Monday 15 May 2017

How I Chose My Camera - Part Two: The Decision - Amateur Photographer Guide

Panasonic G7 & box showing camera specification
Welcome to Part Two of How I Chose My Camera. If you haven't read Part One already, you can check it out HERE. In this part I will be doing a comparison between the two cameras I narrowed my choices down to. The comparison will only be done on the things that mattered the most to me while making my decision. 

The cameras in question were the Sony a6000 and the Panasonic G7. The pros and cons of each will be based on my personal opinions and do not indicate the overall performance and quality of these cameras. They are both very capable of producing tack sharp photos and crisp video. 

One of the main reasons I narrowed down my choice to these two cameras was due to their smaller size and weight when compared to bigger DSLR full frame type cameras. I hate being bogged down with bags or equipment and I really dislike being uncomfortable when out and about. According to my scales, the Panasonic weighs in at 544g which includes the kit lens, lens hood, battery and memory card. The Sony a6000, according to some quick googling, weighs 468g. All in all, both are very lightweight bits of kit which I wouldn't mind taking out with me whether in a small bag or using a sling strap across my shoulder. 

front view of the panasonic g7 and sony a6000
G7 vs. A6000 Grip Comparison 
When I was doing my near endless research on these cameras, one thing that stood out to me was being comfortable when using your camera. As a fan of being comfortable, this made a lot of sense to me. Like you wouldn't wear a pair of shoes that aren't comfortable, you wouldn't want to take out and use a camera that makes your hands hurt - you'd only end up leaving the poor thing at home in a dark drawer feeling unwanted and abandoned. Basically, if comfort is of any importance to you, I advise you to go to your local camera store and try the camera you're interested in out by holding it and taking some test shots.

Next on my list of features is the screen on the rear of the camera. The G7 has a 3 inch fully articulating touch screen whereas the A6000 has a 3 inch screen which can only be tilted up or down and doesn't feature touch capabilities. For me, the fully articulating screen is hands down one of the nicest features to have as it allows you to shoot in all sorts of weird and interesting angles relatively easily. You can of course shoot in the same awkward angles on the A6000 but you'll probably have to move around a bit more to get those same shots which may not always be practical. 

g7 fully articulating screen vs a6000 tilt only screen
Screen Comparison
There are benefits to having a screen with touch features, such as being able to focus anywhere in a scene simply by pressing on the screen where you want the camera to focus. This is very useful during video capture. You can also add multiple function 'buttons' (Fn) down one side of the screen which on the G7 means you have access to a total of 6 physical buttons and 5 touch 'buttons' to set custom functions to, which for most people will be more than enough to set the camera up to their exact needs. The A6000 also allows you to set custom settings for Fn buttons, just not as many.

top dials and buttons on both cameras
Dials and Fn Buttons
If shooting video is your primary need then the G7 is the best bang for your buck. At the time of me researching these cameras, they were both £500. However, the G7 can shoot up to 4k 25fps whereas the A6000 maxes out at 1080p 60fps. Shooting at such a high resolution on the G7 does require you to have a powerful enough PC to handle the massive file sizes and the long render times which overall could cost you a significant amount of money on top of the camera if you need to upgrade said PC. Most 'every day' PCs should handle 1080p with ease however. I don't have a powerful enough PC for 4k footage but I still chose the G7 because it's a little more future proofed at least in video capture.

G7 kit lens with lens hood compared to a6000 kit lens without lens hood
Kit Lens Comparison
In the image above, you can see the physical differences between the two kit lenses. If you don't know, a kit lens is generally a lens that comes as a 'kit' with the camera and is usually considered a starter lens, at least if you're a beginner like me. They both come with a lens cap which is standard for these types of cameras and lenses and offers some protection against knocks and scratches of the front glass. The most obvious difference is the Panasonic lens comes with a lens hood which is very useful for sunny days as some angles can cause lens flare, which could ruin that otherwise perfect shot. The Sony lens, however, does not. That of course doesn't mean the camera itself performs worse but it is something to consider. The other thing to note is when the Sony lens powers off, part of the lens retracts into itself, essentially halving the length of it. This makes it a more convenient pocket/travel camera when compared to the Panasonic, especially with the hood attached. You can see the differences in the image below.

G7 kit lens size vs a6000 kit lens size
Kit Lens Comparison
Ultimately, you can't go wrong with either of these cameras. For the money, they each offer fantastic image quality and a wide selection of lenses with the Panasonic G7 edging ahead in the video department thanks to its 4k recording. What swung it for me in the end was a combination of the above and the fact the Panasonic was offering a £70 cash-back deal at the time of purchase. That being said, I was leaning towards the Panasonic regardless as it felt more solid in my hands, I liked the look of the Micro Four Thirds selection of lenses more and from a purely cosmetic stand point, it looks fantastic in silver!

I really hope these articles bring some kind of help and guidance if you ever have to choose between two very similar cameras.

As usual, if you found this enjoyable, don't hesitate to comment and make sure to check back for more 'Amateur Photographer' guides and articles. 

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