Can you recommend a sub $600 camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Reaktor5, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Reaktor5 macrumors 6502a

    Reaktor5

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    #1
    I'm looking to get into photography a little more heavily. I enjoy taking pictures on my iPhone 4 and want to turn into a bigger hobby, nothing more. My basic budget would be anything <$600. I was thinking something between a a point and shoot and DSLR would be the right fit for me. I've had a little bit of experience with DSLRs that my friends use professionally, they're nice but a little overkill for me.

    I've seen some really nice micro four-thirds which seems like they're targeted for people like me. I picked out a few to compare and was wondering what someone a little more knowledgable than me thinks:

    Olympus PEN E-PL2
    Olympus PEN E-P2

    Nikon 1 J1

    Nikon 1 J2

    Of course I'm open to suggestions but these are just a few that caught my eye.
     
  2. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    #2
    To be honest I would grab an entry level dSLR. It might seem overkill now, but it allows you a lot of expansion if you did decide to get more serious in the future. You can put a lens on it that costs $100-over $10,000. The Canon T3 goes for $500 and would an awesome entry level camera.
     
  3. kiteflyer macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Check out Sony RX100

    I do not have it yet but the Sony RX100 is looking like a gamechanger camera.
    It has a large sensor for a "point and shoot" camera with lots of adjustments that a pro would want. David Pogue and many, many others are recommending it. Check dpreview.com, etc for more info.

    Bill
     
  4. twiggy0 macrumors 6502

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    #4
    I agree with a previous post, you should consider a DSLR. I'd look into either the Nikon D5100, or the Canon T2i body with 18-85mm lens.

    I'd favor the second one, just a preference for Canon, though Canon is more popular, so more third party support.
     
  5. breezie macrumors member

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    #5
    Another vote for entry level DSLR - definitely not "overkill". You can get a T3i or T2i for under $600 fairly easily if you frequent slickdeals.
     
  6. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I'd hold off on the PENs until after photokina in a month or so. I have the EPM1 and I like it quite a bit. If could, though, I'd go for the Panasonic G5 (or G3) for the better high-ISO performance and built in electronic viewfinder. I highly recommend this format though - the size difference is a big deal, the image quality is quite good, and there are very good lenses available. I hear good things about the Sony NEX models, too, but don't have any experience. They are a bit behind on available native lenses, I think.
     
  7. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #7
    Look at Canon S95 or S100. You can shoot jpegs or raw formats...or both. This supports a migration path from snapshots to artistic images. It also makes a great backup camera when you do purchase a DSLR.
     
  8. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

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    #8
    I am a fan of m43's over entry level DSLR's. Another to consider is the Panasonic GX1.

    Panasonic GX1
     
  9. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a

    milbournosphere

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    #9
    Another vote for entry-level DSLR. You could easily afford a Nikon D3100, stretch a bit and get the D5100 ($650 new with less, probably 50-100 less refurb'd), or go a bit nuts and get the 3200 ($699, about a hundred bones over your budget but an amazing camera for the money). Personally, I'd save the cash and get the D3100, then save to splurge on some nice glass down the road. I own the D3100 and it's a great little camera.
     
  10. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Wait until after Photokina to make a solid decision. Even if you're not interested in any of the new products announced at the conference, there should be price drops across the board on older models.

    I shoot Micro Four Thirds along with DSLRs. The E-PL2 is one of my favorite cameras, and there are some really great lenses available for the system. The Nikon 1 series apparently have very good autofocus, but lag behind their competitors in just about every other way. I'd rather spend money on an RX100 than a Nikon 1.
     
  11. simplified587 macrumors member

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    #11
    Get mirrorless

    I'm speaking from experience here. I owned Canon XTi and 60D with multiple lens but have recently sold all my gears and move to a Sony NEX series after I climbed Mt Fuji in Japan. I don't think that dSLR is suitable for hobbyist or traveler due to its size. If I were to consider getting back to dSLR again I would only consider a full-frame body (5D MkIII, for example) at this point.

    I am a firm-believer of mirrorless camera. At $600 I would recommend the Sony NEX-F3. I think Sony made the best image sensor in the industry (Nikon uses Sony sensor in a few of their dSLRS). The NEX cameras use the same sensor size as non-full frame dSLR and given the fact that most entry level dSLR buyer only use kit lens, mirrorless will suit these users much better. The only downside of the NEX is the current lens line-up is quite lackluster but there has been rumors of the release of new lens (as well as new NEX bodies) in a few weeks.

