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Old Nov 5, 2010, 11:34 AM   #1
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Default 4/3 cameras

hi, new here and wanted to ask a question. I have been looking and comparing all of the micro 4/3 cameras. High def video is not important to me, good slr quality photos are. I see some of them come with viewfinders, some do not, also the kit lens don't have much reach. Which would you suggest for around $1000 or less, best one for good quality photos, one with a view finder, and also with a longer zoom lens. Thanks for your comments.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 5:30 PM   #2
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Hi and Welcome to the Forum - As users migrate from one camera type, say P&S to other camera types, there are some changes in the photographic medium that need to be recognized. These are not well understood nor explained very well. Most folks when they are looking at the move, bring their past experience with them, and that is not bad at all. However, in going to a different camera medium there are some basic changes. Image quality can get better (note I wrote "can" and not "will"), as that does take more understanding on the user's part.

Part of this slight change in understanding covers lenses. In the area of P&S cameras, there was always another camera (P&S or Bridge) that had a longer zoom lens, etc. In transitioning to 4:3 or any interchangeable lens camera that changes, and it has a direct effect on image quality. Other than the photographer, the lens has a lot to do with quality since it collects and focuses the light on the sensor.

In the interchangeable world, lens are categorized by focal length or low focal length numbers are wide angle lenses (8 to 18mm) then a wide swath of "normal" lenses, say 20 to 55mm and then levels of telephoto 70 to 150mm and then beyond.

In terms of zoom range it is impossible to build a single lens that goes - say from 8 to 400mm. You have a lot more latitude with the smaller sensors of P&S cameras for wider zoom ranges that you do in the larger sensor sizes. Its just a matter of physics and what engineers can build for a reasonable cost.

So this is a long lead-up to a rule of thumb for interchangeable zoom lenses. About 4x is nominal. Say for instance, a lens of 50-200mm is 4x. Yes, in the higher focal lengths you can do more - 55-300 (5.3x) and the all in one lenses - 18 to 250 (13x) is about as wide a range as you can really get. However, the wider the range the more compromises are needed in the lenses' design. The two extremes of comparison would be the 18-250 zoom and say a prime of 100mm. A picture using a 100mm prime would have a tremendous image quality advantage over an image from a 18-250 at 100mm, even using the exact same body.

Now on the other end - you have wide angle lenses. The zoom range on them tends to be much lower than 4x - mainly 2x. 8-16mm, 10-20mm, 12-24mm are the standard and norm here.

That is why interchangeable lens cameras were created. So that you can use a base camera body and mount lenses on it that can be tailored to what you need.

Quote:
some do not, also the kit lens don't have much reach.
So kit lenses are relatively inexpensive and for the most part they have pretty good image quality. They achieve this be limiting the range of the zoom. Kit lenses go for about $30 to $60 (price of the body and kit lens - price of just the body only). In the world of dSLRs or interchangeable lens cameras you can select your lens or lenses and then fit the body to them, and create your own "kit". However, lenses with wide ranges of focal lengths normally cost more. Kit lenses bundled into a kit package, generally reflect a lower price combination that what is offered as individual items.

Also note that lenses that operate better in low light (fast lenses) or lenses with low f stop values f2.8, f2, f2.8 etc. generally cost more also. Combining a wide focal length range and fast lens just drives the cost even higher - just price a 50-200 f2.8 lens.

However, after saying all of that, since the 4:3 format is smaller than the larger APS-c sensors, it works in your favor in enabling a larger zoom range. On the Panasonic GH1 body you can get a "kit" lens with a 10x zoom factor. There are other bodies - the GH1 is the oldest and thus has had an opportunity to decline in price some. There are other mirror-less 4:3 cameras

So using a Panasonic GH1 body and a 14-140 lens I see it selling for about $999 to $1400
A good overview with a lot of visual comparisons can be found here. However, with mirror-less cameras, the elimination of the mirror eliminates the "cheaper" optical viewfinder capability. Then you can go in to the evil - which is a electronic video viewfinder which is more $$$$.
Photography is nothing but a series of compromises. There is no perfect camera.


Last edited by interested_observer; Nov 5, 2010 at 5:42 PM.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 5:47 PM   #3
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for your budget, and if you want low light ability, olypmus epl-1 with the vf-2 viewfinder. 770 dollars. And you can also get the panny 45-200mm and keep it right around 1000 dollars
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 6:58 PM   #4
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The Olympus E-PL1, equipped a shoturtle suggests above, is a fabulous little package. The VF-2 electronic viewfinder is absolutely necessary when working with the E-PL1 in bright sunlight, but it's really good.

If you prefer your viewfinder to be built in and aren't sure you want to change lenses very often, then the Panasonic GH1 with the 14-140mm kit lens is your other home-run choice. Of course, this lens won't zoom as far as the Panny 45-200mm lens... but you generally have to change it less often in walking around use.

Both cameras are highly recommended. And you can get either, equipped as above, for about $1000.

If you eventually decide you really want a longer telephoto lens, Panasonic's brand-new 100-300mm lens is about to hit the market later this month. But its list price is $599, so that would probably be something you'd save up for and add to your kit later. But it can be used on both the E-PL1 and the GH1.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 7:55 PM   #5
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Thanks to you all for the information and suggestions!!
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 7:58 PM   #6
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Have you had the chance to handle any or the m4/3 cameras?
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 8:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shoturtle View Post
Have you had the chance to handle any or the m4/3 cameras?
Shorturtle brings up a good point. In the last link of my last post was a long visual comparison of 4/3 lenses and bodies. In the cases of the lenses with a wide zoom factor, the lenses tended to be somewhat on the large side, almost overwhelming the body. Going out and handling the body - with some of the lenses that you may be considering is a wonderful idea. A camera that for some reason is not comfortable is not a camera that will get used.

Also, take a SD card with you, so that you can take sample pictures and bring them home with you (the exif data in each image will id the camera and the lens).

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Old Nov 5, 2010, 9:02 PM   #8
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Shoturtle, no I haven't. Will try to locate one and try it out.
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Old Nov 5, 2010, 9:05 PM   #9
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That sounds like a good plan.

The other question is do you take allot of low light shots, like indoor at home or outdoors night shots walking around. If so the epl-1 does shoot better at higher iso then the GH1. The GH2 is the only m4/3 that is better then the epl-1 at high iso. EPL-1 is very good at 1600 and acceptable at 2000. The GH2 looks to be good to 3200. But that is an expensive camera, above your stated budget.
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Last edited by shoturtle; Nov 5, 2010 at 9:37 PM.
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