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Ask Slashdot: Mirrorless, Interchangeable Lens Camera Advice? 402

jehan60188 writes "I want a camera that's better than my phone, but I don't have the technical knowledge to fully appreciate a DSLR. I think the MILC style will be a happy compromise, but I'm concerned that it might be all 'marketing' and no 'technology.' I don't have a lot of demands, but I do like taking macro shots of things from time to time. Also, my sister is going to China in a few months, so a telephoto lens would probably be good for sight seeing (since I could employ optical zoom instead of the imaginary 'digital zoom')."
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Ask Slashdot: Mirrorless, Interchangeable Lens Camera Advice?

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  • two suggestions (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like you want an all around camera, look into the panasonic gx1.
    It has fantastic lenses for HD video, and will provide awesome photographs.

    You might also be completely thrilled with a Sony NEX5 or new camera.

    • +1 two suggestions (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tsiangkun ( 746511 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:37PM (#38602174) Homepage
      I wont own a Sony because I have personal issues against the entire brand, but the NEX5 NEX7 cameras are awesome at photos and video. The manual controls are easy to use, and the auto settings produce great photos. The only down side to the camera is that it feels like a cell phone that somebody turned into a camera. The sensor is world class tho, and there are adapters to mount old range finder glass onto it. The panasonic micro four thrids cameras are all great. The GX1 with the pancake zoom lens could be really appealing to you. You would also be happy with the GF3 if you want more auto features and features in general, and maybe the G3 if a more traditional dslr inspired design fits your hands better.
      • by gnatman64 ( 688246 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:44PM (#38603288) Homepage
        I really dislike Sony, and I never thought I would buy, much less recommend one of their products, but I am very happy with my NEX-5N. It fits great in my jacket pocked with the zoom lens, and in my pants pocket with the pancake lens. I almost always keep the zoom lens on it though, because not having a zoom is very limiting. I'm just finishing up a 2 week vacation traveling all over Germany, and the camera has been the best I've ever owned. I get very near DSLR quality photos, but it's no hassle to keep my camera with me. The only thing I miss is a larger zoom. The lens that I've seen so far for better zooming is huge, and hardly seems worth it to tote around. As the camera is now, it's very easy to use, and very easy to make some amazing photos.
        • I really dislike Sony, and I never thought I would buy, much less recommend one of their products, but I am very happy with my NEX-5N

          If it helps, when you buy a "Sony" DSLR or DSLR-derived camera you're actually buying a Konica-Minolta Maxxum, Sony bought their camera division lock, stock and barrel. So while your money's going to Sony, you're getting a Konica-Minolta-built camera.

          (Having said that, I don't know how much that group's products have now been poisoned by Sony's braindamaged business ideas).

      • by v(*_*)vvvv ( 233078 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @07:09PM (#38604494)

        I own a NEX5, and it is the best camera Sony has put out in a VERY long time. And it has really helped Sony revive the reputation of their cameras.

        When choosing photo quality, the size of the sensor and the lens are the 2 biggest components. Everything else helps, but can never make up for these two components. And the screen shows you what you are shooting, and what you just shot, so the specs of the screen are extremely important. The NEX5 screen is huge, hi-res, and tilts. This means you don't have to be looking straight at the screen to view it properly. Overhead shots are a breeze, and no more bending your knees with tripods. The video is amazing too, and has its own button.

        With its small form factor, proper lens, huge sensor, tilting LED screen, and HD video, this camera was an instant hit. It can also take great shots with little light.

        The only nag is its controls. They are oversimplified, and the advanced features are buried in menus. If the shortcuts aren't what you use, there is no changing them, but they do cover most use cases.

        The best part though, is my aunt was able to pick it up and use it right away. So without a DSLR camera, almost anyone can enjoy DSLR photos, without the weight, the geeky look, and any prior knowledge of photography.

        It's been a while since the NEX5 was released, and there are a lot of MILCs now. The screens have all gotten better, and HD video is pretty much a given. At this point I am sure there are other comparable offerings from other brands, but there is no doubt in my mind that the NEX5 was a trailblazer in the MILC market.

      • by gumbi west ( 610122 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @12:54AM (#38606750) Journal

        Do you dislike Sony because of Sony Pictures Classics underwhelming rendition of the Jane Austin novel Persuasion?

    • Re:two suggestions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:08PM (#38602704) Homepage Journal
      I'd your money, and buy the best DSLR you can afford.

      They all have Full Auto you can start right off using it without 'technical knowledge'.

      But over time, you will have the option to play with the settings and learn the tech behind the DSLR and then be able to use one to the fullest extent.

      Again, they all have full that and start experimenting and learn more about photography...make it a learning investment.

      Also...more lens options with DSLR and it did sound like that was something he was interested in.

      I'm not suggesting you go overboard like I'm saving to do...I'm looking to get a Canon 5D Mark II (unless the Mark III comes out soon and is better). But the lower level Canon DSLR's are all quite nice and a good place to start. I want the 5D so I can have the high end HD video too...wanting to try to shoot pro level stuff. I live in New Orleans, and there is work for people with this, figure after awhile I can earn some $$ enough to justify such an expense.

      • The mirror less Sony Olympus have the same size sensors as the consumer SLR's they make take. In addition they can more or less take the same glass with an adapter. It is a massive benefit being so much smaller, my Olympus Pen EPL2 fits in a pocket, especially with the 21mm pancake lens.. The end result is a camera that leaves the house more often. As for paying a little more for an SLR, well they cost about the same because they only give up the mirror, ie doesn't cost less to manufacture.
        • Re:two suggestions (Score:5, Informative)

          by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @06:23PM (#38603854)

          While it's true that micro fourthirds and fourthirds (used on their consumer DSLRs, since higher end ones would be full frame) use the same sized sensor, and Sony's e-mount cameras also use an APS-C sensor similar in size to their consumer DSLRs, the optics are different, so you're not going to get the same properties out of them in terms of depth of field, for example.

