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Micro 4/3 cameras: Discussion/Recommendation

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by evilgeniusdan, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. evilgeniusdan

    evilgeniusdan Senior member

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    Does anyone use a M4/3 regularly? And ... does anyone have any model recommendations? Pardon my inexperience.

    Someone sniped an Olympus PEN EP-1 in the market for a good price, and it has peaked my interest. I am looking to invest.
     
  2. dcg

    dcg Senior member

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    It's a good time to be in the market; recent releases of the GH2, GF2, and E-PL2 mean the GH1, GF1, and E-PL1 can be had for good prices. Panny has been running a special on the GH1 with 14-42mm lens for $375+ tax; I've heard of places selling the GF1 body only for $300, and I believe I saw that Staples had a deal on the E-PL1 for ~$400 with kit lens.

    What is your primary intended use? There's really no "best" m4/3 cam, unfortunately - they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Oly bodies are nice because they have in body IS; Panny has faster autofocus (less of an advantage than it used to be), and built in electronic viewfinders (a plus and a minus, as they take up extra space). The GH1 has the best sensor of the three, and takes excellent video - though the ones shipping now are no longer able to be hacked to reach the performance levels attainable with the earlier models.
     
  3. TRINI

    TRINI Senior member

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    Check out yfyf's blog on them. The address used to be in his signature.
     
  4. milosz

    milosz Senior member

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    I'm debating a GF2 + 20/1.7 combo, but I'm waiting to see how well the Fuji X100 works in the real world.
     
  5. Becks23

    Becks23 Senior member

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    NEX-5 + legacy lense is what I'm using. For general walk around, it gets the job done but if you for some reason or another need autofocus, the roadmap for E-mount lenses isn't that good imo.
     
  6. medtech_expat

    medtech_expat Senior member

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    When I learned that the GF-2 would have no better resolution than the GF-1, I picked up the latter so I could have the option of some manual controls. This is my first non point-and-shoot and have been loving the results so far.
     
  7. wetnose

    wetnose Senior member

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    If you're taking lots of night/telephoto shots, then perhaps the Olympus series is good - since it has in-camera stabilization. Pair it with any legacy lens and voila, stabilized shots no matter what. But some people don't like it because of the slightly slow focus time. Supposedly E-P2 fixes it. GF1 is lens-stabilized which means that the stabilization is in the lens, not in the body. Not so many lenses in the world have that feature built in. If you're not taking night/telephoto shots it's not such a big deal. The focussing speed is blazing fast...a consideration if you use the camera for taking shots of kids, animals and race cars. Here's an interesting comparo: GF1 vs EPL1 vs NX10
     
  8. fashion_newbie

    fashion_newbie Senior member

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    Great thread.
    What is the learning curve like? I use a P&S.
    I realize you always continue to get better but if I was going on a trip in a month, does that give me enough time to play around with it?

    medtech - did you consider the Olympus line? Why did you go with the GF?

    Anyone have an opinion on the EPL1? It seems more novice-friendly. Seems the main difference between the EP1 and the EPL1 is the option to add a EVF. Can someone explain the evf in layman's terms?
    Thanks!
     
  9. Dragon

    Dragon Senior member

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    I switched from a P/S to a GF-1 and the learning curve is minimal. You can use the GF-1 like a P/S if you want, as there is an AUTO mode that handles all the settings for you. The manual settings are really easy to access and simple to figure out.

    I've used the camera on many vacations, and I think it is a really good camera for this type of use. It is not as small as the P/S, but it can take much better pictures. It is not as bulky as SLRs either, so you won't feel like carrying the camera around is a burden. Another plus is that it takes pretty good video with a push of a button (again great for vacation if you need quick video shots).

    Like others have pointed out, I think the weak point of the GF-1 is in the stabilization. There is no stabilization in the camera, so night shots are a challenge. I have been getting around this by setting the camera on something nearby (using as a stand), but it would be nice to be able to take more stable shots holding the camera in my hand.

    I think the new GF2 is geared more towards women. Seems like they are trying to make it more like a P/S and eliminate the manual controls. There seems to be no performance upgrade, so I think I will stick to my GF-1 for a while, as I really like the manual controls.
     
  10. dcg

    dcg Senior member

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    I haven't looked at either too closely, but at first glance the GF2 and E-PL2 seem like disappointments to me. I believe both are using the same old sensor, and it seems like Panasonic was chasing the NEX with the GF2, making it smaller and with fewer external manual controls.
     
