Serious Compact - Prime Lens - Suggestions?

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
I am thinking of moving on my Panasonic LX100 once I get my act together and finish putting it back together (replaced the LCD) screen. I just cannot get excited about the electronic zoom (have the same issue with the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42 I brought to use on the EM-5ii). I am old school or something as I prefer to manually adjust the zoom.

Anyway I thought I would move it on and play with a compact with a prime lens. It does not have to be the latest model, in fact I would be inclined to buy second hand anyway irrespective of the model cycle.

So just throwing out there the question: what would be on your short list for a nice serious compact with prime lens that shoots raw?
I hear you on power zooms. 2 x LX100s, 1 x RX100, 2 x Oly 12-50, 3 (maybe 4 :oops:) Pan 45-175 all gone simply because I just can't take power zooms as much as I try. Main reason I haven't tried an FZ1000 or FZ300. The Fuji X30 might be worth a look, LOVE the manual zoom with the power switch incorporated. Don't like the smaller sensor.

For me the choice was the Fuji X70. Tilting touch screen and direct manual controls were the big ones for me. But I also like the film sims, Q-Menu (like the SCP on Olympus), digital TC, and style. The Fuji TC actually works pretty well. It's not just a crop, it's up sized back to 16mp.

ISO 3200 / TC 35mm eq

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Aushiker

Hall of Famer
May 25, 2015
124
Fremantle, Western Australia
Andrew
Andrew,

Here's an alternative:

Compact Camera Meter

It's smaller than the LX100, the OMD EM5 II with 17mm f1.8 prime, will definitely fit in your bike bag, and has an optical viewfinder.

Downside: small sensor and that electronic zoom. Still, it has become my go-to camera when I am out and about.

Whaddya think?

Cheers, Jock
Thanks Jock and you reminded me of the Canon PowerShot G7Xii which I have an eBay search watch on. Not that they come up often which probably explains why I had forgotten about it. i will add to the G12 to the list of options.
 

Aushiker

Hall of Famer
May 25, 2015
124
Fremantle, Western Australia
Andrew
It doesn't have a prime lens, and its sensor is "only" 2/3", but I have gotten many excellent images from my Fuji X30. The zoom is manual, from 28-112mm FOV, it has an EVF, and it shoots RAW. I've taken an X30 on many biking trips, using nothing but a very small Lowepro bag strapped to my handlebars. It is quite small compared to the E-M5 + 17/1.8:

Compact Camera Meter

The X30 is discontinued now, but I got a mint condition black one for a bit over $300 USD. Click over to Fujixspot and search my more recent posts for X30.
Fuji Australia still show the X30 as if it is a current product ... will add it to the list.
 

Aushiker

Hall of Famer
May 25, 2015
124
Fremantle, Western Australia
Andrew
For me the choice was the Fuji X70. Tilting touch screen and direct manual controls were the big ones for me. But I also like the film sims, Q-Menu (like the SCP on Olympus), digital TC, and style. The Fuji TC actually works pretty well. It's not just a crop, it's up sized back to 16mp.
Thanks. I have a search in place for the X70; again they don't come up here often but.
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
123
These are all great suggestions, but I have fallen in love with the Panasonix GX85. Maybe you just have the wrong m43 body? GX85 has a viewfinder, throw on a P14/2.5, and it's a very compact setup

Compact Camera Meter
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
These are all great suggestions, but I have fallen in love with the Panasonix GX85. Maybe you just have the wrong m43 body? GX85 has a viewfinder, throw on a P14/2.5, and it's a very compact setup

Compact Camera Meter
If you go that route, the 12-32mm is actually not to be sneezed at - back when I used the E-PM1 for bike touring, this super-compact setup was lots of fun to shoot, and it fitted in the smallest of top-tube bags I could find (including some extra padding).

The GX80 is somewhat bigger, though ... maybe a GM1 with 12-32? Or the 14mm prime, of course (which is pretty much the same size). The upside would be that it's also :mu43:, fitting in with your existing system.

M.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
These are all great suggestions, but I have fallen in love with the Panasonix GX85. Maybe you just have the wrong m43 body? GX85 has a viewfinder, throw on a P14/2.5, and it's a very compact setup

Compact Camera Meter
If you go that route, the 12-32mm is actually not to be sneezed at - back when I used the E-PM1 for bike touring, this super-compact setup was lots of fun to shoot, and it fitted in the smallest of top-tube bags I could find (including some extra padding).

The GX80 is somewhat bigger, though ... maybe a GM1 with 12-32? Or the 14mm prime, of course (which is pretty much the same size). The upside would be that it's also :mu43:, fitting in with your existing system.

