Might be moving away from m4/3 to Fuji (for everyday photos) after a great couple of years

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Promit, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Might be moving away from m4/3 to Fuji UPDATE: Nah.

    Some background - about three years ago, I decided to get my first "real" camera, at enormous expense. It was a $250 used E-PL1 kit :rolleyes: I don't need to tell people here how wonderful that camera was, yet how flawed it was. I've had several Olympus bodies since then (PM1, PL3, P3, EM5), as well as a huge range of Panasonics (G2, GF2, GF3, GH2, GH3, GH4). It always felt a little bit like I was struggling against the system, though. I don't like shooting with primes for every-day use, but the zooms don't let in enough light and the sensors couldn't really keep up in my preferred photographing conditions (normal to low indoor lighting, no flash). But the modern day bodies have always been such a pleasure to use; the GH4 in particular is hands down the nicest, smoothest, sleekest shooting experience I've ever gotten from any camera at any size. It will be staying with me for video.
    Ultimately it became obvious to me maybe two years back that I am not in the group that values "small and light", not really. I was simultaneously starting to do much more action/sports/animal photography, and some of it being for serious work shoots where a few extra pounds didn't phase me at all. m4/3 was holding me back, and this is still in the era before the 2.8 zoom lenses were released. Enter the Sony SLT A65, combined with the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 kit lens. Eventually upgraded to an A77, and finally an A77 II this summer. Big cameras, big lenses, but what monstrous photographic capabilities! (And respectable video, too.) It's difficult to over-emphasize how much of a difference the A77 made in my ability to work at the higher end scale of photo and video, even if my technique isn't always all there. It culminated in my sending video captured on this camera to National Geographic this summer for publication. I've compared the work I did on that camera to what the GH2 and EM5 were able to give me, and there is no comparison. (The GH4 is in the ball park, but lacks the AF and a few lenses.) The A77 II continues to be my go-to when the shooting gets serious.
    I do lots of casual shooting too, though, and oddly enough "small and light" became important again as I've begun hiking and getting back to some of the calmer, still life and family photos I was doing with the EPL1. The A77 sucks to hike with, it can be needlessly (or usefully :wink:) intimidating at family events, and is generally serious overkill for a lot of scenarios where I don't need high speed bursts with tracking AF. I've been trying to make do with the EM5 and a 14-54 II, which is large and slow and generally not that pleasant to work with. If I had to settle on a single camera or camera system, it'd still be the SLT series. But I have some flexibility as long as I don't go trying to build a whole new lens system, so I decided to look around. Thought about some compacts (LX100, RX100) and even going to a Sony A7. I could've probably bought a 2.8 zoom for my GH4 and EM5, too. What finally caught my eye and wallet, though, was a Fuji X-E2 kit, and for less than what a 12-35 would've cost.
    After working with cameras like the EM5, A77, and especially GH4, the Fuji XE2 is utterly fascinating. It was jarring how primitive the device actually is. Very few controls or options, or customizable buttons. AF speed is probably in the EP2 ballpark, and only supports center point and full-multi. The lack of a zone/expanded setting is kind of a bummer. I'm also not sold on the physically marked dials; IMO Oly and Panasonic got this right and Fuji's approach doesn't improve upon it. The aperture ring on the 18-55 is nice but far too loose, which means I constantly have to double check what aperture I'm actually in. Perhaps the new XT1 is better, but this camera could never have been my primary/only equipment. Fuji just doesn't have the usability thing figured out, not at all.
    What they DO have figured out, though, is the imaging. Noise seems well managed right up through ISO 6400, and ahead of both my SLT and m4/3 cameras where I considered 3200 to be uncomfortable and 6400 to be an emergency situation. The film simulations are all very nice, and I'm jumping in late enough that the post processing has been figured out - Lightroom is able to exactly replicate the built in color settings. That's more than I get from any of my other cameras! The kit zoom is an 18-55, but f/2.8-4. Despite the extra stop of light, it's still compact (think first gen Pana 14-42) and sharp wide open. And look at the bokeh in that last shot! Since when does a zoom have the right to be that smooth in the OOF background? Fuji really pulled off something special here. This is what mirrorless kit lenses actually ought to be, rather than chasing the "pocketable" thing in futility. The combination of that extra stop in the lens plus the wonderful sensor performance means I've finally got a camera in my hands that can really handle whatever low light condition I'm going to throw at it. (I might add the 23/1.4 for just a bit more fun, though.) And the combo is still light enough to go hiking! It doesn't feel much different in the hand from my old E-P3 kit.

