Quantcast Its been 10 years, time for a new camera; Olympus vs Panasonic DSLR - digitalFAQ Forum
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  #1  
10-25-2011, 09:32 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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I have been using an Olympus Camedia C-3040ZOOM for the past 10 years for general photography. I have had no complaints and the camera offers some nice features. Namely full manual control, a bright f1.8 lens (f2.6 at full zoom), standard AA batteries for power, and a nice hand grip for one handed shooting. I purchased it because it was a "prosumer" model ($700 new), offering the controls found on expensive SLRs in a point and shoot size. The problem is it uses the now obsolete SmartMedia flash cards and its well... 3.3 megapixels.

Anyway I had the following replacements in mind:

1. Olympus XZ-1: This appears to be a true replacement for my current camera. It offers a f1.8-2.6 lens, the same manual controls and it has a 11MP CCD sensor (no rolling shutter effect). It is also modestly priced at $500.

2. Olympus PEN E-3: This camera offers the same features as the XZ-1, but has the flexibility of interchangeable lenses (micro 4/3rds mount). The biggest con I keep reading about is the noisy 14MP CMOS sensor that is apparently a 2+ year old design. The included kit lens isn't as fast as the XZ-1's, but I can always purchase a prime f1.8 lens later on.

3. Panasonic DMC-GH2: This is also a micro 4/3rds mount mirrorless SLR. Image quality is generally better then the Olympus (the camera has a 16MP sensor). The only con I can find in reviews is that JPEG quality is poor in low light situations (and avoided by using RAW mode). This also seems to be last year's model, Panasonic may replace it with a GH3 soon.

So it basically comes down to fixed lens vs. interchangeable lens camera. At least I have the luxury of time to make a decision. I also have to hit a few "real" camera stores to try out these models, places like Best Buy can't be bothered to put the above cameras out for display, or even stock them in-store.
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  #2  
10-27-2011, 12:48 AM
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I really liked Olympus in the late 1990s -- nice tiny film cameras. These days, not so much. Canon and Sony arguably make the best point-and-shoot cameras. For the slightly higher-end non-DSLR cameras, you're still looking at Canon, but also adding Panasonic. Now, that's from a brand perspective alone (which also carries heavy considerations for sensors used by said brands.)

Remember this important fact: More megapixels = more noise, not just more "detail" (which is now limited by glass)

Quote:
The biggest con I keep reading about is the noisy 14MP CMOS sensor that is apparently a 2+ year old design.
This eliminates it for me. (I need to add a thumbs-down smiley.)

Quote:
prime f1.8 lens
Just remember that aperture is not a fixed size, but variable against the proportional to the workings of the camera. So don't always assume f/1.8 means a whole lot, unlike it is with SLR cameras. Keep these little things in mind. When it comes to low-light quality on a P&S camera (or sub-DSLR), it's the ISO and sensor chipset that matter more than glass light hole size. This is directly opposite of SLRs. With P&S, these are fudged/manipulated numbers.

The same is true of zoom, either as "mm" or "x". These numbers are not fixed, but vary from manufacturer to manufacturer -- unlike SLRs.

Quote:
This also seems to be last year's model, Panasonic may replace it with a GH3 soon
Don't worry about the future, worry about what's available now. If Panasonic announced a new camera tomorrow, it would not hit stores for at least 3-6 months. And even when it does reach retail, it will be in limited quantities, making actual ownership date push back to 3-6 months yet again. So owning the next model of a camera is easily 6-12 months away. Nikon is easily the worst company when it comes to this, but it's simply because they don't overproduce, and because their gear is always popular. The only reason I've been able to get cameras early is because I have inside contacts at a few retailers, thanks to many years of photojournalism.

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So it basically comes down to fixed lens vs. interchangeable lens camera. At least I have the luxury of time to make a decision.
No contest, SLR always wins.

The sensor is bigger. It's always bigger. Bigger sensors are better, period. This is why full-frame is better than APS sized CMOS/CCD.
The on exception is for video -- the SLR lines tend to have rolling shutter "jello" effects. (Which can be removed, with the right pro software.)

Quote:
I also have to hit a few "real" camera stores to try out these models,
Unless you're in a major metro market, you won't find such stores.

