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m43 questions
Old 12-16-2012   #1
msbarnes
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m43 questions

so i'm looking to get an inexpensive m43 body.

I'm looking into the GF and Pen series. My budget is roughly $200, $300 tops (I'm going used). I can figure out all the technical specifications but they seem quite similar more or less. Although the Olympus cameras seem to have the edge in my opinion because of the better EVF's, hot shoes, and image stablization. The Panasonic GF cameras seem sufficient if one just wants a "point and shoot".

How effective is image stablization? I plan on using the Panasonic 20mm lens.

How bad is the Panasonic LVF1? I hear that the Olympus is leaps and bounds better, but it is quite pricey. I don't like to stick the camera in my eye for too long. I just want something "good enough" to get a decent composition. Well this is quite subjective anyways.

Basically I was thinking of an EP2 alone and perhaps adding a VF2/VF3 in the future or a GF2+LVF1.

I haven't looked into the other Panasonic models but with Olympus I pretty much eliminated the Lite series because I didn't like the swivel LCD screen but I am considering the mini because it has just what I need. I understand that I am not getting the greatest AF/IQ with these bodies, but with digital, I'd rather go obsolete because I care less about my digital system than my film system.
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Old 12-16-2012   #2
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I have three E-Pen bodies and I really like them (obviously). Initially, I bought them over the Panasonic GF offering due to the in body IS. In practice, I don't really need the IS that often. But it does work pretty good--I figure about two stops improvement in my ability to handhold.

I'm not a big fan of EVFs. I have the Olympus EVF and it is handy and people say it's excellent but to me it's still not in the ballpark with a good OVF. I've not used the Panasonic models that take the accessory EVF so I can't comment on them. I did have a Panasonic G1 until recently. I made some really nice photos with it but the camera was redundant to my Canon and Olympus DSLRs and I preferred using the OVF of the SLRs over the EVF of the Panasonic so it had to go.

If you're unfamiliar with Olympus menus, they can be a royal PITA. When I bought my first Olympus E-Pen, I also bought the Magic Lantern Guide to the E-P1 and found it to be indispensable to figuring out what those menus were all about. I highly recommend it to those not already familiar with Olympus menus. You can buy it used for about 5 bucks on Amazon. There's also another guide available for the E-P2 but it costs more and the only significant difference between the E-P1 and E-P2 is the ability of the E-P2 to take the EVF.
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Old 12-16-2012   #3
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The E-PM1's autofocus is fast and accurate, especially if you avoid blocking the A/F assist light. It won't match a camera with phase-detection autofocus for rapidly-approaching/receding subjects but I find mine suitable for most scenes, usually locking on faster than my Pentax K5 could. As for image quality, 12Mpx is still pretty good and the little camera nails colours beautifully.

I actually prefer the VF-2 to the optical finder in a smaller-than-135-format dSLR - once its brightness is adjusted, it's perfect for judging exposure in manual mode on the fly, and the instant magnification is useful with both manual- and autofocus lenses. Having said that, you always have the option of a Hoodloupe or similar if you wish to avoid the cost of an add-on EVF.

One thing I would strongly suggest adding, is one of Richard Franiec's stick-on grips. Makes hanging on to the camera much easier, without adding any extra bulk.
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Old 12-17-2012   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby.monkey View Post
The E-PM1's autofocus is fast and accurate, especially if you avoid blocking the A/F assist light.
+1

Fast autofocus along with smaller size (assuming that is appealing to you) are the chief advantages over a P2. The disadvantage of the PM1 is that it is less customizable for manual control (fewer buttons). Personally I also think the body is too small for the VF-2, in terms of proportionality I mean. But then you were thinking of shooting with an ocular viewfinder.

One complication if you are thinking of matching the camera with the Panasonic 20/1.7: it is a slow focusing lens, generally, so if that will be your go to lens maybe the camera focusing speed is less critical.

I was thinking of a PM1 myself and found that black PM1s NEW were going for $169.99 (or thereabouts) on E-bay last month, but now they seem to be running $100 more.
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Old 12-17-2012   #5
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If I were buying a Pen body and couldn't afford the E-PL5, I would get a refurbed E-PL2 from Cameta Camera -- www.cametacamera.com.

I have no connection with them, but they have some great deals.

The E-PL2 has a weaker filter than the E-P2, and thus makes sharper images.
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Old 12-17-2012   #6
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In case you are interested in EVF, there is a rebate going on making Olympus VF-3 only $99 or VF-2 $169
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Old 02-08-2013   #7
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Similar to the OP, I'm casually looking for a m43 body after deciding it might be a better fit to complement my dSLR as opposed to an enthusiast compact.

For those that have used them, how do the Panny bodies stack up against the Oly ones? Specifically, looking at a comparison of the PM2, PL3, and GX1. Mostly, I'm worried that if I don't get an Oly body (with the IS) that I'll regret it, no matter what options the Panny provides.
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Old 02-08-2013   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cold View Post
Similar to the OP, I'm casually looking for a m43 body after deciding it might be a better fit to complement my dSLR as opposed to an enthusiast compact.

