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Usefulness of mirrorless (with 2.8 zoom lenses)

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by pniev, Jun 5, 2015.

  1. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    I recently saw and "felt" the Fuji's 16-55 and 50-140. One needs to use the battery grip for balance. I did not do an exact size/weight comparison but I guess it's pretty close to a DSLR setup. I can see the need for fast, pro-grade zoom lenses for wedding photography, etc. but it made me think why a pro (or anyone else) would accept the performance disadvantage of mirrorless (primarily AF-speed, refresh rate) to shoot with Fuji (I will leave the FF vs APS-C debate aside). Is it the retro-feeling? Is it the possibility to set ISO, shutter speed and aperture via external controls?

    Personally I decided to stick to the primes to be able to travel light and select 3 lenses to bring with me depending on the purpose. The upcoming 140-400 and 120mm lenses (that I really want) made me think again why I should not switch to Nikon Df/750 (D810 is too big for my taste), 24mm, 50/58mm, 135mm and 300mm lenses and keep the X100T as a "pocket" camera. I like the FF-look in certain situations better, it handles considerably faster (I swapped cameras with someone and we both agreed), and I bet it does not weigh much more, if one selects the lenses carefully. Is it indeed nostalgia? investment protection? Or are these 2.8 zooms work horses for assignments, enabling the photographer to travel light when needed?

    I am curious what your current thoughts are!
     
  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    The classic f2.8 zooms seem to me to be pretty big and heavy in any format larger than m43. If you really like shooting zooms and want the fastest but still with a lightweight setup, I'd go with the 12-35 or 12-40, the Pany 35-100, and the 7-14 (I'd probably go for the Pany at f4 for the ultra-wide, but if you want 2.8, I guess Oly's is available or soon will be?). Full frame f2.8 lenses are pretty huge, but you can generally do as well with f4 models for full frame and they're considerably more reasonable... I love the m43 f2.8 gear for size, but I think the full frame stuff at f4 is still better for low light and DOF with a reasonable size/weight penalty.

    And as you said, if you prefer shooting primes, you can get a great inexpensive and lightweight kit for the D750 or DF (or the D610, which Nikon is selling refurbished for $1200 these days!) if you stick to f1.8 to f2.8 primes, which are plenty fast with those sensors. And if you like manual focus, the lens choices are insane! That was the calculation/impression that led me to the DF. The body is definitely bigger and heavier than the Fuji equivalent, but my overall walk around kit isn't. And once you spend for the body, you can go pretty cheap on the lenses, with huge used inventories of just about anything you want.

    Of course if you prefer the functional aspects of mirrorless (constant and much better live view, for example), then the balance changes and you're left with a Fuji vs Sony (or maybe Samsung now too) mirrorless choice...

    -Ray
     
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  3. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    Thanks Ray, I guess the 2.8 Fuji zooms appeal to those who already bought into the system and need the versatility/speed of the zoom. However, I do wonder if they will lure people in the Fuji camp!
     
  4. Covey22

    Covey22 SC Top Veteran

    658
    Feb 3, 2012
    My mentor and I were just having this conversation this morning. He's on the fence, still shooting Nikon including 2/3rds of the Old Three Kings, the 12-24 and the 70-200. I'm not far behind with the 17-55DX and the 80-200 AF-S. We're also XT-1 and XE-1 owners respectively. We both shoot low-light music and stage productions occasionally. It is tough, even with the XT-1's planned firmware. But, he's gotten away with some amazing work indoors with the Fuji 55-200. But he admits he needs more speed indoors, and the Fuji is certainly poky when it comes to low-light AF which is why when I really need the performance, the Nikons get broken out. Otherwise, I'd be shooting an XT-1 with the 50-140, very happily.

    If the muses shine upon Fuji, and I hope they do, the next round of bodies will see AF improvements and those constant 2.8s will stick around, just like the Nikon tele I'm using now which was state of the art in the 90s, but still is a world-class performer on the DX bodies I have.
     
