Zenit to compact system

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by tiktok, Nov 5, 2011.

  1. tiktok

    tiktok Guest

    I bought my Zenit almost 40 years ago. For years it has done
    everything I needed. A couple of decent lenses, a couple of filters
    and a flash was all the extras I bought. I did flirt with a Minolta
    x300 with its manual mode when they came along but the Zenit worked
    without batteries anywhere I could lug it so I stuck with it.

    Now I want to go digital. I don't want all the bells and whistles that
    seem to go along with all digital cameras. What compact system would
    someone advise that gives the same control as the Zenit.

    Interchangeable lenses where I can set aperture. Shutter speeds I can
    select myself. And since I don't know enough about digital cameras I'm
    assuming I can set some sort of film speed.
    tiktok, Nov 5, 2011
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  2. Budget?

    Michael J Davis, Nov 5, 2011
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  3. tiktok

    Bernard Peek Guest

    I also started with a Zenit 40 years ago. I however switched to Olympus
    as soon as I could.
    The level of control that you are looking for tends to go with high-end
    Interchangeable lenses certainly suggest a high-end machine.

    Shutter speeds I can
    You can do that with most high-end machines. Higher speeds cause more
    noise in the picture. It's like grain, apart from being completely
    different. One of the important factors in buying a digital camera is
    the size of the sensor. Bigger is definitely better. Splitting a small
    sensor into a gazillion pixels doesn't actually get you better pictures.

    I suggest that you buy one of the photo magazines that has a review of
    multiple models. It's probably best if you decide what budget you have
    first. At first glance your requirements suggest a price between £300
    and £700.
    Bernard Peek, Nov 5, 2011
  4. tiktok

    tiktok Guest

    less than £300 to start.
    Im assuming I will be able to buy lenses as I go along
    tiktok, Nov 5, 2011
  5. tiktok

    tiktok Guest

    I didn't want anything that relied on batteries.
    However batteries are better these days
    Compact system cameras have those and are not what I would call a high
    end machine. It's why I'm asking about them.
    I've looked.

    Olympus E-PL1
    Panasonic Lumix G10
    Samsung NX100

    are all in my current price range

    The rest would need to wait for a lottery win
    tiktok, Nov 5, 2011
  6. I guess you want an SLR, then?

    My recommendation would be to buy a secondhand camera about three years
    old, people are keen to dump them when a new model comes out. If you buy
    into one of the mainline systems then you can acquire a whole raft of
    lenses as you go.

    FWIW, (as a rangefinder camera user for some 45 years) I went for a
    smaller system and am happily using a 'micro four-thirds' camera, just
    coming up to three years old. (Panasonic G1); it takes a range of lenses
    from Panasonic and Olympus, and with adaptors will take almost any older
    lens in manual mode.

    Best of luck!

    Michael J Davis


    All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.
    - Richard Avedon - 1984
    Michael J Davis, Nov 5, 2011
  7. tiktok

    Woody Guest

    Like you I had a number of different film cameras. I started with
    a Practika Nova 1B, migrated to another Practika LTL both with
    Pentax, Lydith, and Pentacon lenses, then a Nikon FG, a Nikon
    F301, a Nikon 501, and finally a F75 (after my F65 was stolen.)
    Add to this a Konica A4, a Ricoh FF9, a couple of other small
    cameras and a Yashica 124G - about 14 in all.

    I bought a Nikon D70s as I thought I would use the lenses I
    already had in addition to the 18-70 that came with it. After
    about a year I bought a Tamron 18-200 and frankly that is all I
    ever use now. Whilst the other lenses will fit and work on the
    camera, as the camera is only looking at part of the aperture
    that is used by 35mm film the viewfinder is dull and the picture
    quality leaves a lot to be desired.