          This is a pretty good illustration:


          Cellphone sensors are smaller than anything on this chart, Point & Shoot cameras are the 1/2.5" to 1/1.6" sizes (typically closer to 1/2.5" these days), and the rest should be obvious. You only hit full frame on prosumer cameras, like the Canon 5D series or the Leica M9 (and others from Sony, Nikon, etc) nothing below that.

      • Re:two suggestions (Score:4, Insightful)

        by squidflakes ( 905524 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:53PM (#38603404) Homepage

        I hate to break it to you but the FULL AUTO ZOMG setting will make your pictures look just as horrible as a cell phone.

        Full auto is no substitute for knowing how to take photo and the OP is right for wanting a smaller compact camera that is actually designed to do the work for them.

        Let me also dissuade you from the notion that there is money to be made for someone who has just picked up a 5D MkII and intends on holding down the shutter button until the money starts rolling in. Professional photographers have a name for people like that, and the nicest one is sucker. Simply having an expensive camera won't make you a good photographer. You may turn out shots that get you endless ego fellatio on facebook or flickr, but that doesn't make you money. What makes you money in photography is an excellent grasp of the technical aspects of the craft, and a good solid grounding in the foundation of visual arts. Color theory, composition, and lighting and shadow are the places to start, then its practice practice practice until you can consistently turn out well composed shots with good lighting and balanced colors. All the while, you're constantly working the business end, looking for opportunities, networking in many different industries, advertising, selling yourself, maintaining relationships with old clients, pounding the pavement for new clients, and making sure more dollars roll in than out. Once you get to that level, you're going to see why professionals cringe and roll their eyes when they read posts like yours.

        If the OP reads this, and you want to burn DSLR money, look in to the Fuji X100. It has classic camera styling with amazing optics, an excellent sensor, and a very unique processing pipeline that will give your photos a very memorable look. The price is nearly $1000, but there is a reason a lot of pro photographers use this as their walk around.

        • Re:two suggestions (Score:5, Insightful)

          by coolsnowmen ( 695297 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @07:59PM (#38604950)

          I hate to break it to you but the FULL AUTO ZOMG setting will make your pictures look just as horrible as a cell phone.

          I disagree, ...strongly

          DSLR has a larger sensor and gets in more light. This will let you take pictures of things you simply can't take pictures of with a cell phone camera:
              Things moving faster than a snail
              Things not in a perfectly lit room

          For taking pictures at dawn/dusk, to action shots of your kids&friends just playing around, simply: size of the sensor, decent optics will tear apart your cellphone.

        • Re:two suggestions (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CaptBubba ( 696284 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:10PM (#38605042)

          There's pretty much no way that a decent DSLR on full auto won't beat the tar out of cell-phone photos, or even a reasonable point and shoot. Just the extra speed and accuracy of the phase auto-focus systems and the advantage of not having a dinky 1.75um pixel pitch in the sensor will give you cleaner photos, to say nothing of having a decent lens on there. The companies put a bunch of work into those automatic systems and they generally are fairly good. Good enough to charge for? Likely not. As good as a pro who knows what she's/he's doing? Certainly not. But still decent enough for a hobbyist and clearly better than anything someone with an iphone will capture.

          Your second point is dead on. Lack of knowledge = unmemorable photos. That's fine if you just want to document the bird you saw or the view from the top of the hike you took, but it won't take you anywhere if you want to enter a field already filled to the brim with professionals and one hundred times as many people who think they are professionals because they bought a nice camera.

      • Re:two suggestions (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SoupGuru ( 723634 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:56PM (#38603440)
        I disagree. Buy the best lens you can afford and buy the lowest end body that will fit it. Expensive bodies are overkill for a novice but give them plenty of opportunity to learn and grow into the more advanced features. Bodies change and become obsolete "quickly", lenses are "forever".
        • Re:two suggestions (Score:5, Informative)

          by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:34PM (#38605260) Journal

          In the days of film photography I'd have agreed with you.

          These days the sensor matters a lot. I agree entirely you still benefit from an excellent lens, and you're right on the longevity of lenses, but the "lowest end body" is too low end. Come in above the minimum bar and get a good sized sensor that can actually use all that light your excellent lens is giving to it.

          Some of us like a large shutter speed range, good ISO mix and fast autofocus too, but that's a separate discussion.

      • Re:two suggestions (Score:5, Informative)

        by griffjon ( 14945 ) <> on Thursday January 05, 2012 @06:20PM (#38603796) Homepage Journal

        So, I was very recently in this scenario. I gave up and bought a Canon T3i. I don't think the mirrorless cameras have really matured enough yet, outside of /maybe/ the Sony NEX series. But then you're dealing with Sony. To be fair, I have some brand loyalty to Canon because (a) they have a solid service department and (b) have been decent about the amazing side-loading firmware that the folks over at CHDK and MagicLantern have put together. If you just want DSLR-ish features (and then some) of long exposures, motion detection, timelapse, and HDR auto-bracketing, then look at a CHDK-supported, high-end Canon point-and-shoot.

        The huge benefit that MILCs and DSLRs have is an almost 10x larger sensor space (and the lenses required to deal with that). This gives you insanely better shots at a much wider range of light settings, as you need less light to enter to develop a good picture.

        MILCs are also much, much smaller than their DSLR cousins. This is good and bad. The lenses (especially telephotos) are still going to be weighty and unbalance a smaller camera, but you could conceivably pop it off and pocket the body, which is handy for travel.

        I lost my patience, and just bought a not-insane DSLR. For 830 I got the T3i, a 18-55mm lens and a 75-300mm telephoto. I love it, but I'd love something even more portable more. I actually just came across this blog post the other day, which gets far geekier than I am on the future of MILC-likes:

        (And yes, I've already rooted it.)

