Keep M4/3 or add another camera

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by tkao2025, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. tkao2025

    tkao2025 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 26, 2014
    I'm having quite a little dilemma amongst myself. I have enough money saved to buy either a new lens like a used 12-40 2.8 or buy a used Fuji XE-2 with an 18-55mm lens combo. I've been reading a lot of threads. Some say having a larger APS-C sensor makes a lot of difference in low light and the fuji system can shoot sharper pictures. Others say M4/3 is on par with APS-C sensor and the difference is minor.

    Do I keep investing in M4/3 or do I try a new camera and possibly move to a new system. Here are some low light shots I took recently in Boston, with my beloved 17mm 1.8 and my 25mm 0.95. It is a little grainy when looked on a larger screen.

    If anyone has both systems and can chime in.

    IMG_5214. IMG_5220. IMG_5249.
  2. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    My take is you would have to go to FF before you are going to notice a substantial difference.

    One thing to keep in mind is file sizes. FF will certainly force changes in workflow.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    From everything I've seen and all the lens data to corroborate it (from and, the Fuji system does not and cannot shoot sharper pictures than M4/3, at least not with its current X-Trans 16MP sensor. However, it does shoot smoother pictures; that is there is built-in noise reduction even in the RAW files that will mean that your images are a bit less grainy, albeit likely with no more overall detail than M4/3. Alternatively, you can apply greater noise reduction to M4/3 files and end up with a similar result, but once you get up past ISO 3200, it's difficult to get the same smooth results as the Fuji as easily.

    Certainly given that the Fuji 18-55 is only f2.8-4, you will get no better results (and almost certainly worse ones) that with an OM-D or modern Panasonic (not sure what your body is) and your f1.8 or f0.95 primes. The 12-40 is also notably sharper than the 18-55, which gives you a bit more leeway for noise-reduction in post.

    If you don't already develop from RAW, that is the single biggest change that you can do to improve the quality of your low-light shots. JPEGs can only guess at the image you were trying to make, and in my opinion, they always guess wrong. It allows you to balance the Noise Reduction and Sharpening in a much more natural way.

    If you didn't already have the Voigtlander, I would maybe have said that Fuji could give you a minor improvement in noise control since they have more f1.4 primes in various focal lengths (16, 23, and 35) if you are willing to splash out the money for them. But like I said, if you already have an f0.95 lens, the difference between M4/3 and APS-C is only about 1/2 to 2/3 of a stop in terms of noise (with the possible exception of the newest sensor and processor in the Nikon D5500, which can extend that to about 1 full stop) so the difference is less than the difference between your lenses.

    Like Larry said above, you'll only see a real improvement with full frame. And not even that much of one with the Sony A7/A7 II which doesn't have a sensor that performs particularly well in low light. It needs to be the A7r, A7s, or an FF DSLR.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    If you are going to go with a Fuji at this point, it should really be about the handling of the camera bodies. The IQ is not that big of a jump between the m43 and APS-C sensor sizes. Going from a m43 to 135 size sensor....there is going to be a noticeable difference. In that case, I would look at what Sony is offering in the 135 sensor size or look at something like a used Nikon D700 or Df.

    If MP sizes are similar, you will not have a huge difference in file sizes between m43 and 135.

    One thing that I you will want to make sure of is that you can live with the physical performance of the Fuji gear. The AF is noticeable slower on the X series cameras compared to m43 and the wake from sleep/off and running the menus is a lot more laggy than the m43 gear. Before jumping into another system, rent what you think you might want to buy and shoot with it first. I think if you do that, you might lean more toward spending your money on the 12-40/2.8 than getting a Fuji setup, especially if it is going to be a main shooter.

    For me, I like the Fuji manual controls and the IQ is really nice once you figure out what the X-Trans is capable of doing. Working the RAW files can be a pain, but I found out that Lightroom does not give you optimal results with m43 RAW files either and that Olympus Viewer 3 is a better alternative. At least I have not figured out how just yet.