    In addition to that I bought Canon Ixus60 3x 6Mp and a Fuji F47d
    9Mp 3x compacts. Regrettably I found that I tended to use these
    more than the Nikon. After about four years one of the switches
    on the Canon has become intermittent so before we went on hols
    this year I bought a Sony HX5 10Mp 10x compact. On past hols I
    have taken perhaps 700 shots with the D70s and my wife (D50) has
    taken about 400 - I think last year (WWII battlefields) we
    totalled about 1160 shots. This year I took about 220 with the
    D70s and about 400 with the Sony it was so good.

    So all in all I would suggest that if you are moving into the
    realm of digital cameras first get yourself a decent compact and
    learn to use that, then you will have a better idea of what you
    need in a dSLR if you choose to go down that route. Anything over
    6Mp will do (if you do most of your picture work in the camera as
    distinct from on the PC afterwards) and a 5x times zoom. [Note
    incidentally that any zooms I have stated are optical only -
    forget about digital zooming.] 8-10Mp and a 8-10x zoom is more
    than enough for almost all uses but if you do go to higher zooms
    make sure the camera has <optical> image stabilisation to avoid
    camera shake. You will have considerable difficulty getting a
    compact with a viewfinder. (Stabilisation on the HX5 is clever;
    the camera takes 5-6 shots in rapid succession at a shutter speed
    high enough to avoid shake. It then knits them together into one
    frame - and believe me it works!)

    I would also suggest staying with known camera makers. Canon and
    Nikon are about the best and above all have the best lenses.
    Panasonic have made compact 35mm cameras for many other makes
    over the years so they know a thing or two and some of their
    lines use Leica lenses. Fuji are also quite good at it. However
    the thing to research is battery life. My Ixus and F47 will both
    do about 250 shots (with only a few flash) on a single charge; my
    Sony is lucky to do 100, and I believe the Panasonics are even
    worse. Avoid fancy gadgets like GPS as it takes too long to lock
    on and slays the battery.

    The one salient thing in compacts is how long they take from
    pressing the shutter button to actually taking the picture. Casio
    are historically way the fastest with Canon and Fuji not far
    behind. Conversely Nikon and Olympus - well you could fall asleep

    If you do want a dSLR then one of the best buys at the moment is
    the Nikon D3100 or the Canon EOS500D or EOS1000D - there really
    isn't much to choose between them. Sony SLR's are what were
    Minolta and so will have good lenses on the whole. Pentax have a
    major advantage in that the image stabilisation is in the camera
    so it will work with almost any K-mount lenses which can be
    bought s/h very cheaply.

    In the final analysis go into a good camera shop at a quiet time,
    get out cameras in your price range and play with them. Almost
    certainly one of them will feel 'right' and that is the one to
    buy - you have got to live with it after all. If more than one
    suits then it comes down to bells and whistles and price.
    Woody, Nov 5, 2011
  8. tiktok

    Geoff Berrow Guest

    On Sat, 5 Nov 2011 19:46:45 -0000, "Woody"

    I too started out with a Zenit. The really nice thing about film
    cameras that as long as shutter and aperture worked correctly the
    quality of the image was down to the lens.

    But I moved on to cameras with better metering and my favoured mode
    was aperture priority, which is still what I mainly use with the
    digital camera.

    Unfortunately the same cannot be said for digital cameras, more is the
    pity. You may not want all the bells and whistles, but it makes no
    economic sense to the manufacturers to leave them out. It probably
    costs just as much, if not more to make a 'basic' model.

    This is a very good point. Both Nikon SLRs I have had (D70 and D90)
    have been as good as a film SLR.

    I think you have to embrace the digital age and wake up to the
    advantages. Here are some of the things that I think are most useful.
    Of course I can only speak for my own camera, the Nikon D90

    My eyes aren't what they were and I find this an advantage. But you
    have to take time to learn how to use it. Sadly you have no choice
    because viewfinders come devoid of focusing aids.

    Digital media is very cheap and re-usable so you can shoot to your
    hearts content. Plus the D90 shoots at over 4 frames a second so it's
    like having a motor drive.

    Shoot on film and you have the agonising wait until the film is
    processed before you know if your creative efforts were successful.
    With a decent sized screen on the camera, you can check instantly.

