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Old Jan 9, 2010, 7:22 PM   #1
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Default Need a good light weight travel camera with lens options

Ok, after the recent trip to Capetown, I have decided to get a new travel camera for the wife. The old P&S has seen better days.

I am considering the ep-1 and ep-2 and the GF1. As compactness is a major concern for her, and want the flexibility of lenses like a dslr. Her main shoot style is people, land and seascapes, marco- flowers. And the occasional animal visitor.

What do you think the pros of the 3 different micro 4/3 are. And does anyone have any other suggestion. I looked at the Leica, the M's, but don't think I want to spend 2500 euros for one.

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Old Jan 9, 2010, 8:02 PM   #2
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Shoturtle-

I would favor the Panasonic GF-1.

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Old Jan 9, 2010, 8:25 PM   #3
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Sarah,

Any particular likes about the GF1. Unlike dslr, I can not rent these micro 4/3 and no one I know has them. So I can not do the samething as I did with my t1i purchase with taking them on a drive test.
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Old Jan 9, 2010, 10:06 PM   #4
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well, it kind of comes down to what you want.

the advantage to the ep-1/2 is the image stabilization in-body. that makes even the small pancake lenses stabilized. also, it allows for stabilization of legacy glass, so if you were to get an older manual focus macro lens, or prime lens, it would be stabilized. the other major advantage to the oly's is the better jpeg engine. straight out of camera, the oly's do better, especially color. RAW shooting negates this difference. however, the AF is kind of slow, and there is no flash.

the advantage to the GF-1 is better autofocus, its quite alot better actually, and you do have a pop-up flash if you need it. shooting RAW it may have a slight advantage in resolving power.

other caveats.

the ep-1 has no viewfinder, or even one available, so composition will be LCD.
the ep-2 comes with a great detachable viewfinder, otherwise the 2 cameras are the same, this ups the cost quite a bit, (still well below the leica though). for either you will need to purchase a flash.

the gf-1 does not come with a viewfinder, but you can purchase one, which brings its price inline with ep-2, this viewfinder is not of as good of quality as the oly.
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Old Jan 9, 2010, 10:21 PM   #5
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shoturtle-

You see for me the fast better focus system on the Panasonic GF-1 makes a big difference. The fact that the Lumix 20mm F-1.7 lens does not have IS on the GF-1 does not seem critical. I have the Lumix 20mm lens and it is quite good. For me, at least, the GF-1 seems to offer a better package.

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Old Jan 10, 2010, 1:28 AM   #6
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Hi shoturtle,

I have had not played with my GF1 extensively yet but when making my decision, I considered the following:

Image stabilisation: Olympus is in body, where else Panasonic is in lens. If you have or plan to use legacy or lenses with adapters, the Olympus's in body image stabilisation will benefit you a lot, especially pass a certain range (100mm maybe?). For me, it didn't matter as I have no lenses to begin with and won't be doing any manual focus work. I can also pick my lenses with in lens image stabilisation, and a set of 3 (7-14 wide angle, 20mm pancake, 45-200 zoom) will set me for life.

Add-on option for view finder: EP-2 > GF1 > EP-1 - though you must be mindful also, that EP-2's electronic view finder is big but has the best resolution. GF1 is smaller but is not as high. EP-1 has no electronic view finder. You can however use optical viewfinders in specific focal lengths. Another thing that you might look at is called a Clearviewer, which attaches itself to your hotshoe or tripod socket and sits just above the LCD, allowing you to frame at eye level.

LCD: GF1 > EP-2 > EP-1. If you are going to frame with the LCD, it doesn't hurt to get higher resolution. All 3 inches in size I think.

Auto focus: GF1 > EP-2 > EP-1. The GF1 auto focuses faster. The EP-2/1 are like P&S speed.

AF with 4/3 lenses: Only for the EP-2 and EP-1. If you have 4/3 lenses, you may want to factor this in, as the GF1 won't autofocus 4/3 lenses. For me, it didn't matter as I had nothing to begin with.

AF assist lamp: Only the GF1 has one, and its like infrared version like the Nikon as opposed to the annoying flash bang version of the E-XXX series.

On-board flash: Only the GF1 has one. It will come in handy, though not used often. The whole purpose of a m4/3 camera is portability, so it didn't make sense to me to carry an external flash (another extra item) to put on an EP-2/1 whenever I need one. You may argue that having a fast glass negates the need of a flash, though you never know.

Image quality: Give or take, they are equal if you don't nit pick. They both shoot pictures, they both beat P&S, they can or equal entry level DSLRs. The Olympus have better out of camera JPEGs, but if you tweak the GF1 (use Dynamic instead of Standard) and you can match Olympus's JPEGs. Shoot RAW and this turns into a non-issue.

Ergonomics: This is very personal. I have handled both and I prefer the GF1. The back button layout seems more intuitive and so was the menu. Everything just feels in place. My girlfriend felt the same. And when you have that fast GF1 AF going off quickly (as compared to the EP-2) every time you half press, it inspires confidence. Confidence is something you can't buy.

Lens option: The 20mm/1.7 pancake came with the GF1, so what better way to start out in micro 4/3 to get this awesome lens? Olympus has its 17mm/2.8 pancake too if you want to consider that, but from reviews, it is not as good.

So for me, the 'real' advantages of GF1 vs EP-2 that really plays a role are:

GF1: AF and on-board flash
EP-2: JPEG colours and IBIS

Both advantages of EP-2 can be replicated on the GF1 by shooting RAW and picking your lenses with in-lens stabilisation, but the GF1's advantages can't be replicated on the EP-2, try as you may.

Justin.
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Old Jan 10, 2010, 1:52 AM   #7
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Thanks Justin for the though process you use for your choice. It bring up some good question for my wife and I to answer.