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  5. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    649
    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Ken
    I have no idea if those two zoom lenses actually lure people into the Fuji camp but from what it looks like Fuji have sold some copies since they've introduced them. Regarding the performance disadvantages of mirrorless you've mentioned earlier - slower AF, refresh rates, ... - the gap closes more and more. Luckily I don't need lightning fast AF or object tracking but after some firmware upgrades the AF on my X-Pro1 is fast and reliable enough for what I shoot and that includes moving people. MF works great too; for me faster and more precise than on my NEX-7. My major gripe with Fuji has been X-Trans, especially at lower ISO (aggressive noise filtering and inherent CFA drawbacks resulting in an overpolished look / lack of microcontrast, issues with greens and artifacts) but in the meantime I found some quicker ways to deal with those issues and I'll keep my X gear. Regarding Nikon I've shot their stuff for more than 25 years but I currently don't need FF (or slapping mirrors) and don't think I'm going to return unless they come up with something like the X-Pro1 and some competitive fast glass.
     
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  6. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    536
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I'm one of the ones that drank the Fuji Kool-Aid early on. The user controls were nice and the lenses indeed sharp, but the AF performance drove me away(sold it all for a Nikon Df - which is my favorite camera of all time to use).
    I thought that mirrorless was not mature enough to be used seriously for my professional needs. I never looked into m43 as I had the notion in my head that the smaller sensor was going to be a deal killer.

    Then I did some serious research and actually used an EM5. Boy, did my attitude change big time! Bought into that system fully when I had a serious arm injury and needed to work some photo jobs. The size, weight and accessibility of the m43 cameras saved me from losing no less than 5 jobs. I've got no problem shooting all the way up to ISO 6400 on any of the OMD bodies.

    The biggest advantage that I've seen, though for m43 is the lens performance. I've never used a system where the primes and PRO zooms could be used wide open and outperform the FF equivalent lenses 99% of the time. I can shoot any of my Oly primes at f/1.8 and have great sharpness. The 12-40 and 40-150 f/1.8 zooms are marvels. I recently used them for a wedding I did and all worked out well. The AF is fast and accurate.

    In perspective, the Oly 40-150/2.8 is roughly the same size as the Tamron 70-300/4-5.6 FX lens for my Nikons. The Oly is also weather sealed, has a better hood implementation. It is f/2.8 throughout the range. I also like having the zoom ring closer to the body, unlike the Tamron which has the focus ring closer to the camera body.

    Because they decided to go with the APS-C size sensor, the Fuji cameras probably will not be much smaller than a Nikon D7000/D5000 series. Lenses will have to be able to cover the size of the sensor. Only the distance to sensor allows the Fuji to be thinner.

    The only thing that I am still testing out is the m43 performance in shooting sports and fast moving, erratic action. The EM1 with the new firmware (3.0) is a great upgrade and I've been able to shoot softball/baseball, fast moving wildlife and the Arnold Fitness Expo events with no issues. I'm looking to see if I can shoot football(both American and non-American) to see how it tracks with the unpredictable movements.

    In my opinion, m43 is still a very underrated, but extremely capable system. I believe that Olympus could do more to market the system outside of the pro publications I see it in, then again, that is true for most m43 manufacturers.

    Let's flip that....Fuji has put out a very capable system as well. You have to decide what you like more the Fuji way of doing things or the m43 way of doing things. A lot of people love the IQ and more manual dials/controls of the Fuji system, while others love the customizability of the m43 system.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
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  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I agree on m43. I was shooting m43 before Fuji and along with Fuji and I never really abandoned it until I sold off both my m43 and Fuji gear to finance my Nikon system last year. I got into Nikon because I'm currently loving the full frame kool-aid. It seems to me there's nothing it doesn't do better except for be small and light, but I've found it small and light enough. And since I tend to process somewhat intensively, I simply love how much work full frame files can take without falling apart. Fortunately, I'm not much of a zoom shooter so Nikon works well for me with smallish primes. I own a couple of zooms but rarely use them. And the most used zoom I own is an old 75-150 f3.5 E lens that's manual focus.

