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Old Oct 2, 2012, 9:51 PM   #1
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Default Looking ... Here we go again

I've started looking again to replace or supplement my Canon S90 and/or Panasonic FZ35 (you will notice I surface from time to time with similar questions :-) ). And I'm driving myself a little crazy with all of the options. I have learned a little, but still consider myself a very novice photographer. I would like to move up to something a little better, especially for lower light, but I'm not sure what makes sense.

I would go for a DSLR, but as most of my photos are taken while traveling or walking about, I think something smaller probably makes sense. The only thing is that I might eventually also like to get involved in a casual photography group that goes on local day trips to take photos and I suspect everyone will be using a DSLR. Anyway, that aside, I have been looking at the Sony NEX systems (the 5N is at a very tempting price at the moment and Sony has some very fun features I really like -- I know some people have issues with these cameras, however), the Panasonic GX1 and G5 or 3 (I really want a view finder, so I would be buying an add-on if it didn't come built in) and the Canon G1X (the issue here is I feel I would need more zoom from time to time and since it's a fixed lens, I would have to get something else like a travel zoom to go with it. Also the OVF is pretty lame). I'm sure others here will have some additional suggestions.

I know this is a bit all over the place, so let me try to give some parameters.

Here are some criteria:

(1) A good/flexible all-around camera (for every day events) that is relatively compact and light for traveling.

(2) Has excellent image quality generally and the ability to take good quality images in low and difficult lighting situations (small jazz clubs, night shots, etc.). In terms of image quality, I think I would like to print and frame some of my vacation pics, if they are good enough. Probably nothing huge, but I would love to know what size I could reasonably expect to be able to print in good quality from most of these cameras.

(3) Price is a consideration as always, but I wouldn't want to restrict myself if a couple hundred dollars more would really make the difference. I guess I would set a budget of about $1000. Less is better, but if unrealistic, I could consider a little more -- or perhaps, assuming I get an interchangeable lens camera, I could slowly add better quality lenses.

(4) Good to continue to learn with (probably all of them would be fine for this).

(5) Fun to shoot with!

I am preliminarily thinking maybe I would get a NEX or micro 4/3 camera, keep my S90 as a good pocket camera and perhaps sell the FZ35 and buy a decent zoom lens. I could be convinced to keep the FZ35 and/or sell the s90 also if that made sense.

Except for the fact that current prices on some of the cameras are very good at the moment due to the introduction of new models, I am not in a big hurry to make a purchase as I do have two decent cameras to use.

I would really appreciate any thoughts you good folks have on the subject.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 4:52 AM   #2
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Hi Jazzer251- first off let me say that many people in photography groups don't have DSLR's- many having basic point and shoots,bridge camera's etc- in fact I recently stumbled across one such group on Bangor pier and I'd say 90% of them had bridges..!!

Many of the dilemmas you face in your camera search are matters only you can answer.
If you go with a DSLR- will its size/weight mean it frequently stays at home in favour of a lighter,smaller member of your camera's family? Will the need to carry extra lenses be a burden- not just to the wallet..?
Mirrorless camera's are lighter and smaller- but not to such a degree that they don't often face the same problems for some users.
Maybe consider a reasonably inexpensive DSLR and kit lens to begin with and see how you go with it- you still have a decent zoom in the shape of the "FZ" and a pretty decent pocket cam' also.
Something to consider as an "all in one" convenience tool might be Panasonic's FZ200- with it's fast f/2.8 stabilised 25-600mm lens, it might be all you need...
If you don't plan to go beyond kit lens territory with a DSLR- maybe Sony's RX100 might be an option- it's large sensor and f/1.8-4.9 lens making it a decent low light performer- and certainly pocketable..!
If I was looking to purchase a starter DSLR without too much financial commitment,I'd give the Sony A37 serious consideration- it offers a very good spec' for the price- and I suspect more than most would ever need. It's fast,has good IQ,very competent video...etc...
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 11:52 AM   #3
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Many thanks for your reply, Simon.

Of course you are right. Many of these issues are ones that only I can resolve. Other perspectives are, however, always very helpful.

