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Give me your thoughts....

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Exposed, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. Exposed

    Exposed Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Central Washington State
    Randy dawson
    First, my background is 30+ years as a working pro, but only a year working with :43:. My camera now is the Olympus epl-2 with the 14-42 II MSC. About a year ago, started working on panno's and have sold a few but have not been "real" happy with the sharpness and IQ on the Olympus but like the weight and size of it. My other camera is a Nikon D300 but way to large for the work I do, long extended pack trips on foot into the Cascade Mountain's of Washington State.

    So my question is, in a small camera like the epl-2, what would you suggest moving to? Or should I just update the lens? My thoughts were the Nex system, the new Pentax K-01 or maybe one of the new Fuji's.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

  2. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    As nice as 14-42 II is it's still a kit lens and the biggest improvement you could see would be updating lens. To get substantially better IQ you need to move to one of the m43 camera with a better sensor (G3, GX1, GH1, GH2 and OM-D), however even if you did that you'd be limited by the kit lens.

    Panasonic G2 with P20/1.7
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dixeyk/6863721384/" title="Tribbles by dixeyk, on Flickr"> 6863721384_7f98f27825_b. "684" height="1024" alt="Tribbles"></a>

    Panasonic G2 with O45/1.8
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dixeyk/6897721940/" title="Magnolia by dixeyk, on Flickr"> 6897721940_3bb35289de_b. "1024" height="768" alt="Magnolia"></a>

    I'd think looking at the P14/2.5, P20/1.7 and O45/1.8 would all be big upgrades from where you are now.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. supermaxv

    supermaxv Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 20, 2011
    Try out new glass for your E-PL2 before you dump it for a new system.
  4. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    If you're unhappy with the E-PL2 sharpness in pano's, then something's wrong. I could understand some dynamic range issues, but once you're stitching, the sharpness should be fine. I'm assuming two issues primarily:
    -If you're on a pano head, or any tripod for that matter, turn off image stabilization. Heck, if you're shooting in any kind of decent light, turn off image stabilization. It hurts sharpness when doing critical work. Also, use the zoom-in feature to check focus; take advantage of our cameras working in live view all the time.
    -What apertures are you stopping down to? Our cameras become diffraction limited by about f/5.6, maybe even a little earlier. Compared to 35mm cameras, remember that because m4/3 use such shorter focal lengths and smaller sensors to achieve the same field of view, that f/4-5.6 really gives a very deep depth of field already. So, if you're stopping down to f/8 or smaller, then you're starting to lose sharpness. You can't just carry over your old rules from film.

    What focal lengths are you looking to use for your work? There may be some lenses in a particular mount that really work well for you. Stepping up to another system could be a very real option, but understand what every system gives you. Other systems could work overall, but m4/3 works as well.

    First, since everything is tripod-mounted, what Nikon lenses do you use for your work, or if it were light enough, what lenses would you take? If you already have a good collection of Nikon glass, you may want to consider just staying with them. You could always step down to a camera like the D5100 or D7000, which are both smaller. Heck, supposedly the D3200 will come out on the 19th and have the same sensor as the NEX-7. The fewer features of a smaller camera don't matter for tripod work. Plus, the lower cameras have mirror delay, plus a cheap optical remote that means you don't have to worry about vibrations. Another reason to get one of these is because a DSLR drains batteries so much slower than mirrorless cameras, but if the E-PL2 was good enough until now, this is a non-issue.

    I'd skip the Pentax K-01, as it's basically a K-5 without a viewfinder. It's the same thing overall as if you just upgrade to the D7000, except you get to keep your lenses in that case.

