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12.1 MP Cameras in 2017
Old 11-02-2017   #1
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12.1 MP Cameras in 2017

To put the main question right at the top of my post, how have older m4/3 cameras aged? Who still uses one? Would you buy a used one now? I'm thinking about cameras like the Panasonic DMC-G2, but would like to know current attitude towards any cameras of that time-frame.

I had a Nikon D5xxx for a brief period about three years, but dumped it as I moved into film photography. Now I find myself relying on the iPhone more and more for convenience, and I can see a role for a dedicated digital again. I was thinking of picking up an older APS-C DSLR, but I like the idea of a m4/3 system. I would want a built-in EVF, so that narrows the field quite a bit, but the DMC-G2 I mentioned above looks like it would do what I want. DSLR or m4/3, I would probably be looking at a "fast normal" (f/1.8-2) plus a kit zoom.

I know 12 megapixels is plenty of resolution, but how do you view this era of camera now? Dynamic range, ISO performance up to 1600, jpeg engine, etc? Also, how about build quality? Were these cameras built in such a way to still be viable 10 years down the road? What about the quality of EVF? I've never actually looked through (at?) an EVF on any camera, only optical finders.

Edited to add: I know I can find discussion about these cameras here and other places, but much of it takes place when these models were newer. I'm posting this thread to get input on how folks still feel about them with newer options around.
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Old 11-02-2017   #2
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It's not only resolution is it? I thought there was significant improvements in ISO/DR going from the older 12mp to the 16mp sensors. And the 16mp sensors themselves are getting quite old now. Apart from the sensor side improvements theirs a big jump when it comes to AF speed/IBIS etc as well. Unless the price is really good, I would not buy a 12mp m43 camera. Not when you can buy a EM-1 mk1 for $400.
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Old 11-02-2017   #3
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Can't speak specifically to the Pano G2, but the Olympus 12mp Pens, EP-1, EP-2, EPL-1, have held up very well, and several members here still use them. The older EVFs are not as good as the newer ones, but they are usable.
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Old 11-02-2017   #4
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Much of my photos are done with my old 6MP camera.
I don´t think about Megapixels when I grab a camera that suits my needs.
So 12MP will be fine. Try it...
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12 MP is Plenty! (So is 6 MP!)
Old 11-02-2017   #5
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12 MP is Plenty! (So is 6 MP!)

I still shoot a Canon 5D and 40D. The color is fantastic.
Would you buy a new model guitar or keep your 1950's Strat?

Some older models (even digital!) are very much better than the newer ones who brag about high ISO and pixel count. Don't forget that there are always compromises to advance one feature over another.

All major makers have models that are still professional favorites.
I'm not selling my CCD Monochrom!

And don't forget, if you are a nature boy climbing cliffs, riding rapids, or a brave soul shooting in an excited crowd, don't risk bringing along your $10,000 M10!
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Old 11-02-2017   #6
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I have an Olympus E-PM1 I bought last year. While, I can't speak for the EVF (since they're terribly expensive and I paid <$100 for the camera used), I've been quite happy with the system. I can only assume the EVF behaves in a similar way to the back of the camera, but what I've found absolutely essential is the ability to magnify the view (5x to 14x on this model). I almost never miss critical focus when using adapted lenses because of it. I can foresee not going back to optical viewfinders.

Dynamic range is good, probably as good as my APS-C Nikon D80 that's almost 10 years old. I don't think the dynamic range is anywhere near what is available with other cameras now, even a recent cell phone camera like those found in the iPhone. Likely newer m4/3 cameras would perform much better. I work around those limitations (and my subject matter is stationary, so it's easier) by shooting multiple images and combining them to reduce noise, and using the ETTR technique.

Where these camera excel is their unobtrusive size and quietness. I always feel a bit conspicuous using an SLR in public. Whereas the m4/3 just looks less like a serious camera. And if I want to use a long lens, it isn't intimidating like some of the full-frame 80-200 lenses (which I couldn't afford anyway).

I don't have a native lens in the format, unless you count the 15mm f/8 Olympus body cap lens. I personally enjoy being able to adapt all kinds of lenses, and not pay much for the privilege. The only thing really missing in my kit are fast wide-angle lenses. I've gotten kind of used to the 50-70mm equiv. range.

I've also gotten quite used to the 4:3 aspect ratio. There's always a bit of room to crop anyway, and I do quite a bit of panoramic stitching, so aspect ratio is something that happens in post.

As far as durability goes, the camera seems like a little workhorse.

