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Ok so its getting around to that time of year again where I feel more aged, slow, etc.... and get another candle on the cake (the worst part is the older you get the faster you have to blow before the top melts from the heat!)
Anyway family always keep mentioning that "you need a little camera" and to a certain extent I agree with them - DSLRs are great, but a 7D, 580flash and a modest lens (like say a 70-200mm or even 150mm) is just way to heavy and bulky for family days out - trips and general travel.
So I need something smaller - but the market here appears to have exploded into whole varieties of point and shoots - bridges - mini DSLRs and hybrids. So I'm left a little lost as to which to focus on - so any here got any advice?
1) Smaller, and lighter than a DSLR setup
2) Long focal range coverage - long end especially - something around 400mm equivalent
3) Manual controls - aperture, ISO, shutter speed and focus (if at all possible physical manual focus not the electronic kind)
4) Expandable - if I can work with my flash units or with flash on a radio remote or something that would be great
5) Good overall image quality (yeah expected ).
I'm not opposed to a smaller interchangeable lens setup provided that its not going to turn into a massive money sinkhole to get all the features I feel I need.
Macro I'm not too worried about - almost all smaller cameras do close up well and I've my Raynox DCR 250 to boost the magnification (though manual focus control becomes more critical again).
So is there anything out there that might come close to fitting some/all these requirements? I've not put a budget on this as yet - I don't know what area of the market I'm really looking at to tell as yet.
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Go Micro Four-Thirds............ the quality of a crop DSLR and the compactness of a large compact!
Get the basic two lens kit and add other lenses (quite cheaply) via adapter. Am I sounding like a convert - you betcha! (Erm, so long as video isn't too important!)
Would RAW be essential?
Speaking of getting old; went in to the doctor last week to get my prescriptions renewed. She asked me how I felt. I said I had a cold, and if I stood up quickly, or rolled over quickly in bed, I got a bit dizzy. She replied, in her British accent; "Hmmm...you'll have to slow down then, won't you."
Olympus E-P1 + any adapters for your existing glass.
Versatile? No 1
Versatile? No 2
(Check the lenses used Alex )
I like working in RAW, its easy to adjust and control - but whilst its desirable I'm not putting it on this list as a demand - nice if it offers it, but the other features (size and reach) are more important I feel.
The Micro 4/3rds does sound interesting - and I could pair it with a cheap, small and light 70-300mm (feels like going back to when I first got a DSLR then). But handholding is a little worry - the camera looks good, but holding it I'd be wanting to put the (non-existent) viewfinder up to my eye rather than shoot from a tripod. Also if I've got a regular 70-300mm or similar, to carry then I'm also back at a 400D without a battery grip sized setup. (an option, but if I head down that path I end up adding all the extras back in really fast).
Quote: I'd be wanting to put the (non-existent) viewfinder up to my eye
Some of the Panasonic M4/3 bodies have built in VFs and Olympus Pen bodies can all take an accessory VF.
Quote: Also if I've got a regular 70-300mm or similar, to carry then I'm also back at a 400D without a battery grip sized setup
Even fitted with a 40-140 (80-300) the Micro 4/3 set up is going to be way smaller. I`ve been adding up the pro`s and cons between Panasonic and Olympus.
Most of the Panasonic's have built in view finders, IS is in most of their lenses but not all.
Olympus has no viewfinder, one can be picked up separately for about £200, but the Pens have in built IS that will work with any lens mounted.
The pen would be my choice even with the cost of the eye piece included, in body IS with any lens fitted makes the extra £200 needed for the viewfinder pretty cheap.
I`ve played around with a few old lenses mounted via an adapter on my E3, the 135mm Tamron f2.5 becomes a 270mm f2.5, and my old Vivitar series 1 200mm f3 (that I have yet to try) becomes a 400mm f3 and these lenses can be picked up for peanuts.
Ahh I'd forgotten about the crop factor trickery coming into play!
I must admit the system is starting to look attractive - manual controls on the camera; the viewfinder (anything in this size range is going to end up electronic viewfinder anyway I suspect) and the option of manual focusing and zoom on lenses and not the fiddly electronic type I've encountered in bridge cameras
I have the Panasonic GF1 and love it.
The only thing it doesn't have is the viewfinder but to be honest ....... I bought it as a weight saver as I carry a camera all the time. If I am going to do anything serious or where the viewfinder is almost essential (macro, sports, airshows ets) then I use the big camera anyway.
I bought the body with 14-45mm and 20mm pancake lens (the 20mm is a killer) and my wife was good enough to buy the 45-200mm lens...... so I have everything I need and at much less weight and size. With the crop factors taken into consideration the 45-200 becomes 90-400 (as near the same as the 70-300 Nikon I have) but the lens is 2/3rds the size and weight. It doesn't sound a lot but makes a heck of a difference when carrying it all day.
I read a load of test reports and tried handling both the Pen and the GF1 before buying and I much prefered the GF1 as it felt better in my hand and the easy of use when it came to the set-up and menus etc was streets ahead. The high end ISO was also a real eye opener for me (being used to the D200 and its relatively 'old' technology in this department).
If I am feeling lazy or needing a take a shot quickly in tricky/low lighting etc, turning the control dial to Inteligent Auto will - in virtualy all cases - get the shot and it has the advantage over virtually all compacts and 'auto' settings in that turning up the ISO is the last resort so the chances of noise are reduced
I've been making noises to the wife about Canon's G12, I've heard some really good reports on it and it has all the creative control I'd require. It ain't cheap mind you and it might not reach your focal requirement, but it might still be worth a look?
M4/3rds is definitely the answer. Already having an Olympus E620 with lenses, I got a GF1 with 14-45, 20mm and the Adaptor to take 4/3rds. Superb. But it still lacked something - a proper viewing experience. This year I bought a Lumix G2, it's the perfect solution - small, versatile, fully equipped, excellent handling and an amazingly good EVF to complement the must-have free-angle rear screen. Results are brilliant, and I get all my kit, which includes an Olympus 40-150mm, into a small Tamrac hip bag that altogether weighs under 2.5kgs. Absolutely no bother to carry around all day, and I'm 69 this year. The GH2 gives better IQ, but is MUCH dearer - have you seen the price of the G2 recently? For all that technology, it's a steal. No worries with crop factors either - just double everything! And ignore the idiots who say the touch-screen is pointless, it has a couple of tricks that make life easier and you can either use it or not, Panasonic doesn't insist you do. The only caveat I have is - the earlier 14-45mm Lumix is a better lens than the current 14-42mm..... glad I kept mine.
John the Lumix G series that you mention does look very attractive as a smaller camera, but with a more SLR hold and feel to it. My one bane with considering the Oly Pen series (and I do like the overall idea of the camera) is that even with its viewfinder it looks more delicate and more intended for being held at arms length for taking shots - it just does not look like it would fit the hand as well as something like the Lumix.
Downside to the Lumix is size is getting a little bigger (got to be careful not to let this choice creep me back up in size to full SLR size) - though from looking at pics no bigger than, say, a Fuji bridge camera.
Have you got a Jessops near you or one of these Currys/PC World outlets that are springing up. Even if you don't want to buy you can at least try em out for size!
Quote: John the Lumix G series that you mention does look very attractive as a smaller camera, but with a more SLR hold and feel to it. My one bane with considering the Oly Pen series (and I do like the overall idea of the camera) is that even with its viewfinder it looks more delicate and more intended for being held at arms length for taking shots - it just does not look like it would fit the hand as well as something like the Lumix
Maybe its a marmite type thing I`ve personally liked the feel with lenses mounted to both body types.
Added a few links showing how they all look and balance.
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