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Merging System bounderies Fullframe (D600) to Fourthird (GH3)

Discussion in 'Micro Four Thirds Forum' started by Naveed Akhtar, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. Naveed Akhtar

    Naveed Akhtar SC Regular

    186
    Dec 8, 2011
    London, UK
    Let's have a glance on size/weight of few recent cameras before getting into this discussion :redface:

    GH2: 442g 124 x 90 x 76 mm
    GH3: 470g 132.9 x 93.4 x 82 mm (Samy's Camera - Photography, Digital Cameras, Video, Audio)
    K5: 740g 131 x 97 x 73 mm
    D7000: 780g 132 x 105 x 77 mm
    D600: 760g 141 x 113 x 82 mm
    D700: 1074g 147 x 123 x 77 mm

    Panasonic DMC-GH3 vs Nikon D600 (Images are not scaled)
    L2ltYWdlcy9wcm9kdWN0L21haW4vUy0wMjA3OTJ4NjAwLmpwZw==_H_SW700. L2ltYWdlcy9wcm9kdWN0L21haW4vUy0wMjA4MzR4NTAwLmpwZw==_H_SW700.
    L2ltYWdlcy9wcm9kdWN0L21haW4vUy0wMjA3OTJfM3g2MDAuanBnIA==_H_SW700. L2ltYWdlcy9wcm9kdWN0L21haW4vUy0wMjA4MzRfN3g2MDAuanBnIA==_H_SW700.
    L2ltYWdlcy9wcm9kdWN0L21haW4vUy0wMjA3OTJfNHg2MDAuanBnIA==_H_SW700. L2ltYWdlcy9wcm9kdWN0L21haW4vUy0wMjA4MzRfNng2MDAuanBnIA==_H_SW700.

    With shrinking full-frame bodies and expanding micro 4/3 bodies, probably its a time to re-evaluate our camera system's selection criteria on the basis of budget, size and functionality.

    Being a hobbiest travel photographer, I was always keen in compact and more functional cameras and that is why I swapped my Nikon+Fuji APSC camera gear and lenses (D90, S5 Pro) with Panny GH1 as soon as it was released back in 2009. Since then I stick with that amazing little camera and took it everywhere coupled with an Olympus Pen EP1, without any problem and been waiting for its upgrade. GH2 was an excellent product, but having a GH1 it couldn't inspired me enough to upgrade, then GH3 took a long time to get release and still its not officially announced. However, through its leaked photos and specification at one hand I am tiny bit disappointed on its physical specs and on the other I love its functional specs. As its size is reaching to a small APSC DSLR Physical size domain (like Nikon D7000/ Pentax K5) where exactly a full-frame camera is also landing, the recently announced impressive Nikon D600.

    I know its not comfortable, but I still want to rethink / analyse these two cameras (GH3 and D600), that belongs to two distant worlds, getting much closer.

    First of all GH3 is bigger in all three physical dimensions than its predecessor and got an extra 28 grams of weight. Wight wise you can still forgive but in size it's both thicker and taller (marginally) than even D7000 DSLR that also carries a mirror box. Only in height it is shorter but then it is partially due to the hight around the eyepiece and mirror box. Pentax K5 is even smaller. And I am not even considering any entry level DSLR or recently announced Full-frame but Fixed lens smaller Sony.

    D600 on the other hand got shrink from predecessor Nikon D700, considerably in height and width and gained 5mm of thickness and lost an impressive 300+ grams of weight resulting into a body which is even lighter (20 grams) in weight than Nikon D7000.

    From the way things are merging together, I am getting strange feeling that in future not too far, we will no longer consider the size of a camera body vs its sensor size when buying a camera system. Having said that, I still believe the two camera system (m43 and FF) have few noticeably Functional Advantages on each other. Even though, we still need to see the IQ tests.

