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Nex or mu-43 kit? Help me decide.

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by csnite, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. csnite

    csnite Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 21, 2012
    I have recently sold my e-pl1 and my nex 3, so I am not invested in any system right now. I have saved up about $1100 to invest in a new system. I enjoyed the e-pl1 but it was very slow for my needs (kids) and the high iso was really pretty crappy. Also, I found focusing with manual lenses was painful at best. I enjoyed the nex 3, but the screen was basically useless in bright sunlight and the lenses are large and not terribly great. I would like at least the option to have an evf at some point, so that rules out the nex c3 for me. I like the tilting screen, but it isn't absolutely necessary. Here are the options I am considering.

    EM5 with mII kit for $1099. Obviously, this will get me just the kit lens and the viewfinder with the better 16mp sensor, IBIS, and I get to be the cool kid on the block with the new toy for about 8 seconds.

    E-pm1 with 14-42 & 40-150 (699), pan 20 1.7, vf3 for $1230 total. This would be a great kit for me with the faster kit zoom, the 40-150 for reach, and the 20 for portability, plus the vf3 for help in bright light and focusing older manual lenses. This is a little more than I was wanting to spend, but it would set me up pretty well for the forseeable future.

    Nex 5N kit (699), Sigma 19 2.8 (199), evf (349) for $1249 total. I will be honest, after using both the nex 3 and the c3, I have found that the image quality of the nex line is more pleasing to me. It just seems "richer." I don't know how to quantify that other than feeling. It may be just coming from the e-pl1, and I believe the newer pens are better, at least in low light, high iso. Also peaking is a very nice feature that is immensely better than magnification in my limited experience.

    Panasonic gx-1 kit with panasonic 20 1.7 for $1150 total. New sensor, built in flash, no evf.

    Panasonic G3 dual lens kit (949) with pan 20 1.7 for 1298 total. This is the most expensive kit and also the bulkiest, which I'm not crazy about, but has the better sensor and evf, with built in flash, which is a plus in my book. I have never held one, but I did have a panasonic fz camera which I liked.

    I think I am just paralyzed by analysis, but any helpful advice would be great. Is the 16mp sensor better "enough" to bridge the gap between mu-43 and aps-c? Is the e-pm1 with the better lenses going to allow me to take lower light shots with the ibis while keeping the iso low enough? What would you do if you had no investment in any system but $1100 to spend?

  2. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Simple Answer:

    If you plan on only shooting with legacy lenses, then a NEX system is arguably the preferred one.

    If you have some interest in native lenses, the Micro Four Thirds is the clear cut choice.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    It really depends on what you want and what is important to you. The NEX has the better sensor and if you have a collection of legacy glass you prefer (like say for Leica glass) then I'd say the NEX would be a smart choice. But, if you are looking for native glass and AF I would argue that the native M43 glass is superior to what is currently available for the NEX. The thing is it is not so simple as which has the better sensor or specifications. A camera is a tool and as such I need to be comfortable with it. I'd suggest go handle some at a local store. See where the controls fall in your hands, how easy (or not) they are to use and which one feels right. Everyone is different. For instance, I have friends whose opinion I respect that love the NEX...I don't care for the layout and UI and because of this it wouldn't be high on my list. I had an E-PM1 and while I thought it was a brilliant camera it was too small for me to use comfortably so I picked up an E-P3 and love it. In large part it will depend on what you like.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    The latest PEN cameras and the OM-D are much faster than the first and second generation PEN cameras. There are, in effect, only two sensors made for Micro Four Thirds cameras (ignoring detail differences) - the 12MP sensor and the 16MP sensor. The 16MP sensor has significantly better high ISO capability, and is currently available only on the G3 and the OM-D.

    The VF-3 is generally considered to be poor value for money compared to the VF-2, being slightly cheaper but significantly poorer quality. (You would probably be better with a secondhand VF2 than a new VF-3).

    The latest NEX cameras have better sensors than the 12MP sensors in the earlier Micro Four Thirds cameras, but I think that the 16MP sensors are rather closer (I do not know the detailed comparison, however, but there must be some detailed reviews out there - have you tried DXO Mark?).

    Where do you want to go with this in the long term, in any event? Do you imagine yourself buying further lenses in the future, as your budget allows? If so, you are very probably better off with Micro Four Thirds, as the lenses produced for Micro Four Thirds are both more numerous and of a significantly better standard than the lenses produced for NEX series cameras. Because of the smaller sensor size, they are also more compact. If you see yourself using mainly manual lenses for the foreseeable future, the focus peaking feature on the NEX is spoken of highly, and the larger sensor size will be more useful with lenses designed for 35mm film.

