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Fierybiscuits
05-09-11, 01:08 AM
Hello,

I hope someone could give me a little advice. I am a definitely a beginner when it comes to photography, with only several little compacts and a bit of a point and shoot habit to my name. I am happy with what this can offer me the majority of the time, something handy to slip in my bag and take on a nights out etc., but I am after something that will allow me to take a step up and get a little bit more involved in photography, learn a bit more and take some superior photos all at the same time. I am aware I could try and move into DSLR territory but am worried that this is too much of a step up for me and don't think my budget will stretch that far without some serious saving. Plus I am after something a bit more compact as I am not keen on the idea of lugging around a large camera and equipment, especially as I am an architecture student and would probably be carting it around trying to take arty photos of buildings, scenery etc.

I had been looking at some slightly higher end compact cameras, but came across the Compact System Camera and wondered whether this might be a better option. I have read they are a good choice for any amateurs looking to get a bit more into photography, as they bridge the gap between a compact and a DSLR, and the fact they have interchangeable lenses might make any eventual move into DSLR less painful. However, I am a little bit blinded by science with the various terms (MILC, EVIL????), and the differences between these types of camera.

I suppose this is down to personal preference, but does anyone have an opinion on what makes and models might be good for someone in my position, or whether this is a road I just should not veer down. Right now I am keen on a couple of the Olympus EPLs (I like the price, the good reviews for relative amateurs and the retro PEN styling, but am unsure about the slightly "plastic-y" body and lenses), or the Sony NEX 3 (again, seemingly good reviews, is small and looks good, but have heard the lenses can be very pricey), but I still really have no idea and am completely undecided. Hence I am desperate for some decent advice to help put an end to my constant internet wandering, as I'm just ending up more and more confused.

My budget is 250 - 350, with the possibility of stretching a little further if something was absolutely ideal (I don't want to end up disappointed for the sake of 20 or 30 quid), but can't really go too much beyond and I know there'll likely be extras like cases and memory cards to buy too. Saving much more isn't really an option with being a "poor" student at the moment, and I am relying mostly on birthday funds here!!! So for this I am after something that will help me to learn a little bit more about photography (on a gentle learning curve), take better quality and more artistic photos (probably mostly buildings), and finally something compact, preferably under 350. I hope this isn't too much to ask!

Apologies for the long post, but any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!!! :)

canismajor
05-09-11, 01:37 PM
Hi there, have you considered the Panasonic DMC-TZ18 yet?. Its RRP is 269 but I'm sure it can be obtained cheaper. I see some brilliant pics in the WDC gallery and taken on this very camera. When looking at images I always check which camera was used and a picture builds up of which cameras perform well, and this one certainly does. It has a good zoom of 24-384mm, has a 14mp sensor as well as image stabilisation and HD movie mode. Check it out by 'Googling' the model and weigh up its spec. All the best, Mike.

Fierybiscuits
05-09-11, 11:10 PM
Hi there, have you considered the Panasonic DMC-TZ18 yet?. Its RRP is 269 but I'm sure it can be obtained cheaper. I see some brilliant pics in the WDC gallery and taken on this very camera. When looking at images I always check which camera was used and a picture builds up of which cameras perform well, and this one certainly does. It has a good zoom of 24-384mm, has a 14mp sensor as well as image stabilisation and HD movie mode. Check it out by 'Googling' the model and weigh up its spec. All the best, Mike.
Hi,

Thanks for your advice. I had considered the Panasonic at one point, when I was looking at slightly higher end compacts. This and the Sony DSCHX9VB had made my shortlist.

But on reflection I wasn't completely sure I really wanted another compact camera, mainly because my little Casio Exilim, while certainly not the best camera in the world, is only a couple of years old and does a fairly good job at the basic quick snaps I often like to take (on nights out etc.), so I suppose instead I saw it more as an opportunity to buy something a little bit different that would allow me to get a bit more involved in photography, learn a bit more, and eventually be able to take some pretty good shots. I am quite "arty farty" sometimes and would love to be able to reflect this in my photography, especially on the architectural side. However I find the prospect of a DSLR completely daunting, which is why I had considered some of the CSCs, but I am still totally undecided.
Having been into quite a few shops and reading as many reviews as possible, I do still really like the Panasonic as a good quality compact (I've barely read a bad review and it's obviously a very popular camera), and out of the Compact System cameras, I like the Sony Nex 3 or 5 ever so slightly more than the Olympus EPL1 (they seem to have very similar reviews and results in a lot of aspects, but I like the look and the feel of the Sony just a teensy bit more, but then it's more money and I worry further about the apparent high cost of the lenses for the future). So really I just keep going round in circles!!! I think I am actually going to go and talk to someone in the shop tomorrow, rather than just standing round looking rather blankly at everything on offer!

Thanks :)

wave
06-09-11, 07:27 AM
Hi and welcome. I read your post and its great that people want to improve, I think the questions you have to answer are how far do you want to go, will this new camera have to fit in your bag on nights out, what type of pictures you will take and in what light.
Al these things have to be looked at plus do you want the ability to change lenses, which isnt just the realm of DSLR's now.
Its good that you are doing research and looking at them too. Apart from trying to improve what do you want to take pictures of this will help us give more advice

canismajor
06-09-11, 08:41 AM
I understand where you're coming from, and may I suggest that you pay a visit to a few camera dealers and get that 'hands on' approach, which will help you decide. Some DSLR's are quite diminutive in size and it's possible you may find one which suits your requirements. Good hunting, Mike.

