Learning curve for mirrorless? Update #3: Hated GF3, bought/loved G5 with 14mm prime

glenn1

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Update #3Was not happy at all with the GF3 body, so I purchased the G5 kit at Costco. I then used the G5 body and mix-and-matched the lenses from both kits for my trip. In practice, that meant the 14mm prime was the choice the vast majority of the time, with the 45-150mm telephoto used for a handful of shots. I really liked the results I got with this combination (some of my favorite shots follow). I'm going to Craigslist the GF3 body and 14-42 kit lens and try to recoup my $250, and I'm going to keep the G5, 14mm prime, 45-150mm telephoto for a projected cost of $589.



Update #2Purchased the Panasonic GF3 with 14mm prime on an Amazon lightning deal for $249. Would the 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 be a good zoom lens to pair with this or should I look elsewhere? Or for that matter, stick with a P&S ultra-zoom for zoom shot? And is there really much of a difference in UV filter vs polarizing filter?

[Update]: Done more research, and came across this deal: Nikon J1 refurb w/ Nikkor 10-30mm for $199 shipped free. Think I may get that along with this 18.5mm f/1.8 for $187 or this 10mm f/2.8 for $249 and call it a day. Any feedback on that vs. my original thought of Panasonic G5? For camera and prime lens I'd be in for ~$400, half of what the Panasonic kit + prime would cost. Trying to figure out if there would be a huge quality gap worth spending the extra money. [/update]

Looking for a new camera and trying to figure out the latest technologies; the last camera I used with any regularity was a Canon S2-IS. I'm obviously an amateur, with a very limited amount of time to spend learning more about photography; I have a toddler at home (and perhaps another child might be on the way shortly), so whatever spare time I do have would be spent playing with her or catching up on sleep. Camera will be used for travel and taking pictures of my daughter so priorities would be roughly equal parts portable size and ability to focus/shoot quickly. Cost and relative simplicity are still factors but secondary, but could well be showstoppers if either was completely off the charts. I'm not going to spend into the four figures and wouldn't carry around a bunch of lenses (maybe one spare in the camera bag would be about it, possibly two if there was a very specific need).

For that reason, I'm wondering if the mirrorless cameras might be a realistic compromise for me. My limited research seems to show the mirrorless is faster than traditional point-n-shoot, but I'm trying to figure out if the PITA factor will outweigh this. Again, I want to keep things simple and doubt I'll use or try to learn the fine points about the tons of features the camera has but I've not used before. Thus I'm trying to decide if getting something like the Canon SX500 is a wasted opportunity or if someone would recommend something else? If mirrorless, specific camera and/or lens recommendations would be appreciated!
 
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ElFenix

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all cameras from major manufacturers are point n' shoot in that they all are capable of focus and exposure decisions (which is all point n' shoot means).

for the most part, if you have a mirrorless, you're going to be leaving 1 lens on it 99% of the time you're at home, so the PITA factor really shouldn't be much more than the SX500 (neither are going to fit in your pants pocket). most mirrorless models are capable of much faster focus and shooting than standard compact cameras (i'm looking at you canon), and due to the larger sensor can result in better image quality than something like the SX500.

the micro 4/3 cameras have the most built up system, most lenses available, and are often rather inexpensive for the body and standard lens.
 

glenn1

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all cameras from major manufacturers are point n' shoot in that they all are capable of focus and exposure decisions (which is all point n' shoot means).

for the most part, if you have a mirrorless, you're going to be leaving 1 lens on it 99% of the time you're at home, so the PITA factor really shouldn't be much more than the SX500 (neither are going to fit in your pants pocket). most mirrorless models are capable of much faster focus and shooting than standard compact cameras (i'm looking at you canon), and due to the larger sensor can result in better image quality than something like the SX500.

the micro 4/3 cameras have the most built up system, most lenses available, and are often rather inexpensive for the body and standard lens.