    Ultimately the X-E2 seems like a wonderful camera for anyone whose shooting style is just a bit slow, patient, and thoughtful. That is NOT me for a lot of things, but I have the A77 to handle those situations. I don't think that Fuji's done a great job on the camera design, but at the same time there's nothing that is so far off that it really bothers me in calmer photographic tasks. I absolutely adore the imaging and lenses. In some ways I am back to the EPL1 experience with it, except with a rather nice screen and viewfinder :smile: So I'm getting ready to say goodbye to my EM5 and its various lenses, after a long period of respectable service. It'll be strange not to have an Olympus body on hand.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Sorry Promit tl;dr (at least for me), but if Fuji works for you, enjoy! I tried it myself and IMO, it's big enough that if I was to go Fuji, I'd just go back to the Canon 6D and get a lot more lens selections (and better AF, at least for anything lower than the X-T1). I came back to m43 having gone through Fuji and Sony.

    See you on the boards!
  3. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    • Like Like x 2
  4. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    Does this mean we'll see some cheap lenses on sale on the forums?!

    Good luck with whatever your shooting! Not that it really matters... whatever works for you, go with it.
  5. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    That is why I put some pictures in :smile:
    I haven't had a 6D in hand, but it's even bigger than my monster A77. Definitely wouldn't want to carry that around on longer walks or hikes. The Fuji feels like my old EP3, not pocketable but easy to haul around all day. Almost anything focuses better than the Fujis, though.
  6. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Not really.


    I'm assuming, though, that CAF on the a77 is better than the 6D, but 6D sensor is better than the a77. There's always a trade-off.
  7. pcnyc

    pcnyc Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 15, 2010
    Everyday for me means range and video. That's why I also went to the Fuji and back. GX7 + 14-140mm II w/ 20mm on the side for low lights fits the bill better for me.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Interesting post. Can you comment about Olympus Jpegs vs Fuji Jpegs? Is Fuji better ?
  9. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Glad you are enjoying the new kit! I've ogled the Fuji's more than once but for my shooting are a let down in more than one area. I know a lot of folks that have moved in both directions and been happy for the change both ways. Really depends on the photographer I think. Sounds like it is working out to be a good fit for you.

    For me the 12-40/2.8 is just so ridiculously good I no longer have any envy of the Fuji 18-55. Plus the 12-40 starts at a much more useful (to me) 24mm eq rather than the 27 of the Fuji. At the long end 80 vs 82 is a wash. I applaud Fuji's approach of going for a more expensive and high IQ kit lens right from the start though, I think they are doing the right things with their lenses in general. But m43 has such a head start and such a wide collection of great primes that there is plenty of room for cheapo kit lenses in the m43 line-up. Still needs a UWA prime though which Fuji gave right out of the starting gates. Of course for you with multiple systems the only question is does Fuji have for what you want for your casual shooting.
  10. InlawBiker

    InlawBiker Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 1, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    Hold on bro, by my count you have owned at least a dozen camera bodies in a three year span? That is remarkable.

  11. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Yeah, I get you. I've been going back and forth but I think I'm going to keep the GH4 with the 14-140mm II for daylight stuff (Nikon+SB for video). Fuji doesn't have a convenience zoom and the XE2 camera is just so slow and primitive.
    I'm reluctant to say at only a few days in, as I haven't had a chance to evaluate very many situations. Both are very punchy renditions, versus the more muted defaults of Panasonic or Sony.
    Yeah I'm a bit of a crazy person. I think it's something like fifteen in total. Luckily I'm also pretty good at the buying/selling thing, basically they were nearly all used and I never really took a loss when selling off again. The EM5 was bought new and that's going to hurt in terms of what I'm getting versus what I paid, but overall they're not large expenses.
    It's definitely working out because I get to lean on other cameras for a lot of things. Shooting purely Fuji would be horrible.

    Of course the 12-40 is a hundred bucks more than I paid for camera and lens, and that's before we even get into the equivalence thing. I thought a lot about going this route but eventually decided against it. I get to sell the EM5 (and possibly 20 and 45) to buffer the price too, so it's a very small incremental cost.
    I'm just not a primes guy, I don't like having to change lenses frequently and I'm not happy with a single FL at a time. For this, it was really about who had the best zoom option, taking equivalence and money into account. I would've been even happier with an A7S, but I don't have that kind of money lying around for a tertiary ILC. I'm not THAT crazy!