Fierybiscuits
06-09-11, 11:16 AM
Hi and welcome. I read your post and its great that people want to improve, I think the questions you have to answer are how far do you want to go, will this new camera have to fit in your bag on nights out, what type of pictures you will take and in what light.
Al these things have to be looked at plus do you want the ability to change lenses, which isnt just the realm of DSLR's now.
Its good that you are doing research and looking at them too. Apart from trying to improve what do you want to take pictures of this will help us give more advice

Hi,

To try and answer these questions, I suppose I'm after something a bit more advanced than a basic compact, but perhaps not as daunting as a DSLR, as I don't think I'd know where to start. It would be nice if that could be my eventual goal, but I suppose I'm looking for something to learn on, to ease me in as gently as possible, at least until I have a bit more time and money to learn about the more technical side of things in the future.
I am happy with my little compact (or even my phone!), as a point and shoot for slipping in my handbag on nights out and various gatherings etc. Instead, this new camera would probably be used mostly in daylight, and used a lot to support my architectural studies, which would obviously involve capturing different buildings, details, and perhaps some internal shots too, but I'd also like to be able to take it with me on my travels to various cities, hiking etc. I am happy to have something a little bigger than the average compact, but am not really keen on the idea of carrying around a large DSLR, with any associated equipment, as I know really I'd end up never taking it anywhere.
I like the idea of interchangeable lenses, but it is something I would have to learn more about and get used to as I really am a novice. However I do have a growing interest in photography, am willing to learn a bit more, and can usually pick things up fairly quickly. I think this is why I was perhaps looking at the Compact System cameras, but I'm not sure. I suppose in essence, without trying to sound too cliche, I am just looking for another way in which to express my creativity and gain a new skill!!!

Thanks for your advice, and I hope you might be able to offer a little more if my answers haven't proved I have set my expectations too high! I am off to visit my local camera shop this afternoon to see what they say. Looking at specs and reviews on the internet, while incredibly helpful, is only sending me round in circles at the moment as there's so much choice and ranges in price, and everything has their pros and cons. Hence the plea for help!

Fierybiscuits
06-09-11, 11:20 AM
I understand where you're coming from, and may I suggest that you pay a visit to a few camera dealers and get that 'hands on' approach, which will help you decide. Some DSLR's are quite diminutive in size and it's possible you may find one which suits your requirements. Good hunting, Mike.

Thank you! I will be off to actually try and speak to someone in a shop this afternoon, to see if I can make a decision. I had been putting it off only in case I got talked into buying something well out of my price range (I am NOT good at saying "no"), but I will just ask their advice and be sure not to try and make any quick decisions on the spot :)

wave
06-09-11, 01:39 PM
there are cameras that fit into your budget and that give more creative control. Canons G11 or g12 is a good example. That said you will learn and then not be satisfied and want a DSLR. My advice is to save up and just go get a DSLR

Fierybiscuits
07-09-11, 09:55 AM
Thanks. I think I have decided to save a little more and go for a Panasonic G3. After a trip to Jessops yesterday the lady had recommended the Panasonics as they are good quality, the lenses are far better value and have a much greater range than the Sonys (both with Panasonic, but also being able to take other manufacturer's), and there is a built in flash, which is again something the Sony's lack. I had a little go with a GF2 and was quite impressed with the feel and quality. Perhaps not as "pretty" as the Sony Nex or the Olympus EPLs (probably why I hadn't really considered them as much during my online research), but quite nice and solid.
I was then tempted by the GF3, as the newer more up-to-date version, but was put off by the fact it is aimed more at the entry level end, reflected by the lack of "hotshoe" and therefore the inability to attach a viewfinder or external flash if required in the future. Both cameras have a touchscreen and I read a few reviews that people were slightly annoyed with the lack of viewfinder, as a screen covered in fingerprints makes it difficult to compose in bright sunlight. Instead, the G3 is a tiny bit bigger, and styled more like a mini DSLR, it seems to have a higher spec, a hinged touchscreen and both an EVF and a hotshoe. The picture results in the reviews I read seem excellent, and scored highly with street scenes, buildings, details etc., so seemingly perfect for what I'm after. It comes in White too, which will satisfy my girly need to not have bog standard black.
Downside is it's about 490 so quite a bit more than what I had set as a budget, but now I think I have seen the one I want I would rather save for a little bit longer, than compromise and be unhappy. I know It is still not a DSLR, but the fantastic features will keep me amused and learning for a long while yet, the iA mode means I can still point and shoot when I want to, and this will be much more portable so I will hopefully get far more opportunity to take it out and use it. I might change my mind if I really catch the photography bug in the future, but for now this seems exactly what I'm after.
Thanks to you both for your advice!

Nigel Atherton
07-09-11, 03:34 PM
If you like the G3 but can't quite afford it you should consider the Samsung NX11 (http://www.jessops.com/online.store/products/80685/show.html). Its similar to the G3 in size, design and concept, but with fewer bells and whistles (eg no touchscreen). However, it does have a larger sensor so the image quality will be better, and the iFn button on the lens is a superb way to access the settings.
Best of all you can buy one from Jessops for 389, so 100 less than the G3. I recommend you take a look.