    Full-frame advantages (D600):
    - 4 times Bigger sensor surface area means overall cleaner images, noticeably in ISO higher than 1600.
    - More control over Depth of field. You can arguably consider a variable focal length lens with bright f2.8 aperture over few prime lenses in m43 world (but for DOF considerations only).
    - Arguably bigger collection of Nikon and third party lenses from Tamron, Tokina, Sigma etc. Though bigger doesn't mean any of my judgement on usefulness.
    - Dynamic range on Nikon D800 was impressive, it can only get better on D600 considering similar level of advancement in technology and lower density pixels sensor 24 vs 36. Though I am not expecting huge difference. GH3 on the other hand also claim carrying a high Dynamic Range sensor.
    - Resolution wise a clear advantage in roughly 8 MP over GH3. Again I am not very keen on this aspect as well, as most of the cases lens resolution is not good enough to give a clear advantage on sensor resolution power.
    - Some prefer Optical Viewfinder over Electronics one, as you can still look into it in much lower lighting situation.

    Micro Fourthird advantages (GH3):
    - Even though the size is expanding, its weight is still considerably lighter.
    - Smaller sensor size advantage is not bound to just camera body. Overall gear with few lenses are still much lighter than full-frame or even APSC (mirror-less or mirrored) system.
    - Panasonic and Olympus has huge collection of small size lenses, those are ultra sharp on widest apertures with flexible focal lengths or apertures. There are many other innovations with power operated zoom lenses, compact collapsible design, with almost every zoom lens branded with OIS. There is a very good collection of VR zoom lenses in Nikon full-frame family, though few more useful lenses like 24-70mm f/2.8 is still without VR.
    - Shallow depth of field in Micro-fourthird has arguably some advantages for landscape photography (as hyper focal distance can be achieved more practically with lower exposure times) and recording videos, where switching focuses to various subjects is more forgiving in four third format. Also many existing studios are equipped with lightning more suitable to professional video cameras with sensors more comparable in size with 4/3 standard than any other format.
    - Though the camera body is reaching comparable in price (expected price of the GH3 body only is $1300 compared to $2000 for D600), overall lenses are still much cheaper.
    - Fastest Contrast detect Autofocus for Live View and Video recording in Micro-fourthird. GH3 is expected to be much better in this regard. Though DSLRs FF/APSC started offering AF supported in huge number of lens collection, their live view performance is not practical for most of the situations and enthusiast photographer needs. On the other hand Most of the Micro-fourthird cameras are not just incredibly fast, they are also assisted with loads of extra features supporting these operations including touch-sensitive screen focus and shutter release and even in video modes all on a fully Articulated LCD screen. Most of these lenses are specially designed to remain silent to better suit videos. With wide range of recording formats, GH3 also features a special heat-dispersing design for extended recording duration.
    - Construction wise both systems got reasonable rigid bodies. D600 is getting less durable with maximum tested shutter counts of 150k compare to 200k in D800. With mirror box gone, mirror-less cameras doesn’t have such limitations. GH3 (together with G5) also got a new Electronic shutter release, which operates in a completely silent mode.
    - I also love the new Wi-Fi(R) function that passes many camera controls to smart phones including shutter and exposure control, GPS sync, time-interval video recording, auto transfer to tablets etc.

    So there are still quite a few factors when you are considering buying an Enthusiast gear system on the basis of sensor size, however with the passage of time the build quality, controls and size are getting comparable.

    In nutshell the decision factors are if you want insanely shallow depth of field and marginally better ISO over ISO 1600 (will get better understanding on this after IQ tests) probably you will prefer full-frame, otherwise if functionality, price and weight are your preferences GH3 can still deliver better value and feature-set.
     
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  2. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    A couple of other factors come to mind.
    - What do you shoot, and what techniques do you prefer
    - Do you have any existing glass from either manufacturer
    - What is your final output? Web, print, and if the latter, to what size

    One other immediate thought. If you do have existing M43 glass, it becomes very easy to have a very good two camera kit; a smaller M43, and a GH3 for example.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    Interesting stuff. It does make one rethink µ4/3. The most compelling reason for µ4/3 is size/weight. Regardless of what you shoot and how you present your images, all else being equal, a larger sensor will deliver better results. (Granted those 'better results' may not be significant to any individual photographer.)