    I'm odd in that I have a very diverse area of needs -- or perceived needs anyway -- and the monetary flexibility to pursue them. But I've never had that much money wrapped up in lenses, which helps. The A77 system isn't even that expensive for what it is (that 70-200/2.8 was a stretch but the 11-16/2.8 and 16-50/2.8 were relatively cheap). I never bought into the expensive m4/3 lenses.
  12. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    The very best of luck with your new camera. The Fuji is a great camera and I enjoyed shooting mine when it worked for me :)
    Ultimately I personally went the opposite direction to you - I moved from Fuji to m43 and not because of the size advantages; I moved for the speed and IQ improvements that I see over the Fuji from both sensor and lenses on the m43 side of the fence. At the time - the RAW output from the Fuji was rubbish. It's gotten much better in LR in more recent times but there are still many situation where colours bleed in LR and you loose detail - sure it's clean but a sacrifice between detail and cleanliness has been made, with Fuji favoring a cleaner image. It's entirely subjective but I'd much prefer to have a little more 'noise' and manually decide how to clean up as appropriate. If you really want to squeeze the performance out of it you need to take a look at Iridient or Photoninja which is another tool in the workflow. OOC jpegs from the Fuji are absolutely lovely though, some of the best out there.

    As for low light performance, keep in mind that the Fuji numbers are artificially inflated at least by a third of a stop over the competition, perhaps slightly more. In terms of IQ performance the sensor in the A77ii would still output the technically better stills IQ in a pure 'lines on the wall' perspective, detail, colour, RAW support in DXO, LR, etc... The A77ii is a fantastic camera and I'm a big fan of the SLT design - I wouldn't go throwing that camera away any time soon as your main workhorse.

    Also to the other poster who said that the A77 would not compare with the 6d sensor - the A77 has a smaller but better sensor than the 6d in terms of dynamic range, tonal range, detail.... the 6d is great for low light, but in the normal ISO range that we all typically shoot within, pretty much everybody has canon beat on sensor technology these days.

    BTW that second shot you showed of the formula one car is absolutely stunning! - you need to get that printed big. I'd personally hang a shot like that on my bed room wall. I'm guessing it came from the A77?
  13. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    Add me to the list of people that went the other way as well due to slow AF and camera response. I do miss the great jpegs but also don't miss the ISO games and blurry shots.
  14. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Agreed on all counts in the "normal ISO" range. Let's call it 1600 and down. There's no question that when I'm out to take photos seriously, the A77 II is the weapon of choice. I've chosen to assume that the Fuji sensor is identical in characteristics to other APS-C sensors, or maybe a third of a stop better (which is about what Thom Hogan said). And then it has a nice JPEG engine on top. I don't buy the "full frame performance" argument at all. You don't get that from a different CFA arrangement. What I am getting is something around maybe 2/3 of a stop better than my A77 in high ISOs, taking SLT and X-Trans into account. But my complaint with the A77 is weight for casual photography, not performance.
    Yep, in fact I have it printed on 20x16 aluminum sheet. It was taken off the A77 in JPEG and tweaked just a little bit for punchiness in post. I was having to work too fast to handle the RAW buffer clear times on the A77, so I was taking flattish JPEGs instead, like you'd do in video. The A77 II is now fast enough that I don't have to do that, which was one of my big upgrade reasons.

    Anyway, I've had the Fuji for a week and as I'm starting to step out of the honeymoon period, I'm wondering if my excitement was premature. I do like the imaging, but the camera is just so... I don't know a better word for it than primitive. I don't mind the speed (it was replacing an EM5 with 14-54 II, remember, so it's actually quite a bit faster). But the lack of zone AF is annoying. The controls aren't that helpful, especially because the aperture ring is way too easy to bump, and doesn't have very positive clicks. As a result I'm reluctant to shoot the camera in aperture priority. Its inability to select shutter speed based on focal length is another hassle, and completely needless at that. I have a photo at 55mm in broad daylight that has visible motion blur even at screen size (just barely), which at 1/60 has me wondering why the OSS didn't manage to compensate. And I would describe the grip/physical feel as "tolerable".

    I'm seriously re-evaluating, and returning the camera in favor of an A7 -- or the P12-35 -- is not off the table.
  15. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    That's just not true. Not at all true.

    First I didn't say "the A77 would not compare with the 6d sensor" I simply said the 6D has a better sensor.

