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Why I like Panasonic

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by dixeyk, May 25, 2012.

  1. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Just recently I had a friend (that owns an E-P3) ask me why I used Panasonic cameras. He thought it was ridiculous that I would use one because the Olympus had better color, IBIS, etc...same stuff we've all heard a zillion times over. I simply said that I found it more comfortable and ended it at that. Since then I have been thinking about that question some more and thought it would make an interesting topic. So...why do I prefer Panasonic over Olympus? Well, first off I don't have any issue with Olympus. It's not that I think they are inferior or the Panasonic superior I simply find that I prefer one over the other. I have had several different Olympus M43 boides and while they have all had things to recommend them, I find myself always going back to Panasonic bodies.

    I think it has to do with the fact that Olympus and Panasonic have very different kinds of goals when it comes to cameras. Olympus cameras put an emphasis on the design of the camera in terms of how they look and they leverage their PEN and OM designs to tap into the considerable goodwill out there for those cameras. It's a brilliant idea and if I were them I would probably do the same. Olympus cameras are gorgeous but I do feel like sometimes they sometimes go for form over function. Panasonic on the other hand seems to gone the "functionality is king" route. Their cameras are all about comfort, ergonomics and stuff being where you expect it to be. Panasonic cameras are more reminiscent of mainstream cameras like Canon and Nikon. If you sit them all side by side they are a stunning example of dull industrial design. Having said that, I find that when it comes to grabbing a camera to use I almost always grab my Panasonic G2 or GH2. For me it isn't a matter of Panasonic cameras being better but simply being more suited to what I like and want in a camera. When I took the time to think it over I found that it really boils down to a few small things.

    First, I absolutely LOVE the clickable thumbwheel of the Panasonic cameras. I wish my E-P1's thumbwheel had similar functionality. The clickable thumbwheel alternates between aperture and exposure compensation and when in MF mode it allows you to zoom in for focus assist. Second, I really like having a built-in EVF. I have had two VF2's and while they are definitely nice in terms of their resolution I find them a bit clumsy when attached to the camera. I like to keep my camera with me all the time and I can't tell you how many times I have knocked it off taking the camera out of it's bag. Third, I really like the articulated LCD. It's more convenient to me than the flip up aspect of the VF2 in that it allows me some photographic possibilities that I otherwise would not have.

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    For instance I could not have gotten the shot above with without laying in the mud and blackberry brambles if I had to use the rear screen. A flip up LCD would have been a bit better but still it would have required a lot more acrobatic posing. The articulated LCD just make this kind of thing a lot simpler and FWIW I quite like the extra possibilities it offers. I suppose if I did street photography I would be more inclined to use a flip up as it seem it would be more discreet (that or learn to zone focus). Finally, I really like the way the Panasonic cameras that I have had (including the GF2 I had) fit in hand and have all the controls laid out in a logical fashion I feel like everything is where I expect it to be. In addition, the grip on the G2 and GH2 is very comfortable and makes the cameras a pleasure to hold. The E-P3 came pretty close when outfitted with the larger optional grip but I found the controls to be less intuitive. Of course a lot of that may be just what I am used to and ultimately this is not meant to say one is better than the other simply that I found one a better fit for my particular tastes.

    The last little bit concerns IBIS, color and the other Olympus strengths. My friend was keen to point out that my Panasonic could not hope to keep up with the far superior Olympus cameras in this regard. I like IS...I have it on my P14-45 and P45-200. It has its uses but its not something I feel I need to have. I learned how to hold a camera steady years ago and while its nice to have, I can live with it either way. The much ballyhooed Olympus color is another matter. I have my GH2 and G2 tweaked so that they give me nice JPEG color and of course RAW is going to give you the vert best quality and flexibility with either brand of camera. Some areas where I agree with my friend is that I think the Olympus cameras have better AWB and better default metering. If all things were equal that might be enough to make the difference for me but all things are not equal and I willingly trade AWB and metering issues for better handling and comfort.

    In the end it's all about what we prefer individually. For some the Olympus bodies will be ergonomic heaven and the Panasonics a frustrating P.I.T.A. I still keep my E-P1 and use it. I like and appreciate it for what it is. It's not my principal body but I wouldn't give it up either as there ar some times when I like the slightly smaller form factor. It's especially nice with the P14 attached to it as the P14 focuses quite quickly on the E-P1. I am not a huge fan of the RF style body as it doesn't suit me for a lot of what I do but if my E-P1 were to die on me I'd likely pick up something like an E-P3 or GX1 to replace it. The beauty of m43 is the fact that we have the choice of some really nice bodies and an ever growing selection of very good quality glass.
    • Like Like x 19
  2. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Panasonic menus!!!
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Wasabi Bob

    Wasabi Bob Mu-43 All-Pro

    Consider these points ...

