A question for the Photographers
Display Avatars Sort By:
nick beaudoin
(nick_beaudoin) - MLife

Locale: Palmy
A question for the Photographers on 10/02/2011 02:12:28 MDT Print View

Well I am in the market for a new camera and to be honest I can not make up my mind!

I am currently using my canon G9 and although it has been very good to me I feel that it is lacking in picture quality and movie quality. It is also big and heavy!
I was originally looking at moving up to a M43 system. I analysed all the brands and makes looking at all the features, censors, lenses available and accessories.

My short list included the GF3 with new X lens coming in october, the compact size and decent video being big pluses. I was also seriously considering the NEX 5N, but the large lenses and lack of E mount lenses turn me off of what looks like great image quality from the large censor.

So I sit on the fence between the bigger size and higher prices of the M43 cameras and higher end compacts.

The Olympus XZ-1 looks very nice, fast lens, HD video, bigger censor and decent weight. On the other hand their is the Canon S100, which I am not all that fussed about, smaller size being the only plus.

So...... Would there be a significant gain in image and video quality moving up to a new enthusiast compact or do you really need to move up to the M43's?

This will be my hiking camera so size and weight are of equal concern as image and video quality. This is what I keep going back and forth on.

If you guys could help me decide on a camera or system, it would be very helpful.
Thanks,
Nick

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
A question for the Photographers on 10/02/2011 05:17:52 MDT Print View

You seem to be all over the place with cameras. Your camera, like any tool, needs to fit the job.

Think about what kind of pics you want to take and how much effort you want to put into them. Then put a price (budget) on it. Remember the whole reason for an slr-like camera is to changes lenses for different creative affect and good lenses are more expensive than cameras. If you can't afford lenses (and all the other accessories) then no point to an slr-like camera. That will narrow the field and make your choice easy.

That said, if you think your G9 is too big/heavy I don't see anything that will satisfy other than the S100/95. If you put more emphasis on cost/performance instead of size/weight you would hard pressed to do better than the Nikon D5100 in still image/video quality or utility.

Edited by rmjapan on 10/02/2011 05:22:15 MDT.

nick beaudoin
(nick_beaudoin) - MLife

Locale: Palmy
Narrowed down on 10/02/2011 05:46:45 MDT Print View

Here we go,

No DSLR's.

I do put effort in to my photography, hence the manual controls of the G9 and the list of cameras mentioned in the earlier post.

This is my hiking/travel camera. It must be smaller and lighter but without sacrificing image quality or control over those images.

I look at for instance the GF3 with new X Vario 14-42mm is roughly the same size as the Olympus XZ-1 but wonder if the extra cost is worth it? IE: is the larger sensor and the option for other lenses outweigh the simplicity of the do it all zoom, but having the same quality. Do you get what I am saying?

Lets say my budget is up the $800/$900 .

Thanks,
Nick

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
choices on 10/02/2011 07:11:34 MDT Print View

Do you print and if so do you print large than 8x10 or A4?

If you don't print large and/or just view pics on a monitor then pretty much any of the compact travel zooms with a 24mm-300mm equivalent lens from Pany, Fuji, Nikon or Canon is more than good enough. Nothing will be lighter or more compact. Having lens with a large focal range is more important than the sensor size, especially if all you are shooting on a trail is scenery and macros.

Only accessory you will need is a small tripod/gorillapod so you can shoot longer exposures to stay ~base ISO100. I like the Fuji 550/600 EXR series. Shoots RAW too just in case you blow the exposure.

Edited by rmjapan on 10/02/2011 19:01:04 MDT.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Narrowed down on 10/02/2011 08:01:07 MDT Print View

I own a lot of compact cameras, along with two m4/3 systems and several larger DSLR systems. The m4/3 is my go-to travel and hiking camera. If I had to choose only one current camera for the rest of my life, it would be my GF1 and the 20mm f/1.7 lens.

I think you'll see a significant difference in image quality between the m4/3 and any of the compact p+s cameras. Even if you aren't printing large, you'll get more control over depth of field, better tonal transitions, and better high-ISO performance from the larger sensor. That said, if it were me I would get the original 14-45 Panasonic zoom, rather than the X lens or the newer 14-42 kit lens. (But I am shooting all stills, no video, which might make a difference.)

