Rethinking my mirrorless kit

turtleboy133

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I'm in the process of upgrading my mirrorless kit. For the past 5 years I've used an E-M5.1 with an Olympus 12-50mm, Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and Panasonic 20mm f/1.7. However, I want to:
  • Replace the body.
  • Pick up a lens that goes up to 300mm for wildlife. For example, the Olympus 75-300mm II or Panasonic 100-300mm.
  • Get a prime that focuses much faster than the Panasonic 20mm in low light. I primarily use the 20mm when shooting indoors, but miss many shots of my kid because he's out of the frame by the time the lens focuses.
  • Replace the 12-50mm with a larger range such as the Panasonic 14-140 II or Olympus 14-150 II.
This is a fairly significant kit revision. The key considerations for this system are:
  • Size, weight and weather-sealing - I primarily use this system for travel (e.g. hiking and vacations where I also need to pack kid-related stuff) and would only carry the zooms. Weather-sealing is not mandatory, but would be nice, for the longer range telephoto (if it's raining, I can just leave the 14-150 or 14-140mm on the body).
  • Cost - Ideally I'd keep the combined cost of all items around $1500 or less and am willing to purchase used or refurbished to help with cost.
  • Great out of camera (OOC) JPEGs. These days I just don't have much time to edit pictures so I only edit 2-3 per year (for printing). I've been very happy with the OOC output of my E-M5.1. Back when I purchased the body, the Olympus bodies were superior to the Panasonic bodies in terms of OOC JPEGs, which is a key reason I chose Olympus.
I primarily use the camera for taking pictures of landscapes, wildlife and waterfalls. I love taking long exposures, so I really like the live composite feature of newer cameras is something I'm excited about. I believe both Olympus and Panasonic have now implemented this feature.

Right now I'm considering the following options.

Option 1
  • E-M5.2 (469g) with 14-150mm II F4-5.6 (284g), 75-300mm II F4.8-6.7 (423g).
  • Sell the Panasonic 20mm and purchase the Olympus 25mm (which should focus much faster).
The E-M5.2 + 14-150mm II can be purchased for $700 refurbished. The 75-300mm II is is currently $400.

Option 2
  • G85 (505g) with 14-140mm II F3.5-5.6 (265g), 100-300mm II F4-5.6 (520g)
  • Keep the Panasonic 20mm (or sell it for the Panasonic 25mm).
Approx $600 for 100-300mm II, $600 for 14-140mm. I might be able to get a G85 with 14-140mm for about $700 refurbished, but need to confirm that the 14-140mm is the second edition if I go this route.

I'm sort of partial to option 1 given my long history with Olympus bodies and I love their built-in image stabilization. However, none of the Olympus lenses would support sync IS. In contrast, I believe both Panasonic zooms support dual IS on the G85. Further, the G85 package has slightly brighter lenses and both lenses are weather sealed. Probably not enough to make a huge difference, but every fraction of a stop counts. Option 2 seems to be slightly more expensive, larger and and heavier, but only marginally so. Also, would the Panasonic 20mm focus faster on the G85 or is it still a relatively slow focusing lens regardless of what body it's on?

I'm having quite a bit of trouble deciding between these two options. Does anyone have thoughts about what makes the most sense for my situation? My gut feeling is that option 1 would be slightly lighter and feel more compact compared to option 2, but option 2 is the more robust travel kit. Woulds the OOC JPEGs from the G85 be as nice as the E-M5.2? Would the dual IS of the Panasonic combination outperform Olympus IBIS?
 
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I'm an Olympus shooter, but I thing the G85 kit is a little better well-rounded option. I wouldn't bail on the P 12-60 with the G85, either. I don't think you would miss much between 60mm and the 100mm of the 100-300. The P12-60 is a well regarded kit lens.

However, in another month or so the used prices of E-M5ii's is going to drop when the E-M5iii is released.
 

