Full switch to micro 4/3?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Jan68, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. Jan68

    Jan68 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 1, 2014
    As a photojournalist for many years, I used the Canon system throughout my career, starting with Canon FD, then Canon EOS, and now of course Canon Digital. When you shoot news conference in the morning, a car crash in the afternoon and a sport event in the evening, you need the versatility of fast cameras with zoom-lenses.
    Now I run my own little photography business, mostly portraits, family photos, weddings. I am seriously thinking to switch completely to micro 4/3 for this kind of photography, there are a few reasons: image quality is fantastic, no doubt. The cameras are smaller, less " intrusive", you actually can get way closer then carrying a EOS 1X. Also, shooting a wedding for 8 hours with 2 bodies - less weight is a bonus!
    I think I could shoot a wedding for example with 2 higher end micro 4/3, a 14 and a 60 mounted, a 30 in my belt pouch. What are your thoughts? Anyone of you did that?
    I remember a colleague and mentor when I started professional news photography in 1994 back in Germany. He refused to use the "new" and heavy camera systems from Nikon and Canon and showed up at assignments with his 2 Leica M4's with two primes mounted...... yes, he was serious competition for us.........

  2. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Having shot weddings for 10 years (Nikon), my only reservation with µ4/3 is on camera TTL flash. For receptions I would typically use a bounce card with the flash head angled up about 60° and very often an external HV battery pack. That system had two very big advantages: better metering and the projected AF assist pattern from the flash made focusing almost instantaneous. My E-M1 can't match, or even come close to either one.
  3. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    Ive done commercial jobs with a Ricoh GX100, but they would never be much larger than 600 pix. Though I have printed A0 from the same camera and it was ok unless your one of those peeps that look at the picture with their nose pressed against it. A couple of µ43 bodies will do most things with enough quality to spare, the only things it could be not so wonderful for are low light and fast moving things. I got rid of my DSLR's for µ43 as for the work I do I have no requirement for shooting black cats in coal cellars nor do I photograph motor sports anymore and when I did it was with a manual focus Canons. A good set of primes can get you a good way anyhow, I would be more inclined to go for the 1.8 and faster still an awful lot of weight over a DSLR.
  4. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Well, lots of people have, including a good number of pros. This guy was at The Photography Show in the UK yesterday and he's a 100% Olympus u43 professional. Check out his work:

    Damian McGillicuddy by Paul Kaye, on Flickr
  5. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    How about a Magnum photographer?

    • Like Like x 2
  6. nikonshutter16

    nikonshutter16 Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 24, 2014
    I think b_rubenstein nailed it in the head. For fast pace events of weddings and rely heavily on flash photography, TTL flash, advanced metering and third party accessory support are the lacks behind of m43 systems. Everything else are there and ready to compete with the bigger Canon/Nikon DSLR. But if you value the weigh and size reduction that m43 offers and understanding the short comings and can slow down and work around the system, m43 system can still handle and give you great results.
  7. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    a few of us here and elsewhere are full time pro photographers and are using M4/3 or Fuji at weddings ?
    Flash (Gordon) member here is using M4/3 %100 for weddings or very close to that
    another really high end pro has also made the switch and of course some others from other countries have as well

    for portraits and engagement quite a few more are doing this all with M4/3 now

    IMHO its a pros cons kinda thing
    last year shot 22 weddings with FF and M4/3 about 50/50 mix at the gig
    this year trying to push the M4/3 more with the E-M1 so far some portraits and other things are %75 M4/3 now
    learning more getting aggravated to :) 

    my biggest issue is I am starting to cross over my brain I shoot M4/3 more for other things now so my brain is more in M4/3 mode last night kept putting my FF at 1.8 or 2 on my FF !!! when I was doing couples to shallow DOF !! also forget those at 50th of a sec are not as clean on FF on M4/ 3 razor sharp so that is my thing and its more my own fault and you have to THINK more and catch yourself and correct when I started shooting M4/3 it was the other way around

    last nights wedding was one that made me question things a bit more one of those things go wrong kinda weddings with weather and quick change of venue cause of the storms