    • I have the Olympus, very nice Camera and takes wonderful pictures. However I would buy the Sony if I was buying a camera today. Better in low light, and much cheaper lenses due to compatibility with legacy Minolta stuff. Avoid the Nikon, it has awful reviews....
  • Get a Lumix (Score:5, Informative)

    by spacefight ( 577141 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:28PM (#38602052)
    Get a Lumix from Panasonic, to be specific, get the DMC-LX5. Outstanding picture quality and if you need to shoot a video, it's not too bad too. The hardware flip to change from different resolutions is quite nice and the 16:9 format is just perfect for printout once back home.
    • Re:Get a Lumix (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:37PM (#38602164)

      The LX5 is a great camera and would be a superb choice (I have the LX3 - a previous model). It does however lack a decent zoom.

      If you don't mind giving up a few other features, the Lumix TZ20 is a good alternative.

      + RAW
      - Zoom

      +GPS tagging
      - RAW

      • What you lose in zoom range on the LX5, you gain in aperture. The TZ20's aperture at the wide end is f/3.3 while the LX5's aperture is f/2.0. This is 1.5 stops, which is nothing to sneeze at. A wider aperture allows more light to hit the sensor and gives you a shallower depth of field which leads to better subject isolation. You also get a flash hotshoe, which is useful if you ever want to experiment with off-camera flash photography. If you're interested in photography, the TZ20 is a very poor choice comp
    • Re:Get a Lumix (Score:5, Informative)

      by MadCow42 ( 243108 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:39PM (#38602192) Homepage

      I'm an ex professional newspaper and sports photographer... and my main camera is the LX5 too... quality is amazing, leica lens, 24mm wide angle, HD video, low noise, good screen.

      DSLR is great, but it's a pain in the butt to carry around. Unless you go out SPECIFICALLY to take pictures, something like the Lumix LX5 is more than enough. There's a great blog post on this: []


      • The author has a good point, but the fact that all of his example photos are either really noisy or overcompressed doesn't help.

        • Those samples were from an LX1... which suffers from very poor noise. It's the reason I upgraded to the LX5 (plus the wider 24mm lens, vs. 28mm on the LX1)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by syousef ( 465911 )

        I'm an ex professional newspaper and sports photographer... and my main camera is the LX5 too... quality is amazing, leica lens, 24mm wide angle, HD video, low noise, good screen.

        DSLR is great, but it's a pain in the butt to carry around. Unless you go out SPECIFICALLY to take pictures, something like the Lumix LX5 is more than enough. There's a great blog post on this: []


        Well if you use to shoot sports you should know better than advocating that a point and shoot is more than enough. Try shooting sports one sometime - very limiting.

        It all depends on what you want to shoot.

    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

      The Canon G-series is also an excellent choice.

      The Lumix LX series are well built, but I was soured by the awful noise performance of the LX1 - in fact, its poor noise performance drove me to purchase my first DSLR.

    • by elwinc ( 663074 )
      I own a Lumix DMC FZ100 and I think it's great. Zoom range is 24X (25mm - 600mm equiv.) so there's not too many occasions when you'd even want to change lenses. It's not a shirt-pocket camera like the ZS10, but on the other hand, it shoots good 1080P video and does bursts at full resolution up to 11 frames/sec. Last night I was taking pix for my son's cooking project, hand held at 1/10 and 1/8 sec under natural kitchen incandescent lighting and they were almost as sharp as daylight photos.

      The downsid

      • Zoom range is 24X (25mm - 600mm equiv.) so there's not too many occasions when you'd even want to change lenses.

        If that's the optical [1] zoom range, either I've been overtaken by advances in optical technology or you're blind.

        [1] as distinct from the other kind, the name escapes me, which is basically a selective enlargement.

    • Re:Get a Lumix (Score:4, Informative)

      by skribble ( 98873 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:08PM (#38602710) Homepage

      I have an LX5, and it is an outstanding camera, however I recently picked up an Olympus E-PM1 and while I like the feel on of the LX5 better, the Olympus beats it in both picture and video quality. This should be expected since the LX5 has a much smaller sensor (though bigger then most compact digitals). (The LX-5 though is unique in using different area of the sensor for different aspect ratios... I really enjoy the 1:1 and the 16:9).

      This was my first foray into the whole mirrorless interchangeable lens type camera so I didn't want to spend to much so it was down to the PanasonicGF3 and Olympus E-PM1 (I considered the new Nikon J system but it cost much more for much less). The two were very similar, but the Olympus had a hotshot for the flash and accessories and felt a bit more solid so that's what I went with.

      I'm not giving up on my LX5, but I find it's no longer my go to camera.

    • Re:Get a Lumix (Score:5, Informative)

      by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:36PM (#38603150) Homepage Journal

      More to the point, there are a lot of options above "cellphone" and below "full blown DSLR or expensive but compact equivalent"...

      The OP should visit [] and first look for something in his price range that is the *form factor* he is interested in (probably above super-compact but not quite DSLR-ish) and then narrow the field by price. Why form factor? Since if you aren't comfortable carrying the thing lots of places, you likely won't take a lot of pictures with it. There are plenty to choose from that aren't DSLR, in fact for cost compact cameras take GREAT macro shots that would on a DSLR be only had with a $1000+ lens dedicated to macro. Once you decide on the type of camera with the right set of features, DPreview will point you toward the similar competing models from each brand (in the full review) so you can make a very informed decision.

      I repeat, do not make a camera purchase without reading [] first, they offer the widest set of easy to read reviews you will EVER find.

  • Learn photography. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nationless ( 2123580 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:29PM (#38602064)

    You don't have the full technical knowledge to fully appreciate a DSLR?

    Learn it.

    Trust me, the basics are a lot easier than you think. The rest is experimentation, play and frankly, photography.

    You'll thank me in the long run when you're not stuck with a million lenses for a camera you've outgrown.

    • DSLRs have "point-and-click" modes that are as easy to use as a compact. The only possible reason I can see to buy something other than a DSLR camera if you're even moderately serious about photography is the size and weight of the camera (+ lenses).