Bushboy

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FWIW, the P25/1.7 focuses blazing fast on my M5ii, is killer sharp and produces great pics, and was also very well priced. A hundred cheaper than Olympus!
The M5ii is tiny, but battery life is poor.
You won’t want to backpack with the big zoom. I always left it at home when backpacking... maybe you could get by with just the super zoom and use the 2X digit convert or thing in the menu?
It will be interesting to see how cheaply M5ii’s go for used when the mkiiii version comes out, over here G85’s are still quite expensive. The reason I didn’t get one when replacing a G6.
I would ditch the clunker 20 and the 12+50 straight away...
 

turtleboy133

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I'm an Olympus shooter, but I thing the G85 kit is a little better well-rounded option. I wouldn't bail on the P 12-60 with the G85, either. I don't think you would miss much between 60mm and the 100mm of the 100-300. The P12-60 is a well regarded kit lens.

I agree that the G85 kit is a well-rounded option. The point regarding 12-60 is a good one, but if I already have the 12-50 I might as well use that and save some money. You have me thinking that perhaps I don't really need the 14-150mm after all and save some money (although, looking at prices online I can buy E-M5.2 + 14-150mm II for only $100 more than body-only regardless of whether it's a refurbished or new kit).

FWIW, the P25/1.7 focuses blazing fast on my M5ii, is killer sharp and produces great pics, and was also very well priced. A hundred cheaper than Olympus!
The M5ii is tiny, but battery life is poor.
You won’t want to backpack with the big zoom. I always left it at home when backpacking... maybe you could get by with just the super zoom and use the 2X digit convert or thing in the menu?

What is your backpacking kit? I just did a size comparision (https://camerasize.com/compact/#594.97,594.376,594.332,689.34,689.629,ga,t). I didn't really appreciate how much bigger the G85 + Panasonic lenses are.

However, in another month or so the used prices of E-M5ii's is going to drop when the E-M5iii is released.

It will be interesting to see how cheaply M5ii’s go for used when the mkiiii version comes out, over here G85’s are still quite expensive. The reason I didn’t get one when replacing a G6.
I would ditch the clunker 20 and the 12+50 straight away...

I will definitely wait to see what happens to the E-M5 prices once the new one comes out. Looks like it's expected to be announced in the next couple weeks, right?
 
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I just did a size comparision (https://camerasize.com/compact/#594.97,594.376,594.332,689.34,689.629,ga,t). I didn't really appreciate how much bigger the G85 + Panasonic lenses are.
Notice that camerasize.com does not have the f/3.5-5.6 version of the Panasonic 14-140mm, but only the (much) older, bigger and heavier f/4-5.8. The f/3.5-5.6 (both the mk I and II) is 265 g in weight and 75mm long, making it lighter and smaller than the Olympus 14-150mm. Also, the picture of the G85 includes a reflection that makes it seem larger than it is. With that said, the G85's body is indeed a bit larger than the E-M5 ii. (To me, that's a plus, because I find the G85's grip really comfortable.)
 

cdmicha

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That's a lot to think about! Regarding the body, if you like the jpgs SooC on Olympus, the E-M5.2 would be the way to go. I still prefer Olympus jpgs (although the newer panasonic bodies are just fine too, but the look isn't quite the same). It certainly sounds like a great deal with the 14-150ii. It also uses the same batteries as your current camera, so there's that too. Also, the live composite feature on the E-M5.2 is far superior to the 4k composite feature on the G85.

Just from a monetary standpoint, the Olympus makes more sense. I could see going the Panasonic route if 1) you want a little better grip and 2) plan on taking quite a bit of video. If neither of these are the case, then I'd go Olympus.

Regarding the 20mm 1.7, it's slow no matter what camera you use it on. It's sharp, though. Both the Olympus 25 1.8 and Panasonic 25 1.7 work just fine on either brand (and much faster focusing than the 20mm), but DFD focusing with the 25 1.7 on the G85 should perform the fastest.
 

Michael Meissner

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I recently wrote a reply about Olympus E-m5 mark II vs. G85 over at dpreview:
The Panasonic 20mm is a slow focusing lens, even on the G85. The mark I version that I have was one of the first micro 4/3rds lenses Panasonic released, and the mark II version didn't seem to improve things.

