Need Advice for getting into an ILC system - preferably rugged and versatile

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
evetsf Senior Member • Posts: 1,553
Re: Need Advice for getting into an ILC system - preferably rugged and versatile

Helequin wrote:

I've always had photography as an interest/hobby but it's only now that I find myself with the time, stability and budget to get into an ILC system. I've shot with a full manual mode point and shoot (Canon Powershot S95) for years and love using it, but obviously there is only so much the small sensor and lens can do, especially given it's age now.

I'd like to move into a ILC camera for more freedom/control and better image quality. For now this is a hobby and I am always still learning, but I would love to begin building a portfolio of work and head in the direction of producing some professional quality shots. My main interests are pretty wide, but I'm most keen on wildlife/nature, portrait and maybe street photography.

My plan to keep cost under control is to look at buying used gear, as I'd rather purchase something more on the professional end that is slightly older than brand new consumer grade gear. I know I need to think about the overall system I'm buying into, rather than just the body or the lens or two I start with. And that's where I could use the help, as much as I can read guides and look at lens inventories, I'm finding it daunting to try and build an understanding of which systems have what advantages at what cost. There are so many lenses and I can't keep straight which ones have which quality level and so on. I realized I haven't even looked at Pentax yet....

The other thing I am struggling with as I read reviews is it feels like every camera has a critical flaw that makes me hesitate to commit to finding it and jumping in. I'll give examples below.

Some preferences:

Sensor Size - I don't care what size the sensor is or what brand the system is. I care far more about the quality and size of the hardware and image quality it can produce. Image quality to me includes dynamic range, colour depth and all those things, not just raw resolution. I am also aware the size and cost benefits of crop sensors narrow for roughly equivalent lenses.

Hardware Size - Being able to hike in with the gear and take it most places would be awesome. I don't need it to be tiny or crazy light, but the intention is to get outside and shoot wherever and whenever.

Weather sealing - this is a definite for me. I want to be able to shoot in rain, snow, dust, whatever. I'm not looking to abuse my gear, but I don't want to be afraid in rough conditions and in fact really want to get outside and shoot in them.

Low Light/Non-ideal Conditions - Not saying I will never use flash or artificial light, but my interests are primarily on shooting with available light. So this means low light performance and the ability to get the most out of less than ideal conditions would be very useful.

Viewfinder - A good quality EVF or OVF is always much nicer to me than shooting on a screen. If I had my choice, I'd only ever shoot with a rear screen when there is no possible way to bring the VF to my eye.

Video - Definitely not my focus but it would be lovely to play with it and be able to record some quality footage.

DOF/Bokeh - Of course bokeh can look incredible and has it's place, but I'd rather pose a portrait so the entire scene works than just blur the background into oblivion. So getting that FF super low F-stop effect isn't a big priority.

Raw Processing - As of now I do my raw processing in Rawtherapee. I am quite technically minded so enjoy the flexibility and power there. IIRC, this will have no issues with Fuji X-Trans raws. Out of camera JPGs that look great is always nice to have.

Budget - No hard and fast number here, but hoping to keep the system (to start at least) under $3k CDN. My biggest concern is value for dollar spent and getting a system I can use for some time to grow into and remain somewhat futureproof.

Thoughts on Systems so Far

M4/3s - What these cameras appear capable of seems incredible to me. Oly/Panasonic IBIS means I could use longer exposures handheld in low light, at the trade off of worse ISO performance if things are moving too fast. The High Res pixel shift modes are a very neat trick to get something higher quality out too. The Oly cameras frustrate the heck out of me feature wise though, inexplicably maintaining outdated EVF resolution, or slow card slot layouts. I'd love to use handheld high res, but the newest Olys are very hard to justify the price with hardware otherwise very similar to the previous models. I think I am most drawn to the Panasonic G9 body here, as it seems to have a good compromise of features. I've heard great things about available lenses, but also that the good ones can get expensive.

Fuji - Definitely the system I want to like. The analog control style suits me. I'd likely be looking at used X-T3, but I do wonder about the lack of IBIS, mostly for lower light handheld or some video work. A used X-H1 is an option too to get that IBIS while losing some other things. I've heard lots of good things about the lenses, other than some might be a bit slow on the AF. I also wonder how the extra image quality compared to the M4/3s would compare to their high res shots in the right conditions. I've heard some questions on how rugged the weather sealing is.

Other APS-C - Honestly feels like the other brands treat the crop sensor as a bit of a gimmick or a "not professional quality" system. Happy to be proven wrong if there's something else (system wise) which fits my needs.

FF - Honestly haven't looked hard here as I originally assumed this would just be bigger, heavier and more expensive. And if that's the case I'd rather have a good portable rig and deal with a 'maximum image quality' rig if and when I need it later. Again, I'm happy to be proven wrong or take good suggestions here.

Okay that's a lot, and any help or advice you can offer would be fantastic, especially in regards to a slightly longer term outlook of entering one system over the others rather than strict concerns of a single body or lens.

Hi and welcome to the forums!

Your post suggests that you've done some good work on identifying your needs & wants, and also looking at what's available on the market. I also agree with your assessment of the various systems available - especially the "Other APS-C" systems: to me - with the possible exception of Pentax - definitely a loss-leader/red-headed stepchild scenario, because if you're serious about photography you wouldn't bother with anything "less than" a FF system, now would you?

Well yes, actually, I would. I wasn't willing to deal with the extra size, weight & cost of such a system if something smaller, lighter & cheaper would give me the results I wanted. Thus, I ended up in Micro Four Thirds: two Panasonic bodies and five lenses which suit my needs very well. The G9, in particular, is a wonderful camera! Yes, it's a large body for the m43 world, but its performance and feature set are very much worth that size and the m43 lens lineup means there's a wide choice in size and performance to match your shooting needs.

If you can, I would recommend renting what you're considering prior to purchase. This will give you real-world feedback on whether or not that choice is the right one for you. It's what I did before going m43, and it was well worth it.

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Steve
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