      For idiot-proof travel, a DSLR + a Sigma or Tamron "superzoom" will get you excellent pictures, and when you get home you can fit more specialized lenses for whatever it is you want to do.

      • dSLRs aren't really appropriate for travel, which is precisely why I bought myself a Canon Powershot sx40 HS a while back. I personally love my dSLR and wouldn't trade it for anything, but lugging around 30lbs., worth of gear to make the most of it isn't particularly viable for travel. Well, unless your whole point is going for photography.

        The camera has an impressive zoom range and gives usable results in all but the darkest conditions. I've had the ISO up to 3200 and it still produces shots that are worth

        • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:15PM (#38602826) Homepage Journal

          dSLRs aren't really appropriate for travel, which is precisely why I bought myself a Canon Powershot sx40 HS a while back. I personally love my dSLR and wouldn't trade it for anything, but lugging around 30lbs., worth of gear to make the most of it isn't particularly viable for travel. Well, unless your whole point is going for photography.

          You know...I don't know where this complaint comes from.

          It wasn't THAT long ago..when pretty much all we had were 33mm film cameras, and no one bitched about carrying a SLR camera and a lens (or maybe two).

          Growing up, that's ALL we had.....hell as a kid, I always was asking my Dad to be the one to carry the family camera...finally one year when I was like 19 or so, on a cruise they got me my own..a Nikon FA blackbody..I was thrilled.

          That thing lasted through college and a LOT of drunken parties. Those party shots are still with us today.....(hoping someone in there runs for senator so I can remind him of the photos, and get a cushy govt job).


          • Yes, but back then the alternatives weren't so capable.

            Yes, I do get better images with a dSLR than I do with my new camera, but the difference isn't anywhere near large enough to justify dragging around that much equipment on a vacation. Unless my whole point in going is to take photos, and even then it gets hard to justify at times as you're having to make decisions based upon where you're willing to lug the gear to.

            Beyond that, back then the discussion definitely happened, it's just that rather than argu

    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <> on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:53PM (#38602418) Homepage

      Yup. MILCs are a fad... They offer some of the image quality of a DSLR at a slightly smaller package, however:

      With a telephoto lens, the size improvements of the body are less significant. In fact, you may actually be finding yourself wishing the camera body were larger due to balance issues! I know a lot of people with Pentax DSLRs and higher-end (longer/heavier) lenses keep the battery grip on at all times because of the superior balance and ergonomics.

      MILCs have the same disadvantages as P&S cameras in terms of autofocus performance - like P&S cameras, they are fundamentally limited to contrast detection autofocus, which is MUCH slower than the phase detect systems in DSLRs. 90% of the time when you see someone complain about "shutter lag" in a P&S, the lag is actually the autotofocus system reconfirming focus. (A contrast detect system must "wiggle" the focus to confirm that it is correct, even if starting at perfect focus. A phase-detect system knows when it's at optimal focus immediately.)

      Last but not least - MILC systems are FAR more expensive than entry-level DSLR kits.

      Also, the MILC industry is too early to see where things go as far as accessories and lenses. Most systems only have 2-3 lenses available to them, and there's no guarantee you'll see more.

      There's nothing saying you can't use a DSLR in a basic "program" mode - but you won't unlock its full potential. The same goes for a MILC though.

      A DSLR will give you far more potential for growth as you learn the system, a MILC will quickly deadend on you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wisty ( 1335733 )

        I didn't know about the focus thing, but from what I can tell 4/3rds seem otherwise OK.

        Their sensor is pretty big - I think they have a 2.0x crop factor (i.e. 1/4 the area, or roughly half the quality of a full frame), as opposed to a 1.6 crop factor (i.e. 1/1.6 the quality) in an entry Canon DSLR. This is streets ahead of a ~4.5 crop factor for a s95, or ~4.2 crop factor on the LX5 (or Leica rebranded version - the D-Lux 5), which are some of the best non-SLR cameras you can get.

        You can get some cute lense

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by wisty ( 1335733 )

          I forgot to add - they are way overpriced, and so are all their gear. You shouldn't pay more than APS-C equivalents. It's just wrong to sell a smaller lens for more. When the price comes down to earth (and maybe Sigma gets involved in making 3rd party lenses), I'll definitely get one though.

      • I think I'm going to have to call bullshit based on what I read here: []

        • by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @06:06PM (#38603608)

          Why through their entire post did they not once tackle one of the prime reasons to get DSLR's, and that's image quality? Lets assume for a moment that we have a brand new professional photographer that's somehow never bought body or glass in their lives. Would you in all your wisdom, or trey or whomever recommend picking up these cameras to do real work? In 2 years?

          Maybe a more apt question, can one buy lenses in these limtied formats with anything near the level of variety in the SLR world? Yes, it sucks that there are two basically incompatible standards that one will only buy deeper into as time goes by, but at least one knows that the investment is future proof, the lenses made with good quality components to last.

          When I see these pseudo-dslr cameras, the first thing I think is great, now there's 6 incompatible lens standards, everyone is running in different directions, nobody seems to have a good message for why these camera supplant the quality that even mid-range DSLR's accomplish, and in 5 years, will any of these platforms still be here? Forget the cameras themselves, becase even Trey admits that the technology is not here today. Or will the lenses even last that long?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:55PM (#38603432)

        Actually, mirrorless is going to almost totally replace SLR in the next 5-10 years. As the live viewfinder and global shutter technology surpasses the capabilities of a mirror, you'll see Nikon and Canon introduce professional mirrorless models in 35mm format that use all their old lenses as well as new mirrorless lenses that take advantage of the reduced flange-sensor distance. With a mechanical adapter you'll be able to use all the old Nikon lenses on Canon and vice versa. They'll still make one or two SLRs for the people that really want them, much in the same way that they still produce a few film cameras.