  11. milosz

    milosz Senior member

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    What's wrong with the 'same old sensor'?

    Digital camera tech is leveling off - folks need to stop expecting big increases in the numbers from model to model or year to year. We're reaching the megapixel limits on what looks good on different-sized sensors. A 12MP sensor will make damn fine 12x18 prints or larger (given most subject matter). From here on out it's about increasing dynamic range and high ISO performance - which are going to be more incremental and take longer than the leaps from 4mp to 6mp to 12mp were.

    The E-PL2's improvements look like they'd justify an upgrade from the E-PL1 to me (given the cost and what you could sell that E-PL1 for) - the biggest is the rear LCD improvement. Never cared much about those on SLRs but when you're using it as a viewfinder, very important.
     
  12. dcg

    dcg Senior member

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    ^At the very least, they could have used the multi-aspect sensor from the GH1, no?

    Edit - you're talking to someone who still uses a Canon 20D. The updates were just less than I expected, is all.
     
  13. milosz

    milosz Senior member

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    Olympus couldn't, no.

    For the GF2, the reason is probably fitting the larger sensor into the smaller body. And it's largely irrelevant anyway, IMO - you're gaining a fairly small number of pixels vs. the 16:9/3:2 modes that already exist on these cameras.
     
  14. Sherman90

    Sherman90 Senior member

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    GF1 owner. Awesome camera.
     
  15. SirSuturesALot

    SirSuturesALot Senior member

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  16. aizan

    aizan Senior member

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    some good articles, reviews:

    michael reichmann on the gh2
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...rst_look.shtml

    kirk tuck on the e-pl2
    http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com...ent-kirks.html

    dante stella on the nex5
    http://dantestella.com/technical/nex.html

    thom hogan on a bunch of stuff
    http://bythom.com/compactmirrorless.htm

    i'm waiting to see if the x100 has good af in low light. the chances of there being another camera like it (built-in optical viewfinder, fixed 35/2 prime) are extremely low.
     
  17. fashion_newbie

    fashion_newbie Senior member

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    Like others have pointed out, I think the weak point of the GF-1 is in the stabilization. There is no stabilization in the camera, so night shots are a challenge. I have been getting around this by setting the camera on something nearby (using as a stand), but it would be nice to be able to take more stable shots holding the camera in my hand.

    Can you put this in a bit of context? How much does it matter? I use a stable surface to take any shot with my P&S so that idea doesn't bother me. However, you are saying that the camera is fine for daytime shots if you just hold it but at night time, it does not work as well? Is it doable while holding but you prefer a solid surface?
    Did you consider the EP1 at all?
     
  18. aizan

    aizan Senior member

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    Can you put this in a bit of context? How much does it matter? I use a stable surface to take any shot with my P&S so that idea doesn't bother me. However, you are saying that the camera is fine for daytime shots if you just hold it but at night time, it does not work as well? Is it doable while holding but you prefer a solid surface? Did you consider the EP1 at all?
    less light, more exposure. longer shutter speeds allows more blur from camera shake. a lot of these cameras don't have eye-level viewfinders, so you're forced to hold the camera in front of you, a position that is much less stable than holding it against your face. the main advantage of built-in image stabilization is that it also works for smaller, faster prime lenses. that's why a lot of people are using the panasonic 20/1.7 on olympus pens.
     
  19. fashion_newbie

    fashion_newbie Senior member

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    less light, more exposure. longer shutter speeds allows more blur from camera shake. a lot of these cameras don't have eye-level viewfinders, so you're forced to hold the camera in front of you, a position that is much less stable than holding it against your face.

    Got it, thanks. Leaning towards a GF1.
    This is a silly question but - I understand that the GF1 does not have built in stabilization. Instead, it is in the lens. The kit comes with a lens. Therefore, wouldn't you always be using some sort of a lens? Or does one use the camera without any lens?

    Seems the only time you would have an issue is if you are using the camera with a lens not built for the 4/3's. Is that a fair conclusion?
     
  20. dcg

    dcg Senior member

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    Not all lenses are stabilized. For example, the 20mm pancake is not. Stabilization is less important for wide angle lenses than for zooms - you'll see the rule of thumb mentioned at 1/focal length for minimum shutter speed for a given focal length. IOW, the average person could hand hold the 20mm for 1/40 of a second (2x crop factor on M4/3), whereas on the long end of the 45-200 you'd be limited to around 1/400 of a second.

    Of course the 20mm is also a very fast lens (f1.7), which allows you to shoot faster speeds when wide open.
     

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