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Upgrading from P&S to...?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by haricot.vert, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. haricot.vert

    haricot.vert New to Mu-43

    5
    Aug 27, 2012
    Paris, France
    Hi everyone, total newbie here. I've been reading quite a few reviews and some of the posts here, but I'm afraid the more I read, the harder it is to pick a camera!!

    I'm not purchasing this camera for myself, it'll be a birthday gift for my fiancée. She's a beginner who's only used P&S, but I know she is interested in learning more about photography. I thought I would buy her an MFT and enrol her in some classes to learn how to use it. I don't know much about DSLR or MFT cameras so I thought someone here might have some advice.

    I think the most important criteria for the camera would be:

    - Beginner friendly, the menu shouldn't be too complicated to navigate.
    - Ideally it would be her main camera, so it needs to be fairly good at both outdoor and indoor shots, and if low light or night shots are good too, that's a bonus. It won't be used professionally (as far as I'm aware).
    - Relatively fast: we're expecting our first child in March, so if she holds onto it, the camera could eventually be used to take photos of a potentially active bundle of joy :)
    - Video quality needs to be good, for the same reason as above.
    - It must be pocketable. I know that if the camera is too bulky or heavy she will end up leaving it at home.
    - She likes taking panoramic shots, so if the camera allows that option (e.g. stitching) it would be great, but I think she can live without it.

    With these things in mind, the cameras that seem to be most attractive at the moment are:

    Panasonic Lumix GF3
    Panasonic Lumix GX1 (too much?)
    Olympus E-PL2
    Olympus E-PM1

    These cameras all seem to be very close in terms of specs, so how do you pick one?

    I've also heard that the lens plays a bigger role in the quality of the shots. All of the above options are sold here with a 14-42 mm lens, but I've read that a 20mm lens may better, and some are sold with a 14mm lens - what's the difference? Is the 14-42mm lens good enough for a beginner and the uses listed above?

    Also, keeping in mind Olympus' current financial woes, should I be worried about service if I get her an Olympus?

    Thanks a lot for reading, hopefully the post is not too long!
     
  2. redington

    redington Mu-43 Regular

    140
    Apr 28, 2012
    When is the birthday? The big photo trade show is happening in a few weeks and new cameras will like be released and could change things. Can you wait that long?
     
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  3. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    517
    Aug 6, 2012
    I don't think any of the m43 cameras are really 'pocketable', even with the pancake lenses... well maybe if she wears cargo pants.

    If pocketable is a definite requirement, then you might want to look up Sony RX-100.
     
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  4. twalker294

    twalker294 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    543
    Aug 18, 2010
    If you are talking user friendly menus, Panasonic wins that one. The Olympus menus can be confusing and frustrating.

    As for lenses, the 14-42 kit lens is a good lens and I would recommend it for a beginner. The 20 and 14 are primes (no zoom,) which are great as supplemental lenses but she will really want a zoom since it's much more flexible.
     
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  5. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    I have the PM-1 and it probably the smallest camera in the group. It is probably the most like a P&S. That said I would recommend the three cameras first, they will give you more upside. Since you mentioned video the Panasonic's would a better choice. And, the GX-1 has a strong fan base here on mu-43.com. It is not too much, all the cameras are easy for a beginner to use but they will also be satisfying in your interest in photography increases. The 14 - 42 kit lens is pretty good and would be a good place to start. It is pretty flexible and versatile. FWIW - I am thinking of replacing my PM-1 with a GX-1 (or GX-2).
     
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  6. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Of that group you mentioned I'd think any of them would all work. The E-PM1 and GF3 being the most pocketable (if you have BIG pockets). Fast AF and would be a step up form P&S. Of course the E-PM1 and GF3 are meant to be that kind of step up camera. The GX1 OTOH has more physical controls, costs a bit more (although can be found relatively cheaply these days), has a new higher resolution sensor and is IMHO a better value than the other cameras. It can be shot in Panasonic's iA (Auto mode) with great success, the menus and navigation are simple and IMO intuitive, the images are terrific and at the current prices around $399 with a kit lens it's a steal.

    Now, something to consider is that a lens is a big part of being able to get those shots of fast moving kids. The kits lenses are not particularly fast aperture wise so you need good light to keep the shutter speed up enough to get those action shots. Low light also becomes a much bigger challenge. If you can swing it I'd suggest looking at at least one faster lens.
     
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  7. haricot.vert

    haricot.vert New to Mu-43

    5
    Aug 27, 2012
    Paris, France
    Wow, thanks for the fast replies!

    Ok so what I'm hearing is the panasonics may be the best bet. In everyone's opinion, does the difference between the GF3 and the GX1 justify the price difference?