        There is no relationship between having a mirror and quality, you can make SLRs with tiny sensors just as you can make mirrorless cameras with huge ones. The latest autofocus systems on micro-four-thirds are faster than actual systems in high end SLRs. I experience shutter lag on my cheap mirrorless body when I use completely mechanical lenses so it has nothing to do with autofocus performance.

      • There's no physics reason why MILC cannot perform better than DSLR. The Nikon 1 does implement phase contrast detection and is a MILC. I'm no photographer, but it seems to me that DSLR is obsolete technology. The optical viewfinder was essential back in the days of film, but today, you don't need it because you have a digital screen which shows you EXACTLY what the sensor is looking at.

    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      I'd say a small point & shoot is often better, since I'm more likely to have it with me. My DSLR takes great pictures, but I can't take it with me everywhere. The DMC-LX5 recommended above would be nice if the OP can afford it.

    • People interchangeably use DSLR instead of "camera with manual modes".
      The fact that you're actually looking through the lens doesn't really matter much.
      The SLRs design is because you couldn't look through film, so you had to have a mirror and a bunch of other things no longer needed in 2012.
      Today you can look through film, because the film is a CCD.

      All that said, I have a ton of Canon SLR equipment that I've bought over the past 2 years and I might start to regret it.

      • I've been wondering about that myself.

        Do DSLRs still use mirrors, or internal displays that don't necessarily need to be "blocked" during shooting like an old-school SLR?

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          Do DSLRs still use mirrors, or internal displays that don't necessarily need to be "blocked" during shooting like an old-school SLR?

          Mirrors, it's what the "SLR" bit means.

          However, many modern dSLRs can do live preview (using the LCD display instead of viewfinder), where the mirror blocks the viewfinder, but the sensor can capture data continually - required if you want to do video capture. Live preview is just a toy feature for those used to using point and shoots though. The main reason it's there is for v

    • You'll thank me in the long run when you're not stuck with a million lenses for a camera you've outgrown.

      Uh - all the major mounting systems (Canon, Nikon, four thirds, Leica) are not going away soon. They'll work just fine with newer cameras. There is a little risk with the APS-C lenses (Canon calls them "EF-S", Nikon "DX"), but both companies sell buckets more APS-C cameras than they do pro cameras which have larger sensors. They're not going away any time soon.

      What you should NOT do is buy an eme

  • DSLR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:31PM (#38602096)

    I am a professional so I am a little biased here....I say get a DSLR. The mirrorless stuff is a neat idea but slow and lacks in quality compared to a traditional DSLR. All low end DSLR's have dummy modes that work exactly the same as a you don't really have to have technical knowledge. Trust me on this, I have many family members and friends who bought low end DSLR's and they use them just like they used there compact NON DSLR's.

    With a SLR you will get better quality (well most of the time), more control and usually a wider range of lenses.

    Mirrorless basically gets you a smaller camera

    • Re:DSLR (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:58PM (#38602532)

      Right, which is precisely why I got a second camera to complement my dSLR. I love my dSLR for the reasons you list, but ultimately, the best camera is the one that you have with you. I've already gotten a few shots that I wouldn't otherwise have gotten because of the long lens and it being actually on me at the time.

      Personally, I'd pair it up with a good quality monopod for best results.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Gaerek ( 1088311 )
      Here's something to consider, coming from Trey Ratcliff. [] In a nutshell, in 5-10 years, DSLR's will be looked on the same way we look at VHS. It was a great technology for it's time, but it had to go. Theoretically, the only real difference between a DSLR and a MILC (or whatever you want to call them) is that a DSLR has a mirror box and the MILC doesn't. You might say that the viewfinder is different, bu
    • by garcia ( 6573 )

      I have many family members and friends who bought low end DSLR's and they use them just like they used there compact NON DSLR's.

      Except they can't fit the DSLR in their pocket and they take much longer to focus in auto.

      I have a DSLR and I can't imagine life without it but to say that they can be used just like P&Ss is simply not true.

    • "The mirrorless stuff is a neat idea but slow and lacks in quality compared to a traditional DSLR" ... Then you CLEARLY have not been paying attention to recent advancements. The advancements Sony has made in its most recent generation of MILCs is nothing short of amazing. They can and DO rival full DSLRs. * Disclaimer: That said I still bought a micro four thirds instead as it was better for my use scenarios.
    • I'm not a professional and even though I don't like mirrors cameras (too small) I do own an Olympus EPL-1 and Panny GH1 also E-1/E420. The only thing that might be slow on those cameras would be the lens speed but that's really not an issue and if anyone says so they are full of shit and only look at the spec sheet.

      You can't go wrong with any of the cameras these days unless you can't get past the spec sheet and realise it doesn't mean as much as you think in real life. Also look at used gear. Oly EPL-1 and

  • by RDW ( 41497 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:31PM (#38602102)

    I'm sure there are excellent 'mirrorless' cameras too, but a dSLR doesn't require any great technical expertise. Just pick up one of the entry-level Nikon or Canon models (which are pretty small, and typically come as kits with versatile standard zooms). You can start off shooting in program mode with the kit zoom, which is no more difficult than using a phone camera. If you choose, you can add dedicated macro and telephoto (or longer zoom) lenses later.

    • by halivar ( 535827 )

      I got a Nikon D3100 (pretty much bottom of the DSLR's) and in the space of about 2 hours (of Googling) I went from rock stupid on camera's to shooingt competently without needing to use auto mode.

      Then I learned just to keep my camera with me wherever I go in a holster. Because, after all, the best camera is the one you have with you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:31PM (#38602104)

    It really has to do with the size of the sensor. The bigger the sensor the better the picture is going to be. The MILC cameras you are referring to have almost the same sensor size as DSLR's and a way way bigger sensor then in your mobile phone. See the article below for more information:

    Why your cameras sensor size matters []

    • It's also related to the quality of the lens. The physically smaller the lenses are, the tighter the tolerances and harder it is to make them truly sharp and distortion-free.

