New forum member needs help choosing his new camera

Discussion in 'Micro Four Thirds Forum' started by MariusG, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. MariusG

    MariusG New to SC

    Jan 12, 2014
    Neuchâtel, Switzerland
    Real Name:
    Marius Glørstad
    Dear forum members,

    As a reader for some time now (feel like you have a friendly attitude and helpful mind), I decided to ask for your advice when choosing a new camera to replace my Nikon I sold for some months back. I have been using an entry DSLR the last few years but still see myself as a novice and wish to develop my photographic skills, learn to better process my pictures and to profit from the final result.

    So it comes to what I would like in a camera:

    1. Can be carried in a small camera bag or in a pocket of my jacket.
    2. Need to have one zoom lens and/or primes (will share the camera with my wife).
    3. Have great general photo qualities with great low light capabilities.
    4. Change common options with ease.

    Most of all I would like a camera that I can grow with.

    Cameras I have taken a look at till now were Olympus Pen E-P5, OM-D 5, Panasonic GX7, Panasonic GM1 and Sony RX100 mk1/2.
    I have some questions about a few things:

    • How important is an IBIS on a camera? May I take clear pictures handheld in low light with something like a Panasonic GM1 and a fast prime?
    • Is the sensor size that important in M43 vs. RX100?
    • Having a smaller camera that fit in your pocket, does it make you use your camera more vs. carrying a camera bag?
    • What are your opinions on the cameras mentioned above?

    I would love your inputs and suggestions that may help me choose the right camera for my needs. My budget is wide enough and I prefer paying more for having something I can enjoy over the years to come. In addition I have had the possibility to touch the cameras but not to operate them.

    Thank you in advance for your help:smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  2. pictogramax

    pictogramax SC Top Veteran

    Aug 18, 2011
    Belgrade, Serbia
    Hello and welcome!

    Along those cameras you mentioned, any smaller Fuji or Nex would be just as great, I believe. It's really tough to say, as all are good and the answer really depends on your needs and shooting style. By reading comments and reviews by others, I get the feeling that most are shooting in aperture priority mode and adjust with exposure compensation. So you'll get debates on how well placed and handy that exposure compensation dial is on a given model. On the other hand, I shoot in manual mode, and couldn't care less about that specific dial, it's just a button I will not use anyway. But I want easily adjusted aperture, shutter speed and ISO (plus WB and auto/manual focus toggle, please).

    So in choosing your new camera I think you should worry less about eventual "image quality" (as it depends mostly on the photographer anyways) but look for features you need and generally a camera you like (so you'll use more often than not). A good guidance could be examining the habits you developed with your current camera. You would like something smaller, that's already clear to you. Apart from that, any other specific demands? In which mode you shoot most? Do you mostly take pictures of fast moving kids or sports, or prefer calm walks and shooting landscapes (if latter, Sigma DP might be interesting also)...

    For the two of your more specific questions, I would say that IBIS can be handy. Before buying RX100 recently, I have been shooting for more than two years with Nex 3 and old legacy glass, without autofocus and without IBIS, and it worked, it's not like you'll be deprived if your camera doesn't have it. But it is useful and if you can have it, why not? On RX100 it's dependable and effective.

    On sensor size, by buying RX100 I officially "downgraded" from APSC to 1". Although some differencies can be seen, they are less than I expected them to be and I'm fairly impressed with this little sensor from Sony. Even shallow DOF is better than I expected; not the same as APSC or even M43, of course, but less of a limitation than I thought it would be.

    And I love having again, after a few years of carrying a backpack, just one small (but mighty) camera in my pocket all the time with me. Guess that answers another question of yours :)
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    Welcome aboard.

    It really depends, as picogramax said, on what YOU want as a shooter. I love my E-M5 and think the controls are well placed -- for my smallish hands. If you want to experiment with different lenses -- and don't mind changing them -- one of the interchangeable lens systems might fit you nicely. I'd go with m4/3 - Olympus or Panasonic depending again on your preferences -- for the very nice lens line up it offers in both zooms and primes. I like Olympus but others prefer Panasonic. Both have access to the other's lenses, which is the nice thing about an open standard. If you are going to shoot Olympus lenses, though, you might want to remember that they won't be stabilized on a Panasonic body. Olympus uses in body stabilization and Panasonic implements stabilization in the lens. The IBIS on the E-M5 and the E-PM2 is nothing short of remarkable, but there are techniques for shooting withoit stabilization that photographers used for years to good affect.

    The Fuji X10/X20 are great little cameras that can produce terrific results and have a quite useable zoom range of 28-112. The pro-low-light mode (especially in the X10) can give astonishingly good results at high iso for the size of the sensor (2/3").

