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Author Topic: Choosing the Right Camera System  (Read 27675 times)

Nick Walt

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Choosing the Right Camera System
« on: October 27, 2014, 05:06:02 am »

Hi Everyone,

I've been going around in circles looking for the right camera system. I have no gear at all, so starting from scratch.

After four months experience with the excellent and highly nuanced Olympus E-M1 I decided to upgrade to a full-frame system. This change was sparked by my interest in purchasing the upcoming Olympus 40-150 f2.8 PRO weather sealed lens, and TC. I figured that if I was going to invest that much money I should think carefully about where I want to be going in the next few years (for a primary system - secondary systems not withstanding). Turns out it wasn't with the m43 sensor.

So, I've ended up with two candidates: the Nikon D750, and Canon 6D. It looks like the Nikon would easily earn the place in my bag. But with a few considerations it isn't as clear cut, at least to me.

When push comes to shove I found that the 6D was more nuanced in the design than the D750. The feel and feedback of the controls, OVF, etc, felt more refined on the Canon than the Nikon. The Canon just had more options and, like the E-M1, just seemed better worked out than the Nikon. To my mind the control layout was a bit more logical. It felt like it was designed by a committee and felt like things had been intentionally left out. Simple things that would have added ease of use and depth of control and customisability.

Although, to be fair to both, neither Canon nor Nikon could match the nuanced design, build quality and number of technologies found in the E-M1 - at least when it came to using and controlling the camera functions to take the shot. The little Olympus packs a punch well beyond the measly $1300 it cost. If only the sensor were a little bigger or more capable in situations that stressed it (low light, for example).

When people were praising the D750 for having a dedicated 1:1 image review button I was totally dumbfounded. This is a clear indication of the way Nikon removes functionality that could otherwise have been included. From my experience with the 6D I did not perceive the same level of restriction from Canon. The 6D had similar nuance in many features, like the E-M1 (although, not as deep nor as many).

I really liked the grip on the D750, and this, along with the host of awesome technologies packed into the camera, makes me want to buy it. However, as a company and a system I am hesitant to make the commitment.

I want to be able to buy a new mirrorless DSLR for the lenses I will be investing in. A mirrorless camera that is well designed and doesn't hold back on features and control systems. Much like how the E-M1 is - very well thought-out and implemented. I don't trust Nikon to deliver on this level or any time soon.

The perception I get from Canon is that when it produces an upper tier mirrorless it will be better thought out, more nuanced and feature laden than the Nikon mirrorless. The company just seems to care more about this stuff. I also get the impression that they will likely release before Nikon. Maybe with an all-new sensor that will match Nikon's fantastic efforts.

So, at this point, due to my perception of a different philosophy at canon, I'm leaning more to the 6D and L lenses than the D750.

What are your thoughts?
« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 05:07:55 am by Nick Walt »
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Paulo Bizarro

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2014, 05:26:18 am »

I went from 6D to EM1, so the opposite from you. This is after more than 20 yrs shooting EOS. For me, the 4/3 sensor is enough, and the benefit of smaller cameras and lenses is palpable to my back and shoulder.

You really can not go wrong with Canon or Nikon, so just choose whatever feels better in your hand.

You also mention mirrorless FF? This to me means Sony A7 series at the moment, and the lenses will be coming soon.

BernardLanguillier

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2014, 05:28:09 am »

When people were praising the D750 for having a dedicated 1:1 image review button I was totally dumbfounded. This is a clear indication of the way Nikon removes functionality that could otherwise have been included.

On this particular point, I have configured my D750 so that a single click on the button in the middle of the rear joystick jumps to 1:1 zoom in both live view and review modes. You can configure the degree of zoom to 1:1, 2:1 (200%) just like on its bigger brother the D810.

Globally, I am not sure what exactly you mean by "nikon removing functions". The only one I can think of is the removal of the dedicated AF-ON button at the back, but I have configured my AE-L button to perform AF-ON. Other than that, the D750 has the same AF as the D810/D4s, which is really outstanding.

Fit the D750 with Nikon's f1.8 primes (85mm f1.8 and 20mm f1.8 are particularly outstanding but they are all very good, light and affordable) and you have something that is really hard to beat.

