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So hypothetically for a safari..

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by phrenic, May 9, 2012.

  1. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    In the next probably year, year and a half I'll likely be doing an African safari (or maybe the Galapagos? lol) and I've been half-heartedly weighing shooting options. I suppose I would be in the enthusiast camp. I read lots, shoot decently, but certainly not a working photographer.

    My existing kit is an E-P1 (ha!) and G1 with the 7.5mm fisheye, 9-18mm, 20mm, 14-45mm, 40-150mm and a couple legacy lenses. And beyond the dated bodies, the obvious gap is at the telephoto end. I don't think there would be any choice but the 100-300mm. So this would be what..a 500-600$ cost. A body upgrade would be merited, but I'll try to keep this simple. Obvious benefits is lightweight, keeps together with my only camera system. Easy.

    But I must admit that for the price of the lens, it would put me in spitting range of a low-mid level dslr. I see a variety of options on sale at costco etc. T3s. t3i's often bundled with a mediocre looking 75-300mm zoom package. Not much more than just the m43 lens. Alternatively, I've been seeing some nikon d5100's hitting low sale prices (I guess they're clearing them out for next year models). So would it be crazy to look at adding a supplementary system? The pro would be bigger sensor, faster AF--though probably on par with newer m43 bodies, more lens options. Cons: all the trouble of a new system. Big. Heavy.

    Any thoughts? Would it be a painful addition for this size/design snob? (Yes, I'm one of those pretentious people who snickers at soccer moms with Canon rebels with the kit lens :redface:)
     
  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Just FYI, the autofocus on those cheap kits with cheap tele zooms is god awful. A 100-300 will lock on much faster when using one of the current m43 bodies.
     
  3. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    Any 300mm lens on APSC will have substantially less reach than the 100-300. The APSC lens is a 450mm equiv and the 4/3 lens is a 600mm equiv.

    I think you'd be hard pressed to get a better light weight kit than a EM5, 7-14, 12-50 and Oly 70-300. Throw in a 20mm for a fast lens and you're set.

    Gordon
     
  4. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    693
    Jul 8, 2011
    I would look into getting a D3200 and the 55-300.

    That way you can crop the 24 megapixels to make up for the shortness of the lens.

    The 450 equivalent is a bit short for wildlife.

    Another idea is to get the Nikon 1 and F mount adapter, 55-300 lens. It'll make a 900 equiv and will AF track faster than the current M43 models.

    But I think the Panasonic 100-300 is the best option, it has OIS which will be useful on the Panasonic, much less expensive than the Olympus 75-300.
     
  5. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Fred
    I don't see any reason to switch to a larger camera unless you go for the upper end instead of low end. Especially with lenses. The 100-300 on an E-M5 would be very nice for a safari.

    Since you have time, you can wait for used bodies to hit the market. Also with the improved IBIS of the E-M5 you might want to look at longer legacy lenses.

    Fred
     
  6. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    400mm is good for wildlife, but more reach is better - I didn't feel I missed a great deal in Africa shooting 400mm on my 5DII, but with the OM-D, I would opt to take the 5DII along for landscape, and get a 100-300 (effective field of view equivalent to 600mm) on the (higher frame rate) OM-D.

    A 24 megapixel sensor cropped down to the equivalent 600mm field of view 'only' leaves you with about 14 megapixels of resolution, and really good IBIS (or the in-lens IS) coupled with more pixels would yield a far more useable and compact kit - most wildlife doesn't require high shutter speeds for stopping action, more for stopping wobble. I mean, I have no real issue traveling with 20 lbs of camera gear (I've backpacked with that much) if it will get me the shots I want/need, but since my main interest is landscape, carrying a kit that's smaller and lighter than my long lens alone for the telephoto I take is incredibly appealing...
     
  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    I echo both Fredlong and Mattia. A good lens on a high-end m4/3 is better than a crappy lens on a low-end dSLR.

    Like Mattia, I also haven't any issue with weight or size ... you gotta take whatever is required to get the job done (it is what it is). But if you can get the job done with a small, lightweight system ... then who's the smart one now ... (Best of all with the 100-300 and upgraded camera you can get the job done better than with the low-end dSLR and lenses you were considering.)