For those that have used them, how do the Panny bodies stack up against the Oly ones? Specifically, looking at a comparison of the PM2, PL3, and GX1. Mostly, I'm worried that if I don't get an Oly body (with the IS) that I'll regret it, no matter what options the Panny provides.
I only have experience with GF1 G3 GH1 and EPL1. Personally I feel that panasonic bodies are better built (of the ones I have experience with) with more solid feel to them. Olympus felt like a lot of light plastic while panasonic cameras felt more like a camera. Image stabilization is great for stationary objects (landscape or objects) but don't expect to shoot parties with fast moving dancers at low shutter.

If experiencing M43 at the smallest budget, I would suggest GF1 with sigma 19mm that are going for 99 new these days. If money was no issue, I would recommend OMD with 25mm 1.4 But that will cost you as much if not more than your DSLR kit.
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Old 02-08-2013   #9
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I can't speak for the Panasonic bodies, but I have an e-p2 and I really enjoyed it. The IS helped a lot, I think. I would take photos at 1/15 and 1/20 without even thinking about it. And I couldn't live without the vf-2 on mine.

I actually just put mine up for sale in the classifieds because I don't use it much anymore and I need some cash.
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Old 02-08-2013   #10
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I bought a Panasonic GF 1 (body only) for $175 in Australia for use with my legacy lenses so I cannot comment about VR because it does not have in body VR like Olympus. But its a great little camera. I love the way it renders - which I have to say in my opinion is much much nicer than the way Olympus cameras render. And this together with the build quality is why I bought it. On the latter front it feel much more "competent"in the hand than other offerings and is a very no nonsense piece of industrial design. I have found the lack of VR not to be an issue frankly. The cameras operation is so smooth that when I fire the shutter there is no vbration (does it even have a mechanical shutter - I am not sure?) and I am able to hand hold it at low shutter speeds well enough to get great shots.
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Old 02-08-2013   #11
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If an EVF is important to you then don't discount the possibility of a G-series camera with internal EVF. You'll also get a great-handling body with a good built-in handgrip, and the overall package will be smaller than a Pen or GF with attached external EVF. The smallest pancake lens will also protrude further than the hand-grip of the G camera, so the body is actually smaller in function than it might appear in a product ad sans lens.

G1-3s can be found at considerable savings. Regarding image quality, even the old G1 is still a great camera, in the hands of a skilled photographer it does okay, the limiting factor to the whole system will still be the wet-ware between your ears, don't let the pixel-peeping camera fondlers tell you any different.

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Old 02-08-2013   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeV View Post
Regarding image quality, even the old G1 is still a great camera, in the hands of a skilled photographer it does okay, the limiting factor to the whole system will still be the wet-ware between your ears, don't let the pixel-peeping camera fondlers tell you any different.

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Joe, I couldn't agree more, a skilled photographer can make a decent image with most any camera. Here is a good place to see what is available: http://www.four-thirds.org/en/microf...l#SlideFrame_3
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Old 02-09-2013   #13
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Old 02-11-2013   #14
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Thanks for your thoughts, folks.

I'm definitely looking to buy used...KEH, CL, etc. And looking at prices, without a time constraint on my purchase, I'm thinking that a reasonably priced, good condition GX1 or EPL3 is probably in my future, likely starting out with one of the pancake primes (14/2.5 or 20/1.7) then adding a stabilized X-zoom (if the GX1) or a few more primes (and possibly a Nikon F mount adapter) if Oly.

In a weird sort of way, I'm kind of bummed to hear the build quality is generally better with Panasonic, as that makes the decision that much tougher...or maybe just makes it fall that much more to random chance in the form of finding a great price on a used one of either brand.

As far as the usefulness of IS, for what I'd be using it for, it's probably worth it to go with Oly, if I find a good price on one. It'd be used for landscapes and street shooting in all conditions (often low light). For low-light shots of friends at parties, etc, I'd use the fast primes, and if that wasn't enough, do the bad deed and throw a bit of flash on them. For more general party/indoor scenes, I tend to go the route of opening up a fast lens, and if I'm beyond that limit, embracing motion blur as part of the ambiance of the shot.
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Old 02-11-2013   #15
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I'd go for Olympus E-PL5 or E-PM2.
Those have the same sensor as the OM-D.
Which is better than anything Panasonic has produced so far.
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Old 02-12-2013   #16
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Thanks for the thoughts.

I appreciate the suggestion, and the reasoning behind it, but unfortunately, a current-generation body just isn't in the cards for me. I see this system taking a third position, behind my dSLR and my film gear, for times when portability trumps all other concerns. If, after using it for a year or two, I find myself using it more, I may consider adding a high-end body to the mix (likely the OM-D or its replacement in 1.5-2 years time), for now, I just can't justify that kind of money for something that I'm getting as a backup.

I'm expecting that the IQ even of the older sensors will put any 1/2.33 or 1/1.7 sensor P&S to shame.
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