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Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Stevenator65, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. Stevenator65

    Stevenator65 New to Mu-43

    Apr 25, 2011
    Hi Folks,
    I'm considering an mFT and entry level DSLR like the Canon T3 or Nikon D3100.

    Background: I take pix of my kids playing sports, portraits of them, and photos of our work products to make brochures. By no means am I a very experienced photographer and my previous experience is only with point and shoots. But photo quality is very important. Unfortunately, I have a budget to adhere to, so I want to get the best photo quality and features for the money.

    Ideally I want DSLR quality photos, something easy to use, Live View, HD movies (720p is fine) and a price that is not very high - $400 to $600. Small size would be great, but I want to get the best value I can for the features and photo quality.

    How does mFT photo quality compare to DSLR, considering that the sensor is smaller?

    Is the Sony Nex3 a good choice?

    It seems like the mFTs are just as expensive as entry level DSLRs, and size aside, wouldn't I get better photos and have more lens options w/DSLR?

    There are trade-offs that each camera offers, which makes a decision harder to come by. The Pana G2 looks cool, but isn't cheap. The Canon T3 is much larger but perhaps takes better photos? The Oly Pen doesn't seem to have a built-in flash. The Sony Nex3 apparently has barrel distortion and is not cheap either.

    Picking a camera is driving me insane. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. kytra

    kytra Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 28, 2011
    Nikon D3100 is an awesome camera. If you do not mind the bigger package, by all means I would recommend to buy it. Buy the 35mm g1.8 G lens and you're set. MFT is very nice, but except for the GH2, moving kids are not the best subject. For the other tasks, both DSLR and MFT can deliver about the same. One more in favor of Nikon - the CLS lightning system is by far the best there is.
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    regarding image quality - a phrase I personally hate - in most situations, to most people there is no discernable difference between a mft and a DSLR.

    I know the forums are full of people taking pictures of brick walls that will disagree - but personal photographic skills are more a factor in getting a 'good quality' picture than the size of the sensor.

    My advice would be to go to a camera store and hold each of the cameras in your hand and feel which one feels right to you, then make a decision and stick to it.... any camera in your price bracket will be equally capable

    • Like Like x 2
  4. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    I would go with the Nikon D3100 with the standard 18-55 zoom lens which is very reasonable in price.
    Has built in flash, does video, lens is wide angle to short telephoto, camera works with Nikon's very good flash system and in most cases Nikon lenses are excellent.
  5. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    x2 - and I would even add that, for most people, even the new advanced compacts (Oly ZX1, Panny LX5, Canon G12 or S95, etc) will be way more than enough "image quality". Viewing in any reasonable condition (not the aforementioned pixel peeping), I doubt you could consistently pick which camera is which in a blind "taste test", especially photos taken in "OK" to "good" conditions. As the need for higher ISO's increased, and the conditions worsened, yes, there would become some more noticeable differences.

    As for lens selection, you can't really wonder/complain about the selection of m43 lenses and then in the next sentence suggest/wonder about the Sony NEX line ...
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    A lot of these issues are of exaggerated importance. In use, I did not find the NEX kit lens to have excessive barrel distortion or poor performance, nor have I found that the Canon DSLRs (and I have owned many of them) take better images than a Panasonic G2.

    Technical reviews put a lot of emphasis on certain aspects of lens performance like sharpness in the extreme corners and certain aspects of sensor performance like shadow noise. In practice, many other gear-specific factors affect image quality, such as the color profile, autofocus reliability, metering reliability, availability of specific lens types, the unique character of the lenses themselves, etc.

    The short story is that you will not go wrong with any of these cameras. That said, if the kids' sports is a major emphasis of your photography, you're better off with a DSLR like the Canon you mentioned or a Nikon. If it's just one of many things you like to shoot, I think you'll be happy with a MFT camera.