    As a former professional, camera size didn't matter to me. It is what it is and I accepted size/weight as just part of the job of whats needed to get the job done (period). Recently, I've invested heavily in µ4/3 and I truly appreciate the differences in size/weight between µ4/3 and my FF cameras. With FF moving into small and µ4/3 moving towards large ... I just gotta rethink my entire investment/hardware strategy.

    Gary

    PS- Thanks for the post.
    G
     
    • Like Like x 2
  4. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Kyle Krug
    Interesting post!

    I was a little surprised on the size of the GH3. The only way it makes sense to me, is if Panasonic has a rangefinder style camera coming that is smaller with a built-in viewfinder. There was a patent on one of the rumor sites that looked like their old L1 with a viewfinder and IBIS. I don't know... wishful thinking on my part?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Right, though from my experience all things are rarely equal. No question a FF can deliver more, but for some people the 'more' may not be significant, or beyond their skills.

    It can be very hard to distinguish the sensor size from a well made photograph, printed with care.
    An example:
    Kidding

    All of which just complicates the picture, but I suppose in a good way. Lots of valid choices. And while the Gh3 may be larger than previous M43, the sensor will likely make its way to smaller bodies, as with Olympus and the OMD. So if the IQ is there for your standards, yet you need a smaller body, then you have choices.

    For my purposes, FF is desirable in particular for some landscape work.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Naveed Akhtar

    Naveed Akhtar SC Regular

    186
    Dec 8, 2011
    London, UK
    Truly.

    Very true, I always paired my GH1 with an Olympus smaller body that also gives me IBIS a big plus over fullframe and Panys for prime lenses. If Oly will get its new smaller bodies the same sensor as OMD, I gonna upgrade my GF3 with it, before updating my GH1.

    What purpose is it? Would you like to share?

    As I particularly like Micro-Fourthird cameras for its higher DOF advantage over bigger sensor bodies at the same aperture. It helps me taking shorter exposure times. If Dynamic Range is a consideration, I normally take multiple shots with varying exposure and merge them down in PP. Pany 7-14mm is an excellent wide angle lens for landscape photography that always gave me satisfactory results and the sweet spot of resolution and sharpness is always achievable on much smaller f points, not far from widest aperture. Since mostly landscape photos are taken in a field outside studios and during travelling, smaller lighter system of m43 always helps!

    Thanks for your valuable feed!
     
  7. Naveed Akhtar

    Naveed Akhtar SC Regular

    186
    Dec 8, 2011
    London, UK
    Thanks for the response Gary!

    Very well said, though "making all else being equal" is the biggest concern here. However if I read it as IQ qualities based only on sensor output, I can't deny your quote.

    True, exactly my sentiments on this :)
     
  8. stanleyk

    stanleyk SC Top Veteran

    558
    May 23, 2011
    Taylor, Texas
    +1 or +2.

    Is that a photo of Herbie Hancock on your site?
     
  9. Richard Lin

    Richard Lin New to SC

    6
    Sep 19, 2012
    San Diego
    Richard Lin
    May I slightly modify your post to: all else being equal, a larger sensor will deliver slightly better results.

    There are so many variables in producing an image (print or otherwise), and sensor size/quality is only one of them. As the "kidding" article demonstrated, sensor quality contributes only very little to a moderate size print. And that comparison was done with a G10. Compact cameras sensors have improved a lot since, but I don't think large sensors changed that much in terms of per pixel quality.

    Another point about size, m43 has much smaller lenses than FF or APS-C lenses. So I think m43 still has the size advantage, even with a GH3.
     
  10. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    If I'm making a 5' poster then sensor size will be significant ... if I'm making an 8x10 then sensor size will be insignificant or not-significant-at-all. In my photography, I am the weakest link, the more sensor I can deliver to my images, (all else being equal ... gotta say that to minimize all the 'exceptions' that pop up when one uses a broad brush), the better I feel and the more wiggle room I have to play with.

