I need M4/3 encouragement

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Leighgion, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. Leighgion

    Leighgion Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 1, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    Real Name:
    Leigh L Pang
    I'm a Nikon FX shooter (as well as various film formats, back when I had the time) but I bought into Micro Four Thirds in the summer of 2012 when I found a deal on a refurbished Olympus E-PM1 and kit lens. Up until that point, I'd liked the concept of the bigger sensor in the small & light body, but had found the starting price prohibitive when considered in addition to the system I already sunk cash into.

    For about three years, things worked out great and my little Olympus dominated my daily photography. I never felt like it competed with my Nikons for handling or technical quality, but the compact size was fantastic. I upgraded first to the Panasonic 14mm f2.5, then with some eBay struggles, a second-hand Panny 20mm f1.7, a Nikon F adapter, a cheapie adapted 25mm f1.4 CCTV lens, a Pinwide pinhole lens, the VF2 EVF and well, you get the idea. I was sold on m4/3 as a second system far as my budget allowed.

    When my dedicated video/programmable button fell out and got lost, it was annoying, but it didn't discourage me too much.

    The birth of my daughter for a time encouraged me to use m4/3 more, as camera weight became even more precious when weighed against diapers, bottles of water and other sundry baby supplies.

    Gradually though, things fell off and my Nikon D700 saw more and more action, especially after my daughter learned to walk. This summer, when packing to visit my mother, it was my Nikon and a 50mm that went with me, no questions asked. The mere thought of wrangling what I'd grown to think of as a slow and awkward system made the idea of taking the Olympus out of the question.

    When I got home, I decided to shake things up and put the kit lens back on the E-PM1 for a playground outing with my daughter and one of her little friends, hoping variety would spark new enthusiasm for m4/3.

    My wife, who is not a photographer but is an art historian with an impeccable sense of aesthetics, summed things up well:

    "I think those are the worst pictures you've ever taken."

    So, here I am, wondering where the heck it all went wrong. At my m4/3 peak, I was shooting everything and produced shots I treasure and that I'm very proud of. Street photos all over Beijing while I still lived there. Many of my wife while we were dating, then engaged, then pregnant. One photo of my father (with the CCTV lens no less) was used at his memorial service. Tons of my daughter for the first year. Now, even going to the grocery store, my first instinct is to grab my Nikon.

    I'm still making an effort to get back into m4/3, but I could really use some encouragement from you good folks who are deeper in than I am. Bonus points for anyone with toddlers.
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  2. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    Real Name:
    I think it's all a matter of attitude. If you don't look on the camera or system favorably or like using it, then your images will suffer. I must admit I'm a little like that with my Sony A7 and I'm trying to change my own attitude towards it so that I enjoy using it more. The fact is almost any camera out there can produce great images these days.
  3. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    And without seeing any of the examples of the "worst pictures you've ever taken" it is hard to say if your issues are technical (e.g. problem with the focus system, poor choice of settings, etc.) or if it is technique (e.g. framing issues, not getting close enough, not getting wide enough, etc.).
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  4. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 12, 2013
    My guess is that you have grown as a photographer and are now used to the extra control a DSLR allows you (vs the E-PM1). I suppose you could try out a newer m4/3 body that has more controls and you'd probably find that you can produce excellent photos, but I kind of feel like if you're happy with your Nikon gear, why bother? Use the Nikon and enjoy yourself!
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  5. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I am totally unfamiliar with the E-PM1, but if you consider it to be slow and awkward, it may well be that it is in fact a slow and awkward camera.

    The solution to this kind of malaise is rarely more gear if you can't get over the psychological hurdles associated with it first, but my cheap old GX1 was always an extremely responsive camera, and between the touchscreen and single-AF the focus was near enough to instantaneous. The GX7 has been more of the same. The only complaint in that respect that I have is with continuous autofocus, or very low-light shooting of moving subjects with the 20mm/1.7.
  6. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    It's the AF. Your older M43 camera AF lags way behind your D700 and, truth be told, M43 is still a step behind DSLRs in this regard. They are better though, and the newest M43 cameras might be fast enough for toddlers.

    I've been experimenting with 4k video on the Panasonic GX85, including pulling 8 megapickle stills. Works pretty well for fast action and would be great for toddlers. Takes some practice though.

    Beautiful day for baseball
    by John Flores, on Flickr

    Boys of summer
    by John Flores, on Flickr

    Skeet shooting at Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays
    by John Flores, on Flickr

    My great nephew catching some serious air at his first taekwondo tournament.
    by John Flores, on Flickr
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  7. Leighgion

    Leighgion Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 1, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    Real Name:
    Leigh L Pang
    Very fair point. I will not be posting any of those, partly because I hate them and partly because of my wife and I's agreed upon policy of not spraying photos of our child all over the internet (to say nothing of the other child as well). I will though, describe what I saw in them.