    Low light
    The D90 produces good results at a 'film speed' of 3200. This is
    invaluable for available light shots

    Image stability
    The vibration reduction system on the D90 allows very acceptable hand
    held shots at as low as 1/4 of a second

    Best wishes,

    Geoff Berrow
    Geoff Berrow, Nov 7, 2011
  9. tiktok

    tiktok Guest

    Just the sort of information I need except I specifically do not want
    a DSLR.

    ATM I'm looking very hard at the Olympus E-PL1 or Lumix G10

    I already have a Panasonic SDR S7 which was good when bought but has
    been surpassed by newer models so I like Panasonic. But Olympus has a
    good reputation too.

    Choices :(
    tiktok, Nov 7, 2011
  10. tiktok

    Woody Guest

    Both good cameras but, sadly, with significant disadvantages.

    The Olympus does not have a viewfinder so really all you are
    buying is a compact with an interchangeable lens. You might as
    well buy a compact with a good and long optical zoom. The lens
    also makes it rather bulky which means using a pouch or bag for
    what is essentially a compact-sized unit. It uses a 4/3" sensor
    which is somewhat smaller than most others - and in the digital
    world the bigger the sensor the better the picture. The screen is
    only 2.7" (against 3" on many) and 230K pixels against as high as
    920K on some machines. And finally, don't get mixed up between
    Olympus and the likes of the OM1 and OM2 and modern digital
    cameras - the latter are just not in the same league. Oh, and in
    case you think I might be biased against Olympus, I have a C5050
    compact with optical viewfinder which takes superb pictures (if
    you ignore the barrel distortion of the lens at wide angle) but -
    as I noted before - you get frustrated with the 3-ish seconds
    between pressing the shutter and the picture being taken most of
    which is focussing time.

    The Lumix is also a good camera with the same 4/3" limitations as
    the Olympus, but if you go down that route do go and have a play
    with one first. I can only speak for myself but I find the
    electronic viewfinder on any/all such cameras almost unusable,
    the picture quality being so poor. By the time you have all of
    the icons on the EVF screen you can't see much else of the

    One point that applies to both - at the moment I don't think any
    other manufacturer makes lenses for these two bodies so you will
    largely be stuck with (a) what the manufacturer thinks you should
    have and (b) more importantly you will have to pay what they

    You should also remember (although you may not realise) that
    cameras are now a commodity item rather than something more
    specialist and as such have the standard attachment of commodity
    items - built-in obsolescence. Where you might have bought a
    Zenit or any other mechanical SLR and expected it to last 10
    years or more (and most would) don't expect a digital - even a
    good and expensive one - to last more than five. I have a Nikon
    D70s which is just six years old and hasn't given me a moment's
    trouble, but (for instance) lenses with mechanical focussing are
    getting harder to find so I may be pushed into buying that D90
    body that I have hankered after for so long!

    I would suggest you take a look at the Canon G12 and the Nikon
    P7000 both of which have an optical viewfinder, full manual
    operation, and will shoot RAW as well as jpeg, the Canon S95 also
    has RAW but no viewfinder. For a longer lens look at the Fuji
    F550 which also offers RAW but has the EXR sensor which is the
    same device used in the latest Canon dSLRs amongst others, or the
    Sony HX5 or HX9 (which also use the EXR sensor.)

    Take care when browsing to make sure you don't get an own brand
    version - for instance the Lumix TZ8 and TZ10 or their successors
    the TZ18 and TZ20 are superb cameras with Leica lenses, but you
    will also find the TZ9 and TZ19 which seem to offer a lot for a
    good price but are versions specially made for DSG (Dixons Stores
    Group, a.k.a Dixons on line, Currys and Expensive World) outlets
    which can cause problems with servicing and spares.