    I also like the micro 4/3 system. I have advised my friend to get Panasonic GF3 (there was a deal for $300 with kit zoon, since expired). The m43 mirrorless has smaller sensor but they have good variety of lens that you can choose from. GX1 seems to be the best bet for m43 at this point.

    If you want a compact then Sony RX100 like the other poster said.

    If I were you though, I would wait a few weeks for the new camera announcement. I am most excited about the new Sony NEX-5R with the rumor built-in phase detection Auto-focus sensor. Phase detection autofocus in one of the advantage of a dSLR over mirrorless at this point but if the new sensor actually do phase detection autofucus then there is one less reason to get an entry-level dSLR!!

    Whatever you do, Please do not get the Nikon J series!!! (I could go all day explaining why....but I will refrain from doing that here. Unless you want to hear it)
     
  12. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

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    #12
    I don't know why so many people are recommending a DSLR when Reaktor5 makes it clear right up front:

    I agree with simplified587: in your circumstances an NEX camera will probably be a better fit than a Olympus PEN.

    The 1 series should be ruled out straight away. It is a bit of a half hearted effort from Nikon. The 1" sensor size is very small compared to even a Micro Four Thirds camera. In addition there are very few native lenses available. Aside from very fast auto focus/motion tracking, the 1 series doesn't have much going for it.

    Although Sony doesn't quite match the lens selection of Micro Four Thirds, they do have most bases covered (wide angle, macro, portrait, telephoto) and to begin with you won't need lots of lenses – just a few good ones and time, patience and practice.

    The big reason I would recommend NEX over a Micro Four Thirds camera is because they NEX fits a large APS-C sized sensor (the same size as those used on entry and mid level DSLRs mentioned above) into a very compact body.

    [​IMG]

    Admittedly the above is from Sony's marketing materials, but it is very much accurate.

    A large sensor translates into real advantages (potential for shallow depth of field, greater dynamic range, better low light performance etc.). There's no tricks to "engineer" a way around physics. All things being equal, a camera with a larger sensor will perform better.

    There are some excellent cameras built around the Micro Four Thirds system as well - I won't say otherwise. But I think unless you really, really need the lens selection of Micro Four Thirds right now, the NEX is better choice overall.
     
  13. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a

    milbournosphere

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    #13
    ^ I recommended a dslr because of the lens system. He can go with a bargain m4/3 all day, but he'll probably end up paying far more over the lifetime of the camera for any aftermarket lenses. That said, if I had to go with mirrorless or m4/3, I'd go with the Sony because of the larger sensor. I think Canon recently came out with a mirrorless that uses the full sized sensor as well...
     
  14. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

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    #14
    I think that many may not be familiar with some of the really nice m43's glass that Olympus, Panasonic, Voigtlander, etc., is making. The Olympus OMD E-M5 and Panasonic GH2 are fantastic bodies. Professionals are using them, and in the case of the GH2 making commercials, shorts & documentaries with that camera. Mirrorless is here to stay, whether some m43, Leica or Fuji, there are now professional options with more coming. There are less expensive mirrorless options as well: the new Canon, some of the Pens and Panny's.

    ----------

    Neither the Sony nor Canon are FF. The new Canon is an entry level camera.
     
  15. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

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    #15
    I should probably add that my post was not looking to pick a fight but just to point out how far the mirrorless world has progressed. And, mirrorless is the growing and expanding segment of the photography world. It is worth a look. For me, while I still have film cameras my DSLR's are now gone and won't be coming back. YMMV.
     
  16. r.harris1 macrumors 6502a

    r.harris1

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    #16
    There are a lot of great comments. Of the ones the OP has listed, Olympus would be my choice, just to "mirror" the "mirrorless" suggestions :) . I don't have the J1/J2 but I do own the V1. And...I love it...but it is overpriced, Nikon may or may not ever manufacture great native primes for it, and has a few other niggles. But using it does whet my appetite for mirrorless options and my next body will be the OM-D (also not within your <600 price range) as I have some decent 4/3 lenses I can throw on via an adapter. I also like this option in a similar way on the V1 via an F-mount adapter (one of the reasons I like it).

    So, bottom line for me, a wide range of lenses via adapters and a small(ish) high quality body makes the mirrorless realm very attractive indeed.
     
  17. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

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    #17
    Yes, we are even using some of our legacy glass with adapters on the m43's bodies.
     
