Friday, November 23, 2012

Which camera to buy (updated on 12/5)?

Get a smartphone if you haven't yet. Even the very cheap Stellar's 3MB camera will serve good enough photos, for example:



If you want better photos, then get an Olympus PEN for about $200 to $300. Don't waste your money on P&S or bridged cameras, including the Canon S100, because they do not produce significantly better images than a good smartphone such as iPhone 4 and the new Nokia 920.


Don't waste money on DSLR, they are too large and heavy, will end up eating dust in your garage. Furthermore, they all suffer from AF hunting when do video. Something like the Sony SLT-A35 is exceptional, because it is quite light and compact, with unique phase-detection AF for video. A35 can be found in Sears below $300 (the following photos are taken with the Stellar):




If you want to do both photos and video (who doesn't these days?), then get a Panasonic G, GF or GX. DSLR and other mirror-less cameras including Olympus PEN and Sony NEX, all suffer from auto-focus hunting problem. Furthermore, Panasonic G, GF, GX and GH are all hackable to produce broadcast grade video for very little money. This is an example from my hacked GF2:


Right now, the G3 is selling for only $299 at B&H, free shipping, brand new, 14-42mm kit lens included. If you are interested in good video in addition to DSLR grade photos, this is the golden opportunity.

PS: The Sony SLT-A35 is completely garbage compared to G3. So, G3 still stands as the only choice for the camera that does both 1st-grade photos and video, among all DSLR and mirro-less.

PPS: The Sony NEX-5R and NEX-6 feature phase-detection AF, but not available for video.

14 comments:

  1. Thank you introduce G3. My question is if it is good enough using 14-42mm kit lens for kids sport video? Is it worth to buy $299 G3 kit only(without 14-140 mm lens you recomand) instead of $300 camcorder?

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    1. The key point here is: do you want a camera that does both photos and video significantly better than a compact camera or camcorder?

      For me I don't want to carry two devices, so G3 is the all in one. If you are happy to carry two devices, or don't need DSLR-grade photos and pro-class video, then a consumer-grade camcorder or a superzoom like Panasonic FZ150 can do kid sports for less money and they are easier to handle with.

      The 14-42 is not long enough for outdoor kid sports. You may add a 45-200 for $180. The nice thing about 14-140 is you don't need to change lens on site, lots of money though. For outdoor sports, you mostly don't need to swap lenses, the 45-200 alone can get the job done. So, you should try the 45-200 first. In either case, it's good to have the 14-42, because it is light and small and well enough for 99% of your photo and video needs.

      So go get the G3 kits for $299. If you don't like the camera, both B&H and Amazon will fully refund you, nothing to lose. Even with a 45-200 added, the total is still under $500, a far better buy than S100, RX100, LX7 or FZ150, unless you want a camera in your pocket. For me, my cell phone does what a pocket camera does and G3 does the rest.

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    2. In the era of smartphones, neither LX7 (or its kind) or DSLR will get much chance of use. With a cell phone already in your pocket, I don't think you have another pocket for a LX7. If you go to Europe, e.g., you won't want to carry just a LX7, because it is still not good enough for the precious moments; you don't want to carry a DSLR neither, because too large and heavy to be always ready for a moment.

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  2. Thank you for so quick reply. Anothing thing is if you think a entry-lever guy can handle to heck the G3?

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    1. Hack is very easy and simple. I haven't hacked my G3 yet, but once I do, I'll post the config file. All you'll need to do is to start the hack app, load the stock firmware, click an apply button, save the new firmware, put the file on a SD card, insert it into G3, turn the camera on, click the playback button, click on "yes". That's it, just be sure to use a fully charged battery. You can always go back to stock, so nothing to worry about.

      I forgot about the ETC mode. With it, a 14-42 lens should do outdoor sports video perfectly, extending 42 to 140 mm, that's 10x zoom. ETC mode is not so good for indoor low light though, because noise level is significantly higher, noise become very noticeable. Check my youtube to get a sense on ETC mode between indoor and outdoor.

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    2. Thank you very much

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  3. I just checked B&H it's discontinued and it's 399 everywhere else..

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    1. That deal is too good to be true, so it won't last long. Right now GH2 is going for $500.

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    2. wish I had seen your blog post earlier...

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  4. How does G3 compare to t3i or t4i?

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    1. Don't know, sorry, they are too large to my like and, the deal breaker, they cannot do AF well for video.

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  5. I got my G3 and just hacked. It is looks very nice. But I dont know how to select ETC mode. Can you please give me detail about it?

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    1. Menu, REC, EX. TELE CONV., ON, this is for photos. For video: menu, MOTION PICTURE, EX. TELE CONV., ON. Now, when you go to picture settings or motion pic. set, you'll see some modes have "EX". If you change to these modes, you'll be in ETC mode.

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    2. Thank you very much for all your input

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