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Old 08-25-10, 12:56 AM   #1
jurjan
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new camera? micro four thirds?

Dear people,
I'm looking for a new camera to take on our bicycle tours.

We use two cameras: mine, a Canon Powershot s3 is
and hers, a Nikon D40.

now, she bought the D40 about a year ago, and since then I've been slowly realizing how SLOW my trusty Canon is (startup, shutterlag, lens (f-stops and motorized zoom)) compared to the D40.

This year we took a lot more pictures of wildlife than 'normal' and yes, shutterlag / motorized zoom prevented me from taking lots of pictures, the camera just wasn't FAST enough D**N it.

I've been looking around a bit and yes, compacts / superzooms have improved, but mostly in megapixels and zoomrange, NOT speed as such.

So I was surprised when I found about about the so-called micro four thirds cameras:
a bit bigger than the superzooms, but smaller than a D40, ANDwith interchangeable lenses, handzoom (YEAH!), a bigger sensor and faster than the superzooms.

examples are the Olympus Pen E-PL1 , E-P2 and the Panasonic GF1.

Now, we can (I should hope so) look at test pictures and decide if the quality of the images is enough better than that of the Canon to warrant a buy decision.

However, given that we tend to cycle on bad roads (think ripio in Patagonia etc.) AND that this year we had one of the lens elements of the D40-lens vibrate loose I would like to hear if people over here own one (or more!) of these cameras and lenses and what their experiences, both good AND bad are.

thanks!

Last edited by jurjan; 08-26-10 at 12:39 AM. Reason: typo's
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Old 08-25-10, 06:36 AM   #2
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I use Olympus 4/3 lenses for my DSLR (an aging E-330 that still cranks out beautiful photos) and I'm a big fan. I think Olympus makes some of the best lenses around. Whether the micro 4/3 lenses will be durable enough for your purposes, I don't know. I do tend to baby my equipment, and personally, I can't see taking a DSLR on a bike unless I'm making money taking photos.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:26 AM   #3
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I'd choose an Olympus over a Panasonic if I were getting a model that was backwards compatible with older OM-series lenses--those Zuiko lenses were fine and can be had real cheap these days.
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Old 08-25-10, 08:41 AM   #4
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I'd choose an Olympus over a Panasonic if I were getting a model that was backwards compatible with older OM-series lenses--those Zuiko lenses were fine and can be had real cheap these days.
Since both Oly and Panny use exactly the same mount—that's the whole point of the µ4/3 standard—old-lens compatibility is no reason to choose one over the other. If there's an adapter out there, it'll work for both.

Here's a pretty amazing travel diary/review of the Panasonic GF1. I wish my photographic skills were good enough to justify a camera so nice.
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Old 08-25-10, 08:53 AM   #5
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ooohh dear...
what pictures....

But, exactly the kind of things I wanted to hear: tuff stuff.
This year I covered my Canon in sweat so much so that in one week I rubbed off the lettering on the lens.
But it kept on shooting, same with freezing cold on mountains: keep on trucking.

Not that I want to be hard on stuff, it's just that life interferes with looking out for equipment.
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Old 08-25-10, 09:28 AM   #6
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The GF1 seems ideal. I'm almost positive that Cass at whileoutriding is using a micro 4/3s camera for his Panamerica trip. His photos are awesome:

http://whileoutriding.wordpress.com/

I'm seriously considering buying one.
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Old 08-25-10, 09:52 AM   #7
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I've ruined two cameras in the last 12 months due to various things I've done to them while cycling.

I just switched to one of these -- allegedly shockproof and stabilized.

http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-...2751500&sr=8-1

I've been very happy w/Panasonic digital cameras in general.
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Old 08-25-10, 11:14 AM   #8
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What about the Sony Nex? Has anyone heard anything about those?
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Old 08-25-10, 12:15 PM   #9
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I recently picked up a Nikon S8000 point and shoot. Absolutely love it! I usually shoot a Nikon DSLR, but find myself increasingly using the P&S. Image quality is great, almost no perceptible shutter lag at all (that's the main reason I bought it) and other good specs. The HD movie feature is also handy. While build quality is very good, I don't know how it would handle really rough conditions. Definitely not shockproof/waterproof like some of the Olympus and Panasonic models.
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Old 08-25-10, 01:15 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
What about the Sony Nex? Has anyone heard anything about those?
+1

I played with the NEX 3 fairly extensively and liked it immediately. It really made my Canon Rebel XS seem like a big lumbering giant. I'm sure the Olympus and Panasonic models are just as good but the Sony was the one I have used.


also, I saw on Gizmodo recently that the new Canon G12 is going to have 720p video recording, this camera does not have replaceable lenses but would probably clear up any speed issues you may have encountered with a point and shoot before.