    flash the IR assist on FF is really nice when it gets dark ! a huge things IMHO the new E-M1 is much better at low light focus than previous but that small amount of lag can mean missed shots ?
    have to try more manual but the peaking needs to be colored in super low light black or white at fast moving weddings is all but worthless IMHO
    but I never get back focus issues :) 
    flash power wise no issues using a metz 50 which was a bit smaller than the 58 and quick enough for me no battery pack ? modern batteries help and I just bounce most the time with head behind the 45 degree mark and up a bit off the walls ceiling flipping to choose which wall or thing I am around :) 

    the FL50 or whatever model number ? plenty power TTL also Metz has good TTL flashes after market ? use things like the Cheetah Godox no issues only thing missing is the IR assist which does help FF out and make it the better focus in low light

    also did some playing around with the bare bulb cheetah and just the tx and had pretty good luck amazingly with focus

    the main issue with M4/3 is still the noise ? when light goes to dark the noise goes up is it bad ? compensate with more lightning :) 

    doing weddings I might get 800 or more shots out of a battery so battery is no issue

    the E-m1 EVF was great most the night with a few issues when really dark ? I also do like the rear screen for over head and low angle and things and when its super dark kinda a look over the camera using the rear screen to compose works OK the IBIS makes clean shots less needs to brace your camera and tripod up your body
    one thing your body thanks you

    yes shooting FF all night is easier and most use FF the weight and bulk I hate then again if I was doing all FF today I would be using two D800 a 35 and 85 and maybe a ultra wide zoom and a 135 range lens and crop when need would not carry around big heavy 2.8 zooms anymore ? but then again they are handy
    my fav shooting setup was a 16-35 on one body 70-200 on the other for outdoor weddings you were set !!! something nice about simplicity

    so my 12-35 ? I love it great sharpness great lens but for weddings once the lights go out its to slow !!! I think I am going to do more primes this year with M4/3 for reception and gain back say 1.5 or so stops of ISO might decide to mix in the cheetah lights more I was going to ditch my phottix triggers but maybe next gig try a few bare bulb or maybe bounce off ceiling only to help fill in a bit ? not my look or style but maybe its time for a change more experimenting with this model of shooting is needed :) 

    while I shot my zooms inside on FF I usually switched out to a 24 and 85

    one more thought just keep doing what I was shoot getting ready and details and groups with M4/3 ceremony the M4/3 does well ? but maybe mix and reception go back to all FF
    downside to this is twice the gear !!!! the savings of weight early on has my arms more refreshed later on and my joints are never sore anymore

    biggest thing to those who are thinking and do some weddings is just bring it along and do a whole wedding with a fellow photographer go along and shoot as a 3rd photographer with the idea they won't rely on you and you can learn a ton of where it falls short which is more important than where it does well

    could I shoot a entire wedding on M4/3 ? yup would I want to all the time ? not quite yet but closer with some more adjustments to my style
    • Like Like x 1
  8. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    Lots of "pros" using m4/3. Nothing wrong with that. Camera is a tool.

    FL600R is not bad... GN36 @ ISO 100 (metres). Nikon CLS is hard to beat though.
  9. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013

    Anyone with a gift in photography can use a point and shoot and blow away almost anyone. Isn't that a requirement for National Geographic photographers that they must be able to create unique images on demand? Having said that, if you have the gift I think any camera will suit you just fine. I'm a pro and I shoot with a Df, D4 and D800 but I also shoot with my E-PL1. It's not considered a pro camera, but I did manage to turn in some serious work no problem.
    One of the things you need to be aware of is that, mirrorless cameras are power hogs. If you are going long haul like I do mostly, be prepared to carry extra set of batteries. I could easily go through 2 to 3 sets of BLS-1 batteries with my E-PL1 on a day shoot whereby my Nikon still has some little juice left. Part of the reason I think is that I always leave it on with the VF2 on as well. An extra battery pack is always helpful if you decide to go with an E-M1.

    An E-M1 with pro lenses aren't exactly light weight either, but better than your 1dx and those 2.8 lenses for sure. The Olympus RC wireless flash system isn't perfect as other posters had mentioned. It's inferior to the Nikon CLS as well as the Canon's system too. So keep this in mind if you are used to the better wireless TTL flash system. You can always learn and adapt which I did with my Olympus, but it took me a while to get used to. I prefer CLS ofcourse.

