Yet another 'which camera' question (help appreciated)

FeedTheFreak

Standard Member
Hey there

So just came back from an hour in John Lewis trying to gauge the annual question my wife and I ask ourselves: do we need a new camera?

We're not especially serious photographers by any stretch of the imagination, but we take a lot of pictures - mainly of our kids and for sharing on social (Instagram) although these are largely heavily edited. As such, for the last four years we've beeb pretty much happy with and reliant on iPhones. I have a 6 and she has a 5. Always with us, snap away, edit, upload. Occasionally, print.

We also have a Nikon D60 which was great for a while, but which increasingly we have left behind on holidays because it's just yet more weight to carry, and also because we suspect an over-exposure problem which we've always intended to get looked at.

Anyway. Why do we think we need a new camera? Well, battery life on phones. An unwillingness to take the phones everywhere, especially on holiday, because they're, well, phones.

So we looked at a FujiFilm X30 and a Cannon Powershot G7, Sony's equivalent (Cybershot?), a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 and a Sony A5100. Around the £350 price mark.

We were looking to maintain the convenience of wifi to upload and share photos. We were looking for picture quality, obviously, and - what became clear as we fiddled around - ease of use. Some of these compact cameras felt just plain tricky to get your fingers around. And I think we've become accustomed to a clear interface - again, some of the menus left a lot to be desired - the user experience (amazing I'm talking about that with regard to cameras) felt clunky and in many cases not very clear.

Anyway. I feel no clearer as to what we should be looking for. Again: our Nikon feels *cumbersome*. Our phones take good enough photos but we are over-reliant on them. I rarely feel like I miss a zoom. Or a lens. We're not nature photographers. Low light, sure. I guess we're used to not really taking pictures at night, or with a flash. The 'Superzooms' generally didn't feel like they were delivering on quality. Portability and quality would be the probably paramount. My wife liked the Fuji, but it was the heaviest of all of them.

Some thoughts, opinion or direction would be greatly appreciated.

Best
Freak
 

snerkler

Member
IMO from what you've said you want to be looking at a larger sensor compact camera. These give the best IQ and low light performance. There's a couple of cameras that fit this bill and fit in your price range, the Canon G7x and Sony RX100 mark II. Of these I would personally choose the Canon as it has a wider aperture at the long end of the zoom allowing for my light to be captured and a better chance of getting subject isolation. Also IIRC the Canon is wider at the short end of the zoom being 24mm vs 28mm.

Alternatively you could try getting a second hand Sony RX100 Mark III in budget. The Mark III has a faster lens (wider aperture) than the Mark II and has the advantage of having a viewfinder which neither the Mark II or Canon G7x has. It does have a shorter zoom than those 2 though, only going up to 70mm.
 
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newbie1

Distinguished Member
+1 for rx100 - definitely worth checking this one out based on what you indicate you're looking for.
 

FeedTheFreak

Standard Member
Thanks for the feedback, both.

Wife had a look and was quite taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 (in silver) which I think we originally ruled out because of price; however looking online I've seen it for around the £370 mark. Any thoughts on that or would you go for the Canon at that price?

The Lumix looks lovely but it doesn't 'go' quite as compact as far as I can see and is also a little heavier (though less than the Fujifilm).
 

snerkler

Member
The Panasonic is the next step up to the RX100 and G7x, it has a slightly larger sensor so in theory should have slightly better low light performance and slightly better chance of subject isolation. Also it has more external controls rather than having to delve into menus. However, as you will have noticed it's substantially larger than the RX100 and G7x and wouldn't fit it jeans/trouser pockets, or even inside coat pockets.

Where've you seen it that cheap? Assuming it's used or grey import?
 

damo_in_sale

Well-known Member
In terms of size I'd do what you're doing and go down to a John Lewis or Jessops to see what suits you best.

My general rule of thumb is if you can't remove the lens then the image quality is probably not that good. It's not universal though and the Lumix LX100 and Sony RX100 look good for fixed lens cameras.

