I need serious help choosing a camera...

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by mistyprochaska, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. mistyprochaska

    mistyprochaska SC Rookie

    Feb 2, 2014
    I have been mirrorless shopping since 2011 and not finding what I need. I am a hobbyist mom with a camera, shooting my kids, and my main camera is a 5D Mark iii. I usually use the 35L lens but have a few others. With the addition of my third baby, I started very seriously wanting a smaller camera. I don't plan to get rid of my 5D at this point. Here is my history:

    I owned a Panasonic G3 for a long time, with the 20mm 1.7. Sold it, because I just never loved it. Hated the colors even shooting RAW, felt like I was always accidentally changing settings, just never reached for the camera over just using my iPhone. Thought I would sell it and get something that would make me happier (ha ha ha!).

    Rented the Fuji x100s, and loved it except the AF is not fast enough to keep up with my kids given the amount if money I would be investing in it.

    Rented the Fuji Xe2, but rented it two weeks after having a baby and didn't give it much of a chance before ruling it out. I rented it with the 35mm lens, which I now understand is very slow AF wise.

    Rented an EP5, the menus were nightmarish and I realized I probably might rather have a EVF.

    I bought and returned an SL1, because I found the grip painful to hold.

    My husband bought an RX100 II. After several months, we both agreed it just didn't work for us at all. I really felt that camera needed a touch screen. It didn't work at all for shooting our kids. It was a camera my husband really wanted and then never used much.

    I am now renting this GX7. I love the popup flash being able to bounce. I think the EVF is nice and works well. The AF is pretty good, and I like the results it has produced photo wise. But I think the grip is uncomfortable/awkward, it is giving me flashbacks of my G3 where the size of the focus point seems to change randomly, sometimes I can move the focus point while looking at the EVF, sometimes not- I know I need more time with the camera to figure out settings, but it does almost seem like the sheer number of things that can be customized are working against me rather than for me right now. I just don't love the camera for how much money I would invest in it as a second camera. If the camera has an EVF, I think I would rather toggle using the keypad vs. moving the point on the touchscreen. If I am composing via the screen, I think touchscreen focus is great.

    Another weird little part of this is that my girls, ages 5 and 4, like to use a smaller camera.

    That leaves me considering the Samsung NX300- it is inexpensive, I love the colors it produces and the photos in general from what I have seen, I like the price, and from playing with it at Best Buy my kids love using it (although they would like a viewfinder more, so it is like what they see me doing). I would get the 30mm pancake with it. Of course for my purposes, I worry the AF won't be fast enough. But maybe that doesn't matter since it is not my main camera. And the Samsung is so inexpensive I could get it for now and see what else comes out in a year or so.

    I also can't let go of the idea of Fuji, which I would probably get the Xe2 and the 27mm also due to prices (especially right now). I like the way Fuji operates as a company, I like the manual controls. I wish there was a touchscreen, and I still worry about the AF.

    Finally, I wonder if I should consider the EM10 or even the EM5, with the new Olympus 25mm lens. I think I could get past my frustration with the menus after some time with it. I know the AF would be fast enough. I am not sure if the grip would be more comfortable than the GX7 for me or not.

    I don't want to rent any more cameras, I don't want to buy and return any cameras. I don't want to read camera forums, or shop for cameras. I just want to get back to taking photos. I would love any insight anyone has at this point (other than I have become rather "gear obsessed" and have OCD- I know these things :)). I am going to post in another forum too for additional responses. Thank you for any help you can provide!
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  2. Hyubie

    Hyubie SC Veteran

    Jun 8, 2011
    Did you by any chance enable the SCP (super control panel, i think) menu in the E-P5? If you got a chance to play with Fuji's Q menu, the SCP is very similar to that.

    I haven't had a chance to play with as many cameras as you did, and of course each kid is different, but I find the E-PL3 + X100s sufficient for my needs. I have been using the Pen from E-PL1 up to E-PL3 for some time now. My kids are now 8 and 7 plus recently a 1 -yr old. :smile: The older ones grew up basically with me having a Pen and the Panasonic 20mm - not exactly a speed monster combo. Initially I also thought that not having an EVF would be a big no-no, but the Pen's swivelling screen has done more wonders to my composition. Thinking of upgrading to the E-P5, but only when funds have become available - I don't feel an urgent need for it.

    Agree on the G3 - skin tones and WB were harder to work with even when shooting in RAW, so I have stayed away from Panasonic since then, although the GX7 really is tempting.