I have the Olympus 14-150mm mark II lens and I like using it when I'm outdoors and I don't want to switch lenses. I have shot with the 14-150mm mark II in wet conditions with all 3 of my splash proof cameras (E-m5 mark I, E-m1 mark I, G85) and it works well. Though in low light situations, I prefer the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 and Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 mark I lenses. But those can be budget buster lenses.

In terms of fast prime, I've been really happy with the Panasonic-Leica 15mm that I bought used from a fellow forum member. I bought it because I found in practice the 20mm to be too long for indoor shots. The Olympus 17mm f/1.8 sometimes gets mixed reviews.

I recently bought the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 lens, which is one of the cheapest splash proof lenses, but I haven't used it other than for test shots, so I can't say anything about the focus speed. Note, however the Sigma lens is rather big. For my use that is not an issue (I bought it for my steampunk camera, and in that the size of the camera box overwhelms the size of the camera or lens).

One issue is after using the 12-40mm lens and earlier 12-50mm lens, I like the 12-13mm focal length and I notice not having it when I'm using the 14-150mm mark II.

In terms of weather sealing, while I have not had issues with the Olympus cameras, lenses, and the G85, I did have an issue with the Panasonic 100-300mm mark II lens when I got splashed by a wave on a whale watch, and for a while it did not work. I speculate that a grain of salt got in the gears and was blocking the lens turning on until I gave it a sharp rap. Also, while Olympus does mention that its E-m5 mark II and E-m1 mark I/II bodies are splash resistant to IPX1 level (fairly weak granted), Panasonic doesn't quote any level for being splash proof.

If the weight of your gear is an issue, and you decide to go with the Olympus cameras and shoot JPG, note Olympus has an option to do an in-camera 2x electronic zoom which can make the 14-150mm mark II go to an equivalent 28-600mm lenses (28-300mm without the 2x electronic zoom, and 300-600mm with it). Unlike Panasonic (where it is pretty bad), the Olympus implementation is pretty decent.
 

turtleboy133

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I think that the difference between the 12-50 and 12-60 is pretty drastic. It is most definitely an upgrade.

Valid point. Although, if I'm going to replace my lens, I'd probably replace it with an Olympus 14-150 or Panasonic 14-140 since my 12-50mm is my hiking lens. For hiking I'd like a good zoom range so I can capture animals I encounter along the trail as well as landscapes and waterfalls. So, the 12-60 would end up being superfluous. I used to have the original Olympus 14-150mm for hiking but sold it when I got the 12-50mm as part of the E-M5.1 kit since that was weather sealed. Now that Olympus and Panasonic both have weather-sealed offerings of their 14-150/14-140mm lenses, I'd like to switch back.
 

turtleboy133

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That's a lot to think about! Regarding the body, if you like the jpgs SooC on Olympus, the E-M5.2 would be the way to go. I still prefer Olympus jpgs (although the newer panasonic bodies are just fine too, but the look isn't quite the same). It certainly sounds like a great deal with the 14-150ii. It also uses the same batteries as your current camera, so there's that too. Also, the live composite feature on the E-M5.2 is far superior to the 4k composite feature on the G85.

Just from a monetary standpoint, the Olympus makes more sense. I could see going the Panasonic route if 1) you want a little better grip and 2) plan on taking quite a bit of video. If neither of these are the case, then I'd go Olympus.

Good point. Batteries do add to the cost and the live composite feature is the thing I'm most excited about. I don't do much video, so it's a low priority.

Regarding the 20mm 1.7, it's slow no matter what camera you use it on. It's sharp, though. Both the Olympus 25 1.8 and Panasonic 25 1.7 work just fine on either brand (and much faster focusing than the 20mm), but DFD focusing with the 25 1.7 on the G85 should perform the fastest.

Thanks! As long as it's reasonably fast, I don't expect blazing autofocus speed. Just fast enough to capture kids moving around.
 