    I have a couple of FF collecting dust right now because I'm moving into µ4/3 in a big way. But, if the Big Boys have recognize the desire of the purchasing public for smaller cameras and are dedicated to bring big sensors in a small professional/prosumer/OM-D/GH3 package ... then that seems very enticing.

    There is no doubt that you will need larger lenses for larger sensors. Size and weight never bother me when I was shooting for a living ... but as an amateur and tons older ... I am beginning to appreciate the smaller size of µ4/3. (The other day I had three lenses in a belt/fanny pack, a pack that I could squeeze in one FF lens (if the focal length was under 135mm).

    Gary
     
  11. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    Nope, don't think I've ever shot Hancock. Which image?
     
  12. Naveed Akhtar

    Naveed Akhtar SC Regular

    186
    Dec 8, 2011
    London, UK
    Very well said!
    m43 has many advantages overall and size is one of them. However, what we are seeing now with the latest breed of small FF cameras, its getting comparable. At the end, I am literally thinking to chose one on other and that's an exciting new development. Most probably I will go again for m43 this one time, but since the gap is narrowing, I am not sure about next time!
     
  13. Richard Lin

    Richard Lin New to SC

    6
    Sep 19, 2012
    San Diego
    Richard Lin
    True, to some degree. If you view the 5' poster from 2 ft away, maybe. But if you view it from a few feet away, then the differences very quickly evaporate. I've printed some 6mp image to 36" wide and they looked surprisingly good.

    Richard
     
  14. Richard Lin

    Richard Lin New to SC

    6
    Sep 19, 2012
    San Diego
    Richard Lin
    FF lenses are still MUCH bigger than m43 lenses though. When you have a few of these, they really add up. Here are some examples:

    Canon 70-300 mm F4-5.6: 1.39 lbs
    Canon 70-300 mm F4 L: 2.31 lbs
    Panasonic 45-200 mm (90-400 equiv.) F4-5.6: 0.84 lbs

    My bag of GX1, 14-45 mm, 20 mm pancake, 45-200 mm together probably is still lighter then a single FF lens (my 70-200mm F2.8 Sigma for Canon).

    Richard
     
  15. KianO

    KianO SC Top Veteran

    568
    Jun 27, 2012
    Geneva
    As far as I'm concerned, the complementary aspects come from complementing the systems, if you have once shot with a zeiss 35/1.4 on a FF camera there is nothing like it and nothing from the APS-C or m43 world will do that. We have different needs and sometimes they are better served by recognizin the limits of each systems and complementing them, it's not a one vs the other thing as far as I am concerned. I have shot in all 4 worlds and I'm only in the process of fine tuning the complementaries and not trying to achieve results with a unique system.
     
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  16. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    My experience is similar. My current 'SC' delivers amazing image quality, and for many of my photographic goals is the ideal camera. But for some of my purposes I recognize that FF has significant advantages. It's simply a different beast. But put a good prime or a top-notch wide zoom on a FF with a 100% optical VF and my landscape results are much closer to my goals.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  17. Naveed Akhtar

    Naveed Akhtar SC Regular

    186
    Dec 8, 2011
    London, UK
    Well said Richard, but on a comparable grounds, things are not as bad. Just an example Canon 70-200mm L IS F4 is roughly F2 in 4/3 world on physics, even though yes it gives less exposure but more DOF, so almost as good in low light, considering higher ISO performance on equivalent 4/3 cameras; and it weighs: 6.8 x 3.3 inches ; 1.7 pounds and cost under 1200$

    On m4/3 grounds you get Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 Lens 3.9 in. x 2.7 in; 0.79 pounds (wow this is light) and cost roughly 1500$

    Well I see what you mean here ... weight and size is still noticeable even though for the same physical aperture Canon should build another 70-200mm with aperture f5.6 and some clever collapsable assembly as physical fullframe 200mm will still be double of 4/3 equivalent 200mm (100mm on FF).

