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Shopping for a mirrorless camera...

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#1 MattT

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 10:20 PM

I've been looking to get back into creative photography and am shopping for my first decent digital camera. The primary use will be travel and family pictures, occasional and probably mostly futile attempts at artsy compositions, closeups of stuff I post for sale in the CN classifieds, and of course cat pictures. But eventually I will want to hook it up to my C8 and try some lunar and planetary imaging.

I know many people here use DSLRs but I'm pretty set on the mirrorless type, for the size and weight and because I like to keep a lower profile when traveling. Are there any particular features I should look for to choose a camera that's astro-friendly? Here are some particular models I'm considering:

Panasonic GF6, G6, and GX7
Olympus E-P5
Sony NEX-6
Maybe the Fuji XM-1 or XA-1.

Any advice would be appreciated!

#2 Tom and Beth

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 10:50 PM

Hi Matt,

Look at a few posts from mpgxsvcd as he uses the Panny GH3, with good results.

There's a few threads in this forum, just in the last few days, that might help you.

#3 MattT

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 12:54 AM

Thanks for the pointers, I'll check 'em out.

#4 sixfootzero

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 09:00 AM

Congrats for considering mirrorless! I bought a Samsung NX100 about two years ago, and love the size/weight advantages compared to my friends'/relatives' DSLRs... I've used it for exactly three astrophotographs so far, so I can't comment too much on that,(Here's my shot of the moon from last week: http://www.flickr.co...ro/10322025303/ ) but as a tool for family/travel/creative photos it's great.
It looks like you're off to a great start with your research, but I'd recommend you add the Samsung NX300 to your list. The NX system has some great lenses, for very reasonable prices, and an excellent user interface. Their primes are especially good performers. Good luck!


#5 nofxrx

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 12:42 PM

Forget Panasonic if you want to expose for longer than 1-2minutes! The lower end (GF/G) models max out at 60sec, and the higher end (GH/GX) max out at 120sec.
GREAT cameras. LOVE my (Monochrome Converted) GX1, but not really "made" for astro..

Sony NEX are brilliant cameras with APS-C sensors and very good noise control.
Only issue is there is not an EASY way to control them for LONG exposures!!

Fuji X-E1 is by far the best mirrorless I have used/owned to date.
It will accept an old manual shutter release cable, which may be a good thing or bad thing depending on the person using it.
I think it is awesome, and great for traveling VERY light (i.e. with no Laptop, etc)..
And, it will expose for 60MINUTES in BULB mode...plenty long enough for AP.
And noise performance is exceptional up to ISO6400...I really cannot find another model (even the NEX series) that has such low noise and great image quality!

I do not know how the X-M1 or A1 would perform, but I would think it would be comparable to the X-E1.

Honestly, if you want the EVF, the X-E1 is priceless IMHO...I would add it to your list if it were me...
Plus, you can easily get them used for ~$450!!
And the kit 18-55/2.8-4 lens is PHENOMENAL for a kit lens.

Fuji has THE BEST prime/lens collection around for Mirrorless, hands down! So if you want the best image quality for the $, Fuji is where it is at. again, IMHO..

NEX has only Zeiss lenses for "decent" primes....waaay too rich for my blood.

Panasonic and Olympus M4/3 cameras ARE great. they work great for quick shots of the family....
But I have to go back to the Fuji, again. Ever since I bought that X-E1, I have yet to pick up my: Panny GX1, Oly E-P3, Nikon D600!!! or Canon 60D/6D!
It is that good... ;)


Software support will eventually catch up and include the mirror-less market, but who knows how long that will take..

If I were starting out, the X-Series would be at the top of my list, and the X-E1 is the perfect blend of top-of-the-line features (like the X-Pro1) but realistic prices...


And BTW, all of these are easily modified if you ever wanted to.
I use my Mono GX1, Full Spectrum E-P3, and Full Spectrum X-E1 for daytime...actually 50x more daytime than AP, and the mod in NO WAY impairs their abilities...in fact, the mod will enhance them as the AA filters are removed (sharper images), and spectral transmissions increased (better, more saturated colors, tonal gradations, etc)..

Plus at any given moment I can shoot whatever I want...
Daytime, daytime IR(pass), AP, UV (pass), etc..really handy and makes it even more versatile than they already are.. :grin:


good luck! :)

#6 MattT

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 06:03 PM

Thanks for the replies and encouragement! And nice lunar shot!

