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camera upgrade questions
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Sherry Thoeny
(thoeny) - F

Locale: Arkansas
camera upgrade questions on 10/06/2013 14:52:02 MDT Print View

We are considering getting a camera for our daughter. She is going to help pay for it. She is ready to move from basic point and shoot. She is 14 and responsible enough to care for a nice camera. I am not sure if we should go with the micro four thirds or a dslr. What is the main differences between the two other than size and weight? The only thing we know for sure is it needs a viewfinder. That does not narrow it down a whole lot I know. She wants to learn to use manual settings, and if we are going to spend a lot on a camera I want it to last her a while. I do not want her to outgrow it within a short time.

Currently she really likes taking photos of small things like frogs, bugs, etc. She keeps trying to get good shots of her yorkie, and nature scenes when she goes for walks. I am beginning to research and learn more about features and functions of cameras, but it can be overwhelming since I know so little. Therefore I appreciate any feedback I can get to help me narrow my focus. What are the top features and functions that matter? What are the ones that really don't make a real difference? Any brands or models to stay away from?

I would like to find a used model so I can get more bang for my buck. Any you would recommend that is good value for their price.

Thank you for any feedback. This is a pretty big decision, and we want to get the most out of our money.

I know this is sort of OT as she may or may not take it when we backpack, but I have gotten so much good information from this site it feels like asking friends for advice.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Camera Ideas on 10/06/2013 15:17:00 MDT Print View

I'm not an expert but a while back I was researching a new camera and I talked to people way smarter then me. A camera enthusiast I know strongly suggested I try the Olympus E-PL3 as an upgrade to my backpacking camera. I ended up buying a different camera but it might be a good choice for her. Its cheaper then some other options which might be nice.


Edited by Cameron on 10/06/2013 18:41:35 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: camera upgrade questions on 10/06/2013 15:38:27 MDT Print View

If I were getting a camera for a 14-year-old relative of mine, I think I know what I would get. A youth typically does not have large hands, so I would get a camera other than a full-size DSLR. There are some fairly compact DSLR cameras with interchangeable lenses that would be good. If it is used, then the camera body cost may be less than the cost of a good zoom lens. Many cameras offer lots of manual adjustability, but some force the user to go through menu screens on the rear display to make those adjustments. Other cameras allow the user to change things with rear dials and buttons, which I feel are quicker. That allows the user to manually change things easier, and that allows them to practice and learn easier.

I think each of us has opinions about the best camera brand. Purchase maybe one of the top four brands, and it won't be a complete mess.

Before providing that camera to the new photographer, make sure that you have a copy of the factory's user manual. Also, a general photography tutorial manual might help.


Daniel Collins
(Diablo-V) - M

Locale: Orlando FL
Lumix G2 on 10/07/2013 08:09:48 MDT Print View

I have a slightly used Lumix G2 that I would consider selling with or without a basic lens. It was going to be my hiking camera but I am moving to a single lens solution also from Panasonic. The camera will come with a great aftermarket book full of tutorials just on this model to supplement the manual.

Any Canon Rebel "T" series is also a good starter camera for DSLR. I have a T1i I will be selling as well, body only. This is of course heavier and bulkier than the Lumix with little increase in picture quality.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: camera upgrade questions on 10/07/2013 22:07:34 MDT Print View

What is the main differences between the two other than size and weight?

Since this is BPL, I'm guessing that most here would prefer a micro four thirds camera because of the size and weight advantage. Having tried both, I still like a DSLR because I much prefer through-the-lens viewing to an electronic viewfinder. Also, I like to have as many controls as possible on the outside of the camera without having to go into the menus. If you want to go new, the Canon SL1 looks pretty good to me. If she just wants to do stills, check out the older Canon XS which is just slightly larger and heavier. It can be found used at a very good price.

Daniel Collins
(Diablo-V) - M

Locale: Orlando FL
main difference on 10/08/2013 09:28:46 MDT Print View

The Micro 4/3rds cameras all have smaller sensors than the larger DSLR cameras.
You can still get pretty good results but the larger sensors of the DSLRs produce higher detailed, and generally higher quality images. Per the previous poster the lack of a prism and mirror (which is what reduced the size and weight) also gives a poorer viewfinder image. Most serious photo shooters prefer an ELV (eye level viewfinder) rather than the screen, which can be harder to see outdoors. The viewfinder image in a DSLR is really what's in front of the lens since it is an analog image produced by a mirror and prizm, whereas the image in a M 4/3rds system viewfinder is really what's in front of the lens but has been digitized and is displayed on a tiny screen in the "eyepiece". Also, not all of the Micro 4/3rds system cameras have eyepieces (Eye level viewfinders) and in fact the majority of them don't, instead relying on the larger screen on the rear of the camera body to compose shots.