Can you give examples of the mentioned "micro 4/3 cameras"? For example, this Samsung NX1000 is on sale at Costco, is that a 4/3? How about this Panasonic G5? Or is there another model that's completely superior I should be looking at? I don't even know if the lenses bundled with the Costco cameras are worthwhile or not.
 

ElFenix

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Can you give examples of the mentioned "micro 4/3 cameras"? For example, this Samsung NX1000 is on sale at Costco, is that a 4/3? How about this Panasonic G5? Or is there another model that's completely superior I should be looking at? I don't even know if the lenses bundled with the Costco cameras are worthwhile or not.

micro 4/3 is the system that panasonic and olympus developed for their mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. so far there aren't any other manufacturers that have licensed it for making bodies, but others have licensed it for lenses. panasonic makes the G5, the GH3 for video and pro-level materials/seals, the GF5 for entry level pocketable, and the GX1 for enthusiast pocketable. with olympus you've got the OM-D for high end, the E-PL5 for mid range, and the E-PM2 for the low end (that's not to say IQ is worse).

everyone else has their own proprietary mount. some have mounts based on their old SLR systems (canon, pentax), while some have new mounts with SLR sized sensors (sony nex, samsung nx, fuji), and some have mounts with sensors much smaller than SLRs (nikon, pentax q).

micro 4/3 gets recommended a lot because it has a decent lens selection, 2 body manufacturers making a broad range of bodies, a fairly low price for some of their bodies, and is now several generations in so the autofocus works pretty well and many of the ergonomics have been worked on a few times.


as for the G5 itself, the lenses are a good starting point. you probably won't find that you need any more than that, though if you catch the photography bug you'll want more than that.
 

ElFenix

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apparently the latest 4/3 sensor (should have lower noise) is used in the GH3, E-M5 (aka OM-D), E-PL5 and E-PM2.

also, rumor has it that panasonic will release a successor to the G5 "soon," though the G5 is barely 9 months old. which is responsible for the recent price drop.
 

Throckmorton

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From my research it seems that the M43 sensors haven't advanced at all in the past few years. People say the E-PL1 is better quality than the E-PM2


That's why if I was buying one of these I'd get the E-PL1 with a cheap prime lens... you can spend less than $400 and get awesome quality
 

nOOky

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I think you'd be happy with the Panasonic G5 or the Olympus OM-D, I know nothing of the Samsung you listed. I wanted the Olympus, but the G5 was a price compromise. The G5 fits in my cargo pocket with a 20mm pancake lens, I only have that and the 14-42 kit lens it came with. Not a lot bigger than the SX500, but smaller than a full DSLR.
Image quality is excellent or good enough on most 4/3 cameras, for me it comes down to speed and video, and you have to spend a bit more to get decent speed on a 4/3 camera.
Check out the Sony's also if you haven't already...
 

iGas

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IMHO the most important factor is AF speed/accuracy/shutter lag, comfort/portability, and simple menu. AF speed and accuracy will let you capture the moment instead of missing it. You will carry it with you more often if it is comfortable/portable and simple to use. Pixels volume, sensor, and lens resolving power is not that important unless you regularly prints 8"x10" or larger.

As for learning curve. I do not think there is a learning curve at all between P&S vs. mirror less cameras, and if there is one it is much less than going from 1 version of Windows to the next.
 
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blastingcap

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From my research it seems that the M43 sensors haven't advanced at all in the past few years. People say the E-PL1 is better quality than the E-PM2


That's why if I was buying one of these I'd get the E-PL1 with a cheap prime lens... you can spend less than $400 and get awesome quality

I owned and operated several MFT cameras.

Rule of thumb:

12 megapixels = Ugh. This includes the GH1 which is 12MP. Oly/Pany were stuck on this Panasonic 12MP sensor for a few years, true, but why should you join in them in the stone age? I would avoid any 12MP M43 camera at this point unless you are upgrading from something even worse, like a phone or a non-premium compact camera, and don't have the budget for more. OR if you have a long-term plan where you buy the crappiest acceptable body possible with the idea to buy lenses instead of bodies, because lenses keep their values better and are important no matter which body you have. That's a valid and popular plan, btw, so an E-PL1 + awesome lens is probably a wiser use of money than, say, a G5 with kit lens. Although personally I find the E-PL1 to be juuuust slow enough at autofocus in low light (with no AF assist light!) such that I'd want to avoid it.

