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Author Topic: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?  (Read 20701 times)

DougB

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Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« on: August 12, 2015, 12:54:50 am »

Hi everyone,

New here and was hoping to get some advice on potentially changing camera systems. I'm currently considering trading my Canon 7D and small selection of Canon gear for the E-M1.

About a year ago I purchased the Canon G16 point and shoot, and its portability has really changed my shooting habits, and in a way, taken my work to a new level.

I love the small size and how usable the camera is. Decent autofocus, super usable focal range and awesome image quality. However, I've recently missed having a shallower depth of field, which gets me thinking about the other perks I'm missing not shooting with a more professional-level rig.

Then again, professional gear means more bulk and weight ... or so I thought. Enter the Micro Four Thirds system, which I dismissed as too DSLR-like when searching for a smaller camera last year.

The G16 is fantastic, but I'm ready to up my game. While I have a 7D and some L glass ... it's huge. Most of my work is landscape and street photography ... with an occasional photojournalism assignment thrown in.

The only way I'd be able to afford the EM-1 and 12-40 would be to sell the 7D, three lenses and flash. While I use this professionally in some capacity, I've found my personal work is what I truly enjoy ... not the occasional photojournalism job.

Anyhow, I'm wondering how much benefit I'd gain in switching from mostly shooting with the G16 to the E-M1. The G16 has a larger depth of field ... great for some of my work. Also love the small, inconspicuous size. Conversely, the E-M1 is weather sealed, which would be fantastic. It's also small, has a great selection of lenses and is much more capable than the G16.

Selling the 7D, I'd lose some studio-shooting cred (not something that I'm hugely into, anyway), and would initially be limited to shooting the E-M1 with one lens.

This might be a lot of useless rambling, but I'm interested in getting others' feedback before I go though the hassle of selling my current equipment and buying into a new system. Any insight would be HUGELY helpful.

For a better idea of my shooting style, you can see my work at the below links:

http://dougbauman.com

http://dougbaumanphotography.tumblr.com
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spidermike

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 03:47:58 am »

I have the Canon 7D (recently upgraded to 7Dii), Panasonic GX7 and Olympus E-M5 and I can safely say that if most of your work is studio stuff you will not regret the purchase.

The only reason I still have my 7D is for wildlife because the AF of the MFT cameras is not quite up to that level yet but I guess it will not be long (mind you I have not tried the 40-150 f2.8Pro lens yet and they have a 300mm f4 Pro coming soon so who knows). Oh, and the 70-200 f4LIS is such a wonderful lens to use - as long as I have the 7D the 70-200 stays!.

When out in the field I have the 7Dii/100-400 for wildlife and for wide angle I have in my bag one MFT body with 12-35f2.8 and 45mm macro: the macro kit there is barely larger than the Canon 17-55 f2.8 by itself so I am taking no more space in my bag.
For street shooting it is nearly always the MFT gear - people react so differently when pointing a big DSLR at them! Sometimes I take the 7D simply to use the 70-200 f4LIS.
I do shoot lightly differently with the MFT because I find the specular highlights can become 'crunchy' but the sensor is so good I underexpose by about 2/3 stop and if I need to I correct in post processing.
The real marvel of the Olympus is the in-body stabilisation - very responsive (the Canon IS needs about half a second to lock in) and great performance overall (a little under 1-second hand held with a 20mm lens is achievable!)

When I first got the MFT my shooting rate rocketed because it is so compact and responsive - the 7D started to get left at home simply because of bulk but the MFT is so compact it is no hassle when walking the dogs or going into town with no real plans for photography

For heavy cropping (and I guess printing large) the APS-C still has some advantages but outside of wildlife I so rarely do that it would not otherwise be a consideration. And even then I think the limitation is probably more about my processing skills rather than the sensor

As for street cred - a lot of studio and event photographers are switching and I can see why (one of the first big names in UK was Damian McGillicuddy) so I would have no worries on that score.


