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Fuji X vs M-43

Discussion in 'Fuji X Forum' started by zippypk, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. zippypk

    zippypk New to SC

    7
    Nov 4, 2013
    Looking to buy into a new system from a big lumpy DSLR. Unfortunately I like features from both systems, so this makes the decision tough - I appreciate I want a lot of things that would be better satisfied by multiple systems, but that really isn't an option.

    Basically, I want something small and discrete, and the 2 systems meet that criteria perfectly. Shooting will mainly be baby / family photos taken indoors but I'd like the option to also go out and use for street / landscape or in my small home studio for small work projects (product photography).

    I do like the video option, and the stabilisation on the Olympus bodies makes those pretty tempting, but ultimately IQ is more important to me so I am currently siding with X-E1 / X-E2. However my main issue is that I do not want to have a situation where the increase in IQ is so marginal that I regret losing all the other side benefits that m43 brings such as video, AF, lenses etc for such a marginal gain.

    So what I am really trying to ascertain is honest comparisons of the IQ of each system - I know all the other benefits / drawbacks. I am talking pure IQ. Samples would be even better.

    Thanks!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Weclome!

    I know you say that IQ is all that matters, but given the subject of your photos I'd give strong consideration to M43s. After a string of serious compacts with relatively lackluster AF performance the performance of the Olympus E-M1 is positively snappy (and generally very accurate). Honestly, for me and my family photos it's been a serious "upgrade." Primarily, I've been using the Panasonic 25mm lens which I think is fantastic for family photos; I plan to add the new 12-40mm when I can get one.

    In terms of Fujis, make sure you understand their unique character, a la the Xtrans sensor. Their AF will not be as snappy as the EM1, but the IQ may be slightly better. But that would depend on how you define IQ. For me, they are different. The M43 sensor is "flatter" and "courser" but in fact I like that in many cases, and at least with the EM1 color is accurate, images are sharp and ISO is perfectly good enough for my needs. That said, in many cases, including family photos, I prefer the creaminess I can get from a good APS B&W conversion. More latitude there for B&W processing. I shoot RAW, though, and a long time ago gave up on the Xtrans sensor. But today, there are better processing options for Xtrans files. They are also supposed to have great JPGs.

    None are bad cameras by any stretch.
     
  3. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Fujis will have better SOOC jpg's, pretty much bar none. So if a quick post process path is another (unmentioned) category you favor, and you're even remotely willing to shoot jpg instead of just RAW, then the Fujis will make it much easier to crank out a lot of very good images in no time.

    AF speed... best thing to do is go noodle with one at a store. You have a store nearby? 20 seconds with a live XE-2 or some such will tell you everything you need to know there. It's only "slow" if you're used to the best speeds.

    Video... on the Fujis is pretty much garbage. That sensor type just renders motion really jarringly. It is not smooth, and only usable if the camera and subject stay pretty still. I am fairly certain every single M4/3 camera ever made will take better video.


    From everything I see above, I would guess a top-shelf M4/3 kit would suit you better. Fujis do a few things REALLY well, but the M4/3 stuff does everything pretty well. They're just out-gunned in the sensor department, so people like me who fit the profile and love the quirks of the Fujis get to have the big sensor and live in bliss.
     
  4. zippypk

    zippypk New to SC

    7
    Nov 4, 2013
    Thanks for your opinions - I am considering the GX7 / X-E2 mainly, or perhaps an old EM5. The EM1 is no doubt great, but for me it is too similar to a DSLR, a form factor I would rather get away from.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    I lose sleep over the same question all the time. I've gone back and forth twice already!! And possibly in the process of a third time ...

    20% better IQ vs. 20% better AF. That's pretty much how I see the eternal struggle within me of Fuji v. m4/3.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  6. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Kyle Krug
    Don't lose sleep, Armando, polygamy is the way to go!
     
    • Like Like x 5
  7. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    yup, x100 + epl5 = happiness thru polygamy!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    I have both the XE1 and EM5. Unless Fuji has done something radical with the low light focusing of the XE2 then m4/3 is the only sensible choice here. I am always drawn to the looks an controls of the Fuji but the m4/3 just gets the shot where the Fuji fails, often.