    Gary

    PS- If you were considering a Canon MKIV or MK-X with a 300 f/2.8 along with a 1.4x and 2x extenders or a 500 f/4 ... now I'd say go with the big guns. But as you described your choices, clearly the µ4/3 system is the winner.

    G

    PPS- BTW, the Canon 500 is $10,000 and the MKIV is about $5,000. For most of us, we'd never see a significant difference in our images between the big dog $15,000 set-up and the µ4/3 $1,600 system (OM-D/100-300).
    G
     
  8. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Been there, done that with M43.
    Been there, done that too with M43.

    The situations are very different. In Africa you are correct, you need the 100-300. What I did was to buy a used G1 and a used 100-300 for my trip, selling them when I got back. My net cost to have them was $30.

    Africa with 60mm equivalent focal length:

    Leopard_In_Tree.

    Another problem you will run into is the need to manually focus. For example:

    Lion_Head_On.

    Those twigs in front of the lady were very attractive to the autofocus. I ended up manually focusing (which is a b1tc# at 600mm) in order to get the shot. I have another of a jackal in a clump of grass where I didn't recognize that the AF had grabbed the grass, the depth of field wasn't enough, and the animal is a little soft. So, buy the 100-300 early enough that you can practice manual focus and get good at it.

    I the Galapagos, the situation is completely different. You are literally tripping over the animals and birds. No need for really long lenses.

    Here's one with my 45-200 set to 128mm, though I could easily have gotten closer:

    Maring_Iguana_301.

    I use the articulated LCD when shooting the iguana. Otherwise I would have had to be on my stomach.

    Common things:

    There is no time to change lenses. In Africa I shot with two bodies, one with the 14-140 and the other with the 100-300. It is quite common for animals to get close enough to your game drive vehicle that the 100mm end the of the long lens is too long. In the Galapagos, you will also need two bodies if you go with the 14-45mm and 40-150mm because the break point is right in the middle of where you are shooting. There you will be walking around a lot, so I would recommend one body with a 14-140mm or the Oly equivalent. That is enough range.

    You need a monopod. In Africa, the game drives are at the beginning and end of the day, so you will have some low light situations. You can use a monopod both in the game drive vehicle and on the ground. A tripod is impossible in the vehicle and an encumbrance on the ground. In the Galapagos you will be walking a lot and the group will not wait while you diddle with a tripod. I recommend a 5 or 6 section carbon monopod that collapses to 16" or so. Add a cheap ball head with a quick release plate and you are good to go.

    Details:

    The monopod doubles as a walking stick, something that is especially handy in the Galapagos.

    You don't need an expensive ball head because all the small movements are made by tilting and twisting the monopod. Cheap ball heads can be a little jerky for small movements, but you don't care.

    The Arca-Swiss base is not quick release, at least the ones I have seen. They have screws to clamp the plates, necessitating one hand to hold the camera, one to hold the monopod, and one to screw the clamp. So, fine if you are a mutant. I recommend either the Velbon QHD-41Q or one of the Manfrotto balls with the QR2 system. These are two-handed QR systems.
     
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  9. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    836
    Feb 29, 2012
    What's your budget and timeframe for this? The longer you wait, the more options and better prices you'll have but you also need time to get familiar with new equipment.

    The easiest choice would be the E-M5 + 100-300. But an African safari does not always requires super tele's, but that depends on the tour. Many photogs mention the Canon 100-400 as being the near perfect focal length. I remember shooting deer (here in NA) with my GH2 + 14-140 at the short end, because my 7D + 300/4 was just way too long.

    So I would suggest researching based on the specific destination.

    :edit: little slow with the send key here, but I agree with oldracer's advice.
     
  10. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    The monopod is a good recommendation.

    G
     
  11. Spuff

    Spuff Mu-43 Top Veteran

    652
    Dec 5, 2010
    Berkshire, UK.
    I was very interested in the D3200 when I found out about it - but looking at comparisons (on the net) the IQ seems poor compared even to my EPL1. I suspect cropping those 24mp with a 300 lens native to that system will give a worse result than a 300 native lens on m43.
    I really wanted to like the D3200 but I was totally put off.
     
  12. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I should have mentioned that my experience is in Southern Africa. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. Savannah, plains, and what they call "forest" but we in the US would call "scrubby trees" and not consider dense at all. I think Ngorongoro to the north would be similar.