    Looking at DXO, and this time with the a77ii (instead of the older a77)


    DXO marks the sensors equal (82 rating), with bits and DR very close at base ISO. As the ISO goes up, the 6D gets ahead of the a77 in DR (+1.5DR for the 6d at ISO 1600) and tonal range (where the chart shows the 6D ahead the whole time) and also color sensitive. Basically, the 6D is ahead of the a77ii past ISO200 color range and DR, and always ahead in SNR and tonal. I always think DXOs sensor rating is based only on the base ISO, where Sony tends to maximize their sensor results.

    And then the 6D 2X the performance in low light. Yes, the a77ii is a crop sensor, but I was talking about how the two cams compare, not compared to a theoretical other camera (full frame a77)

    I routinely shot the 6D with an f/4 zoom indoors. The super-sensitive EV center point and the high ISO (very useable to 10,000) made shooting indoor events with moving kids easy. I won't presume to speak for "we all," whoever that is, but it was very useful for me.

    And btw, compare the 6D vs. the Sony a7 -- a Sony FF sensor. http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A7-versus-Canon-EOS-6D___916_836

    At base ISO, the a7 is doing better. They are tied on SNR throughout the ISO range. and also very, very close on tonal range. On DR, the a7 leads until 800, where they tie, then the 6D leads at 1600, 3200 and 6400. The a7 is only 2DR better than the canon at the lowest ISO. At 200ISO, it's 1DR, at 400 ISO its 1/2 DR. In Color sensitivity, the a7 leads by about 2 bits through about ISO800, then it's tied the rest of the way out.

    I do agree Canon's sensors as a group are behind almost everyone else, but oddly, the 6D sensor is the best Canon sensor out there, IIRC. Maybe it's a sensor they sourced from Sony or something? I don't care. I just know it's a nice camera to work with. Odd that sensor doesn't show up in any other cameras.
  16. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Unfortunately DXO's ratings for DR and Color are both at base ISO, and blithely ignore what that ISO might actually be. As a result they tend to overrate the Sony chips that can reach down to ISO 50. If one sensor is doing at 100-200 what another is doing at 50, then they'll get the same rating despite obviously not level performance. It's important to actually dig into the graphs to see what's going on, and Canons don't have the linear rolloff in performance that you see from Sony sensors.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    You said it much more nicely and more succinctly than me. I wish you were my editor, lol.
  18. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    New discovery: Fuji's ISOs are overstated by 1/2 of a stop relative to my A77. To get the same exposure of an ISO 3200 image in my SLT, I have to run the Fuji at 5000 (which is just a touch brighter). The Fuji still looks like a better rendition overall, but it's a mistake to think that the Fuji is really doing a clean 6400.
  19. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Yeah, when I learned about that, and the RAW hassles associated with X-Trans in Lightroom (my favoured and only RAW converter - the workflow is just so easy), it really dampened my enthusiasm for Fuji. Not only that, the way Fuji bakes noise reduction into the RAW files, I don't find that the Fuji's hold much (if any) more detail than M4/3, let alone a modern 24MP Bayer APS-C sensor from Sony, even at higher ISOs.

    I periodically consider it, but when I delve into the details, it definitely doesn't seem like enough of a difference to "upgrade" to, especially given the lack of other nice features that are abundant on M4/3, like IBIS, touch-screens, high-quality video. And compact, affordable lenses...
    • Like Like x 1
  20. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    I respectfully disagree with you from a practical real world perspective :) The a77 has more dynamic range, better tonal range, higher resolution and more AF points across the frame than the 6d. The 6d will scale to higher ISO's with better noise handling and will hold onto color detail better past ISO6400. However I would wager that more people would benefit from better IQ at the lower isos' than the super extreme corner cases where you absolutely MUST shoot at ISO10000 without any light modifiers, flash, strobes etc... Most people want to keep their ISO's low to maximize their equipments IQ potential, and in the lower ISO's where you want to be shooting for most subjects, Sony sensor technology has Canon beat currently, even when comparing APS-C with small format.

    Regarding DXO's testing methodology... DXO describe it here : http://www.dxomark.com/About/Sensor-scores/Use-Case-Scores.

    I will also be the first to criticize DXO and say that there are 'holes in it' in how the present info. I feel it gives too much weighting to low light performance. Especially since most cameras sold today can give fairly acceptable performance up to ISO 1600 and the best APS-C cameras can now go to 6400 and get great prints. How often do people need to go well above ISO6400 at large print sizes of 30 X 40 ;) ??

    Just my 0.02.

    BTW - I'm a canon shooter with a 5d mk iii ;)

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