    You bring up many interesting, though debatable points.

    “Better Color” is very subjective. Some people prefer more vibrant color, while others more subdued and we can’t forget B&W. Panasonic’s micro four-third cameras offer several film modes as well as the ability to tweak the color to your hearts content. So are really comparing out of the box color? Shooting in RAW expands all of the above.

    Regarding “IBIS”, it’s been discussed many times. While IBIS gives you image stabilization, even with adapted legacy lens, the amount of stabilization is fixed. Having the stabilization as part of the lens, using a magnetically suspended lens element, allows the stabilization to vary proportionally as you zoom. Yes, it does slightly increase the cost of the lens but is the important factor quantity or quality?

    Olympus & Panasonic gave us the Four Third D-SLR format. After the DMC-L1 & L10, Panasonic evolved into the Micro Four Third format that decreased the size and weight by 1/3. They gave us Live View and HD video recording which today is being copied by most of the competitors. Their selection of lens is broad and they are now starting to come out with faster, constant aperture lens.

    Panasonic is now into their 5th generation of Micro Four-Third cameras. I think this at least demonstrates who is more aggressive at product development. Regrettably, neither company is as aggressive with their marketing or advertising as is Canon or Nikon. In Japan, where this isn't the case, the Lumix name is very popular. In the end, the "best" camera is the one you like - it's like shoes, you wear the one that is most comfortable.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Undertow


    May 17, 2012
    North Carolina
    I just recently purchased a new Panasonic G2 and absolutely love it. The look of the G2 and the Quality of build i think is great. I took my G2 to a Old farm house last night and shot some really great images with a sigma 19mm 2.8. But anyway Panasonic hit the nail on head for me in the G2 Body. The EVF,Grip, Ergo and the thumb wheel are Excellent. Manual lenses are a breeze too use also.
  5. KVG

    KVG Banned User

    May 10, 2011
    yyc(Calgary, AB)
    Kelly Gibbons
    GF1 Dynamic B&W and Custom setting that can be adjusted from B&W to vibrant. Too bad even the new Panasonic don't still have these.
  6. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Agree! I was so disappointed when I discovered that the full suite of film types was missing from G3. Happily, I found that they live on in the GH2.
  7. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I agree...I think when folk refer to Olympus color they really are referring to out of the box color. I will say that using the default color settings i find Olympus color to be very pleasing. That doesn't mean I find it better simply that it is pleasing. Just as you say I have a lot of ability to tweak the JPEG color using the various film types. I also have tweaked the AWB to perform more to my liking. I will give Olympus credit however, they do produce nice bodies depending on what you are looking for and as of late soem terrific lenses. I still wish that we'd see an m43 version of the 14-54. As for IBIS...I can appreciate that it's nice to have on legacy glass. I have also seen some very impressive stuff from the OMD and its 5 axis IS. That said, it's not a make or break feature for me. Comfort and handling are much more significant factor in determining whether or not I like a camera.
  8. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    It's a GREAT camera. I have been a G2 cheerleader for some time. The only camera I have found that I like more is the GH2 but the G2 is IMHO one of the most under appreciated m43 camera out there.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I'm a mirror image of you in that I think Panasonic makes incredibly good and capable cameras that in some ways have surpassed the Olympus versions (at least until the EM5, but will probably leapfrog again with the GH3), but personal preference has always brought ME back to Olympus despite trying and owning a few Panasonics as well. And I agree its about 90% personal preference.

    My specific preferences that keep brining me back to Oly include:

    * The controls. The menus are convoluted and confusing until you've gotten really familiar with how Olympus thinks, but the tradeoff for that is an awful lot of customizing capability. I never DIS-liked the Pany thumb-wheel but I always preferred the Olympus models with dual controls/wheels so I could have different finger assigned to different controls. The single wheel on the Pany sometimes confuses me in terms of what its on and I end up adjusting the wrong thing, readjusting back, clicking through to the right option, and then finally adjusting what I'd meant to in the first place. Not a big problem or frequent occurrence, but a definite preference for the EP and OMD models that have dual control wheels/dials. I do prefer the bracketing and drive options out on the body the way Panasonic does it though, not to mention putting the custom sets on the mode dial - Oly really misses the boat the way they have their mysets set up. And I LOVE the way the LX5 puts its aspect ratios right on the lens for easy switching - one of my favorite features on any camera ever.

