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Old 11-29-2012, 09:02 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 11,333
Default Help me pick a camera please...

I've been playing around with a Panasonic superzoom for the past few years and am looking to upgrade. I want to learn a bit more about photography, but not quite sure if I want to start running around with an SLR, but I've been looking at both SLRs and mirrorless. I don't think I want to get another superzoom.

Looking to spend no more than $600. After spending a bunch of time at dpreview, I'm so far choosing between these:

Panasonic DMC-GF5K
Panasonic DMC-GX1K
Nikon D3200
Sony SLT-A37M

I'm not too interested in video, but it's nice to have. I kind of figure that, since I'm just beginning, I can't really go terribly wrong so long as I get something that's well reviewed. Thoughts?

edit: Random sampling of pics I tend to take: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/os4qta87ze14o1m/IG2tks_kDu

edit2: Ordered the SLT-A37M with the 18-55mm kit lens. Will be here on Tuesday. From what I read, the 18-55mm should be decent for general purpose. What else should I be saving my money for? Purchased "Understanding Exposure" and waiting.
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Last edited by Spoooon; 12-01-2012 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 11-30-2012, 06:30 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 500

I was on the fence about whether I should get a mirrorless or a DSLR as my first "serious" camera but I decided I didn't want to make the big jump from a P&S to a DSLR, so I got a used NEX-5 for cheap. Here's what I've learned:

1) I got used to my NEX-5 MUCH quicker than I expected (I was fluent with the Menu system within a few weeks of using the camera).
2) Although the compact size is nice, I am finding less and less reasons why I needed the small size to begin with. Plus, equipping a large lens quickly negates the smaller size of the body.
3) Mirrorless camera's generally lack the big benefits of a DSLR (i.e. autofocus speed, large selection of lenses, larger battery, etc) due to design trade-offs in getting everything packed into the smaller body.
4) I am taking photography way more seriously than I originally thought I would.

Moral of the story? I probably should have bought a DSLR to begin with.

As for you, I am not sure how committed you want to be when you make this step up but if you really want to get into photography and learn the in's and out's, I suggest getting a DSLR. If you just want better image quality while maintaining the P&S feel, stick with a mirrorless.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:44 PM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 606

I'm a big fan of Thom Hogan's blog, he had this to say the other day.

"What's your goal here? Are you buying a camera just to buy a new camera, or do you have a particular need in mind that should drive the decision?"

"You really need to start your shopping with a tally list of needs and wants and priorities before you start looking at what's available and what price it is."

You need to decide what your wanting out of a camera before we could recommend any of those choices. They are all able to shoot in Full manual mode, about the only thing you really need to get started with learning the basics of photography.

May I also recommend Bryan Patterson's book "Understanding Exposure". Really helps to understand how ISO, Aperture, and Shutter speed all go together.
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:22 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 32

I would say get a used body and lens....you can find deals on canon t2i rebel series...
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:45 PM   #5
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Posts: 672

If you're actually into getting artful photos, instead of snapshots (this is a huge distinction), then the SLR is the way to go.

If you're looking for high quality family photos, etc, then the size of the camera may really matter. A lot of people are intimidated by an SLR when it is pointed at them, so people tend to leave their SLR at home for family events, unless they're really serious about photography.

So.... I vote for an SLR *UNLESS* it is going to diminish your experience as the person behind the camera.

I'm also a huge advocate of picking up a less expensive camera body (say a D3100, used) and then getting a really decent lens in addition to the kit setup... I would suggest the 35mm f/1.8 lens for around $200, as this will let you get into REAL photography (control of DoF, low-light, etc), in a way that you can't with any cheap kit lens, or mirrorless micro setup (no matter the lens).
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:50 PM   #6
Join Date: Mar 2000
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I think I'm leaning more towards SLR. Bought the book recommended by twistedlogic and going to do some reading and playing with my current camera.
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