    I value quick performance for the way that I shoot nad the subjects that I have before me and the Olympus gear handles that better for me compared to the Fuji.
  5. tkao2025

    tkao2025 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 26, 2014
    Thanks for the post. I have an EP-5 right now. I have not shot RAW, but will try it.

    So from the 2 posts, it seems like investing in a new system will not likely help much with the results. Plan was to invest more into M4/3 with used 12-40 and maybe save for a 17.5 0.95 or get the fuji with 18-55 and save for 23mm 1.4. These are the focal lengths I use most often.
  6. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    For me the reason to move to FF would be more resolution and in that scenario ≈40MP files are going to radically change my workflow for any significant number of frames.
  7. tkao2025

    tkao2025 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 26, 2014
    So one of the ways to help with noise would be to use a post processing software. I hear Noise Ninja is good, but have not tried any software yet. Anyone can recommend a good post processing software for use with Olympus camera and M4/3 gear?
  8. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    This is the physical difference:
    View attachment 425173

    Does it matter? It depends. The thing that matters most is technology: latest tech is going to make the difference. A three years old APS-C is not going to perform better than a brand new m43 sensor. And here things get more complex: the latest E-M5 II does not have a 2015 tech sensor as most of the camera you can find for sale today. The G7 neither. All brands keep the same sensor for a few years wil little tweaks before releasing a new one. And the same goes for APS-C. With a used body you are going even more back in time.

    Assuming comparable technology, you can find from 1/2 stop to 2/3 of difference. With Fuji is also a little more complex because of the different sensor design.

    Then you have lenses: the 18-55 is a 2.8-4 lens, this means that as soon as you zoom in you are going to loose a full stop. And I think there is no 0.95 lens for the Fuji. There is an very good expensive 1.2 lens.

    The Olympus 12-40 is a lot slower then the 17 and the 25 you used here: in low light you will get even more noise.

    Then you have post processing: how you process the noise can make a lot of difference. Shoot RAW and spend some time in Lightroom to tweak the result.

    There are no EXIF data in your pictures but is possibile that shooting with slower shutter speed could have given you one or even two stops of noise reduction, for static subject at least. Overexposing a little, again mostly for static subjects, can let the camera catch more light, that you later fix in post processing.
    On the opposite what makes the pictures looks noisy could be a little motion blur due to slow shutter speed. What ISO were you using?

    If you want something really different you can look for the Sony A7S, but again you have to pair it with a fast lens.

    EDIT: also a simple table tripod or using a tree or a bench as a support can make a huge difference if you change the ISO.
  9. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Your pictures look great, so I think you also have to ask yourself, what you want to accomplish and why. Are you displaying or printing pictures in a way that exposes weaknesses like excess noise or does it just big you that it's there and could be improved?

    What will enhance your photography the most, a new lens that offers more capability, or a new sensor?

    You can also make a difference with the grade of lenses that you buy. If you look at dxo you'll find that a o12-40 pro produces 9 megapixel of practical resolution with an e-m1 while the kit equivalent produces only 6megapixels. That's a big difference.

    You can also check t-stop values to find the fastest lens. The p12-35f2.8 transmits a bit more light than the o12-40 pro, 3.0 vs 3.3 for instance.

    If noise in low light is a major concern, you have to look at the total body/lens combination.

    In the meantime, your pictures are beautiful.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    There are 2 approaches you can take without buying into a new system, but you need to shoot RAW in both cases. I have an E-P5 myself and I have no problems keeping up with some FF cameras providing they are not 6D, Nikon Df/D4/D4s and Sony A7s in low light.

    1, Shoot RAW and then use DXO Optics Pro 10 PRIME software for great noise reduction without a lot of detail lost. The software isn't expensive when it's on sale. I would go this route first as I'm using PRIME myself to compete against FF.