  • what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bedonnant ( 958404 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:31PM (#38602108)
    so you don't have the knowledge to appreciate a dslr, yet you're willing to buy a similarly expensive mirrorless camera with multiple lenses?
  • by Stoutlimb ( 143245 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:33PM (#38602110)

    You are posting on a technical site, say you are very interested in camera technology, but say you don't understand DSLR? I suggest a good DSLR tutorial rather than this feeble attempt at a slashvertisement.

  • []

    I love the retro look of these.

    • by bashibazouk ( 582054 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:35PM (#38603128) Journal

      I just bought the E-PM1. I like it. It's smaller and easier to carry than the bulky DSLR's but still has good depth of controls, fast auto focus and shutter. Image quality is not as good as the current generation of DSLR's but it's as good as most of these proponents photographs proving DSLR's are the best that were taken with previous generation of DSLR's for what that's worth.

      Just keep in mind Olympus is currently on life support and it's not known at this time if it will survive or the camera division will be sold off to someone and what they would do with the product line and the 4/3 standard. The lenses at least are compatible with Panasonic should that happen...

  • Wrong forum (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:38PM (#38602182)

    You want

  • My experiences (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:44PM (#38602284) Homepage

    "The best camera is the one you have with you" is a well known saying in photography. I have collected, and had the experience to work with, over the years, numerous cameras, lenses and videocams. Here are some of my learned truths:

    1) Form factor matters - if you don't have the camera, you won't use it. My best pictures are from my DSLR with a big bounce-flash+diffuser and a nifty-fifty [1] prime lens. For close-ups and portrait style, this camera is really hard to beat... however, I almost never have this camera (or it's bukly flash) with me. I've resorted to taking some pretty decent pictures with my wife's point-n-shoot , and surprisingly my iPhone.

    2) Video and Still pictures are two separate competencies. My best videos were with the aforementioned point and shoot, the next best with the iPhone. I almost never take video with the bulky DSLR, and when I do, the lack of auto-focus on video makes it difficult to do properly.

    3) I've never tried the EVIL/MILC, but they seem like a great idea... just terribly expensive.

    My recommendation would be to have several camera types (phone, P&S, DSLR) so that you can have availability and quality. the EVIL/MILC will never beat the bounce-flash equipped DSLR and prime lens (which would pale in comparison to a properly setup studio and multi-flash setup - but I can't afford that). In my world, the MILC would replace the point-and-shoot, and I'd still take the DSLR wherever I would normally take it (parties and events), but it'd be awesome to have almost-DSLR quality on my hikes. Recently I've been very impressed by my new iPhone4S so it might replace the P&S completely.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:45PM (#38602292) Homepage

    I want a camera that's better than my phone, but I don't have the technical knowledge to fully appreciate a DSLR.

    Look, if you can post a submission to Slashdot to ask this, you can use a modern DSLR.

    They've got so much automation built into them that the camera can be operated in one or two modes without a lot of deep knowledge of the fiddly bits. As you use it, you can opt to try some of the new features, but they've still got some pretty good automated modes.

    I occasionally do use some of the advanced features, but for the most part the auto modes cover my needs. But, if I want to delve into it, it's all there. You can run that as point and shoot cameras, or you can run them in full-on "stand back, I'm a professional" mode.

    If you really want to get better quality pictures, the lens quality of a DSLR gets you to an awfully good level as long as you're buying a good quality lens instead of some of the cheaper lenses that come with the kits. Those are sometimes a compromise which makes for something which is OK most of the time ... I did a little more reading and bought my camera body and lens separate, because the lens I bought was better quality and more versatile than the ones which came bundled.

    If you want to be able to change lenses, go with the DSLR and work up to it ... the lenses from the major companies will carry through their models for years. (I still use the old lenses from my film camera on my current Nikon DSLR.)

    If you buy something in between, it might not cover all of your needs, and in a few years you might need to replace it all over again.

  • We've had a chance to use all of these cameras extensively (and have reviewed most of them), so now seems like the ideal time to look at all the cameras and help you decide whether a Mirrorless camera is for you and, if so, which models you should consider.

    It's all right there, apparently. I didn't look around, and I don't really know what these mirrorless cameras are (point and shoot cameras that can take lenses? cool), but I'd recommend looking there.

    That said, I've always been highly satisfied with the color and image reproduction quality on Canon products. I won't buy another type of camera (whether still or motion). I think it's superior to the others ( eg. Sony). It's a matter of preference, though.

  • I am curious what advantages you imagine you'll get from having interchangeable lenses. For macro purposes, a lot of little point&shoot cameras do great with close focus because their sensors are so small. Likewise, smaller sensors allow for long telephoto lenses to still be very compact. If you were saying you wanted better wide angle capability (for architecture and whatnot) or you wanted to be able to shallow depth-of-field stuff (portraiture and artsy stuff) then I'd think maybe an interchangeabl
  • Such as the Leica M9. Or if you can't afford that, just learn how to use a DSLR in auto mode. It's really hard (for me at least) to take a good picture without an optical viewfinder.

    • by endus ( 698588 )

      The Leica is an overpriced piece of shit. Sorry Leica fans, but their pricing is way out of line for what you get. Fuji X100 is almost a better camera...the new one they're releasing will be a better camera. Yes, the glass...I know. But you're paying an exorbitant amount of money for an under performing body in order to mount very expensive but also VERY good glass. I think when the Fuji is released Leica may have to reconsider a bit.

  • by CraigoFL ( 201165 ) <slashdot@kano[ ]net ['ok.' in gap]> on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:48PM (#38602350)

    but I don't have the technical knowledge to fully appreciate a DSLR

    Don't let your own knowledge & skill level be your reason to choose a MILC over a DSLR. The two kinds of camera are very similar in terms of their capabilities.

    The major difference in the two is the way you view your scene prior to taking a picture. The "single lens reflex" in "SLR" means that you get an optical view of your scene through the lens you're using. As a result, what you see is extremely detailed (ie: almost as good as your eyes themselves). This is great for manual focusing. It doesn't suck any battery either.

