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Thread: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

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    davidedric's Avatar
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    Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Hi everyone,

    Apologies for starting a new mirrorless thread. A quick bit of background. I have a 600D with a 17-70 Sigma and a 70-300 Tamron. I wanted a lens that I could use a walkabout, and I bought a 18-270 Tamron. The problem is that I'm not really happy with the IQ and sometimes the autofocus, I almost never use it. In practice, I use the 17-70. In either case, I still end up with a DSLR (albeit a fairly light one) and a moderately heavy lens (at least for me).

    So, reading threads on here I was wondering about a mirrorless, I guess m4/3, setup, probably with two kit lenses, to add to, not replace the dslr. I'd sell the second Tamron to give me a deposit

    The thing is that while I can find my way around the Canon DSLR line-up, and the Nikon one if I had to, I just don't know where to start in the m4/3 world. The model line-up also seems to change with rather bewildering speed.

    So, the question is, if you were starting out, which manufacturers (and models, if you can say) would be high on your list, and why. I'm not looking for a Canon/Nikon style bun fight, just some pointers. If there is a recent thread which covers this - please point me.

    Given what I have said, I can't say specifically what I will be photographing. The idea is to have a camera that I am more likely to carry with me.

    Thanks for any help,

    Dave

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Hi Dave,

    First off, I would look into what is causing issues with DSLR autofocus as these may carry over to the m 4/3 system.
    Second, do you do any night time or sport photography, as these two areas give some of us problems when autofocusing?

    Regarding which system to try, I've heard good things about Nkon's N1 system and I own an Olympus. The Olympus system is pretty good, however as stated in the second comment above, some forms of photography give me issues more than others. However, I have been able to get some really good night time shots with the epl1 and a 20mm fast pancake lens. The epl1 is an older model and Olympus has come out with some newer models that perform much better.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Dave - I'm in a somewhat similar situation and have been playing with getting a mFT body.

    I have an interchangable lens mFT video camera (Panasonic AF100) and own the Lumix 14-140mm and 100-300mm lenses and figured that I could get more use out of them with a decent body, as I don't always lug my video gear around. The camera would also be used as my "B" camera for video work.

    My problem is that when I look at the bodies (really just Panasonic and Olympus), I would be paying about the same price for a mFT body as a crop sensor body to get the features / controls that I would want. My other issue is that I really have not been all that impressed with the viewfinders, versus the mirror / pentaprism that I am used to shooting. The low light performance is not great (but then I tend to not really be a low-light photographer). On the other hand some of the models do incorporate focus peaking, which is something that is important to me as a video shooter.

    I wouldn't be expecting any improved IQ over either the D90 or D800 that I am shooting with now. If you are having IQ problems with your current gear, I would suggest that there may be a technical issue at play; neither Sigma nor Tamron are renowned for high quality glass and tend to be regarded as being at the lower end third-party lens makers.

    I'm keeping my eyes open, but frankly have not been able to justify spending the money yet.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Hi Dave,

    Do you want a m4/3 camera with EVF built in? If so that will narrow the options down and be easier to make recommendations. Prices can vary quite a bit and big discounts can be had on past generation models so it depends on your budget. Olympus currently has 4 lines, I'll put down the current models and you can work backwards from there if you want. The lines add more controls as you go down the lists and get bigger.

    -PEN Mini: currently the E-PM2.
    -PEN Lite: currently E-PL5.
    -PEN: currently E-P5
    -OM-D: currently E-M5 (only line that has built in EVF

    Panasonic's Lines include:
    -GF: Currently GF6
    -GX: Currently GX1 (GX7 just recently announced)
    -G: Currently G6 (G line has built in EVF)
    -GH: Currently GH3 (GH line has built in EVF)

    I have Olympus E-PL2 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 and enjoy both. The E-M5 has an excellent sensor and used prices have gone down quite a bit.

    Cheers,
    Patrick

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    davidedric's Avatar
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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Thanks, gentlemen,

    Just to clarify, I have no issues (either IQ or autofocus) with the Sigma 17-70 or the Tamron 70-300. I chose them after a lot of review searching, and they came out pretty well. My notional upgrade path is to a 70D (depending on how it works in the real world) and the Canon 70-300L IS etc - but that may be some way off.

    I knew when I bought the 18-270 that there would be some fall off in quality, but I didn't expect it to annoy me so much. I think I've become rather more discerning since I've been a member of CiC.