In case that can be of help, some images recently captured with the D750. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardlanguillier/sets/72157648041237962/

Cheers,
Bernard

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2014, 06:02:35 am »

Nick, I'd like to warn you of mistakes I have made over the past decades.  I kept changing gear, buying new and supposedly improved lenses and camera bodies.  In analog days, the body basically only held the film and lens.  There's more to it but I'll keep it simple.

Some 12 years ago it dawned on me, that I was continuously feeding the manufacturers and wasn't really getting any improved results (negatives or slides) or greater satisfaction while photographing.  With the switch to digital, I swore to use what I had and only undertake a major switch if any game-changing innovations were introduced.  I kept my Canon lenses, bought a 20D (or was it D20?) and have stuck to Canon ever since.

I've learned, that pleasure and satisfaction while being outdoors and performing my hobby was important.  The results from almost all gear were basically good enough for my purposes.  What I would consider today, if searching for a cameras system are the following details:
- do the macro lenses offer a tripod mount?
- does the body offer a viewfinder blind?
- does the body have one switch or button for mirror lockup?  (Nikon is far superior to Canon here)
- which lenses to I need and who offers them?
- how does the body and how to the lenses feel in my hand?
- how does the setup handle on a tripod?
- can I operate the gear with gloves?
- what is the weight of the gear?
- how good can a focus manually with the given viewfinder (a major concern with almost all cameras)

My Canon 5D MkIII lacks certain features I find important but these don't warrant a switch.  I've begun using the Fujifilm X system in parallel and I like it so much, that I'll be closely looking at next year's new lenses and the lovely X-T1 body.  I might switch to Fujifilm for good and get rid of my Canon gear.  That will leave me short in a few areas but that seems acceptable.

You failed to mention, which sort of photography youRe mainly interested in.  Hourses for courses.  Also, you didn't mention what your final output will be.  Both are important when making any decisions.
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Jim Pascoe

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2014, 07:14:22 am »

Nick

This is such an open ended question that it is almost pointless trying to answer it.......

You need to specify what sort of photography you are doing and at what level you are at.  The E-M1 is a superb all round camera, and so is the 5D. But they have their strengths and weaknesses (I don't have a 6D).
In what way was your Olympus lacking for you?  I have gone over to the Olympus for most of my work now and while the image quality is not as good as the Canon, it is adequate for all my personal work and most of my professional work - which is mostly photographing people.  Then of course it is much more portable too.  It would not be my first choice for fast action photography.  There is no perfect camera - they are all a series of compromises and you have to experiment to find which suits you.  By far the biggest determinant of picture quality will be yourself - not the camera.  I would say the camera is perhaps 10-20% important.

If you want specific advice please do tell us your subject matter.  And if general purpose then any of the cameras you discuss will be more than up for the job.

Jim
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Nick Walt

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2014, 09:30:20 am »

Just to clarify a few things. In my original post I'm really speaking to the perception I have of Olympus, of Canon, and of Nikon, a perception gained through my experience of their implementation of features and overall design of their products.

From my experience with the E-M1 an expectation was established with which I reviewed the 6D and D750. Both the Canon and Nikon lacked features in various ways, but it was the Nikon's lack of depth in its usability that was the most striking.

It was as though the D750 was designed by a committee and that committee was instructed to leave features out. Features that could be considered fairly elementary and which were included in a much less costly product - the E-M1 (and to a lesser degree, the 6D). Features that are typically implemented in firmware and which show customers that the company is committed to bringing improved usability to their experience.

For example: both the E-M1 and 6D allow a photographer to specify the length of time that the just captured image is displayed on the rear screen (and in the EVF of the E-M1). The D750 just had ON or OFF.

Then there was Nikon withholding the direct 1:1 review on lesser products, like the D610. A simple, simple feature that everyone commented about (and praised) on the D750. The implication being that it is a special feature only reserved for the high-end products. Which, of course, is correct. Like many companies, Nikon dictates the design and capability of its products according to the target market.

However, and this is my conclusion, Nikon seems to do it far more with their products than do Olympus or Canon. From this conclusion arises the question that I posted originally:

Is it reasonable to identify Nikon as being the least likely to develop excellence in usability (as distinct from technologies) to most of its products except for its top of the line Dx series? And, who agrees that, based on this conclusion, Canon would be the better choice for anyone seeking a more nuanced approach to design in a system?

