I haven't posted here for a long while, I've always liked the concept of :43: but I've never really fully embraced it, probably because I'm so attached to my Olympus E-3 which I prefer to use whenever possible. However, I'm being forced to re-think my approach to photography and really would appreciate some opinions and advice. I'm a big fan of my E-3, the handling, features and build quality are all top notch. It's true that the sensor is now very out-dated, eclipsed not only by other brands in the same class but also by the latest sensor/processor combinations in recent Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds models. However, it's still the same camera that it was when first released; the image quality was more than good enough then and still is now. Admittedly upgrading to the E-5 would be nice and is the path I always thought I would take, if ever it was financially feasible. This has long been a comfortable notion for me; there is much to be said for staying with a camera that suits you and with which you are totally familiar, allowing you to concentrate on the subject and not on the camera. The great thing about the E-5 is that in terms of design, lay-out and handling it is virtually the same as the E-3 but with significantly improved performance. I anticipate that it would take me no more than a day to familiarize myself with the few minor changes. Recently, however, I have started to question this strategy. It's not that I'm becoming dissatisfied with my camera and lenses or my enthusiasm for the E-5, far from it, but personal circumstances are starting to force me to reconsider my whole approach to photography. It's no secret that I have Parkinson's Disease and that my physical abilities and fitness are in decline. My standard kit consists of the E-3, 9-18mm, 14-54mm and 70-300mm zooms, all carried in a Lowepro backpack and I have to admit that although it's far lighter than an equivalent APS-C or Full Frame system, it is starting to feel increasingly heavy. Over the last two days I've been walking around our local country show, with just an E-PL1 and 14-45mm lens (the original Panasonic MFT kit lens). The small size and low weight were extremely liberating and even if I was to add a lens or two I'm sure that this would still hold true. My main passion, however, is landscapes, although it has to be said that my enthusiasm for the obligatory early start has waned somewhat since I became ill and suffered from the depression that so often accompanies Parkinson's. Nevertheless the interest is still there and I hope to return to greater involvement as the mental adjustment to my condition continues; I'm starting to realize that I have to make the most of what I have left. At the moment much of my landscape photography is undertaken almost from the boot of my car and I certainly don't stray very far from the vehicle, so weight and bulk are not too much of an issue. All that may be about to change, however. Financially I am very much dependent upon State benefits (ESA) to supplement my occupational pension, which unsurprisingly is significantly less than the salary I was earning before my health forced me to retire. Recent changes to this benefit mean that I can only continue to receive it until next April at the latest and in the meantime the Department for Work and Pensions seem very keen to stop it earlier. Despite winning an independent tribunal hearing in February I have recently been required to undergo another medical assessment, where the doctor (employed by ATOS healthcare who are contracted by the DWP so not really independent) warned me that the requirements for receiving the benefit have recently become far more stringent due to changes implemented by the Government. Clearly by April, or quite probably even sooner, I will lose this benefit, which will have a massive impact on my finances and therefore on my photography, too. The first economy will be to sell my car. OK, we're a two car family so it could be considered a bit of a luxury anyway but the rural location in which we live makes it almost a necessity. It certainly won't make it easier for me to look for work, which is ironic really as I have started doing that. I'm extremely pessimistic about my employment prospects anyway; it would be hard enough as a 56 year old but with a progressive, degenerative disease I'm limited by so much I can't do (or can't do fast enough). The consequences for my photography will be that for much of the time I will be limited to very local scenes (not that I can afford the petrol to venture far at the moment anyway) to which I can walk. I might also try cycling again for the first time in years, although with my lack of balance and muscular control I'm not sure that would be a good idea, or even possible. Either way, weight and bulk of my photography equipment suddenly becomes a problem and is the reason for my enforced re-evaluation. So what are the alternatives? Any other make of DSLR is out, that's for sure. I could downsize to, say, an E-620 and replace my 14-54mm with a 14-42mm and 70-300mm with a 40-150mm. However, after being spoilt by the optical viewfinder in the E-3 I'm not sure that I want to go back to the tunnel-vision experience of the E-xxx range and I don't think an E-30 would make enough difference. That leaves me to consider Micro Four Thirds. I've flirted with it for a while now, but have until now considered it as complementary to my DSLR rather than a serious replacement. That might have to change, the question is which route do I take? Having tried a G1 I remain underwhelmed by Panasonic's JPEG performance but I do like the concept of an inbuilt EVF plus the articulated screen. The new E-P3 does appeal. When I tried it at the Olympus event soon after it was announced I found that with the optional large grip it handled very well for me and IQ is pretty much what I could expect from an E-5. The problem is that I would want an EVF; the VF-2 is great but it adds substantially to the cost of an already expensive camera and I cannot afford this option. My circumstances dictate that any change I make is self-financing. That problem applies to any of the latest Pens and I wouldn’t want to choose an older Pen as my main (only) camera because of focusing speed issues – the new Pens are viable because of the improvements to focusing. I was pleasantly surprised recently to see that one of my local camera shops is selling the GH2 body only for £600. Focusing may not be as fast as the E-P3 but I understand it is a significant improvement over previous Panasonic models. By all accounts the 16mp sensor provides great resolution and excellent high ISO performance. With an over-sized sensor actually populated by 18mp, various aspect ratios in addition to the standard 4:3 are optimised for maximum resolution. The processor allows a faster refresh rate for live view which apparently improves the user experience of the EVF – I’ve always thought the EVF in the G1 is very impressive anyway. Another attraction (for me) is the relocation of the input dial from the front of the grip to the rear of the camera. In its original position on the G1 I found it difficult to use, no doubt mainly on account of my Parkinson’s. Almost everything about the GH2 seems right but for me there is a big question mark over colour fidelity. For me the G1 was a big disappointment in this department and mainly why I eventually invested in a used E-PL1. For events like our recent country show I prefer to use JPGS as I tend to take rather a lot of shots and the Olympus files generally require very little pp, but if I do make the change I might have to use raw at all times. If anyone has any comments on both JPEGS or raws from the GH2 I’d be very interested. I reckon if I sold all my existing kit, including some little used accessories, I could just about muster enough funds to buy a GH2, Olympus m9-18 and possibly the newly announced Panasonic 45-175mm power zoom, although I might have to settle for the 45-200mm. My standard lens would be the Panasonic 14-45mm which I already have. I’m sorry that this has been such a long post, but writing it all down has helped to crystalize the issues for me. If you are still reading I really would value some comments and opinions as I’m all at sea on this one. My heart says stick with what I’ve already got, I love using my E-3 and would miss it dreadfully, but my head tells me the change would make sense from both a physical and financial point of view.