    The "M" in "MILC" (typically) means that you don't get this optical viewpath for composing your shots. Instead, you see your scene on an electronic LCD. This can be easier to view in some situations, but is far less detailed (ie: limited by the resolution of your LCD), so manual focusing is harder. Also, you need to drain your battery in order to see anything.

    However, without the physical mirror & prism for the optical viewfinder a MILC can be much smaller and lighter than a corresponding DSLR. Typically, they also use smaller sensors, which in turn require smaller lenses. This further reduces size & weight, at the expense of image quality and optical performance.

    That tradeoff is a fair one to consider. Let that be your decision factor, not your own knowledge. The techniques you use with each kind of camera will still be mostly the same.

    • It should be noted that many modern dSLRs will give you the large LCD-screen preview as well, since so many people buy dSLRs but want point-and-click features.

  • NEX7 (Score:3, Informative)

    by liquidhokie ( 2044274 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:50PM (#38602380)

    If you can find one, get the NEX7, and pick a E mount lens that best suits your needs. Then, get an L to E adapter, and you can use 100's of Leicia L mount lenses. Most will only work in manual focus mode, but the peaking display makes focusing easy and accurate.

    I just got an Alpha77, which is probably not what you are looking for. I love it, though, and the NEX7 shares a lot of the same technology and features.

  • You have to ask slashdot for what camera to buy? There are about a hundred thousand better websites geared towards photography you can google instead of listening to a bunch of .\ blowhards grouping themselves into fanboys for one side or the other.

    • To be honest, I was intrigued on how would the slash-crowd answer to this. All in all, there are a lot of geeks that enjoy photography and provide nice and helpful advice, even posting prices and pros/cons. Just pick at random, chances are it could be modded informative. There are a few aggressive or sarcastic comments, but they don't seem to have a clue.

      A nice "Ask /.", if you ask me...

  • I spent a lot of time looking into this, and went with the new Lumix GX1. For several years I've had a small point and shoot, and found that I simply didn't want the bulk of an SLR. Smaller camera bodies and smaller lenses was the big selling point, especially now that the Micro Four Thirds cameras generally have the same picture quality as entry-level SLRs. For me it came down to the Lumix G3 and the GX1; I decided I didn't need a viewfinder and tilt-and-swivel screen, and so went with the GX1. I used to b

  • This is a nonsense question. The car analogy is like saying you don't have the technical knowledge to drive a hybrid. There is no special knowledge required to use a DSLR... other than perhaps being careful when changing the lense (which mirrorless share).

    Even the last (non digital) SLR generations had full auto modes and a full suite of scene modes, just like a compact.

  • Ergonomics (Score:3, Informative)

    by johanwanderer ( 1078391 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @05:15PM (#38602824)
    The biggest issue I have with the mirror less / micro four-third camera families is with ergonomics. These cameras are:

    1. Too big to put in your pocket/purse/etc. so you don't carry them around as much as a point-n-shoot or a cell phone.

    2. Too small to hold for a good posture to take pictures (one hand under the lens) yet the weight dictates some sort of two-hands operation.

    3. Additionally, the "advanced" controls are buried deep under layers of menus, make them less usable than some of the more advanced point-n-shoot (like the Canon S100)

    4. Lenses are not interchangeable with SLRs, so there is no upgrade path for those investments.

    I would recommend you look at an entry-level DSLR (since the price points are close). Started out with the "green square" (automatic) modes, then learn to shoot in "P" (programmed) mode, adjusting ISO and compensations. Then move on to Av / Tv / M modes.

    What you learn using a DLSR will be applicable to all cameras, and your investments in lenses won't be wasted.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the mirror-less stuff is great, but the current crop of cameras leave too much out.
  • It seems the movable mirror in the SLR design is an anachronistic piece of baggage left over from the days of film cameras. The mirror and pentaprism were necessary to get true "through the lens" viewing to accommodate different lenses, etc. The mirror introduces a lot of complexity, weight, and problems such as lag, mirror shake and problems doing video.
    I am surprised the the mirror persists in the digital camera age. In reading the comments, it seems that the DSLR cameras have nicer sensors, features,

    • by endus ( 698588 )

      It seems the movable mirror in the SLR design is an anachronistic piece of baggage left over from the days of film cameras. The mirror and pentaprism were necessary to get true "through the lens" viewing to accommodate different lenses, etc. The mirror introduces a lot of complexity, weight, and problems such as lag, mirror shake and problems doing video.
      I am surprised the the mirror persists in the digital camera age. In reading the comments, it seems that the DSLR cameras have nicer sensors, features, lenses, etc. but there is no reason these could not be fitted to the mirrorless designs.
      Is there any good reason to still have a mirror?

      Night shooting? Action? Fashion? Precise composition?

      I will be buying the new Fuji interchangeable lens camera when it comes out too...but if you think a mirror is outdated for all applications, it's because your definition of "photography" is severely limited.

      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        I don't see how a mirror helps with night shooting, action, fashion or precise composition.
        It seems that these can all be done with a properly set up display.
        Night shooting - sensors can show things brighter than a mirror
        Action - a display can keep up as well as a mirror viewfinder (plus you don't have the delay for the mirror moving out of the way)
        Fashion - I presume you are talking about precise focus... again, no reason a display can't show this.
        Precise composition - The display can be as precise as a vi

  • To me the big step in camera sizes is "pocketable" and "not pocketable". All interchangeable lens cameras with 4/3 size sensors or larger are squarely in the "not pocketable" segment. And if you get a camera that you can't pocket, I suggest you simply get the best one for the money which is probably a dslr.