Why are you thinking about the E-M1? The E-M5 is every bit as good image-wise and is going for stupid money at the moment; I know the E-M1 has better AF in some respects but it is bulkier. So consider getting the E-M5 and you can afford another lens or two - the Sigma ART MFT primes are obscenely good value for a compact system but you could go E-M5 with 12-40 Pro and 45-150.  
« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 03:49:41 am by spidermike »
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stamper

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 05:01:46 am »

I went out yesterday with an E-M5 and a 14-150 Tamron lens along with a Nikon D600 and a 70-200 f2.8 lens. Shot performers on a street parade. The E-M5 for me produced the best results and looking at the two different files Nef & ORF the ORF were every bit as good imo. The reason I preferred the E-M5 results was I could use the swivelling screen to get near ground shots. The D600 was mostly used for shallow depth of field shots but good depth of field shots as well. The D600 combo left me with a sore left wrist because of the weight. There are advantages - too numerous to list - to both set ups but I wouldn't hesitate to use the EM5 on it's own to do similar type photography.

marcgoldring

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 06:08:18 am »

I traded my Nikon kit for the EM-1 over a year ago. Since the Nikon gear was 4-5 years old, the new stuff blew it out of the water - probably any contemporary system would have. It's daunting to have a camera smarted than I am and it took a while to take control! And yes, the weight difference was significant, although after a year and a half, what was light now feels heavy without something DSLR to compare it to! Image quality is great and the old saw that it's not the camera that makes great images but the person taking the shots still applies.

Marco
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spidermike

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 07:54:45 am »

One thing I  forgot to mention in my comments is the Olympus interface - if there is one part that annoys people it is this. The E-Ms in general are more adaptable and flexible than any camera I have known but this flexibility comes at a cost where a lot of the function buttons are unlabelled and you have to remember what functions you assigned to them. Basically it is a swine to set up but once you do it becomes much, much easier.

I was able to pick up and use the Panasonic GX1 and GX7 without even looking at the manual and within a couple of hours changing settings without even taking the camera from my eye. The Olympus took longer....much longer.
And the menus are a nightmare - the wording can be convoluted with lots of double negatives and the explanations don't always make it clear what you are doing, and some items are not logically placed. When looking for long-forgotten settings in the Panasonic I know pretty much where to look - the Olympus sometimes requires hunting up and down menus to find them. And the menus are not 'sticky' which means you have to go back and forth a lot. 

So if you do go for the E-M1, spend a while getting the functions you want on the super control panel (equivalent to the 'Q' button on the 7D) as quickly as possible and then enjoy it.
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Tony Ventouris Photography

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2015, 11:33:11 am »

I have been using an E-M1 for about a bit more than a year now.  It has become my go-to camera for my non-architectural work.  (i shoot with a tech camera)  I do a lot of nature, macro, still life, etc... for personal shooting.  It is incredibly capable.  For everything on your blog, any of the olympus bodies are more that capable. 

I absolutely love the 12-40mm.  I love that it can virtually replace a macro lens most of the time.  Its amazing how close it can get.  Yes, the olympus menus are a bit messy...but I actually love how the camera works.  I think its one of the best designs out there.  Once you go through the menus and get familiar with them, customize it to your style, and set presets...you will never go back in the menu.  It's an amazingly fast camera to work with.  People complain about the menus...because i guess they have to criticize something..?  The camera is very robust. 

You mention studio use...The E-M1 really shines with controlled lighting.  Fantastic studio camera.  Especially when you set a custom mode that has live view set to just show everything normalized...instead of under exposed if you are shooting at sync speed.  (which is 1/320)  You also don't need as much light since you can get the same depth of field at wider apertures than a larger system.  For example on my Phase system, I shoot at ISO50, F11 - F16.  On the Oly I shoot ISO 200 F/5.6 and get the same look roughly.  My lights are set several stops lower and I get faster recycle. 

The E-m1 also has amazing autofocus.  The camera sees in the dark.  It can autofocus in situations where I can't even see with an optical viewfinder.  I would suggest renting one and spending some time with it.  You may be surprised at how enjoyable it is to work with. 

nma

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2015, 04:37:54 pm »

Hi Doug,

I think my experience is relevant to you questions. I came from the Canon 5Dii and L-glass to Olympus E-M1. I made the move because physical problems made toting the lens and body really hard. I initially bought the E-M1 the 12-40, a 60mm macro and a pany/Leica 35-100. All together their weight dosen't add up to my 70-200. The image/print quality is IMO better than the 5Dii up to (and perhaps beyond) 17 x22''.

