Compact System or Compact camera?


mattie

Link Posted 20/04/2014 - 17:31
Hi all

I'm after some advice on an easily carried, day-to-day camera for situations where I can't easily carry an SLR.

I was thinking of getting one of the more 'serious' compacts, such as a GR or a Canon G9/10/x powershot, but I'm not sure how the versatility and quality stack up against a compact system camera (something like the Q range).

I'm after something mostly for what might be considered street and low light photography, not anticipating taking much wildlife or landscape with it. I'm more than happy with fixed focal length, but really like cameras with good high-iso performance and - ideally- a lens with decent quality through a reasonably fast aperture (but not expecting miracles). I'd also like to retain full exposure control, which is why my old Samsung compact isn't up to the job and I suspect will rule many similar such cameras out of the running.

Budget would be of the order of 200 as a start point, which I realise puts many camera systems out of range but I cannot justify huge sums on a spare camera. I note SRS are selling the MX-1 and GR Digital IV for less than 250 which I would happily entertain. I'm also more than happy using second-hand gear if it's not too outdated.

Any insights into relative merits much appreciated. I know almost nothing about these types of cameras, so any and all comments gratefully received.

Cheers, and hope everyone having a good Easter - biblical rain down here in the appropriately titled Bath!

johnriley

Link Posted 20/04/2014 - 17:37
Bearing in mind that other marques are outside our remit, it certainly seems that many of us (me included) are getting very good mileage out of the Pentax MX-1.

It has a fast lens (f/1.8 at the wide end), an excellent lens, an articulated screen if that appeals and it produces excellent results. Mine travels everywhere with me and I have used it quite happily to make A3 prints.

The large prints were indistinguishable from any others and nobody for a moment thought they were from a compact camera.
Best regards, John

JonSchick

Link Posted 20/04/2014 - 18:41
I'd also strongly recommend the MX-1. Aside from good results, including surprisingly good at highish ISOs, the flip out LCD can be very useful for discrete street photography, and the camera is also quite speedy including focus speeds (my experience with Canon G9/10 is that the Pentax is much faster in this department). You pay for it by slow clearing of the buffer especially with raw shots, but at least you've already taken them by then....
Jon

Some occasional random stuff at The Photographers Block: link

jeffstclair

Link Posted 20/04/2014 - 20:24
Yep I'm in favour of the MX1 having a high quality pentax always with me is great but . the lack of a viewfinder takes a lot of getting used to IMHO . .but I am getting there( any tips are very welcome ). it's something about your connection with the camera and the image, if that sounds a bit fancyfulI I'm sorry....jeff...

JonSchick

Link Posted 20/04/2014 - 20:54
jeffstclair wrote:
Yep I'm in favour of the MX1 having a high quality pentax always with me is great but . the lack of a viewfinder takes a lot of getting used to IMHO . .but I am getting there( any tips are very welcome ). it's something about your connection with the camera and the image, if that sounds a bit fancyfulI I'm sorry....jeff...

I agree, but unless you get a camera with a decent optional EVF (eg the Olympus XZ), which puts the price up a lot, and adds bulk, or you buy a Canon Powershot G (awful tunnel viewfinder barely worth bothering with), there are few compact options with a decent viewfinder esp in the 200 price range. For a bit more money, the Fuji X20 (or even X10 if you can find one) might be worth a look, but I think the MX-1 beats them for image quality (aside from lovely Fuji colours).
Jon

Some occasional random stuff at The Photographers Block: link

mattie

Link Posted 21/04/2014 - 10:22
Ta all for comments.

I notice the MX-1 has only one control wheel (as used for aperture and shutter speed), does this hinder performance and handling? It looks quite bulky for what I had in mind, but definitely satisfies the quality, fast lens requirement.

I note that the Ricoh GR has an optional viewfinder, which appears to me to be optical (given the fixed focal length this would seem most sensible) - has anyone tried it? It seems quite pricey but nice to have the option, and I can keep an eye on ebay.