I'm not really interested in long exposures, strictly lunar and planetary. For triggering short exposures I imagine a wireless remote or even a camera-controlling android app would work fine.

And after reading the reviews, and hearing from a friend who has and loves the XE-1, I was gung-ho for the new Fuji XE-2 until I found that it lacks a tilting rear screen. That's a must-have feature for me, for composing from funny angles and I imagine would be handy for framing when mounted to the scope, also.

I've been reading reviews pretty much all day and think I have it narrowed down now to the E-P5, E-PL5, or GX7.

#7 Gary BEAL

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 09:51 PM

Having owned an X-Pro1, I'd reiterate Brent's comments about the Fuji line. The X Trans sensor (and I'm not sure if this is what is in the X-M1 or A-1) is a stunning sensor, and "converted" would be even better.
Gary

#8 nofxrx

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 11:37 PM

Thanks for the replies and encouragement! And nice lunar shot!

I'm not really interested in long exposures, strictly lunar and planetary. For triggering short exposures I imagine a wireless remote or even a camera-controlling android app would work fine.

And after reading the reviews, and hearing from a friend who has and loves the XE-1, I was gung-ho for the new Fuji XE-2 until I found that it lacks a tilting rear screen. That's a must-have feature for me, for composing from funny angles and I imagine would be handy for framing when mounted to the scope, also.

I've been reading reviews pretty much all day and think I have it narrowed down now to the E-P5, E-PL5, or GX7.


I am not saying anything negative about the M4/3 systems...they are GREAT cameras, for what they are capable of doing.
In photography, sensor size is everything.
APS-C of the Fuji/Sony/etc is where I would REALLY recommend people stick to...
The new X-M1 has that swivel screen you want, but with the loss of an EVF...

BUT...that is all based on DSO shooting..

If doing planetary imaging, strictly, I would seriously consider just getting a Canon T2i...it is plenty small, and would pack a pretty hard punch in planetary imaging...and would allow you to grow into DSO imaging easily, if you ever choose to.

But, if you must have a Mirror-Less model for Planetary, I really do not know what would be best...
none are really suited for planetary, mainly because the video features are nothing to brag about (unless you go with the GH series Panasonic....but still, that is really only "useful" for daytime video..)
Planetary requires using a 1:1 pixel recording mode, and a fast frame rate...
Neither of these are offered in ANY cameras I know about, other than the T2i and 60D from Canon...


Honestly....why not just get a planetary camera/webcam??
Would be fairly inexpensive and would probably result in much better images than any of these "big" cameras...
the big cameras are made for images...not video..and planetary requires video... At least, AFAIK...not much of a planetary guy.


Maybe someone with a bit more experience could answer this for you....you may even want to post a questions in the Solar System imaging forum..



I would just hate to see you buy a brilliant camera like a GX7 or EPL-5 and have it turn out to be worthless for planetary imaging.. ;)

FWIW, why are you even bothering going with the VERY expensive GX7 when the GX1 will do everything just as well, and at 1/5th the price...(i.e. used sell for ~$180-250!!!!)..
The only things you "gain" are an EVF and swivel screen...
is a swivel screen really worth an extra $700-800??! :confused:


Honestly though, for planetary I just keep coming back to the T2i...I know a LOT of people who are 100% happy with that model for every type of imaging possible...not a whole lot can be said for the mirror-less models..

Again, my 2:penny:'s, AFAIK, IMHO, and YMMV ;)

good luck!

#9 MattT

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 10:13 AM

Honestly....why not just get a planetary camera/webcam??

That was sort of the unasked question in my post. I've decided on a mirrorless because daytime photography is the real priority at this point. I'll probably play around with my eventual camera on the C8 and try to determine what the potential is, before buying a lot of astrophotography accessories for it with money that would be better spent on an astro webcam.

In photography, sensor size is everything.
APS-C of the Fuji/Sony/etc is where I would REALLY recommend people stick to...

I looked long and hard at the NEX-6 and the Fujis but for various reasons none of them really meet all my high priorities.

FWIW, why are you even bothering going with the VERY expensive GX7 when the GX1 will do everything just as well


Well I haven't gone for it *yet* - can't quite bring myself to pay full retail for a brand new model so close to Black Friday. And your comment will set me to reading again today. But what I've read so far suggests the GX7 is a very significant improvement in all aspects of performance, and when you figure the cost of a whole camera system with lenses and accessories the difference in cost of the bodies shrinks in relative terms.

