Thursday, September 27, 2012

Goodbye J1, hello GF3 …

Some of you might be a little shocked at the reversal. Let's just say that some visceral reactions should not be ignored.

The J1 is a wonderful camera. No "ifs, ands or buts."  But [ :-) ], it was not quite for me. Bigger than the compacts it replaced, and not quite the wide angle camera I was looking for. Video excellent, but the lens was not all that suited. The video lens Nikon makes looks like the end of a baseball bat cut off.

So what to do ... my visceral reaction all along has been to grab a GX1. But they are still expensive with the GX2 not even announced yet. Meanwhile, for video purposes I kind of want the rather tiny 14-42 Power OIS zoom from Panasonic, which is fairly quiet and very smooth. And it collapses to pancake size and is half the weight of the next one up. The problem, is that this lens is $449 retail in Canada ... gulp.

I also really like the touch interface, which is really only available right now on current cameras like the OM-D E-M5 (mmmmmm), the GX1, and the GF3. In fact, I've been playing with the GX3 at Future Shop (hi Jasmine :-) and enjoyed it’s user interface while waiting for a new camera to catch my fancy. 

And then I realized that this GF3 kit at Future Shop contains the power zoom for only $429cad. Yikes, they are paying me to take the body for free with the lens itself already discounted … kits can be such a great value, especially as they are at end of life (the GF5 is out now and quite expensive at $699 on sale, almost 300 more than I paid.)

So we'll see ... this is a simple toe dip in the m4/3 pond and so far I am quite enamored with this little camera. Tough to get used to having no controls, lol, but I am. Once you get the hang of the touch interface, you can move around quickly. And there is just nothing like the ability to touch what you want in focus and then shoot. Wow ...

The camera is as small as the J1 and in fact feels smaller because of its curvaceous body.

All of these images were shot with the Fuji F200EXR hand held on a hard white wall panel in direct light from a window.

Note the lovely lens. Small, decently sharp, smooth for video. What is not to love :-) … I was thinking of ordering one of those cool Gordy wrist straps for it, but decided to mount instead one of the generic eBay wrist straps I bought a decade ago or so. Kept them in a small drawer for just such an occasion. They are really nice and comfortable and I doubt that they cost me more than a buck or so each (I have 5 of them somewhere.)

I also kept the bag that I had bought for the J1, the Tamrac 3440 Rally Micro. This is a very nice bag with enough space in it for the J1 and extra lens (i.e. the two lens kit), but that was a tight fit, which contributed top my visceral reaction that this kit was a bit too big for what it could deliver (yet that was still a great deal.)

What is so interesting with the GF3 is that it takes up less than half the bag, and that is simply because I can slide it in the other way, with the lens facing the front or back. What a difference! It feels so much more like a compact, this is very hard for me to describe. It’s visceral.

What I plan to do now is to add another separator from a different bag, which will have to go in at an angle. This should allow me to carry another lens and the battery charger, while still dropping this into my usual travel laptop bag (a back pack) for travel overseas. So far, I am really liking this setup.

So although I really loved shooting the J1, I really did not love carrying it. I suspect that the one lens kit in a purse is what Nikon was thinking, because that’s apparently driving record sales in Europe, and has the J1 in the top 10 of all cameras in Japan.

But for me, m4/3 makes more sense and may in fact become my only system one day. The D7000 is not necessarily safe :-) …

One final image … the D7000 with 17-50 2.8 on it, unstabilized. This combo is gorgeous to shoot but weighs a lot and carries very obtrusively (even with that wonderful BlackRapid strap attached.)

The GF3, on the other hand, has a slower lens, but more reach and is stabilized. And it carries in that small 3440 case very well and without really weighing anything much at all.

Tough call? Smile

This last image was shot with the X-S1 but heavily processed (for fun.)

So … interesting times. This kit is really inexpensive, has excellent Panasonic video, has a very small lens that is quite sharp, and uses a fun touch screen interface that is pretty quick once you get used to it. All in all, a pretty good buy in my opinion.

Note, though, that the Panasonic JPEG engine in this camera does not float my boat at all. So I am a confirmed RAW shooter exclusively with this thing.