I've really enjoyed the camera, what it's capable of, and most importantly the price. I know I would less positive about the camera had I bought it new. A larger sensor would win out if I were shopping for a new camera. Also, I can't imagine paying hundreds of dollars on lenses for this format. When the trend seems to be in the direction of bigger sensor sizes, it doesn't make sense to me to spend so much for a lens that covers such a small format. Lenses seem to be the part of the camera system which holds value, and the sub-full-frame seems like a bit of a dead end. I'd rather adapt lenses with big coverage and grow the camera to meet those.
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Old 11-02-2017   #7
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I still use my EP1 that was a grad present, however I would not pay more than £50 for any of the 12mp ones with lens except the Pana G1 if it has the 14-45. It is worth looking at the G3, it has the newer 16mp chip, is smaller than the G1/2 has better AF etc and you can pick them up if your patient for less than £100. Actually being patient can get a lot of interesting older cameras for less than the cost of a night out. I picked up a decent Samsung NX system paying less than £30 for each body and a Nikon V1 with a busted battery door for the same. The Nikon is only 12mp loses in low light but the AF is blazing fast, same ratio as 35mm film but is only 10mp. The big plus of the m43 over these though, it is still a living mount so new lenses will be released and a lot of them are great lenses, even the maligned by some 17 2.8 Olympus is quite acceptable. I am looking to get another G3, it is one that I miss and with the 45mm 1.8 it was a nice little portrait camera.
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Old 11-03-2017   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by al1966 View Post
It is worth looking at the G3, it has the newer 16mp chip, is smaller than the G1/2 has better AF etc
I hadn't completely missed this the G3 option, but I wondered about the ergonomics. All I have is pictures to go by, but it appears that most of the grip is gone and that some usability might have been sacrificed for reduced size.
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Old 11-03-2017   #9
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I still shoot a Canon 5D...The color is fantastic...
Ditto. The screen is a hideous antique, but the images are quite pleasing.
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Old 11-03-2017   #10
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I like using the E-P2 and the newer E-PL1. Both are very good cameras overall. I would not use them otherwise. Main shortcoming for me is not to own an excellent M 4/3 wide angle lens. I like very much the Panasonic 25/1.4 "Lux". The colors are superb too.
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Old 11-05-2017   #11
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EP-L 1 up to 1250 ISO works great . I suggest to get one of the fast primes : Lumix 15/1.7 , Zuiko 17/1,8 , 25/1,8 ,20/1,7,45/1,8
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Old 11-05-2017   #12
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Newer cameras have many advantages, but...

... 12mp is fine as long as you are not printing larger than about 20x25 and you can shoot at or near the base ISO.

I still shoot my Pany G1 (as old a m4/3 as you can get) and the images are excellent. Displayed on a monitor or printed up to A3+ they compare favorably with the Nikon D800 images that I deal with daily.
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Old 11-05-2017   #13
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A favourite of mine of this era is the Panasonic GF1. Its such a nicely designed camera - very pretty to look at and so nice to handle and use. Plus it handles images very competently though not capable of course of the high ISO wizardry of modern cameras. I took the following with a Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 on a GF1 and while of course the majority of the image result has to be put down to the lens it does serve to demonstrate what the camera is capable of when matched with good lenses.

The only gripe I have with this camera is that it takes an accessory EVF (which is pretty cheap to buy these days) but it is of such low resolution I would not bother - use the rear LCD and you will get on fine.

Fiefy by Life in Shadows, on Flickr
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Old 11-06-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dektol Dan View Post
I still shoot a Canon 5D and 40D. The color is fantastic.
Would you buy a new model guitar or keep your 1950's Strat?
I don't think this analogy works really...
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Old 11-06-2017   #15
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There are, of course, tradeoffs.

I went from 6MPx to 12 to 24. Each step was a significant step up. Ability to make large prints. Higher ISO without problems. Newer, better AF. Some improvements in ergonomics, menus, etc. Biggest thing for me is ability to shoot effectively in room lighting, the lighting we use for indoor evening social interactions.

All that said, needing a camera in a pinch for a recent wedding, my 6MPx Nikon D70 produced excellent photos, just as it always has.

To the OP, for your tradeoff now, I think it's basically a question of how much you want to spend to re-enter digital. 6 and 12 MPx cameras you can probably get cheap, including reasonable lenses.
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Old 11-06-2017   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dektol Dan
I still shoot a Canon 5D and 40D. The color is fantastic.
Would you buy a new model guitar or keep your 1950's Strat?


I don't think this analogy works really...