    Again my opinion is of course biased based on my experience, but I thought I'd put in my 0.02, seeing as we basically use our cameras for the same purpose.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    Let me begin by saying my own preferences lean toward Olympus. The EM10 will be a lovely flexible camera for you to use, but it's not the smallest. The menus become fine as long as listen to Hyubie and activate the Super Control Panel. If you are particular about grips, then this all becomes harder since that's a very personal preference. The EM10 and M5 don't have much of a grip but you can add non-battery non-OEM grips.
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  4. Fiddler

    Fiddler SC Veteran

    Dec 5, 2010
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Real Name:
    If fast moving kids are your main subjects I would have a look at the Nikon 1 cameras. AF is blisteringly fast in most conditions, and some of them have an EVF. They do have a smaller sensor though, so you need to see if the IQ and low light performance meet your needs. IIRC correctly, the sensor is the same size as theRX100 II.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    What do you mostly take pictures of?

    What do you plan to do with the pictures?

    Cheers, Jock
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  6. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    - If AF speed is a concern then the Samsung 30mm is not the lens you are looking for.

    - For the more complex workings of a camera, Olympus menus require a little learning by the photographer to use the menu/sub-menu structure quickly. Otherwise just go straight to "A" and scroll down in one long list until you find what you want just like any other camera.

    - On your GX7 it sounds like you have enabled the function that allows you to move the focus point by touching the rear screen while you eye is to the EVF. This is an infinitely quicker means of selecting a focus point while looking through the viewfinder than using a joystick or four-way controller but is prone to accidental use.

    - Neither the E-M5 or E-M10 have substantial or what I would describe as especially comfortable grips.

    - I'm not sure what lens you are using with the GX7 (20mm?), but with the majority of Micro Four Thirds lenses (not including the 20mm, I'm afraid) the AF of the GX7 isn't just pretty good but rather just about as good as it currently gets.

    I think that ultimately, your goal of wanting a mirrorless camera as a second, easy-to-use camera doesn't really gel well with the fact the class of mirrorless cameras you are looking at are some of the most advanced, feature-rich, customisable, etc cameras currently available. Think of them as the smartphones of cameras.
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  7. mistyprochaska

    mistyprochaska SC Rookie

    Feb 2, 2014
    Yes, there is something to this. Although it isn't exactly that I need the camera to be "easy to use". And I end up looking at the most advanced cameras because it is hard for me to compromise on anything after shooting with a full frame camera with very easy to access controls for a few years. And I shoot mostly my kids these days, and I am so guilty of zooming in to see eyelashes, making sure perfect focus was achieved. I have the money to spend, but the money sort of becomes an issue in the sense that I won't spend $1k plus on the GX7 when I don't really enjoy using it and the ergonomics are not correct. I get to the Samsung because it has a larger sensor, feels comfortable in my hands, my kids loved using it, and it would be significantly less expensive- so I would feel ok about the drawbacks of no viewfinder and slower AF. Well, maybe I would anyway. Ha!

    I was using the Pany 25mm 1.4 on the GX7.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. mistyprochaska

    mistyprochaska SC Rookie

    Feb 2, 2014
    I take photos of my kids primarily (5, 4, and 4 months). I share them online, post them on my blog, print them weekly as 4X6's for a scrapbook, and then print some for hanging in our home.
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  9. mistyprochaska

    mistyprochaska SC Rookie

    Feb 2, 2014
    I think I can possibly handle the EM5, and maybe even the EM10, locally. I may try to do that. I was really hoping that with the rental of the GX7 this would all be over! And I wish my conscience would allow me to try by buying and returning, but I just feel terrible doing that.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Real Name:
    Remember, all cameras are compromises. You probably won't love everything about any camera you try. That said, it's going to be difficult to beat the autofocus speed of the latest micro four-thirds cameras. I suspect you may find the GX7 more tolerable if you turn off the focus point option on the rear touchscreen. And the E-M10 may be delightful if you activate the Super Control panel. One other suggestion: The Ricoh GR. It doesn't have an EVF but it does have the White Magic rear LCD technology that makes it usable in daylight. It has the same 16mp ASP-C sensor that's in many Pentax DSLRs (and DSLRs of other brands). Yes, it's a 28mm fixed focal-length lens. But the crop mode can give you a 35mm and 47mm equivalent almost instantly. Autofocus is quite good in good light and decent but not blazing in low light. But the snap-focus option may mean you won't require autofocus at all. And the GR is the best camera I have ever handled for one-handed (as in right hand) operation.
  11. rparmar

    rparmar SC Regular

    Jul 12, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    The external EVF is the best in class and gives you 90 degree tilt. I love that.