Good luck.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
narrowed down on 10/02/2011 11:25:02 MDT Print View

I use a Canon s95 with a Jackar adapter and Coolpix wide and tele converters which now sell for next to nothing. But the new Canon s100 is potentially a big improvement over the s95 with a significantly wider lens and more tele and a new sensor.It also has GPS. If I was buying today it would be a top choice IF the sensor proves worthy. The initial tests look good, but are on a pre-production camera.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: A question for the Photographers on 10/02/2011 12:01:07 MDT Print View

Hi Nick,

Reading between the lines it sounds like video quality has an important role on your list. If so you'll be best served going 4/3 with one of the new X lenses and an EVF. Being able to shoot video with an EVF makes a big difference, not to mention it helps composing and shooting stills in daylight. Naturally, the larger format gives more artistic control over the video, as you can get fast lenses and commensurate shallow depths of field.

The GF3 doesn't take an EVF. All the latest Oly bodies do. The other Panny option would be the G3, which has a built-in EVF and a higher resolution chip. I like to take a long view and getting into a system camera makes more sense than a high-end compact when considering incremental upgrades over time. Another consideration is external mic capability, as sound is a critical component of good video.

The XZ-1 will take either of Oly's EVFs and the LX5 takes Panny's EVF, but that one is pretty poor. If you stay with a compact, I recommend getting one that takes an EVF.

Happy shopping,

Rick

Mark Primack
(Bufa) - MLife

Locale: Cape Cod and Northern Newfoundland
Best camera system for hiking on 10/02/2011 12:33:51 MDT Print View

I sold my DSLR system on Thurs. and purchased a m4/3 system today. The new Pana X lenses created the tipping point for my decision. My main body was a Canon 50D and L and high-end EF-S lenses. I got a Rebel and the light 18-55 and 55-200 for hiking, but soon found it too heavy. I then got an S90, which I love. But I soon found that images from the S90 while fine for posting on the web and for small snapshots, didn't hold up to printing much larger than 8x10, couldn't make a 8x10 if cropped, and were unusable for publication. While compact cameras do amazing things, their sensor is just too small. The S90 and its successors, the LX-5, Oly XZ, etc. are significantly better than most p&s cameras, but the sensor is just too small for serious photographer use. The m4/3 sensor is more than four times larger and it shows, just as a full-frame sensor shows more detail, dynamic range, and exposure latitude than any, even the best, APS-C sensor.

I think you have found your way to what my obsessive mind has identified too as the ultimate hiker's camera: the GF3 with the new X lenses. This is the smallest and lightest kit that will still provide really high quality images. The image quality and focusing speed of the newest generation of m4/3s cameras has come very near to that of the entry and enthusiast DSLR. The other really light competent combo is the new Oly PM1 with the incredibly light 14-42 and 40-150. In fact this Oly combo weighs even less then the comparable Panas at significantly less cost. On the other hand, the X lenses, which haven't been reviewed anywhere yet, claim higher image quality than the standard kit wide and tele zooms to go along with their reduced weight and size.

Rebel 600D + 18-55 + 55-200 = 40 oz.
S100=7oz.
Oly XY= 10oz
GF3 + 14-42X + 45-175X = 20 oz.
PM1 + 14-42 + 40-150 = 19oz.

So by going m4/3 rather than DSLR, you cut your weight in half.

So by going m4/3 rather than top compact p&S, you gain weight but also gain much longer reach and much higher image quality and much much greater versatility.

So if, like me, you want to make serious images, m4/3 seems to strike the right balance.

Mark Primack
(Bufa) - MLife

Locale: Cape Cod and Northern Newfoundland
EVFs on 10/02/2011 12:41:12 MDT Print View

Rick posted while I was preparing my response. Personally, because I shoot wildlife(with camera!) I find an EVF essential. For two and a half ounces more than the GF3, I have gotten myself a G3, which has the built in EVF. I believe that all three of the current Oly offerings--P3, PL3, and PM1 can take their optional EVF, which is a nice compromise. If you decide that you need an EVF, the GF cannot take an EVF.

I had also planned on going Oly, which has significantly lighter lenses currently available than Panasonic, but, as mentioned, the new X lenses sent me to Pana.

Edited by Bufa on 10/02/2011 12:42:33 MDT.

