Need help choosing a camera.

Created by Toxeia on Dec. 13, 2012, 12:49 p.m.
  • So I've decided I need a big-boy camera. Right now I'm using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 (Amazon listing) that I purchased back in 2004 for a trip to Greece/Italy. The camera's still in good condition, but there's a few things that it lacks, and I feel like it's time to upgrade. I was hoping that some of the people here could help me pick out a camera.

    Something that I really wish I had on this camera was a manual zoom. Sometimes if I'm taking pictures through a window this camera focuses on the glass right in front of me (understandable), but I'd like to be able to adjust it manually so I could focus on the rare birds that gather in my back yard.

    The image stabilization on the one I have right now is also pretty good - which is something I really need because I'm totally incapable of holding my hands still for a picture. This is especially an issue in situations where I've used the zoom.

    A camera that's capable of good low-light images would be nice too. It's not an issue that the pictures are grainy, but it just doesn't pick up a picture when I feel like there should be enough light for it to get something.

    As far as price, I'd like to try to keep it around $250-300 if possible, but if it's really worth it I'd consider up to $500. I know the Sony mirrorless cameras are awesome, but I'm not sure that I'd really need all the features on there.

  • It looks pretty nice. I see it's got a manual focus - I assume it means I can actually twist the lens to focus it myself? That's a feature that I'd really love. Everything else looks solid, but I'm curious about lenses.

    Also looking at a few of the other camera threads here I see people are looking at DSLRs and talking about lenses. While I'm by no means a photographer, hobby or otherwise, should I look at something with interchangeable lenses? I guess being able to exchange it for a higher-power zoom would be fantastic. Sometimes birds are just way too skittish and if I open the door they'll take off from a half-acre away.

    And while this is a small thing to get hung up on, something that doesn't just do .MOV for video would be nice. I've got the stuff to convert it, but I just hate MOV. It might as well be RM.

  • I'm with you on MOV Toxeia. That format just doesn't play nice with other stuff I have.

    I'm also looking for a camera in the same price range. I don't want a $100 point and shoot, but I want something between that and a DSLR that's $500+.

  • If you wish to keep to the point and shoot market and not want to bother with the changing lenses system then these are the two cameras I would recommned. Issue for you may be the limited amount of zoom but in terms of image quality in whatever situation I've found these two to be the best (while keeping relatively near budget).

    • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
    • Fujifilm Finepix X10

    If you want something that may have a little more longevity to it you could go with a mirrorless system like what Norm has. The benefits to it are that they're relatively compact but will allow interchangeable lenses.

    • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3
    • Sony Alpha NEX-F3
    • Olympus PEN E-PM2
    • Nikon 1 J1

    Something you need to realise though is that with DSLRs and the MILC's (Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Cameras) is that you're not investing in a camera like you would be with a point and shoot, you're investing in a lens ecosystem. You need to take into account the lenses available for each system and then buy into the system that best suits you.

  • @stenchlord: I assume that lenses are adapted to specific brands of camera, and even specific sets of models? That's kind of a bummer.

    I've decided for now the one I have is okay if I have to hold onto it. Changing my priorities and investing in a gym membership and a new bicycle. If there's money left over (definitely will be) then I'll re-evaluate my budget for a camera. In the end I might just wait until I have good bit of money to drop on a fancy camera to hold onto forever.

  • @Toxeia: Depends on the manufacturer but for the most part yes. You can get adapters and such but mostly you stick to the same manufacturer for camera and lens (unless it's third party like Sigma or Tamron).