Should age have precedence over performance? If I had my choice with women that would be my standard.
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Old 11-06-2017   #17
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If you can get one, the 16mp cameras were a big jump over the older 12mp models, although the GF series and GH1/2 were pretty good. Dynamic range and colour were the main reasons why the 16mp sensors were better; the 12mp sensors didn't have the dynamic range of the contemporary aps-c sensors, but the 16mp sensors closed that gap a fair bit.

Depending on your budget, a used Olympus E-M5 or Pana GH2 could be a good bet. I love shooting with my Panasonic GM1 (16mp), and you can pick up one of those pretty cheap.

In 2017 there are a number of cameras that do better than the older 12mp m43 cameras, but I still enjoy the Sigma DP1 (2008), Ricoh GXR (2011) and Fuji X100 (2012). It's a matter of what you like and what level of operational performance you will work with.
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Old 11-06-2017   #18
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OK, while we are on 12mp cameras, where does the Nikon D300 rank?

I've got the old glass and it would get me back in the game.

B2 (;->
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Old 11-06-2017   #19
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Beware of burnt pixels! Other than that carry on.
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Old 11-07-2017   #20
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I'm probably crazy, but I'm thinking about buying a Nikon D3s (for my old Nikkors)...

(Please, talk me out of it!)
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Old 11-07-2017   #21
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From time to time I still use my Oly EP-2 and EPL-1. When I use them I am always pleasantly surprised with the image quality. Not good for higher ISO work but otherwise they are still very nice cameras and with some of the nicer lenses for this system would deliver excellent results.

I also have a Nikon D300 that is still my main camera and it delivers excellent results. I'll keep using it for a while.
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Old 11-07-2017   #22
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Just my own personal experience.

My first digital was 8mp. My first really good photo with that camera was a crop of 1/2 the frame--a quickly done grab shot thus necessitating the severe crop. I have made prints of it in 6x9 and 12x18 inches that still look quite good to me. I also have numerous photos done with 12mp cameras that print very well at these sizes, even when cropped. They would still hold up when printed 16x20, I imagine. That was beyond my normal enlargement limit when I printed 35mm film.

The quality of light, subject matter and framing are far more important than the equipment.

Again, just my own personal experience.
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Old 11-07-2017   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archiver View Post
Dynamic range and colour were the main reasons why the 16mp sensors were better; the 12mp sensors didn't have the dynamic range of the contemporary aps-c sensors, but the 16mp sensors closed that gap a fair bit.
This is what will probably push me to the 16mp generation. I was originally considering an older APS-C DSLR in the 12mp range, but decided that m4/3 might be a better option for size and convenience. Affordable lenses like the Panasonic 15mm f/2.5 and 25mm f/1.7 have pretty much cemented that decision. I can't see where I can match that kind of selection and value in DSLR lenses.
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Buy The Newest M4/3 Body You Can Afford
Old 11-07-2017   #24
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Buy The Newest M4/3 Body You Can Afford

For most of us, I don't think 12 MP is a handicap.

There have been significant sensor/data stream improvements in M4/3 bodies.

For bright light, the 12 MP Lumix DMC‑GF2 has about 2 1/2 stops less analog dynamic range than the Lumix DC-GH5 (data).

Similarly, the read noise levels for the Lumix DMC-GF1 and about twice those of the Lumix DC-GH5 (data).

In many situations, the lower DR and S/N aren't a problem. After all, people made wonderful photographs with the older m4/3 bodies. In terms of price-performance ratio, the oldest bodies are very inexpensive. A rough estimate would be doubling the technical IQ doubles the price. The largest overall impact would be in shadow-region quality.

I personally wouldn't buy the older technology m4/3 cameras. Compared to ISO 200, metered exposures at ISO 1600 are underexposed by 3 stops. That's a lot less signal. So, in many situations the noise level differences matter. I think middle generation M4/3 bodies are the best compromise between price and performance.
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Old 11-07-2017   #25
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I'm probably crazy, but I'm thinking about buying a Nikon D3s (for my old Nikkors)...

(Please, talk me out of it!)
Can't help you here, also thinking of it Love the results from the D3s, only the huge size of the body kept me away, at least until now.

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Old 11-07-2017   #26
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Quote:
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OK, while we are on 12mp cameras, where does the Nikon D300 rank?

I've got the old glass and it would get me back in the game.

B2 (;->
D300 is a damn good camera. Was my workhorse.
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Old 11-07-2017   #27
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You might take a look at the Sony NEX 6 or the NEX 7 also. I think they check the boxes on your list of wants at a reasonable price. Lots of glass to choose from out there too.
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Old 11-10-2017   #28
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Even if I think that a comparison with guitars is not entirely valid, you can perfectly use 12 MPix cameras today. I wouldn't see any reason why not. Just because newer models are getting better and better that doesn't mean old models become worse.