Price the ep2 and gf1 are the same with the ev.

The RAW shooting is not a big deal, we mostly shoot in jpeg. Not big on post production. So the oly jpeg engine is a plus for it.

Again, I have no m4/3 lenses, so either system is on equal ground.

AF goes to the GF

In camera flash is not that much of a deal, as it is pretty much a p&s flash. Not usesful after 5 feet. So I give the GF a slight edge there.

Viewfinder size is a plus for the ep2.

Lenses are interchangeable, so it is a moot point.

That leaves me with 2 big questions.
Which one is better at marco.
The ergo issue I will visit the shop with my wife next week to figure out.
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Old Jan 10, 2010, 2:43 AM   #8
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Hi shoturtle,

You can just shoot RAW, and use the bundled Silkypix converter to convert to JPEG with minimal processing. Either that, or just shoot JPEG in Dynamic mode. I think it is best you take a SD card and shoot pictures of your wife or random objects with the EP-2 and GF1 and compare them at home. That will give you a better comparison.

Viewfinder are accessories, and Panasonic and Olympus may improve on them in the future, so we won't know, so the Panasonic's EVF may improve, and the Olympus EVF may shrink in size.

In terms of macro, I am not sure if both takes a better picture or not. But, Panasonic has a 45mm macro lens for the micro 4/3 - which has gotten good reviews. If you go Olympus, you can get an adapter for the Zuiko 50mm.

Justin.
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Old Jan 10, 2010, 3:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinY View Post
Hi shoturtle,

You can just shoot RAW, and use the bundled Silkypix converter to convert to JPEG with minimal processing. Either that, or just shoot JPEG in Dynamic mode. I think it is best you take a SD card and shoot pictures of your wife or random objects with the EP-2 and GF1 and compare them at home. That will give you a better comparison.

Viewfinder are accessories, and Panasonic and Olympus may improve on them in the future, so we won't know, so the Panasonic's EVF may improve, and the Olympus EVF may shrink in size.

In terms of macro, I am not sure if both takes a better picture or not. But, Panasonic has a 45mm macro lens for the micro 4/3 - which has gotten good reviews. If you go Olympus, you can get an adapter for the Zuiko 50mm.

Justin.

Mac user, I will have to use aperture to convert the shots.
Viewfinder is a right away purchase, prefer shooting with a vf then lcd.

So I still comes back to marco ability question that is up in the air, since the ergo question will be dealt with on monday or tuesday. Planning to bring a sdhc card to the shop with us already.
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Old Jan 10, 2010, 2:23 PM   #10
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Default Micro-Four-Thirds buying decision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shoturtle View Post
Mac user, I will have to use aperture to convert the shots.
Viewfinder is a right away purchase, prefer shooting with a vf then lcd.

So I still comes back to marco ability question that is up in the air, since the ergo question will be dealt with on monday or tuesday. Planning to bring a sdhc card to the shop with us already.
Apple's Aperture does not currently support any of the MFT raw files (afaik -- I'm certain for Panasonic and nearly certain for Olympus). You'll have to use the included software (Silkypix for Panasonic) or one of the several converters widely available (some good ones are free; I use Adobe Lightroom 3.0 which is currently in public beta and available for free until the final version is released).

None of the MFT cameras do anything close to macro (1:1) with any of the kit lenses. One option for close ups is using a good close-up lens. I have used the Canon 500D (52mm screws right on) on the Panasonic 45-200 zoom. One can make good sharp close-ups with this set-up. The Panasonic 45mm macro lens has been very well received. It is not inexpensive.

If you are going to take advantage of the interchangeable lenses, and use anything but the 20mm lens (widely regarded and already a "cult" lens), you might consider either the Panasonic G1 or the Panasonic GH1 bodies. This is doubly true if you are planning to use an add-on viewfinder. The G1 and GH1 have one of the best VFs available built into the body. The bodies are larger, but once you add any lens larger than the 20mm pancake, the bulk comes from the lens, not the body. My sense, given your stated preference for a VF, is that you should settle on a body with one built-in. Not as sexy looking -- but a better design. It works very well.

I didn't see mentioned in this thread the articulating LCD of the G1 and GH1 either. Some don't see the need for this -- others take to it like ducks to water. I suggest trying one out in the store. Certainly for macro, the articulated viewfinder expands one's opportunities. I have found this true for street and candid shooting as well.

There are many sites with specific MFT information and discussions. Look around -- it's a very hot topic in the camera world right now.

I built my system late last year -- I spent more than my budget (by a factor of 4!), and so kept a hard eye on value -- around a G1 body (blue, on discount, I don't have time to learn about video) w. the "much better than the standard" kit zoom lens 14-45. I immediately added the 20mm 1.7 (I was afraid this was going to go in short supply), and later the 45-200. (For 35mm equivalents, multiply by 2, so the long zoom compares to 90-400 in 35mm terms.) My kit is very light, very capable, and very portable. I keep the 20mm on the camera for quick shots, street shots, indoor, and low light. The zoom range goes from an acceptably wide 28 to the useably long 400 (in 35mm terms).

For travel, I would prefer to have the Panasonic 14-140 (28-280 equivalent), as changing lenses while traveling can be a pain, particularly if one's companions are not photographers. The 14-140 is more expensive than the 14-45 and the 45-200 together, and the image quality is slightly lower, though. If you plan on shooting video, by all means get the 14-140 -- some of its engineering triumphs are designed for video recording.

(Fwiw, I carry my entire kit, including batteries, charger, white card, tabletop tripod, etc., in a tidily organized LowePro Slingshot 100, and have room for a lunch.)

Good luck with your decision. Travel well, have fun, shoot lots, post some pictures! It's an astounding time to be using a camera.
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