    Ah that may be good news for me; her birthday is on October 17th. I could wait if it means the choice between models like the GF3 and GX1 will be easier


    She does wear cargo pants, not all the time though. One of her mottoes is "travel light, travel often", so sometimes she won't take anything but her keys, phone and credit card in her pockets. I often end up carrying her stuff in my bag, including her current camera. So I suppose it's not a definite requirement, since she can use me as her mule :rolleyes: I guess what I mean is, it should be small enough to not be a burden to carry along (think of the mule please) and she'd favour the P&S over it. Too much to ask of an MFT?


    Ah, thank you for the clarification on the lenses, this does make my life easier!


    Ok, the GX-1 is sounding more attractive, since it seems little more future proof than the other options. In terms of value for money, though, is the GX1 really worth the jump in price?
     
  8. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    It is if there is a likelihood that she will enjoy photography. If she just uses the camera like a phone camera then no. It will be the most future proof of the group. The good news is that all of the cameras may be on sale soon depending on what new models Panasonic and Olympus introduce in September.
     
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  9. Jaffa1975

    Jaffa1975 Mu-43 Regular

    38
    May 26, 2012
    I recently made this jump and brought a Gf3, while its a great beginner camera I find myself yearning for a hot shoe and better sensor, I'm using a lot of legacy glass so find myself also yearning for IBIS, the gf3 takes great shots but is lacking a lot.

    I'm now saving for a GX1 .l
     
  10. haricot.vert

    haricot.vert New to Mu-43

    5
    Aug 27, 2012
    Paris, France
    Ah it seems you kind of answered my second question before I saw your post! Thanks for the reply, I do have a few additional questions. First a stupid one - what is AF?

    Concerning the price, I'm afraid that over here in France, the price for the GX1 is around €480 minimum (600 USD), whereas the GF3 is closer to €250 (313 USD), so it's a huge price difference - still worth it?

    Finally, regarding the lens, do you mean I should get the camera with the 14-42mm lens and an additional fast lens, or get the body only and the faster lens? What would be considered a faster lens? I supposed we have some time before junior is zooming around like crazy so perhaps I could get her the standard lens and then the faster one later if she's definitely interested?
     
  11. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Does the camera have to be new? Before you buy new check out the boards here and on other reputable photo sites like GetDPI and Fred Miranda. I bet you could find someone selling a GX1 for less and willing to ship to France. As to the price difference...the GX1 has a newer sensor, more resolution, better handling, hot shoe etc. so I think it's a better value. That said, the GF3 is a nice camera and the difference in price is substantial. I think I'd probably start with the kit lens and see how she likes it first before investing much more.

    I just went back and reread your list and you say it MUST be pocketable. None of these cameras is pocketable. Coat pocket maybe but not truly pocketable (and less so with the lenses on). If that is a "must" then what about something like a premium compact like an Olympus XZ1, Panasonic LX3, LX5, LX7 or even the new Sony RX100? Might that be a better option? They won't give you the same level of image quality (although still very good) or interchangeable lenses but they would be smaller.
     
  12. twalker294

    twalker294 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    543
    Aug 18, 2010
    AF means autofocus.

    For a first camera, I personally would say no it isn't. But that's just my opinion.

    When someone refers to a "faster lens" they are talking about a lens with a larger aperture. The aperture number is expressed as an f stop and the numerically smaller the number, the larger the aperture is, and therefore the faster the lens is. For example, the kit lens has a maximum aperture at 14mm of f/3.5. A lens like the 20mm f/1.7 is faster because its maximum aperture is f/1.7, which means it has a larger opening to let in more light. It's referred to as being "faster" because a larger aperture means you can use a faster shutter speed in order to get the same exposure.
     
  13. redington

    redington Mu-43 Regular

    140
    Apr 28, 2012
    I'm a small guy and when I wear baggy shorts or pants my epm1 can fit I the pocket pretty easily with the kit lens. I've never used a Panasonic m4/3, but I sure like the menus on my olympus a lot better than the Panasonic P&S that I've used.
     
  14. haricot.vert

    haricot.vert New to Mu-43

    5
    Aug 27, 2012
    Paris, France
    Thanks too all who have given additional input!

    It's good to get another beginner's perspective. How long have you used the GF3, and for what kind of photographs do you take? Pardon my ignorance, but I'm not sure I know what legacy glass or IBIS are :frown:


    I will definitely check out the sites you mentioned. Buying abroad I would be worried about warranty coverage. I'd have to check with Panasonic over here if they'd service a camera bought abroad second hand.

    For pocketability, I may have to compromise, but I will at least go to a store and see the size of the cameras for myself. Regarding the premium compacts, would they be a good option for someone wanting to get into photography as a hobby? What features do you compromise if you go for a good compact camera instead of a hybrid?


    Thanks again for the clarifications; very clear and straightforward! I will stick to the 14-42mm if I get her an MFT and she will have some time to think whether she will want a faster lens later on.

    Out of curiosity, in your opinion, why is the GX1 not a good first camera?
     
