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Old 12-03-2012, 12:40 AM   #1
Aj Mick OP
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DSLR or High end compact?

Photos are an integral part of this forum, so there should be some useful experience to offer suggestions out there.

I am new to digital photography, having picked up the last Olympus "Tough" TG310 for 3,000 baht (about $US 100) six months ago when the local supermarket was clearing stock for the new model. I used to enjoy using a rangefinder 35mm film camera. My last camera was an SLR, which I had for a short time before giving it to the brother of a girlfriend (now ex) who was an aspiring journalist. That was about ten years ago, so now you could say I am a returnee to photography.

The SLR did have some advantages, but I liked the ease of carrying and unobtrusiveness of the rangefinder for general and candid photography.

I like the toughness of the TG310, and have used it in all sorts of situations, including several metres underwater in the ocean. It is a camera to carry anywhere, and not have to worry about. However it does have its limitations. the lens is nothing flash, and the sensor is small, both limiting the sharpness of detail of images. The shutter lag is a drag, especially when photographing sports events.... quite a few pictures I have taken have been used in the local press.

It is time to look for something better, with more manual control. I like the Fuji 10x (but an underwater housing would cost an arm and a leg). The Canon G series also looks interesting (cheaper housing available). Both have negligible shutter lag, and decent lens. They would be an equivalent to the rangefinder cameras I liked, and easy to carry on a motorcycle (no car here).

On the other hand I have "tasted" a DSLR equipped with a 70 - 200 mm lens, which was great for catching sports field action. I am tempted to bite the bullet and get something similar, but to carry on a motorcycle it would be rather bulky, and more delicate.

I don't have an unlimited budget, but value for money is more important then cost alone.

Any suggestions would be welcome.
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:23 AM   #2
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:43 AM   #3
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I carry both.

You will take more photos with the smaller simpler camera.

I only use the 5DmkII when I stop for longer periods of time where I can "make" and image. A large part of what I carry is photo equipment and is cumbersome.

If I had the $ I think a Leica M series with several lenses would be a good solution.



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Old 12-03-2012, 07:46 AM   #4
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I went thru this earlier this year, and sold my DSLR and four lenses to buy an X10. I used ExposurePlot to scan my hard drive, read the EXIF data and tell me what focal lengths, apertures, and ISO was using. I had, at one point or another, a 10-20, 18-55, 35 2.8, 50 1.4, 90 2.8 macro, and 55-300 lenses. I was shooting at the wide end of the 18-55 around F/8, mostly using the 35mm 2.8 as a walkaround, and the 50 for portraits. The macro shooting I was doing was more floral close-up than true 1:1 macro, though I had the lens for it. It was either buy a much faster 17-50ish F2.8 zoom or go to a compact of a similar range and speed.

The size and weight of those lenses is prohibitive, for what I like to do, so I did a lot of research and bought the X10. I demand an optical viewfinder, and while the X10s isn't full coverage or very large, it has a proper diopter adjustment and works in those times I need it. The F2-2.8 lens is sharp, the color rendition is fantastic (I no longer shoot RAW), and the EXR modes really do result in lower noise or much reduced highlight clipping, albeit at 6MP rather than 12MP. Build quality is mostly metal, all needed controls are external and the V2.0 firmware allows a quick menu function tied to the RAW button to access what few things don't have a hard button. The zoom ring on the lens barrel means it feels like a real camera in your hand.

If I ever decide to go the interchangeable lens route again, it will undoubtedly be the Fuji X-Pro 1. I am really happy with the performance of the X10.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:07 AM   #5
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An m4/3 or Nex mirrorless interchangeable lens camera could give you best of both worlds.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:17 AM   #6
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I am at the crossroads myself. Do I buy a new body and long fast lens or pick up something like the Fugi x10, Canon G15, Nikon P7700 or?
I was on vacation in Australia and carried my Pentax K100DSuper, 3 lenses, spare batterys, SD cards, mini tripod etc in a sling bag. It got real heavy! I'm going to the Isle of Man next June and what shall I bring along? I'm thinking a much smalled unit. What do you all think?
PS, I'm not that good or creative.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:18 AM   #7
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Add to the list, which will capture starry night sky photos.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:25 AM   #8
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I have my share of SLR gear (and much larger), but the pocket cams get the most use...that's because I can take a pocket cam anywhere and my sports limit what I can carry. So most of the time I snap one off, it comes from the pocket cam.

