D models.

    Both the Panasonic bodies listed do have a built-in flash though... They will control dumb slaves, but not wireless TTL. You will have to manually adjust settings on the flash itself. To me this is a non-issue, as I will manually control flash anyways and don't actually use the Remote Flash Commander. :)

    So I wouldn't worry about the differences in built-in flash (Remote Commander vs No Remote Commander), but rather the differences in hotshoe support as well as accessory support.

    Going back to video... that rolling shutter jello effect may be an important consideration if all your videos are shot hand-held. Personally, I never use a tripod with still photography but ALWAYS use a tripod with video. So to me, it's a non-issue... you may be different. Audio on the other hand, is an issue with or without a tripod... however, it should also be noted that a separate zoom mic can be used as well and synced in post-production. So external audio is still possible even without a mic jack.

    There are always ways of working around the weaknesses of all these cameras, and cameras of by-gone days had even more weaknesses than any we see today. ;)
     
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  5. cz9h3d

    cz9h3d Mu-43 Regular

    31
    Jan 18, 2012
    SE Michigan
    Kevin
    You won't find any love for the GF3 in any of the enthusiasts forums - these folks love their cameras and their controls - which is fine. I'm a recent compact move-up, and I like my GF3. Panasonic really screwed up calling it a "GF". All the "real photographers" see it as a dumbed down camera - and in many ways it is, compared to the GX1. But I'm its target market, and I like it.


    I have no plans to utilize the hot shoe for an EVF or a flash. I like the touchscreen and the controls - and the built in flash is a must for me. The camera with the 14mm is very very small. I also have the 14-42X - not sure I would get it today though, with all the negativity and concerns (mainly from a resale perspective).

    Not trying to sell you - just want you to understand the perspective you'll get in the forums on the GF3. BTW, used ones are going for around $300 US with the 14-42mm.

    Happy hunting!
     
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  6. RedLightning

    RedLightning New to Mu-43

    5
    Mar 10, 2012
    Interesting, it sounds like the Olympus is worth a closer look. I may be unconsciously slightly biased towards the Pannys since I've actually seen both models in-store, while the big box stores around here only have the PM1 and PL3 (which are out of my price range) available to peruse, so I haven't actually seen the PL1 yet.

    Regarding the double zoom lens: The one concern I do have is with portability. Assuming that the 14-42mm is the same one I have seen in-store with the PM1, it definitely collapses smaller than the Panny 14-42 but still isn't quite pocktable, while the kit pancake 14mm prime that comes with the Pannys are. Is it worth to pick up a pancake lens separately specifically for the portabilility?
     
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes it is, but if you're not getting it in a kit then you may want to consider the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 instead. It is a stop faster than the Lumix 14mm f/2.5, but is nearly the same size.
     
  8. sin77

    sin77 Mu-43 Veteran

    243
    Dec 9, 2011
    Singapore
    14mm is good for very tight space indoor and for shooting landscape.
    Moreover, it is cheaper than 20mm, esp if bundled with GF2.
    If the lens is not close enough, I can always use 2x ex tele conv.

    But if I were to choose between them with no other lenses in my collection, I would go for 20.
     
  9. angusr

    angusr Mu-43 Regular

    79
    Sep 21, 2011
    I fall into the GF3 target market too and I'm pleased with it. I had a GF1 and always thought it was just a little too big. I loved the control layout but I don't own an external flash or evf so that was wasted space and money for me. The GF3 with the 14mm is a steal at £250 on lumixlifestyle at the moment if you are in the UK. If find it very pocketable with both 14 and 20mm pancakes (ymmv).

    I'd say if you know you want an external flash now, get a gf2 or oly. If you know you want an external evf, get an oly (the gf2 evf is expensive and obsolete). If you don't want it now, I wouldn't worry too much about future proofing, instead, seriously consider buying the body with the kit lens that you actually want. It is far more cost-efficient than buying separately and you can keep the lens and upgrade to a more flexible body at a later date.

    Regards.
     
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  10. cz9h3d

    cz9h3d Mu-43 Regular

    31
    Jan 18, 2012
    SE Michigan
    Kevin
    Since you're back to discussing size - is the E-PM1 not an alternative? I almost went that direction. The Oly collapsing 14-42mm in the kit is significantly smaller than the Panny 14-42mm bundled with the GF2/GF3.

    When I had only the Panny 14-42mm and the 14mm, I found I'd use the 14mm 90% of the time - it truly is that small. In fact, for the casual shooter on a budget, I could almost see having only the 14mm and a telephoto lens. Again, the Oly 45-150 isnt too obnoxious in size compared to others.

    Lots of choices and trade-offs for you to make! And money to spend if you're not to careful.
     
  11. RedLightning

    RedLightning New to Mu-43

    5
    Mar 10, 2012
    Thanks for all the comments folks, spent some more time researching and visiting the big box store again over the weekend! Responding to a few of the comments here with my thoughts...

    Good points, I've seen a lot of posts with people liking the 20. Only concern is cost, since the 20 seems to cost around the same as the dual kits, and I'm not sure if I want to be spending that much dough starting out. Hence the attraction of the kits. For reference, the prices for these models are around:

    $280 for the body only
    $355 for the single lens kits
    $425 for the dual lens kits

    So... at roughly $70 per kit lens, it seems like it makes sense to always go for the dual kits since the lens themselves are reselling for around $160 a pop on Yahoo! Auctions (Japanese eBay) so I can just sell whatever I don't use.
     
  12. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    One good lens is much better than two redundant kit lenses which perform the same function. When you're ready for more lenses, use your own choice to get lenses which are desirable to you and provide capabilities that your current lenses can't provide.
    Until then, if the single 20mm as a general purpose lens is going to cost you the same as a twin lens kit, then the 20mm is a much better investment.
     
  13. RedLightning

    RedLightning New to Mu-43

    5
    Mar 10, 2012
    Great comments, I guess I fit in the GF3 target market also. If there was a big price gap between either setup the decision would be easier - they're almost the same price here though. It seems to be a balance between:
    1. Get the GF2 which is a bit more future proof so I don't have to worry about upgrading as soon
    2. Get the GF3 for the size and slightly higher resale value and just upgrade to a better body when I outgrow it

    I think having a somewhat pocketable setup is still important to me at this point. All three setups seem to be pocketable with a pancake lens so that's extra points for the Panny kits.



    I did look at the PM1 actually and was also impressed by its size. The only thing that stops me is the price - the GX1 kits are actually around the same price there, so if I'm spending that much it becomes a choice between those two. The PM1 kits also don't include the telephoto so both kits include a pancake (14 for the panny and 17 for the oly) and 14-42.

    I was impressed with the collapsed size of the Oly 14-42, indeed. I'm hoping to visit a store this week that actually has the PL1s in stock so I can get a feel for its size.
     
  14. RedLightning

    RedLightning New to Mu-43

    5
    Mar 10, 2012
    That's a fair point and probably practically speaking I'll probably be shooting with a single lens mostly starting out.

    The twin lens kits include the body so I still see the value there. If I already knew which lens I wanted I would probably just get the kit with the body I want and just sell both lens (going again from recent auctions I should be able to get US$280-300 for them) to fund the lens purchase. The not knowing what I actually want part is the complication. :)

    Regarding the comments of the 14mm and 14-42 being redundant and a pancake + telephoto being a viable setup - that's something I'm considering if I'm getting the Oly setup. If the 14-42 doesn't meet my size requirements, maybe I should sell the 14-42 and use the money for a pancake instead?
     
  15. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes, that's what I would do. :)