As mentioned in my opening post, SRS are selling the Ricoh GR Digital IV for 249, which seems very cheap. Are there variant models within the GR line-up, or is this an outdated model? I'd be interested in it, even if a bit dated, assuming that it's not totally antiquated!
Last Edited by mattie on 21/04/2014 - 10:28

johnriley

Link Posted 21/04/2014 - 10:59
The articulated screen makes the MX-1 bulkier than it would otherwise be, and I would happily do without that facility, but I put up with it and it does still fit a jacket pocket.

The one wheel isn't a problem and handling is fine.

The Ricoh GR is the latest model and that's around 550 I think now, the GR IV is the previous model presumably and it isn't rated as highly as the new one is.

The MX-1 is the one I tend to use as the zoom lens makes it much more versatile. I also have the GR and the quality is better, it's more compact but the versatility isn't there.
Best regards, John

MrB

Link Posted 21/04/2014 - 11:10
johnriley wrote:
The articulated screen makes the MX-1 bulkier than it would otherwise be, and I would happily do without that facility, but I put up with it and it does still fit a jacket pocket.

That is one of its top features for me - I wish it was also on the K-5, etc.

Cheers.
Philip

mattie

Link Posted 21/04/2014 - 11:18
Brilliant, thanks John.

I suspect a quick demo of the MX-1 and the GR would help me out - I tend to shoot in aperture priority so a single control wheel may not be that much of an issue. I note the MX-1 has shake reduction, which coupled with fast lens and decent high-ISO should allow me to use under streetlight. Has anyone tried this, out of interest? MY K5 with 50mm F1.4 is very good for ambient light shots, but far too bulky.

I do like the idea of the more compact nature of the GR but a fixed focal length may prove a constraint, which is another plus for the MX-1.

I certainly can't justify 500+ on another camera, so it would need to be an older generation GR if I go the GR route.

johnriley

Link Posted 21/04/2014 - 11:48
This might fulfil all your queries in one shot....MX-1, f/2.5, ISO 3200, 12mm (equiv 56mm)


Best regards, John

JonSchick

Link Posted 21/04/2014 - 12:10
Some lowlight MX-1 shots:

Having looked at my images from the MX-1, the combination of bright lens and SR means that most of the time I find it possible to keep to around ISO400 even when the light is poor:












Jon

Some occasional random stuff at The Photographers Block: link

mattie

Link Posted 21/04/2014 - 19:37
Very nice!

John, is it my eyes, or is the DOF on your shot at 2.5 at 56mm quite deep? I would assume that DOF is standard for any focal length and aperture regardless of design, but it just looks a little deeper than I'd expect if I was shooting f/2.5 on my FA 50mm.

I've run this past the missus and she's suggesting I have this for a birthday present. Only issue is my birthday isn't for a few months! Still, give some time to go and try one out, and maybe my nagging can accelerate this a touch!

johnriley

Link Posted 21/04/2014 - 19:39
The DOF is greater than you'd get with an APS-C camera because the format is smaller. On APS-C 12mm would be very wide, on the MX-1 it's a slightly long standard lens.
Best regards, John

johnha

Link Posted 22/04/2014 - 22:27
As I see it CSC's and compacts are different animals for different situations. CSC's are more versatile while compacts are for when you want a small camera. There's possibly a cross-over point with something like a Q with only a small lens fitted - but generally I feel a compact is probably better suited.

I'd also recommend the MX-1, here's one from mine: link
PPG Flickr

Steep

Link Posted 22/04/2014 - 23:13
I don't know about Mattie but this thread convinced me, I ordered an MX-1 yesterday along with a nice looking retro 'leather' case for it. I've been taking the K3 to work with me but hardly have time to use it and I'm scared stiff it will get damaged with all the bumping around. The MX-1 is such a good price now it wasn't a hard decision really.
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