This camera can do so many things the 5Dii could not, or could not do in any convenient way. It is a much better shooting experience. I really like the EVF, some do not. I like all the things that can be configured, some do not. Apparently a lot of people complain about the menus -- too complicated. They are complicated but if you design a camera with minimum functionality, the menus are perforce simpler. The control wheels are great. The rear LCD has a toggle for the most needed settings, no menu-diving required, much better than the Canon. IBIS really works. Vastly more control over HDR shooting. Focusing is fantastic because there is very accurate auto-focus which can be refined with manual, manual plus 14x zoom and zebras; the 5Dii can do none of this and the auto-focus sucks. Weather proof. Cold tolerant. On and on.

The lenses are the reason for the excellent image quality. They loose nothing to Canon.


You wrote "...I love the small size and how usable the camera is. Decent autofocus, super usable focal range and awesome image quality. However, I've recently missed having a shallower depth of field, which gets me thinking about the other perks I'm missing not shooting with a more professional-level rig."

The E-M1 is small and easy to handle but maybe not as small and light as the G16. I wanted interchangeable lenses. The primes are really light weight and small. I don't do flash, so can't help you there.

If you need print bigger than 24x32 you should stay with Canon. Otherwise, you should really enjoy using the E-M1. And I concur with the writer who mentioned the E-M5. Excellent camera for a ridiculously  low price.
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bluekorn

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2015, 05:25:16 pm »

Hello Doug,

M 4/3 is definitely right for me. My largest print is 13x19 and I love the weight/size factor. I've ordered the GX8 and the Oly 12-40 (priced currently at $800.00 at B&H). I've bought and sold 4/3 cameras and lenses for a few years now and feel like I'm finally getting my "dream set-up", an accessible RGB histogram, a fully articulated LCD, a rangefinder style, what I consider a spectacular line up of specs AND, a user interface that is simple and easy to comprehend. Along with a 24 to 80 zoom range in what is regarded to be a very good lens. I would offer that you might give Panasonic a look.

Peter
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aross007

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2015, 10:48:19 pm »

Doug,

Made the move you are contemplating about two years ago canon 7 with L glass to EM-1.  As the other "fanboys" have said, absolutely no regrets. Quality superb,  Easy to carry, and the Pro and most prime lenses are as good as they come.

No one has mentioned focus peaking, or the ability to use any legacy glass you can get your hands on.  You can get adapters that will allow you to control your Canon EF lenses (assuming you keep some,) but the real joy for me has been finding things like a Vivitar Series 1 90 mm macro lens, and a Canon FD L 300mm.  You have to manual focus, but I'd forgotten how smooth and quick it is to manual focus a lens designed to be focused that way (did I mentioned focus peaking?)

As to the menus, yes they are a pain, but what incredible control.  Look at http://www.biofos.com/mft/omd_em1_settings.html for a helpful guide to what they all do.

JMHO,
Alan
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DougB

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2015, 11:21:49 pm »



Why are you thinking about the E-M1? The E-M5 is every bit as good image-wise and is going for stupid money at the moment; I know the E-M1 has better AF in some respects but it is bulkier. So consider getting the E-M5 and you can afford another lens or two - the Sigma ART MFT primes are obscenely good value for a compact system but you could go E-M5 with 12-40 Pro and 45-150.  


That's an interesting point, and one I haven't really considered. I guess I'm just drawn to the fact that the E-M1 is "pro level" and has killer autofocus for a MFT. Since this will be my main camera body, it'll have to do everything at least somewhat well. I'm afraid the E-M5 couldn't handle shooting sporting events in a pinch, I guess. However ... being able to afford an additional lens is appealing. Unfortunately I still wouldn't be able to afford the 40-140 2.8 right away, which will likely be my second lens purchase either way.
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spidermike

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2015, 03:22:40 am »

The E-M1 definitely beats the E-M5 for focus tracking

These guys did a group AF comparison including the E-M1 and Nikon D4S and the outcome was surprising.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up8K_xd_iwU