    If small is important to you, along with interchangeable lenses, the E-PM2 with the Panasonic pancake 14-42 PZ is a very capable and compact kit.

    Despite the bashing that you might read about this or that camera, there are very few bad ones out there. Choose one that fits your shooting style and then concentrate on learning its ins and outs. m4/3 is a very capable system that offers a variety of different size bodies, pancake lens, large zooms, just about anything you might want -- unless you are a professional sports or race car photograher. Good luck in your search.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013

    As I am not familiar with any of the cameras you mention, I'm afraid I won't be able to help you. However, I wanted to welcome you the the forum!
    I am sure you will enjoy the quality of any of these cameras and the light travel.

    • Like Like x 1
  5. mattia

    mattia SC Regular

    Dec 20, 2013
    My thoughts:
    - Sensor size: it does matter somewhat; the 20 MP adds a little more leeway in the RX100(II) compared to 16MP micro four thirds sensors, and you'll notice the difference in low light in particular, and in the ability to isolate subjects (shallower depth of field).
    - IBIS: Some form of stabilisation (IBIS or optical) is very handy in lower light situations. Not essential, but a major selling point nonetheless.
    - Viewfinder:Figure out if you want/need/like to have a viewfinder. My personal preference is yes.
    - Size: the smaller, pocket-sized RX100 will get taken along more often than anything you actually need to put in a bag. This is why I have it alongside the two interchangeable lens systems (plus it's my underwater camera of choice, because it's a sweet spot for housing pricing for me..) It does not perform as well as the others in terms of pure quality, but it is a great little camera.

    On the specific models, I own the RX100 (for me, the perfect compact camera in a lot of ways; good resolution, actually pocketable, relatively large sensor, decent to good manual control), I used to own the E-M5 (was stolen, only reason I replaced it with the E-M1), which is truly a fantastic camera, but utterly NOT user friendly when you're getting started. I love the customizability, but you need to spend time learning to set it up, and remembering how you've set up various functions. Plenty of posts online with suggestions. It has a few irritating foibles (eye sensor and flipout screen don't play well together, and the MySets (custom setting) modes on the E-M5 are almost useless in my opinion, plus 'only' ISO 200 and 'only' 1/4000 shutter speed) which the E-P5 has improved on/fixed. The control layout on the E-P5 is similar to the E-M1, and an upgrade over the E-M5 - the '2x2' dial combined with the dual control wheels means very easy access to all of your exposure triangle - set ISO, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation (and/or white balance, depending on how you customize it) with two dials and the flick of a switch. If you don't need/want the EVF, that might be the better choice.

    Micro four thirds is a bit of a 'Goldilocks' system for me; it does a lot of things just right: great selection of bodies, great selection of (compact) lenses, a sensor that's a bit smaller than APS-C, but not in any way that matters to me, and enough (though not ample) resolution. I have a preference for the Olympus bodies with IBIS, although the Panasonic GX7 looks to be a compelling option as well, due to the built-in EVF. Try to find both in a store and hold them, though, because that's something you can't see in pictures - whether you 'click' with a camera or not.

    As an in between option, there's the GM1. Which is the size of an RX100 with a slightly more protruding kit lens, but will allow a 'step up' to models with better/more direct controls of all shooting parameters. I haven't held one, and while it looks like a fun/interesting camera, it strikes me as a 'third body' or 'second body' option that could replace an RX100. Or an entry level gateway drug to the system. It's hard to recommend a specific camera without knowing what type of photography a person is interested in, and some aspects always remain a matter of taste.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Dewi Sant

    Dewi Sant SC Veteran

    Dec 20, 2013
    Lancashire, England
    Real Name:
    Having recently read extensively the myriad online reviews for "serious" compact, CSC and M43 format cameras in an attempt to find something smaller take on my travels rather than have to carry around my DSLR and all it's associated parapherania, I came to the conclusion that there's no such thing as a bad camera from the major players out there now. If anything that makes the choice more complex so reducing it to the lowest common denominators, It comes down to what features you want, what size of sensor you'd like and what you want to pay.

    Neuchâtel? We vsited there a few years ago on a motorcycle tour of Europe, it was lashing down with rain sadly so we didn't linger and headed off to our hotel at Couvet after just a short wander around. Some great riding roads in Switzerland, and some beautiful landscapes to photograph.

