seeking gear advice...

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by pniev, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    Hello again all,

    It's been a while... I know I am terrible. However, I do hope you are willing to help me find the right small camera.. I used the Fuji X100T as my small travel/trip-camera but I could not get used to the lack of grip (I like to put my left hand under the lens). So I sold it. While it is perfectly possible to travel light with a Nikon D750 and some primes, I like to add something smaller. This setup has to serve 2 purposes:
    1. travel light and small, let's say fuji X100x-size max.
    2. large DoF: Amongst others, I am shooting watches during events. There is no time for proper focus stacking. These type of shots will primarily posted online.
    3. being able to directly or indirectly trigger my Nikon flash units (just triggerting nothing fancy).

    Let me first share my thought process so far:
    Initially I compared Leica Q (soooo beautiful and simple) and Sony RX1 mark ii (so the R version), I eliminated those. Reasons? the size of the sensor leaves me with the same DoF issue as the Nikon D750 and D810.

    Despite its 1" sensor, the Nikon DL was on my list as it had a macro function, a DSLR-like menu and the integration with Nikon's flash system. But Nikon decided to pull the plug in this one.

    I am now thinking of the following options, all APS-C or MFT
    1. Fuji X-T20
    2. Olympus PEN-F
    3. Panasonic GX8

    Fuji X-T2, Olympus M1 mark II, and Panasonic GH4/5 are still in the back of my head though. But these are a lot more expensive and are also bigger.

    In addition to the small size and weight, a big advantage of the MFT systems is that at f11 I get a comparable DoF to my D810 set at f22.

    From the 3 listed models, the PEN-F looks the most attractive to me. A big bonus is the in-camera focus stacking (perfect for my watch photography). Less so the large-size-file feature because of the related issues (artifacts,etc). My biggest concern is low-light shooting with the PEN-F.

    My questions are:
    1. what is your experience with the MFT cameras in low light circumstances. Is APS-C really doing better or is the difference negligible in reallife shooting circumstances.
    2. I keep coming back to Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic. Should I consider other options?
    3. Which camera would you recommend given my requirements?

    My apologies for the long post but I wanted to be as clear as possible. I hope that I am clear.

    Thanks, Peter
     
  2. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Fuji X100F...
     
  3. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    Hi Bill,
    Thanks. I had the X100T and loved it in many respects but, as said, could not get used to the small 23mm lens. I ended up using it mainly with conversion lenses to get a better grip.
     
  4. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Easily solved by the JJC lens hood...

    Everything stops for X100T.

    ...handling is also improved by the slightly larger grip - the X100F now takes the same batteries as the X-Pro, X-T and X-E cameras.

    Plus you get a 24MP sensor which makes a digital teleconverter viable, both with and without WCL or TCL...
    Instagram post by Bill Palmer • Feb 4, 2017 at 7:03pm UTC
     
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  5. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Bill, the Fuji cheerleader outfit fits you perfectly :clapping:

    But I think with Peter's propensity for shooting watch macros, both a smaller sensor and the ability to shoot closely would come in handy. If it were me, I'd get the PenF (for the retro good looks) and the inexpensive 12-50 zoom (which does decent macro) and the Oly 60mm dedicated macro lens. Then once you've decided if the system is right, buy more lenses as needs and budget permit.
     
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  6. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Lexington, Virginia
    Steve
    The mu43 cameras will give you greater DoF at comparable f stops and let you change lenses. If the DoF and lens of the X100T worked for you, then get the X100F. If the DoF worked but not the lens, then get the XT20. You seem to have pretty clear options based on your criteria. Pen F vs. GX8? Lots of other criteria come into play. I would also add the GX85 to the mix. Less features than the gX8 but it doesn't have the purported shutter shock issues of the GX8. My own choices? I have a Pen F and an XT10, the latter of which I plan to sell and replace with a pre-ordered XT20. The FL of the lens on the X100 series is not my favorite so i want an ILC.
     
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  7. Richard

    Richard SC Top Veteran

    648
    Feb 1, 2013
    Marlow, UK
    Another little point to consider - I look at mu43 cameras from time to time and one thing that puts me off is the aspect ratio. I tend to shoot mostly in landscape orientation and for that I far prefer a 3/2 aspect to 4/3. So I know that if I owned a mu43 camera I would be forever cropping the resulting images down to 3/2 aspect and throwing away valuable pixels along the way.

    -R
     
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  8. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    601
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    The PEN-F grip is similar to the X100T, so that may not appeal. One solution might be to get a third party grip for either the X100T, if you still have it - that is unclear to me. If you look to the PEN-F, a third party grip add on might be advisable for the same reasons as the X100T above.

    I absolutely love the PEN-F and it covered a lot of failings for me that the X100 series had(S-AF Af speed, battery life, system responsiveness). With that said, the C-AF on the PEN-F is so bad as to not even be worth having. If you need C-AF at all, then out of your list, I would look into the Fuji XT20 or if you want to go m43, a used EM1 Mark 1 is a good performer and they can be had used for around $500.

    Back to the PEN-F though. I love it. My favorite m43 camera ever as an everyday walk around. I like how the controls are laid out, the small primes it can be paired with, the IBIS. It takes adapted lenses well(I use a fotodiox to nikon F) The COLOR and MONO modes are great. I use them, but shoot RAW + jpg so I get the best of both worlds in post. Some people do not like the high ISO, but I shoot all the way up to ISO 6400 without hesitation. Base ISO noise can be an issue for some scenes where there is a large color gradation, such as the sky. I find that if I am shooting JPG, I do the following to give you more control over the base ISO noise:

    Sharpness -1
    picture mode = normal
    contrast +1

    A lot of these same characteristics can also be said for the XT20. The B&W modes are great and it can use adapted lenses well.