    * The combination of screen and EVF options. Purely personal preference that I like the flip screen on the EPL3 and EM5 more than the fully articulating screen on the Panys - plenty of discussion of these tradeoffs already but I come down clearly on the Oly side of this one. And while I don't need a built in EVF (because I don't use one that much), if its gonna be there, I don't want it in my way. The EVFs on the GH2 and G3 really stick back off the back of the camera far enough to really bother me when it comes do viewing the screen. The removable EVFs on the Pens (and GF/GX Panys) don't do this at all and the built in EVF on the OMD doesn't do it enough to bother me, just barely extending beyond the back of the camera at all. This is not something I'd have thought of but for actual use - the GH2 really bugged me this way, as did the G3 for the brief period I tried it. No problem with the GF1 when I had it, obviously.

    * IBIS - already well enough fleshed out. I was semi-agnostic until the EM5, but that IBIS actually opens new possibilities rather than just being an aid to what I was already trying to do.

    * Color management. Basically just the hassle factor here. In good outdoor light, this was a non-issue for me with Panys, but in low light and un-natural light, I always had to fight with the Pany files while the Oly files always seem to give me a much better starting point to work with. I've seen enough brilliant work done with Panasonics in off-light that I know this is my own laziness rather than any real defect with the Panys, but I just always found it easier to get things to look right with the Olys than the Panys. Easier for me to get good results with Oly files, whether I'm shooting raw or jpeg.

    I think two years ago there were compelling reasons to own both Olympus and Panasonic bodies. I had a GF1 for its much greater operating speed, snappier AF and shot to shot times, etc. And I mostly loved that camera. And I had an EP2 for the IBIS with some lenses, the easier colors in low light, and the somewhat better low light capability (despite using the same sensor, I always found I could work with 1600 on the EP2 but hated going north of 800 on the GF1). I pretty much liked these cameras equally, but very differently. Once the GH2 / G3 and the latest generation of Pens came along, the basic capabilities of the two cameras had gotten close enough and there were few enough deficiencies in either that it made sense to go one way or the other rather than straddling that fence. I fully understand why a lot of people would prefer to go with the Pany's. I chose to go with the Olys, so I obviously even more fully understand that preference.

    I do disagree that the Oly's are more about form than function. They're clearly more about form than the Panasonics are, but I think its form AND function, not instead of it. I think the Olympuses function as well as the Panys except for the couple of specific points noted above. Both have fine function, but different - one clearly spends more money on design than the other. Although I must admit I always thought the GF3 was a really cute little camera in a new-age VW bug kind of way. But I think that may have been accidental... :cool: 

  10. CUB

    CUB Guest

    I have never been a fanboi and have no brand loyalty whatsoever. I buy solely on whether a piece of equipment can perform to my requirements at a price I can afford.

    I use a Panasonic G3. I bought it because it had 16 MP and much better image quality at high ISOs than the GF1 I owned and sold many months before. I sold the GF1, 14-45mm and 20mm lenses because I wasn't happy with the IQ. I liked the GF1's form factor and handling, and probably would have bought the GX1 has it been available. It wasn't, so I bought a 3 month old, little used G3.

    The only reason I didn't consider Olympus is the fact that, until the OM-D, the IQ from Oly bodies was limited to more or less what the GF1 could achieve. And as I was coming from full frame DSLRs, that simply wasn't good enough.

    I refused to consider an OM-D E-M5 because it is not much of an advance on my G3 and, in the UK at least, it is priced way beyond what I am prepared to pay. If Olympus releases the rumoured PEN (E-P5?) with the same 16 MP sensor at a much more reasonable price point I would happily buy one because of IBIS (I have 9-18mm, 20mm and 45mm lenses without OIS) and great JPEGs out of the camera.

    I'm told that, in Europe, Olympus is steadily increasing its share of the growing mirrorless market but Panasonic is struggling to keep sales figures close to where they were in 2011. On the other hand, Olympus is still losing large amounts of money. The introduction of Nikon's 1 Series has probably hit both Olympus and Panasonic.