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Old 08-25-10, 03:35 PM   #11
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I've been wildly pleased with my six-month old Ricoh CX-2. 11-1 optical zoom was what hooked me. Really good glass for a P&S. The CX-2 is under $300, or if you need HD video the CX-3 is a little over 300. Not cheap for a P&S, but I really wanted the big lens.

Also, just as a bonus, it really looks like an old school Minox or Leica compact camera, rather than a colored credit-card-thin Sony or Canon.

http://www.adorama.com/IRCCX2B.html?...utm_term=Other
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Old 08-26-10, 12:46 AM   #12
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People, thanks for your replies so far,
however, we are quite specifically looking at the four thirds (and other mirrorless camera's like the nex 3 or even alpha33 alpha55) to get away from the limitations of a point and shoot camera, while at the same time not getting a body /lens combo that's big and heavy (and intimidating for subjects).

Even so, perhaps we ought to get surprised by a camera out of the left field...
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Old 08-26-10, 08:32 AM   #13
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We recently purchased a Canon Powershot SD1200 IS, specifically for an upcoming tour. Great jersey pocket/bento bag camera. Instant on, fast cycle time, viewfinder. Good battery life. Love the image stabilization for taking rolling photos. Got a big card for it, pretty much unlimited space. Unbelievably good processing = great photo quality. Haven't seen a limitation yet, though we are not taking photos for money. We bought it because all our friends and relatives bought new ELPH cameras and we loved their photos, we love shedding weight, and we'd missed so many photos because of waiting for the camera.

Stoker takes the rolling photos.
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Old 08-29-10, 11:26 AM   #14
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I recently picked up an Olympus PEN E-P1. It was on sale at the local camera store because it is being discontinued in favour of the new E-PL1. However, in comparing the two I found the metal construction of the E-P1 felt much tougher, and I prefer the controls on the older unit. I also toyed with a NEX and it definitely seems like a nice choice. The control interface was easy to figure out but I was turned off by the lack of dials since it means manual adjustments can only be made through a series of menu screens. Because of the controls, I wouldn't recommend the NEX series to anyone unless they were planning on staying in auto mode most of the time.

I can't speak to the toughness of the E-P1 but it is certainly the right size and weight. I'm taking it for a week long tour starting next weekend so I'll be sure to report back about how it holds up.
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Old 08-29-10, 05:56 PM   #15
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I tried out a Nex5 in a store two days ago, and agree with the assessment above. You might wait until after Photokina in September, where both Sony and Panasonic are rumored to be revealing new models in their mirrorless lines.
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Old 08-30-10, 12:40 AM   #16
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We were planning to wait until after the Photokina anyway, perhaps even till after the new year.
We're not in a hurry, but WOULD like to have as much info on as many as possible angles before we buy.

One of the most important things that is NEVER really tested is how sturdy stuff is in real, every day use.

Even though the NEX camera's caught our eyes, the lack of controls made us weary (if I remember correctly you would have to set aperture and or shuttertime through traversing the menus).

thanks so far, and Imonabike: 1) I feel honored that your first post is in reaction to my question (WELCOME here! btw.) 2) We'd love to hear how the camera felt / performed in your tour.
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Old 09-07-10, 11:20 PM   #17
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Oh boy. I just wrote a lengthy post, only to have it deleted because I forgot to sign in first!

In summary (hehe...), thank you for the warm welcome. I lurked here for a while but when I saw a thread discussing TWO of my favourite things I had to jump in. Regarding the camera: it is incredible. Everything I wanted and more. I'm in love. I quickly got used to not having an optical viewfinder. I ended up using auto mode quite a bit on the bike days because I felt too dumb tired to fiddle with it, and those shots turned out nice. On my one day off bike I played with everything more seriously, it was fantastic. Excellent camera, and not just for bike touring, although the fact that it is nearly bombproof probably does make it well suited for the role. I took as much care of it as was reasonable, but I never felt worried. It was wrapped in a t-shirt, gorillapod legs pushed up around it, and sealed in a zip-loc then stored on top of the clothes in my rear pannier. I rode on gravel over half the time (out of a 400+ km trip) and leaned that pannier up against walls, posts, etc and the camera never skipped a beat.

The ONLY issue some photographers may have is that it starts up slowly from "sleep mode", making those candid wildlife shots tricky, and it has a slightly shorter battery life than I expected (about 250 frames), but that is really nitpicking. The Olympus PEN E-P1 is a fantastic camera.