M.
The GX80/85 plus either the 14 or 12-32 should probably be on the list, as well as the GM1, GM5, GF80/85. The GX combo wouldn't be much bigger than the LX100, the GM5 combo is smaller. I had both combos last year, though not all 3 at the same time.

Why are the Canons on the list at all? Aren't they both powered zooms?
 

NoSeconds

Top Veteran
Jan 1, 2017
104
Troy
Another vote for the GR II (or any iteration of it actually). It's just so light and tiny, you have to keep pinching yourself to remind you that it's got a large sensor under the hood...

If you can wait till the first week of September I'll be down in Perth for work and will let you have a play...
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
Another reason I picked the X70 I just remembered.

How much of your dislike of power zooms is related to startup? I've been in the habit of powering down my travel cameras in between shots / groups of shots to save batter power. The Fuji doesn't have that power on delay while the lens extends.
 

Aushiker

Hall of Famer
May 25, 2015
124
Fremantle, Western Australia
Andrew
Another vote for the GR II (or any iteration of it actually). It's just so light and tiny, you have to keep pinching yourself to remind you that it's got a large sensor under the hood...

If you can wait till the first week of September I'll be down in Perth for work and will let you have a play...
Thanks for the offer. Happy to wait ... will be chasing a second hand one anyway. I will probably just get one to have a play but wouldn't say no to checking yours out.
 

Aushiker

Hall of Famer
May 25, 2015
124
Fremantle, Western Australia
Andrew
The GX80 is somewhat bigger, though ... maybe a GM1 with 12-32? Or the 14mm prime, of course (which is pretty much the same size). The upside would be that it's also :mu43:, fitting in with your existing system.
I went out to the shed today and played with the top-tube bag and my EM-5ii with the lens I have [O ED 14-42mm and O 17mm]. Going by what I learnt I think the point made earlier on to just use the E-M5ii is a good one. It will work pretty well with the P 14mm for sure. The P12-32 might be an option as well. Is it a manual zoom or a power zoom? The O14-42 I have is a power zoom which I really don't like using.

I don't think there is enough difference in size with the Pansonic GX80/85 to warrant getting one over using the E-M5ii and I am a bit of a fanboy of the E-M5ii I must admit.

So maybe the decision is to stick with the E-M5ii and maybe a Ricoh GR variant just to see what they are all about and/or one of the other options if they come up for a nice price on eBay... :)
 

Aushiker

Hall of Famer
May 25, 2015
124
Fremantle, Western Australia
Andrew
How much of your dislike of power zooms is related to startup? I've been in the habit of powering down my travel cameras in between shots / groups of shots to save batter power. The Fuji doesn't have that power on delay while the lens extends.
I just don't get on well with the zooming as well as the powering up but it is really the zooming. I don't know why exactly but there is something about manually controlling the zoom that I just enjoy as a part of my photography experience.

The funny thing is I tend to use the electronic zoom lens [and cameras/phone] I have at their widest (so basically as a prime) as cannot be bothered with the zoom
 

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
69
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
I went out to the shed today and played with the top-tube bag and my EM-5ii with the lens I have [O ED 14-42mm and O 17mm]. Going by what I learnt I think the point made earlier on to just use the E-M5ii is a good one.
Probably the right decision from my experience. If you've found a camera that you like to use, it's great just to stick to that - and investigate for the best/most appropriate carrying solution (if that's an option).
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
I went out to the shed today and played with the top-tube bag and my EM-5ii with the lens I have [O ED 14-42mm and O 17mm]. Going by what I learnt I think the point made earlier on to just use the E-M5ii is a good one. It will work pretty well with the P 14mm for sure. The P12-32 might be an option as well. Is it a manual zoom or a power zoom? The O14-42 I have is a power zoom which I really don't like using.

I don't think there is enough difference in size with the Pansonic GX80/85 to warrant getting one over using the E-M5ii and I am a bit of a fanboy of the E-M5ii I must admit.

So maybe the decision is to stick with the E-M5ii and maybe a Ricoh GR variant just to see what they are all about and/or one of the other options if they come up for a nice price on eBay... :)
The Pan 12-32 is a manual / collapsing zoom, kind of like the O14-42 R/RII, O9-18, or the lens on the Fuji X30. I also find the extra 2mm on the wide end much more useful than the 10mm on the long end.

Other than the hump there isn't much of a size difference. It's much more of a form factor difference. I prefer rangefinders for all but my event work. So for me it was between the Pan F and GX80/85.
 