    Canon's mirrorless CSC will soon (June 2012) be injected into the mix. It will have a sensor that is very close to Four Thirds size. I think it will cause buyer confusion and hit Panasonic, Olympus and Nikon very hard indeed.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010

    I agree, they really are comparable and in many ways interchangeable. It really does come down to the little things. I'm just glad I have options.
  12. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Options are good! I use Panny large bodies for large lenses and Oly small bodies for small lenses. Haven't found one camera fit for both purposes - but I'm not in the market so that's okay! I keep hearing about this OM-D and something called an E-M5, but I don't know anything about them...:biggrin:
  13. I like 'em both.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. MacBook

    MacBook Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jul 24, 2010
    South Carolina

    I just received my EM-5 yesterday evening and in looking through the controls was somewhat intimidated by the extent of "customizing capability." It will be a study in itself. I have been using the G3 since it came out just about a year ago, and now its an old friend.

    If you have any suggestions of where to begin customizing the Olympus, I'd be glad to hear them. So far, I tweaked just a few things, turning off the noise filter and turning off warming. While I am surprised at the sound of the camera, it now reminds me of the ocean sound that one hears when holding a shell to one's ear.

  15. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    I like both companies cameras, too. Frustratingly I keep finding out that I love the older versions better than the newer ones....... after buying the newer ones. I loved the gf1, but the G3 was sold a day after I got it. The E-P1 was (and still is) magic. The E-M5 does a ton of stuff right, but I'm not bonding with it yet. In fairness, I haven't gotten to spend a lot of time with it, but so far I'm not feeling the magic....just a giant hole in my wallet.
    • Like Like x 2
  16. dagaleaa

    dagaleaa Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 4, 2011
    Naples, Fl
    I fell in love with a little Panasonic camera called the LX3. I've been interested in photography all my life, and I've held and used almost every brand possible including Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Yashica, Hasselblad, Olympus, etc.. My father was a camera collector ( not so much a photographer). He allowed me to use anything in his collection. I would turn my parent's bathroom into a darkroom and enlarged my own photos for years. I also developed my own film in the kitchen. My very first digital camera was a Panasonic...my son worked for Best Buy, and Panasonic gave the employees a chance to purchase their products at cost. We bought this digital camera that had the strangest shape...it didn't even look like a camera, but it had 3.2 megapixels which at the time was a big number for digital cameras. I remember my dad looked at it and said I'm not buying a digital camera until they look and feel like a camera. I had problems with that camera from the first day of ownership, but I totally fell in love with the digital concept. There were several Olympus products after that....a point & shoot, and my first digital SLR the EVOLT 500. I have to confess I never purchased any prime glass for that camera only using the two lens that came with it....It was bulky to use, and I'm sure those kit lenses never made that camera shine for me. Then I got the Panasonic LX3....it was small and easy to use, but shot in raw and took great video. It fit in my pocket, and it was so much fun to use. I became part of this group of people who discovered the LX3 and pushed it to its limits. I used the LX3 for three years and wanted to get back into changing lens, etc.. This wonderful camera called the GH2 was just beginning to make a splash in the camera world....at this point I was really into video too, and the video clips just amazed me. It was as if I had found the perfect camera. It took months to find one because the demand was so high and the stock seemed so low. I've had the camera almost a year and love it. It fits and works for me. I've purchased better glass....played with older glass ( so much fun) and taken many photos and videos of my new grandchild. I am in a good camera place now...and, I will wait to see what Panasonic produces next. I like being mirror-less and different!!
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I have my own preferences for what functions to put on what buttons and what I want the two dials to control in different modes, but the defaults aren't a bad place to start until you find that something might be better placed in a different location for your uses. A really REALLY good primer for getting at a lot of the EM5 settings and shortcuts was published by DPR a few weeks ago. I'd already been using the camera heavily for a few weeks and I found it quite helpful. Not a bad place to start for someone new to Olympus cameras. Definitely turn on the Super Control Panel - it makes almost everything easier going forward - they explain it in this piece...

    User Guide: Getting the most out of the Olympus E-M5: Digital Photography Review

    Good luck - let us know if you have specific questions after you get into it a while. I always find myself pulling small chunks of hair out in the first couple of hours of getting a new Olympus and it may be longer if this is your first. But you'll eventually find everything you need - I guaranTEE its all in there. And once you get it set up to your liking, its a wonderful set of controls...

  18. MacBook

    MacBook Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jul 24, 2010
    South Carolina
    Thanks, I have gone to the link and printed out the user guide. Tomorrow should be the first foray with the camera.
  19. My thought on my GF2 flip up screen is it converts the camera to a twin lens reflex in practical terms.
  20. speltrong

    speltrong Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Northern California
    I'm with you on this one - Pannies feel better in the hands (and I like the images produced by their higher-end glass a lot more than Olympus's offerings). Only thing I disagree with is the aesthetics point. I find Oly bodies ugly, and I hate how some of their lenses aren't available in black.
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