    Incidentally, what do you need the high ISO performance for, in any case? If you have the choice, at any given budget, of better high ISO performance or the ability to buy a faster lens, then there is much to be said for taking the latter option, especially since the faster lens is often higher quality in other respects; and the noise reduction in Lightroom 4 is now really very good indeed, enabling one to get a fair bit more out of a sensor with not so brilliant high ISO performance. Unless you plan to take lots of photographs in the dark and also plan on enlarging them considerably, you might find yourself better off concentrating on lenses than high ISO performance.

    Also, consider secondhand. With the launch of the OM-D, many people might be selling other cameras such as the G3 or E-P3/E-PL3. If you want to take lots of photographs of children, you might be wiser to concentrate your resources on acquiring the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens. That coupled with the 14mm f/2.5 (a very under-rated lens, and available at absurdly low prices on eBay) and the 20mm f/1.7 will give you a good setup and produce far superior results to the kit lenses.

    If you want to take a photograph using a 45mm or so focal length, using the Olympus 14-42mm kit lens, 42mm gives one a maximum aperture of f/5.6. The 45mm, meanwhile, is a whole three and a third stops faster at f/1.8. The difference between those two is greater than the difference between the high ISO performance of the 12MP sensor and the later 16MP sensor (in other words, you can use a wider aperture, a lower ISO, and get higher quality with the same shutter speed for any given lighting conditions).

    I don't know much about NEX mount lenses, but I rather doubt that they have anything to beat the Olympus 45mm f/1.8.
  5. zettapixel

    zettapixel Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 12, 2010
    IMHO the larger sensor of NEX eill always have some advantages, including high iso noise. Where :43: shines is lenses' availability and size. If NEX + MF lenses cover your needs it's a good option. However, Sony is unable to make small wide lenses for NEX at all, for instance.

    I know exactly the feeling you're describing and I think it's created either by a higher quality lens or better post-processing.
  6. coroander

    coroander New to Mu-43

    Apr 2, 2012
    I'm just moving from a DSLR (with lots of expensive lenses) to m43. I've sold off all my heavy DSLR equipment as i was using it less and less because i just got sooo tired of carrying it. I'm waiting for an E-M5 to arrive.

    The biggest problem with NEX and other APS-C systems (including APS-C DSLRs) is that the lenses have to be bigger (way too big for a compact body in my opinion) to accommodate the sensor. In order to get around the issue with big lenses, the lenses for APS-C are with only very, very few exceptions slow (f2.8 or worse).

    Sony makes a 50mm (75mm EFL) f1.8 lens for the NEX. It is image stabilised; being the fastest image stabilised lens made for any camera. But optical image stabilisation appears to be incompatible with fast lenses, and the Sony 50mm is very soft. All the other NEX lenses are f2.8 or worse.

    With M43 there are a lot of fast primes, this ensures that you'll have better depth of field control and can use lower ISO with an M43 camera than with the NEX. If you get a body with in-body image stabilisation then you'll have a huge advantage of very nice primes and image stabilisation.

    Initially i looked at the NEX-7, but abandoned it because of the larger and slower lenses (necessary to accommodate a larger sensor.)
  7. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    The NEX-5n sensor is further improved on the NEX-3 sensor than the E-M5 sensor is ahead of the E-PL1 sensor, so the gap is widening between the image quality. If you preferred the NEX-3 images, this will be moreso true with the NEX-5n. Sony just has SO MUCH money invested in sensor design, especially with companies like Nikon and Pentax sub-licensing them for their own cameras. For example, the D3200 that will come out in 3 weeks will supposedly have the NEX-7 sensor, in a $550 SLR. Those sales alone will probably cover Sony's R&D costs, not even including their own SLR line, and future NEX cameras.

    I also think the NEX-5n viewfinder is nice. It's so high resolution, I think the only nicer non-computer-monitor screen I've seen is the iphone. I've actually seen it on their SLR (the a77, I think?) but it's the same viewfinder. Also, the 19mm on Sony is wider, so if you are comparing to the Panasonic 20mm, you should consider the Sigma 30mm. It probably has about the same capabilities of low-light shooting, taking the improved high ISO performance of the NEX-5n into account. The 30mm also, although being a little more telephoto does account for it, does have about the same background blurring capability.