    That said, if you can live with an extremely compact zoom (there is only one model that I know of that telescopes and has motorized zoom) or even a fixed focal pancake lens, then you actually can pocket

  • I had the same quandary. I have a panasonic compact which is great,but pants in less than optimal light. I looked at 4/ 3 cameras and was tempted by both sony, panasonic, and olympus offerings. However they are expensive, poor lens choice, and are not really pocketable . In the end you would be better off with something like a sony a35 dslr. Which is comparable price, has a viewfinder but has live view and a bettee selection of lenses

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @07:18PM (#38604592) Journal

    Seriously. Unless you have a very special need, it's mostly geek bling. Same with a good SLR.

    Go with a compact superzoom (preferred, you'll carry it everywhere), or a regular superzoom if you have the patience to carry a bulkier camera. I've had probably a dozen cameras over the last 8 years. I am an engineer who has to evaluate buildings, so I'm outdoors, shooting stuff on roofs and up in attics, down in subgrade basement/steam tunnels. Good lighting, crappy lighting, close to stuff, far from stuff. I've got a Lumix ZS5 and a ZS7. I put a carabiner on the wrist-strap ring and clip it to my side belt loop. I get surprisingly good pictures - not perfect, but I never miss a shot.

    FWIW, I also own a D3 and about $10k worth of glass, from a 14/f2.8 up to 300/F2.8. It takes fucking awesome pictures, and I get stuff that's just darned near impossible to do with almost any other camera. You know what I take on vacation? Yup - the ZS5. I don't want multiple pieces and I don't want a camera bag.

  • NEX-5N (Score:4, Informative)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:10PM (#38605858)

    Ignore the people telling you to get a DSLR because it has better picture quality.

    There are a lot of factors that determine the quality of your images, but the most substantial is sensor size. The sort of DSLRs that you would buy (that is, the ones under $2000) use APS-C sized sensors.

    Guess what the Sony NEX-5N (a MILC) uses? An APS-C sensor. And it's arguably the best APS-C sized sensor on the market.

    The NEX-5N takes pictures that rival any APS-C DSLR, and it does so for a considerably lower price than many DSLRs.

    There are still a lot of good reasons to buy an APS-C DSLR over the NEX-5N:

    • Lenses. The NEX series uses E-mount lenses, and there aren't a lot of choices. This is improving, but we're still talking about the difference between thousands of lenses for EOS (Canon) or F-mount (Nikon) and fewer than 20 for E-mount. You can get adapters for A-mount (Sony DSLR) lenses, but they bulk up the camera. You can also get adapters for virtually any other format (including EOS and F-mount) but you lose auto-aperture and autofocus.
    • Speed. The NEX-5N is not a slow camera by any means, but there are many DSLRs that are faster.
    • Battery life. DSLRs can keep the screen off, plus they generally have larger batteries. The NEX-5N lasts ~350 shots on a charge; expect 2x that from a DSLR
    • Manual controls. I find the controls on the NEX-5N to be fine, especially since you can customize the buttons and create a
      custom quick menu. Still, DSLRs typically have more buttons which means easier access to settings quickly.
    • Viewfinder. If you want a viewfinder, optical is tough to beat (though the NEX7 has an OLED viewfinder that is excellent).

    And there are a lot of good reasons to buy an NEX-5N over an APS-C DSLR:

    • Lens adapters. You can mount basically any 35mm lens on the NEX-5N with an adapter because the flange-back distance is lower than on any other format. This includes Canon and Nikon lenses, classic and modern rangefinder lenses like Leica lenses, and a lot more. Yes, you have to use manual focus and aperture. But it's still a very cool capability.
    • Size. The NEX-5N is way smaller and lighter than any DSLR. Even with the Sony 18-55mm lens it fits in a large pocket or small camera bag, and it's even smaller with the Sony 16mm pancake lens.
    • It doesn't look like a DSLR. This may be a big factor if you don't want to look like a professional photographer (for example, at concerts or while doing covert journalism).
    • Video. The NEX-5N takes 1080p60 video in H.264 at 28Mbps, and 1080p24 at 24Mbps. Most DSLRs in the same price range (and even many that are more expensive) are limited to 1080p24 or 720p60, both of which are inferior if you want to record fast action (like sporting events) or just hate low-frame-rate video.
    • Value. The NEX-5N has better high-ISO performance, better dynamic range, and more resolution than basically any camera under $1000.

    I love my NEX-5N. It is not perfect for everyone, or for every purpose. But if you aren't interested in buying a ton of lenses, you don't like using a viewfinder, and you prefer a compact camera without crappy picture quality, the 5N is a really good choice.

  • by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @12:01AM (#38606490) Homepage Journal

    Most of the highly rated comments in this discussion are as silly as highly popular comments in the "technical discussion about computers etc.," in photography sites like dpreview.
    Seriously, dpreview would give you better advice
    1. Handle cams in your budget. Remember, its you, not a reviewer who is going to use it
    2. Read in depth reviews(dpreview). Do not go by reviwers observations completely, also look at samples at 100%(if you like to print), or 25%, or if you pictures will rarely leave the screen

    That said, the Panasonic GH/X/G series are nice cams in the EVIL space(yes, we call them EVIL, Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens.

    Olympus is decent too, but I feel panasonic has better handle on the Micro 4/3 and 4/3 space

    If you want a larger sensor, then Sony NEX-7(or 5N) is your best bet. The 7 is truly a wonderful cam.

    That said, only advantage a Mirrorless will have is size.
    It will have the same gazillion settings(M mode,. Aperture, Shutter.... as a DSLR).

    BTW, I had a 350D, and shifted to D7000. I also own a FZ35(Panasonic), and love the little cam. However, I sometimes do take 15-20 minute + exposures, so I have to stick with Canon, Nikon or Sony. Since Sony is very frightfully expensive in India, I went for a Nikon(Sony sensor).

    Lastly, the Nex-7 sensor is truly a class apart. I wonder how could they control noise in such a densely packed sensor.

    The 4/3,m4/3 cams will be noiser, and if you frequently use ISO 1600+, you will have trouble.
    Other than that, they truly rock.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"