#10 mmalik

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 11:22 AM

I'm pretty set on the mirror-less type...

...But eventually I will want to hook it up to my C8 and try some lunar and planetary imaging.


Unset yourself and get this...; you'll like it; has video crop mode for the kind of imaging you intend to do. Regards

#11 Tony Finnerty

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 12:16 PM

I've used an Olympus E-M5, first of the OM-D series, for conventional photography for a year or more. The then-new Sony sensor brings Micro Four Thirds image performance up to the best of APS-C cameras. Now I'm using it for AP through telephoto lenses while I wait for a 4 inch refractor to arrive. My best effort to date is here: M31 reduced size

I use TriggerTrap, with a dongle to connect to the camera, on iOS to take as many time exposures as I want. This is what makes it possible to use my non-Canon mirrorless camera for AP.

Olympus has just released the second camera in the OM-D series, the E-M1. This camera has WiFi connectivity, so sequences of images can be taken without TriggerTrap, for one less wire. I plan to upgrade to the E-M1 for conventional photography and, of course, will use its wireless capability for AP.

The E-P5 uses the same sensor as the E-M5, without the internal EVF so it is less expensive. I use only the LCD display on the back of the camera for AP, never the EVF, so the E-P5 will work great with TriggerTrap.

#12 MattT

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 10:33 PM

Thanks Tony, M31 looks great!

#13 nine44

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 06:30 AM

I think the easy answer is: any camera. Virtually any camera can be adapted to a telescope. If your focus is on daytime photography and you might, someday, sometime in the future take an astrophoto, then I would just recommend buying a camera for daytime. If you want to take astrophotos at some point, there are many people here who blazed the astrophotography path and can save you a ton of headaches.

#14 MrJones

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 12:27 PM

I've had my Nex-5N for about 2 years now. It does ok.

Some things to look for.

Minimally:

Make sure you can get an adapter.

Look for options to remove the IR filter or replace it with something more IR friendly.

Need IR for remote shutter and possibly IR driven intervalometer. I have the one from gentles.ltd.uk it works but is kind of a pain to use. Anything to help remote driven is good such as wifi like Nex-6 has or Backyardeos support which is supposedly in development for the EOS-M.

Need a video format that is easy to put into RegiStax for lunar/planetary and anything else like Canon crop mode is good too. I think EOS-M actually has this. Sony Nex-5N has failed miserably on this for me - it's been difficult for me to find a good conversion process that RegiStax can read.

My conclusion is that I would seriously look at the EOS-M.

#15 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:06 PM

;)
Forget Mirrorless. Just get a Canon. You can’t use an interchangeable lens camera without a computer and BackYardEOS for AP. Only Canon cameras can use programs like BYEOS. In addition it is so much easier to modify a Canon camera to full spectrum as well.

The Canon cameras have a video crop mode that no other cameras have. It is the only way to get good solar system photos.

Panasonic cameras are limited to 60 second exposures at the most. That is completely unacceptable for AP.

Some cameras “Eat Stars” even with RAW images. Don’t risk losing data by going with a camera that no one else has used. There won’t be anyone else that can help you if you don’t buy a Canon camera.

Mirrorless cameras all have tiny sensors when compared to Canon’s mighty APS-C sensors. The Mirrorless offerings are just full of noise even at very low ISO values. The most recent Canon cameras have far superior sensitivity in their chips to the older Canon cameras. The noise handling for the newest Canon rebel cameras is almost as good as full frame cameras. Mirrorless cameras are no better than point and shoot cameras.

:shocked:

#16 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:07 PM

If what I wrote above is enough to convince you to forget about Mirrorless cameras and buy a Canon camera then have at it. However, every single thing I wrote above is completely and utterly false yet I have heard every one of those statements in this forum.

The truth is that any interchangeable lens camera can be used for Astro Photography. They will all work in some capacity for AP. Each one has its benefits and each one has its drawbacks. It is up to you to decide what options you need and what options you don’t.

I am only going to speak about the Micro Four Thirds options below because right now that is what I use and what I know the best. However, I am not against using any camera out there as long as it meets my needs.