    David, a well-known stock photographer here, has switched to NEX systems for most of his work. You can follow him here:
    The NEX-5n is pretty much the D7000 sensor, in a smaller body. The NEX-7 is the sensor that will likely be in the next gen Nikon cameras (D400, D7100, D3200, etc). In this case, you're probably better off buying yourself an adapter and some other lenses. For example, you can buy yourself the LA-EA1 adapter, and then just mount Sony alpha/Minolta Maxxum lenses and retain everything. Sony makes some great lenses that in many cases are co-branded with Zeiss.

    dixeyk, for the most part I disagree with you on both counts. The new-sensor cameras are nicer, but they aren't noticeably improved with regards to sharpness or resolution. 12MP to 16MP isn't going to be an eye-opening difference. What is that, 10-15% better resolution? Definitely not worth the minimum $550 we're seeing for a new-sensor body. Also, at f/4-5.6, I'd say that my kit lens performs AT LEAST as well as the 14mm pancake, if not a tiny bit better. The 20mm is much sharper in the center than a kit lens, but it falls off to about the same performance as a 14-42mm in the corners. I'd say to get to the root of the lack of sharpness problem first. If the OP is still unhappy with the setup, a 20% increase (through upgrading lens and body) isn't going to assuage him as much as moving to a different system.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Are you shooting RAW? Using medium apertures (f/5.6-f/8)? Base ISO? The 14-42II isn't the greatest lens but unless you're viewing it at 100%, its flaws are far from obvious.

    If you are viewing at 100%, then the best option would be a few prime lenses (20/1.7, 45/1.8, perhaps the 12/2). The K-01 isn't really any smaller than a compact DSLR (e.g. a Nikon D3100), and the NEX lacks quality native lenses. The Fuji is undoubtedly the best of the lot in terms of IQ, but it's expensive, a v1.0 product, and has all of 3 lenses to choose from.

  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Well that's easy - you need better lenses. Bodies are a tiny fraction of the "sharpness and IQ" of a system camera, while optics are the bulk of it. If you're unhappy with the sharpness and IQ of a cheap kit lens, then there's LOTS of room to move up.

    Most of the prime lenses are quite sharp. The m.Zuiko 12mm f/2, Leica 25mm f/1.4 Summilux, Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95, Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit, and m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 are some of the more impressive lenses. Sharpness in a Micro Four-Thirds system has never been an area of complaint, especially with a body like the E-PL2 which features a very weak AA filter to maximize the capture of lens resolution to the sensor.

    Also, don't forget to turn off the Noise Filter!
  7. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010

    I don' think we're really in disagreement. All I said was that to get better IQ you needed move to the newer sensor cameras. I probably could have stated that more clearly and not said "substantially" but I think its fair to say the better sensors give you better IQ. I also agree that it's not a HUGE difference...heck, I still use a G2 and an E-P3 and don't see the differences in the newer sensors worth the upgrade. As far as the 14-42 performing better than the 14/2.5 and in certain conditions the 20...you must have a far better copy of the kit lens than I have ever had. Both of mine were terrible. That said there are definitely some other options out there.

    After re-reading the OP I think I would throw out one more thing...I hike the WA Cascades and the weather is unpredictable (especially in the alpine areas). Do the camera and the lenses need to be weather proof?
  8. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    If money is no object or less of an object, Nex 7 is what I would move to. If you are doing Panos, lack of a super wide angle shouldn't matter too much and the high ISO performance shouldn't matter much either. Tilt screen also makes it easier to use when using a tripod.

    Nex 7 and the Zeiss 24 makes a very small combo. Smaller than any of the M43s with a built in EVF. Also you can use Alpha mount lenses with full speed AF, if you wish to add lenses unavailable to the E mount.

    It's probably the best non medium format landscape camera you can buy short of the Nikon D800.
  9. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Perhaps you could first look at technique. If you stitching, consider zooming out, even to 42mm. Distortion is much lower, pixel density is increased - which will help with sharpness overall. It's more work to shot more, with larger files, but if your selling your work, I'm sure it will be worth it. It's also acknowledged that this is not always possible, as movement is not captured well, but worth investigating.
  10. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Dump the 14-42 and get the 14, 20 and 45mm lenses. The difference is huge in quality and tiny in weight. The EPL2 has the weakest AA filter of the 12 megapixel m4/3 cameras and also the best sharpness off the sensor. You'd need to move to the GX1 to get better image quality, but for stitched panos it's not going to matter. I assume you're shooting at base ISO.

