Decision paralysis on what camera to pick

Started Mar 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
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hungryhippo
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Decision paralysis on what camera to pick
Mar 22, 2012

I've been doing alot of research and I have decision paralysis on buying a new camera. Let me give you all of the info I can about my needs.

What do you need the camera for?
Taking pictures and some video

What type of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)

Sports (disc golfing, landscapes when I ride on my mountain bike to cool places), taking pictures of people dancing (i'm a swing dancer)

What conditions will you be largely photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
Both low light (at dance events) and outdoors (mountain biking)

Will you largely stay in auto mode or do you want to learn the art of photography?
I would like to learn the art and maybe take some classes.

What experience level do you have with cameras?
Beginner but I am a quick learner and an IT nerd.

What type of features are you looking for? (long zoom, image stabilization, large LCD display etc)

SLR like quality in a compact body. I need to be able to throw my camera in my backpack and mountain bike with it so I don't want it to be heavy. Replacable lenses so I can buy a zoom later would be great as well. A camera that turns on fast (and is ready to take a shot) and can take fast repetitive photos. Durability is a plus as well.

How important is size and portability to you?

Very but I understand I have to sacrifice size for quality. However, the new mirrorless cameras seem best for me.

What is your budget?
This is a tough call here. I would say $600 to $1300.

The cameras I've done research on and I'm considering are the Sony Nex-5N, Sony Nex-7, and the Olympus OM-D EM-M5 (comes out next month).

I don't know whether I need an external view finder or not cause I'm a beginner and I have a point and shoot now without one. However, if I want to grow into the artform of photography I am cautious and wondering if the Nex-5N without the viewfinder isn't the right way to go. Also, if I'm outside trying to shoot landscapes in sun, won't it be hard to see the LCD?

Is there any other cameras I should consider? I think the Canon G1X might be too big and I've seen most people say the sony is better including this review site. Is there any small DSLRs with mirrors? Is it a good idea to take a mirrored camera with me mountain biking (bumping up and down on the trail?).

Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony Alpha NEX-7
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