Buying My First Compact Camera System - HELP!

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Meg4ChristAlone, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. Meg4ChristAlone

    Meg4ChristAlone New to SC

    3
    Mar 30, 2013
    Illinois
    Megan E.
    Hi guys, first of all I wanted to say that I am new to this forum, and this is my first post, so, bear with me! Second of all, I am going to buy my first compact interchangeable-lens camera. I've never even owned a DSLR, but for my price range (I'm only 17, so my budget is tight), I'm wanting to buy a used compact camera system. The three that I am deciding between are the Olympus Pen E-PM1, Panasonic GF3, or Sony Nex 3. I need someone's opinion who owns one of these and can testify as to how much they like it / don't like it. I do know that the Nex 3 has a larger sensor (APS-C) while the other two have a micro-four thirds sensor. Would that really make a difference? Thanks for your help. I appreciate it so very much!
     
  2. cherrywood

    cherrywood SC Regular

    71
    Aug 15, 2011
    ohio
    Megan, first of, all Welcome to the forum. You will find it a very friendly place. Like your user Id, Amen sister. Do not own any of the cams listed but, I am sure someone will chime in soon.

    If you can give us some more info about what you like to shoot, i.e., landscapes, people , action/sports, street shooting etc this will help with other photogs responses you may receive.

    All the best
    Dennis
     
  3. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    Welcome aboard!

    Each system has a it's quirks and peccadillos, but overall they are all quite good. For general purposes, you can't go wrong with any of 'em.
     
  4. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    In that generation of cameras, the Sony did have a sensor with notable advantages in noise and dynamic range. With the most current generation of Sony NEX and Micro 4/3 sensors, not so much.
     
  5. Meg4ChristAlone

    Meg4ChristAlone New to SC

    3
    Mar 30, 2013
    Illinois
    Megan E.
    cherrywood - Thank you SO much! I am interested in shooting people as well as landscapes, maybe an animal or two here and there.
    yeats - Thanks for the help! All the cameras I am looking into seem fantastic, but that is the problem... I don't know which one.
    Luckypenguin - So, the NEX is not really all that better than the Micro 4/3 cameras (such as Panasonic GF3 and Olympus E-PM1)?

    Thanks again, everyone!
     
  6. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    Welcome to SC, Megan!
    Another question to consider is how important size is to you. Since you're on a tight budget, I'm guessing you're looking for a camera body + kit lens combination? (the kit lens is the "standard" lens that the camera is sold with, it's usually a not-too-expensive, versatile zoom lens). The Panasonic and Olympus kit lenses are smaller than the Sony's.

    Oh, and another thing: the Panasonic is the only one among these 3 with a built-in flash. Lots of enthusiasts look down on built-in flash and prefer to add a more powerful and versatile flash on the hot shoe, but I always find it very useful to at least have the option of built-in flash, particularly if it's a camera you plan to bring with you often, not just on dedicated photo outings.
     
  7. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Lots of thoughtful replies on here, I guess I'd add this as someone who's been doing this awhile and spent way too much money, lol.

    So: are you sure you want to buy into a "system camera" right now? If you do that, and start getting lenses for it, and then find you don't want that system you've already got a lot tied up in a system.

    Even though I want quality photography, I've found I can be very happy carrying around a little Panasonic DMC-LX7. It has a great lens (occasional flare issues aside), and tons of manual controls for those times you want to do something special. A number of us are shooting it on this board to great effect in a wide variety of subject matter. If you click my blog below you'll find a review of it down my blog (not the top entry) one step. Quite frankly I'm amazed at this camera. It can be had with patient shopping for less then $300 USD brand new.

    If you are dead set on getting an interchangeable lens system camera, that's fine. But do keep in mind that changing to a different system later if you find out the system you purchase doesn't suit you is painful sometimes both financially and time-wise. I've done this in the past, lol. I myself will be sticking with micro four thirds but then I've got now a large investment in micro four thirds after changing over form Nikon DSLR's.

    Don't sell the better "enthusiast compacts" short. Here's a set of photos of many different types of photography that I did with the LX7. Flickr: Search Entropic Remnants' photostream

    Some of those photos get their impact from post processing as well -- but the point is that the camera can get you images that can be processed into something serious.

    Best of luck whatever you decide. Personally, when it comes to compact systems I'd stick with micro four thirds as I think the lens choices are better and you can always buy an upgrade body later for any lenses you get now. But that was my choice and others have made different choices and made fantastic photos -- which is really the point after all, lol.
     
  8. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    No, the E-PM1 and GF3 still use an earlier generation sensor. It's still a decent sensor but is not at the same technical level as the one in the NEX 3. The E-PM2 does use the most current 16mp sensor and doesn't differ greatly in measurable performance from the latest equivalent NEX models.
     
  9. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Hi Megan. Welcome to the forum.

    I have owned and used all three cameras. Like Nic/Luckypenguin wrote, the NEX3 has a significant sensor advantage over the EPM1 and GF3. It is specially superior in terms of noise performance at higher ISO and dynamic range. The auto focus is slightly faster and more sure footed on the EPM1 and GF3. The GF3 has a built-in flash, while the NEX3 and EPM1 do not. You can attach an electronic viewfinder on the EPM1, but not on the NEX3 and GF3.
     
  10. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Hi Megan,
    Welcome to the group. All 3 that you are comparing are great choices. You're getting plenty of great advice here. If your head starts to swim from so much information, just buy the one that you think looks the best. If you like they way it looks and want to carry it everywhere, you'll shoot more and that is the best way to get better at photography.....carry it all the time and shoot, share and ask for critiques.
     
  11. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
    Find a store and handle all of them. Then decide. How it feels in your hand is a lot more important than the minor differences in performance.
     
  12. EasyEd

    EasyEd SC Regular

    143
    Dec 22, 2010
    Hey All,

    Megan Olli is exactly right. Given the level that you are at - I would recommend - handle them and pick the one that speaks to you - makes you want to take pictures. You will likely change what you use - this is just the start of a lifetime of enjoyment.

    -Ed-
     
  13. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
  14. Ripleysbaby

    Ripleysbaby supernatural anesthetist

    Sep 9, 2011
    Cumbria UK
    Garry
    Hi Megan. I would strongly recommend a model with a built in viewfinder . The Panasonic G3 would be a great camera to get you started. Or if you could live with the smaller sensor, the Nikon v1. Both systems have good standard and wide prime lenses.
     
  15. Meg4ChristAlone

    Meg4ChristAlone New to SC

    3
    Mar 30, 2013
    Illinois
    Megan E.
    I decided to buy the Olympus Pen E-PM1. Thanks for all the help, everyone! : )
     
  16. Fiddler

    Fiddler SC Veteran

    241
    Dec 5, 2010
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Colin
    Welcome to the forum Megan, and have a great time with your new camera!

    Colin
     
  17. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Enjoy the E-PM1, Megan! It's a great camera. I suggest picking up a Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 on Ebay where they run ~$170 and consider also the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 which you can get for $100 if you look around. Two great and affordable lenses.
     
  18. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    You could do a lot worse than the E-PM1! Have fun and we're looking forward to your pictures!
     
  19. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    I had a lot of fun with my E-PM1. I hope that you like it too.