    The G3 isn't really much bigger than E-PM1 once you add the viewfinder. You're looking at a difference of millimeters. It's much smaller than you'd expect. If you're deadset on a viewfinder, it's also a better buy because you're essentially getting the E-M5 sensor for nearly half the price. If you stay with m4/3, this is the choice I'd recommend on a limited budget, especially when you start discussing a viewfinder.
  8. addieleman

    addieleman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 5, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Another consideration is dust on the sensor. Panasonic and Olympus share a magnificent dust removal system, Sony's is not as good.
  9. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    If you are fine with the sigma as your only lens on your nex5. I'll get the em5 and the sigma 20 2.8.

    Although its not as fast as the 20 1.7 Panasonic, it should have a bit better high ISO performance on the em5 and also a bit better IBIS.
  10. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    Actually, that's not quite right. There are at least three sensors, maybe four. And four cameras with a 16 MP sensor.

    The G3 and GX1 share the same sensor, a 16 MP 4/3rd format. The GH2 has a multi-aspect 18 MP sensor, from which several different formats of approximately 15 to 16 MP can be selected (4:3, 3:2 and 16:9). And then there's the OM-D which is also a 16 MP 4/3 format sensor, but possibly not the same one in the G3/GX1.

    The G3 / GX1 sensor is marginally better at high ISO than the GH2, which is somewhat better at low ISO.

    The OM-D looks like it may be a bit better than the G3/GX1 at high ISO, and pretty much the same as the GH2 at low ISO. That's based on very preliminary evaluation of images posted on the web, not on any real testing.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Ah, I stand corrected. A useful summary of the information!
  12. pjohngren

    pjohngren Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2010
    I strongly vote for the G3. It is a totally amazing, small, light weight camera that is incredibly customizable. I have it with the 14-45 lens, which is a high quality lens, and then have an array of Panny lenses, but I must say that the 14-45 fits the bill most of the time. The 45-200 is also incredibly good and a bargain. I could easily live without all the other lenses I have - the 14, 20, and PL45.

    If it was me, therefore, I would look closely at the G3 and possibly consider getting the body and a 14-45, if other people don't feel that the kit 14-42 measures up to the 14-45. I suggest reading the customer comments on Amazon for the 14-45. The G3 body is $549 and the 14-45 is $272 for a total of $921. You can get the 45-200 for $245 and you are at $1066.

    If all my stuff was stolen and I needed to replace it, I would get the G3, 14-45, and 45-200 without hesitation. Each is a quality item and preforms incredibly well.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    I agree with everything here except for the 14-45mm. I think it's rather overpriced at $280, and you can save a good $130 by getting the Panasonic 14-42mm that's on sale at Amazon right now. I think for nearly half the price, you're losing out on very little performance. Or, as mentioned, you can buy used, but you'll still likely spend $200 at least, and then you can just buy the Panasonic 14-42mm used for $100-$120.
  14. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    you state your need is to photograph your kids... deal is kids are hard to shoot... you really really have to work at it as a photographer... the camera is pretty much irrelevant.. no camera yet nails focus of a running kid in a dim living room.

    this was taken with an E-p1 with 20mm lens i think

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Tickle by kevinparis, on Flickr

    this was E-p1 with manual focus 50mm f1.2 lens

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Oliver Runs by kevinparis, on Flickr

    E-510 with a legacy lens

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    about a boy by kevinparis, on Flickr

    point is ... stop fretting about the camera... have one .... any one and learn to use it ... and do your learning while taking shots of your kids.... lots of shots because you will have a lot of failures at first and even later... but thats what photography is about..

    cameras don't take pictures... photographers do...all these were shot with 3-5 year old cameras

  15. csnite

    csnite Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 21, 2012
    Thanks for all the help. In the end, I was ready to order the G3 kit, but found a refurb e-pl2 with kit and 40-150 for $479. It was too good a deal to pass up in my mind. I added the panasonic 20mm, so for 850, plus 20 bucks for a MD to mu43 adapter for my MD 50 1.4, and I think I am set to go with enough money left over to grab the vf2 if I really feel I have to have it. Now to go out and take some pictures.
  16. troll

    troll Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 25, 2012
    Your Camera Does Matter
    I'd swap 20 to 25 if it's not too late. Not a big deal, but 25 focuses faster.
  17. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Actually there are at least four sensors, maybe five.

    Sensor 1:

    Sensor 2:

    Sensor 3:

    Sensor 4:

    Possibly sensor 5:
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