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Overwhelmed by the m4/3 options -- could use some quidance

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by ms960, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. ms960

    ms960 New to Mu-43

    Nov 29, 2012
    I own a Canon 60D and use it frequently. I have a good assortment of lenses for it, and enjoy shooting with it. I shoot in manual or AV mode most of the time.

    There are occasions, however, when I just don't feel like carrying it with me. About a year ago I was looking at m4/3 cameras as a viable option that would allow me to: 1) have a much smaller and portable camera that would 2) take much better photos than the standard point and shoot.

    My research a year ago led me to the Panasonic G3. I had the kit lens, as well as bought the Panasonic 20/1.7. While I enjoyed the smaller size of the camera, I never really bonded with it. I know it has a smaller sensor than my 60D, and hence the images won't compare fully to the images of the Canon, but I always felt that the G3 didn't do much better than my wife's point and shoot. I tried and tried to adjust my expectations, but it just never grew on me. I felt the images were always a bit soft, even compared to the point and shoot, and the IQ was much closer to the point and shoot that what I felt it should produce.

    So, after a year I parted ways with the G3 and am looking for something to replace it. I did keep the 20/1.7. My photography subjects are across the board: my kids, sports, portraits, scenery, etc. For sports, I would obviously stick to my 60D, so am not looking for a m4/3 to cover that type of photography.

    Have considered the Oly E-PM1, E-PM2, Panasonic GX1, but beyond that those, there are so many options it's a bit overwhelming.

    Price is a consideration, would prefer something on the smaller side (as I already have the DSLR), and favor some of the more retro-looking styles but that's not a deciding factor. I would put IQ at the top of the list, followed by price.

    Beyond those mentioned above, I am open to suggestions, or thoughts on going with one of those over any other. I don't really have much of an option to go to a store and try cameras out as Best Buy is about the only retailer near me that sells cameras, and they rarely have any in stock/on display that I am interested in.

    I guess one question I keep asking myself is are my expectations too high for a m4/3 camera at all? Am I spoiled, in a sense, by the images my DSLR produces? Should I give up on the m4/3 category, save my money and just get used to lugging my DSLR around? Are there m4/3 cameras that come close, but not quite, to the IQ that a DSLR can produce?

    Appreciate any and all thoughts, suggestions, input, criticism, etc.!
  2. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    If you weren't happy with the output of the G3, I would recommend limiting your selection to camera based on the latest Sony 16 mpx sensor: GH3, E-M5, E-PL5 and E-PM2 currently (hopefully a Panasonic GX2 in early next year). For me, this sensor is close enough in performance to the 16mpx Sony APS-C sensor (used in Nikon, Pentax, Sony, etc.) to have other factors, like native lenses matter more.

    Do you want to use a viewfinder most of the time? If the answer is yes, my other recommendation would be to consider a camera with it built-in. Take the E-M5, for example, it is very small (some say too small for handling), smaller than a PEN/GX1 with an accessory viewfinder attached. Also, if you add in the cost of the viewfinder to a PEN, you are going to be pretty close to the OM-D.
  3. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 6, 2012
  4. zapatista

    zapatista Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 19, 2012
    Albuquerque, NM
    Mike Barber
    If you are thinking that the G3 plus the 20mm won't do better than a (any) point and shoot, maybe you should stick with your 60D.
  5. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Don't know what to tell you man, the G3 is a very capable camera. Much better than just about any point and shoot. The 20mm is a very sharp lens, in fact most m4/3 lenses are sharp in general. So I'm not sure why you feel the images are soft. You need to provide us with more info about how you shoot (jpeg, raw, processing, etc).

    But to be honest, if you find the G3 lacking I doubt you will be happy with any other m4/3 camera. Even with a top of the line EM-5, E-PL5, or GH3 the difference is not really night and day.

