Saturday, December 18, 2010

More camera related nonsense - Nikon P7000 vs Canon G12

Basically, Nikon makes crappy handling P&Ses!

Ok to be fair, I'm mainly comparing Nikon and Canon, Sony's handling is even worse off for me.

So on my way back today, I decided to ponder if a P&S would work for me instead, and decided again to drop by Jessops to check out the Panasonic LX5. Seems like it's a very popular camera, as even the display model was sold :-/

Nevermind, I'll check out Nikon's top of the range P&S instead. Costing about an entry level DSLR, (a used D200 is cheaper), it feels really nice, and I was going, "Oh wow, look at all these controls! Gotta be a dream to shoot with!" Sadly, it took me a fair bit of fiddling to actually figure out basic stuff like trying to change the ISO or white balance. Still, it feels very good and well proportioned in my paws.

Tried a few other Nikon P&Ses but I'll not bore you to death further.

Popped over to the Canon section, and lo and behold, the luscious G12 was there. Immediately, I saw how easy it was to manage the camera - ISO was on it's own dial, even with Auto ISO - I may actually prefer having a dedicated ISO dial on my dslr - and EV comp was it's own button, and another dial for easy PASM stuff. I thought it was very well designed, and the handling was superb. Menus were also easy to get into. Folding screen + optical viewfinder? Big big pluses.

Gotta try the LX5, however if it's menu layout is like the TZ8 - I'd say I'd pick either the G12 or LX5, as they are cameras for different purposes - especially the LX5 with the low zoom range and fast lens. P7000? Another top of the line P&S I will probably not care about.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Checked out a Nikon D5000 today

So I went past the Jessops along New Oxford Street (in London, UK for newer readers) seemingly by accident today, and decided to pop in to give the D5000 and D3100 a try after dismissing them the last time.

(Side Note: At the moment, I've more or less disqualified the GF1 as a choice, mainly due to the insane distortion of the normal zoom and battery life. Maybe down the road when I have loads of disposable £££ I may get it, however right now, I want something I know I will use.)

As luck would have it, the D3100 was not on the shelves, sold away perhaps? Only had the D5000 to try. As mentioned in a previous post, I put the D5k and D3.1k at a firm no just by virtue of their lack of a top LCD screen. A screen I use very very often on my D200/300 for settings.

First off, the AF on the D5000 was bloody bloody slow. And no AF points showed up. A quick tour of the menu indicated the auto area AF. Switching over to single point AF resolved any speed issues. I've owned the 18-55VR in the past, and am quite familiar with its focusing speeds. I wonder if this auto-area AF is similar to the close priority dynamic AF on the D200 - the AF was so much faster on the D200 in similar light. But who knows. I am fine with the single point and dynamic AF on the D5000 + 18-55VR, it's definitely not 17-55 AF-S speeds, but snappy enough inside the store.

One big issue concerned me - the seeming inability of the camera to separate the shutter button and auto focus. I was able to set the custom function to allow the AE/AL lock button to be used as Af-on, however, did not find a custom function to disable AF on the shutter release. As with the D90, the AF selector is just waay off from where my thumb rests.

There is a possibility I'm just asking too much from a budget, entry level dslr designed for beginners :) Some plus points include a very nice +/-2 stop bracketing ability. I'm pretty sure even my D300 has a maximum of 1 stop between brackets, though it's possible to do a 9 frame bracket on the D300 vs 3 on the D5000. That's a low priority thing anyways. Tested live view AF - a joke, seriously when compared to the GF1, or even my Lumix FS7. Also, the AF point layout is similar to the D200, plus point there. And there is even the overlaid grid which I really like. Viewfinder is of course, super dim but we're talking about a small dslr with a pentamirror, not pentaprism and 100% view which costs like 3 times more.

Also, the obvious lack of AF motor. In general though, looks promising. I'm just reeling at the idea of missing the usage of the 24/2.8 and 50/1.8 on this baby. However, as memory serves, I've never actually used either of these lenses when out on tour even though I've brought them along so..... perhaps I should just bite the bullet and get the D90.... or D5000 + a 35/1.8DX to satisfy my urge for a fast prime (hahaha 2.8 is fast for prime? lols)

On a crop body, the 35mm is about 52.5mm equivalent field of view, which I am just not a big fan off :-/ Even when I was shooting film, on my Contax G, even though the 45mm/2 Planar produced the most amazing feel, I still preferred a wide normal; hence the 35/2 was the one mostly mounted.