Lastly, with the most speculation, who would agree that it might be Canon that seeks to bring mirrorless into their higher end DSLR products before Nikon?

It is this last point that I am really interested in because, really, it just feels like I will be buying into an already obsolete line of products with the 6D and D750 - the lack of EVF and the streamlining it brings to the process of taking the shot. The company that will bring about the most innovative mirrorless DSLR product is the company I want to commit to. The system I want to spend money on.

This is why I'm trying to ascertain which horse is going to keep providing a more innovative experience (sensor capability aside).

Sorry about the long winded post. However, it is a difficult perception and thinking to articulate. Cheers.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 09:56:17 am by Nick Walt »
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2014, 09:49:39 am »

Maybe.

Now what I see today is that you need to pay 3,000 US$ to get a pro AF in a Canon body while the D750 offers pretty much the best AF of the market at 2,200 US$ with the best image quality at the same time, a tiltable screen, a weather sealed body and wifi.

I am not sure who is holding off in terms of features?

To many photographers these matter more in terms of photographic outcome than a theoretical analysis of Nikon's future behaviors in terms of product features planning or the control of images instant display time? ;)

Don't get me wrong, Nikon should definitely include these no cost options, but it seems to me that you are looking at the tree and ignoring the forest a bit here.

Now, if you prefer EVFs, I am not sure why you are considering the 6D and D750 in the first place. EVF is IMHO only useful if a significant part of your shooting relies on MF lenses. For the reste I am personally not convinced it adds to the shooting effectiveness/pleasure, but that is just me.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 10:10:24 am by BernardLanguillier »
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Nick Walt

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2014, 10:05:56 am »

...I am not sure who is holding off in terms of features?

Hi Bernard, you really need to experience the E-M1 to understand just what Nikon is not including (and, perceptually, to a lesser degree, Canon). I believe Thom Hogan has talked about this aspect of Nikon.

The new mirrorless cameras from Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Fuji, Samsung, etc, are bringing incredible features and usability. Of the two big companies, Canon seems to have more commitment to a more nuanced usability than Nikon. Maybe this is an area in which they have always done better than Nikon and is one of the main reasons why many like Canon. Even when their sensor technology falls behind, as has happened recently.

Anyway, it's a difficult topic to discuss and I understand that it can result in quite polarised discussions. It was only after my experience with the E-M1 that I saw the usability deficiencies in more expensive products.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 10:13:14 am by Nick Walt »
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Jim Pascoe

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2014, 10:24:55 am »

Nick - I believe you are over-thinking all this.  There are pro's and con's to all systems.  What you are wanting is definitive answers and there aren't any.  You just have to work with the strengths and weaknesses of each system.

Nobody here has any idea whether or when Canon or Nikon will bring out EVF DSLR's.  My personal opinion is that within five years they will all be mirror less - except maybe a couple of models.  I would love to have had a 5D with EVF - just for shooting video with my extensive range of Canon lenses.  But now I am going down the M43 route and already have many lenses for that system - it becomes less and less likely I will buy another Canon DSLR.

But there is so much choice now we are all in a great position.  If you do not already have a lens inventory then you could consider Sony - or even the new Samsung.  But it sounds like you are swinging towards Canon, and why not - they make great cameras and you could make great images with them.

Jim
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synn

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2014, 10:31:26 am »

Shoot whatever system that feels natural to you.
Spec sheets can only tell so much. They can't force you to make good images with gear you dislike.
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spidermike

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2014, 10:36:08 am »

You keep using the word 'nuanced' and to be honest I have no idea what you are talking about.

The E-M1 is probably one of the most customisable cameras on the market and you can bring so many functions to within the touch of a button (it may even be the camera that turns me from the Panasonic's ergonomics) and as Jim says it is impossible to say whether Canon or Nikon will bring mirrorless to the higher point the soonest: one rumour is that they will not bring FF mirrorless at all.  

You still talk about the E-M1 in glowing terms of design but still haven't said what it is about the 6D/D750 that made you ditch the E-M1 because some reviews/tests show the E-M sensor to have one of the highest dynamic ranges on the market. And one of your repeated themes is the potential qulity of CaNikon mirrorless - if that is so important wouldnt it have made sense to keep the E-M1 and see if CaNikon made on better?
I'm not critcising your decisions to date, just trying to work out what is behind them.

