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What kind of camera for $200?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by witchcraftz, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. witchcraftz

    witchcraftz Mu-43 Regular

    39
    Mar 14, 2013
    Vancouver, BC
    A couple of years back I used a Cannon DSLR from a family member for a few days. Since then I've been wanting to get a 4/3 camera. I'm very close to getting one and have been looking at the Sony Nex F3. I have seen a few go around the $350 mark but I haven't managed to bag one.

    So I've been thinking of maybe getting something else meanwhile, something along the lines of a couple years 4/3 old camera.

    Need:
    - Both an easy automatic system when I just want to point and shoot
    - Decent low light pictures
    - Works fine with the original lens
    - $200

    What will I do with it:
    I intend to take shots of collectibles in a white box.
    Moments of nature
    Events
    Pictures of cars

    What would you recommend as a learning camera? :)

    ============================================================================
    Update: out of the options I ended up getting an Olympus E-PM1 kit for $150
    The main reason was the price, other reasons are the camera is small and light, the controls are simpler than some similar competitors and it has very good reviews. A secondary reason is that in the future I may get another Olympus so the learning curve and the lenses would carry over.

    Other options that were considered were the Panasonic GX1(much more expensive), the Nikon 1J1, Panasonic GH3, Sony Nex C3 and the Olympus Epl3.
     
  2. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    $200 is tough, especially with low light requirement.

    If that budget is firm I'd probably buy a used high end point and shoot, like the Canon G10. It has a zoom lens, and is reasonably fast (f/2.8) at the wide end. Lots of manual controls that are conducive to learning.

    There are others that might be preferred, like the Panasonic LX5 or Olympus XZ-1, off the top of my head.

    If you can stretch budget to $300 you can get more creative. Olympus E-PL1 m4/3s camera w/14-42 kit lens can be found on ebay for $215 or so. Won't do low light very well, but good general pupose camera. You could then add a manual focus 50/1.8 lens with adapter for maybe $50 +/-, depending on what lens you choose. There are threads here that discuss that topic in detail. A bit more complicated, but gets you pretty good low light capability without spending a lot.
     
  3. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
  4. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    937
    Feb 22, 2013
    Connecticut
    Maybe the Panasonic DMC-GF3 -- you can get those used with the 14-42 kit lens for around $200 and they've only recently been replaced by the GF5. On the Olympus side you could find an E-PL1 or E-PM1 for around that too.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    The toughest part of your requirements is going to be "decent low-light pictures." Generally speaking, for that you're going to want a lens with a wide aperture (a low f/stop number) which is referred to as a "fast" lens. The starter "kit" zoom lenses are not all that fast. In terms of the rest of your requirements, they can be met by nearly any :43: cameras. Given what you're looking to spend I assume that you're looking to buy used.

    Answers to a couple of questions would help narrow down the options:
    1. How important is size?
    2. Do you want/need a viewfinder, or are you okay using an LCD alone?
    3. Are you comfortable using manual focus (at least occasionally)?
    4. Do you expect to shoot video as well as stills?
     
  6. edwardconde

    edwardconde Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    You could always go with a MF lens like a OM 50mm or Pentax 50 and use an adapter .. Both of those are around the f1.7/1.8 area... fast for low light.. and you can probably find a decent used body here... either a PL1, PL2 and PM1 would be fine...
     
  7. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    If you can muster up an extra $50 - $100, the Panasonic GX1 is an incredible buy now :smile:
     
  8. battleaxe

    battleaxe Mu-43 Top Veteran

    For about $250 you could get the GF3 with 14mm kit lens(I was able to), or maybe even the E-P1(maybe 2)/E-PL2/E-PM1 with either the 14mm or Oly 17mm f2.8 for about $250-300mm.

    As for the nature aspect depending on what you are exactly shooting, you maybe looking at a decent long zoom since many wild animals, don't come that close to people(and some are too dangerous to get close to obviously). But, the trade off here would be less than good low light performance.
     
  9. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    You won't find a better deal than a new GX1 right now
     
  10. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    937
    Feb 22, 2013
    Connecticut
    Good point -- most of my low light shooting has been done with either a Minolta or Canon 50mm f/1.8 manual focus from the 70s. I got my first one at a Goodwill store, it worked out to being free after I sold the rather beat up body it came with cheap on ebay.

