Need help choosing a compact camera for travel and carry-around

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by switters, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. switters

    switters Rookie

    Dec 28, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    I shoot with a 5D3 and a few not-so-light-and-compact lenses, like the 24-70 II, 70-200 IS. I love that system and won't be ditching it anytime soon.

    However, there are situations (i.e. travel, outdoor events, etc.) where I'd prefer to have a smaller, more compact camera with me. I've started to research the possibilities, and admittedly it's a bit overwhelming. I've tried a couple of options so far (OMD and X100T), and have liked them both, but I've also had some small issues with each.

    I'm hoping I can get some advice/recommendations here. My priorities are:
    • Image quality
    • AF speed
    • Viewfinder (EVF is fine, but needs to be very high quality)
    • Fast lens
    • Sensor size (do not want smaller than 4/3)

    I am open to a fixed lens camera, and in fact may even welcome it. I love shooting with primes, but have found myself using the zooms a lot with my 5D3 since they're so good, and very flexible. So it's kind of refreshing to have a fixed lens as my carry-around/travel camera, and I wouldn't feel too limited by that.

    I should also mention that I mostly take pictures of my kids at this point. I used to do fine art, street, and even a few weddings here and there, but I don't have time for that anymore. This rules out something like the Ricoh GR, because although I'm open to a fixed lens, 35mm is as wide as I'd like to go.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. Klamcake

    Klamcake Rookie

    Mar 10, 2012
    Buy a Fuji and you will have no concerns about IQ..I bought the X-T1....very good zoom etc..
  3. serhan

    serhan All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    Mirrorless cameras have only evf. Currently best deals are gx7 and a6000 which both are selling for around $400-450 new. Both has very quick af & rf shape which makes is more portable then dslr shapes. A6000 has 24MP w/ pdaf which can track better and gx7 has -4EV af which is great for low light. Older OMD's e-p5/e-p10 are selling also cheaper then Oly E-M1 & Fuji X-T1. Then you can spend money on the lenses. I don't know when you say fast lens, eg prime vs zooms, etc. If you want fixed 35mm lens, Fuji X100S/T might be an option. I don't know what your small issues with them. Pana LX100 has a very a fast zoom lens but the 12MP IQ might be on the low end compared to other choices.
  4. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    ...except for the Leica M and the X-Pro1, which, I'll wager will be superceded by the X-Pro2 before this time next year... You can pick them up new on some superb deals at the moment, or wait for the 2. Your other OVF Mirrorless choice - the Leica - is neither cheap nor compact, and is of course not AF.
  5. jloden

    jloden All-Pro

    Jun 30, 2012
    How about a Panasonic LX100? I haven't owned one, but it should fit all your desired requirements. A 4/3 sensor, fixed zoom lens with some variety in focal length and a fast aperture, and a quality EVF. It'd certainly be on my list if I were in the market for a fixed lens travel camera.
  6. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    It's what I have (Leica version actually - same thing), and I think it's the best compact camera I've ever had.
  7. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    As a general walk around camera I very much like the Panasonic GM1 with either the Oly 251/8 or 17/1.8, which give a 50mm and 35mm perspective respectively. The image quality, particularly when processed with Lightroom, is excellent. The convenience of the small size and very quiet shutter more than makes up for any shortcomings in image quality or depth of field when compared with a much larger and heavier full frame camera. Perhaps the only quibble is that it can be TOO small - you might want to use a grip. And the only thing about it that doesn't fit your criteria is a high quality viewfinder.

    The EM-5, and by extension the EM-1 and Panasonic GH3 and GX7, are on a similar playing field with each other. I have the EM-5 and Panasonic GH3, and for some reason the GM1 image quality and overall look is better than either. To me, there is something more pleasing about the colours and the way the images process in Lightroom. Areas of colour and shadow are more smooth and lack the strange spottiness of the EM-5, something especially noticeable in Lightroom when you push the Clarity.
  9. switters

    switters Rookie

    Dec 28, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    Thanks everyone! For some reason, I wasn't notified of the replies so I'm just now seeing these. I appreciate your recommendations.

    I rented the X100T and used it over Christmas. I really like it a lot, but felt frustrated by the shutter lag. I am mostly photographing my fast-moving young daughter, and I ended up with a lot of shots of her with her eyes closed, head turning the other way, etc. compared to what I'd get with my 5DIII. The X100T would be perfect for me as a travel camera if I was mostly shooting landscapes, street, general, and even adults or older children. But for my daughter, it's too slow.

    Let me ask this: out of all the cameras discussed here, which has the fastest AF? Do any of them have usable AF-C/tracking?
  10. serhan

    serhan All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    A6000, GM1, GX7, LX100 has all fast af. A6000 has tracking pdaf sensors, but pdaf stops at low light esp with the slow kit lens and you might need a faster prime for that eg to get more light to the sensor.

