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Old 3rd February 2019
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My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

This is a copy of a piece I posted over mu43 but I'm not sure how many of you go there so I thought I post it here too in case my ramblings are of interest.

To cut a long story short, I've been looking at FF again. It started with me playing with a Z6 on a recent pilgrimage to B&H. Wow I thought - this is a NICE camera and the lenses look great and fairly compact. Then, a couple of weeks later I was sucked into the dementor-like vortex of gloom and despondency that was triggered by the E-M1x launch (it's amazing really that the launch of a range-topping camera could have caused so much angst!!).

I ran a Canon 5dii plus a bunch of L lenses before I got into m43 and I swapped because (a) I was fed up of the size and weight, (b) m43 was just better from a shooting perspective and I started enjoying my photography more, and (c) the IQ was pretty close for most of what I did.

But that was in 2013 and FF has moved a long way since then, especially mirrorless; and m43? - well not so much! So, I thought - well, now might be the time to return to FF. So I invested quite a bit of time looking at the current state of the Sony A7 system and the new Nikon Z system. You know the sort of thing - reading reviews and opinion pieces until 2 in the morning , playing with sample raws, building shopping baskets on popular retailer web-sites, making lists of how much my m43 gear might be worth. I'm sure you've all done it (haven't you? ).

I also paid a visit to a local photo store (amazingly, these things still exist in the UK!) and spent an enjoyable couple of hours with an A7iii and a Z6 (thanks to Tom at London Camera Exchange in Leamington - fantastic store and people!). I went in planning to buy a Z6, but I came out with my wallet still firmly closed. Here's why...
  • There are things that my EM1.2 does that neither the Z6 nor the A7iii do that are important to me. I'm talking about things like Livetime, Livecomp, over/under indicators on live view, handholdability of several seconds when using sync IS (e.g. with the 12-100), and 60 fps electronic shutter with frame count limiter (for HDR or other image stacking reasons).
  • Lenses - to get even near a lens range that matches my m43 setup I'd be into building a kit of comparatively large, heavy and expensive lenses. On the Z that would mean a number of adapted F-mount lenses (which wouldn't be small) and on the A7iii it would be worse - stuck either with mediocre, cheaper lenses or crazy big and expensive G Master versions.
  • Sensor performance on m43 is obviously inferior, but at low ISO and with using a few stacking tricks when need be, I can get it very, very close. I seldom print bigger than A3+ at which the output is stunning from m43. Even when I have printed larger I've still been very happy with the results if I carefully prepare the file. For on-line posting to Flickr etc, even m43 is overkill.

So, that's my decision. It's been an interesting exercise to look at the Z6 and FF mirrorless world again and I really thought that I'd jump.


Of course I'm mainly a landscape guy. It might be a different conclusion if I were into portraiture, sports or such. It might even be different if I were starting from scratch, but right now m43 is capable of meeting my needs/wants. And just to re-confirm that thought, I took a few shots today on a walk and looking at them now on the computer I'm really bowled over by the image quality - here's a simple example with the EM1.2 and the 12-100:


Tom o'The Wood by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

My core lens kit is the PL 8-18 and the Oly 12-100 and they both deliver corner-to-corner pin-sharp images with fantastic punch, colour and micro-contrast - even wide open. So long as I keep the ISO down to 800 or lower (which for landscape is pretty easy) then the output is stunning and perfectly capable of being printed big.

And for landscapes, I love the Livetime feature. I use it very often shooting daytime with ND filters. Not only is it useful for judging the right exposure time, but you can do real-time "burning in" of parts of the image using a mask in front of the lens during exposure. For example, here's a shot I took on New Year's Eve with the EM1.2 + 12-100. It's a 32s exposure with LiveTime and I used a make-shift mask on the sky (a black fabric filter case in fact) to "burn in" the canal without blowing the sky. That's something I couldn't do either the Z6 or the A7iii and it's a fantastic way of managing DR in typical landscape scenarios. Aside from the Livetime trickery, the image quality in this shot is superb too. I printed it yesterday at A3+ and hung it on the wall.