    I just got a Canon 50mm f/1.4 which is even better, but those go for 3x what a f/1.8 does on ebay.

    But for someone not looking for a specific lens, visiting garage sales and thrift stores one weekend could turn up something nice.

    An adapater usually runs an extra $15 or $20.


     
  11. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    You could get a G3 body at amazon for $215. The G3 has similar IQ to the GX1 but has the SLR style body. You then will need to pick up a lens. You might try that in the sale section of this forum. For that matter, you could just look for a camera as well.

    Edit. Sorry, thsoe are gone. B&H has the body only for $250. Cameta Camera also has great deals, especially on refurbs.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/768466-REG/Panasonic_DMC_G3KBODY_Lumix_DMC_G3_Camera_Body.html
    Another possibility is the the E-Pm1, which is very cheap right now.
     
  12. zapatista

    zapatista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    668
    Mar 19, 2012
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    Mike
  13. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
  14. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    I think an E-PL1 plus kit lens is a good choice (and the GF3 from Panny but I'm a big fan of in-body stabilizers these days).

    The only thing is: many folks who talk about taking "moments in nature" are looking for longer zoom and you're just not going to get that with the kits.

    On the other hand, the Oly 40-150mm (which I have and love) can be had for under $100 which would be a nice addition for the nature stuff.
     
  15. witchcraftz

    witchcraftz Mu-43 Regular

    39
    Mar 14, 2013
    Vancouver, BC
    Thanks for all the information! Here are answers to some questions asked.

    By nature I'm looking more at taking pictures of scenes.
    The nature part isn't as important to me as the rest, taking pictures of people, cars, festivities and cultural events is more important. :)

    How important is size?
    I want something "pocket" sized, def not DSLR size.

    Do you want/need a viewfinder, or are you okay using an LCD alone?
    I'm okay with just the LCD

    Are you comfortable using manual focus (at least occasionally)?
    I can use manual focus when required

    Do you expect to shoot video as well as stills?
    I'll never use the video so it's not important to me. :)

    So as a low light lens this is what is recommended?
    http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/van/pho/3670448825.html
     
  16. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Given your answers I would lean toward an E-PL1 with a kit 14-42 zoom (or, better but harder to fit under your $200 cap, an E-PM1 + kit zoom). Then I would add a nice, fast legacy prime when you had a few more dollars. That Olympus 50/1.4 would be great, but I'd see if I could find a Konica 40mm/f1.8 to start with for half (or less) than what that Olympus is going for.

    The next lens is look to add would be one of the Panasonic pancakes - either the 14mm/f2.5 or the faster but more expensive 20mm/f1.7.
     
  17. mrjr

    mrjr Mu-43 Top Veteran

    518
    Sep 25, 2012
    ^^ It wouldn't be hard to find an EPM1 kit for under 200. They are $199 refurbished on Cameta, all day long.
     
  18. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    You are correct. I was thinking in terms of buying used and also trying to shoehorn a faster legacy lens into that budget.
     
  19. mrjr

    mrjr Mu-43 Top Veteran

    518
    Sep 25, 2012
    That would definitely be harder. If the OP can stretch his budget a bit, then the Sigmas come into the picture, at least. $200 with a prime is almost impossible without some serious dumb luck.
     
  20. witchcraftz

    witchcraftz Mu-43 Regular

    39
    Mar 14, 2013
    Vancouver, BC
    I was thinking of getting this package, it's little more than I was looking at but seems to fit most of what you guys are suggesting?

    Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 Micro Digital Camera & 14-42mm II Lens (Black) - Factory Demo with 16GB Card + Filter + Case + Tripod + Wide Angle & Telephoto Lenses + Accessory Kit

    I did look for a GX1 but those seem to be going for $250-$300 without a lens, if you find one for $250 with a lens I might get that instead. :)

    In terms of being user friendly to learn, which one is better? E-PM1, GX1, GH3, Nex 3?

    My thoughts are to get something decent to use right now, and in a year upgrade to something like an O-MD E-M5 or X-E1.