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Thursday, 16 July 2015


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There's some nice technology in some of the recent cameras (Sony & Panasonic, in particular) ... but I wonder how they're going to make out at these high price points relative to previous models, when all that's changing is electronics (not lenses) and the market has gotten accustomed to digital toys getting cheaper and/or better over time (not more expensive). The RX100-IV is amazing, but $949 ($1300 for the latest RX10) is a high price to pay for a pocket camera ... $599 for a 1/2.3" sensor camera (FZ300), $1200 for the new Panasonic GX8 ... maybe $500 DSLR kits will see a resurgence in popularity.

The $1200 GX8 is huge mistake in pricing by Panasonic. Remember Nikon Coolpix A ? It came in at $1100 (should have been $800) and now sells for $400
Some of these new camera pricings are unreal. Then again we have the Fuji XT-10 for $800. Fuji seems to do everything right these days.

It's also very much not a camera for a specialist. For everything this little camera does well, you can find one that does the same thing brilliantly. You need pocketable, get RX100, you need portrait, get 4x5, long reach, get the Canon 5200 f14, and so on.

I think that Panasonic has just made a major decision for me today. I'd planned to replace my Canon DSLRs with GX8s—but it's huge. About the same size as a Leica M3, and just a little lighter. Meh! On to "Plan B."

If the iPhone 6s+ is as good as rumors say, it's my next digital camera. A 12Mp iPhone, with a set of Schneider iPro lenses, will be just fine for product shots.

When I feel the need to re-connect with traditional photography, I'll use my Leica IIIa (nothing is more traditional than film) 8-D

Re: FZ200: For your in-laws and other 'recommendees', B+H and all the usual suspects are pricing remaining new ones at $399, a screaming deal in this segment. Panny is obviously clearing the decks for the inbound FZ300.

In line with what Dennis is saying, when someone asks me for a camera recommendation, I always recommend an entry level DSLR with kit lens. Unbeatable for price/performance ratio. You can get fantastic value for EUR 300-400.

Plus, they provide a solid platform should you want to learn and grow your photography.

From the perspective of "traditional" photography, I'll go way out on an intellectually unsatisfying limb here and suggest that any camera with a full "Auto" mode is more than sufficient for casual shooters.

Why? Seldom do I see where deep knowledge camera controls do anything but distract from making a perfectly wonderful/beautiful/amazing image. Particularly for the "typical" snapshooter.

For them - gawds - here goes - I've seen where electronics companies offer products that are more than adequate and more than satisfying to a great many image making tasks. For me it's really hard to ignore an emerging truth: Apple/Google(Android)/Sony/Samsung+Software Apps are winning the hearts and minds of the casual shooter.

How can this be? For me it's quite simple. Photography has moved from recording a scene (in terms of art, photo-reportage, sports, lifestyle, and family events) to sharing _experiences_ instantly across the internet.

Witness how many "selfie sticks" are sold and then used right here on the streets of Paris. Et voila! There's your current-day "typical" photo-shooter.

Even at the risk of sounding like a lunatic, I'd recommend an 'iter' for the beginner who's truly, truly interested in photography:
1. Buy an SLR film camera. They're dirt-cheap right now, there's no shortage of good, inexpensive films and surely there's a lab around to develop and scan your film.
Why do I make such an odd recommendation? Because it'll teach the prospective photographer everything there is to know about photography; the technique, sure, because he (she) will be deprived of chimping and will have to trust his (her) skills, but the content will benefit too, as he (she) will become more selective by learning there's a cost involved in every photograph. It is important to counter the tendency of photographing everything that falls in front of your eyes that comes with digital photography: there's nothing to be learned from that. Film will make you realize there should be an intrinsic value to every photograph.
2. Once you've mastered the film camera, you'll either have fallen in love with film or found its limitations are impeding you. In the former case, buy a medium format film camera. If, however, you found film was limiting your progress, buy a mirrorless camera from Sony, Panasonic or Olympus. With this move you'll be granted access to a cornucopia of inexpensive lenses that you can use via adapters. (Of course, the previous experience with a film camera will have made you familiar with manual focusing, so you'll be OK - even if you'll eventually find yourself missing a good focusing screen.)
3. Of course, none of this applies if you just want to take casual snaps and share them, in which case you'd be better off shooting with your smartphone. However, if you follow this advice, it means you're really serious about becoming a photographer. Photography isn't easy; there's a steep learning curve before getting any acceptable results.
This is what I should have done instead of having started up with digital. I look at my first pictures - I mean my first 20,000 pictures! - with a sense of shame. They were a complete waste of time.