    I don't think my framing was any better or worse than normal. In any case, I would not blame my camera or lens for that in any situation where I have an actual view of my actual frame.

    My settings were no different than any other time, including the times I've taken photos I was very proud of. Aperture priority, auto ISO and +0.3 EV comp.

    Focus was not hitting very reliably even though it was a bright, sunny day. Even worse than the glacially slow Panny 20mm that's my usual favorite. Even when focus clearly hit, the shots were epically soft. Much softer than the very first shots I took with the same Olympus kit lens back when I first bought the camera. Maybe it was because I wasn't used to handling such a small camera anybody or I'd forgotten the poor performance of the kit lens wide open? I'm not sure, but basically nothing was "sharp."

    Even in bright sun at base ISO, and no apparent underexposure, the shots were shockingly grainy. Totally unlike other shots I've taken with this same camera.

    Since then, I did some test shots with the kit lens under calmer circumstances and things looked good again and put the 20mm back on and while I'm not infused with enthusiasm, things look more like expected. It really was a freakish day.
  8. Leighgion

    Leighgion Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 1, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    Real Name:
    Leigh L Pang
    Unfortunately, I have no budget for new hardware. If I win the lottery, I'm totally on board with a new m4/3 body and lens faster than the Panny 20mm, but until then, I can only try to adjust my outlook.

    I'm very happy with my Nikon gear, which was my primary system before I decided to dabble in m4/3. The only problem I have with it is that it's big and heavy, so I like having a second, lighter system that will outperform my phone.
  9. JNB

    JNB Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 11, 2014
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    You've already proven that you can take good photos with your m4/3 equipment. Perhaps you just had an off day. Perhaps you had 'expectations' of getting good pictures, and worries about the m4/3 equipment that were just getting in the way of your picture taking. Perhaps your Olympus hand/eye/brain 'memory' is a little rusty and needs a bit more time to readjust from using the D700.

    You gradually moved back to the D700 and 50mm. So, ask yourself why. Feels better in your hands? Faster focus? Shallower depth of field? Easier to use the DSLR viewfinder than the EVF? You like the rendering of the Nikkor 50 better? Processing the D700 files seems easier? Going back to m4/3, some of these things may work out over time and with practice. Others, may be improved with some equipment changes. While the kit lens is good, I'm not sure it would have been my choice for a toddler assignment. You have the 20mm. The Oly 25mm and 17mm, or the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 are faster-focusing alternatives, and I like their rendering better (I have the 20, the Oly 17 and the PanaLeica 25).

    Our 5-year-old granddaughter lives with us. I have some great shots of her as a baby. But, ever since she became really mobile, my wife and my daughter have gotten MUCH better pictures of her with their cell phones and my old point and shoot than I have been able to. I seem to suck at anticipating the right moment. :(
  10. Leighgion

    Leighgion Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 1, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    Real Name:
    Leigh L Pang
    That, is the crux of why this is so frustrating. I was doing great, but then it stopped, and not all of a sudden on that playground day, though that was the most stark example. Hoping you're right and I can readapt and reclaim my m4/3 mojo.

    What feels better about my Nikon? Everything except the size and weight and to a point, shutter noise.

    What feels better about m4/3? The size and weight and to a point, the somewhat quieter shutter.

    This may sound glib and like I'm damning m4/3 with faint praise, but really it's not. Size and weight is a big issue not because I'm out of shape, but because I'm the sort of shooter who really likes to have a decent camera at all times if possible, and it doesn't matter how much I love my D700, that beast just can't travel with me every minute of my day.

    Just a dad, not a granddad, but I totally feel your pain. On one hand, I feel ridiculous leveraging a full-frame Nikon with fast primes for my very active two-year-old, but on the other, I really need that performance...
  11. DanS

    DanS Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 8, 2016
    Central IL
    when was the last time you had your sensor cleaned/serviced?
  12. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I think there's a cute little irony here that the two newest threads in this Open Discussion forum are about one guy who's fallen out of love with M4/3 after using his larger sensor camera, and another by tonyturley who fell back in love with M4/3 after using a larger sensor camera and realizing it wasn't at all the solution he thought it would be.
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  13. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Real Name:
    @tonyturley@tonyturley's experience closely mirrors mine. I sold my Micro 4/3 system and moved to APS-C (first Samsung NX and then Fujifilm X), but was never totally satisfied. Now I'm back into Micro 4/3 and as happy as ever.
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  14. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you're just shooting your kid, the only thing holding you back is yourself. I shoot both formats and I know when to use each camera. You really don't hit the ceiling of M43 until issues such as focus tracking, dynamic range, and/or DOF control become your limiting factors. If neither of those are issues, then work on your technique.