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re: A question for the Photographers on 10/02/2011 13:31:25 MDT Print View

Hi Nick,

There is a similar discussion on the Bushwalk Australia forum, http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=7743 This discussion started when a photographer friend of mine sent me a link to this review of the Pentax Q camera. http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2011/09/27/the-pentax-q-digital-camera-review-a-pocket-full-of-pixels/ The Pentax Q appears to be the smallest lightest interchangable lense digital camera around at the moment, and I know the sensor is small.

I would be intersted to get some views on this camera from some photography experts on BPL.

Tony

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
tiny cameras on 10/02/2011 17:39:05 MDT Print View

Tony, I have played with Pentax Q several times in stores since its release and I agree 100% with review link you posted. It is a cool camera with better IQ than you would think from such a small sensor with several advanced photographer-centric features. However, I find the control dial buttons a little small for me to use comfortably, especially if I am wearing even a thin glove.

Moreover for me, its price is just way too much just to have something small/lightweight for hiking that is not even weather/shock resistant. Keep in mind I can get m4/3 cameras here in Tokyo relatively cheaper than anywhere else but even here they cost when fully tricked out as much as the top-rated pro-body Pentax K5!

Anyway, I also feel the same re: price about all these m4/3 (E-P3 is my fav) and NEX cameras when for the same or less I can get a Nikon D5100 w/35mm f1.8 lens that will ABSOLUTELY DESTROY (especially during the "golden hours" of early morning/late afternoon) all these m4/3 cameras in terms of IQ, and especially if I am lucky to capture a truely majestic pic on the trail that I want a poster-sized print of. Plus it's articulating LCD let's me have so much more flexibity in choosing my perspective and composing my pics. Plus as limited as its viewfinder is, it is still far better than any of the EVFs out now.

Bottom line for me is performance for my investment, especially since the weight differential is not that great. I can easily carry 500ml less water or 500g less gear from my kit for my typical 3-4 day trips. God knows I could afford to skip a meal or two as well!

Finally, I think if one complains about the size/weight of the camera, then it is obvious photography is secondary to everything else one doing a hike for. Hence my recommendation for a travel zoom compact. Afterall, Ansel Adams didn't seem to mind lugging his view cameras all through the mountains!

Edited by rmjapan on 10/03/2011 03:49:59 MDT.

nick beaudoin
(nick_beaudoin) - MLife

Locale: Palmy
Good insight, new question on 10/02/2011 18:15:08 MDT Print View

Firstly, thanks everyone for your first hand experiences and thoughts on the subject. I think that was what I was expecting to hear from the majority on the responses.

I do not ever print larger then 8x10. But I felt that even without doing so there would be quite a noticeable difference between the quality of M43's and the high end compacts. Like all my gear I like to have the best of what is available to me and my budget.

@ Rick I just looked at the Fuji, but it really did no look all the better then other compacts. Although the full HD is a plus. And to some extent photography is second, because size and weight are major concerns( this is backpacking light after all) I am no Ansel Adams either.

@Ken Your rig seems to very popular set up. I do wonder if it is worth waiting until december/january for panasonic to "hopefully" release the GF7/GX1, which if sized right would be the camera of choice.

@John The adapter set up on the S series seems like a bit of an after thought, I have the same types of options with the G9 but decide it was not worth the hassle.

@Rick D & Mark I know what your saying about the EVF. It was an obsessing point. I think I could live without, rather then having to deal with a clip on one. Ideally the NEX 7 style EVF would be perfect (size and positioning) unlike Nikon's awful attempt on the V1.

As for the the G3 I thought to myself that (why not step up to this camera) but in the end it was size that killed it. I know I would take less pictures with a larger camera. It would not come with me as much and would probably stay in the bag for all those impromptu shots.

As for the Oly PM1 set up, the cost is nice and it's basically the same camera as the EP3. But I do shoot a lot of video on trips, so I lean towards the Panny. I guess the PM1 with the X lens would be small, decent set up? ( I keep going back the X because of it pancake size. The other zooms just seem huge now).

@ Tony I never really consired the Q. I'll have a look at the other thread.


So, I think that the gist of the thread would be M43's over high end compact. Do you guys think that it would be worth waiting for the GF7/GX1 or do you fall into this cycle of always waiting for the next latest and greatest?