    In jungle areas, though, you are not going to get much out of a long telephoto.

    Well, err ... A 300mm lens projects the same size image on the sensor plane regardless of the size of the sensor. 300mm projecting onto an APS-C sensor is not shorter or longer than 300mm projecting onto a four thirds sensor. You can't get a wider field of view than the sensor provides, but you can get a narrower field of view by cropping. So the larger sensor provides more flexibility up to some limit where the number of pixels in the crop is inadequate for the intended use.

    Sorry to be a bit pedantic, but people get unnecessarily confused when phrases like this are used.

    Certainly if you want a new toy. My impression, though, is that the main strength of the E-M5 is the low light performance of the sensor. That would not be much of an advantage shooting outdoors in either the Galapagos or Africa. In the Galapagos you are almost never ashore in low light conditions and in Africa (my experience) the low light periods are short enough that the camera's performance is unlikely to get you a photo you couldn't have gotten with a lesser beast. Maybe the E-M5 has other advantages that I don't understand, though.
     
  13. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    @ oldracer, not to be confrontational, but ... I think the better AF, AF tracking, 4.5 Tacking and 9 FPS w/o tracking are all good reasons for the OM-D. Can you shoot Africa w/o better AF, sure ... will better AF and FPS make it easier to get the exceptional shot ... you bet.

    G
     
  14. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Noi confrontation at all. I don't know the camera that well.

    Not to argue with you but just as a philosophical point I do think that small differences between tools get blown out of proportion in many of these forum discussions. Certainly there are situations where some arcane feature of a tool will save the day, but in most cases any of the hardware available in M43 will produce excellent photographs.
     
  15. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Fred
    From reports and samples I've seen the stabilization system in the E-M5 is considerably better than previous m4/3 cameras. That could make a big difference with longer lenses.

    Fred
     
  16. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Wow this place is always a wealth of information! Thanks for all the feedback..I'll go through here and address individual points but generally:

    I think you guys are right, there's probably a very marginal benefit moving to a low to low-mid end slr. Probably too much compromises/cost cutting without moving to the higher end gear. And I certainly don't have the money (nor the build) for that sort of transition. New body and a light 200-600mm equivalent lens is looking pretty good.

    As for time-frame, I have nothing set. Probably would go to see the big seasonal migration..it's the wife who looks after these sorts of details. I'm just joining along for the ride/documenting. ;) Nothing in 2012 at least as I have a family vacation and tapped out budget wise.

    Up to date, I suppose the GH2 was the king of serious m43 shooting. The OMD could be an interesting proposition though with the IBIS. I thought consensus was that OIS was better for long focal lengths and generally preferable where available since it's customized to the lens. This may all change with the OMD's IBIS I guess. I suppose I can wait for a consensus to emerge and people more technically inclined and gear-rich to test out the hypothesis.
     
  17. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Six months or more is not too early to be doing your planning. The best properties book up fast. We found a small family company in SA and have traveled with them twice. Unbelievably good people and totally custom itineraries tailored to your interests and budget, including self-drive. PM me if you want their contact information.

    The Galapagos is another situation entirely. Again, PM me if you'd like some starting points/advice.
     
  18. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Wonderful, you've been a great help. I'll talk to my wife and see if she has some questions in particular and you'll be hearing from me soon I'm sure. :smile:
     
  19. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    693
    Jul 8, 2011
    I was talking about the D3200 vs the D5100/Rebel, they both use APSC sensors. The D3200 with 24 megapixels will allow for more crop than the D5100 with 16 megapixels.

    But regarding your point, a 300mm doesn't project the same size image. A 300mm designed for FX cameras will have a image circle larger than a 300mm designed for DX and DX will have a image circle larger than a 300mm designed for M43.

    If you want to be pedantic, you can say a 300mm lens will have the same subject image size on the sensor in all three systems, with FX ,DX and M43 having different crops.
     
  20. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Yes. That was my point. I thought your comment on "shortness of the lens" referred to using it in a larger sensor camera vs a smaller one. Sorry.

    Not sure how we clearly distinguish between the overall sensor coverage area of the image from what you are calling "subject image size" and what I called "same size image." Maybe we say "magnification is the same."