I’ve been on the lookout for a small ILC (Inter-changeable Lens Compact) camera, one that is smaller than the Canon EOS 70D that is. The obvious first choice was the small Canon EOS 100D but this still has to use the full size EF and EF-S lenses that Canon makes – apart from that is quite a nice camera and better specified than the similarly priced Canon EOS 1200D. This model is also based on the Canon EOS 700D – why can no one develop a high spec DSLR in a small body?
Next up was Canon’s Mirror-less model, the Canon EOS M which you can now get for as little as £200 from Argos (with the 18-55 STM lens). Unfortunately this is a very crippled camera, instead of a mirror-less camera I see a Canon EOS 650D camera without the optical viewfinder or swivel screen in a smaller body with most of the physical controls removed. The sensor is also APS-C (1.6x FOV crop factor) so does not offer any real size savings. Finally, if connected to the full size Canon lenses via the £100 adapter we still only get a 1.6x FOV crop factor.
At least Nikon offers a 2.7x FOV multiplication factor with their mirror-less system so is much smaller in body and lens size; if adding Nikon’s F adapter to their body we can see some increased FOV multiplication; for example, the affordable Nikon AF-S 70-300mm VR lens becomes a 189 to 810mm equivalent. If you want to save size and weight (although not money) Nikon are also about to release a Nikon 1 series native 70-300mm lens too, this will cost £879; the full DSLR sized lens costs £439 and the Nikon FT1 Mount Adapter costs £229 and the combo is therefore £668. Unfortunately I had to discount Nikon as they don’t have any bodies in their system that I would want; they seem to be losing the plot on what a mirror-less camera should be.
You can read more about my thought on Nikon’s and Canon’s approach to their mirror-less models in the blog post I wrote called aptly: “Why do Canon and Nikon not get Mirror-less?“.
This left Fuji, Sony, Panasonic and Olympus. After looking at what was around a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) based system seemed to offer the best compromise between size, weight and features and the advances in the last few years have made sensor size a non-issue. The best (current) MFT camera at the moment is arguably the Panasonic Lumix GX7. This a great update to the GX1 I used to own and took to Florida with me back in April 2012 along with the external viewfinder and the two power zooms (I also took the 20mm f1.7 which was used only once).
Rather than go through the all of specifications of what is now a year old camera I will highlight the ones that interested me. If you want to know more I recommend that you visit one of the many review sites. So in no particular order here is the list:
- Built-in EVF
- Swivel Screen
- Integral flash
- In-Body stabilisation – great for some of those excellent Olymus prime lenses
- Good quality video (better than Fuji)
- Dual Control Wheels
- Touch Screen
- it has a handgrip – no brackets to add
- General size, weight and ergonomics
Maybe it was fate or just serendipity but after making this decision I noticed that one of the local London Camera Exchange Stores in Lincoln had a mint Silver Lumix GX7 with 14-42mm Silver lens for sale at £399! This was on Thursday evening so early Friday morning I rang the (Silver Street) store and reserved the GX7 until lunchtime when I could get some free time to pick up the camera.
After a quick demo and play with the camera I decided to make the purchase. I would rather have had a black GX7 and the 20mm lens but at the price offered for a fully-boxed 4 month old camera with all of the accessories the trade-off was worth it. They also had a 4 month old MkII 14-140mm f4.0-5.6 Power OIS ASPH lens too (from the same owner of the GX7) that was the same price – this is a perfect combo for the GX7. Although this is larger than the 14-42mm lens it has a more versatile zoom range, has a metal lens mount and has the newer power OIS (over the older Mega OIS).
As I’ve only had the camera for a few days the only pictures so far are test shots. I will post an update later to go through what I like, what I don’t like (I already have a few of those) and what I think of the camera in use as a picture and video taking device.
You can read more about the Lumix GX7 at Panasonic’s website here.