    I decided on an Olympus E-PL5 in the end by the way, I've only had it a few weeks but so far I'm very pleased with it. I chose that above anything else for several reasons, including: It's very small in comparison to my DSLR Canon, Ditto for the weight. It's metal bodied so feels more substantial than most of the plastic bodied cameras I picked up, apart from the battery / card cover which feels a little flimsy but is probably a lot sturdier than it looks (having said that the Sony NEX6 felt quite robust for a plastic bodied camera). Image quality, most reviewers remarked on how good it is and they weren't wrong. 4 thirds has come a long way in the last few years. Sensors are now competing with DSLR offerings.

    Best thing to do is get out to some shops and try the cameras in your hand, on paper I got it down to a short list of 2, the NEX6 and the E-LP5. I'd have bought either but the Olympus just felt better in my hands, I love it's retro feel and look. It makes taking a photo an absolute pleasure. Here's a quick shot I took of our dogs with it last week.

    Hope that helps - Oh! And welcome to this friendly little corner of cyberspace

    D :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  7. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    Given your set of choices, there are trade offs and none will fit all of your criteria. The best IQ will probably come from the EP5 or the EM5, although I suspect the GM1 is right there as well. The RX100 is the all-around pocket-able solution, but it's a fixed lens so there no real expansion available and it's a but slow at the long end. The mu43 cameras will also do better in low light. The GM1 may be the best overall fit, although it's pocketability will depend on the lens attached. When confronted with all this, I got an EM5 for it's capability and and an XF1 for its size. The problem is not taking it out of the bag but taking it period. Anything that slides in your pocket is more likely to go. I will also point out the E-PM2 or EPL5. Fairly small with great IQ and much cheaper than the GM1.

    Of course, if pocket-able was key I'd go for the RX100 in a heartbeat.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    I used pretty much all your choices except EP5 but then I used EP1/EP2/EP3. Having a pocketable camera means you will have a camera always. You may not carry a camera bag always...

    I think your choice will depend on which lenses you want to start with, primes and zooms. Olympus has small zooms which can be used each of these bodies. From checking my shots, m43 has min shutter of 1/60sec until it hits max ISO. Until then you can live with no IBIS for wide angles. In comparison RX100 has min shutter 1/30 sec at wide side so it might give you more motion blur. You choices:

    RX100: 1/30sec shutter at wide side, sometimes too slow. Lens has 10% distortion correction in comparison to m43 lenses usually have 4-6% distortion. At the wide side it beats any m43 zooms with equivalent of f2.5 lens at 28mm. That is its strength for low light shooting. It needs a grip.

    GM1: Same size as RX100, so it needs a grip too. Also it has no evf option or IBIS, so you may or may not have IS (image stabilization) depending on your lens. It might be good w/ small lenses but hard to hold with bigger/longer lenses. Also mech shutter limited to 1/500sec so you might get some artifacts using e-shutter for faster speeds esp in fluorescent light. Max shutter 1/16000 w/ e-shutter. It has peaking for manual focusing.

    EPL5: A little bigger then GM1 but it has 2dim IBIS, evf option. It is a little better to hold then GM1 esp when you can change the grip. Again it is harder to hold bigger lenses like Pana 35-100 2.8 lens. Max 1/4000 shutter and iso 200. No mf peaking.

    EP5: Bigger then 2 above, has 5dim IBIS, evf option but no interchangeable grip. Shutter is 1/8000 and also lower iso means it doesn't need nd filters w/ faster lenses. It has peaking for manual focusing.

    EM5: It has 5dim IBIS/evf. I added a third party grip also. It has the dslr hump w/ evf but might be a better deal compared to ep5. Shutter is 1/4000 and iso 200 so it needs nd filters with faster lenses. No mf peaking.

    GX7: It has a rangefinder style body so I prefer that then the middle evf. It has faster shutter like e-p5 (1/8000 sec w/ ISO 125). Mech shutter is loud so I use more w/ e-shutter, again you have to be careful for artificial light or fast speed subjects. It has peaking and 2dim IBIS like epl5. Sizewise it can manage bigger lenses. That is my preferred body now unless you go to em1 body size...

    Usually it is better to invest in good lenses if you are going for mirrorless system. Choose the body accordingly. All of these has similar IQ, so ergonomic w/ lenses are more important. Usually lenses will stay and bodies change/loose value... One of my friends started w/ EM5+Oly 14-150mm and 45mm 1.8 as an upgrade to P&S cameras and was content for his use, travel/kids, etc... RX100 is a nice camera but usually it is a companion to a bigger system esp w slower aperture on the long end of the zoom. Other P&S choices are also newer Olympus Stylus 1 and Sony RX10, which both have f/2.8 zooms with longer/wider coverage.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    Real Name:
    I believe that for a learning camera, it's an advantage to have the camera with you at all times. If you don't mind carrying around a dedicated camera bag, that doesn't restrict your choices much, but if you're like me, having a camera with you at all times means having something that fits in a coat pocket.