Seeing your update in recommendation for the newly announced Panasonic FZ300 at $599, I checked the Panasonic website, and sure enough, although the FZ200 original mfg. list was $599 when it was released (see the CNET review from Dec. 2012), Panasonic now lists it at $399, and B&H has new FZ200 cameras for $397.99 -- assuming the price-conscious TOP reader doesn't mind purchasing a camera that has been succeeded by the new FZ300.

It's easy to dismiss these superzooms as both too heavy and underperforming compared to other options, but I used a Fuji S5000 for a few years, 3 megapixels, a terrible EVF and a zoom, and it was a wonderful family camera, especially outdoors. Here's the thing...we all know as experienced photographers that "getting close" matters, but most people are not experienced hobby or professional photographers and might never be. Having the good zoom or long prime basically results in more close-ups and better shots for many people. I later bought the highly recommended Fuji f31 and suffered from a year or so of less interesting and less intimate distant wide angle shots before I started getting closer.

Usually, the people who want a proper camera have young children, and they want to document their family life and growing children with something better than an iPhone.

I always recommend a camera that can autofocus properly in live-view mode - either a compact with fast autofocus, or a mirrorless camera depending on their particular interests.

A camera that can only capture a running child help up to your face means lots of pictures looking down, while a camera that can AF while framing from the LCD means it's easy for the parents to take pictures from the child's eye level.

Not even to mention proper AF in video, which is an absolute must.

I think you are not wrong in recommending LX100 as a general purpose camera. I guess you used the name LX100 as a generic term for such cameras. Though I have not used one, from the feature set it sounds like a very good all purpose camera. A fixed lens is not a great disadvantage. Most people who own DSLRs do not use anything other than the kit lens packed with the camera. Nor do they buy another lens. The very few who buy another lens do so mostly for snob value and seldom use that commonly bought long lens. From a purely monitory point of view LX100 may not be comparable to an entry level DSLR, but as an all purpose camera it is probably better than an DSLR.

I sympathise with James Symington. I too was caught out by the LX100 menu.I knew it could do Panoramas but I was jiggered if I could find out how when in the field. I finally pulled up the Ebook I have on it on my phone. The secret is it won't do Panoramas in raw mode.
I then put a note to this effect in my phone. Having received my free bus pass a long time ago the memory is not as good as it was so I find writing notes in my phone is a great boon.

I love the LX 100. The Sony 7 gets left at home a lot now.

When you say, “normal people,” I think this means “phone camera users.” So, to me, the search for “The Most Recommendable Camera” becomes this question: What dedicated camera is good for people who primarily use their phones for photography?

advantages for the phone:
1. It’s small and always with you.
2. It’s easy to process photos.
3. It’s easy to post photos to social media.

advantages for the camera:
4. Better quality photos.
5. Zoom lens
6. Potentially better ergonomics
7. Potentially better isolation of subject

Looking at this list, I’d say that TMRC should have:

1. Small size, with the LX100 being at the big end of the range
2. Scene modes and/or film modes.
3. Decent WiFi that connects directly to a phone.
4. 12MP or more
5. 28-100mm or more
6. an EVF - one that is pleasant to use, not just a checklist filler. This may not be a requirement, but I think a good EVF makes people much more enthusiastic about taking photos outdoors.
7. I go back and forth on this one. 2/3” sensor or larger? Or just forget about it and go with a smaller sensor to make sure people get everything they want in focus.

I'm beginning to think an enthusiast is the wrong person to give a camera recommendation to a layperson, unless said layperson has a strong drive to learn the craft. Simply, what an enthusiast may value, such as eye level viewfinder, direct control buttons and dials, clean high ISO, etc, is likely not on the radar to most would be camera consumers.

Cameras are again suffering from bloat that makes them harder to use, even if more flexible -- but flexibility is not necessarily a virtue in cameras intended just for documenting one's life, as opposed to making serious art photos. You had a posting here not long ago about street photography, and people who owned the same camera that I have (a Panasonic GX7) mentioned some features that I don't use, and couldn't find in the basic manual. So I downloaded the manual that includes advanced features...and it's ~371 pages long! That's a little much if you just want a recognizable photo of the Eiffel Tower, with the spouse in the foreground.

What is needed is a questionnaire for the buyer - what does the buyer want to shoot? How much trouble are they willing to go to, how much weight will they carry, what bulk will they carry? Is this a second camera, and if yes, what is the first camera? Are they going to be printing? Viewing on an 8K monitor? Viewing on a laptop or tablet?

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