E-P2 to G2 - some experiential observations

Discussion in 'Micro Four Thirds Forum' started by arpoador, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    I started writing this as one little part of an overly-ambitious (and hence unlikely) blog project. Since BB directly solicited me to write about my G2, I decided to just finish up some loose ends and post it here. I'd still like to add some illustrations but I'll have to do that later. (I've taken some pix with my S90, but haven't processed them yet.) It was either that or continue to procrastinate.
     
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  2. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    1) Primary expected benefit (why I switched)

    Ergonomics

    I loved holding the E-P2 the moment I first put a lens on it and turned it on. But within a few months, my tendinitis had gotten pretty bad, and I found myself sometimes deciding to leave it at home and just use my superzoom P&S (a Canon SX1is).

    I have not been disappointed in the G2. My favorite way to hold the camera is at waist level, with the screen flipped out and up. I really love the way I can easily frame on the screen, with both eyes helping. I have never had the opportunity to use a Hasselblad, but I can imagine that this is as close as I'll get to framing on a ground glass screen.

    While framing and shooting, the bottom of my left palm holds the weight of the camera and my right hand positions the camera more precisely and operates most of the controls. I only hold the weight with my right hand while operating the focus, zoom and aperture rings on the lens. For me, this turns out to be a very ergonomic way to hold the camera stably for an extended period of time.

    If I want a flat camera in the future, I suspect I'll rely on my Canon S90 and its successors or competitors. It's light enough to hold comfortably without having to seriously grip the camera body. For an interchangeable lens camera, often with old legacy glass attached and hanging pendulously at the end of an adapter, I'm sticking with the G1/GH1/G2 form factor.
     
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  3. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    2) Primary expected loss (why I originally chose Olympus)

    In-Body Image Stabilization

    I have a couple of lenses with OIS, and one of them I really like: the Lumix/Leica 45mm. But my favorite µ4/3 lenses are both unstabilized (the Lumix 20mm and the M-Zuiko 9-18mm). I end up using these two and legacy lenses 80-90% of the time. I really feared having to do without I S.

    I really relied on the IBIS of the Olympus. I figured I could shoot a 50mm lens at 1/30 or so and get a good chance at having a stable image. If I put it on drive mode and take 5-7 in a row, I can even push it to around 1/15 second and have a chance at getting one good image. Without some I S, the same 50mm lens would probably require at least 1/100 shutter speed, though again I could probably double that if I take a series.

    (As an aside, my first digital camera had a feature, "Best Shot Selector", which did that for you. It shot a series of pix and chose the most stable one to record to the card. If a camera maker ever publishes an API, that's the first feature I'd love to see hacked in.)

    The reality is that it's turned out easier than I expected. I'm fairly slow and deliberate about framing and focusing anyway, and since I generally shoot in M mode (even on the S90), I've always had to give some consideration to balancing the maximum shutter speed against the focal length of the camera.

    It turns out that most daytime photos are largely unaffected. My darkest lens is the aforementioned 9-18mm (at 4-5.6), which is already more forgiving for being a wide angle lens. The bigger limitation I often run into is the maximum shutter speed itself (1/4000 of a second, the same in both cameras). During daylight, it's often impossible to use the fastest aperture offered by most of my lenses, in any event.

    When I'm on a tripod, of course, IS is no longer an issue. Even when I don't have a tripod (or even the little GorillaPod) handy, I often brace myself against the nearest tree, lamppost or fence, which will buy me a couple of duplications of shutter speed.

    To help soften the transition, I also picked up the Lumix 45-200mm. It's not a particularly great lens, but I actually think the in-lens Mega OIS does a better job of stabilizing 200mm than the E-P2 IBIS did. Of course, that doesn't make up for the lack of light and reduced image quality when compared to a 135/2.8 or 200/4 legacy lens, but I can still use those in bright daylight or with a tripod. To be honest, I have trouble focusing the 200mm while hand-held, in any event, so that's one more advantage point for the new Lumix.

    Maybe I've got the opposite of buyer's remorse going. (Sour grapes?) But in my personal experience, this has turned out to be much less of a loss than I expected.
     