End of the day? I still have no bloody idea. I've still got a week or so to decide. Ah well.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting a smaller camera - D90? GF1?

So my D200 has been dead for several months now, and I've just started the hunt for a smaller camera.


Basically, whilst my D300 is super awesome kickass, for general day to day use, and just basic travel purposes - it's just to damned big and heavy. In addition, it's not inexpensive, and I just don't like swinging around something that expensive everywhere I go. The D200 IS expensive... back in the day.Thankfully I got mine used for a bargain.

So I've made a trip down to Jessops today, twice actually, to check out the cameras on display.

For the Nikon lineup, I tried the D5000, D3100 and D90.
Other cameras I've tried included the Sony NEX series, Olympus PEN, one of the Samsungs and the Panasonic Micro 4/3s.

Nikon side, the D3100 and D5000 were immediately off my shortlist. When I first grabbed the camera, I went... erm... where is my top lcd? Can't change my settings quickly without that! The back LCD is where its all at, but it's just too damned cluttered. Nope.

D90 wise, apart from me nitpicking certain aspects, seemed like a good choice:
- Push button + control dial for ISO, WB, Qual, Drive etc. Very much like the D200.
- Rear screen is awesome
- Good size and weight
- Shares batteries with my D300
- AF system is similar to the D200, so no issues there
- Viewfinder, though I don't have my D300 with me, seems bright enough. Don't need no 100% viewfinder.
- Motor for AF lenses! 
- Relatively quiet shutter. My D200/D300 sounds damned loud in comparison. Could this be due to the slower shutter release time?

- The main one: The 4 way rocker which is used to select the AF points during shooting is just not lining up with my right thumb. This has to do with the physically smaller camera. The D200/D300 has the AF selector perfectly where my thumb rests on the back of the camera, not on the D90. It is much lower.
- No dedicated AF-On button. I think the AE lock button can be configured for that, but then how am I supposed to lock exposure? :P

Really minor nitpicks
- Flash sync of 1/200. Bleh.
- Bracketing features weak compared to D200. But I don't bracket much so...
- Uses SD cards (yuck), but can't be helped.
- RGB histogram doesn't show flashing highlights
- The name D90 is just not as inspirational as D200 or even D5000

E-PL1 has so-so autofocus speeds. Really, really did not like the menu layout.
E-P2 - again so-so AF speeds. Controls much better, but menus still weak.

Sony's NEX
Af speeds seem good, and the handling of the camera is surprisingly good. However, the menus seem to expect the user to be a total n00b. Nah. Also, the 16mm lens is an odd choice for their fixed prime. 24mm equiv fov is quite wide and not easy to use as a single lens.

Only tried the Samsung NX100, not a fan of the interface. Controls of camera body were quite sparse too. Eh...nah.

Well last to be mentioned. Because I really enjoyed the camera. I tried the G2 and GF1, and thoroughly enjoyed the GF1. The on screen display has symbols indicating e.g when in manual mode, to push in the rear dial to switch between controlling aperture and shutter speeds. ISO has a dedicated button, as with AF and some other settings that I forget.

AF speeds are fast and responsive, and I enjoyed the AF tracking mode. I mean, look. I didn't even read the manual, it just worked thanks to the blinking icons!

Body is also very well built, feels like a nice expensive piece of kit, whereas the D90 really feels plasticky.

20mm/1.7 is an amazing lens. Just for that lens alone - giving a 40mm QL17 equivalent FOV - is a tempting idea.

At the moment I'm not sure if I should get either, get a used D200, or just don't do anything. The D90 will allow use of all my lenses and flashes, and apart from the SD cards, a straight fit into my system. And it can be the lightweight counterpart I could use on a day to day basis.

The Panasonic OTOH is just so damned tiny. Even with the zoom lens on it's minuscule, even compared to say, D300 + 24/2.8D.

Ah well. I'll see what happens.