If you can then check out the micro four thirds cameras too. I think they are perfect for family folks like you and me. These are made by both Olympus and Panasonic and you can use Olympus lenses on Panasonic Lumix bodies, and vice versa. We have a tiny Lumix GM1 which I love and comes everywhere with us, and also a dslr style Lumix G7 and you can swap the lenses between them no problem.
Image quality is not far off or similar too Canon dslr's in the same budget range.

Not sure you can still get the GM1 but the GM5 is available and is a similar size but has a viewfinder.

Also take a look at the Olympus EM10 with its tiny pancake zoom. Might be too big for you though if you want really small.

Just don't get a camera with a tiny sensor.
 
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KePa

Active Member
My general rule of thumb is if you can't remove the lens then the image quality is probably not that good. It's not universal though and the Lumix LX100 and Sony RX100 look good for fixed lens cameras.

Just don't get a camera with a tiny sensor.

Disagree completely. Apart from the compact zoom cameras you have mentioned, which are great, there are are also the fixed focal length cameras such as the Fuji X100s/t (35mm), Sony RX1 (35mm), and Ricoh GR (28mm). The GR is 28mm, like the iphone, so you will be used to the focal length, except you can't digitally zoom in, which impacts picture quality heavily anyway. I had the RX100 III as mentioned in previous post, which has a pop-up viewfinder and used it on holiday in New Year and Barcelona. Excellent image quality. I also had the RX1 which is also fantastic, and the original Fuji X100, also great.

But if you are happy with the iphone, why not just take that? Every dedicated camera either has a poor social media interface or requires you to save your pics to a computer before uploading. Here is an idea. Buy a small video light with adjustable dimming for portraits when it is too dark for the iphone.
 

FeedTheFreak

Standard Member
Thanks again for the input. Love the GM1 (the retro camera style really appeals to the wife) and GM5. The Lumix cameras are rapidly becoming a contender, and the wife seems to be compromising on the 'fits in your pocket' desire, as snerkler mentions.

KePa totally understand what you're saying re: the iphone. And most of the time we will just be taking that. But also like your other suggestions. All in the mix. Going in again to take a more focussed look at our shortlist of around 4.
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
We were looking to maintain the convenience of wifi to upload and share photos.
IMHO a lot of camera blurb over emphasises the WiFi feature without explaining how it works in practice, relying in some cases on some pretty dreadful apps.

I've had Toshiba FlashAir WiFi SD cards. They fit in an SD card camera (i.e. virtually any camera) and create a WiFi hot spot which you can connect a tablet/phone to and download images using a WiFi app. You still need the phone to upload to social media or cloud storage and you have to disconnect from the camera and reconnect to either the 3/4G network or local WiFi.
The later generation FlashAir I got actually allows the card to connect through to a broadband access point simultaneously so you can email from inside the app, but is a little fiddly to configure. You have to set up the card as a client on the broadband connected WiFi - good for home, not for a hotel WiFi with a sign in or long password. It still moves the image to the phone then back again through the card to the broadband - given the size of image files this is S L O W but at home it's pretty good.

My later camera (Olympus OM-D EM-10 Mark I) has much better WiFi capabilities. The Olympus app allows you full remote control of the camera which is great for taking group shots with the photographer in the picture. It also has better options for saving smaller files to the iPhone from the camera.
BUT it still creates a WiFi hotspot which you have to connect the phone to, copy the files then upload them to Facebook or whatever.

So in short if WiFi connectivity and social media uploading are very important to you then research these carefully. Any SD card camera can be made "WiFi" by using a £15 WiFi card but the quality of the experience is going to trail well behind the Android/iOS experience of Instagram.

