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Micro 4/3 Camera to complement DSLR Kit.

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Flamby, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. Flamby

    Flamby New to Mu-43

    Jan 21, 2012
    Reading, UK
    Hello people,

    First of all I'm sorry if this is repeating the same old question, I've been having a really good read through this forum and this section in particular for the last couple of weeks, so I thought as I'm nearing the point of buying a secondary camera I thought I'd get some direct advice from you knowledgeable lot :thumbup:

    Right I think its best to start with a bit about what I do and what I currently use :) 

    I'm mainly an automotive photographer/videographer for two blogs, one based here in the UK and one in the USA, this allows me to have access to some great events here in the UK and across Europe so I do end up travelling around a lot. On occasion this leads me to have the opportunity to shoot for magazines but I actually find the blogging really rewarding and faster moving if that makes any sense :S
    My current kit is Canon 5DMk2, Canon 17-40 f4 L, Canon 24-70 f2.8 L, Canon 70-200 F2.8 IS L, Canon 85mm f1.8 & a Canon 50mm f1.4.
    As well as the cars I also love product photography and portraits which I'm able to do in a location that I converted for the job early last year.

    So image quality is important to me.

    In the past I've done the whole second DSLR body (7D & 30D before changing both for 5dmk2), thing is I get paid for what I do but I'm nearly always an assistant to a main photographer or videographer so I don't 100% need a back up DSLR. So this is a no go at the moment.

    Considered a compact such as the S95. I've used my brothers G12 which is very similar on a lot of levels but for the money I can get an interchangeable lens system with better IQ and dof, which brings me to Micro 4/3...

    When I'm doing a shoot or on location filming I like to snap shots of my setups, details that I can't get with the DSLR due to it being setup for a shot or something like that, at the moment I use my iphone for such things, but ... well its not great and I'm being encouraged to do more and more behind the scenes videos and pictures as I'm progressing and the iphone doesn't cut it.
    From a non work perspective I also like to go for a walk or scout out locations or even take pics of random things that don't necessarily warrant me getting all the DSLR gear out and setup... also the cost of the 5Dmk2 plus lenses is sometimes daunting to be wandering around with in the streets even though its insured :S

    Right so thats me, so now I'm looking at a Micro 4/3 camera to fulfil my secondary camera tasks :) 

    My only experience with a camera like this is early last year when I bought a Panasonic GF1 for my brother, which he later sold, but I have to say I was really impressed by its size and iq.

    So I honestly don't want anything huge to carry out the tasks I have for it, I'm thinking Panasonic GF2 or even the GF3, or an Olympus E-PL1 or E-PL2 with one of their pancake lenses. Simple with good IQ and dof is what I'm after.

    I've also looked into the Sony NEX 3 & 5 cameras, nex 3 seems to be a real bargain and I know that the sony lenses are pretty awful when it comes to IQ, but I still use an FD 35mm Canon AE-1 Program and A1 so I have a good collection of FD lenses that I would use with that setup, manual focus isn't a huge problem to me :) 

    Also I don't think this setup (body only or body + 1 lens) should cost me more than £300, looking at ebay it seems that the 6 cameras I've mentioned all sell second hand for under that amount.

    Would really appreciate your input on what you believe is the best of that lot and whether I've got the right idea for how I want to use these cameras.

    I'm off to a camera store to hold some of them, so far I've only held the GF1, and Sony Nex5.

    Thanks for your help and for reading this looooooooong post haha :biggrin:

  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The GF-3, NEX-3, and NEX-5 have no hotshoes to connect to your flash or strobes, and have no option of Electronic Viewfinder (wonderful accessory for manual focus) either. EVF is one thing, but can you live with no control of lighting?

    You said you shoot video as much as photo... the GF-2, GF-3, NEX-3, and NEX-5 all have no options for external microphone. External audio is as important to videography as external lighting is to photography, if you want professional quality results. All Olympus PEN cameras can use the EMA-1 external mic adapter to plug in any standard 3.5mm stereo mic. The Micro Four-Thirds cameras can also mount specialized video lenses like the Zeiss CP.2 HD Video Primes in native m4/3 mount, or adapted video lenses from older formats which your 5D and 7D can't mount because of the mirrorbox and long register.

    The GF-2 and GF-3 are also poor options due to lower image quality compared with the Olys and Sonys in your choices. The best Panasonics for IQ are the ones with the 16MP sensors - the GH2, G3, and GX1 (none of which you list, which I assume is because of price and weight?). The Olympus cameras (like your E-PL1 and E-PL2 choices) have a similar sensor to the GF-2 but have a much weaker AA filter which resolves incredible fine detail and captures the full lens resolution and color. They can produces as good quality images as the 16MP sensor of the Panasonics, but with different strengths and weaknesses.

    Between the E-PL1 and E-PL2, the E-PL2 is significantly better (not to say the E-PL1 is bad, but the E-PL2 is just very good). The E-PL1 was actually dumbed down a lot to offer the first true entry-level PEN camera, whereas the E-PL2 was done right with all the innovations of the E-PL1 but with hardly any of the limitations. The E-PL2 shares the same imaging technology as the Olympus pro-grade E-5. Of course, the E-PL1 was almost there as well... I think it was like a prototype for the imaging system used in the E-5, personally. The E-PL2 has a much larger 3" screen with twice the resolution of the E-PL1, as well as a rotary dial and... well, much nicer looks. ;)  It also has twice the maximum shutter speed (which is kind of offset by the lower ISO value of the E-PL1) and remote compatibility. These were both part of the "dumbed down" features of the E-PL1 (which incidentally, was fixed with the E-PL1s sold in Japan before the E-PL2 was released worldwide). Neither of these cameras have an orientation sensor for image flipping and level gauge, which the higher grade Olympus cameras have. I find image flipping to be unnecessary but the level gauge was a nice feature. ;)  If you plan on keeping the kit lens, the one on the E-PL2 is quite a bit better. It uses internal focus so it has faster AF and quiet operation. It feels a lot sturdier than the E-PL1 kit lens, which had a wobbly front barrel. The E-PL1 kit lens used ED glass instead of aspherical, but the E-PL2 kit lens actually tests marginally better at the wide end.

