Julie’s Gadget Diary 05-28-12

I hope everyone is having a very relaxing and reflective Memorial Day. I am because I’m currently on vacation in Fennville, Michigan. We’re staying right on the lake in a log cabin. It’s gorgeous here, with perfect weather so far. I was very excited to go on this vacation because I haven’t been very far out of Columbus, IN for over a year and a half. We usually go on vacation 2x a year, but last year put a damper on any plans due to my cancer adventure. To prepare for this vacation, I decided that I absolutely needed a new camera. I’ve been thinking about getting one of the newer micro 4/3rds interchangeable lens cameras for quite a long time, so a vacation was an excellent excuse to do the deed.

I’ve been using a Canon G11 point and shoot for all my gadgeteer review pix for a couple years. It does a great job and I have no complaints about it. But I thought a new camera would have to be better, so I started researching several weeks ago. I narrowed down my choices to my first choice of the new Olympus OM-D EM-5 and second choice of the Sony NEX-7. When it came time to place my order, I could not find any shops on line that had the Olympus in stock. So I settled on the Sony. It arrived and I played with it for a couple weeks. Right out of the box I found that my G11 took better macro shots than the Sony with the 18-55mm kit lens. I think this was mainly due to not having a good flash setup for the Sony like I do with the Canon.

As I contemplated buying an external flash and a wireless trigger for the Sony, I made the mistake of checking Amazon for the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and noticed that one store had 2 in stock. I couldn’t help myself, I ordered one with the 12-50mm kit lens. Yes, I’m crazy… With only 2 days till vacation, I received the Olympus and had a short time to try it out. My first impression was that it felt even bigger than the Sony NEX-7, wasn’t as comfortable to grip and had a confusing and overly complex menu system. I decided to leave the Sony home and bring the Olympus on vacation with me so I’d be forced to learn to use it.

 

It only took me 1 day to figure out that neither the Sony or the Olympus are the best camera for me. Walking around with the Olympus around my neck felt like an anchor. Yes, it is smaller than a full sized DSLR, but it’s still bulky and awkward to carry. Taking it down to the beach for an hour to take a few shots was one thing, but carrying it around for a full day of shopping at the shops in Saugatuck, MI was another. I ended up leaving the Olympus back in the cabin and using my iPhone 4S instead.

What to know something funny? The first day we got here to the lake, I snapped 2 pictures of the cabin and sent them to Janet. She responded that my new camera took great shots. I had to laugh when I wrote back telling her the images were from the iPhone 4S, not the Olympus!

I’ve come to realize that for me, the best vacation camera is the one in my pocket, which just happens to be the iPhone. The Olympus (and the Sony) can take some amazing pics, but if I don’t want to carry them around with me, they turn into a pricey paperweight. I’ve pretty much decided that I’ll be returning both cameras as soon as I get home. I’ll stick with using the iPhone or some other small pocket friendly camera when I’m traveling and will continue to use the Canon G11 (or maybe I’ll get the latest version…) for my gadgeteer product shots. If it works don’t break it right?

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13 comments… add one

  • Robert May 28, 2012, 9:09 pm

    I really like the Olympus pen for a grab and go camera. But unfortunately for the pen, I prefer my D7.

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  • anson May 28, 2012, 10:36 pm

    The newest version of the G11 is the G1x which is a much bigger camera.

    I was tempted to upgrade last year as well to a NEX-5 (at the time), but the Camera-tech at Best Buy was surprisingly knowledgable and advised me that if i was used to the quality of shots from my existing G11- the NEX-5 was no reason to upgrade. For the kinda shots i like to take pics of… the G11 has been relegated to a weekend camera. My daily shooter has been my iPhone4. It does indeed take great spontaneous and candid shots :)

    If i were to go the micro 4/3rds route, i think i’d probably choose a panasonic GF2, due to its pocketability.

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  • Ian Lim May 29, 2012, 12:04 am

    I put off upgrading from a P&S for a long time because the DSLRs were way too heavy and even my Panasonic FZ5 ( long zoom ) stayed home because it wasn’t worth lugging.

    Eventually I gave in and purchased a Pana G2 4/3. It’s getting long in the tooth but is a good jigger for me and sits nicely between the P&S and DSLR. I looked at the Pana GFs and Pens at the time but wanted the EVF and they didn’t seem right with a heavier tele lense on them. That being said an interesting exercise is to run a program called ExposurePlot across all your photos. I found my average focal length was 30mm, so I don’t even carry my tele lense anymore unless I know I’ll be using it.