    The Fuji files are somewhat better, especially the jpegs but you'd have to actually have them side by side to see it. Plus if you go raw the choice of raw developer becomes very important. SOmetimes the Fiji files just look awful in Adobe converters. If you have Irident or Capture One then the Fuji files shine. I think the Olympus raw files match and sometimes exceed the Fuji files in Lightroom.

    For me it's a 10% improvement in image quality and handling (very personal) versus a 50% increase in everything else.

    Gordon
     
    • Like Like x 3
  9. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Kyle, did you move to Utah?? :)
     
  10. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Kyle Krug
    No, but I do own a X100 (and I like it)!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  11. mcentral

    mcentral SC Regular

    27
    Oct 27, 2013
    cambridge, massachusetts
    mcentral
    I was gearing up to post a similar sort of question, so I'll just tack on to this thread. Seems there's a lot of us in the same boat, trying to figure out which way to go.

    I only started in photography less than a year ago, after learning with 35mm film 30 years ago and dabbling in photography and filmmaking and video a little bit, then sitting out the last ten years entirely. I started with a used Panasonic GF1 and the 20mm f1.7, and quickly upgraded to the GX1 with VF2. I figured that was a good cautious start - high quality but not the latest and greatest. Then I decided to get the Ricoh GR (and recently the wide angle lens), and I was immediately pretty much blown away by the whole package, and found the image quality to be significantly better than my specific M43 combo. The Ricoh combo is not cheap, however, and I cannot afford to have a lot more gear - maybe another thousand dollars worth total. But I need something to cover other focal lengths and work in a 2 (or even 3) camera set up with the GR. I'm just a hobbyist and I don't currently do sports or wildlife. I'm on the fence about image quality because the world is full of crap pictures with great resolution. And on the other hand, powerful photos can be made with low tech cameras (plus there's an appeal to resisting all the gearheadedness of the hobby). But in general, I'll take the biggest bang for the buck as far as resolution and DR and focusing and color rendering, because it just gives you more flexibility (BTW, I love the UI of Panasonic and was not looking forward to learning the Olympus but I did not find it that big a deal). I'm sort of trying to avoid a "system". I could see getting a used Merrill, for example, and using that for attempts to get high res and sharp images (maybe even using stitching etc.) I dig that whole idea. And then maybe something practical like an rx100. But then sometimes I think that this whole approach just makes life too complicated and I should just get a basic used smaller weather sealed aps-c dslr and a good zoom and be done with it - GR to have with me all the time, something else (used K5iis plus used Tamron zoom?) for other stuff. {EDIT - or perhaps a used Fuji XE1 with zoom.}

    So at any rate, the short term debate is whether to cut my losses with M43. I just got an EPL5 and the VF4 to replace my Panasonic kit; I really like M43 and wanted to give it a fair chance before making a decision on the format, and so I wanted to spend some time with more advanced gear. I got really good deals - once I sell the kit lens I think I'll end up spending $500 total for a new body under warranty and new VF4 out of warranty. So that, the 20mm and maybe someday the Oly 45mm plus adapted Rokkor lenses = pretty good kit to go with the Ricoh.

    I don't know whether it's just extremely high quality of the images out of the GR, but I see significant differences in the image quality. Here's some pictures, shot RAW, edited in LR, exported as JPEG. They have the same ISO and FStop but different focal lengths. Basic PP with a bit more sharpening then I would normally use (around 65) and a little noise reduction with the Oly, no noise reduction for the Ricoh.

    {EDIT - Sorry, I forgot the key fact that the first of each pair is a cropped image, roughly 100%, though I wasn't being super precise. The second image in each pair is a further crop of the same image. I don't know the ratio, but it was only a small piece of the original. I'd guess about 1/8th of the length. }

    OLympus EPL5 with Panasonic 20mm:


    SeriousCompacts2.

    SeriousCompacts4.


    And these are the RICOH:

    SeriousCompacts3.