  18. Klae17 macrumors 6502a

    Klae17

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    #18
    I got my Canon DSLR Rebel t3i for around 600 no tax and shipped. Great freaking camera, canon lenses, and shoots video too.
     
  19. mofunk macrumors 68000

    mofunk

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    #19
  20. Abstract, Aug 22, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012

    Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #20
    That's right.


    Personally, I'd go for a m4/3 camera. Taking your needs and budget into consideration, the camera will be small, light, and will conveniently fit in a small bag! The lens selection is great, as is the image quality. People will point to the smaller sensor as being a handicap, but photography isn't about numbers and technical details. If the image quality is good, and it certainly is very good for Panasonic and Olympus' current models, that's all that matters. After all, Sony made many sensors for Nikon and Pentax DSLRs for years (many of their cameras all used the same sensor!!), and yet Sony's jpegs never turned out as well as Nikon's. There's more to image quality than just sensor size, and Olympus has a better handle on image processing than Panasonic or Sony.


    Next, at some point in the future, I'd get one of the very small, fast (large aperture) m4/3 prime lenses such as the Panasonic 20 mm f/1.7 lens, or a similar lens. Prime lenses are fixed-focal length lenses (i.e. they don't zoom), but will generally give you great results, whether you're just doing this for a hobby or not!! ;) I'm not familiar with m4/3 lens quality, and haven't read reviews, so just keep on the lookout.


    Sony's NEX system is also good in terms of the nice electronic viewfinder (EVF) and pretty good image quality, but I hate the lenses. The cameras are very small, but the lenses are huge, which kind of defeats the purpose. Even compared to Samsung or Fuji, Sony's NEX lenses are unnecessarily huge. I don't know if there's a technical reason why Sony doesn't have small, fast primes, or any small lenses other than their 16 mm f2.8 (both too wide, and too slow), but it wouldn't surprise me if nothing was on the horizon.

    The Nikon One system is also very good, but I wouldn't recommend it. I've had the pleasure of using the V1 for a short time, and it was nice to use. The focusing is very fast and accurate, while some of the features are really great. To me, the problem is that the image quality of the Nikon J1 and V1 isn't supposed to be as good as m4/3 (Panasonic or Olympus), Fuji, Sony, Samsung, or anyone else for that matter. The lens selection will improve, but I don't know about the image quality. In this case, the small sensor really may have hurt them.


    And you can't afford the Fuji X system, which would be my system of choice at the moment. :)
     
  21. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Just to add: I know of a lot of m4/3 users who bought refurbished Olympus kits fro cameta (myself included). You could get one of those kits and add a fast prime for close to that $600 budget. Everybody loves the Panasonic 20mm/1.7. It is on my wish list for sure, as is the Olympus 45mm/1.8.
     
  22. milbournosphere, Aug 22, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012

    milbournosphere macrumors 6502a

    milbournosphere

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    #22
    I didn't full frame; the APS-C in the Sony is way bigger than the Nikon 1 sensor or the sensors in most m4/3 cameras...it's comparable to the sensors in Nikons DX slr cameras.
     
  23. driftless, Aug 22, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2012

    driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

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    #23
    Sorry, I took that to read FF.

    FWIW - there is not a large magnitude of difference between the APS-C and m43's sensor in size. The Sony picture in this thread looks slightly different than the other pictures comparing size. Regardless, m43's can take superb pictures. There are a number of reasons why there is a move away from DSLR's, and not just entry level cameras, to EVILS/mirrorless.
     
  24. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    After reading that last line in his post, I think most people would have.


    And besides, what is "full size"? At one point, 35 mm film was too small to produce good quality images, since it was smaller than medium format. ;)

    If APS-C is now considered "full size" due to the number of DSLR photographers who have never used full-frame, then our society is continuously making the "standard" size smaller and smaller. It's not a bad thing if the results are good enough, much like 35 mm was "good enough" when considering the size, weight, and convenience benefits it offered over medium format cameras.
     
  25. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a

    milbournosphere

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    #25
    Sorry I mentioned the sensor, it wasn't the main point I was trying to make anyway. I wanted to point out that the lens systems for a DSLR camera tend to be cheaper; used lenses are EVERYWHERE out there for the Canon and Nikon systems. I think that would be better for the OP's pocketbook than a m4/3 system if he plans to get lenses. Not knocking on the m4/3 systems, I know many people out there who love their 4/3 cameras. :)

    OP, you might also look at that new P7700 Nikon just outed, it looks pretty slick, especially for a point and shoot.
     

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