My biggest concern about a DSLR is that I wouldn't want to take it with me on vacation. Would I feel the same about a micro 4/3 or other interchangeable lens camera? I'm not sure. I do know that since I have owned the S90 and FZ35, the former has seen considerably more use even though the FZ35 is pretty small and light. However, I believe part of the reason for that, in addition to size and convenience, is that I generally prefer the Canon color over the Panasonic and also a fair number of my pictures are lower light and/or indoor without flash.

My ultimate goal at the moment, I think, is to get better performance in terms of low light images and dynamic range while still retaining as much convenience as possible in terms of size and weight. Perhaps I just need to use a tripod more so I can take longer exposures and keep ISO down and also start using exposure bracketing and HDR software!

It is great to have so many choices, but it certainly adds to the confusion.
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 6:06 PM   #4
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Aah... but would you want to carry the tripod around...?
Some camera's (including compacts) have a HDR facility on board- firing off several quick shots of different exposures of a given scene- quick enough to sometimes not need a tripod- and combining them to give an image with much greater dynamic range. Many Sony camera's have had this facility for some time- other manufacturers are catching on....
If you're targeting low light work- it's certainly attainable well within your budget- and in a variety of sizes from a DSLR down to the great little Sony RX100.
If you want to incorporate a lengthy zoom into the equation,this is where it gets complicated... or maybe have two compacts... one for general outdoor use/zoom (Canon SX240/260,Panasonic TZ25/30,Sony HX20/30v etc...) and one specifically for the low light work....(RX100,Canon S100/110,Fuji's X-10 etc...)
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 6:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SIMON40 View Post
If you want to incorporate a lengthy zoom into the equation,this is where it gets complicated... or maybe have two compacts... one for general outdoor use/zoom (Canon SX240/260,Panasonic TZ25/30,Sony HX20/30v etc...) and one specifically for the low light work....(RX100,Canon S100/110,Fuji's X-10 etc...)
The two compact concept has some real temptations. It's so convenient and much less expensive than buying a bunch of different lenses. Wouldn't there be a rather large trade-off in terms of IQ and dynamic range? The S90 is the largest sensor camera that I have owned and certainly I have seen some great photos out of small sensor cameras and awful photos out of DSLRs, but on the whole when I look at Flickr, etc., the images posted from larger sensor cameras seem to have a richness (for lack of a better adjective) that most of the smaller sensor cameras lack -- and usually the better images I have seen from small sensor cameras tend to have had a fair amount of PP work done to them.
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Old Oct 4, 2012, 5:19 AM   #6
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Indeed there are trade offs by remaining "bijou"- I guess the question is do the minuses outweigh the pluses ??
Yes,larger sensor camera's offer potentially better IQ- though of course,the said photographers competence plays the largest part of all- and quite often a decent "point and shoot" will yield better results for a novice as they're designed with them in mind.. with on board software and trickery delivering what the camera perceives as the best possible result.
One person here on the Steve's pages said- "the best camera is the one you have with you...." and frankly there is no truer saying..!
Getting back to cam's- maybe Panny's GF3 with its collapsible lens is a decent compromise between IQ and size- though is is any better than the smaller still Sony RX100... I think not- though at least you can add a telephoto lens to the GF3...!
What you'll be doing with your images should be the most significant factor- if you don't plan on printing beyond A4 or thereabouts, I'm not sure the benefits of the larger sensor outweigh the minuses- if you plan on making BIG prints,maybe they do...
Here's an earlier post of mine which may have some interest to you regarding image size and high iso noise....
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/ge...necessity.html
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Old Oct 12, 2012, 3:13 AM   #7
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I 'm just dreaming when the pocket camera come the same quality with DSLR... so I can bring to vacation without worry to break or loss it...

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Old Oct 22, 2012, 2:36 PM   #8
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After looking around a bit and giving some further consideration, my current leaning is to give some interchangeable lens system a try, as I've only had fixed lens cameras with smaller sensors to date.

I think I really want an EVF. Except on something really small, like my S90, I find it a little awkward without a viewfinder and the ability to use a viewfinder in bright light I don't think can be overstated.