NoSeconds

Top Veteran
Jan 1, 2017
104
Troy
Shameless GR promotion... The compact camera meter just doesn't do these justice.

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wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
123
The P12-32 might be an option as well. Is it a manual zoom or a power zoom? The O14-42 I have is a power zoom which I really don't like using.
It's a manual zoom and collapses down into something the size of the P14 or P20. It's really the best size/quality output lens in m43 land, then you throw in it's cheap price.

The downside is the zoom range is short (at 32mm), but it's still a pretty amazing little lens.
 
Aug 27, 2013
124
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Miguel Tejada-Flores
I am thinking of moving on my Panasonic LX100 once I get my act together and finish putting it back together (replaced the LCD) screen. I just cannot get excited about the electronic zoom (have the same issue with the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42 I brought to use on the EM-5ii). I am old school or something as I prefer to manually adjust the zoom.

Anyway I thought I would move it on and play with a compact with a prime lens. It does not have to be the latest model, in fact I would be inclined to buy second hand anyway irrespective of the model cycle.

So just throwing out there the question: what would be on your short list for a nice serious compact with prime lens that shoots raw?
Well, everyone has pretty much answered this question in great detail, so I'm afraid my answer is probably either too little, too late - or conversely, too much, too late - but I'll dive in -

The holy Trinity of super high quality compact cameras with primes which shoot RAW are the Coolpix A, the Ricoh GR (in multiple APS-C iterations) and the Fujifilm x70. Have owned, used and enjoyed all three personally.

The Coolpix A is probably the bargain of the bunch - its prices have truly gotten into the more-than-reasonable level though I suspect there will be fewer and fewer of them around - and if you have familiarity with Nikon's menus and Nikon controls (which I never did), that is an additional plus. It has an incredible lens, it's built like a tank, and if you can find a good copy, is truly affordable.

Haven't ever used the GR II but the APS-C GR is an incredible camera, with amazing IQ, and beloved of everyone from Ming Thein to half the great street photographers around. The prices of the older (non-II version) have fallen slightly to what I would call the almost-affordable category. The upside - and downside - is that it has an incredibly powerful menu system which allows one to do pretty much anything - once you get the hang of it. And - sigh....I never really did. If I had, I might have kept it. Incidentally it's beautifully built, as well.

Both the Coolpix A and the GR/GR II are masters at the zone focusing presets favored by so many street photographers.

The third member of the trinity which I currently own and really like - and also recommend - is the diminutive Ricoh x70. Cool physical buttons and controls. A simple menu. A very cool touchscreen which also folds up and out. And truly superb in-camera JPEG filtering including the 'Chrome' filter which seems to duplicate certain tonal characteristics of classic slide films. And a great lens. All of the above make it more than a worthy contender. The downside is that prices are still relatively high though coming down quite a bit over the last few months - size-wise it's definitely larger than the smaller and more pocketable Ricoh - and converting Fujifilm native RAW files to Lightroom-manipulable DNG's is a slight chore (though eminently solvable thanks to Irident's new inexpensive standalone X-Transformer which really seems to do a beautiful job).

I think the x70 is an incredible camera. Well, hell, all 3 of them are.

Finally, no discussion would be complete without adding 1 more name to the list...or maybe 2. The discontinued and diminutive Panasonic Lumix GM1/GM5 cameras - tiny jewel-like mu4/3 bodies - which mate beautifully with tiny Panasonic and Olympus prime lenses - including my favorite, the 20mm f/1.7 (the 1st generation, which supposedly focuses slowly but actually is a relatively quick auto-focuser in my experience) - as well as the optically wonderful Lumix 14mm pancake prime (a superb lens) and the often dissed but excellent Olympus 17mm f/2.8 pancake prime lens. Either body plus any of those lenses (my favorite, the 20mm, is not only the fastest but also physically the largest of the trio) gives you your tiny subcompact with an excellent prime. What they don't give you is the larger and generally sharper APS-C sized sensor --- the GM1/GM5 sport the same relatively recent-vintage micro four thirds sensor that was in my truly excellent GX7 camera, and it's a camera/sensor/lens combo that give superb results.

You can't really "go wrong" with any of the above. My personal likes and dislikes led me to both buy and then sell both the Ricoh GR and the Coolpix A before stumbling on an x70 which I suspect I will keep for a long time; I also own a GM5 which is a rather incredible small camera that also doubles, when necessary, as a small 'system' camera with the ability to interchange both excellent primes and, occasionally, zooms or other lenses.

Hope this helps.

Cheers!

Miguel
 
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