    If you can't produce images from your G3 better than a point and shoot you might be doing something seriously wrong. Just saying. Sample images would help tremendously by the way.
  6. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    try out the OMD... or em5 as it is also known.... should give your 60D a run for its money and weigh so much less...it is a stunningly good camera

  7. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I agree with this completely. I've owned a G3 and a 60D and an E-M5. Not a fan of the G3 in the least. 60D and E-M5 are both great cameras imo, with the E-M5 being my preference for all things except sports.

    ms960, if you are pretty certain you will keep your 60D then I'd suggest looking at the E-PL5 or E-PM2, for biggest size difference and lowest cost. If you maybe will leave Canon altogether, or you value the built in EVF and/or 5-way IBIS of the E-M5 then definitely consider spending some extra money on that camera.
  8. ghetto

    ghetto Mu-43 Regular

    I think before you spend more money, find out what's really going on. i.e. did you use the G3 wrong or are your expectations too high, or was it just a dud camera or something.

    There's a lot of people posting pictures taken with an assortment of different cameras on here. Have a look at their pictures, how do you feel about the image quality of those pictures? Are any of those pictures as good as you want?

    Perhaps you can post some of the un-satisfactory pictures from your G3 and a panasonic owner can comment (well anyone can comment, but a panny owner might know the settings better, or perhaps people can confirm that's the best you'll ever get out of the g3 and or that no other m43 camera will do any better...)
  9. ms960

    ms960 New to Mu-43

    Nov 29, 2012
    My brother has a Panasonic GF1 with the Panny 20/1.7. It produces fantastic photos, which is what started this whole process about a year ago. I was very impressed with the photos his GF1 produces and did see a difference over point and shoot quality. I didn't think it out did my 60D, but came very close for such a small body. I did my research and found out the GF1 wasn't being made anymore but that the G3 was rated highly and was a comparable replacement for the GF1.

    @krugorg: No, viewfinder isn't necessary. I'm really looking for something on the smaller end of the spectrum that can be used almost like a point and shoot (if I want it to) but that produces image quality above point and shoots.

    @Leos: I know nothing about the E-M5, so I cannot comment on whether it is or is not above the 60D. I do know that *for me* my 60D is a fantastic camera and really like it. While the E-M5 is new technology and I'm sure in some areas it does exceed the 60D in terms of capabilities, I'm not interested (right now, at least) in replacing my Canon, so I see something like the E-M5 as competitor rather than a camera that compliments my DSLR. Thanks for the thread though -- interesting to read.

    @zapatista: Not thinking that at all. I'm thinking that something like the G3 plus the 20/1.7 *should* do better than a point and shoot, which is why I was disappointed when I couldn't see much of a compelling difference.

    @spatulaboy: I shoot RAW, and process in LightRoom 4. Good idea on the sample images -- I will do some digging when I have a little more time and try to find some sample images that underscore what I'm trying (poorly, probably) to say here.

    @demiro: For now, yes, I don't see myself getting rid of my Canon gear. Some day I'd like to move up to a more professional-level camera (i.e., full frame), as I am starting to dabble with studio photography, but am quite happy with the 60D for the time being. I will give the E-PL5 and E-PM2 a look. Do you have any experience with either and can recommend one over the other?

    @ghetto: I can't entirely discount that i wasn't using the G3 correctly, although I did spend a lot of time with the manual, and am a fairly experienced photography (but by no means consider myself even remotely close to professional-level). I will attempt to find some samples that convey what I am trying poorly to convey here.

    Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. Very helpful!
  10. Heaven's Light

    Heaven's Light New to Mu-43

    Oct 28, 2012
    Portsmouth UK
    I had a G3 and felt it never came close to the quality I got from a Sony SLR. I traded the G3 and thought about the EM5 but eventually decided on the G5 as it felt better ergonomically. Only had it a couple of weeks and not had the chance to use it thoroughly yet but initial impressions - not much change in quality from the G3. Seriously considering either the EM5 or even going back to SLR
  11. greenlight

    greenlight Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 16, 2012
    Colin B
    I can't see any reason why you shouldn't have been able to match your brother's results - my understanding is that the G3's sensor is a significant improvement over the GF1. I wonder if you got a faulty lens or body?
  12. ghetto

    ghetto Mu-43 Regular

    The great news is... a GF1 body on ebay is less than $200 (some as low as $140) since you already have a lens. (or with a lens seems to run about $300-$350).