For Mirrorless cameras right now I would say the Panasonic GH3 is the best for AP. This is the camera that I use and I chose it after examining the benefits of all of the other Mirrorless cameras out there. Here are some of the reasons why it is the only camera that can meet my needs right now.

Copied from my other post:
1. It uses a variant of the Sony sensor used in the Nikon and Nex cameras. It simply offers great performance all the way up to ISO 6400 where the Canon cameras really max out at ISO 1600. This isn’t essential for absolute max results because you would probably want to use a lower ISO for that on any camera. However, it gives you the flexibility to still image without guiding. That is extremely helpful on those nights where something goes wrong and you can’t guide(Dew on guide scope, Dead computer battery, etc).

2. The GH3 has special passive cooling built in for its video modes. This cooling also aids in stills.

3. The GH3 has the ability to use longer shutter durations during live view. That allows you to use it as a semi live camera for Aligning, focusing, and centering. With the GH3 you don’t need a computer to control it.

4. The GH3 has the 10x and 5x crop sensor mode for checking focus built in. It can even use up to ISO 25,000 for aligning deep space objects in near real time.

5. The GH3 has wireless built-in that allows you to see exactly what the camera sees on any phone or tablet in real time.

6. The GH3 can be modified to full spectrum by life pixel for about the same price as any Canon camera.

7. The GH3 has in camera RAW stacking if you really don’t want to do the stacking on a computer. You are better off doing it on the computer but it is nice to have the option.

8. The GH3 is much lighter than the Canon cameras.

9. The GH3 can go an entire night on a single charge.

10. The GH3 has an electronic viewfinder for those times when you don’t want the light from the LCD screen to affect other observers. It also has a great flip out LCD screen for those times when you don’t have to worry about affecting others. The optical viewfinder in the DSLRs is pretty much useless at night.

11. It has an electronic shutter mode that completely eliminates all sound and vibration for images of the moon.

12. It simply has the best 1080p @ 60 FPS video mode of any video camera to date. It is full professional quality at 50 mb/sec and it has an excellent 2.6x lossless 1080p crop mode for moon and planet stacking images.
Some of the other M4/3s cameras have options that the GH3 doesn’t have like the Olympus Bulb time mode which allows the user to see periodic refreshes of what has been captured so far. That is exactly what a Mallincam offers.

However, there are also some drawbacks to some of the m4/3s cameras for AP. Number one the Panasonic GH3 is very expensive at $1000 for the body only. However, it really is an excellent camera for still images and it is simply the best consumer video camera money can buy.

Cameras like the GF2-GF6, G3-G6, GH2, GX1-GX7, and the just announced GM1 all have limited or non-existent bulb modes. Therefore, you will be limited to 2 minutes and 8 seconds with most of those or only 1 minute with the GM1.

The nice thing is that the GF1, G2, and GH1 all have 4 minute and 16 second bulb modes. That is not sufficient for all users. However, when combined with a fast scope it is more than enough and those cameras are very inexpensive now.

The Panasonic GH3 and all of the recent Olympus cameras have basically unlimited bulb modes.

If I couldn’t afford the Panasonic GH3 right now then I would buy an Olympus EPL-5. That camera has most of what the OMD EM-5 has at about half the price.

If you need help on what M4/3s cameras can do for daytime use I can help with that as well. Here is a simple home video I shot with the GH3. This is completely uncorrected straight out of the camera footage. I just pieced this together and added a little music. You can search my youtube channel for the moon and planet videos that I have done as well.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=LPLfbVMQyxs

This is a sample of what it can do for low light indoor action photography. I shoot indoor climbing with the GH3. Most people say it can't get shallow depth of field. It can with the right lenses. There is also a link below to some of the AP pictures I have taken with the GH3.


http://www.dpreview....0-stars?inal...

Attached Files



#17 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:32 PM


Fuji X-E1 is by far the best mirrorless I have used/owned to date.

And noise performance is exceptional up to ISO6400...I really cannot find another model (even the NEX series) that has such low noise and great image quality!

Fuji has THE BEST prime/lens collection around for Mirrorless, hands down! So if you want the best image quality for the $, Fuji is where it is at. again, IMHO..


You do know that the Fuji cameras apply noise reduction directly to the RAW file, right? You can't turn it off either. That is about the worst thing you can do for AP and for daytime photos for that matter.

Fuji's lens selection and quality is definitely not up to the m4/3s standard.