    I doubt I'd be shooting video, I don't at the moment (though the 600D is hardly ideal).

    Yes, the prices I've looked at surprised me - though I suppose that smaller doesn't necessarily mean cheaper!

    Dave

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Quote Originally Posted by davidedric View Post
    Yes, the prices I've looked at surprised me - though I suppose that smaller doesn't necessarily mean cheaper!
    Dave
    If you look at it from a purely technical standpoint, a higher end camera (DSLR or mirrorless) models have roughly the same number of parts and take roughly the same amount of labour to assemble; regardless of the specific model.

    The most expensive individual part in a camera is likely the sensor; and a smaller sensor will be cheaper to produce than a larger one; a combination of the number of parts that fit on a silicon wafer and the yield (a defect is more likely to occur on a larger sensor). Going mirrorless means replacing a mirror mechanism / pentaprism / pentamirror with a high quality display viewfinder; so there are some savings, but they are really not going to be that significant. When I look at my two DSLRs and look at the number of component, including exterior buttons and controls, I see some differnces and lower priced parts being used, but these are not as significant as things might seem.

    When I have a hard look at the likely cost differences, I strongly suspect the major differences are going to be the result of amortizing the tooling and R&D costs.

    Regardless; feature for feature going to mFT is not going to save you a lot versus a DSLR.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    The one thing I would personally want on any camera is eye-level focusing. Preferably TTL but, an eye level electronic viewfinder would do quite well.

    IMO. eye level viewing is far more efficient than using live view, especially in bright sun or for moving subjects. In reality, I could understand the use of live view for macro, still life, architectural and landscape photography; especially while tripod mounted. However, I would never pick a LCD viewfinder only camera for any moving subjects nor for most hand-held shooting...

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Start as you would with any camera; what's the budget, are you happy to buy discontinued/used? What do you want to use it for?

    I'd start by making a decision about sensor size, and system lenses, and price you're willing to pay. If you have to have APS-C, then NEX or Fuji X (possibly Samsung NX or EOS M) are worth investigating. But the lens selections should fit what you want to shoot. And these are among the more expensive choices.

    If you're all right on compromising sensor size for loads of lenses, then micro four-thirds Oly/Pany are worth a looksee.

    If a 2/3" or 1" sensor is fine, then Nikon 1, Sony RX-100, or Fuji X20 might fit the bill and may cost less than a full on MILC system with multiple lenses (Nikon 1 excepted). A used X100 could also be worth looking into if a 35/2 equiv. lens and APS-C sensor appeal to you.

    Consider if you'd prefer the low-cost/convenience of fixed lens vs. expense/versatility of interchangeable lens.

    And given how very differently these suckers handle vs. dSLRS, be sure to spend some on-hands time with one before making a purchase decision. EVF vs. OVF, and the autofocus/shutter responsiveness varies wildly across these models. Not to mention, not everybody's comfortable gripping smaller camera bodies.

    I'd say, as a dRebel user planning to upgrade to an XXD Canon, you are presumably not wanting to spend the equivalent amount on mirrorless that you will on dSLR gear. I'd point to used/discontinued micro four-thirds, as the good "compromise" system (assuming you don't want to keep it all in the family with an EOS M). m4/3 gear tends to depreciate much more quickly than the Fuji X or the NEX, partially because there are so many more models floating about, and also because Panasonic and Olympus sometimes inadvertently cannibalize each others' (and their own) markets. The Panasonic GX1 was a great camera. But Panasonic also came out with the G3, which, while it had a lower overall feature set, used the same sensor and processor AND came with a built-in EVF and flip-out screen--for $200 less. GX1s tanked from $800 to $250 in a little over a year. Olympus, otoh, has no rival for the OM-D, so it's only dropped from $1000 to $700 (used) in over 18 months. So the deals can get model-specific. A Pansonic GX1 or G5 or EP-3 might be a sweet spot for you, if you're looking for a lower-end camera.

    The problem is gonna be the lenses. There is no $100 50/1.8 II equivalent in m4/3, because of the 2x crop factor. The Panasonic 20/1.7 pancake is around $300.