    Now I’m carrying that and a GoPro, two extremes :)

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  • Julie May 29, 2012, 10:00 am

    @Anson I haven’t compared the size of the G11 to the G12 and newest G1x. I don’t carry the G11 with me on vacation. I just use it at home for my macro/review pictures.

    What does the Panasonic GF2 look like next to your G11? Is it really pocketable?

    I’ve also thought about the Nikon J1 and V1 cameras. They look a lot smaller than most mirrorless cams.

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  • anson May 29, 2012, 10:13 am

    @Julie, here’s a couple good comparison shots.

    the panasonic is up to GF3-version now, but GF2 is rated better IMO. The footprint of G11 and G12 is almost identical

    G11 vs. GF1
    http://lightsabre-photography.blogspot.ca/2010/06/why-arent-evilsld-small.html

    G12 vs G1x
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong1x/4

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  • thsu May 29, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Part of the problem with the EM-5 is that the kit lens is huge and adds a lot of size/weight, because just the body of the EM-5 is nearly identical in size/weight to the Canon G12.
    http://camerasize.com/compare/#101,289

    If you want a compact/light camera with interchangeable lenses, you need to look at a kit with small zooms, like the Nikon J1 (with the 10-30 zoom) or the Panasonic GF5 (with the 14-42 X pancake zoom). If you look at the specifications in the links below, those two cameras are near identical in size/weight after accounting for the zoom lens.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/861695-REG/Panasonic_DMC_GF5XK_Lumix_DMC_GF5X_Micro_4_3.html
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/823579-REG/Nikon_27526_1_J1_Mirrorless_Digital.html

    My suggestion though is to wait on the summer crop of new cameras.

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  • Julie May 29, 2012, 4:05 pm

    @anson Hmmmm, too big for a pocket, but not so bad for a small gear bag. Not sure what I’m going to do – if anything. There’s really nothing wrong with my G11. I carried it with me today in a small Timbuk2 bag. It was much more portable than the Olympus which I left back at the cabin. I figure I better stop playing with it if I’m going to return it. It would have been way too bulky to carry with me up the 280+ stairs I climbed this afternoon up the Mt. Bald Head sand dune.

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  • Julie May 29, 2012, 4:07 pm

    @thsu The Nikon J1 and V1 do look attractive. I keep thinking Canon will come out with a mirrorless camera. I don’t know what is taking them so long…

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  • anson May 29, 2012, 6:21 pm

    the smaller nikons are getting poor reviews because their sensors arent good enough to match micro 4/3rds standards… Im waiting on a mirrorless Canon as well.

    My G11 with lens adapter fits nicely into my small Crumpler bag/man-purse :)

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  • Bgood May 30, 2012, 11:46 am

    You might consider the Fuji X10. It fits easily in a jacket pocket, has a nice zoom range, fast lens, built in flash, good macro, and for me produces very good images indoors in low light as well as outdoors. I grab the X10 going out the door or for hiking/biking vacations when I don’t want to carry my bigger cameras. The images never disappoint. Autofocus is not fast enough for action sports however.

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  • Thedigitaldoc May 30, 2012, 1:25 pm

    I bought a Canon S100 about 8 months ago for the same reason it has not let me down. Great pics and can carry in my jeans pocket. I do lug my DSLR when I need to, but the Canon does a great job. Here are some samples I shot. http://bit.ly/JNjCme

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  • Julie May 30, 2012, 2:23 pm

    @Bgood I had looked into the Fuji X10 but disregarded it when I saw the complaints about the slow focusing. I don’t do a lot of action shots, but knowing I can’t with that camera made me mark it off my list.

    @Thedigitaldoc Those are some great shots from the S100. Did they require a lot of post processing?

    I have a little Canon ELPH that’s a few years old. It’s just an 8mp though.

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  • thsu May 30, 2012, 2:45 pm

    The Olympus XZ-1 (or the XZ-2, rumored to be released this summer) is the most common competitor to the Canon S100.

    The main difference is that the XZ-1 has an F1.8 to F2.5 lens, which means it is great in low light conditions. The F2.5 on the long end is unique for compact cameras (S100 is F5.9 at the long end).

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