    Not sure why the menus are a nightmare. Very easy to use, IMO. And you have your choice of three (!) different ways of accessing controls. Something for everyone, I would have thought.
  12. Ripleysbaby

    Ripleysbaby supernatural anesthetist

    Sep 9, 2011
    Cumbria UK
    Real Name:
    Sounds like a job for a nikon V1 or 2.
    Hi there btw. :)
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  13. Garylh

    Garylh SC Veteran

    The gx7 and the em5 are pretty close to the same af speed. Not sure which is faster. The pany 20, if it is the first gen is one of the slower lenses in terms of af speed.. I have been told the new 20 is faster.. I general, I find the newer lenses tend to perform faster on the em5 and the gx7 then my first gen pany 14 and 20 did. The 12-50 that came w/ my em5 is almost twice as fast as my old pany 20, but I just like that lens and will continue to use it. I really don't need the af speed for the things I shoot. I am not sure why but the first gen pany 14-45 is actually a bit faster to me then the pany 20.

    I have never played w/ a Nikon 1, but they say it is as fast in terms of af focus as a normal Nikon dslr.

    The first gen lenses from Fuji (18/35/60) have been the slower lenses, but the 27 is not that fast.. The 18-55 kit is faster and more quiet. I have heard that the 23 if pretty fast. The xt1 is suppose to be the fastest body so far followed by the xe2 and x100s.

    Good luck
  14. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Real Name:
    I've been gobsmacked by how fast it (Nikon 1, generally) focuses, *especially* with the two prime lenses I have. The zooms are not slouches by any means, but the primes really are very speedy.
  15. Garylh

    Garylh SC Veteran

    Gx7.. I am looking at mine now

    In terms of af touch.. This can be disabled if u don't really want to use the LCD for composing cycle the display button until display is either totally off or it shows an info screen. The info screen is actually a touch menu. This is what I default to. Third row from the top, third icon from left is the one that controls what type of af sensor arrangement to use..

    LCD composing, half press of the shutter button should cause the default af behavior to kick in unless someone from a prior rental left a weird setting.

    From first blush, I find the gx7 easier to operate then the em5. The em5 has a much better ibis (2 axis vs 5 for em5). I like the electronic shutter on the gx7.. It is so quiet, even beats my x100 leaf shutter. I reprogrammed the wifi button for turning on/off the electronic shutter for those times I don't want the jello effect :p

    In terms of colors, I like Fuji and sigma foveon colors the best.

    • Like Like x 1
  16. stovi

    stovi SC Rookie

    Jan 28, 2014
    I've just got the EM10. Based on reading your experiences I'd say maybe try one of them but definitely with the grip. It's a fairly small camera so for you I'd go with the grip.

    I haven't had a problem with the menu system personally. The thing which makes it ok for me is that if you keep scrolling down through them it just jumps to the next section. So after going through them a few times and just playing with each option, I was fairly comfortable with how it works.

    Once I changed the front wheel to do aperture in a mode, speed in shutter mode, and set the fn2 button to something useful like manual focus, I find the camera works great. Face recognition can be very handy too.

    Fuji hasn't worked for me to date. I have fast moving kids like you. I found my x100 slow and fiddly. I know it's got better since then but it put me off. Works for other people ofcourse, that's just my personal feelings. So I won't be going back that way anytime soon.

    I'm after the 17mm rather than 25mm as I already have the 45mm for portraits and would like the standard 35mm equiv.
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  17. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    If you like Fuji: Perhaps try the Fuji X-T1 with 23mm and the 56mm? I haven't tried it with young energetic kids yet but it focuses fast. Tracking seems to be impressive too. And it's so easy to use. Except for 4way directional controls that require some practice). It lacks a touch screen but I don't miss it. The tilt screen is very useful.
    Good luck with choosing The One.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. norman shearer

    norman shearer SC Veteran

    If money is no object then the newly announced Nikon 1 V3 may be ideal. Available with an optional EVF and a grip with more buttons it could be a flexible solution that is unbeatable in some respects. Bear in mind it will quite possibly plummit in price like the V1 before it. Great for fast action and very portable. Some lovely lenses available also. Biggest question marks for you I guess are ergonomics and whether that sensor is good enough.
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  19. Matt Everglade

    Matt Everglade SC Regular

    Mar 5, 2014

    you already mentioned the NX300 and the 30mm lens. The NX300 (or 30 if you want an EVF and good ergonomics) are good cameras and have a proper IQ, the focus depends on the lens you are using. The 30mm is quite slow. I would suggest buying the camera with the kit lens (18-55mm) as it has fast AF and then you can add the 45mm f1.8 which also has a very fast AF.

    • Like Like x 1
  20. mistyprochaska

    mistyprochaska SC Rookie

    Feb 2, 2014

    When people are saying the AF speed is not fast with the 30mm lens, how not fast are we talking about? I did have the first generation 20mm pancake on my G3, and I found it fast enough- I have always been somewhat puzzled by everyone saying that lens is slow. And when you are talking about the 45mm 1.8, is that the lens that is sometimes available in the kit and listed as 2D/3D, or something different? I am drawn to the Samsung still, based on image quality and price compared to other options. Thanks!