/ dSLR or "bridge"?

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Carolyn - on 06 Aug 2012
OK, UKC, sort me out....!

My dSLR appears to have died - it's an old d70 that's had the ongoing issue of sometimes deciding it couldn't read/write to its card, but that now appears to be a permanent problem that's probably not worth a repair.

But do I want a newer dSLR, or a bridge - I have to admit to being rather taken by the glossy ads for the Olympus PEN series, but am open to other suggestions ;-) I'm not wedded to any particular brand, as I never got round to buying additional lens for the Nikon as two young kids rather took over from photography.

I want more control than your average compact. I've used a film SLR in the past, so understand aperture/depth of field/shutter speed kind of relationships, and would prefer to be able to control these a little more directly than choosing a "mode" (because I can never quite remember which does what....). Definitely want a tripod mount. Would like the option of an optical/electronic viewfinder. Want to be able to add decent lenses. Would be nice to do long exposures, and be able to mount filters fairly easily. Maybe able to mount an external flash.

The smaller size of the PENs (or other bridges - what's worth a look?) has a fair appeal, as I'm usually lugging round a selection of kids clothes/snacks/etc as well as a camera, or taking it on an early morning fell run - rarely a dedicated photography trip as such.

So, what does the collective wisdom of UKC recommend?
(I seem to have a significant birthday coming up, so can probably spend a reasonable amount...... just don't tell the husband. Whoops, he's probably read it now....!)
Richard Carter - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:

Kudos for keeping the D70 going for so long! :-D
Carolyn - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to Richard Carter:

LOL, but that doesn't help with any decision.......!
dek - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:
Did you mean the 'green light of death' where the camera just freezes up? I had that on a D70. A well known problem that was fixed for free by Nikon UK. You could try googling it, as. It was a well known glitch. A good little camera Btw!
stonemaster - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn: Sorry, but it sounds like you need a dSLR for the control AND a bridge for snaps. Good luck.
Carolyn - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to dek:

No, I don't think it's that - it's an error with writing to the card (can't remember what the screen says off the top of my head) - it'll expose/focus, just not acutally take a pic. Did Google it, and seemed relatively common, but the verdict seemed to be to try changing the card, but if that didn't work it could be one of any number of faults and was likely to be more to fix than replace....
Carolyn - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to stonemaster:

I'm not sure that's the right answer!

I guess the gap in my knowledge is how much control I'd get on a bridge - I'd be happy enough if it had say a basic aperture priority mode or similar, I don't necessarily need the ability to switch to a fully manual.

Though I have to say the temptation is to go for a bridge now, and maybe upgrade to a SLR when the kids are a bit bigger and I get more time to play - should that ever happen!
Richard Carter - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:

Sorry!

How about a D3200 or similar? Certainly better image quality than a D70, but also more compact.
dissonance - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to stonemaster:
> (In reply to Carolyn) Sorry, but it sounds like you need a dSLR for the control AND a bridge for snaps.

nah best to go for a dSLR and a compact along s100 or the lumix series variants since the bridge cameras can be relatively bulky and hence pain to carry.

for op: top end compacts do have the full manual controls or alternatively you could look at the firmware mods like CHDK for canon which can give lower end cameras a lot more flexibility (although you would need to check each model against the faq to see what it can give you).
stonemaster - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to dissonance: s100! You are a man of fine taste, sir...:) What a grand range of choice these days.
Darkskys - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn: I've just acquired one for the birthday off the Mrs...compared to similar cameras its possibly best in that price range.
I can't wait to play with mine thus weekend :)
Kai - on 06 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:

The Olympus OMD EM5 will give you all the control you had with a dSLR, along with brilliant image quality and a wide and excellent array of lenses. It is about 1/2 to 1/3 the size of a dSLR.

If you want an interchangeable lens system that is much smaller than your d70, this is the way to go.