    2, Shoot RAW and use a slower shutter speed with lower ISO and a tripod and finding more ambient light source so you can use a lower ISO and process it either under OV3 (Olympus Viewer 3) or any 3rd party RAW processor or DXO. The E-P5 works best between ISO 800-1600 and DXO Prime between ISO 3200-6400.
    I would try to keep the ISO as low because the higher the ISO, the lesser dynamic range you get from the camera/shot which makes for a grainy photo.

    The only camera I found to work really well in the conditions you shot in are the Nikon Df/D4/D4s and the Sony A7s and the A7s being the best of all the FF for very low light and very clean shots due to their impressive high iso noise performance and impressive dynamic range even in high iso which MFT with even the fastest lens can't touch.

    With the Sony A7s, you can use adapted fast lenses which aren't very expensive and the mount adapter isn't expensive and makes an excellent companion system to any MFT system.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  11. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    I shoot both an OM-D E-M5 Mk.II and a Fuji X100T and came from a world of shooting Canon DSLRs (both APS-C and FF) for around 15 years. My take on it is this:

    Things they have in common:

    - Both Olympus and Fuji produce some of the best colors, although slightly different. Both however have colors that really pop, especially with a little post processing. The below were shot with both cameras and they are the RAW files converted to JPEG only. The Fuji file was cropped to give a similar focal length view. Which is which?



    And just for fun, the final image that I chose to post process.


    - Both have wonderful UI although again different. The Fuji is more old school with analog dials showing aperture/shutter/exposure compensation along with customizable buttons. The Olympus is more modern with customizable front and back dials and a 2x2 switch with just about every button being customizable.

    Where the Olympus has a clear advantage is in AF speed and accuracy. The Fuji X100T is no slouch, but the Olympus is just instantaneous.

    The Fuji has better high ISO performance and/or a better NR scheme. With the Olympus, my absolute maximum tolerance is at ISO 3200 but preferably at ISO 1600 or lower. With Fuji, it's one stop higher at ISO 6400 but preferably at ISO 3200.

    In terms of detail and sharpness, both are just about equal. However, for me, the Fuji images to me have a certain smoothness in it's rendering without sacrificing detail or sharpness. It's sometimes very subtle but having shot constantly with both cameras for over a month now, it is something that I notice during post process. The other thing I've noticed during post process is that I do tend to apply a hair more NR during the post to higher ISO files from the Olympus compared to the Fuji.

    In terms of overall IQ, both are outstanding and it really depends on each individual's taste.

    I am just as happy with shooting one camera over the other. They are different cameras and it all comes down to shooting style and personal preference. If low light, high ISO was my priority, I'd probably pick the Fuji. If instant AF is your thing, the Olympus without hesitation.
  12. tkao2025

    tkao2025 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 26, 2014
    Thanks for all your replies. Very helpful. Thanks Speedliner for your compliments.

    I'm not a professional, but do enjoy taking photos. Those photos were taken wide open with 1600 ISO setting. I generally do not play with shutter speed. I'm still learning a lot about photography, but to invest in one system over another can be very cash consuming. I'm glad most think the M4/3 is a very good system to keep working with, since I've invested a lot of money already. Probably this will be my route is to keep building on M4/3.

    My reason for the 12-40 zoom is because I've been shooting my kids at recitals. The rooms are generally dark and it's difficult for me to get up close. I had brought with me a 45mm, but found it way too long. I feel that a 12-40 2.8 would allow me to take decent photos in a dim lit room, as well as allow for flexibility in focal length. My thoughts on the fuji came up because of reading APS-C will give better low light performance. If I was to take the 12-40 M4/3 and 18-55 fuji to the above situation, which would yield better results? That's the question I've been asking myself and trying to find answers on the web.
  13. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Others may agree or disagree but my personal advice would be to stop buying gear and concentrate on your photography skills first and foremost. You already have a 17/1.8 and a 25/0.95, both wonderful lenses that cover your 35mm and 50mm focal lengths. Unless you have a specific type of photography you want to do, for genera purpose photography, these two lenses will cover most situations.