16 megapixel Panasonic non-GH, except for G-series after G-3 (e.g., GX1, GF2, GF3, G3) = acceptable, but be careful to get the exposure right, due to the limited dynamic range headroom

G5, GH2 = acceptable

GH3 = this is slightly better than the GH2 and apparently it's the same sensor as in the E-M5; acceptable (see below)

16 megapixel Olympus (e.g., E-M5) = good, should be on par with Canon APS-C DSLRs such as the T3i. Why? Because Canon is still stuck on the same sensor they've had for the last several years, on an outdated process, whereas Olympus has a contract for Sony's latest and greatest sensors. That is not to say that you can't take great photos with Canon APS-C DSLRs, it's just that the quality hasn't really gone anywhere for years--they keep using the same 500nm process and slicing the sensor into more and more megapixels, but that doesn't help because the signal/power wires still take up more space than they should and leave less area for light collection. Compare this to 90 and 180nm with the latest and greatest sensors from other companies... this may be part of why Sony's 180nm sensor in the E-M5 on the micro-four-thirds sized sensor is almost on par with Canon's 500nm process on the much-larger APS-C sized sensor.
 
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trmiv

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Oct 10, 1999
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If you're considering the G5, it's a great camera. I'm a newb to higher end cameras also. I bought the Panasonic G5 a few weeks ago and I love it. Haven't gotten any new lenses for it yet, but it does a great job with the kit lens.
 

MrSquished

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Jan 14, 2013
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I owned and operated several MFT cameras.

Rule of thumb:

12 megapixels = Ugh. This includes the GH1 which is 12MP. Oly/Pany were stuck on this Panasonic 12MP sensor for a few years, true, but why should you join in them in the stone age? I would avoid any 12MP M43 camera at this point unless you are upgrading from something even worse, like a phone or a non-premium compact camera, and don't have the budget for more. OR if you have a long-term plan where you buy the crappiest acceptable body possible with the idea to buy lenses instead of bodies, because lenses keep their values better and are important no matter which body you have. That's a valid and popular plan, btw, so an E-PL1 + awesome lens is probably a wiser use of money than, say, a G5 with kit lens. Although personally I find the E-PL1 to be juuuust slow enough at autofocus in low light (with no AF assist light!) such that I'd want to avoid it.

16 megapixel Panasonic non-GH, except for G-series after G-3 (e.g., GX1, GF2, GF3, G3) = acceptable, but be careful to get the exposure right, due to the limited dynamic range headroom

G5, GH2 = acceptable

GH3 = this is slightly better than the GH2 and apparently it's the same sensor as in the E-M5; acceptable (see below)

16 megapixel Olympus (e.g., E-M5) = good, should be on par with Canon APS-C DSLRs such as the T3i. Why? Because Canon is still stuck on the same sensor they've had for the last several years, on an outdated process, whereas Olympus has a contract for Sony's latest and greatest sensors. That is not to say that you can't take great photos with Canon APS-C DSLRs, it's just that the quality hasn't really gone anywhere for years--they keep using the same 500nm process and slicing the sensor into more and more megapixels, but that doesn't help because the signal/power wires still take up more space than they should and leave less area for light collection. Compare this to 90 and 180nm with the latest and greatest sensors from other companies... this may be part of why Sony's 180nm sensor in the E-M5 on the micro-four-thirds sized sensor is almost on par with Canon's 500nm process on the much-larger APS-C sized sensor.

the E-M5 sensor is indeed excellent, it's also on par or better than cameras like the 60D i think.

