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Sound Advice: Micro Four Thirds system good for low-light photography

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Tech Advice

Q. I go to concerts often and need a good low-light camera because flash photography is not only forbidden, it is annoying to the performers and those around me. I'm typically close to the stage so I don't need a super zoom. It needs to be small as SLR cameras and big, protruding lenses get scrutinized at shows. Price is not an issue; what do you recommend?

-- T.L., Boston

A. Good low-light photography requires a big sensor and image stabilization, and ideally a large aperture (fast) lens, too. Preferably you would have all three, especially with moving subjects like performers at a concert.

Regular readers know I am a strong proponent of the mirrorless Micro Four Thirds system from Olympus and Panasonic, and it is a perfect match for your needs. Here are two models that are around the same size as a point-and-shoot camera, yet have a big sensor and the image quality and low light capability of a much larger digital SLR.

The Olympus E-PL8 has extremely effective 3-axis image stabilization in the camera body, so whatever lens you use will be stabilized. This beautiful, stylish camera is currently on sale for $449, and a 14-42mm pancake zoom is $198 more, bringing your price to $647. The 14-42mm pancake is not a fast lens, but fast zooms are bigger than the camera itself and will draw scrutiny from security personnel. If you are willing to spend a bit more I suggest you get one or two fast, fixed length lenses to go with the zoom. The incredibly sharp Olympus 25mm/1.8 lens and 45mm/1.8 lenses are currently on sale for $249 each. For your application it would be hard to do better than an E-PL8 with the 25mm and 45mm lenses. getolympus.com

Panasonic's LUMIX GX850 is even smaller than the E-PL8 and includes an excellent 12-32mm zoom lens for $549. The small size means there is no image stabilization in the camera, so you must choose lenses with optical stabilization. The maximum 32mm zoom of the lens also offers a bit less reach than the 42mm Olympus lens. Panasonic does offer a small 35-100 mm zoom and a 45mm/1.8 lens with stabilization. Panasonic's video quality is spectacular so if making videos is part of your plan I would take that in to consideration as well.

Though it is not as small as the others, Panasonic currently has a special offer on the LUMIX GX85. You can get the GX85 with the tiny 12-32mm zoom lens and a regular-sized 45-150mm zoom lens for only $599. The full-featured, technologically-advanced GX85 has a big sensor, in-camera stabilization and optical stabilization in the lenses, getting you the whole enchilada! Though smaller than an SLR, it is bigger than the point-and-shoot sized E-PL8 and GX850 so probably not ideal for your application. Other readers may be looking for a new camera though so I included it here, as it is an amazing deal. panasonic.com

--Sponsored Video--

Q. Two years ago you recommended a scanner that will scan multiple images at a time, scanning prints as well as 35mm slides and negatives. Unfortunately a lot of the negatives and slides I have are from my dad's medium format Rolleiflex and are much larger than 35mm film. What scanner do you recommend that can also handle medium format film?

-- J.W., Manning, S.C.

A. The scanner was the $199 Epson Perfection V550. You will be happy to know it can also scan medium format slides and negatives. I am proud Rolleiflex owner myself and have scanned many Rolleiflex slides and negatives with the V550. epson.com

(Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadvicenews.com and use the "submit question" link on that site.)

(c)2017 Don Lindich

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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