    As for the difference between the 12-40/2.8 and the 18-55/2.8-4, they are similar enough that the photographer will make more of a difference than the actual lens and body combination. Buying a new camera and/or lens won't necessarily make better images. Improving your skills will.

    • Agree Agree x 3
  14. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 10, 2013
    'Topaz Denoise' works great for me. Lots of options to tweak, but I'm usually fine with one of the presets.
    Does a very good job in only removing noise while keeping detail.
  15. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    It's tricky with web sizes (which is obviously part of your point, I guess! not much IQ difference) but my guess is Fuji on top, E-M5 below.
  16. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I agree with your point, but I think his main concern was with getting an appropriate focal length. Seems like he wants a fast 35mm, which is obviously not an easy thing to find. Cropping from the Voigtlander 25mm might be the best bet in that case. Zooms do also add flexibility...some people just prefer shooting with them to shooting with primes.
  17. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA

    I've been intrigued with the recent Fuji offerings, but that's only on the basis of ergonomics and handling. I love the idea (at least) of having the aperture ring on the lenses and the separate, physical dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation (and ISO in the case of the XT-1). I also like how Fuji seems to be more open to adding features and functionality via firmware. I also can't deny that I find myself drawn to the "magic" of the "Fuji colors" and the sexiness of the cameras' physical design.

    However, I don't believe the APS-sized sensor provides a significant improvement in either sharpness or low-light ability. To me, it doesn't really make sense to maintain both a Fuji and :mu43: system because the overlap in their abilities is too great. As for me, simple inertia (the investment I have made with my :mu43: gear and the familiarity I have with it) as well as the occasional use I have for video (which IMHO even Olympus does much better than Fuji) has kept me from giving in to the GAS.
  18. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Personally, I think the f1.8 is fast enough for most situations. Yes, shooting with an f0.95 will allow for lower ISO in low light situations but shooting at that aperture will also bring about other problems to deal with, namely razor thin DoF and overall softness. Going with a f2.8 zoom won't alleviate the OP's want for better high ISO performance.

    I've come full circle and have been shooting mainly primes for the past few years but when I was shooting Canon DSLRs (for 15 years), I mostly shot with five different L zooms (24-70/2.8L, 24-105/4L, 28-70/2.8L, 70-200/2.8L IS) predominantly along with a 50 and an 85 prime occasionally. Primes vs zooms both have their advantages and disadvantages and it's all personal preference but for low light photography without flash/strobes, fast primes are the way to go.

  19. daum

    daum Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2011
    I see no benefit in going APSC. I'd either jump to FF or stick with m43 for the size.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    How did you set the noise reduction on your E-P5 for shooting high ISO? Have you played with the Noise Reduction and Noise Filter features on your camera? Sometimes, learning how you could use your camera effectively rather than buying an expensive camera to solve a problem is a better option. In regards to low light, Fuji does indeed give a better result than M43, but the difference is not a lot. If you use a noise reduction software like Topaz or DXO Optics Pro Prime, the difference will be very hard to detect.
    The reason why you can't find the answers you are looking for on the web is because, the differences if any are very slight. The only monumental difference you are going to see in real life is with a Sony A7s or the Nikon Df. Those cameras will give you an outstanding performance in dance recitals. A pro-photographer friend of mine who had worked with the Chinese dance company used his Nikon D4s (same sensor on the Nikon Df) to get all his shots and what you see in commercial ads are photos coming either from a D4s or a Sony A7s because I really feel, judging from your wordings and your expectation looking at your fine examples that you are not going to be happy unless

    1, You learn more about low light photography and change the way you shoot to accommodate your M43 gear


    2, You don't want to learn and just use more cash to buy the best low light gear (which is a Nikon Df or Sony A7s Full Frame bodies); which is what most people do these days.

    I highly advise that you at least try to follow #1.
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