    My advice is the same as Kevin's: Get to a camera store and try out some of these cameras. Buy the one you like the best and count on it having good image quality.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Agree with Kevin 100%... BUT you have to take the advantages and weigh against the disadvantages. I clearly see both sides of the coin as I migrated from Canon 1-series digital w/ L-lenses to m43 (E-PL1 + G1 w/ bag full of adapted vintage glass, 3 native m43 lenses).

    One thing in the OP's post that caught my eye was their interest in kids playing sports. The m43 system's contrast based autofocus is still behind in terms of accuracy and speed. I see a huge difference going between the 1dMII and 5D and the G1 which I feel is still faster than the E-PL1. I suspect there is still a noticeable difference with even low end phase detection based AF DSLR bodies.
  8. pjohngren

    pjohngren Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2010

    I would go for m4/3 without hesitation. I am a long time SLR and DSLR user who gave all that up in favor of m4/3 and love the system. If you like live view, then really m4/3 is your best option. You can float the histogram right over the image in the viewfinder and adjust the exposure in real time - it is fantastic. All (or none) of the settings can be displayed in the viewfinder as you gain experience and get into adjusting settings. The Panasonic cameras and lenses are fantastic. The build quality is superb. m4/3 is strongly recommended by this user.
  9. Stevenator65

    Stevenator65 New to Mu-43

    Apr 25, 2011
    Wow! Thanks for all the wonderful feedback. I appreciate very much what all of you are saying. I'm still researching and if I go w/mFT I think it will be the Pana GF2, and if I go w/DSLR it would be b/t the Canon T3 and Nikon D3100.

    I'm getting married in October and we're taking a honeymoon in Moorea, near Tahiti, which is very far from home. I want to take awesome photos of that.

    My next move is to actually see/feel/touch the cameras.

    Does anyone have any photo comparisons b/t a DSLR and mFT? I've read tons of reviews and they always compare the mFT cameras to each other and the DSLRs to each other, but never the mFT to the DSLR. As most of you seem to say, there probably is not a significant quality difference in the photos, but seeing side by side comparisons would help.

    Where in the US is the best place to purchase? Amazon? Best Buy (not a huge fan)? Walmart? Ebay? Adorama?

    Again, thanks so much for the assistance!
  10. sherlock

    sherlock Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 31, 2011
    If you want to pixel peep, DPReview has a great tool you can use for this — their review of the GF2 will let you pick other cameras to compare it with. I'd compare it with the GF2, GH2 (best MFT camera, but bigger), the D3100 and the Pentax K-r.

    For all intents and purposes though, go through the Panasonic 20mm pool on Flickr — you'll see a wide collection of shots, and many of which are indiscernible from an SLR.
  11. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    If capturing youth sports is important, take a good look at the Sony A33 and A55. They are similar to dSLR except for the fact that the mirror that reflects the image up to the viewfinder doesn't move, thus making even the entry-level cameras capable of high burst shooting speeds.

    And as an alternate to the obvious Canon and Nikon suggestions, consider the entry level Pentax K-r. It is particularly good in low light situations.

    As far as M43 - I have the GH2 and it's not quite there for youth sports. It can do it, but requires much patience and practice.

    My $.02, non-refundable.
  12. shoturtle


    Oct 15, 2010
    the m4/3 uses the olympus 4/3 sensor, so you do get dslr level image quality. If you want light and compact. The olympus pens, and the panasonic GF are great in that department.

    Compare to the nex, the m4/3 system has allot more lens option, and more are coming. Nex still only has 3 lenses. And no really long zoom yet, except for the 18-200 which is a 800 dollar HD lens. And m4/3 has better lenses currently.

    Now there is a big difference in mirrorless camera (Nex and M4/3) and a dslr. While all are dslr size sensors. The dslr has a big advantage in AF is you are looking to chase kids around and if you want to shot sports. The DSLR is the better option with the right lens. Mirrorless still does not have the speed to do action well. You will get the occasional shot. But not a consistent level. And no mirrorless system has a lens that is suited for indoor sports and action. Where there are allot of option for the T3, but those lenses are very expensive.

