Photography: A choice to make

Possibly fitting into the door-bolting and bolted-horse category, I’m in the hunt for a new camera.

Throughout the Americas Trip I have carried and eventually learnt to use a Nikon D80 Digital SLR camera.  It was and is a great camera to use – we took a single 16-85mm (equivalent to 24-128mm on 35mm film) Nikkor lens.  With the combination weighing 668g + 485g = 1.15kg, and therefore more than the computer or Sarah’s sleeping bag there was but one area to improve on.  Other than the space it took up, my other main issue with it was my reluctance to have it out for people shots in the poorer countries we passed through.  I really wanted something less imposing and distracting.

So, wants….

  • lighter (not hard, given the weight of the D80 setup)
  • mirrorless (ie. not SLR)
  • subdued/retro design
  • button, rather than menu driven interface
  • interchangeable lenses – with good fast prime (fixed focal length) lenses and maybe a zoom option
  • ability to shoot in RAW + JPEG
  • weather resistent
  • a preference for a viewfinder

My shortlist, partially inspired by contact with users (Anna Kortschak and Joe Cruz) and others (Cass etc) is:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1

image: dpreview
image: dpreview

Fujifilm XPro-1

image: dpreview
image: dpreview

Olympus OM-D E-M5

image: dpreview
image: dpreview

They all have their pluses and minuses.  They’re all lighter than even the lens on the D80!  The Panasonic wins on size, the Fujifilm (probably) on image quality in low light etc, and the Olympus tantalises with weather-proofing…

All thoughts and comments welcome!

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5 comments

  1. You sum up the options well. Indeed, if the GX1 had weather-proofing, it would be perfect. I have the older GF1 (bought second hand), and love it.

    The other awesome thing about the OM-D, apart from the weather sealing, is the 5-axis in-body stabilization. I love the Lumix G 20mm f1.7 lens, but for video, it is very shaky, due to no stabilization in the lens itself, or the body of the GF1. You’d get the same issues with the GX1, I would imagine.

  2. Given that although it’s great to spend time composing a shot (and I want a camera that makes that worthwhile), I also want to be able to pull the camera out and take something non-blurred in the same movement, I too am attracted to the in-camera image stabilisation.

    The Fujifilm camera is tempting, but in the end probably overkill and that much bigger and heavier. There are also some nice m43 lenses available now, rather delaying the purchase to see what others come out other than the primes.

    Thankyou – I agree that it probably comes down to GX1 vs OM-D. Ideally I’d like to get my hands on them physically before buying, but may have to plump for one without that luxury.

    Tom

  3. If I was starting afresh, I think I’d go with the Olympus. To me, there’s a real advantage to having an integrated EVF over the clip-on one with the GX1. Having seen the quality of MFT in print, I’m really impressed. The range of lenses is very good too – even if I wish some of the wider ones didn’t cost such a fortune. The 12-50 sounded like it would be perfect, and affordable. But I haven’t read much in the way of enthusiasm for it.

    One thing though. I’d try and check what the write speed is. I find that really limiting on the GH2 – it blacks out for what feels like an interminably long time if I’ve rattled off a few shots. My Nikon DSLR is so much peppier.

    The Fuji looks like a really cool concept, but price apart, I’ve heard the autocus can be a bit sluggish, and that’s a big issue for me for more action bikey stuff. The low light performance seems enviable though.

    Of course, you never really know till you try, and it’s a shame so few shops stock this kind of stuff. You can read and read and read, but nothing beats having a proper go before laying down your $$$…

    • Cass – I’m increasingly drawn to the Olympus, though with nagging thoughts of the image quality possible on the Fuji. I would want the electronic viewfinder if I got the GX1, so having it built in on the Oly isn’t a problem. For my intended places of use – biking, rock climbing, kayaking and remote trekking and that I already have access to a reasonable DSLR in the NikonD80, the Fuji just isn’t small enough or light enough and so I’ll likely head Olywards…

      Would, as I say, really like to get my hands on it first!

      Tom

      PS – really glad you’ve had so much fun riding with Gary, and hoping you’ll get yourself south soon(ish). We finished our southward riding today, so the list of next adventures is growing rapidly… Maybe we’ll actually meet!

      • I did eventually get the Olympus kit with 12-50mm lens. I also got the Olympus 12mm F1.8 prime lens as I wanted to be able to get the low-light landscape thing made better by it. It’s possible I may get another case of the wants with the new Olympus 75mm prime in the future.

        First impressions are good. It took a little bit of setting up so that the function buttons do what I like and the WB wasn’t too cool. The noise from the Incamera Image stabilisation is slightly off-putting in very quiet circumstances, but otherwise not noticeable. The images on my last couple of blog posts have been from the Olympus. I’ve also started using Adobe Lightroom 4 (beta version including RAW processing for the Olympus) which has been a bit of a learning curve. I’ll do a review in a few months once I’ve used it more.

        Tom

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