2 of the newer smaller Oly Pens use the same 16mp sensor in the OM-D as well im pretty sure.
 

glenn1

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I think I'm going to go with the Panasonic G5; I like the size, features, and the rotating LCD is a big plus as well. The Costco deal includes a 14-42mm Lens and 45-150mm Lens, should I consider buying a prime as well for general family photography? If so, any recommendations?
 

Binky

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The Panasonic 20mm is a very good and very useful lens in many real world (e.g. poor lighting) situations. It's pricey, but you probably wont regret buying it. I've used it on a GF2 and now a GX1, always with very good results. This lens stays on my camera 90% of the time.

I was not a fan of the 14-42mm. I sold that one on ebay for about $80.

Edit: amazon has a kit similar to the costco kit for $543 (w/o bad or SD card i think). This may be a better deal if amazon doesn't tax you.
 
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glenn1

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[Update]: Done more research, and came across this deal: Nikon J1 refurb w/ Nikkor 10-30mm for $199 shipped free. Think I may get that along with this 18.5mm f/1.8 for $187 or this 10mm f/2.8 for $249 and call it a day. Any feedback on that vs. my original thought of Panasonic G5? For camera and prime lens I'd be in for ~$400, half of what the Panasonic kit + prime would cost. Trying to figure out if there would be a huge quality gap worth spending the extra money. [/update]
 
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arrfep

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The 1 system from Nikon gets a lot of flak from measurebators, but IMO I think it's a great step up from a point & shoot. At that price, I might pick one up just for kicks.

The sensor is big enough that you'll see notable improvements in image quality, yet the body and lenses are still small enough that you're really getting one of the advantages of a mirrorless system.

Objectively, the sensors score very similarly, except in low light.

One of the benefits of the Nikon is that it is supposed to have some of the quickest, most accurate autofocus in any camera that size (and many DSLRs), as well as insanely high burst modes. Both of which will be beneficial if your kid is one of your main photo subjects.
 

glenn1

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Would either of the primes have any tremendous advantages over the other? Am I correct in saying the 18.5mm f/1.8 might enjoy slightly better low-light performance, while the 10mm f/2.8 offers a slightly wider view? Anything else?
 

arrfep

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Your thoughts are correct on both of those lenses. IMO, you'd probably be better off with the 18.5. It's a better focal length for kids, plus the wider aperture gives you an extra 1 1/2 stops of light and more ability to blur backgrounds.

Plus, the kit lens gives you 10mm at f3.5 already, so the 10mm prime won't gain you much besides a half-stop of light (and maybe sharpness, or whatever objective qualities that particular prime might have).
 

CuriousMike

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Does that J1 for $200 shipped strike anyone else as an insane deal?

Like, there's seriously no reason I need another camera but holy crap that's a good deal?
 

MrSquished

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Does that J1 for $200 shipped strike anyone else as an insane deal?

Like, there's seriously no reason I need another camera but holy crap that's a good deal?

it does sound like a great deal.

i dont think i could stand the absolute lack of ergonomics and easy access to photo controls. but that's not exactly the target market for the J1. i also could not take the fact the widest FOV right now is equiv to 27mm on FF.

but for a stick in your pocket camera when you dont want to carry anything else, this looks like a very nice deal. maybe even add on an EVF if its small and reasonable enough. EVF is a big deal to some (me included)
 

virtuamike

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Other than DSLR's, I don't have much shooting experience with systems other than the J1. It's extremely responsive in low light, and with something that small I don't worry about sensor size.
 

SickBeast

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I'm happy to consider it. what advantages does the offer over the others? Cost, features, better IQ, more future proof?

It's got a full sized sensor and better image quality. The downside is that it does not have as good lens compatibility.
 

MrSquished

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if, as you say, you are never really going to explore the camera beyond the more instant photo settings, you may want to consider who has the best jpeg engine built in camera since you will not be shooting RAW and getting everything straight out of the camera.

Oly seems to have a very good reputation for Jpeg production in camera. i read about it all the time, and see it in reviews and comparisons, i just will never use it, always shooting RAW.