    I've recently picked up a NEX7 and it has a dramatically better sensor. Several stops better DR and excellent sharpness. The issue would be getting the equivalent lenses to the above. The Zeiss is very good but very expensive and the 50 isn't as long as the 45 on the Olympus. Some new lenses are coming but they're still on the drawing board. If the premium "standard zoom" ever materialises for the NEX then m4/3 will be in a lot of trouble.

    You could use a NEX7 and manual lenses. I use an adaptor to make use of the Leica mount lenses I own. This could work very well for your landscapes but there is a large cost involved to kit up. The CV Nokton 35mm 1.2 is stunning on the NEX 7 as are the Leica Summarits and Zeiss lenses. Some of the wides (CV15, Leica 21, Zeiss wides) are best avoided as the sensor can't handle them. I've tried my 35, 50, and 90mm lenses on the NEX and I've been blown away with the quality.

  11. Exposed

    Exposed Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Apr 13, 2011
    Central Washington State
    Randy dawson
    Thank you everyone for the thoughts on my problem. I love the way the epl-2 handles so giving it up was, really my last thought. So I am now thinking a new lens and working on technique. I use the epl-2, on hikes for pannos and for everything else, even movies so having a zoom is really nice.

    What about an adapter for Olympus 4/3rds lenes? Can I still get auto focus, exposure with the adapter? Never used an adapter so not sure what my options are.

    Thank you,

  12. Michael49

    Michael49 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    New England
    I agree with many of the above posters, get some better lenses.

    I've owned the NEX 5N twice and just sold my second one because my old GF-1 (which I shouldn't have sold) actually produced better colors sharper images. I used many nice MF lenses on my 5N, but the good m4/3 lenses are superb (like the Pany 20 1.7).

    Here's the 20 1.7 on my old GF-1....

    DMC-GF1    ---    20mm    f/3.5    1/100s    ISO 100

    DMC-GF1    ---    20mm    f/2.5    1/500s    ISO 100

    DMC-GF1    ---    20mm    f/2.5    1/500s    ISO 400
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Beautiful examples, Michael!!

    Yes, Four-Thirds lenses are like native Micro Four-Thirds lenses except that C-AF is blocked (so you only get S-AF) and most Four-Thirds lenses are designed for PDAF systems on DSLRs and as such will focus slower on the CDAF-based Micro Four-Thirds system. There are some 4/3 lenses however which are CDAF optimized and will operate better on a m4/3 camera than their non-CDAF companions. The unfortunate thing is that most CDAF-enabled 4/3 lenses are just standard grade and have native m4/3 counterparts. For those of us who adapt 4/3 lenses to our m4/3 systems, the lenses we want are the fast High Grade and Super High Grade lenses which have no available alternatives in native m4/3 mount.

    The shining exception to that is the Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II, which is CDAF optimized and will AF faster than the other High Grade and Super High Grade Zuiko lenses (on m4/3 bodies). However, it is still significantly slower than native m4/3 lenses to focus, but faster than any other lens of its class (a standard fast zoom).

    For most of the other bright lenses, the AF can be used but most of the times it's faster and more accurate to reach for the manual focus ring. It's what I often do anyways, so no sweat off my back.

    Exposure, auto-diaphragm, etc. is just like on a native Four-Thirds body.
  14. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Randy, given your background I'm guessing that user error is unlikely, but it would still help for you to upload some samples so we can tell you if what you're seeing is what the E-PL2 and 14-42 should be delivering. The 14-42 II isn't a bad lens, so unless you have a faulty copy of the lens, you should be getting sharp results.
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