I am a hobbyist photographer, mostly using my camera for travel (landscapes, streets) and family moments. Thanks to the great community here in the last few years I learned a lot about developing photos with Darktable. I would like to ask for advice about buying a new camera, hope this is OK on this forum.
I currently use a Canon G7X II compact. I find it nicely small and portable, and it starts at F1.8, my only problem is the image quality/sharpness. It is of course reasonable for a compact. I only shoot stills, and usually take time to compose, so while AF is not stellar, it is OK for me.
Lately I have been thinking about upgrading to a MILC. I have my eye on the Panasonic GX9, mostly because I have owned a Panasonic compact and loved the menus/controls, and want to start with a 35mm or 50mm equiv sharp prime lens. Mainly because I want to learn more about composition, and I find that even on my current compact zoom I am not using the tele range that much. Maybe later I will get a reasonable mid-range zoom lens, but I want to keep my kit portable. I do not do wildlife photography. I do not want to get a superzoom compact, because I find the tele image quality dismal and only good as a gimmick.
So… any advice would be appreciated, including “keep your current compact if you want to travel light”, or concrete models and lenses, especially those that play nice with darktable. I would like to keep the budget for a body + prime lens below 1000 EUR ideally, but can go up a bit more to 1500 EUR if that advantages justify it. I would prefer to keep the form factor small for a light kit, hence the MFT body, but perhaps an APS-C camera would be OK too. Full frame is probably too big, I like to take the camera hiking.
(Please ask clarifying questions if needed, I am not a professional and I may not be asking the right question).
I think DPReview just selected that as the best option for a budget landscape camera… not sure what you shoot??
I have the gx9 and it’s great for me as you can get very small zoom and prime lenses. Carried the gx9 and three prime lenses recently to Cyprus and Portugal in a bum bag (fanny pack). If you want even smaller, there’s a secondhand GM1 or GM5 with a tiny zoom. See both pictured with cup of coffee for scale. I also have the G9, which is ergonomically superior, but bigger, but still relatively small compared with full frame once you factor in the smaller lenses.
@priort: the G9 is the big brother to the GX9.
@TonyBarrett: thanks for your reply and the sample images. Some specific questions:
how do you find Darktable support? (profiled denoise, lens correction, color matrix), any issues there?
what lenses do you specifically use? would give me an idea for a starter kit, even if I don’t get all at once.
do you ever do manual focus? is the EVF good enough for that with assist?
I’m pretty sure lens correction was fine until DT 4.2 but it’s true that now the database doesn’t seem to have the GX9 for some reason. I’ve been too lazy so far to figure out how to update the lensfun database that DT 4,2 uses and have been switching manually to the predecessor GX7, which is in the database. Then most of the lenses are recognised. The “relatively” new 30mm macro isn’t. It is a bit of a pain to have to switch manually so I need to take the time to figure out how DT and lensfun work. I’m sure Todd knows. I presume profiled noise module works ok cos it doesn’t give any error warning though I’m also quite rubbish on noise reduction and tend to just click the on button if it’s a low light shot and presume it’s found something… I’m not sure what the color matrix is. I did use a color checker I had lying around to create color calibration presets for my cameras as demonstrated by Aurelien and it seemed to work…. I’ll get back to you on lenses shortly as I need to do something right now. Cheers
I’ve never really used manual focus as the touch screen makes it easy to pick a focus point and I don’t use adapted glass. The EVF is supposedly the weakest point of the GX9, more because of its sequential LCD that some don’t like. It creates a magnified area in the middle of the image for manual focusing and has peaking. I took some shots of a chameleon in Cyprus with the macro lens and quite a few missed focus on the conical eye (no eye tracking) but I was just using a single focus point on the back screen as I didn’t want to crawl around in the dirt. I did get a few keepers, tho
There’s also post focus and automatic focus stacking functions that you obviously need a stable platform for and I think slightly reduce the resolution
Thanks for the examples of focus.