    Saying that, Sony's newer bodies have pretty good focus tracking. The A6300 is almost DSLR like when it comes to tracking subjects. It's something that M43 really needs to catch up on.
  15. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    Real Name:
    My suggestion is to leave the kit zoom at home and use the E-PM1 only with the P20. Zoom with your feet. When my kids were young, I took most photos with an Olympus Stylus Epic with a 35mm/2.8 lens, and the shots were consistently pleasing. A few times I used my Nikon SLR and got some pretty portraits with a long lens, but the wide-normal point-and-shoot was the camera I carried with me so it was the camera that usually captured the photos that remind me of those days.

    And just as a reminder in case you forgot while using your Nikon, you usually need to half-press to focus the E-PM1, then press to release the shutter. Newer MFT bodies are faster.
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  16. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Shooting styles vary. I've spent the bulk of my photographic effort on pictures of my kids when they were toddlers, and none of my best shots were made using focus tracking. Not when I shot Canon DSLR, Nikon DSLR, Pentax DSLR, Olympus DSLR, Sony E-mount, Fuji X-mount, Micro 4/3, or anything else.

    On the other hand, a lot of my best toddler pictures were made using a short telephoto prime. So my advice would be to either buy a cheap adapter and try your 50mm Nikon on the Olympus (if it is a model that can be manually focused) or stretch the budget to get an Oly 45/1.8, Pana 42.5/1.7, or Sigma 60/2.8 for Micro 4/3.
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  17. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 Veteran

    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    Real Name:
    My experience is the same as Amin's - my favourite M43 pictures of my daughter are using a short telephoto, catching an intimate moment, rather than true action shots. FX is going to give you cleaner files, and in my opinion the Nikon files are particularly nice to work with, but there is no reason why the M43 files can't be very usable. Especially for these sorts of images - there's no need to push any shadows hard so I'm not sure why you have grain.

    I have images of my daughter from M43 printed and hanging on my wall, as well as some taken with a Nikon d800. You couldn't tell the difference, but they're not big prints. I have too many pics I love to make large prints, it just uses up my hanging real estate!
  18. svenkarma

    svenkarma Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 5, 2013
    Real Name:
    mark evans
    uh, ok
  19. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 17, 2012
    I started out in m4/3 with a Lumix G2. Coming from Point and Shoots, I loved it. So much so, that I was maybe a little over protective of it, and I decided that there were times when I wanted something a little less precious to me. Something that I be happier using in higher risk situations like on a boat or at theme parks etc. I was influenced by this forum's bias towards Olympus and found a good deal on an EPM1. In comparison to my G2, I found the EPM1 experience to be quite unengaging. It's images had less clarity and more noise than the G2, even at base ISO. The AF was hesitant and gave up first as the light levels dropped. Whilst the P20 was by far my favourite lens on my G2, it just didn't cut it on the EPM1.

    Not one to be flippant with my purchases, I persevered with the EPM1. I bought the 14-42 kit lens and an EVF. The Oly kit lens offered an improved AF performance over my Panasonic lenses on the little PEN, but I still never gained the same level of confidence that I had with the Lumix. On occasion, the little Oly would produce images that punched way above it's dimensions, but it was too inconsistent. I put the inconsistency down to shutter shock, since the better images seemed to be where shutter speeds were over 1/500, but even then noise and focus speed could be an issue. Since then I've replaced the G2 with a G5, and I've added an EM10 to the mix. The difference between the EPM1 and EM10 are night and day, I'm much happier with it. So much so that I'm maybe a little over protective of it :dash2: So, my take anywhere camera is now an RX100 Mk1, which is working out so much better for me.
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  20. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 27, 2015
    I go back and forth between Nikon (FX and DX) and m43 but most of my time is spent with m43 gear: E-M5s, set up almost like, but not quite, the Nikons. I'm still facile with the Nikons but more so with the m43s. I'll go back to carrying the Nikons when it becomes glove weather.

    For me, the most important commonality between the two species of camera is the viewfinder. I try never to do arms'-length shooting. It slows me down and forces me to wear glasses that are not useful for seeing the world (not yet a gramps even though it's been biologically possible for a couple of decades, now). The optical viewfinder gives you a leg up when shooting action of any sort - and action doesn't have to involve movement, it can just as easily be about trying to catch an open eye. The electronic viewfinder makes nailing focus of slow-moving targets a cinch.

    Either way, I can stay in practice with one approach to camera use, even if of two slightly differing strains. What button, where, is something I can deal with much more easily than trying to see and judge fleeting poses or expressions on the back of a camera. You could do far worse than being stuck shooting the Nikon until you can budget for a close m43 approximation.