  15. johnc

    johnc Mu-43 Regular

    179
    Oct 20, 2011
    I'd second that

    If pocketability is a "must" factor (and honestly, I don't think even any of the above fit into that category, barring gargantuan pockets, but they're certainly more compact than any of the cameras mentioned in your opening post), that's the direction I'd at least consider going. Besides, if she's going to insist on carrying the camera in a pocket, interchangeable lenses would be of questionable value (unless, of course, she has a lot of pockets). She can certainly learn the basics of photography on an advanced P&S (they all offer full manual control), and the quality of images she'll get will, in many cases (especially with a fast-moving toddler), rival what she'll get with a MFT/kit zoom. If at a later date she decides to advance, and realizes the value of a slightly larger camera utilizing multiple lenses (and eases up on the notion that it all has to fit in a pocket--that's what camera bags are for), you've still got a serviceable point-and-shoot for those times when she doesn't feel like bringing along her full kit.
     
  16. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    I also agree that a good P&S (like the ones mentioned) is probably a better option, all things considered than just a m4/3s camera + kit lens.

    I will say though, if I was expecting a child in six months and thinking about the options in the first post, my only choice would be the GX1 with Panasonic 25/1.4 lens, with the kit lens for all around shooting. That will easily best any P&S option for capturing low light baby shots, which you will likely want many of.

    Regarding pocketability, and your fiancee's "travel light" motto, I expect she'll be getting over that after the baby is born. A diaper bag will be minimum luggage, even for a "trip" to the market. A m4/3s body w/lens is not so big a deal at that point I don't think.

    Ultimately it comes down to how much she really gets in to photography. If she truly wants to then I'd say go for the GX1 + 25/1.4 + 14-42. Better to regret that purchase than to regret not getting best possible baby pics. I've been there...
     
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  17. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Bob
    I realize that Olympus menus are pretty complex, but once the camera is set up for the first time you don't need to access the menus much. There are excellent tutorials here that can help with the setup. After that there are two things that set the E-Pl2 apart from the Panasonic cameras for me - in body image stabilization (IBIS) and the super control panel (SCP). The SCP allows one button access to most of the functions that a person might want to change. IBIS means smaller lenses because they don't need stabilization built in. Just my opinion, FWIW. :smile:
     
  18. twalker294

    twalker294 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    543
    Aug 18, 2010
    Oh I'm not saying it isn't a good first camera at all. However for casual photos it's probably overkill and more money than you need to spend. If, however, she (or you,) gets into photography and wants a more capable camera, then the GX1 would be great. I'm just saying that since you don't really know the interest level that will be present in the near future, you might want to spend a little less then upgrade to the GX1 if you feel that the GF3 (or whatever you end up buying,) begins to feel limiting.
     
  19. redington

    redington Mu-43 Regular

    140
    Apr 28, 2012
    Re: money - I don't know about where you are, but here in the states I could get the epm1 refurbished for less than a good P&S. It made it a no-brainer for me, and I've never for a second regretted getting the epm1 instead of the comparably-priced P&S.
     
  20. haricot.vert

    haricot.vert New to Mu-43

    5
    Aug 27, 2012
    Paris, France
    Thank for the replies all, I think my next stop will be to go see the short-listed candidates for myself at the store (including the high end compacts), to get a feel for size and have a look at the menus since opinions seem divided.

    Regarding Olympus though, does anyone know if their current financial situation should be something I should worry about? Last I heard they were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy :frown:

    Ah this is good to know. I was worried that by getting an advanced compact I'd just be getting a slightly better P&S, and she already has one which isn't all that old just yet (Canon Powershot ELPH 100HS). Demiro does have a point thiugh, that once the baby is here, she will have a lot more stuff to carry, so perhaps 'pocketability' won't be a must. Difficult choices as from what I've seen, the Sony RX100 is a very very good camera, but about the price of a GX1 over here.


    Nice to get the point of view of someone who's been in a similar situation. Good point about the diaper bag, I hadn't considered it before. It's hard to tell just how much she would want to get into photography, but once the baby is here, I know she (and I) will want to take a gazillion shots. I know she would like to learn more, but as far as becoming passionate about it, I wouldn't be able to tell without straight out asking her.


    It seems I'm going to have to check this out for myself in-store. I fear what would probably happen is that she won't have enough patience read the tutorials and set up the device so I'll have to do it :rolleyes:


    It sounds like the GX1 may be too much then. Seeing as I can't tell whether the desire to learn photography is burning or just simmering, either the GF3 or a very good manual compact may be a better choice for now.


    I'm in France and I had a look at the manufacturers' sites and I'm afraid they don't offer refurbished cameras (I've only ever seen that on the Apple website here). The E-PM1's price is, however, pretty close to that of the GF3, so if I do go for an MFT, I will go check out those two cameras at the store to see what the main differences are.