Can't help ya on which one - haven't been in the market for a while, but I'd get a pocket cam without a second thought simply because you can't take a picture if you don't have a camera.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rob feature View Post
I have my share of SLR gear (and much larger), but the pocket cams get the most use...that's because I can take a pocket cam anywhere and my sports limit what I can carry. So most of the time I snap one off, it comes from the pocket cam.

Can't help ya on which one - haven't been in the market for a while, but I'd get a pocket cam without a second thought simply because you can't take a picture if you don't have a camera.
As much as I love using my dslr and would happily recommend getting one, rob has it right - it comes down to the camera that you're going to have with you. If the size and weight of an dslr is problem for you, you're not going to get the benefit.

In terms of carrying one on the bike - mine frequently goes in the panniers or tank bag and has survived the abuse well. They really are built pretty tough
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:07 PM   #10
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Mirrorless is the way to go

I'd hold onto a compact camera for those situations where outfitting a system camera is either undesirable, or not cost effective (a perfect example being the underwater scenario). But if you have the interest in "not losing" the versatility that your SLR gave you," you'd be doing yourself a favor in considering mirrorless. Mirrorless is the way to go if you want to up your game, but don't want the size of a full-on DSLR kit, or the cost to get prized specialty DSLR lenses (well...there are also prized mirrorless lenses, which are also pricey...but on the whole not *quite* as pricey as the alternative). Mirrorless stands a chance at offering what a system camera offers (the option to mount niche lenses, & flash accessories) while also giving you access to really compact all-purpose zooms...all while reducing the overall size of your kit by a factor of like 50%. Will it go underwater? Yes...if you throw enough $$$ at it...but personally, I'd just settle for the small underwater capable compact in those situations. For the motorcycle, though, I'd say they're perfect.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveShaft View Post
I'd hold onto a compact camera for those situations where outfitting a system camera is either undesirable, or not cost effective (a perfect example being the underwater scenario). But if you have the interest in "not losing" the versatility that your SLR gave you," you'd be doing yourself a favor in considering mirrorless. Mirrorless is the way to go if you want to up your game, but don't want the size of a full-on DSLR kit, or the cost to get prized specialty DSLR lenses (well...there are also prized mirrorless lenses, which are also pricey...but on the whole not *quite* as pricey as the alternative). Mirrorless stands a chance at offering what a system camera offers (the option to mount niche lenses, & flash accessories) while also giving you access to really compact all-purpose zooms...all while reducing the overall size of your kit by a factor of like 50%. Will it go underwater? Yes...if you throw enough $$$ at it...but personally, I'd just settle for the small underwater capable compact in those situations. For the motorcycle, though, I'd say they're perfect.
My problem with mirrorless/interchangable lens cameras is they're still well beyond fitting in your pocket, and you're still not getting the benefit of a decent viewfinder (although I have not looked at the latest digital viewfinders)...

So for me, I'm still not convinced about 4/3 mirrorless...but there are some increasingly appealing models coming out in this space.
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:24 PM   #12
Aj Mick OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grainbelt View Post
I went thru this earlier this year, and sold my DSLR and four lenses to buy an X10. I used ExposurePlot to scan my hard drive, read the EXIF data and tell me what focal lengths, apertures, and ISO was using. I had, at one point or another, a 10-20, 18-55, 35 2.8, 50 1.4, 90 2.8 macro, and 55-300 lenses. I was shooting at the wide end of the 18-55 around F/8, mostly using the 35mm 2.8 as a walkaround, and the 50 for portraits. The macro shooting I was doing was more floral close-up than true 1:1 macro, though I had the lens for it. It was either buy a much faster 17-50ish F2.8 zoom or go to a compact of a similar range and speed.

The size and weight of those lenses is prohibitive, for what I like to do, so I did a lot of research and bought the X10. I demand an optical viewfinder, and while the X10s isn't full coverage or very large, it has a proper diopter adjustment and works in those times I need it. The F2-2.8 lens is sharp, the color rendition is fantastic (I no longer shoot RAW), and the EXR modes really do result in lower noise or much reduced highlight clipping, albeit at 6MP rather than 12MP. Build quality is mostly metal, all needed controls are external and the V2.0 firmware allows a quick menu function tied to the RAW button to access what few things don't have a hard button. The zoom ring on the lens barrel means it feels like a real camera in your hand.

If I ever decide to go the interchangeable lens route again, it will undoubtedly be the Fuji X-Pro 1. I am really happy with the performance of the X10.
Thanks for this, being the thoughts of one who has come through the the reasoning to reach a happy outcome.

