Monday, October 31, 2011

Shopping for a new camera

It’s time to replace my old Olympus e510. When I turn it on or off, there’s a loud whirring sound, like an old film camera rewinding an exhausted roll of film. So I’ve retired it permanently. I can still activate the shutter and take pictures but each picture is all blurry even though the lens focuses. Either the sensor or IS mechanism is spoiled.

Am now in the market for a new camera. I’d really like a compact backup camera to go with a new dslr which I’ll eventually pick up but right now I’m looking for something compact that takes nice dslr quality photos.

The mirrorless cameras (also known as interchangeable lens cameras or ILCs) offered by Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and Samsung are all really enticing… but I’m especially drawn to the Samsung NX10/NX11 which I’ve personally tried out in a Samsung store.

The Sony NEX cameras have a lot of bells and whistles (fast continuous shooting, excellent high ISO performance etc.) but their lenses so super ginormous and look so awkward on the small bodies.But the biggest issue I have with the nex system is their mediocre lens selection, there are so few e-mount lenses in the market!

I’m also looking at the Olympus e-pl3 (PEN lite) and e-pm1 (PEN mini). Both do not offer built-in flash, which I find rather odd since the e-p3 has one (e-p1 and e-p2 do not have built-in flash units). The e-pl3 does have a useful flip-out screen though. One thing I like about Olympus cameras is the excellent jpeg engine. The photos look really nice with beautiful stand-out colours right out of camera. There is no need do much post processing, just upload and share as is.

I did consider the Panasonic Lumix GF3 too but the lack of a hotshoe totally puts me off. Plus, Panasonic lenses are expensive!

The mirrorless camera that I find the most enticing in terms of looks, ergonomics and features is the Samsung NX10/NX11. The dslr style body is very small and although larger than the competition, very comfortable to hold. In my opinion, the NX10 (and the newer NX11) have the best-designed bodies among all ILCs. I picked up one in a Samsung store and immediately fell in love with it, absolutely love the ergonomics! Took a few shots and was pleased with the performance too.

However, I read that the nx20 will be announced early 2012 so I’m still thinking if I should go ahead and pick up a heavily discounted NX10 or wait and see what the new model brings. I would definitely like better high ISO performance since I shoot in the dark jungle quite often and sometimes have to shoot at ISO1600.
I think all modern cameras (especially DSLRs and ILCs) are highly capable of shooting nice photos especially at lower ISO settings. I’m most certainly not a fan-boy of any particular brand; I just use whatever does the job well for me. After all, it’s not what camera you use that matters but what you do with the camera that’s in your hands, right?

My Olympus e510’s served me well, heavily used over a period of nearly 4 years and was a trusty companion on so many hiking and holiday trips. The last major one was a 6-day trip to Mulu National Park where I made it all the way to the top of Gunung Mulu(Sarawak’s second highest mountain). It’s first International trip with me was to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’ve got real fond memories of the places I’ve been to with this camera. Took it on countless outings to waterfalls, streams, lush jungles, open fields, hills and mountains. But now it’s time to find a replacement.

Anyway, here are some shots taken with my Olympus e510 which will never be used again (sob). They are the e510’s last few shots before being retired permanently…

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The e510 is known to blow out highlights. Another photo (same scenery) taken in auto mode had a blown out sky (all white space). So when shooting a scene like this, I always underexpose and post process later. For this shot taken at -0.7ev f/11, I applied a neutral density filter and brightened the entire image during post processing (PP), simple steps for a better picture. All the other photos below are as they come out of the camera (settings selected in camera, no PP).

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A large Gesneriad

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View of Kampung Santubong, taken on the way up the mountain

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Lush jungle

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Jungle stream

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A beautiful waterfall in Southwestern Sarawak. Hand-held 1/8 second exposure (with circular polarizer affixed). I often was able to take hand-held shots at shutter speeds as slow as 1/6s thanks to the e510’s effective in-body stabilization (plus, I have steady hands!).
So what’s it gonna be? Oly PEN? Sony NEX? The Samsung NX10/NX11 is looking mighty tempting, especially when paired with their much-praised 30mm f/2 pancake prime…
~end~

3 comments:

Ann said...

where is this waterfall?

vinesandspines said...

some of these would make spectacular wallpaper.

sarawaklens said...

Ann, padawan.
Chris, thanks. ;)

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