I disagree to the above mentioned statement that newer sensors are not better then older ones - they are - but as I said, it's a matter of "being sufficent". And this is different for everybody. One photographer can't have enough resolution (for whatever good reason), the other one - just like me - is fine with 16, 12 or even 10 MPix (which would be my Nikon Df, my Oly E-P3 and my Leica M8).
I do enjoy my 24 MPix Sony A7II, but not because of the higher resolution, but because of the overall image quality and noise levels. I also love my Df for its simply amazing sensor (and its looks) and I still adore my M8 (although it totally cannot match new sensors as far as noise levels are concerned).

So, in short words: 12 MPix might easily be enough for you.
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Old 11-11-2017   #29
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Hi,

FWIW, some of us can remember wondering if there was any point in going from 5 megapixels to 8 when 8 first appeared.

I guess it depends on how big you want to print bearing in mind that few can see beyond 300 dpi and somewhere between 100 and 200 is more than enough for most.

I did a lot of experiments to decide things when I was younger and could afford a huge printer and the cartridges. A lot of people are happy with 100 dpi and look at the pixel count per inch on a monitor.

Of course, to save a lot of heart ache there's always the Hasselbld X1D at 50 megapixels ;-)

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Old 11-11-2017   #30
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Quote:
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You might take a look at the Sony NEX 6 or the NEX 7 also. I think they check the boxes on your list of wants at a reasonable price. Lots of glass to choose from out there too.
I've been looking at them too, but I wonder about the viewfinder brightness and manual apertures. Can I still see to focus when I've stopped down to f16?

With the D300 and Nikkor AI glass I view through max aperture. On the down side they are larger and noisier than the NEX for early Fuji X cameras.

Thoughts/Experiences please and thank you?

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Old 11-12-2017   #31
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I would want a built-in EVF, so that narrows the field quite a bit, (...), I would probably be looking at a "fast normal" (f/1.8-2) plus a kit zoom.
Pen E-P3 + external EVF + 25/1.8

You could always upgrade to the 16 megapixels E-P5 and possibly keep the finder. The 25/1.8 works on all MFT cameras of course. It´s a fine lens.

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Old 11-12-2017   #32
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I've been looking at them too, but I wonder about the viewfinder brightness and manual apertures. Can I still see to focus when I've stopped down to f16?
The finder will compensate for brightness but you won´t be able to locate the exact focal plane due to depth of field and noise.
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Old 11-12-2017   #33
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The finder will compensate for brightness but you won´t be able to locate the exact focal plane due to depth of field and noise.
Good point, never thought of that, thanks.

B2 (;->
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Old 11-12-2017   #34
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I was still using an Olympus E-P1 until a year or so ago. Nice camera at lower to middle ISO, not so pretty at high ISO: Off the top of my head I think I liked it okay up to ISO 400. Not a single thing went wrong with that camera, even the cosmetics still looked pretty good when I sold it.
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Old 11-13-2017   #35
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I was still using an Olympus E-P1 until a year or so ago. Nice camera at lower to middle ISO, not so pretty at high ISO: Off the top of my head I think I liked it okay up to ISO 400. Not a single thing went wrong with that camera, even the cosmetics still looked pretty good when I sold it.
I also remember ISO 400 as my personal maximum for color with my Panasonic LUMIX G DMC‑G1. Though I did enjoy the Lumix 20/1.7 lens.
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Old 11-13-2017   #36
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D300 is a damn good camera. Was my workhorse.
I still very happily shoot all my color work with my D300.
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Old 11-13-2017   #37
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I had one of these before but needed a full frame to go with my Fuji so I picked
up a Canon 5D Classic (first one) and it's still nice after all these years, 12 megapixel
of goodness!
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Old 11-30-2017   #38
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I wonder if the OP is still reading this? Never the less, here's my concern (and it has been echoed before): The EVF in the 12MP cameras is no where near as good as in the 16MP bodies.

I can live with 12MP, and I see plenty of great photos made with them. However, every time I try using the EVF on a pre-GX7 or pre-EM5 I find the experience frustrating and unenjoyable. They simply aren't good enough (specifically resolution and refresh rate) for me.

GX7, EM5 mk1, and EM-10 mk1, are all excellent cameras with good enough EVFs that can be found dirt cheap. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of them. I can't see a situation where I'd chose a 12MP EVF body over one of those, even taking into account that I might need to save up a bit more before buying the 16MP body - you're probably going to keep this for a awhile, and hopefully use it a lot; better to wait a bit and get something that will satisfy you than get something now and upgrade later.
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