Yes, the optical viewfinder is important to me too. I am not keen on the holding the camera out and using the LCD screen to frame the picture. For one thing I like the undistracted attention to what I want to take a picture of. For another it makes for a more steady camera, being held close to the face.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mav View Post
As much as I love using my dslr and would happily recommend getting one, rob has it right - it comes down to the camera that you're going to have with you. If the size and weight of an dslr is problem for you, you're not going to get the benefit.

In terms of carrying one on the bike - mine frequently goes in the panniers or tank bag and has survived the abuse well. They really are built pretty tough
Some good points here too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mav View Post
My problem with mirrorless/interchangable lens cameras is they're still well beyond fitting in your pocket, and you're still not getting the benefit of a decent viewfinder (although I have not looked at the latest digital viewfinders)...

So for me, I'm still not convinced about 4/3 mirrorless...but there are some increasingly appealing models coming out in this space.
Likewise I am not keen on this class of camera; they seem neither here nor there. For me it is either bite the bullet and go down the DSLR route, or go for better compact.

I can see a "tough" camera staying with me though. It is just so easy to throw in a bag and not have to worry about.

I am fairly minimalist in my attitude to possessions; it comes of having lived a fairly itinerant life. Though I have lived in the same place (and apartment) for a decade now, a move is starting to look imminent..... and with that will come a return to moving around for a bit.

Thanks for the responses from all.
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aj Mick View Post


Likewise I am not keen on this class of camera; they seem neither here nor there. For me it is either bite the bullet and go down the DSLR route, or go for better compact.

I can see a "tough" camera staying with me though. It is just so easy to throw in a bag and not have to worry about.

I am fairly minimalist in my attitude to possessions; it comes of having lived a fairly itinerant life. Though I have lived in the same place (and apartment) for a decade now, a move is starting to look imminent..... and with that will come a return to moving around for a bit.

Thanks for the responses from all.
So keep the tough compact - that can stay in your pocket as you don't need to worry about the weather etc and get the dslr for when you've got a little more time
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:40 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Mav View Post
My problem with mirrorless/interchangable lens cameras is they're still well beyond fitting in your pocket, and you're still not getting the benefit of a decent viewfinder (although I have not looked at the latest digital viewfinders)...

So for me, I'm still not convinced about 4/3 mirrorless...but there are some increasingly appealing models coming out in this space.
No System will fit in your pocket. However, pieces of a system can, giving you some pretty unique options to put in your quiver...and can fit in your pocket as well as a G15 could. Generally speaking, I rolled with a Pen in my rear pocket, and a 20 f/1.7 prime in my front pocket, when I was experimenting with the m4/3 platform myself, and that afforded me a pretty nice combination of capabilities. Others have done this...which again, fits in your back pocket...and isn't even the smallest option.



There definitely *are* mirrorless options with viewfinders, too--some dedicated options, and then some that you remove if you want it to be pocketable. They work well, albeit within the constraint that they are based on an electronic viewfinder. Some consider that a deal breaker, which is of course, a personal matter. But it's all different flavors of what's possible.

I for one use a full-on DSLR kit, with some pretty stellar lenses...some ridiculously sharp f/1.4~f/2 primes, and some f/2 zooms. I concede that a large % of scenarios are only caught with camera phones, and my compact camera, bcs any scenario that includes the DSLR would need to accomodate anywhere between 4-10 lbs weight, and a displacement of between 1-2.5 Liters of camera, accessories, and padding (& tripod, if I'm being "serious"). The only reason I haven't jumped back into mirrorless myself is because I'm waiting for the next generation of the OM-D to come out. There are some dealbreakers on my list of things mirrorless doesn't do for me...but viewfinders and size certainly aren't on that list.

I do think of the Fuji platform as "rangefinders" of the 21st century. They are unique in their method of composition, and very slick stuff. I'd love to have that in my "quiver" too, but sadly can't afford *that* many platforms.

Edit: FYI, I came around to my current perspective after having gone the route of the G-series camera 1st...learned a ton, and then moved to a combination of high-end compact + mirrorless + dslr. The only reason I moved away from the G-series was bcs it took Canon Forrrrever to figure out that the high-end market needed a bright lens. Now that they've lost a ton of marketshare to folks like Panasonic & Oly, they've finally gotten on the bright lens bandwagon, which puts the G-series back on my map...not that I'm in the market, bcs the XZ-1 is good enough to last me a verrrry long time.

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Old 12-03-2012, 06:50 PM   #15
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I think my next camera will be the Canon EOS M. 18MP APS-C sensor. Basically, a Canon 650D - sensor, processor, firmware, touchscreen interface, everything - but in a mirrorless package. So you get the benefit of smaller, lighter glass, but the high quality and processing capability of a DSLR.

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