I read one different review that mentioned their keeper rate is lower with the E-M1 but good enough for their use.
I have a summer obsession with kingfishers and one thing I realised was that I was less interested in tracking in flight and more interested in them diving and for that you do not need excellent tracking but you do need speed of AF and my E-M 5 beats the 7D on that score easily. All I need is a better lens for the E-M5!
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SZRitter

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2015, 09:48:29 am »

That's an interesting point, and one I haven't really considered. I guess I'm just drawn to the fact that the E-M1 is "pro level" and has killer autofocus for a MFT. Since this will be my main camera body, it'll have to do everything at least somewhat well. I'm afraid the E-M5 couldn't handle shooting sporting events in a pinch, I guess. However ... being able to afford an additional lens is appealing. Unfortunately I still wouldn't be able to afford the 40-140 2.8 right away, which will likely be my second lens purchase either way.

What kind of sporting events? I have easily shot ski racing and auto racing with mine. Just as successful with it as I have been with consumer level (i.e. Nikon D7000) DSLRs.

That said, I am pretty sure the E-M1's autofocus blows the E-M5's out of the water.
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rdonson

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2015, 02:35:01 pm »

Ive shot a lot of sports over the last 20 years with Canon 1DMark II, Canon 7D, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 5D Mark III, Fuji X-T1, Oly OMD EM-1 and its really hard to beat the DSLRs in sports unless you're a casual shooter.  If you have to deliver event photos you'd probably choose a DSLR and not just for the frame rate, buffer and fast AF.  The biggest difference I see is when the light turns crappy.  Go to your typical high school Friday night football game under crappy lights.  When the light levels get low that's where the cameras get sorted out for AF IMHO.  This isn't to say that the mirrorless aren't very close but if you have money riding on the shooting they're not quite there yet.  I suspect the Samsung NX-1 might beat all the mirrorless cameras in the YouTube video test but I haven't tested it.

All that said, I love my Fuji X-T1 and in good light it handles human powered sports (run, bike, swim) nicely (with firmware 4.0).  Not so great though when the light gets low (around or after sunset).  If you want the X-T1 to sustain its frame rate better get an SD UHS II card.
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PeterAit

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2015, 02:58:06 pm »

I will echo what many others have said. My D600 kit collects much dust while my Em1 gear sees a lot of action. I use 3 Olympus 4/3 (not M4/3) lenses with an adapter: 12-60mm , 50-200mm, and 50 mm f/2 macro. These are truly excellent lenses, particularly the macro, and I also use the Lumix 100-300 mm zoom which gives me a 600mm eqiv. reach, hand held. There are of course many other great lenses available for M4/3. The EM1 is a complex camera but as has been mentioned it is very flexible and usable once you put a little time into learning it.

I went on a hike in the salt marshes yesterday and took the Nikon gear along "for old times sake." After the first mile I was muttering about "why am I hauling this goddamn cinder block thru the marsh?" It's very rare that the Nikon's 24MP versus the EM1's 16 makes any difference to my final prints, which are limited to 24".

If you do get an EM1, let me know. I can send you a "cheat sheet" I wrote up that may be useful.

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Mousecop

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2015, 01:22:56 pm »

Another E-M1 user here. Unlike some people, I did not migrate from a larger format.

The E-M1 works very well for me. Excellent EVF, high quality images, IBIS is great, excellent ergonomics.

Make sure to turn on anti-shock immediately.

The 12-40 is a fantastic lens, easily equal to primes. DoF will not be particularly shallow, though. The primes are very small, light-weight, are faster. Depending on what you do, you might be better off on the primes track.
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Kevin Raber

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2015, 01:32:52 pm »

In a few weeks we will have an article about the whole OLY System as well as a report on the 8mm and 7-14mm pro lenses.  I shot with them last night at the state fair and the images are nothing short of great.  The whole 4 lens system was so light.  Stay tuned.

Kevin
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Mjollnir

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Re: Micro Four Thirds right system for me?
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2015, 12:19:24 pm »

In a few weeks we will have an article about the whole OLY System as well as a report on the 8mm and 7-14mm pro lenses.  I shot with them last night at the state fair and the images are nothing short of great.  The whole 4 lens system was so light.  Stay tuned.

Kevin

Ack!  That will just make me want them all the more!
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