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  4. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    3) Biggest unexpected benefit

    The Touch Screen

    I must admit, I thought the touch screen was mostly a gimmick. I was completely wrong.

    First, the touch to focus interaction was the one I thought might be useful. It's not relevant for manual-focus lenses, of course, but moving the focus point around with a little joystick is a hassle, and when the joystick has to be switched into a special mode, then switched out again ... the bottom line is that I rarely did that. When I want to autofocus, I usually have the camera on spot focus, and point to the focus object and half-press the shutter button, before moving the camera to frame the image. With the touch screen, I can frame first then focus. I believe I'm getting more sharply-focused images than before.

    The second is the quick menu. I already prefer the layout and organization of the Lumix Qmenu over the Olympus settings panel and menu (see item 7, below), but it's so much easier to navigate the Qmenu when you can just touch an indicator (say ISO 100) to change its value. When it's too bright and I have to use the viewfinder, I end up having to use all the button controls again. This was never an issue before, but now I'm always amazed at how awkward the process is compared to just touching.

    The third is the shutter release. This one came as a complete surprise. If I set the camera's drive mode to 2-second delay, I can turn on the touch shutter release. (It's off by default.) I can then use a single touch to focus and release the shutter, with enough time to return my right hand to the grip for a final stabilization hold. The real benefit comes on the tripod, though. When I don't want to take the effort to insert the wired shutter release cord, I just turn on the touch shutter release and gently tap the screen (anywhere, if it's a manual focus lens) to release the shutter.

    Navigation, zoom, whatever. The traditional touch gestures are handy, but not a really an improvement over the controls. When playing back images, I rarely use the touch screen, since I find the buttons and wheel more reliable. Let's face it, it's a touch screen, but it's no iPhone.
     
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  5. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    4) Biggest unexpected loss

    Emotional

    This one is kind of embarrassing. I don't really know why, but I really loved playing with the E-P2. It reminded me so much of my old OM's, both of which were stolen on a nighttime train ride almost 30 years ago. It felt good to be using an Olympus camera again, even to be using some of my old lenses.

    It's been almost two months since I switched to the G2, and last weekend I had a chance to play with the E-P2 again. The emotional sensations came back. These are not transferable to the G2.

    It feels a little like my preference for legacy lenses, with the explicit aperture ring and the smoothly-dampened direct focus control. In this case, it's harder to justify objectively.

    The button layout on the E-P2 is beautiful, symmetrical, visually well-balanced ... but I've never clicked the wrong button accidentally on the G2, even though it gives me a lot more of them to choose from. The leather grip on the E-P2 is beautiful ... but it hurts my hand to hold the camera, and the G2 just falls naturally into my grasp. Etc ... etc.

    But I still miss the Olympus.
     
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  6. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    5) The kit lenses

    I thought this one would be a wash.

    I never really warmed up to the E-P2's kit lens. I'm OK somehow with the fact that the 9-18mm lens has to be opened up before it can be used, but that's a specialty lens. For a walkabout lens, that extra step kind of defeats the purpose. I don't even want a lens cap on it when I'm walking around looking for interesting things to photograph. (After all, isn't that what filters are for?)

    It also felt uncomfortably flimsy. I bought a lens hood, and immediately took it off. The poor lens seemed to be having trouble with the extra weight. When fully extended, it always seemed too wobbly, and I kept expecting to find problems with the final images caused by alignment errors. (Though I never did. I think Olympus's manufacturing and quality control are top-knotch.)

    But the images were always great. I found that the more I had the E-P2, the more I went back to the kit lens. (Except in low-light, of course.) I never found a bad shot that was the lens' fault rather than mine.

    As for the Lumix lens, it's definitely bulkier, but I figured it was a new generation, probably faster autofocus, etc. I was actually looking forward to having it on the camera without having to extend it before shooting.

    But it's really awful. While the M.Zuiko seemed flimsy, it focuses and zooms smoothly. The zoom on the Lumix is jerky and rough. It seems to grind for a bit, then suddenly release. Maybe I just have a bad copy. Maybe it takes great pix too. I don't know. I can't bring myself to use it long enough to find out.

