Need help choosing a smaller camera than my DSLR

grahamfitter

Expedition Leader
I've been using a Nikon D70s for quite a while and it does everything reasonably well even with the slow kit lens. The only disadvantage is the camera is simply too bulky. The only time its convenient is when its close at hand in the car and when I'm on foot it usually gets left behind because there's no space in the backpack (or worse, carried but not used.) I've been grumbling about this for a while.

So in advance of a trip to Peru next year where I'll be living out of hand luggage, I'm thinking about replacing it with something smaller, maybe micro 4/3. But there are three things that DSLRs do very well that I really don't want to give up...

Useful Viewfinder I've tried to take photos using the LCD screen on the back of many, many, cameras and the fact is I'm simply guessing and pressing most of the time. If there's an image there its hiding. Plus I have a chance of holding the camera still if its pressed against my head.

No Delay Switch on, push button, take picture. Why do I have to wait? Of course if I was quicker on the draw (and could see the screen) I could focus in advance but I'm of the opinion that if I'm paying for auto focus, it should do it quicker than I could back when I was quicker on the draw.

Long Battery Life The original D70 battery still lasts several weeks of vacation between charges if I don't use the flash too much. I don't mind carrying a spare battery but I've seen compact cameras die after just a couple of days and I really don't want to be slave to a charger. (Other than the cost, that's the main reason I don't have a smart phone.)

The micro 4/3 format looks interesting because the cameras appear to retain all the DSLR speedy usefulness with good image quality and most have either built-in or add-on electronic viewfinders. The Olympus E-P3 and Panasonic G3 (shame the GF3 isn't an upgrade of the GF1?) would probably be prime contenders if I was buying today. Probably with the Panasonic 20mm (40mm in 35mm lingo) F1.7 prime lens as the primary lens with the kit zoom as a backup. I have no idea about battery life, whether an electronic viewfinder is actually useful or whether the autofocus is fast as they claim.

Am I going down a sensible path here or should I just stick with the DSLR and grumble about the size? Are there other options I should be considering? Alternatively can I get a DSLR the same size as my old Nikon FM/Pentax Super A? (with a fast standard lens and a small zoom.)

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

pismo62

Adventurer
I'm looking into the sony nex-7. I getting a little tired of lugging my cannon 5d and lens on back pack trips.
 

Lost Canadian

Expedition Leader
If I was starting over I would certainly be giving Sony a long hard look. I spent a little time with the NEX 5n and it's one sweet little camera, and the NEX 7 looks to be even better. The only downside to the NEX system at the moment is the lack of e mount glass, although I'm sure that will change in the next few years.

Panasonic also just release the GX1, the true successor to the GF1, although it appears to be a nice evolutionary update, and not so much revolutionary.
 

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Bikemobile

Adventurer
I just sold my sony a330 dslr. I never seemed to have the right lens with me when hiking. I had a minolta dslr before that. The longest lens i had was 500 mm but it was too big to take on foot.

A friend has owned the last 3 models of canon sx series cameras and takes amazing pictures with them. I decided on the new canon sx40hs for the equivalent 800 mm optical zoom and the 1080p HD video capability. It is also 30% smaller than my old dslrs. The fisheye feature is fun too.
 

LR Max

Local Oaf
Seriously look at the canon S95. I picked one up and it has been a great camera. It performs, fairly easy to manipulate in manual mode, and VERY good image quality. Best part, it is basically a heavy P&S camera (physically heavy but very compact).

Price is good, doesn't have a viewfinder but has a very good LCD on it. Took some getting used to but that is true for just about any new camera platform.
 

grahamfitter

Expedition Leader
If I was starting over I would certainly be giving Sony a long hard look. I spent a little time with the NEX 5n and it's one sweet little camera, and the NEX 7 looks to be even better. The only downside to the NEX system at the moment is the lack of e mount glass, although I'm sure that will change in the next few years.

Panasonic also just release the GX1, the true successor to the GF1, although it appears to be a nice evolutionary update, and not so much revolutionary.
NEX 7 with built-in viewfinder would be perfect, especially with that Zeiss 24 mm f1.8. If the format is really that good maybe dropping a kilobuck on a lens makes sense but that's way more than I'd be willing to spend up front.

GX1 is definitely hot off the press. Wonder how much the accessory viewfinder costs and whether its any good? Panasonic 20 mm f1.7 pancake is noisy but way, way, cheaper. New kit lenses look exceptionally petit, too.