If you don't care about interchangeable lenses, and just want a single pocket camera that will give excellent image quality and allow full exposure control, the Sony RX100 is your best pick.
ayuplass - on 07 Aug 2012
In reply to Kai:
> (In reply to Carolyn)
>
> The Olympus OMD EM5 will give you all the control you had with a dSLR, along with brilliant image quality and a wide and excellent array of lenses. It is about 1/2 to 1/3 the size of a dSLR.

Have you seen the price of them though! You can get. 7d for the same price. Or a second hand 5d m2

Kai - on 07 Aug 2012
It costs more because it's a capable camera in a smaller package. I've got one. Worth every penny.


In reply to ayuplass:
> (In reply to Kai)
> [...]
>
> Have you seen the price of them though! You can get. 7d for the same price. Or a second hand 5d m2

Nicholas Livesey on 07 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn: The Canon G series are well worth considering, I've taken some of my best shots with a G12 and still take it out with me along with my 7D...wouldn't be without it ;)
Carolyn - on 09 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:

Cheers all. The top end Compacts are a good call - they'd kind of dropped off my radar amongst all the "million MP but hopeless lens" compacts that float around. They're definitely a possibility - first digital was one of Sony's with a decent Carl Zeiss lens that had enough control to be be reasonable. I think I'd probably assumed they'd been overtaken by bridges.

The one drawback I remember with that was despite having some control over aperture, it was a fairly limited range, and hard to do the fairly standard "subject in focus, background a bit blurred" sort of shot. Any thoughts on if the current top compacts and bridges have a big enough range to do this?

Will have a play with my Dad's bridge this weekend, and then try and get my hands on a few of the other suggestions..... I suspect I'll actually prefer something smaller than a SLR given I have fairly small hands, and certainly don't have the problems my OH does of finding the controls on other stuff too small and fiddly.
Blue Straggler - on 09 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:
> Any thoughts on if the current top compacts and bridges have a big enough range to do this?

It's not quite to do with "range", but more to do with sensor size and maximum aperture. I had a Finepix F300EXR (not top-end but useful for the example). It has a standard 1/2" sensor for a compact and a f/3.5-5.3 lens with focal length 4.4mm - 66mm (24-360 equivalent). That combination of focal length and aperture does lend itself well to "subject in focus, background blurred" type pictures apart from very close-focus pics, to be honest. Somewhere there will be a "depth of field" calculator on the web. But on the whole if you want that kind of picture, you need a bigger sensor so that focal lengths are longer for a given field of view.

This is the best I could do on a different camera with the same size sensor but an f/2.0 lens at 38mm-equivalent focal length (here the subject is the bolt)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/blue-straggler/6627570969/in/set-72157628697380265
Blue Straggler - on 09 Aug 2012
also the F300EXR (and presumably a number of other modern compacts) claimed to have a software function that would create your desired effect by taking a burst of shots and using the data to somehow blur the background. The results make me question whether it's really doing what it claimed. It's wayward and a bit crap, just a gimmicky sales lie really!
Arjen - on 09 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:
Compacts are a bit boring if you're interested in manual controls, since the small sensor means ultra-wide lenses (most lenses are 6mm which is 28mm equivalent), which means that 'aperture' doesn't really do anything.
From u3/4 onwards it starts getting interesting.
I have a oly XZ-1 with a 'large' sensor, f/1.8 lens and good controls, but the effect it has on the depth-of-field is in the pictures minimal. If someone is close, then at 122mm and f/2.2 there is some subject isolation, but that's it. I can post some examples if you like...

Something along the lines of oly/panasonic with the u3/4 system is good, it is likely to stay and there's a good selection of lenses already.
Sony NEX has supposedly very good sensors but rubbish control, don't know anything about the samsung system, don't know if it is going to stay...

Canon and Nikon also have their small-sensor systems, I'm not so convinced by the Nikon (smaller sensor than u3/4), but the canon system has at least a decent sensor in the thing, but it only comes in October.
Paul B - on 09 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:

I'd advise against a top end compact. Yes they've got good lenses, yes they offer you a lot of control but ultimately they're limited by the size of the sensor. DoF control is pretty minimal for all but Macro work.