    So this one turns out to be a big advantage for Olympus. I'm hoping that new (faster? shorter?) zoom lenses will be released around Photokina, and I can just upgrade my way out of this one. After all, the kit lens that comes with the Canon Rebels is no great lens either, and those users expect to have to upgrade.
     
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  7. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    6) The viewfinders

    I really liked the E-P2's viewfinder, and particularly liked the fact that it flips up. In fact, my most common hand-held position was with the camera held against my chest with the viewfinder flipped up. Similarly, on the tripod I almost always flip up the viewfinder. I was expecting to miss that capability.

    The one hassle was that it was removable, and I was unwilling to put the camera into a bag without taking the viewfinder off first. I quickly lost the mount cover, and would occasionally miss a shot because I didn't have time to put the viewfinder on and/or couldn't focus properly on the rear screen.

    On the G2, the viewfinder is less critical, because the LCD is not as crappy as the one on the Olympus, and it can often be twisted and turned out of the glare. Nonetheless, I find that I actually switch between the LCD and the viewfinder more readily on the G2, just because it's already there. On a sunny day, I don't even bother pulling out the screen, I just put the camera up to my eye like an old 35mm camera to frame and shoot. For many of the situations where I would have used the viewfinder on the Olympus (like flipped up on a tripod) I find that the G2's LCD, once twisted into position, works just as well or even better.

    Finally, they say that both cameras use the same viewfinder screen, but subjectively I find that hard to accept. The Olympus viewfinder just seems brighter, clearer, a better depiction of the scene. Maybe it's just that the E-P2's LCD is so bad, while on the G2 I have an alternative. Maybe it's just my emotions (see 4, above) messing up my perceptions, but I still like the Olympus viewfinder better.
     
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  8. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    7) An amazing collection of little benefits

    Control Layout and General Handling

    I don't think I can possibly do an adequate job of enumerating all of these. I've had the G2 for almost two months now, and I'm still finding new gems.

    In general, the G2 feels more like it was designed to be a photography toy, rather than to win a design award. The button layout seems awkward and sloppy to the eyes, yet each button seems to fall easily within reach when it's needed, and it's very easy to remember it by feel.

    When I first chose the E-P2 over the GH1, one of the considerations was the fact that it has two dials. After all, there are two exposure settings to control (M: aperture / shutter speed; P: program shift / EV compensation; etc.) I found the single dial on the Canon Rebel really awkward to use, and love the two controls on the S90. But the reality of the E-P2's dials did not live up to my expectations. The cylinder is fairly difficult to turn (here the tendinitis comes into play again) and the wheel (like that of the S90, to be fair) moves too freely. After just a few minutes with the G2, I realized that they had gotten it right. A single dial with a click switch between two modes is actually more convenient than having two distinct rotary controls. After all, you really want to manage the two values sequentially, rather than changing two variables at once. Now my S90 seems harder to use :)

    But wait ... there's more!
    When you have a legacy lens, the aperture control is actually on the lens, so the camera can't do the EV compensation for you. So when you click on the control dial, the camera zooms in to manual focus assist. Quickly and painlessly. Another click on the dial or a half-press of the shutter release zooms you back into framing mode. It's such a natural solution that I discovered it fortuitously. The first time I put a manual focus lens on the camera, I went for the click to zoom in ... and it zoomed in. It took me a few seconds to realize that it had done exactly what my hands had wanted it to do, without having to involve my brain in the discussion. Now that's intuitive design.

    Compare that with multiple clicks on the E-P2's Info button to get to focus assist mode, then click the OK button to actually zoom in, then back out of the whole thing, but always make sure you're clicking all of the buttons in exactly the right order, because if you click the OK button first you're already in Super Control Panel mode, at which point the Info button just toggles between Super Control Panel and standard menu settings icons, and if you actually click OK now you're actually changing the ISO value or something like that, and ... and really, Olympus? Would it hurt to hire an interaction design intern some summer to just count the clicks for you? Or do a little usability testing on the design?