    If you are used to full frame's Hi-ISO noise performance, especially on the Canon 1dx or the Nikon D4 or Df, you may not exactly like the performance of the E-M1. The E-M1 is good, but the full frame sensor always has the edge over m43 over this.

    Other than that, m43 is definitely a pro capable platform if you understand the limitation that it imposes.
  10. Jan68

    Jan68 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 1, 2014
    Thank you , this is all great input.

    I didn't even push my Panasonic yet to find the limits, I will do this soon. But it's true, the answer will be for now to use both systems during a wedding-shoot, what means there is no full switch.
    For the last comment, I agree, you can get quite some results with minimum equipment when you know how to do it. I covered assignments (accidents, even a small plane crash) with borrowed amateur equipment in my freelance-days, better then no pictures. One of the lessons I had to learn is "ALWAYS have a camera on you". And now, not working in news anymore, its still a habit, rare that I leave my house without a camera. The GF1 is just perfect for this, I still refuse to accept my smartphone as a camera. (but thats just me).

  11. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
  12. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    There are some new flash advancements like this latest from Panasonic or this unit from Metz. I used to shoot weddings on a regular basis with medium format. I started using a unwieldy and very heavy graflex strobe and eventually moved to Sunpak flash. I have done a few of weddings for friends with a DSLR. The last wedding I photographed was using u4/3 gear. Most couples rarely want prints larger than 11x14, well within the capabilities of the latest generation of u4/3 cameras. The ease of use and mobility of using smaller and lighter gear IMHO is an asset for the wedding photographer. I am just stating my opinion and not disputing anyone else's preferences. Although profitable, wedding photography was always stressful for me and caused me to do less photography. I no longer do weddings and am enjoying photography more than ever before.
  13. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Your E-M1 can match the Nikon system.

    The Olympus FL-50R is as powerful as my SB-800. I use my FL-50Rs with Quantum SC or Turbo 3 high voltage packs with recycle speeds of less 1 second after full power burst (if I have to). And actually like this a whole lot more than lugging around several Nikon SD-8A battery packs and associated AA batteries.

    If I need more power I can use a Quantum T5d-R on a bracket with a Quantum D10W TTL adapter.

    BTW - There is a AF illuminator on both systems if one chooses to use that.

    I also can place several of either one or combine them on light stands throughout a room if needed. For the Quantum's I do loose the TTL in this manner, no big deal. On two occasions I had to rent a couple of Quantum x5D-rs for even more power.

    However I do agree that the m4/3s system lacks the third party support enjoyed by Nikon and Canon.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    No it can't, and it has nothing to do with the power of the flashes. I didn't complain about the power. It's the on camera usage, TTL metering. The Nikon is better. The µ4/3 cameras use flash light AF assist lights which don't carry very far, depend on the contrast of what's being illuminated and make you stand out like a light house when you use it. The DSLR flashes project a grid pattern of red lines and the AF system has no problem focusing on a blank wall in total darkness. It's faster, more accurate and less obtrusive. For the typical big, dark reception rooms around here, µ4/3 is not the best tool.
  15. Dramaturg

    Dramaturg Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2013
    The friend of mine was doing a wedding with his Nikon D700. Just fot the sake of practice I was shooting with him. The first part was in the very dim church. He and I kept our ISO between 2500 and 3200 most of the time there. At first I thought my church shoots were not that bad. But when I compared them to the ones from the D700 I simply dumped most of them. Not because of the bad composition or something like that. At ISO 2500 (and especially at ISO 3200) the difference between mu43 and D700 was very evident. The noise of EM-5 is not too bad but it starts eating up the details, while D700 images look clean and crisp. The rest of the images were fine.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    The wife and have shot SLRs since the 1970s. I guess that shows we are no longer spring chickens. We both have Lowepro Proroller bags with over 40 pounds of Canon bodies and lenses. The wife can no longer drag her bag all over the airports and can just barely get them into the overhead bins. At this point photography stops being a fun hobby.