I just sold my sony a330 dslr. I never seemed to have the right lens with me when hiking. I had a minolta dslr before that. The longest lens i had was 500 mm but it was too big to take on foot.

A friend has owned the last 3 models of canon sx series cameras and takes amazing pictures with them. I decided on the new canon sx40hs for the equivalent 800 mm optical zoom and the 1080p HD video capability. It is also 30% smaller than my old dslrs. The fisheye feature is fun too.
Interesting. I suppose if I'm honest I usually have one lens on the D70s and stick to it so having an all-in-one DSLR may make sense.


Seriously look at the canon S95. I picked one up and it has been a great camera. It performs, fairly easy to manipulate in manual mode, and VERY good image quality. Best part, it is basically a heavy P&S camera (physically heavy but very compact).

Price is good, doesn't have a viewfinder but has a very good LCD on it. Took some getting used to but that is true for just about any new camera platform.
I don't know why but I just can't see images on LCD screens in daylight. Maybe its my glasses? No viewfinder is a real problem.
 

richxd87

Observer
If you're considering a smaller than a 4/3 sensor, the Fujifilm X-10 and the Panasonic LX5 look nice... I'm trying to decide between those 2 for true portability or a smaller dslr fill in with the Sony NEX-5N, Olympus E-PL3, or Panasonic GX1... ARGGHH THE CHOICES!!!

Richard
 

BillTex

Adventurer
If you're considering a smaller than a 4/3 sensor, the Fujifilm X-10 and the Panasonic LX5 look nice... I'm trying to decide between those 2 for true portability or a smaller dslr fill in with the Sony NEX-5N, Olympus E-PL3, or Panasonic GX1... ARGGHH THE CHOICES!!!

Richard
Luvin my LX-5...sometimes I wish for a little more zoom...then I remember to use the old manual zoom, and all is good with the world...

B
 

Desert Dan

Explorer
I have a small Canon with a view finder. I bought it becasue it had a view finder.
I use the view finder more than the lcd screen.
Great pictures and I use the camera more than my Nikon DSLR
 

Lostmanifesto

Traveler
I love my Canon S95. Can fit in a pocket, takes great photos, HD video, good battery life and has full manual controls when needed.
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
2 birds, one price. Get the iPhone 4s. Excellent camera, shoots video, can directly upload both, and handle calls while doing it (if on AT&T). And you'll always have it handy due small form factor. Battery lasts days, NOT a week, but chargers are plentiful and very compact, including right off your laptop as you sync your images.
 

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tdesanto

Expedition Leader
If I was starting over I would certainly be giving Sony a long hard look. I spent a little time with the NEX 5n and it's one sweet little camera, and the NEX 7 looks to be even better. The only downside to the NEX system at the moment is the lack of e mount glass, although I'm sure that will change in the next few years.

Panasonic also just release the GX1, the true successor to the GF1, although it appears to be a nice evolutionary update, and not so much revolutionary.
Wouldn't the X10 you just picked up fit most of the OP's criteria?

That's a sexy looking camera with a fast lens...you've got me thinking about it. A lot of folks are complaining that the Nikon V1 didn't come with a larger sensor, but it has twice the coverage of the X10. Yet, the X10 just looks like it's a better camera overall and at a great price point.
 

Lost Canadian

Expedition Leader
Wouldn't the X10 you just picked up fit most of the OP's criteria?

That's a sexy looking camera with a fast lens...you've got me thinking about it. A lot of folks are complaining that the Nikon V1 didn't come with a larger sensor, but it has twice the coverage of the X10. Yet, the X10 just looks like it's a better camera overall and at a great price point.
I guess it really depends what is most important to Graham. If portability, and usefulness are formost the primary features he is looking for, then ya, the X10 might fit that bill perfectly. And coming from a D70s he may actually find the image quality to be a fair bit better, especially at higher ISO's. The X10 certainly wouldn't be my first choice for shooting landscapes or portraits though, it's more of a generalist camera. For landscapes and portraits I'd want at a minimum an APS-C sized sensor, that's why I mentioned the NEX cameras. If it boils down to having just one camera for everything the NEX 5n or 7 might be a ticket.

Graham, if you're wonding what were talking about with the X10, I just bought one for my carry around camera and gave some impressions of it here.
 
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