    The bottom line is that I switched cameras thinking I would find it harder to use legacy lenses (because of the absence of IBIS), and instead found that I use them more easily and comfortably than ever before. On a recent extended weekend to LA (and back along Highway 1!) I brought along only a single legacy lens ... and ended up using it more than half of the time.

    Here's another surprise: the iA button. If someone had told me that two months ago, I would have scowled. My two primary modes are Manual when I am being deliberate and Program when I'm doing snapshots. If I stop to mess with program shift or EV compensation very long, I just switch back to Manual. On the G2, I rarely go into Program mode. I just keep the Mode dial on M and tap the iA button when I want a snapshot. At first I was reluctant to let go of ISO, and everything else that goes automatic in iA mode, but after a few tries I realized it was probably making a better overall computation of the various compromises than I could have done in that amount of time. And if I have the time to be more deliberate, I tap the (now bright blue) button again and I'm back in Manual mode.

    Here's a little one: On the G2, you can swap out batteries or a card while the tripod quick-release plate is still on the camera.

    I said I wouldn't be able to enumerate all of these, but it's clear that Lumix went with Interaction Design, where Olympus relied on more traditional Visual Design and Industrial Design. That worked in the last century, but it doesn't work as well now.
     
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  9. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    8) What I still miss

    (Hey, Panasonic, Can you add these?)

    I had a long list of issues when I started writing this a few weeks ago, but I didn't jot them down. Now they're mostly forgotten. Sometimes just differences from one to another can be annoying, but after a while you get used to the new tool and you forget the complaint.

    Two items are probably corollaries of the absence of IBIS in the G2. Nonetheless, I miss them.

    The first one is the set of in-viewfinder spirit levels. After a week or so with the E-P2, I came to take those for granted. And I really miss them. The adjustable (touch-drag adjustable!) grid lines are cool, and I even have default positions for them that are useful more often than not, but it's not the same thing as virtual spirit levels.

    The other one can be a real hassle: The camera doesn't correct for vertical orientation unless there's a lens attached with OIS. That means that very few of my pix ever get corrected in camera, and I end up having to do it in Lightroom. Not a big deal (not as big as adding lens EXIF data, for example), but it's still grating after so many years of taking that feature for granted.
     
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  10. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    9) One final note

    Image Quality

    I had originally planned to compare the IQ of the two cameras, and to note that I felt the Olympus just plain made better pictures than the Lumix. This was actually going to be my biggest complaint against the G2. Then I read Amin's Shootout, and at one point he wrote,
    Since this was my biggest negative point, and at the same time my most subjective, it seemed unfair to give it too much prominence. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the pix I'm taking with the G2. I still think I'm seeing more noise at ISO 100 and 200 than I did on the E-P2 (and this is with raw files, imported as DNG by Lightroom). I also think the color rendering isn't as nice - though in this case I may well be biased by the fact that I've read this so many times in other places.

    The bottom line is that if both companies introduce high-end µ4/3 cameras at Photokina, I'll probably look first and more eagerly at the Olympus offering. (See item 4, above.) But now I have a better idea of what I'm looking for, and Olympus will have farther to travel to get my money.
     
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  11. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member Subscribing Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Real Name:
    Bill Shinnick
    Thanks for your interesting summary. I started with an E-P2 and quickly sold the kit lens. I missed the dslr type features and bought a G1. Have just sold the G1 for a GH1 and am very happy. I may convert the E-P2 to infra red or keep it for the IBIS. Never took to the add-on EVF and sold it which made it harder to sell the E-P2 body.
     
  12. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    José, thank you so much for this highly readable and thoughtful personal review of your new Panasonic G2. Wow, when I wrote to you to suggest you let us know what you thought, I had no idea that you'd already been thinking about writing something up for your blog - boy, did we luck out! I appreciate your taking the time to give such a detailed and real life account of your move from the Olympus E-P2 to this camera. Although I've never seen the G2 except in pictures, I thought it sounded as though it was going to be a very good camera. We know a few others who've made the move and I hope when they read your account that they'll add their own thoughts on the G2, as well.