    So we are very seriously considering the move to M43. We shoot mostly landscapes and wildlife. So our likely weapons of choice will be the EM-1 body with Olympus 12-40, 40-150 and 60 macro lenses. We will also likely get the Panasonic 100-300 for the extra reach. It is hard to imagine how much smaller and lighter our camera bags can become. :wink:

    We are planning our third safari for November 2015 in Kenya. So we will have over a year to learn about them new fangled mirror less boxes and lenses. The wife wants to start they transition early so there are no equipment on safari. We will each take two bodies on safari. We learned the hard on the last trip that "stuff happens". The wife hit the lens release on her 5D3 and let the 100-400 roll off the beanbag and do a face plant in the dirt 6 feet below. Needless to say that lens was out of commission for the rest of that trip.

    Wish us luck on this migration!!!!

    "Life is Change
    How it differs from the rocks"

    Crown of Creation, Jefferson Airplane
    • Like Like x 4
  17. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands

    Speaking as a former FF canon shooter (5DII + 100-400 was the primary combination for my last Safari experience) and avid traveller/backpacker, MFT has definitely hit a sweet spot for size vs. performance. If you don't want to switch out everything immediately, something like an E-M5 might be a good place to start, although the E-M1 is a much nicer body to shoot with. It's quite a bit bigger (in terms of feel) than the E-M5, but it's a far better all-round product and dinky compared to Canon's FF DSLRs.

    Given that you have until December of next year, I suspect the E-M1 successor will be available (hopefully with even better PDAF, and more megapixels at equivalent per pixel quality), and the native m43 Olympus telephotos (and maybe a teleconverter) will have arrived. If you can shoulder the extra pound, there's always the option of the (much faster, much sharper, better than my 100-400 was based on some test shooting) 43 50-200 (with teleconverter: 70-280/4.0-5.0) lens. The Panasonic is lovely and tiny and I really did like mine (it was stolen), but for the big game I'd go with the better glass. My pack is still half the weight my Canon gear was, while I've increased the focal range I cover.
  18. Jan68

    Jan68 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 1, 2014
    "Safari" brings up another question........

    Talking about the quality of professional Nikon's or Canon's, these bodies are build to "survive" the use of a photojournalist. 2 cameras hanging over one shoulder when you start running or jumping down somewhere, doesn't sound great when the bodies hit each other...... 90 minutes exposed to pouring rain at a soccer field - not a problem. And one of the worst enemies might be sand. Fine sand! 2003 in Iraq, while my new Canon G5 lasted for 2 days, then practically died due to sand everywhere (even inside the battery-compartment), the EOS1D Mark2 worked flawless, just built like a tank.

    Are the 4/3 bodies able to handle some abuse (within reason). Any experience with that?


  19. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    Agree :) 

    The IR beams are handy and for sure make quicker focus work !

    Use them when shooting overhead on ff so I know where it's aiming :)  but prefer the screen of m4/3

    Not sure what you mean by flash light AF assist my Metz does nothing ?
    The on camera led on the em1 is way quicker than em5 it seems for how quick it acquires :) 
    Hated it on the em5 used it last gig on the em1 and worked really well and think only a couple times folks noticed it when it was really dark ? But m4/3 tilt screen rules for candida no grip and grins folks don't even know your taking pics of them which I like
    Not perfect FF IR beats m4/3 here for focus assist :) 
    Maybe it's other flashes do like the little fl600 that uses that white light ! Which is fine for at home not weddings IMHO at least

    M4/3 TTL has more lag ? Pretty sure it feels like it does and is annoying
    This past weekend just put my cheetah tx on and used those bare bulb for a bit and felt much more responsive
    Of course prefer on camera since I walk around and change angles etc...

    For me as hard as I try again ME ! Not others I just can't get M4/3 to do a whole wedding comfortably I can pull it off but feel I have to be to technique camera aware ? Or just need more time and some adjustments to make it work !
    %50 of the wedding on M4/3 easy
    %75 yeah if things go well

    So it's getting better for us wedding folks
    Reception time is the biggest hold back

  20. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Well, my E-M5 did fine in Morocco (Sahara) and Ecaudor/Galapagos (salt water, lots of it). The E-M1, 12-40, 12-50, 12-35, 35-100, 60 macro and most of the high grade/super high grade 43 lenses are weather sealed. Ditto the mmf3 adapter. Oly has a strong rep in terms of weather sealing in any event. I'll add that the savannah isn't a desert. Dusty, sure. But not necessarily 'kill all the electronics' dusty :) 
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