    In a comparative price and size range as the cameras you listed, I would also consider the E-PM1. It's the smallest PEN camera yet and has all the same capabilities albeit fewer dedicated buttons than the E-PL2. It has a much faster dual processor though, which equates to quicker response and AF speed. The LCD screen is the same overall size and resolution as the E-PL2, but is 16:9 aspect instead of 4:3, making it better suited for video but less suited for photo (over the 4:3 screen of the E-PL2). It's still much better than the E-PL1 screen for either. The main advantages of the E-PL2 over the E-PM1 is a larger grip for holding heavier lenses, a pop-up Remote Flash Commander which can control wireless flashes at the same time as using the VF-2 or VF-3 electronic viewfinders (which take up the hotshoe otherwise), and of course a few extra buttons. The E-PM1 is significantly smaller and marginally faster, and comes at a very nice price point as well. I would choose the Mini if size is a big concern.

    The Olympus E-P3 or Panasonic GX-1 would give you the best of all worlds (from the preferences I'm seeing), but at a much higher cost.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Flamby

    Flamby New to Mu-43

    Jan 21, 2012
    Reading, UK
    Thank you very much for extensive reply Ned, appreciate that, especially on a Saturday :D 

    Right the hot shoe connection isn't very important to me, obviously its a bonus but if I need to use off camera flash or my studio lights, I'd use the Canon DSLR setup. The electronic viewfinders look awkward on the camera to me, having never use one I can only judge them on their appearance which I know is bad, but that is just how I see them, I think that once fitted they remove the compactness of the camera.

    I do shoot a lot of video, but the micro 4/3rds camera would be to simply shoot snippets, and not to be put into my films with the 7d & 5d2 footage for example. The microphone bit is frustrating though as I would like good sound, a film is nothing without good sound.
    As it is I use shotgun and remote mic setups with my DSLRS, good to know about the options with regards to sound and lenses on these cameras.

    Yeah the reason the larger GH2 G3 and GX1 are not on my list is due to size more than anything, the cost I'm willing to put towards this setup is dictated by me, just so I don't go overboard and end up with something hugely expensive alongside my canon gear. I just want something compact, full of features, shoots raw, manual settings, and produces good IQ and dof. I was actually starting to think the GF-2 would be the ideal camera for my needs but your comments have got me re considering that.

    I'm put off the E-PL2 due to its video modes, and due to the screen being 16:9 on the back which seems silly when the native format of the pictures is 4:3, why have such a screen if you don't need it :S

    Really appreciate your comments and feedback, very kind of you!

    Starting to think a Nex 3 would be ideal for me for use with my legacy lenses and that a GF2 would do all of my snap shot and video clip stuff when I'm filming and doing photoshoots with the canon gear as my main.
  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Oh no, the E-PL2 has a 4:3 screen. 3" at 460k dots, which is the best for the LCD types (the E-P3 has a 3" OLED touch-screen with 640k dots). It's the new generation E-PL3 and E-PM1 which have the 16:9 screen (same size and resolution, but different aspect).

    The video mode on the new generation PENs are better though (E-P3, E-PL3, and E-PM1). They shoot 1080p in AVCHD format, whereas the older PENs shot 720p in AVI format. I like the convenience of AVI, but sometimes have problems with the codecs.

    The way I shoot though, the 16:9 screen actually works out surprisingly well. It's better suited to video, but worse for photos. However, when I need critical focus in photos I use the magnification button or manual focus assist to zoom in and fine tune. This works just as well on either screen. However, when I'm manually focusing in video, there is no magnification option. This is where seeing your focus on the screen can become difficult but the 16:9 screen gives me a full view for video. You would think the photo part would be more important for a photographic camera, but it's covered by other features like Magnify/Manual Focus Assist, and the Electronic Viewfinder (I know the EVF makes a larger camera, but it is so nice to use with manual lenses). When I shoot video is when I really rely on the LCD clarity.
  5. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Sounds like a normal lens would work, focal-length wise. The more affordable option is the 20/1.7. For bodies, you can choose whichever you fancy - size and cost would suggest the E-PM1 or GF2 or GF1. I'd avoid the earlier Pens (E-P1/E-P2/E-PL1) on account of slow AF, low-res LCDs and so-so video (also the E-PL1 controls are no fun).

  6. Flamby

    Flamby New to Mu-43

    Jan 21, 2012
    Reading, UK
    Ned - Thank you for clearing that up mate, sorry about my confusion :D  So many different models makes it hard to get used to hehe.

    Dhazeghi - Thanks for your input mate, kind of you :D  Yeah I went and tried all those cameras yesterday and I'll be honest I wasn't a fan of how they are held or look, I know thats really superficial but I just couldn't get to grips with them. The GF2 I thought was the best looking one and seemed to fit nicely in my hands.

    The one I did really like was the Nex 5, and after getting home from the shop I was offered a brand new Nex5 with their 16mm lens and an FD adapter for a fantastic price so I've gone with that, will see how I get on but I think it could play the point and shoot role perfectly as well as give me more use out of my FD collection :) 

    Not writing off the Micro 4/3 cameras though, may well get one to try as well :) 
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