The same can be said for the G-series cameras apart from the newest which is quite frankly huge.

I've had an LX5 which I sold as it was too heavy for carrying on big routes and now have an S95. Don't get me wrong, they're great when I can't afford to carry something more competent but if I wasn't as limited by weight I'd have looked at the Micro 4/3rds and crop sensor mirrorless cameras for something smaller than my DSLR setup. As has been pointed out to me by a few people; if you go down M4/3rds when your body eventually wears out you're not tied to a manufcaturer and have a lot of options. The GF1s can be picked up for absolute bargain prices and when combined with the 25mm (ish) fast primes the results are impressive.

What's your budget? If money isn't an issue then the X-pro1 looks like a truly fun and able camera but it doesn't come cheap! (but too big for fell running IMO).
ads.ukclimbing.com
Richard88 - on 09 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn: Hello everyone, new to this forum so this is my first post. If your not looking to break the bank the fujifilm s9600 is a fab camera, has all of the options you said you wanted like a dslr apart from interchangable lenses, it has a fixed lens with a 10.7x optical zoom. Well worth just reading a few reviews to see if its for you. Can pick ones up in as new condition on ebay for under 150, think they retailed at 380 when new.
Richard
Anni on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:

I have both a dSLR and an olympus PEN mid range. Whilst the PEN is wonderfully convenient and love that you can change lenses, the picture quality is nowhere near a good dSLR standard, even at ISO 100. Whilst this isn't an issue for say larger landscapes or people shots, (you'd be hard pressed to tell unless you zoom in 1:1) it depends what you want to do. I'm a macro nut, and while it takes ok macro shots, the finer detail when you zoom in really isn't dSLR standard. However, while at a wedding recently the shots taken in full daylight on the PEN of people outside the church at ISO 200, it was very hard to tell the quality between those and the SLR when viewed at full size.

Having said that the PEN is leagues ahead of our old compact (we had a higher end Nikon compact) so it more than does the job for that aspect. I guess it depends how serious/fussy you are about finer detail in your pictures vs budget vs size! It sounds like if you're not a dedicated photographer, not looking to move that way, and looking for something to take decent snaps of kids and climbing, something like a PEN would more than suit your needs :o)
JDal - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Anni:
I suppose it depends on what you mean by "dSLR" standard, which is hardly a standard. There's a rather big difference between entry level and 5 grands worth of Nikon D4 with a few grands worth of lens stuck on the front! The recent Pens/Panny GH3/E-M5 are comfortably a match for most dSLR's on image quality. The current weakness compared to dSLR is lens lineup, there are no absolutely top notch native macros or teles (however there are adaptors), and there are downsides to the CDAF focussing these thing use.

This guy's shots show that in the right hands and with good lenses the macros can be spectacular: http://robinwong.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/olympus-om-d-e-m5-review-butterfly-park.html

Anni on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to JDal:


In reply to JDal:

Ok, for clarification I'm talking mid range dSLR standard - I've got the Nikon d7000, which has a very similar sensor to the D5100. From the OP's post I felt she was talking that kind of range given she had a D70 before. When comparing against an Olympus PEN as the OP also mentioned, against a mid range SLR, and also compared with my old D70, the 1:1 quality isn't the same. Fair enough the Olympus shown above may have fantastic image quality, but it also has the price tag to match! Like I said, it depends on what she's looking for in terms of quality from the camera she buys....
JDal - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Anni:

What pen/lens were you using, and what lens? The early pens were't up to much, I agree, but the later ones are a lot better. Having said that, the image quality of Panasonic's M4/3 cameras is probably better than the equivalent Pens as their sensors are a generation ahead of Oly's, but they don't have IBIS. Up to the Sony-sensored E-M5 that is.

