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Old Sep 10, 2012, 3:27 AM   #1
sym
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Default Mirrorless vs Normal Compact

I've never owned anything but normal cheap compacts, but now inspired by my girlfriend, It's time to get my first "better" camera for everyday normal photographing.

I'm having hard time choosing between a good "normal" compact camera or a mirror-less 'micro-dslr' with interchangeable-lens.

The main thing I want from the camera is that it fits my jacket's pocket so the normal size dslrs are a no-go.

Budget would be around $500.
From mirrorless ones I've been looking at Nikon 1 J/V1 and Sony NEX series.
Both seem quite interesting. Then again, to fit those in the pocket it would require to have a 10mm (Nikon) or 16mm (Sony) lens, which you won't get any zoom with so obliviously that's a pro for compacts.
Nikon's 60 fps burst speed is tempting and it has some other nice features, such as 1200fps slow-motion video and time-lapse, too to play with.

Could someone help me out here a bit?
What would be good compacts with that kind of price-tag?
What are the pros and cons of mirrorless systems vs normal compacts?
What would you recommend for a beginner who want's to learn a lot more about photographing?
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Old Sep 10, 2012, 4:19 AM   #2
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In the mirrorless's favour is image quality,with the larger sensor offering lower image noise across the iso range,wider dynamic range and more control over depth of field.
Of course,much of the mirrorless's versatility is dependant on the lens attached- and as you've already suggested- hardly remains "pocketable" with anything other than their respective pancake lens fitted.
All is not lost,however,in the IQ stakes for the compact brigade,with ever improving IQ from certain models.
Canon's S100 compact is probably the best compromise out there- with very good IQ from it's small sensor,a good range of features and full manual control if desired- and will certainly fit in your pocket. It's layout is also less intimidating than many- looking pretty muck like any basic "point and shoot"- ideal for a beginner looking to grow with the camera,utilising more of it's manual features as he/she becomes more familiar with the ins and out's of photography.
Other "high end" compacts include Canon's G11/G12 and the large sensor G1-X- all versatile compact (ish) camera's with the larger G1-X offering DSLR like image quality- albeit with less bijou proportions. Nikon's similar P7100 (sharing the same sensor as the G12) is also a feature laden "chunky" compact.
Others to consider are the "fast lens" brigade, offering improved low light ability...
Samsung's EX1(EX2 due out),Panasonic's ever popular LX-5(the LX-7 now out),Olympus's XZ-1,Fuji's X10... and the already mentioned the Canon S100 fits in with these guy's also,due to it's fast f/2.0 lens.
http://www.steves-digicams.com/camer...00-review.html

Last edited by SIMON40; Sep 10, 2012 at 4:23 AM.
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Old Sep 11, 2012, 12:21 AM   #3
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Thanks for your informative post!
I'm getting more and more attracted to the NEX series.
After looking at this, it's quite clear what's the difference.

The different versions of NEX are confusing though. Theres NEX-3, NEX-F3, NEX-C3, NEX-F3K, NEX-F3D, NEX-C3D, NEX-C3K, NEX-C3A, NEX-5, NEX-5N, NEX-5NK, NEX-5ND etc...
Some of those are 14.2Megapixels and some are 16.1 / 16.2. Could someone clear out what the exact differences are and which would be best to get?
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Old Sep 11, 2012, 3:36 AM   #4
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The F/C/K etc... is basically the name of the kit... dependant on which lens is supplied.
The NEX-3 was the first NEX,with 14 mp and the NEX-C3 was a more compact version.
The NEX-5 is the later 14mp version of the NEX-3 and the NEX-5N being the upgraded 16mp version- which by all accounts had better IQ than the 14mp variant- though the NEX-3 was still very good. The NEX-7 is the current "daddy" in the line up with it's very high resolution 24mp sensor.
Here's a view of the series- just click on the respective NEX pic...
http://www.sony-mea.com/productcategory/nex-camera
The NEX-7 has the resolution/size of image advantage over the 5N,plus the built in flash and more direct control with extra dials and a viewfinder etc.... but you do pay quite a premium for it,and in my humble opinion,is no better in the IQ stakes than the excellent 5N.
If you'd be shooting often in lower light- the NEX series (with the appropriate lens attached) would be a decent option,provided you don't want to slip it into a small pocket...
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Old Sep 11, 2012, 5:14 AM   #5
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Sony's site is missing the NEX-F3
Looks like it's the only NEX with inbuilt flash.

I decided to make a comparison table out of them and this is how it looks so far:
Ignore the Saa suomesta-row


Going to test Nikon 1 J1 and NEX-F3 today and see how they feel.

Thanks

Edit: Updated the pic

Last edited by sym; Sep 11, 2012 at 5:31 AM.
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Old Sep 11, 2012, 5:43 AM   #6
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An important thing to remember when looking at Sony's NEX series is that, while th ecameras themselves are quite small and light, the lenses for them are relatively large and heavy. So if ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by sym View Post
The main thing I want from the camera is that it fits my jacket's pocket ...
... you may want to look elsewhere.

Also, one of the problems with the NEX series is that it has a (relatively) large sensor and a short flange focal distance. This makes the lenses bend light more in order to project an image over the entire sensor. This results in greater chromatic aberration and greater field curvature (softer corners). In their effort to counter these problems, they've made the lenses more expensive, and they've still only met with limited success.

That is not to say that the NEX cameras are bad. But you may be happier with something else, for a number of reasons.
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Old Sep 11, 2012, 6:13 AM   #7
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I'm okay with using the pancake lens when I have to fit it to pocket.

I'd love to see dimensions or pics of J1 and the NEXes with pancake lenses attached to compare the physical sizes. Anyone got any idea where to find those?
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