    So, you'll also want to ask yourself if maybe just slapping a $150 EF 40mm f/2.8 STM onto the front of your 600D might be a decent compromise to get a smaller, lighter, sharper, take-everywhere combo.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Dave, I have faced the same questions before and after I bought my DSLR. After looking at M4/3 a couple of years ago I decided against the system, as it still has some disadvantages versus DSLR. Fast focus is one of those things that could be annoying.
    I decided to go for the D90 back then, migrated to the D7100 and now have the D600. Although the DSLR with lenses is a bit heavy when you go on a trip, I have never felt happier (with a camera that is). The quality is great, focus is fast and good and low light keeps getting better.

    Anyway, there still was the need for something smaller and although I have a Ricoh GX200, it wasn't enough. It missed an good EVF. So I started looking around again a little while ago. M4/3 still doesn't appeal to me, as it would be overkill next to the DSLR, but as it happened Nikon had come out with the Nikon 1 system.

    Now I know that a lot has been said about this camera, especially concerning its sensor, but it had a few good points:
    - good EVF
    - price wise, for a system that allows you to change lenses, it has some good models. I went for the Nikon 1V1 with 10-30mm lens and when the newer model had appeared its price was unbeatable. It is still around.
    - quality is fine in normal light and a lot of photos are difficult to distinguish from DSLR quality (I am not talking macro here or pixel level of course)
    you need good light though, in other circumstances the 1V1 gets noisy
    - focus is great and very fast. For a small camera it is probably, at the moment, the best you can get
    - DSLR lenses can be used if you use a converter. For you this doesn't add much, but for Nikon users it's a plus

    On city trips I bring this camera nowadays. It can't compete with the DSLR if you go for detailed nature shots, but a city, sport activities, a kid's party, it performs as expected.
    And it is easy to use, which is incidentally also one of the gripes people have with this camera. The 1V1 is too simple on the outside. A lot of settings are possible, but only through the menu. You learn to live with that, at least I did.

    My two cents.
    Last edited by Letrow; 21st August 2013 at 09:52 AM.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Have I missed something here? Why not the Canon EOS M (+adaptor) and then use your same lens cache?

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Have I missed something here? Why not the Canon EOS M (+adaptor) and then use your same lens cache?
    Adding the adapter + EOS lenses negates/mitigates the small carry-everywhere factor, not to mention that the EOS M has about the same autofocus performance as the X100 (similarly, better after a firmware update), no EVF, very few physical controls (i.e., if you want to switch from Av to M, you have to do it through the touchscreen and menus--there's no mode dial, let alone dual-wheel controls) and only two lenses: a 18-55 kit, and a 35-equiv fast prime. And here in the US, we've heard that the newly announced ultrawide zoom won't be available. Kinda cuts down on the usefulness of a system camera if you can't actually get a hold of the system...

    I've handled an EOS M at Fry's (pre-firmware update), and I thought it was a nice little camera, that the hybrid AF wasn't as bad as everyone said all the time, but could take over a second to lock focus, so wasn't ready for primetime just yet. And the original asking price of $800, for what you got, made a dRebel a smarter choice. It really felt a lot more like a very sophisticated P&S than a system camera, and the lack of an EVF or ability to add one on was my sticking point. It didn't become an item of desire until Newegg started blowing it out at $300, kitted with the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake prime.

    With EOS M, it's the AF performance that was the biggest deal--particularly for dSLR shooters used to PDAF. Now that the 70D has drastically improved on-sensor PDAF, everyone's waiting to see what that technology will do for the 2nd gen EOS M (and whether Canon will add an EVF or flippy screen).

    It is worth considering, though, given that you can get the EOS M+22 STM+90EX bundle for $400 at B&H here in the US, particularly if you're into the Strobist thang and a 35/2 is your do-everything lens.

    A used X100 is twice as expensive, but is preferred by many as their APS-C/fixed-lens 35/2 equiv. because of the hybrid viewfinder and retro styling and handling (instead of a mode dial, you have aperture ring and shutter speed dial with A settings; old-style shutter button threaded for cable release, etc.)
    Last edited by inkista; 21st August 2013 at 05:41 PM.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Hi Kathy,

    I take your point(s), but I still feel that people have unrealistic expectations from this class of device. It's a bit like the proverbial laptop that my customers want - they want it small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, but with a full size keyboard -- and obviously something has to give. If a P&S user gets a EOS M then I'm sure they'll find it a step up, but DSLR users are going to have to realise that they're not going to be able to get something that performs as well as a DSLR in a camera that size and at that price point.