One down side of all of the mirrorless cams except the E-M5 is that they don't have viewfinders, and a decent clip-in is about 150. This was a requirement of the OP and is a major drawback IMHO. Mine has fallen off twice while charging around to get a shot, it's a miracle I found it.
Blue Straggler - on 15 Aug 2012
hand held snapshot macro from a camera from ~2002 that can be had for about 60 these days
http://www.flickr.com/photos/blue-straggler/7712752396/in/set-72157630903324076
JDal - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:
Yes, very nice, but I'm not sure why we're discussing macros as the OP never mentioned them. Or have I missed somthing again?
Blue Straggler - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to JDal:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
> Yes, very nice, but I'm not sure why we're discussing macros as the OP never mentioned them. Or have I missed somthing again?

No, Anni brought up macro. I was riding the tangent!
Seriously, the Sony Cybershot F717 fits all criteria in the OP apart from interchangeable lenses, but with a 38-200mm (equivalent) f/2.0-2.2 Carl Zeiss lens with a close-focus distance of 2cm, a good range is covered.
Grain like porridge above ISO100, though.
Anni on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to JDal:

It's the brand new PEN EPL -3 with the 14-42 kit lens that comes with it. The only reason I mentioned macro is because unless the OP wanted her pics to go to that level of detail, she wouldn't notice the difference in quality between something like a PEN and a D70. It's certainly the only place I've noticed a problem with the PEN. Also havnt found the lack of viewfinder bothers me personally that much TBH when I'm using such a small camera, even though I use it all the time on the SLR. I thought it would but found otherwise once I got out & used it, but that's just me, I was too busy having fun with the flippy screen! :o )
JDal - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Anni: Be interesting to see how the Pen fared at macro with the Nikon lens you used stuck on it via a cheapo adapter. Also according to DPReview it needs the default noise filter turning down or you lose detail, unless you shoot raw of course!( http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympusepl3/21 )
Carolyn - on 15 Aug 2012
In reply to Anni:

Thanks Anni, that's useful to know. You're right, I don't have the time to be too serious about photography at least for the next few years, so I doubt images will be good enough to regret the difference between a pretty good camera and a really good camera ;-)
Anni on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to JDal:

Why would I shoot anything but RAW!?! ;o)

Carolyn:

Hope you find simething you get on with!
adnix - on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to Carolyn:

> The one drawback I remember with that was despite having some control over aperture, it was a fairly limited range, and hard to do the fairly standard "subject in focus, background a bit blurred" sort of shot. Any thoughts on if the current top compacts and bridges have a big enough range to do this?

With a better fixed lens the PEN will do this. Try Flickr.com for sample shots with Panasonic 20mm/1.7 or Olympus 45mm/1.8.

I used to shoot everything with the kit zoom but now I shoot kids pictures outside with the kit zoom (14-150mm, ie. 28-300mm), the climbing pictures with the ultra wide zoom (9-18mm, ie. 18-36mm full frame) and kids indoor shots with my panasonic 20mm. The image quality with the panasonic 20mm is superb and I really love the lens. The zooms are good enough and get the job done. For outdoor shots I like to use CPL filters and the E-PM1 is the smallest camera to do this.
roddyp on 16 Aug 2012
In reply to Paul B: LX7 is interesting, though: Slightly smaller sensor, but much faster lens (and built-in ND filter) should give better DOF control.

(I've been using an LX5 for a couple of years. For me it's the right compromise of size vs quality.)
knudeNoggin - on 20 Aug 2012
In reply to Carrol: "... my D70 had died ..."

No one has asked you about your D70 LENS(es) !?
What do you have, for that?
Because lenses hold value, and would have use on a
replacement Nikon dSLR. Someone suggested the new
and mega-megapixeld (24k) D3200,
but I'll recommend going more upscale and proven (in
sensor performance) with a (used, perhaps) D5100
(which uses the same Sony 16mp sensor as the higly
regarded D7000, Pentax K5, & Sony A5-- & NEX 5(x).
The D5100 I think gives you some small size reduction
vs. the D70, too.


In reply to roddyp:

Don't expect much "DoF control" from the LX7,
as it still had a tiny lens/sensor.

*kN*

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