    GX7/GM1 has excellent af w/ -4EV. GM1 af'd with a prime eg 2sec f/1.7 ISO 6400 with no light in the room except from outside street lights. However they don't have the latest Panasonic 4D tracking though single af is fast enough to capture any moment. Again I use them more with prime lenses.

    LX100 might be the right camera with its fast zoom, since it has fast af and the newer Panasonic fast 4D af for tracking (same as GH4 which beats the A6000 pdaf). I have not tested the tracking when I used it. My problem was its low shutter speed implementation which pushes you to use full manual mode to capture any movement. Also it has 12MP crop from m43 sensor. So these might be the negatives for your use.
  11. switters

    switters Rookie

    Dec 28, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    Thank you. Can you say more about this? The LX100 is probably #1 on my list, so I'm very curious.
  12. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    The LX100 will fire off shots as fast as the shutter speed allows. Check your shutter speed on the LCD before shooting, and if it's too slow, either increase the ISO or open the aperture more, etc. I would use AFS (auto-focus single) method - you wouldn't want AFC unless you have extremely bright light and a fast shutter speed (at least 1/125 I think).
  13. serhan

    serhan All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    When I tried in low light, the shutter speed went down to 1/6sec until the camera started to push the ISO over 1600. I think I had max ISO 6400. Normally other cameras hit the max ISO before lowering the shutter speed.

    There is also auto i-iso which was supposed to work with movement but when I checked it, there was no ctrl over the results. First image have a higher shutter speed, then the shutter finally goes down to 1/6sec level like the auto iso. I have not tried much with tracking if it improves or not. I was using single center af.

    There is no min shutter to set up, so pretty much you need the user s or m mode to beat the auto iso implementation in low light. Camera is set up for more stand still picture taking that way. In day light it should not be a problem.

    I sent it back since the right edge was never in focus due to lens misalignment.

  14. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    There's no magic - the light and the lens and the ISO are all you have. If you believe you have enough light at say, f1.7 and ISO 1600, for a fast enough shutter speed, then there you go.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. switters

    switters Rookie

    Dec 28, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    Ah, now I see what you mean. Auto-ISO isn't very useful without the ability to set a minimum shutter speed, especially in low light as you pointed out. And I find this to be one of the most vital features for the way I shoot. Since I'm photographing my daughter, I use aperture priority to control DOF. I need a shutter speed of at least 1/125–1/500 to freeze movement and prevent blur. So aperture priority with auto-ISO with minimum shutter speed is the perfect set-up.

    I may have to rent one for a while and see how much of a limitation this is. Thanks.
  16. serhan

    serhan All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    I shoot mostly A mode also. Most of the mirrorless cameras has 1/60 sec min shutter speed on the wide side including Panasonic gm1/gx7, Sony A6000, etc. I don't know why Panasonic changed it in LX100.

  17. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Hall of Famer

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    The iauto iso on the LX100 is supposed to be better, but as my camera doesn't arrive until sometime next week when I'm away on family business, I only know what I hear. It is supposed to detect motion and bump up shutter speeds appropriately. Does it work? I don't know.
  18. shaolinchris

    shaolinchris Regular

    Aug 5, 2014
    Los Angeles / Copenhagen
    If money isn't a concern, I'd go for the RX1. Not too sure how fast the AF is although.
  19. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Regarding the shutter lag on the X100T I hope you've turned ALL of the 'Power Save' options OFF. It's an undocumented feature of the Fuji Xs, they're much faster if you give them all the juice they need. I don't want to know how many folks returned or sold their Fujis because they didn't know about that. However, if you need instant AF I'd probably look elsewhere. How about an OM-D EM-1? It meets all your criteria but I personally find it pretty large for a m43 snapper. YMMV.
  20. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey Super Moderator

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Right now the closest thing Fuji makes to your needs is the XT1. And I'm not sure it would suit you, coming from the DSLRs you're used to. Honestly I worry about ANY compact camera living up to those standards. Since you don't seem to be opposed to rentals, perhaps try an XT1 with either the 23 f1.4 (35mm equiv field of view) or the 35 f1.4 (53mm equiv). I don't own the 23, but from what I've read its auto focus speed is very good, and the performance is very very good. I DO own the 35, and its autofocus speed isn't as fast as the 23, so it makes me cautious to recommend it. I love the lens to an almost unhealthy degree, because it's fast and it makes incredible images, but it's among their oldest XF designs which hits you in the AF speed... so in low light it hunts more than some other fuji lenses, and takes a little longer to lock on. I work around it as best I can and don't mind it much, but with a Canon Mark-whatever-D in your closet, I suspect you'd reject the performance outright. But maybe the 23?