Quote:
places like Best Buy can't be bothered to put the above cameras out for display, or even stock them in-store.
Tip: Wolf / Ritz are not much better than Best Buy, and stock almost nothing, aside from the cheapy crap intro-level SLRs and P&S cameras. So call before you go. The only exception are the regional HQ stores, for which there's usually just ONE in each major market (even Dallas, for example, 4th largest metro area). Some markets have "pro stores" (often mom-and-pop type operations), and news photographers always know where those area.

Most importantly, always buy from a known-reputable store. The best prices will be online.
-- Online USA stores include: B&H, Amazon, Adorama, OneCall and Ritz/Wolf.
-- Overseas stores include: Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk
-- Never buy a new camera from eBay, so random "auction" site, or a no-name low-cost online dealer. Lots of scams.

This site has Google Ads on it, and sometimes you'll see those fake scammy sites with ads. (We do try to block crap ads.)

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  #3  
10-27-2011, 08:05 AM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Luckily I'm just outside of NYC. There are plenty of trustworthy camera stores around here as I bought the old Olympus at one. If I was willing to trudge to Manhattan, I could even visit B&H. The holdup with a standard SLR is size and the fact that I sometimes shoot spur of the moment using the LCD while driving (not as hard as it sounds, don't try that at home folks!). Video recording isn't a priority either, I plan on getting a real camcorder for that..
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  #4  
10-30-2011, 08:46 PM
Steve(MS) Steve(MS) is offline
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check out dpreview
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  #5  
11-03-2011, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve(MS) View Post
check out dpreview
I'm afraid dpreview has gotten too commercial in recent years, and their reviews are all watered-down and afraid to offend camera manufacturers. When you piss off a manufacturer, they retaliate by not sending you future products to review. That, in turn, leaves you behind the competition review sites/publications. In order to keep pace, you have to buy the cameras when available (and by then, it's too late to be relevant and timely).

Some of these sites are less about reviews now, and function more like "literary fellatio" services to product makers. About.com is the biggest offender in this area, and even their writing guidelines try to talk you out of saying anything bad about a product or service.

For example, this new Sony "review": http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonyslta77

That's a review? No, I think not. More like re-written press release. I feel dirty and used just reading it.

DPReview has fallen out of favor with everything photographer I know, in real life and online. The big trend here is because many of us receive the same press releases from manufacturers, so we know that these "reviews" are just rehashed and bogus re-writes.

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  #6  
01-29-2012, 09:30 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Just a quick update on this. I managed to get to a store or two and check out some cameras. The XZ-1 is proving elusive however, dealers can't seem to keep it in stock! I might have to trudge to mid-town Manhattan anyway.

Somewhat unrelated: I did get to check out one store's tape to DVD conversion equipment rack (most camera stores around here do it). Quite interesting, but I'll expand on that in a later thread.
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  #7  
01-31-2012, 03:09 PM
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What's sad/amusing is that point-and-shoot type cameras from October 2011 are already "old" and "obsolete" in some circles. There's just too much of a push to always released new models every few months, and rarely do that have meaningful upgrades -- and more megapixels don't count.

By the time you make a decision, these may be on liquidation sales, to make room for the next model.

______

And definitely start a new topic on the DVD conversion equipment rack. I'm curious.

The local office stores clearanced their low-end video conversion hardware (cheap stuff from Ion, Pinnacle, etc) last year, and the local stores are now empty of capturing hardware for computers. Even Walmart only now carries one brand of DVD recorder. It's almost scary how anti-recording the country has gotten in the past 5 years. It's all TiVo, rentals and streaming media now.

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  #8  
01-31-2012, 04:11 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Most of the smaller mom and pop camera stores around here seem to keep a small stock of popular models. It was the case even back in 2001 when I bought my current Olympus, so I'm not surprised. There are some rumors that Olympus is going to announce a replacement for the XZ-1 at CP+.

On a somewhat amusing note, I found an issue of Digital Photographer magazine from September 2001 in the attic. The cover story: MEGAPIXEL WARS. Inside I found a section on shooting tips, one of the things it said not to do is rely on the LCD for shooting. Little did they know that in few years, cameras would start shipping without viewfinders!
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  #9  
01-31-2012, 10:18 PM
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I kept most of my issues of Photographic from 1999-2001.
The March 2001 cover teases the controversy of film vs digital.

It's almost quaint to read now, seeing how powerful cameras (like the Nikon D3/D3s or Canon 5D/5DMkII) have surpassed 35mm film.
The sensors are so power that they reveal lens flaws.
And the high ISO performance is the stuff that 1990s sport photographer dreams were made of.

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