    So I would sit down, and determine what you want to shoot, what is a much have ability, and what you can compromise with.

    Compact, good to travel with, and good general photography camera, a m4/3 is very good at. So if you are looking for these criteria they m4/3 will meet your need.

    Then you will have to compare the difference between olympus and panny, and what each brand offers. HD the panny, jpeg the oly, low light the oly in general except for the gh2.

    So making a list from most important to least important will help you narrow down what would be the best option for you.

    The T3 is a very nice camera, with some very useful feature that the d3100 lack. But the d3100 shoot 1080 vs 720 with the t3.
  13. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

  14. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I usually buy locally but BHphoto.com gets my recommendation. For used dealer, keh.com is tough to beat.

    Remember, Amazon and Ebay isn't a store... its a place for other vendors to market. As such, your mileage may vary. On Ebay, I am very careful and have lots of patience. When I do win, its usually a huge savings. If you wanna-have-it-now... I highly recommend against Ebay.

    oh one last advice for buying into a system (after all you are buying more than just the camera body). Figure out the glass first then figure out the camera body to fit the lens.
  15. jbuch84

    jbuch84 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 9, 2011
    Orlando, FL
    I'm fine with my gf2 for now, I'm curious if m43 will end up developing as dslr has. I'd hate to spend a ton of money in lenses and such just to totally swap later :) 
  16. shoturtle


    Oct 15, 2010
    Here are some canon dslr to mixed with olympus m4/3. In good lighting the only difference jpeg engines of olympus and canon. At night there is more noise form m4/3.

    Paris by Night - Steve's Digicams Forums

    Paris as a Tourist - Steve's Digicams Forums

    Opel Zoo, in Taunus Germany - Steve's Digicams Forums

    FRA Airport Take Off's - Steve's Digicams Forums

    Here are some good example of longer exposure where the larger sensor off the aps-c vs the 4/3 of m4/3 show more red noise. First like m4/3 second canon.


  17. iliakoltsov

    iliakoltsov Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2010
    I wouldn't recommend canon or nikon if you are going for an entry level, you will have lots of problems with old lenses ( on canon you need chipped adapters) Nikon is not compatible full stop. Even though i said on a different post that Pentax is not compatible with legacy lenses it is true to an extent, it is still useable, Nikon , canon and Sony /minolta for that matter are harder to adapt. You will end up having two separate gears that will not be adaptable on M4/3 ( on both nikon , canon and Sony have no manual aperture control) this feature is extremely useful if you are planning to use the lenses on M4/3.

    Advantages of a DSLR over M4/3
    To be fair i cannot see that much of them , the only that comes to mind is ISO and noise reduction which is a lot more controlled on DSLR. Now on the GH2 this myth was destroyed and in fact it raises the sensitivity in a similar way to the best Sony sensors.

    Disadvantage :
    Bulky / huge optical viewfinder not always the best on entry level DSLR.

    May i ask you a question why 2 bodies if you can combine them with a GH2. ?
  18. drpump

    drpump Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 28, 2010
    I'm operating on the assumption that I'll probably need to start again every 10 years or thereabouts. It's possibly less than that.

    My ageing Canon DSLR was about 5 years old when it got swapped out for m4/3. I was able to justify it because the m4/3 kit cost less than the body upgrade I had planned :) . I'm keeping the Canon for action shots, since the AF and AE is considerably faster, but I'm also hoping to upgrade to a faster m4/3 body in the next few years.
  19. mqavila

    mqavila Mu-43 Regular

    One thing that I think hasn't been pointed out here (in case it would be a deal breaker for you) is the fact that most DSLRs (if not all) can only take a few minutes of HD video before automatically stopping to avoid overheating. One of the significant reasons why I chose a Lumix camera is its ability to record in AVCHD format. This format essentially allows you to take unlimited videos. It's a big plus for me, since I love taking videos of my little kids during school programs and such.
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