Richard May

Locale: Swamplands.
Re: camera upgrade questions on 10/08/2013 09:47:50 MDT Print View

I like Bob Gross' response.

The big difference between SLR's and Micro 4/3 are:

SLR: You actually see through the lens.
M4/3: You will be looking at a screen, either on the back of the camera or through an eyepiece.

In this respect SLR's are generally considered superior as they don't suffer from things like slow refresh rates in low light or pixelated images. The clear viewing experience really makes a usability difference IMHO. This does make the camera heavier though.

SLR: larger sensor
M4/3: smaller sensor.

This affects depth of field. The larger the sensor the shallower it will be (a good thing). It will also affect image quality, especially in low light. However, larger sensor cameras can be exponentially more expensive. It's a balancing act and your budget is an important consideration.

I'd let her do some research too. It's an important part of the learning experience. I'm sure she'll need to compromise which is a good lesson in itself.

Good luck!

Jacob Linton
(gardenhead) - F

Locale: Western NC
Olympus refurb on 10/08/2013 10:24:48 MDT Print View

I recently posted an ad for something fairly similar and got lots of great feedback.

I ended up going with a refurbished Olympus XZ-1. I thought really hard about the E-PL1, but ended up going with the smaller XZ-1 for size/portability. I couldn't be happier with the camera so far and don't regret buying refurbished at all.

Olympus refurbs:

Sherry Thoeny
(thoeny) - F

Locale: Arkansas
Re: camera upgrade questions on 10/09/2013 06:53:51 MDT Print View

I appreciate your help and advice. I will have more questions soon, but am dealing with my dog right now. He was hit by a car and had surgery to amputate his left rear leg. He comes home today.

I have not abandoned this thread, but just have been busy with Jack.

Sherry Thoeny
(thoeny) - F

Locale: Arkansas
nikon 1 j1 on 10/13/2013 10:24:13 MDT Print View

Thanks for all of your help. You have given me a lot to consider.

I found a Nikon 1 J1 on sale for 219.00 new. It does not look to me like it is a great camera. But for the price it may be a nice place to start. Any opinions on this system?

Also it looks as if when we move away from point and shoot we need a specific lens for macro subjects. Am I understanding that correctly?

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: nikon 1 j1 on 10/21/2013 14:32:05 MDT Print View

The Nikon 1 series is a good upgrade to a point and shoot. That's a great price if it comes with the kit zoom lens, and this is a fine system for a 14 year old.

A Micro 4/3 system is also a decent choice. The Panasonic G5 is widely available with a kit zoom for under $400, and it's a fine camera with a wide variety of good lens choices from Panasonic, Olympus, and others. We have a fairly complete m4/3 system at our house (4 or 5 cameras, maybe ten lenses or so.) It's my wife's primary system, and it was my personal/travel system until recently. I like the G-series from Panasonic for the built-in electronic viewfinder (the kind where you hold the camera up to your eye, not out at arms' length.) The kit 14-42 zoom is fine to start, and later you could add the 45-200 zoom for not much money. If she really starts to push into serious photography, I'd get her the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 prime lens and have her use that exclusively for a while -- it provides a level of control over various photographic parameters that will help her learn and hone her technique.

Macro: A lot of zoom lenses offer a "macro mode" which allows them to focus on a close subject. However, if you want to truly get closeup photos, a specific macro lens is required. Not sure what the Nikon 1 system offers for that. The Micro 4/3 system has two macro lenses, one expensive and one even more expensive. The Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro is $500, and it's excellent -- my wife has one and uses it all the time.

The key to all of this is to find a good teacher and have her out shooting as much as her interest allows.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: camera upgrade questions on 10/31/2013 08:39:59 MDT Print View

Small DSLR: Olympus E410 - bargain prices and a good bit of kit. Lenses at reasonable prices too.