The short list at the moment is a Sony Nex 5N (well priced at the moment) and adding an EVF (not sure how I feel about an add on vs built in), Sony Nex 6 (assuming favorable reviews), Panasonic G3 or G5. I do wonder, though if I were to go to one of the Panasonics, if I wouldn't just be better off trying a small DSLR at that point.

One other thought is that as this is a bit of an experiment, I would like to keep the cost reasonable so that should it not work for me and/or I want to try some other system or camera I could sell and not lose a huge amount of money on the deal (given the price range I'm looking in, I assume that won't be too much of an issue).

I have the benefit of time, so my thought process continues to evolve.

Any further thoughts appreciated.

Last edited by Jazzer251; Oct 22, 2012 at 2:43 PM.
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Old Oct 22, 2012, 4:38 PM   #9
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I'd agree- a viewfinder is a massive boon to the overall photo taking process- not least from a visibility perspective (against screen in bright light...), but also it's much steadier holding a camera up to the eye- resulting in less potential for camera shake. It's also much easier to track a moving subject in this manner.
My Olympus XZ-1 looks at me every day and says to me "go on... you know you want one..."

With regards compact interchangeable lens systems- I'm still not convinced of their merits- no doubt others will disagree... which is fine....
Compact camera's are about being "compact"- and with the lenses commonly attached to EVIL's- they're anything but compact- running the risk of being left at home,in favour for the more convenient member of your camera family- thus negating any advantages the may (and indeed do) have.

So- the EVIL plays a different game to the true "compact" genre- so how does it match up as an alternative against a DSLR...?
Well, they don't handle as well (laughable with a big zoom lens attached..!),they have less buttons/dials on board- forcing you to delve into the menu's all too often (yes,you just missed the shot...) and a true optical viewfinder is far superior for tracking and burst shooting.
So- I don't think it plays the DSLR game too well either...!!

As for the G3 or the G5- I personally see them as another DSLR option, albeit a bit smaller- and has its own merits in its own right as a DSLR- it may or may not suit your needs much like any other system- but certainly an option if you're seeking out an entry level DSLR.

With regards re-sale value- DSLR's hold up pretty well- and with a good advert (plenty of quality pics),original bill of sale and existing warranty,original box and all accessories- you might find you can get a good chunk of your original investment back.

If I wanted pocketable quality- it would be the RX100
If I wanted a pocketable box of tricks- Panasonic TZ30 with the usual compromises.
If I wanted a DSLR to travel light with, I guess the A37 or the G3/5 might be worth looking into- as they have quite a spec' sheet at the price- though any entry level DSLR is worth consideration provided I wasn't going beyond the kit lens.
If I wanted some zoom AND to travel light with decent IQ- the FZ-200 makes sense.
But hey- that's just me...
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Old Oct 22, 2012, 7:53 PM   #10
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I have a feeling that I am on a slippery slope of acquiring a varied camera collection .

Do you not consider the G3/G5 to be EVILs? It sounded like you were putting them in a DSLR-like category.

I am probably always going to want a pocketable camera to supplement whatever else I am using. Right now my Canon S90 is serving that role and while the RX100 is undoubtedly a fairly decent step up, it seemed to me that perhaps it made more sense to look at the area I don't currently have covered -- hence the look at interchangeable lens cameras.

I would like the best quality images I can get (within reason) in terms of dynamic range and low light ability while keeping things still reasonably compact. I don't see myself traveling with a huge DSLR and pounds of lenses, but a very small DSLR or similar with a couple or so smaller/lighter lenses might be OK IF that is the trade off necessary for the image results I want. Now, it may be that I am deluding myself into believing that I need a larger sensor camera with interchangeable lenses for this purpose and perhaps I would be better off with a small assortment of fixed lens "point and shoots" (for lack of a better term) and that is where I should be looking.

I have gotten some great pictures (as well as some pretty bad ones ) with my FZ35 and S90, but when the conditions got less than ideal, they/I struggled. I am certainly willing to make some trade offs for convenience, but I'm not sure where the line is yet. Maybe simply upgrading the FZ35 to an FZ200 and the S90 to an RX100 would do the trick, although it seemed that maybe something like a G3/G5 would give me more flexibility?
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