    I found your description about the ergonomics to be really interesting and helpful. In addition, I commend you for admitting to the emotional side of things, too. While some may not feel the simpatico relationship with their cameras, my guess is that most of us know this feeling... We've either had it, have it now or are still looking for it.

    Thank you so much José and don't hesitate to add in anything else!
     
  13. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    Thank you! I agree on the handholding of the EP2. My hope is that Olympus will release a G2-style camera with the minimum AA filter of the EPL1 (or do away with it entirely - let software optionally correct for it). And the EVF quality of the Ricoh GXR.
     
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  14. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    8b) Another item missed from the E-P2

    My memory of the E-P2 is starting to fade, but a post on mu-43 reminded me of another item that kind of bugs me on the G2: Exposure preview.

    When you stop down a manual-focus lens, then adjust the speed, the Olympus tends to give you a fairly accurate guess of how bright the final image will be. The whole thing tends to break down for exposures longer than 1/2 second or so (reciprocity failure?), but it does give you a quick way to determine how to shoot the first exposure.

    On the G2, the brightness of the image on the LCD seems to bear no relationship to the final outcome. It does go up and down, and kind of does so in the right direction (smaller aperture or faster shutter speed = darker), but not in any reliable way. Very odd.
     
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  15. JohnKendrick

    JohnKendrick New to SC S.C. Charter Member

    2
    Jul 9, 2010
    Absolutely terrific set of posts comparing the E-P2 and the G2. Thanks.

    I have a GH1 and my wife and I are looking for a second camera. We've decided to wait for the next round but will, most likely, choose between the Olympus and Panasonic m4/3 models. I've tagged your posts here to reread when we get closer. Probably when the next round of upgrades come out.

    John
     
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  16. MacBook

    MacBook SC Rookie

    I just received a G2 on Friday and tried out a manual lens on it today. It did exactly what you said with the brightness of an image, and I thought perhaps I did not remember correctly when I had tried the E-PL1. But it must have been that the E-PL1 was better in this regard.

    I found that your review is very helpful in confirming so many things that I noticed, and I too much prefer the ergonomics of the G2. The main item that needs work -- by the photographer! -- is the color. I find the Panasonic seems to introduce more blue shading and the Olympus more red or warmth, certainly in JPG but maybe even in RAW, if that is possible.
     
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  17. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    7b) Yet another small advantage of the Lumix G2

    The bottom plate of the E-P2 is a soft metal. If I put a fairly heavy lens on the camera, it would tend to sag a bit on the tripod. Kind of scary, so I backed off.

    But the one on the G2 seems much more well-grounded into the body and frame of the camera (even if that frame is just plastic). So when I put a heavy lens like the Contax 200mm f/3.5 Tele-Tessar on the camera, it holds it just fine.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Simsort

    Simsort New to SC

    3
    Feb 27, 2011
    Arpoador
    thanks for this account of your experience. I am coming from a Yashica T4 and Pentax Spotmatic, which have both bitten the dust. I have had a lumix LX3 and am considering getting into the 4/3's system. I liked the look of everything I read and saw about the E-PL2 and went to the store to look at it. The guy there gave me a G2 to look at as well. For me (with big hands and not great eyesight) the E-PL2 felt fiddley and difficult and the G2 despite what I expected, felt much easier to use and understand although not as cool looking. I left confused, and haven't decided what to do yet.
     
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  19. arpoador

    arpoador SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    Hi Simsort -

    What did you decide to buy? I continue to be very happy with my G2, and they're currently available very cheaply ($300 from Panasonic itself, through facebook). On the other hand, if you want to wait, I suspect the new G3 will be a better camera and will have a lower initial list price. (I ordered my GH-1 over a month ago, and I now imagine I'll be waiting a long time.)
     
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  20. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Real Name:
    Jack
    So true! My GH2 does a horrible job of giving me an exposure preview as well. It also does a horrible job with WB preview. Things look great on the EVF and LCD, then I shoot, and then think to myself, "say what??? What hapenned?"

    On a more positive note, Rio used to be my hometown!!

     
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