#18 ZeroID

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 10:21 PM

SONY SLT A77v, 24 megapixel, ISO skyhigh, 30sec exposure but I use a remote cable so who cares about that. Fully articulated screen. Only thing missing is the LiveView option that makes Canon hardware so good for astro.
It's also quite big compared to what you are asking for though, proper DSLR size. I also use mine for motorsports and at 12 fps + HD movie modes + a magic control menu I can set it up for anything I want or just play dumb auto mode.

Check the website for a few pix.
brenthrussell.weebly.com

#19 ccs_hello

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 10:37 PM

Baby APS-C SONY sensor (IMX071) is IMX109, size is type-4/3".
Used in few MILC http://www.cloudynig.../Number/5863684

I wish I have the money and the big heart to get a GH3 :) but I learned long ago I can't win in the cult camera pricing plan.

My personal observation is that MILC is still being used by most of the manufacturers to carefully and slowly warming up the market while keeping the profit high. A lot of crippling and price tiers just to keep the hope high and willingness to open the wallet up in the fan/popular level.

My approach is to get the model I like with the compromises I can live with. This include the price tag I can swallow. Regarding extra features beneficial to astro... one day at a time until crippling is not the name of the game.

Clear Skies!

ccs_hello

#20 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 07:40 AM

Baby APS-C SONY sensor (IMX071) is IMX109, size is type-4/3".
Used in few MILC http://www.cloudynig.../Number/5863684

I wish I have the money and the big heart to get a GH3 :) but I learned long ago I can't win in the cult camera pricing plan.

My personal observation is that MILC is still being used by most of the manufacturers to carefully and slowly warming up the market while keeping the profit high. A lot of crippling and price tiers just to keep the hope high and willingness to open the wallet up in the fan/popular level.

My approach is to get the model I like with the compromises I can live with. This include the price tag I can swallow. Regarding extra features beneficial to astro... one day at a time until crippling is not the name of the game.

Clear Skies!

ccs_hello


I would say that you are probably 6 months or so from Olympus producing a camera that will fit AP needs and not break the bank. The EPL-5 is pretty darn close but I would rather see it with Wifi.

I think there will be a camera early next year from Olympus that will have the EPL-5 features plus wifi for around $500.

#21 MrJones

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 09:04 AM

one day at a time until crippling is not the name of the game.


Well said. EOS-M - no remote or tether options. link Still think I'll wait on Canon to replace the Nex-5N

#22 MattT

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:16 PM

So, I brought my new Panasonic GX7 home today. I finally got to handle it at a local shop and it feels perfect in my hand - since my primary need is for a travel/family camera I went for it. Happy Birthday to me!

The GX7 has an "ETC mode" in video which records only the central 1080 lines of the image. The stated purpose is to provide ~2.6x magnification for long-range shots but I believe it also records pixels 1:1, to fit a 1080p HD screen. Is this similar to Canon's essential Movie Crop mode? Even after reading the specs I'm not sure the GX7 has quite as great video quality as the GH3 (My experience with digital video is the same as my experience with walking on the Moon: I've seen others do it, from a great distance). But reviewers say it's a pretty good video camera and hopefully good enough for me to have some lunar and planetary fun with when hooked to the C8.

One neat feature is Focus Peaking, which highlights the sharp-focused areas of the image on the LCD as you rack through manual focus. I hope it'd accurate enough to help with astro-focusing as was one of my least favorite aspects of astrophotography, when last I tried it back in the filmy days of yore.

#23 ccs_hello

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 12:34 PM

Matt,
Congats on your new GX7.
Indded Panny's ETC is the 1:1 center crop in the image sensor.
Some recent Canon DSLRs can do 1:1 movie crop just like ETC, while the most recent ones are no longer doing the true 1:1, i.e., has interpolation (unless you use Magic Lantern "modified" firmware hack which can give you back 1:1, at various resolutions.)

Clear Skies and a late happy B-day!

ccs_hello

#24 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 09:15 AM

What ccs_hello said is correct. Another thing to remember is that as tempting as it may be using ETC mode in anything other than 1080p will not gain you anything. Since it is a true 1:1 crop the 720p mode will just simply give you less of the 1080p frame.

You are much better off to shoot in 1080p ETC and then crop out what you don’t want later. You can always take out what you don't want later. You can't add it back in.

#25 MattT

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 12:47 PM

Thanks for the tips, just ordered my T ring!






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