Winter Light in Bruges by Paul Kaye, on Flickr
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Old 3rd February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

Good news, & what Im sure is the correct decision.
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Old 3rd February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

That is a great report Paul and I am really pleased to hear your decision. I don't often comment on your photos here but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate your beautiful images and the work and thought that has gone into creating them. They would be a great loss to this forum.

Hopefully, before too long, Olympus will announce some new smaller cameras which are more suited to your requirements than the recent offerings and your commitment to the brand will continue for many years to come.

Ron
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

That Bruges Canal photo is really good. Thanks for sharing the technique, have to say it is something I would never have thought of....
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

Ah the Tom o'the Wood, I used to go there in my yoof when it was called something different, the New Inn maybe? Haven't been there for years. On one occasion I was there with a group of friends and we were discussing the Good Beer Guide, and one guy said he wished it would have more detail rather than just "this is a good pub" or "this is a grotty pub". Just as he said the latter other conversation ceased and the landlord called over and said "thanks very much!"


An interesting post Paul and a thoughtful conclusion. As you say, m43 quality is more than ample for A3+ and even A2 prints, and I too would never have thought of burning in part of the image during the exposure!
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ224 View Post
That Bruges Canal photo is really good. Thanks for sharing the technique, have to say it is something I would never have thought of....
I think I'll post up a video of how it's done. I need to understand all this video stuff at some point.
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

Look forward to that Paul......thanks...
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdk42 View Post
I think I'll post up a video of how it's done. I need to understand all this video stuff at some point.
1. You'll have to learn how to shout.
2. Wear bright clothes
3. Grow and back comb your hair
4. Be controversial - forget about facts

I can just see you as a vlogger ..... "Get down with PDK42", tagline: "Saving the world, one photo at a time"


PS Love the Bruges photo.
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

I may be a tad biased but this thread should be a sticky. Great insight Paul I'm sure it's the right decision and you've saved me going through the same process. I'll still have a play with the new cameras at the NEC though Lovely couple of shots to illustrate your post too. I'd never considered live burning a shot either. Hope you get the video sorted.
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phill D View Post
I may be a tad biased but this thread should be a sticky. Great insight Paul I'm sure it's the right decision and you've saved me going through the same process. I'll still have a play with the new cameras at the NEC though Lovely couple of shots to illustrate your post too. I'd never considered live burning a shot either. Hope you get the video sorted.
+1

As you know Paul I've been going through the same 'shall-I-shant-I process over the past few weeks, but I'll be sticking with M4/3.

Thanks Paul

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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

Excellent images...

This may be of interest: https://petapixel.com/2017/03/24/bat...ll-frame-dslr/
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

As you know Paul, I've been doing a similar exercise recently and came to the same conclusion.
I would add the very high quality and vast range of glass available to micro 4/3rds users as another positive.
My experience with other systems has not been so glowing from that point of view.
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greytop View Post
As you know Paul, I've been doing a similar exercise recently and came to the same conclusion.
I would add the very high quality and vast range of glass available to micro 4/3rds users as another positive.
My experience with other systems has not been so glowing from that point of view.
That's so true Huw. Looking at just the standard zoom options in Sony FE, the choice is either one of two pretty poor lenses (28-70 f3.5-5.6 and 24-70 f4), the stellar but huge and expensive 24-70 f2.8 or the expensive-for-what-it-is 24-105 (almost 2x the price of an equivalent Canon).

To get even a half-decent 3-lens f4 zoom kit covering 16-200 with Sony, you'd be into this:

- 24-105 f4 - 1200
- 16-35 f4 - 1050
- 70-200 f4 - 1150

That's pushing 3.5k for three f4 zoom lenses. If you want f2.8 variants you'd be nearer 5.5k.

Things are better in Nikon Z standard zooms, but looking at tele zooms, there's no 70-200 native lens (so adapted F mount only) and the only one on the Z roadmap is an f2.8 which will certainly be huge and expensive.
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

It's hard to be satisfied with what you have in our consumerist society, even if it is the best available!
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: My latest foray into FF mirrorless - and why I'm sticking with m43

2 great photos just to really make the point. Thanks Paul.
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