We were looking for picture quality, obviously, and - what became clear as we fiddled around - ease of use. Some of these compact cameras felt just plain tricky to get your fingers around. And I think we've become accustomed to a clear interface - again, some of the menus left a lot to be desired - the user experience (amazing I'm talking about that with regard to cameras) felt clunky and in many cases not very clear.
A lot of review sites at this price point will be looking at serious photographers who understand and want to control the camera, essentially giving them a mini version of a full size DSLR in terms of control.
If you're looking for a simple point and shoot experience with great image quality you may find that these are over complicated and fiddly.
I love the Olympus touch screen which allows me to set the focus of the image (and even take the picture) by prodding the point on the screen (like a phone). But many of the other menu entries and set up options are quite confusing even to experienced photographers.
If you want a lot of control, lens options and a good WiFi experience then I would look at the Olympus OM-D EM10, the mark I version has a lot to recommend it and it's comparatively cheap since the Mark II was released. I am biased though in that this is what I use.
The Olympus PEN range are also very good if you don't want a viewfinder - I have an E-PL5 which is an older model but shares lenses on the Micro4/3rds system with my newer camera.

I tried the Canon EOS-M when I bought my PEN - I really liked the touchscreen interface which worked very nicely. The latest M3 version may be out of budget though.

Samsung used to do a line of Galaxy cameras which were a android smartphone body with a compact camera lens. They seem to have stalled out at the second version, so perhaps this didn't sell well. It might be worth adding Samsung's NX mini to your list for research?
 

FeedTheFreak

Standard Member
Thanks once again for a really thorough reply - real food for thought re: the wifi especially.

The wife definitely wants a new camera. She has battery and memory problems on her iPhone. So while other iPhone suggestions re: Flash and lenses are great, I think she's going to be spending some money regardless.
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
Well the memory thing is worth keeping in mind - a single image from my Olympus is 2.5-4.5MB. If you transfer them over WiFi they are stored at full resolution by default on the phone which is more than my iPhone6 which seems to top out at 2.5MB.
You can resize them by emailing them to yourself, choosing a smaller file size on the iPhone mail program, then saving the picture from the email to the camera roll and deleting the original (phew).
I do that to upload Olympus pics to Facebook as it seems to die if I upload larger images over the Safari web page but it's a faff!
 

Johnmcl7

Distinguished Member
Thanks once again for a really thorough reply - real food for thought re: the wifi especially.

The wife definitely wants a new camera. She has battery and memory problems on her iPhone. So while other iPhone suggestions re: Flash and lenses are great, I think she's going to be spending some money regardless.

Are both of you IOS users? I agree with the post above that wifi can be a pain in the neck on some cameras but those with NFC are much simpler if the phone supports it which unfortunately Apple don't at the moment although most Android devices do. To transfer photos from an RX100 Mk4 I simply have to tap the phone against the side of the camera and the rest is done automatically (even automatically resizes them), it's much handier than my wifi only camera which needs a lot more steps.

John
 

Faldrax

Well-known Member
Just to disagree with an earlier comment on in-camera wi-fi, at least from my experience.

I have the Sony a6000 as my 'travel' camera, which has the same wi-fi options as the A5100 I believe.
Once I've shot a set of images, I simply set the camera to wi-fi transfer mode and select the images I want to transfer.
I then start the Sony App on my phone (it's Android, but I suspect there will be an Apple version), click the 'connect' button, and it auto switches Wi-Fi and connects to the cameras own Wi-Fi, transfers the images, then disconnects (and returns to 3G or the original Wi-Fi network I was on, as appropriate).
I can then upload the images to Facebook, Flickr, etc as I wish.
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
Sounds good - I wasn't suggesting WiFi on cameras is universally rubbish - just that the implementation varies quite dramatically and if it's very important then it's worth researching with care.
Assuming you can simply connect your camera directly to a coffee shop hot spot to share on facebook would be a mistake, though that's exactly what you can do with instagram on a phone or tablet.
 

Faldrax

Well-known Member
I'm happy with how it works, very quick and easy once you are used to the sequence.

It will, however, only transfer Jpegs - but will auto convert RAW to Jpeg if you shoot RAW.
 

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