    SeriousCompacts5.


    So you could say the quality is pretty close, but to me the difference is pretty substantial and it makes me wonder if I should ditch M43. So I'm wondering, do you think these photos are a good representation of the difference between the two formats? Because I did a bunch of different comparisons and the Ricoh always came out ahead of my M43, which has near top IQ with one of the sharper prime lenses.

    And here's a bonus photo, showing some of the ability of M43. It's an MD Rokkor 135mm f3.5 on the EPL5.

    SeriousCompacts1.
     
  12. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    In my opinion, the Ricoh GR puts out the best files of any non-full frame camera I've ever owned or used. There is a clarity and sharpness (to my eyes) that arguably equals and perhaps even surpasses a Leica M9. So I'd agree with you on your assessment of the GR vs. m4/3.

    More thoughts later ... gotta work!
     
  13. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    Looks like there's some camera shake with the EPL5 image.
     
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  14. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    The GR is an amazing camera and it continually impresses and surprises me and more importantly makes me happy. Sadly, all others pale in comparison. The problem is, it's only one focal length! May I please preorder that 50mm GR? :biggrin: I bought the GRD2 several years ago and there was no going back. The GR(Ds) have always been my benchmarks.

    That said, I think a M43 camera is a great companion for the GR.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. mcentral

    mcentral SC Regular

    27
    Oct 27, 2013
    cambridge, massachusetts
    mcentral
    {EDITED - to say this was meant to be in response to the post from Yeats.}


    Could be! I just edited the post to say that I forgot to indicate that the photos were 100% crops (roughly) then a later larger crop. So that may account for some of the lack of sharpness. But camera shake is possible too. I'll go back through my images and see what I see. However, I did a bunch of comparison shots and they all showed a similar lack of sharpness relative to the GR, so I don't know.
     
  16. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    +1 Looks the same to me.
     
  17. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    Different horses for different courses:)

    In m43 forum, sb did a similar comparison of Sigma d2m to e-m5, which may surprise you even more:
    http://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=32750&highlight=dp1m+e-m5

     
  18. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    It's not the lack of sharpness that makes me suspect camera shake, but (to me) it looks like there is a smidgen of motion blur. I could be wrong; I don't have a premium lens for my E-PM2, just the kit 14-42.

    Anyway, not only does the GR benefit from the larger APS-C sensor, but the fact that it's a fixed-lens camera means that the lenses can be made to very specifically match the sensor with regard to optical characteristics, registration distance, build tolerances, etc. Interchangeable-lens cameras can't be quite so refined.
     
  19. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I think this 10% vs 50% is about right. There's something qualitatively different about Fuji files and if you love em you love em. But I don't think they're technically more than slightly better than current m43 files. And the EM5, EM1, GX7, GH3 just blow the doors off of the Fuji stuff from a versatility and performance standpoint. The Fuji lenses are REALLY nice though, as are some of the m43 lenses.

    I've had a foot in both systems since the X100 was introduced and really like both but if I was going to choose one, I'd go with m43. In fact, I'm currently getting out of Fuji completely because both systems are kind of secondary to a couple of fixed lens cameras I shoot with mostly and having some if both is just too much stuff. For shooting active kids, I think m43 is a no-brainer. For shooting landscapes and street and more sedentary stuff, it's a tougher call.

    -Ray
     
  20. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    I have to disagree about the quality. The lack of AA filter means the files are sharper BEFORE noise reduction. Having owned and used a wide array of micro four thirds and now Fuji cameras, and being very adept at RAW work flow -- I can make this statement with complete confidence.

    However, for posting on the web, smaller prints, it's not much difference -- but down in the weeds where people who print large and pixel peepers dwell, it's quite a substantial difference. However to get it, you have to use something like Photo Ninja's X-Trans RAW converter, Iridient, DXO or something OTHER than Adobe Camera RAW (Lightroom, Photoshop, et al).

    As far as FEATURES: micro four thirds blows away Fuji. But of course if you don't need those features it is immaterial.

    For me, it's Fujifilm, YMMV.