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You are going to have so much fun- you can't go wrong with either selection,;
just go for one and enjoy it, don't be afraid to mix and match Olympus and Panasonic, just find the best deals.

Probably now is an optimal time to take the Olympus route. In the UK the grey market prices are as follows:

Olympus em5ii £400
Panasonic 12-60 5.6 £200
Olympus 40-150 5.6 £100
Olympus 75-300 £300
Olympus 25 1.8 £200

Total £1200

I prefer the 12-60 40/150 combo to the 14-150 as I find the 12mm more useful but YMMV

The Panasonic 25 1.7 is £50 cheaper than the oly, or £50 cheaper still is a sigma 30 2.8, which I owned and loved before replacing it with the Oly 25.

I already have 4 of these 5, and will probably get the em5ii in the net few weeks; but just waiting on the em5iii announcement.
 

turtleboy133

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Notice that camerasize.com does not have the f/3.5-5.6 version of the Panasonic 14-140mm, but only the (much) older, bigger and heavier f/4-5.8. The f/3.5-5.6 (both the mk I and II) is 265 g in weight and 75mm long, making it lighter and smaller than the Olympus 14-150mm. Also, the picture of the G85 includes a reflection that makes it seem larger than it is. With that said, the G85's body is indeed a bit larger than the E-M5 ii. (To me, that's a plus, because I find the G85's grip really comfortable.)

Good point, but I'm hesistant to get a bigger kit. I sold my Canon SLR many years ago since I was looking for a smaller kit. Perhaps the E-M5.2 with the Panasonic 14-140mm would be a good option.
 

cdmicha

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Good point, but I'm hesistant to get a bigger kit. I sold my Canon SLR many years ago since I was looking for a smaller kit. Perhaps the E-M5.2 with the Panasonic 14-140mm would be a good option.
If weather sealing is a consideration, keep in mind that cross-brand sealing doesn't necessarily work. All evidence one way or the other that I've seen is circumstantial, I haven't come across a comprehensive review of it (maybe someone else has?)

Good point. Batteries do add to the cost and the live composite feature is the thing I'm most excited about. I don't do much video, so it's a low priority.
I haven't used the G95 live composite mode (which sounds closer to the Olympus), but when I want to shoot live composite I ALWAYS grab my E-M1, even over my G9. It's miles better than the 4k/6k options, and if that's something that is important, just get the Olympus. I'm not saying the Panasonic version isn't serviceable (I got some really cool lighting photos with my GX85 once), it's just not as good, in my opinion.

Thanks! As long as it's reasonably fast, I don't expect blazing autofocus speed. Just fast enough to capture kids moving around.

I've used both those 25mm lenses mentioned quite successfully capturing candid shots of the kids indoors (although pre-focusing helps out tremendously). Kids find a way to be just fast enough with an arm, smile, or other movement to stymie any setup, though. With that stated, the 20mm is just much slower than the rest. Amazing lens, though.
 

Bushboy

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My backpacking kit.
M5mkii.
12mmf2. 60mm 2.8macro. Panasonic’s 45-150 kit zoom.
A relatively small travel tripod.
Regarding the 75-300 , I had Panasonic’s one, regarding backpacking, honestly, to big and heavy for the amount of times it was needed. I would rather the in camera 2X cropper.
Panasonic’s kit zoom is pretty darn good..
I haven’t seen mention yet of tripod? I just don’t go anywhere without mine, I just can’t get by without it. Rolled up socks, rocks, etc just don’t cut it. :)
 

SkiHound

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Good point, but I'm hesistant to get a bigger kit. I sold my Canon SLR many years ago since I was looking for a smaller kit. Perhaps the E-M5.2 with the Panasonic 14-140mm would be a good option.

If you really want small, have you considered something like the GX9? Makes some compromises. The EVF is mediocre, at best. Useable for me, but a weakness. Not weather sealed. But I really like it for travel and daily use. But if you're looking at using it with something like the 100-300 I think the body size of something like the G85 makes more sense.
 

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