Here is another question then: If you had one M43's body and 2 lenses to choose what would they be? Giving yourself a $1000 budget. *Keep in mind video is as important as stills*

Thanks heaps,
Nick

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Good insight, new question on 10/02/2011 18:47:11 MDT Print View

"Here is another question then: If you had one M43's body and 2 lenses to choose what would they be? Giving yourself a $1000 budget. *Keep in mind video is as important as stills*"

Hi Nick,

E-PL3, Lumix GX Vario 14-42 and MZuiko 45/1.8. Add either the VF-2 or VF-3. (You're skilled at finding deals, yes? :-) Down the road you can fill the long tele and ultra wide-angle holes in the system.

Oly's ace in the hole is IBIS, which in the long haul is a big advantage.

Cheers,

Rick

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
wait on 10/02/2011 18:51:50 MDT Print View

Over your budget though I think if video is that important you should pre-order the new Nikon V1 w/10-100mm PD zoom. Everything I have seen indicates IQ will be equal to current m4/3 stills and video along with AF will be far superior. The important video feature I think is MIA is an articulating screen.

Frankly, it is really impossible to find ONE CAMERA to do it all well. Moreso when you start putting size/weight limitations for hiking, IQ and usabilty suffer. The newest Panny GF3/Oly EPL3 offerings feel kinda crappy in hand IMO while the Oly E-P3 has ergonomics mostly right. Not sure what I feel with the NEX. If photography and hiking were THE most important activities in my life, I'd be bouncing down the trail with a Leica M9 with SUMMARIT-M F2.5/50mm.

Edited by rmjapan on 10/02/2011 20:05:52 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: A question for the Photographers on 10/02/2011 18:52:06 MDT Print View

Have you looked at the Canon G11/G12?
IQ has been significantly improved with the new sensor. Instead of ever-more pixels they went for less-noise.
But the very fine user interface remains.
Yes, I have one.

Cheers

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Epm on 10/02/2011 19:38:01 MDT Print View

I just picked up an epm1. The big reason for me is depth of field control. The premium compacts just don,t have the ability to get backgrond blur. To do this you need more than just the kit lenes though. My final kit will likely end up being the 14 or 12, the 20 and the oly 45.

If you are just going to use the kit lenes i think you are better served with an xz1. As the faster lens on the XZ makes up for the 2 stop advantage the larger chip has.

I dont do much video though so that might change my opinion but i just dont see myself getting the relatively slow x lenses over primes of similar sizes

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
DoF control useful? on 10/02/2011 20:35:44 MDT Print View

For me DoF control to blur background and isolate subjects is not important for typical trail uses where landscape scenery and macro are my primary shots which usually require more DoF, not less. Also important to remember DoF can also be "controlled" with lens focal length and distance to subject as well. I do value long exposures to get "creamy" running water shots and to shoot scenery with a compact at base ISO, so a small tripod is always a must carry. I also value having a remote shutter release to get selfpics and sharp macro shots.

Anyway, for my needs I am happy carrying either my 5mp cell phone camera, Nikon D90 w/35mm f1.8, or my ageing Canon SX1 superzoom depending on my mood and what I expect to see on the hike.

Edited by rmjapan on 10/02/2011 20:37:19 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: DoF control useful? on 10/02/2011 20:52:49 MDT Print View

I think that the typical backpacker is taking mostly scenery shots, either trailside scenery or far-off panoramics. Depending on your mood, depth of field control may not be important to that typical backpacker. So, typical compact cameras work.

Some of us are a little more specialized. I do shoot scenery on occasions, but I go after wildlife much more. Wildlife nearly always necessitates a long lens, and the long lens will normally have a limited depth of field, even without trying to open up the aperture. The only way that I can get smooth bokeh is by leaving lots of distance behind the subject to the background. Opening up the aperture is OK if I am thinking about it and have the time to set it, but wildlife shooting tends to be so quick that I just set for P mode and fire. I go for months at a time with my camera stuck on P mode.

--B.G.--

nick beaudoin
(nick_beaudoin) - MLife

Locale: Palmy
D of F on 10/02/2011 20:57:32 MDT Print View

I'll be mostly taking scenery shots and video. I do however like to have good D of F for the flora shots.
nick

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: D of F on 10/02/2011 21:00:52 MDT Print View

Nick, are you getting down low to the ground and then shooting horizontally at a flower?

Too many lazy photographers just stand over the top of a flower and shoot down onto it.

--B.G.--