    Also, rotating or tilting screens really help you to make use of all the angles available, rather than just eye / chest height.

    IBIS / image stabilization is slowly becoming less important as high ISO capabilities are getting better, but I still think it's a very nice bonus. It also makes it easier to have long exposures as part of your creative decision, to deliberately show subject movement.

    Sensor size is slowly becoming less important in the sense that more and more cameras are getting to the point where the sensor output is good enough. In terms of DOF control it's as relevant as ever.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. MariusG

    MariusG New to SC

    Jan 12, 2014
    Neuchâtel, Switzerland
    Real Name:
    Marius Glørstad
    Thank you for the warm welcome and the numerous responses.

    I have till now been shooting mainly in Aperture Priority but do not know if that will change with going over to a different camera. For my shooting habits I do not have any children of yet, so most of my subjects are either static or not moving in fast phase motion. Since most of my photos are in the street with architecture and people or indoors with people, may it be in the day or in the night. In addition I like to bring my camera with me when hiking so do some landscape but not that much really.

    As for the features, it’s not important for me to have a viewfinder; I think I can do with just a decent screen for now. Since I am quite patient, the menu system of the Olympus camera’s actually attract me, I enjoy fiddling with various options and searching for hours how to better set up my camera, I would just like to have a fast way to change the main options like ISO, Aperture and shutter speed in the various shooting modes.

    I like the flexibility of changing the lenses on M43, but I think that you are right about that it’s important to have a camera that you take with you everywhere as a learning camera. So is for example the Olympus E-PL5 with a Oly 17mm F1.8 pocketable? I think if I take a camera that actually fit in my pocket for my jacket with me to more parts of my life than one that need a bag to carry.

    As for the sensor size, I think I can live with the sensor size of the Sony RX100 for a while after seeing what it can do on the picture post on this forum. I have one question though, I have read on some forums that some users are complaining about the camera chooses 1/30th shutter speed in A and the lack of auto ISO in manual mode, do you see that as a problem? I have seen that people use some effective workarounds, what do you think about them?

    For now I seem to lean more against the smaller Olympus and the Sony RX100. I think I will be happy with either one.
  11. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    Yes, you can fit epl5+17mm 1.8 in a coat pocket. Only RX100 w/ retracting lens is small enough for pants:) W/ epl5/ep5 you can choose the evf you want as it is an additional item. Olympus has a deal in US now that you can get the latest evf for $99 w/ purchase of ep5 which also discounted around $200, which comes close to discounted gx7 pricing.

    Most of the digital cameras except Sony RX1/A7/A7R, Ricoh Gr do not have the auto iso in M mode. You can live w/ 1/30sec which sometimes give you a nice blurry movement shot or you can switch to Shutter priority and use auto iso/aperture... You can check my shots from Istanbul, all the w-dsc???? shots except last one were taken w/ RX100 w/ no viewfinder. w-P??? shots were w/ em5 which has the same sensor as epl5.

    • Like Like x 1
  12. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    Just a couple of corrections on previous posts: The RX100 has a SMALLER sensor with more MP's than a 4/3 sensor. More pixels on a smaller sensor can lead to more noise, not less, though I don't know if that is true of the RX100. How important the sensor size is and how many Megapixels you need depends in large part on how large you intend to print. Just about any good compact will get you to a quite acceptable 11x14 inch print up to 400-800 iso. Against some of its competitors, the RX100 is significantly slower on the long end, which cancels some of it's larger sensor advantage in comparison with the likes of the X10, which at f2.8, you will be able to shoot at a lower iso.

    So, as with most things in life, there are trade offs. Do you need an eye-level viewfinder? For me it's an absolute necessity, and I've sold every camera I ever got without one very quickly. For others it does not matter at all. So you really need to know what YOU require and weed out the cameras that don't have those functions. It's quite personal. Online shopping has given rise to lots of complaints about cameras that don't feel right in one's hand, and on which the controls are inconvenient for some people -- but of course not for others -- so if you can possibly get to a store that has a display model of the cameras you are considering, it's a really good idea, and can save you headaches down the road.

    I do think a fast lens (like a 45mm f1.8 or 25mm f1.4) on a recent vintage M4/3 body will give you what you stated you want, especially photographing kids. I think a compact that is slow on the long end may well frustrate you in trying to capture playing children.

    My two cents again.
    • Like Like x 1