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Thread: Advice on Small"ish" DSLR

  1. #1

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    Advice on Small"ish" DSLR

    Dear Folks,

    I want to purchase a camera for mostly nature/archetecture that I will post process for HDR. Also want to do some macro work. I'm looking for a camera that is on the smaller side with the most important critera being excellent image quality. I have used a Canon 40d and while an excellent camera, it is a bit heavy to carry around all day. My budget will be approximately $3000 for body and lenses (I have a tripod). I am intrigued by the new Sony NEX-7. Any recommendations??

    Thanks in advance to all.


    Dave

  2. #2
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on Small"ish" DSLR

    NEX is probably a good choice to look at, particularly if you like adapting old manual glass. Just check out the lens selection and make sure it covers what you want to shoot. They only offer 7 lenses at this point. Right now, there is no ultrawide zoom for NEX.

    On m4/3, the system's been around for an additional two years prior to Sony NEX, and there are two companies contributing to the native lens pool: Panasonic and Olympus. In m4/3, there not only is an ultrawide option, there are two: the Panasonic 7-14, and the Olympus 9-18. (m4/3, has a 2x crop factor).

    I bought a micro four-thirds camera, because I wanted one with a built-in EVF and a flip-out screen, and I didn't want to pay more than $500 for it. I picked up a used Panasonic G3 kit for $450. Also, to me, the NEX lenses are disproportionately large (since they have to cover an APS-C sensor), and slightly awkward on the small NEX bodies, but tastes differ about this. m4/3 lenses are roughly the same size as rangefinder lenses. I can stuff my G3 and five lenses into a ThinkTank Retrospective 5 and still have room left over.

    Whether you want to take the dynamic range and resolution hit in going with the smaller sensor on m4/3, though, is up to you. But you may want to look at the recent announcements for the Olympus OM-D/EM-5 as well. And possibly look into the Panasonic GX-1. The image quality of a m4/3 system may surprise you, give how sensor size is emphasized in discussions about digital cameras.
    Last edited by inkista; 5th March 2012 at 02:33 AM.

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    Re: Advice on Small"ish" DSLR

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    Whether you want to take the dynamic range and resolution hit in going with the smaller sensor on m4/3, though, is up to you.
    Given that architecture is stated as one of the two purposes for this camera, what I would worry about with 4/3 sensor size is the UWA limitation. Even APS-C will be a hit in this regard, but going from a crop factor of 1.5 (or 1.6 in the case of Canon) to 2 is a big deal ISTM. There are some very decent APS-C UWA lenses that pretty much equal what you can get with a FF camera in terms of field of view, but nothing comparable AFAIK with 4/3 cameras. So, to my mind, the big limitation is going to be in getting a good quality UWA lens for architecture. That seems to argue for staying with at least APS-C. Any of the Rebels are pretty small Canons, the D3100 or D5100 are pretty small Nkons, and the aforementioned NEX camera is the smallest APS-C of the lot, albeit with more limited lens options. FWIW

  4. #4
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    Re: Advice on Small"ish" DSLR

    As far as size is concerned, and bearing in mind above comments about sensor size, you might like to look at the smaller Nikons e.g. D50, D40, et subs. I have a D50 with the kit lens which is quite light and handy. I did find it slightly soft for macro work though, even with a micro-Nikkor 60mm and shooting RAW, so you might not like that so much. I'm fairly sure the blur (AA) filter on the D50 is designed for amateurs who shoot picket fences and brick walls :-)

    Small makeup jar, close-up, D50, kit lens, f/16, small jpeg, slightly sharpened:

    Advice on Small"ish" DSLR
    Last edited by xpatUSA; 5th March 2012 at 03:12 PM. Reason: added a pic

  5. #5
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    Re: Advice on Small"ish" DSLR

    Quote Originally Posted by tclune View Post
    Given that architecture is stated as one of the two purposes for this camera, what I would worry about with 4/3 sensor size is the UWA limitation.
    Olympus has a 9-18. Panasonic a 7-14/4. You not only have an ultrawide option, you have a choice of two different lenses. Olympus also makes a 12mm f/2 prime. So, you have the APS-C FoV equivalents of a 12-24, a 10-19, and an 16/2 only with more DoF . And if you get an Olympus body, they will be stabilized.

    Yes, there is performance degradation at focal lengths that wide, BUT, Panasonic bodies, at least, encode lens correction parameters in the file EXIF. If you shoot JPEG, lens-correction is done in-camera. If you shoot RAW and go through Lightroom, ACR is smart enough to read the Panasonic information and apply it automatically: no lens profiles required. I thought I would hate this, but in reality, it works pretty damn well. I shoot with the Lumix 20mm f/1.7, and it strikes me as one of the best lenses I've ever shot with, partly due to this automatic lens correction in post.

    I would highly recommend going through either the fredmiranda micro four-thirds thread I linked to in my previous post, and looking for 7-14 and 9-18 images, or going through the mu43.com board's native lens samples.
    Last edited by inkista; 5th March 2012 at 10:29 PM.

  6. #6
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    Re: Advice on Small"ish" DSLR

    Why not get a Rebel? You can match the sensors of the "prosumer" cameras, and they are much lighter. A number of superb macro photographers I know of use Rebels. The controls are not as good as on the successors to the 40D, but if you don't mind that, you will save a lot of weight, bulk, and money. And all of your lenses would be usable on your 40D as well. I do mostly macro with a 50D, but to be honest, it's hard to tell the difference between those images and macros I did with an old XTi.

  7. #7
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on Small"ish" DSLR

    Because dRebels don't do 24MP or have autofocusing Zeiss lenses?

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    Re: Advice on Small"ish" DSLR

    Having used a GH2 (mu-4/3) for the past year, I can add a couple of comments.

    1. The GH2 (not all Panasonic or mu-4/3 cameras, though) provides a true 16:9 format using the full frame, not a crop of it. This has the effect of extending your lens width a bit. For example, my 14-140 has about the same field of view as a FF 24mm lens. This is very useful for landscape or architectural shots.

    2. The electronic viewfinder is very bright and gains up when using stoped-down third party lenes, something you cannot do with an optical viewfinder.

    3. Although there aren't a lot of old wide angle primes you can put on a mu-4/3, there are plenty of good lenses that can be used for macro or medium focal lenghts. Old manual-focus, manual-pre-set lenes are a real pleasure to work with on these cameras.

    4. If you pick up a 1.7/20mm lens to go with the camera (in addition to one of the zooms) you have a really small camera; one that you can fit into a good sized pocket and weighs less than a pound.

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