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PeterAit

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2014, 10:46:54 am »

Nuanced? My various cameras have a lot of qualities, but nuanced? Actually, I think one camera has a hint of tobacco, cassis, and leather. Oh wait, that's wine, never mind.

Any of these systems will serve you well.
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Colorado David

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2014, 11:09:32 am »

I shoot Nikon.  I have a friend and colleague that I work with frequently who is a Canon shooter.  We have a good natured debate and then agree that it's the jerk behind the trigger that determines the quality of the image.

NancyP

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2014, 11:48:59 am »

Ergonomics matter a lot.

Then, what do you shoot? If you are a landscape and macro shooter, you won't care about the 6D having a measly 11 AF points because you don't use AF all that much. I use mine with some film-era legacy lenses as well as some modern AF-capable lenses (one of four lenses I took on Saturday's outing had AF, the others were Zeiss, Samyang, and an ancient Nikkor AIS). If you are a sports shooter, ignore the 6D. For action, you will want the 5D3, D750 for full frame non-pro-gripped cameras. If you are looking to be a budget birder, I would go for the new Canon 7D2 APS-C camera with the old Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L non-IS and Canon 1.4x teleconverter II or III (greater pixel density on APS-C gives you more resolution for any given focal length).

I am a Canon shooter, and by and large the lens types offered by Canon and Nikon are similar, with some exceptions:
Canon specialties: 400mm f/5.6L, best prime budget birding lens out there, $1350.00 USD and 1.25 kg. MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1x to 5x macro lens, like having a bellows set-up, but handles much better and is suited to field use - every expert insect photographer seems to have this lens. And, these tilt-shift offerings from Canon: TS-E 17mm and TS-E 24mm. Nikon has longer TS focal lengths (called PC by Nikon), but not the short FL. Oddball, not sure if there is a Nikon equivalent: zoom fisheye 8mm to 15mm.

Nikon: the fabulous 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. Canonista landscape photographers have bought adapters and use this lens on manual-everything mode. Giant brick of a lens, needs special filter holder for 150mm to 165mm sized filters. By the way, Canon can use Nikon lenses with adapters, Nikon cannot use Canon lenses, due to different lens flange to sensor distances.

Sensors: Nikon is the leader here, without a doubt, due to the Sony sensors. Better dynamic range, more MPs. Canon is "good enough" but not great. Still, the 6D is a fine low light camera.

The Canikons of the world are huge compared with the Olympus and mirrorless offerings. Ergonomics is huge here, some like the little cameras, some like the big cameras, some people swear by optical viewfinders, some like electronic viewfinders.
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Nick Walt

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2014, 12:27:52 pm »

Thanks everyone. Yeah, I'm approaching this from the position of not wanting to make another costly choice that doesn't work for me. Yes, the E-M1 was truly an excellent camera, as many of you know. However, the sensor gets stressed very quickly and I wanted to move to a camera that was more flexible and capable of giving me excellent IQ in a wide range of light conditions.

I looked at using Voigtlander f0.95 lenses with the E-M1 but was told that I could only realistically expect shutter speeds as fast as 1/150'ish in low-light using ISO 800 at f0.95 - and that is manual focus.

I wish to do a lot more landscape, as well as travel/street. Basically, to attempt to capture everything that interests me. Trying to satisfy both in a single camera has been interesting. Ideally I would want to experiment with a couple of cameras, including small cameras like the Ricoh GR.

I used the word nuanced because, to me, it describes depth in design. That aspect of usability that gives us not only ease of use and customisation, but which helps the camera to disappear.

I'll use the E-M1 as an example: when you bring up the grid to change the focus point - you can either use the four-way directional pad, or you can use the front and back wheels (dials) to move it vertically or horizontally, or you can touch the screen anywhere and it will go there. The other method was you can look at the point you want to focus on and then blink to release the shutter... oh, wait, that is in the next version, haha.