All of your photos look a bit reddish to me. Is that a personal preference in color calibration, or something to do with color support for this camera in Darktable?
I think it’s probably me as it’s been pointed out to me on here before (I’ve posted some play raws where people managed to tone it down) but when I did the color checker calibration it seems the Panasonic sensors did err toward red compared with the old Canon I have, as far as I remember. I think Aurelien has mentioned something about Panasonic sensors or color acience being a bit quirky, maybe on the colorchecker calibration video on YouTube, but I can’t specifically remember.
I definitely made the pic of cliffs more sunsetish and was trying to counter the quite blue shadows with the chameleon in a lazy way. (I think I actually just copied the settings over from the pic below, which was probably a mistake as the shadows are much more obvious in this one because of the angle of view.)
I can send you or post some raw files with Creative Commons license if that’s useful
Thanks, I found plenty in the gallery on dpreview.com, and all of them have the reddish cast; it seems to be a missing color matrix in Darktable.
https://raw.pixls.us/ has images from this camera, so hopefully it should get fixed. In the meantime, please consider opening an issue.
Also, while the discussion about the GX9 is informative, I still appreciate general advice about other cameras that would suit my purposes.
Ok. I’ll figure out how to do that
I use an Oly for travel, but a Pan will work too. I think any M43 will be good. It is a bit of a compromise, with size/weight winning.
The kit lens 14-42mm EZ is decent and it fits into a coat pocket for easy walk around compact camera.
For night/indoors, I use the 20mm 1.7f or the 14mm 2.5.
For price, performance and size, Olympus OM-D E-M10 mark II is my personal favourite, coupled with either the Olympus 17/1.8 or 25/1.8 primes, depending on shooting style and the potential subjects. The camera is actually quite feature-packed and performant.
Just another option to throw to the mix… but given your preference towards Pana, you might do well to go with the GX9.
For your budget, essentially all previous-generation crop bodies are possible if you buy used, and leave room for lenses. Which is great news, since the image quality of those is largely identical to the current-gen models, just with minor differences in ancillary areas such as subject tracking and video modes.
You’ll have to decide what style of MILC you’d like? Bigger and “professional” (Olympus E-M1, Fuji X-T2, Panasonic G9)? Or smaller and “compact” (Olympus E-m5 II, Fuji X-T20/E3, Panasonic GX9, Sony A6400, Canon M50).
My choice for particularly good value would be a Fuji X-T20 or Canon M50 for their somewhat larger (APS-C) sensor and more modern (24 MP generation) sensors, and selling on MPB for less than €500. The Fuji has a more extensive, but also more expensive lens system. The Canon system is more or less end-of-life, but that is also what makes it terrific value. But really any of the other 24 MP APS-C sensors or 20 MP MFT sensors will work just as well. Cameras nowadays are very very good and you really don’t need to sweat the details to decide between them. If one of them appeals to emotionally, that’s reason enough. They’re really mostly equivalent.
But make sure to leave enough room for lenses, too! Allocating roughly two thirds of the money to lenses is a sound starting point. To start out, a general-use zoom (Fuji 18-55, Canon 18-150) and a bright prime (Fuji XC 35 or Sigma 35 f/1.4 , Canon 35 or Sigma 35 f/1.4) should fit your budget and should get you going. Again, buy used to save money. But with used lenses, buy them from a store that offers returns and test them before you commit. Lenses are much more fragile than bodies, and last you longer. Again, MPB is good source for used gear, or maybe your local camera store if they have a used section.
In case you’re in the U.K., usedlens.co.uk is a useful agglomeration search site for the many camera chain stores, auction sites and smaller shops that sell secondhand. There’s also this list of sellers’ websites Where to buy film cameras - lightbox.photo
For small and light you may look into old Pen F lenses. Over the years I have acquired a bit of a collection of them. One can get them in very good condition and they are adapted to µFT via a thin, minimal adapter.
I’ve really been enjoying my Ricoh GR iii. Not sure it meets all the criteria listed, the lens is sharp and renders color well.