    I did not like the quirks in the Fuji system, so went with the m43 system instead. It worked for me.

    Regarding Panasonic. They make great m43 cameras as well. I find that they tend to lean more toward an electronics device then a camera. I did not like their EVF implementation either. olympus and Fuji do a more camera oriented layout that I much prefer.

    So, bottom line, based on your list, my cameras of choice would be in this order:

    Olympus PEN-F (The olympus 17/25/45/75 f/1.8 primes are excellent and can be shot wide open)
    Fuji XT20
    Panasonic GX8
     
  9. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    601
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Along with macro and the 60mm, the PEN-F also comes with hi-res mode. That can really pull out some detail on those static shots with a 50mp file!
     
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  10. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    Thank you! That is very valuable. I did sell the X100T and a X100F is not an option for the reason that Luke is talking about (besides other reasons such as the IQ wide-open; the lens is the same as the lens of the X100T). The aspect ratio is a factor. The lack of P-AF less so as I do not intend to shoot action. A bad C-AF implementation might be more of an issue. I will look into that.
    Despite its cons, the PEN-F seems to be the way to go. I will look into the 12-50 lens. Otherwise probably the 17/30 combo and an adapter for my 60mm Nikon macro lens.
    yet, I will also do some size comparisons with the M1 and perhaps the GH4/5 and X-T2.
    Thanks again for your help (also the settings, Andrew!)
     
  11. NoSeconds

    NoSeconds SC Veteran

    388
    Jan 1, 2017
    Troy
    Ricoh GR II

    Sony RXXX
     
  12. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    888
    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Ken
    If you want to save some $$$ you could also consider a Sony A6000. They're pretty cheap these days, mighty fast and versatile and a little less noisy in low-light than m43. The major drawback IMO is the native lens lineup, especially compared to Fuji or m43 but then the Sonys work great with most legacy lenses.
     
  13. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    601
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I was never happy with the Oly 12-50 IQ wise. Test one out before purchasing if possible,

    Instead, I'd look into the panasonic 12-32 pancake. Used in anti-shock mode, it provides a great IQ from a kit lens experience. It is a little short @ 32mm, which is an issue for some people.
     
  14. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Lexington, Virginia
    Steve
    I'll second this. Nice compact lens and it pairs nicely with the also compact 35-100 4-5.6. I have them both in my bag at this moment with the wider zoom on the Pen F. :biggrin:
     
  15. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    I will look into that. Thank you!!

    Regarding the GR II. I know people love it but the lack of a viewfinder is a no-go for me.

    Regarding the Sony Axxxx: I know it's a very personal thing but I do not like the design of that camera at all.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
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  16. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    Andrew, have you been able to compare m1 mark ii and pen-f w.r.t noise and dynamic range?
     
  17. davidzvi

    davidzvi SC Veteran

    252
    Apr 18, 2014
    David
    If a combination of size and grip are factors, maybe look at the E-M10 mkII or E-M5 mkII? Both have the option to be pretty small and both also have great optional grips when desired. The E-M10 mkII's add on grip is real simple and quickly comes off for access to the card and battery. While the add-on grip might not be as nice as the E-M1, GH4/5, or G85. Those also aren't removable. Without the grip and with the 12-32 pancake zoom either could fit in a jacket pocket while the the others wouldn't.
     
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  18. davidzvi

    davidzvi SC Veteran

    252
    Apr 18, 2014
    David
    I have to agree here, I'm not really a fan of the 12-50. I think some of the bad rap it gets is from it being priced to high originally. The macro can be handy (but there are certainly better macros) and the power zoom is good for video. But it's that power zoom that bugs me the most, don't like them. The new Olympus 14-42 EZ kit lens is also a power zoom. I much prefer the collapsing 12-32 + 35-100 Panasonic options.
     
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  19. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    793
    Dec 29, 2013
    Switzerland
    Matt
    I'd pick up on something that has been recommended already, if only briefly: The GX85 can be had with the 12-32mm kit lens; while I myself still slightly prefer the OM-D gestalt, the GX80 is the camera I use for travel - it's got the best grip of any compact body I've held so far (but I'm a small guy with smallish hands, so YMMV), no need for an additional one. As it is, I was able to use the 100-300mm II on that body without any real issue. Its I.B.I.S. system is very effective and just got better with the latest firmware update - and the 12-32mm supports Dual I.S. as well (given it's on the latest firmware). So shooting in low-light situations with sensible ISO values (up to 800 if you don't like noise - though I'm perfectly happy with what the camera delivers at 1600) with the less-than-bright kit zoom becomes viable - I've written about it elsewhere, but again: Dual I.S. is fantastically effective (a bit less so with the 12-32mm than with "Power O.I.S." lenses, but still): I was able to hand-hold 1/8" with the 100-300mm II at 300mm! As far as macro goes, Panasonic's 30mm macro also supports Dual I.S., so if I wanted a small and light travel kit with macro, that's where I'd start: 12-32mm and 30mm macro. If the overlapping focal lengths don't appeal, well - there's the 45mm PanaLeica ... For tele purposes, follow @davidzvi@davidzvi's advice.

    M.
     
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  20. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    601
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    They are about the same with a slight edge to the EM1.2 if you pixel peeping. I've no problem using either all the way up to ISO 6400. Others would stop at 1600 or 3200.
     
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