    I cannot emphasise enough, if you are moving into the digital
    domain for the first time and specifically don't want to buy a
    dSLR (though I can't think why) then get a compact first and see
    what it is all about. It may change your mind - and I speak from
    Woody, Nov 7, 2011
  11. tiktok

    Geoff Berrow Guest

    That's the move I made. Painful, but well worth it.
    We bought a Canon Ixus to use when we didn't want to carry the bulk of
    the SLR (which, to be honest, is most of the time). It has a
    viewfinder, though it's a bit of a poor affair and only useful in
    emergencies. Small, light, good battery life and great results with
    good light as these unretouched snaps show.
    Geoff Berrow, Nov 8, 2011
  12. tiktok

    tiktok Guest

    They all have pros and cons.
    Mainly with even a modern DSLR it is weight and bulk for me. I have a
    35mm Zenit for that and quite frankly that's why it doesn't get used
    much anymore unless on a tripod

    The compact system cameras seem to give the advantage of
    interchangeable lenses plus smaller size
    Which is not any different to why people buy SLRs
    Which may be useless for close work
    I'm more concerned about how it works in strong sunlight. It's a
    problem I've had with LCD screens on cameras
    Something to look out for.
    But again I would assume a manual focus capability would not give any
    From what I can gather on the web there are adaptors available for
    both but some lenses lose auto capability.
    Now you have my reason for limiting the cost.
    I once got sucked into hobby equipment spending. After spending a
    couple of thousand on video equipment in the early 1990s I realised
    that what I was looking for was professional kit and that would cost
    four figures. I resolved never to get sucked in again. Between 200 and
    300 is what I would spend on new or second hand kit but experience of
    the quality of modern electronic cameras is putting me off.
    A good compact will cost as much as the Olympus E-PL1which is why I
    considered going in for one at this time
    tiktok, Nov 8, 2011
  13. tiktok

    Woody Guest

    OK, I've tried my bit. Let us know how you get on.
    Woody, Nov 8, 2011
  14. tiktok

    tiktok Guest

    I'll be walking around kicking the tyres for a bit longer but thanks
    tiktok, Nov 9, 2011
  15. I'll just add a couple of points to me earlier post...

    I can't see why, with your experience, you want a camera with a
    difficult to see LCD (in sunlight) at arm's length, rather than an evf
    that can be pressed against the face for stability.
    My Panasonic G1 (and the later versions are better) typically focusses
    within a half second. Focussing is done with a half press while
    composing the picture, then the main 'delay' is the slight lag between
    reality and the electronic view as the shutter fires. That's the main
    advantage of an SLR over a m4/3.

    Since I always used my M3 with both eyes open, I find I do that with my
    G1, thus keeping me in touch with a real life view, not just a live
    All adapted lenses (except some 4/3rds) lose auto focussing and aperture
    control. I find manual focussing with an adaptor more difficult than I'd
    hoped, so only use adapted lenses for macro work.
    Understood! But the quality of the results can be amazingly good even
    from a cheap digital - one pays for the extreme light capability and
    bells and whistles.

    As Woody says, let us know how you get on!

    Michael J Davis


    Photography takes an instant out of time,
    altering life by holding it still. - Dorothea Lange
    Michael J Davis, Nov 9, 2011
  16. tiktok

    Woody Guest

    Woody, Nov 9, 2011
  17. tiktok

    Huge Guest

    Huge, Nov 10, 2011
  18. tiktok

    Bruce Guest

    Don't take too long, because the two cameras that interest you most
    are both discontinued, and remaining stocks are running out.

    Of the two, the Panasonic G10 is slightly faster in use, both in
    autofocusing and writing data to the memory card, but there really
    isn't much difference. The Panasonic has a lens-based anti-shake
    system (Mega OIS) which means that only Panasonic lenses offer this
    feature on the G10, whereas the Olympus has a sensor based system that
    works with any Micro Four Thirds lens (including Panasonic) plus any
    other lens that you mount with an adapter.

    Image quality of the two cameras is closely comparable because they
    use the same Panasonic LiveMOS sensor.

    You might like to search online for an Olympus E-P1 which is also
    discontinued, and available at a good price if you can find one, but
    has a very well made metal body.
    Bruce, Nov 11, 2011
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