Colyn Montgomery, Product Manager: The Micro Four Thirds has a larger sensor than a point-and-shoot so you can make larger prints and take better low light pics. They are in the same price range as entry-level DSLRs with nice features like HD video thrown in and they are far less bulky.
Chris Korhonen, Software Engineer: They are sometimes referred to as EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lenses) – who doesn’t want an EVIL camera?
I was after something reasonably compact, with modern features and capabilities, interchangeable lenses and control. SLRs just seemed to get bulkier and more expensive, and point-and-shoots were lacking the control and flexibility I wanted. After a while I narrowed down my choice to the Panasonic GF1 and the Sony NEX-5 (which technically is an E-mount), from there I got up and went to J&R to try them out and settled on the NEX-5.
Moses Gunesch, Apps Software Engineer: Basically everyone who knows the word “photography” or wants to own any camera more substantial than a cell phone or point-and-shoot. I’ve seen pro photographers very excited by them. They certainly provide the perfect missing rung for consumers who want something a little better, without having to jump to a monstrous, expensive, over-engineered DSLR beast that literally scares people when you pull it out of your massive, accessory-bursting camera bag.
My first task with my new Lumix was to shoot a wedding for my sister-in-law, and also had a DSLR on hand. I’m not a pro photographer but found that I definitely needed the DSLR for the wedding ceremony, to be able to quickly zoom and frame photos well. I used the fixed-lens Lumix to do all the other before and after shoots and the results were fantastic.
Lincoln Ritter, Platform Development Lead: Not at all. Getting back to the manual controls after years of point-and-shoot was an adjustment, but also really fun. The biggest thing I miss from my old Nikkormat (now that was a heavy camera) is the viewfinder. In low-light situations, looking through a viewfinder actually helps stabilize the camera – it really helps.
Chris Korhonen: Not very difficult at all – the controls resemble those of an SLR so they should be reasonably familiar to anyone who has used one before. In addition, some of the cameras on the market such as the NEX-5 offer an intelligent auto mode plus saved presets which are surprisingly fine for everyday use.
The biggest thing to get used to for an SLR user is the lack of a viewfinder, instead relying on the LCD display.
For someone coming from a point and shoot background, it depends on the brand – the Sony is easy to pick up and shoot with, but if you go for a Panasonic then you might want to read the manual a bit and learn about the various shooting modes.
Lincoln Ritter: I only have one lens, the Panasonic G 20mm/1.7 pancake lens. I chose this over the more common zoom lens that the GF1 is often packaged with since the zoom lens seems more bulky to me. Plus I don’t like the idea of zoom. I find that the constraint of not being able to zoom makes me more creative about how I take pictures. I guess the whole thing is optimized for convenience and fun.
Colyn Montgomery: I’ve got a zoom and a pancake prime lens. I purchased my camera with the zoom lens assuming it would be more versatile, but I actually love the prime lens: it makes the camera slimmer, is fantastic for low-light, and takes really beautiful shots with that professional-looking control over depth of field.
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