    If we compare GH3 and 6D physics adding these lenses on:
    GH3 + 35-100mm f2.8 = 1.3 + 0.8 = 2.1 pounds for 1300 + 1500 = $2800
    6D + 70-200mm f4 = 1.7 + 1.7 = 3.4 pounds for 2100 + 1200 = $3300

    Sure GH3 kit of 2.1 pounds of weight is lighter than 6D kit with 3.4 for roughly 2:3 and cost bit cheaper too, but then at what degree? And if I can afford 2800$ setup can I not get 3300$ based on preferences?? And if I am not taking GH3 + 35-100mm as pocketable then at what level I should worry for the size and weight.

    Functionality wise I was always counting on m43 and a key reason I am still stick to my m43 kit, it just delivers. However FF cameras are catching up so fast, look at video capabilities (its slightly better than 5d Mark2 in these respects) and builtin WiFi, all latest stuff we never expected in FF!

    P.S. I won't consider comparing big guns sigma or bigma at f2.8 or CaNikon big f2.8 here as their physical aperture are too big to be compared with 35-100mm on m43. If I will, I will probaly put all different primes on 4/3 with appertures f1.4 or smaller and with an added flexibility of not swapping them all the time. I know they are not 100% same in all aspects and no two systems can be, but just more comparable this way.
     
  18. Naveed Akhtar

    Naveed Akhtar SC Regular

    186
    Dec 8, 2011
    London, UK
    • Like Like x 1
  19. macjim

    macjim SC Regular

    80
    Jun 20, 2011
    It was interesting to read your thoughts about the way 4/3 and FF cameras were heading with the D600 getting smaller, and the GH3 getting ever larger. I've had a long history with photograph as an enthusiast, beginning with a Russian rangefinder, then the superb Olympus OM-1n and the 50mm lens, to be followed by a Nikon D50 as condensation caused the OM-1n to have mould grow inside. That D50 served me well for quite a few years until I was able to afford the dream camera in the for of the D90. That camera was a disappointment as it had an intermittent shutter release that would cause me problems but would never happen in the repair show! This is when I decided to look at the replacement and what sensor size I felt would give me the best image quality. As good as the 4/3 camera technology was, I still wanted the FF as that fitted the bill but it was well out of my reach financially. So, I moved to the APS-C sensor as it was as near to the FF without the costs, and that was the Sony NEX-5n kit — but then took my pension early and that gave me the funds to but another camera of my dreams, the Leica M9 and a 35 mm Leica lens and that brought me back to the FF sensor that I wanted. Sadly, after eight months, I found I couldn't get used to the focusing system with this camera, and the 50 mm lens that had been on back order was cancelled and the Fuijifilm X-Pro1 was to replace the Sony. I now have the three lenses for it and I am very happy with this camera system. Sadly my attempt to sell the Leica kit fell through and I had to use it as a trade-in, but, fortune came my way in the for of the D600! It's indeed a much smaller camera, around the size of the D90, and is quite an impressive machine, and as you said, with the enlargement of the GH3, the advantages of the smaller sensors for compactness seems to be being lost with all the extra bells and whistles that have forced Panasonic to enlarge the GH3. The only advantage I see now between a low priced DSLR and the GH3 is down to how sophisticated the metering and focusing work.
    But the future is now beginning to point to FF cameras in compact bodies. Yes, the new Sony FF RX-1 is bleeding expensive and doesn't have a built-in viewfinder but I truly think enthusiast and professional cameras are heading down the more compact road — with the exception of the really heavy duty Pro cameras that is!

    Cheers, Macjim.
    Fuijifilm X-Pro1, 18, 35 & 60 mm Fuji lenses and, nikon D600, Nikon 50 mm f1.4 & 24-85 mm kit lens.
     
  20. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Hi Macjim,

    You have been on an interesting journey. I have the same Fuji setup, and am deeply happy with it. I had a FF Canon and some great lenses for a while. The D600 is solidly on my radar - along with the same 50mm you have already grabbed. I'd love to hear of your experiences with the Nikon. In any case, enjoy it!