The biggest thing that I miss on the OVF is the ability to roll the exposure compensation dial (the one of your choice and in the direction you desire) and watch the highlight clipping overlay decrease to where you want it to be (or not at all). This is especially good for ETTR and being able to nail your highlights quickly and accurately. The camera also provides you with the controls to fine-tune the highlight clipping sensitivity to better reflect the RAW file (the preview is based on a real-time JPEG conversion of the scene hitting the sensor).

With the OVF I'll need to do a lot of guesswork and chimping to gradually improve my ability to gauge the right amount of exposure compensation for the desired highlight exposure. It will still be a hassle and will still get in the way of getting the right exposure. It's hard going backwards.

Nancy, thank you. Yes, I like Canon's range of great glass and their commitment to affordability. I'll add to the list that Nikon's 70-200 f4 VRIII is almost $500 more than Canon's, and isn't weather sealed. Nikon has produced a nice range of lightweight and compact f1.8 primes.

If there is a viable full-frame mirrorless (DSLR or rangefinder style) on the way fairly soon from Canon I can sell the 6D and likely use all of my L glass. I would think that the first mirrorless will be DSLR style with the same flange distance as existing models. If a mirrorless model is more than two years away then perhaps I might have to consider the D750. However, the price for the D750 and 70-200 f4 is almost $1400 more than for the 6D and equivalent Canon lens.

The E-M1 already sold and I've got until the 9th November to choose a system to last me the forseeable future. After the 9th I leave Bangkok for a few months in India. I really want to be shooting while I'm there.

Cheers.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 12:50:37 pm by Nick Walt »
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allegretto

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2014, 12:51:39 pm »

First... throw out the spec sheets since both are nice

Then rent both from lens rentals (maybe even buy the one you choose from there) with a nice lens, one you'd like to use. I seem a little more sensitive to overall capture colors than most and don't like Nikon/Sony color cast. To my eye Canon is far more natural, but to each their own and I consider this essential since I have a bear with LR or C1 trying to make Nikon files look like Canon's.

Then consider lens line up. In the usual lengths they are about the same. But Canon has some speciality lenses that Nikon does not have. When I had Nikon used the 14-24 quite a bit, and it's a great lens. But outside of that one I'm afraid I run out of Nikon lenses superior to Canon

As you, I like the 6D's feel (and you can make mirror up in two clicks, a bit more burdensome than one-click, but not that much) but the 750 is a nice camera too, I'm sure

Waiting for either company to go mirrorless is an open-ended issue that you cannot plan for today. But by all means look at the files before you buy. Before I went Canon was all Nikon and while the files looked "good" I could not put my finger on what was "wrong" with them. Then I came across some old Canon files (IDs MkIII,, I think) while going through my older LR files and had an epiphany. Borrowed a 6D and for me the files looked "Great".

You can't go "wrong" either way. Get what feels/looks good and be happy... take pictures... don't get hung up on spec sheets, they're mostly lies or under careful conditions anyway. My wife's RX-100 II takes great pics too...

« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 12:53:28 pm by allegretto »
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Nick Walt

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2014, 01:43:56 pm »

Cheers, allegretto. I'm in Thailand so unfortunately cannot hire or try. I agree with you about the Canon colors. However, the images from the D750 look quite different to the D610 and D810. Much more neutral-warm and noticeably less cold. Closer to the Canon I think.
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Guillermo Luijk

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Re:
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2014, 02:04:16 pm »

Nick, the 6D's sensor is not better than the E-M1's, it's just the opposite. A technological humilliation for Canon brought to you by a Sony sensor design with 1/4 the Canon's size.

allegretto

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Re:
« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2014, 02:16:36 pm »

Nick, the 6D's sensor is not better than the E-M1's, it's just the opposite. A technological humilliation for Canon brought to you by a Sony sensor design with 1/4 the Canon's size.

huh???

on what do you base that?
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Jim Pascoe

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Re: Choosing the Right Camera System
« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2014, 02:46:46 pm »


I looked at using Voigtlander f0.95 lenses with the E-M1 but was told that I could only realistically expect shutter speeds as fast as 1/150'ish in low-light using ISO 800 at f0.95 - and that is manual focus.

Cheers.

I've had the 25mm Nokton for three years - fantastic lens.  And now with my new E-M1 it is stabilised too!  So I can shoot in candlelight - brilliant.

Jim
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