    I know some other people are saying the the new 16mp sensors will really kick butt, but they'll probably run you more than $200 and if you're sure you liked the gf1... they're still available on ebay used.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. TFrank

    TFrank Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 31, 2012
    Just last spring I compared several m4/3 options (Oly E-PL3, Pana GF2 and GF3 as well as the GX1) against my Canon Powershot S95 (compact), my Sony NEX-5N and not very seriously against my Canon EOS 7D. (Welche Systemkamera darf es denn sein? Teil 2: MicroFourThirds oder Sony NEX – wer macht das Rennen? « Torsten Frank (german text, though))

    At that time I wasn't that convinced. This test was all about maximum portability and I wanted several key features. With that in mind I didn't found what I was looking for and / or I didn't find well implemented features to compromise in sensor quality. The latter was mainly hampered in dynamic range and low light and long exposure qualities.

    Just last October I tested m4/3 again. Reason: the E-M5 with it's nice responsiveness and it's new sensor. This time the test was all about maximum quality for dedicated shooting with emphasis on a light weight and convenient kit. Contenders this time: the Canon EOS 5D Mk II, the Canon EOS 7D, the Sony NEX-5N and the OM-D E-M5. (KB-Format, DSLR, Spiegellos, NEX und MFT mal wieder neu bewertet – Ergebnis: die Olympus OM-D E-M5 zieht ein « Torsten Frank (also german text)).

    I closed with a lengthy pro and cons list and my verdict:
    With the OM-D and it's sensor MFT reached its maturity. No comparison to the tested m4/3 cameras last spring. When it comes to reserves in shadow areas or long time exposures, the E-M5 sensor still is beaten by the NEX-5N sensor. But not by the sensor of the EOS 5D II. And I find this a mighty achievement indeed.

    The 5D II is in the area of rendition of detail and overall image quality a bit in front of the Olympus OM-D. But measured to it's other attributes and also in the light of the results with those Canon L lenses (which are neither lightweight nor cheap) that sensors advantage of the 5DII is eaten up quickly by the exceptional good glas which is available for m4/3. That Lumix G Vario 7-14 mm is a treasure of an wide angle zoom. There may be few others in compareable focal length which can rival it, yet even surpass it's quality. The only one may be the highly praised Nikon 12-24. Also the M.Zuiko 45 mm, the M.Zuiko 75mm or the M.Zuiko 60 mm macro are really fine lenses. Already before you take the comparatively light weight and affordable prices into account.

    All in all, I won't dismiss my NEX-5n, I just put it on hold. The E-M5 gives me the entrance in a much more complete system (more and better native lenses, key features like cable remote plugs, EVF and a really good touch screen at the same time, etc.) Looking forward to Sony as well as Olympus and Panasonic for what they may come up with next. But I send the EOS 5D II back and I plan to sell my EOS 7D.

    So I think you won't regret giving up your 60D. Chances are, you weren't heavy into sports or wildlife photography with this body, so for everything else the new m4/3 sensor generation in the E-PL5, the E-PM2, the E-M5 and also in the new Panasonic should be wonderful.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. 00r101

    00r101 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 21, 2012
    If you liked your brother's GF1 then it's spiritual inheritor is the GX1. Available for reasonable prices, small, 16MP sensor. But I am with everyone else; you should have been able to get good quality photos from the G3 unless it was defective. Some of the default settings need to be tweaked. SOme of the problems can be related to metering mode - I really disliked the job the camera did when set to full frame but looked much better with center weighted or spot metering.

    Were I you before I spent more money I would get with your brother for an afternoon shooting with his GF1. Maybe his set up advice will help.
  15. Dogman

    Dogman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 23, 2012
    I have a Canon 5D Mk III that I use primarily in the studio, and, like you, wanted a smaller camera to carry around while on travel. I would have bought the OM-D, but it was a little too large. I decided to get the E-PL5, and am extremely happy with it. It has almost all the capabilities of the OM-D (I said "almost"), but considerably smaller without the built-in EVF.

    I've been using the E-PL5 so much that, now, when I pick up my Canon, it amazes me how large and heavy it is.
  16. thomastaesu

    thomastaesu Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 16, 2012
    ATL, GA
    My first thought on D600: Wow, very small for FF!

    My thought after using OM-d for a month: Wow, how heavy and bulky it is!
  17. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I'll +1 what TFrank said.

    And yeah, every time I pick up my 5DII now I think two things: "Wow, this is bulky and heavy" and "this is very comfortable to hold". Really fits my hand like a glove, but it's just so impractical in so many situations.
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