    Sure, the 'togs would love a camera that size with a 120MP FF sensor and 10-1000mm F1.0 zoom lens built in, but only so long as the RAW + JPEG combined file sizes weren't more than 5MB and the whole unit still fitted into a handbag. Oh and for not more than $300.

    Compromises have to be made

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    I don't know if it will help your situation Dave but my experience is with a second hand Nikon V1 and Sony NEX 6 as a mirror-less second camera to my dSLR. The Nikon V1 had quite acceptable image quality in good light and a very nice EVF but suffered in low light conditions in my experience. As I really didn't take to the control layout I sold it as I was just becoming frustrated with it. I guess if I had it as my only camera I would have become more used to it but it wasn't for me. Obviously others like Peter have had a different experience with it which is great to hear.

    I now have the Sony NEX 6 which has a more traditional control layout and I am much more comfortable with swapping between it and my Nikon D5100. The Sony is very enjoyable to use with it's small 16-50mm kit lens. I don't think I will worry too much at this stage about getting longer reach than that as I have my dSLR and existing longer lenses.

    The m 4/3 option offers some really well thought out bodies and a good selection of lenses as well. I doubt you will go wrong there if that is your preference. I'd recommend handling them all if you can before making a final choice.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Question really is do you want another system camera? Another set of lenses etc. From your original question you seem to be saying you hoped a 18-270 as a all in one lens. And sadly discovered the compromise for the huge zoom range is image quality. Add a fairly cheap lens anyway, and to be honest you get what you pay for.

    If you are looking for a carry anywhere camera look at the quality compacts with built in zooms. I suspect there are many on here who use the Canon G series as a handy camera to carry around rather than a bulky slr. We just accept that above ISO 400 is not going to produce high image quality.

    For a reasonable long zoom - well I use a canon 70 - 300 on a 7D and at f8 its perfectly acceptable, and the IS is good. MY GP lens on the 7D is a canon 15 - 85 - and I use it 85% of the time on the 7D.

    I have an EOS M, and its not that bad. OK the focus is slow and in low light can get lost, but in fact I find it excellent in servo mode especially for macro work, where the ability to set the focus point by touch works quickly and well. The touch screen does take getting used to, and the way the layout/options change can be frustrating, but it is quick to use if not as quick as the mode dial on an slr.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Quote Originally Posted by loosecanon View Post
    I have an EOS M, and its not that bad. OK the focus is slow
    Have you upgraded to the latest firmware? It's been noted to "double" the focusing speed by some reviewers.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    I justify going to MFT with obtaining the tool I want and I am well aware it cost me more than a DSLR. The trouble is that the camera I really wanted is not made and it was a question of next best ... of course what I have ended up with is a miniature DSLR even though people wedded to them do not like the idea of calling MFT, my model type, a DSLR which I find highly amusing.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    To Colin

    Yes I have updated firmware

    Yes it is quicker to focus and less often fails to find a focus. It also seems much better in poor light. So can focus in light giving me an exposure of 1sec at f11 using an f4 lens (I use it with a 17-85 as its standard lens - a little heavy but good IQ and still much lighter than my 7D) (Anyone got a handy conversion of that to EV values)

    I have not really used the 22mm standard lens on it much but would expect that to focus quite quickly (I bought the M + 22mm + flash + EF adaptor kit)

    I am now happy with the M as a light small spare body / discrete camera which is what I bought it for.

    It is also good for macro with 100mm macro - touch the screen to selecting focus point, and click as it focuses - remarkably quick way for changing focus point and firing the shutter.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    I should have added - a nice touch with the M is the ability to programme the delete button to turn the live view into stopped down mode, so the live view gives one real time depth of field - a really useful feature for macro and landscapes.

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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    and only two lenses: a 18-55 kit, and a 35-equiv fast prime.
    Oh - and don't forget the EFS 55-250 ...

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/indepth/...mm_IS_STM_lens

  20. #20
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    Re: Advice wanted - considering mirrorless second camera

    Thanks very much, everyone.

    That's all the information that I think I need. My initial post was prompted by one by Kathy in another thread, when she explained why her G3 had a place alongside her DSLR kit. My thinking was to start with a M4/3 with a standard zoom (I now see that I could pick up a G3 pretty reasonably) and see how I got on. Especially if I bought second hand, if I didn't like it then I could pass it on and not have to pay too much for the learning. If I did find I got a lot of use out of it, then take it from there. Of course, it wouldn't replace my DSLR on my upcoming safari

    Much to ponder - thanks again.

    Dave

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