Here are some of my shots: http://dave.blackchair.net
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Old 09-08-10, 12:37 AM   #18
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Imonabike:
thanks for the report.

regarding automode: we/I tend to use that while cycling as well. leaving the 'serious' (ha!) photography for later and or rest days.

how is the autofocus speed? that seems to be the biggest 'problem' have with the pens...

where was the trip btw, the lighthouse with the GIANT sign looks scandinavian.
some nice pics.

thanks!
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Old 09-08-10, 11:20 AM   #19
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Those Sony NEX cameras are part of a new breed of cameras - EVIL!! (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lenses)

It sounds like exactly what you're looking for. Especially, if you could wait a year or two for more manufacturers to introduce their offerings.
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Old 09-08-10, 11:28 AM   #20
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I'm waiting for Photokina, mostly because I just can't decide between the E-PL1 and the Lumix GF1. The EP-2 seems more rugged, and I like the in-body IS. I believe that means it works with older lenses (which can be had for a song)? The EP-2 "art filters" might be fun, but they seem pretty trivial.

Downsides, the pancake lens is markedly slower, AF is supposed to be slower. GF-1's pluses include a built-in flash (I use it to fill a lot for outside portraiture), a hi-res screen. On the other hand, the electronic viewfinder is supposed to be better with the EP-2.

Any informed opinions that might prove helpful?

I'm inclined to mate the EP-2 to a Lumix 20 mm prime, along with an EVF. THat means I'll be packing a strobe, which frustrates me more than it should.
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Old 09-08-10, 04:03 PM   #21
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Jurjan,

The autofocus IS pretty slow. It's very hard for me to give you a more objective answer than that, but there are reviews all over the net with timing charts and the AF is definitely slower in the PEN cameras. It takes a noticeable moment to focus. I suppose it depends what you like to shoot, but for my purposes the difference between the AF time on the PEN and on any of the Canon or Nikon DSLRs I use for work is negligible.

The trip was actually close to where I live in the middle of Canada, but the area was settled by Icelandic people near the beginning of the 20th century and much of their language and culture is preserved here.

Paxtonm, are you comparing the GF1 to the E-PL1 or the E-P2? I had the same problem choosing, because the truth is that they're all great cameras. I think you're right that the in-body IS works with any lens that will fit, but I believe the GF1 had a similar feature? The "art filters" on my E-P1 are a fun little extra feature, but I generally avoid them. If I want to apply some sort of effect to my pictures I'm much more likely to do it in post. As noted above, the E-P1 IS quite rugged, but the E-PL1 has a different (cheaper) body. I suspect the E-P2 shares more body features with the E-P1 than the E-PL1 but I could be wrong (the E-P2 was out of my price range so I didn't look too closely). I almost never use flash, so I don't miss it, but I'm sure packing a strobe wouldn't be the end of the world either. Ultimately though, it's like I said - the current crop of m4/3 cameras are all excellent. Have fun choosing, and good luck, but don't sweat it too much. I doubt you'd be disappointed with any one of them.

Cheers,
imonabike
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Old 09-09-10, 12:36 AM   #22
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Imonabike, PaxtonM,
thanks...

I do have almost exactly the same dilemma: in camera IS plus just a bit better images (so the reviews say) versus faster focusing and flash.

Imonabike: Panasonic uses lens stabilizing not in camera stabilizing.

At the moment I'm almost leaning towards the GH1, just to have a good viewfinder, but then it's a bigger camera... ooooaaarrrgghh, my brains... explodijng....

thanks anyway.
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Old 09-09-10, 12:17 PM   #23
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Apparently, a new GH2 will be announced on september 21st and the GH1 is going down in price. The G series isn't that much bigger than the GF.

I tried selling my Nikon gear for m4/3 last spring but nobody wanted it. I tried a GH1 in store and was impressed. I liked the viewfinder more than entry level DSLRs and it has more external controls too, and is still smaller. It's even smaller when you consider the lenses. The Panasonic are really "photographer's tools". The Sony seem to have better image quality but I do everything manually and the lack of controls would be a pain.

I'd say wait until you absolutely need a camera. Chances are there will be more of those "EVIL" system sooner or later. Samsung has a mirrorless system too.
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Old 09-10-10, 12:29 AM   #24
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Erick,
I know the GH1 is definitely NOT a big camera.
However, it IS bigger and more dslr-like.

does anybody here know if the idea that it's easier to photograph people on the street with a small, not too serious looking, camera than with a 'real' dslr?
That IS what you 'hear' on photography forums, but I'm not too sure about believing it.

and yes, we are planning on waiting for a while and then buying, lets say a few months before the next tour.
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Old 09-10-10, 10:33 AM   #25
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Imonabike,

That was my bad. Apologies. The EP-2 is the one I was looking at in making comparisons with the GF-1.
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