    But if I shot zooms or telephoto much at all I'd probably have kept a partial m43 kit for that task. I had a 12-40 and 35-100 which were wonderful everyday zooms. And then I had an Oly 75-300 for extreme reach and one of my favorite lenses ever, the Oly 75mm f1.8. My main use for the longer lengths and zooms is candid portraits of family and friends and while I still prefer full frame, with Oly's incredible IBIS system, it was actually a pretty close call. I still found the f2.8 lenses a little too slow for really low light applications, but the 75 f1.8 combined with the IBIS system worked almost as well as anything in my Nikon system for low light candid as long as the subjects weren't moving much. And at f1.8, there's reasonably narrow DOF with that lens, although nothing like the Zeiss 100mm f2 or Nikon 180 f2.8 I've got for the DF. Also, though, Olympus' face detection auto-focus is an amazingly effective tool and could make a guy lazy. I'm really digging using MF lenses for this application at the moment, and am actually doing quite well with it, but that Olympus system was really something great in it's own right.

    I never saw enough difference in IQ between APS and m43 to worry about personally. I rarely shot m43 gear above ISO 3200 but it could handle 6400 in the right circumstance. My biggest problem with using m43 as a primary system is I just don't really like the aspect ratio! I'm much more of a 3:2 guy and really dug the GH2 for it's multi-aspect sensor, but wasn't crazy about the camera otherwise. But then Pany stopped using that technology except in it's LX series and I was out of luck. I'm ok with 4:3 for portraits and telephoto shots (which are usually about the subject a bit more than the composition), but with my usual wider primes, I just didn't warm up to it that well. I guess that goes back to shooting 35mm SLRs more than anything else in the film days. And wider primes corresponds really well with what I consider the strength of the Fuji system, so I was a Fuji shooter too a lot of the time...

    -Ray
     
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  8. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog

    Jul 15, 2010
    SoCal
    Bob
    I think we over analyze all the different systems options, shoot what works for you. For me I like the Fuji and the Sony RX1r for my personal work probably more because it is different than, what I shoot for work. I have both zooms and primes for the Fuji and I like than as fast as possible. I look at the 16-55 F2.8 as a great single lens single camera setup, balance is fine and it shoots very well. With the new 90 F2 coming soon, combining that with my 23 F1.4 and the 16 F1.4 plus two bodies will be my go to street outfit. Both setups have a place and I would not want them to be any slower. Again for me I do not feel the need for the 50-140, the 55-200 does what I need in the length. The 140-400 looks pretty cool though for some stuff.
    The M4/3 stuff may appear sharper than a FF Nikon only in that at an equivalent aperture the smaller format has more depth of field not that the lenses are any better. You have a larger plane of focus to play with. As to the FF Nikons other than long teles I only shoot them with F2.8 zooms for work, no small primes at all.
     
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  9. marlof

    marlof Trying to focus

    Dec 25, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Marlof
    I use M43 equipment, and have several camera bodies and a whole collection of lenses. I mostly use the older EM5, which I prefer over the EM1 due to its smaller size. With it, I mainly use prime lenses. But I still was happy to order the 12-40 and 40-150 2.8 lenses. It gives me more flexibility, while staying in the system I've learned to know and love.
     
  10. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    I think that's basically it in a nutshell.

    Any of these systems can be reasonably small with carefully prime lenses but when you hit the f/2.8 zooms the size advantage is much less noticeable, with the exception of m4/3 gear. The 12-35 and 35-100 f/2.8 Panasonic lenses are still positively tiny. However, if the system you've already bought into works really well for you and you have a need for a fast zoom I think there are plenty of scenarios that makes more sense than jumping systems.

    The other thing I like to point out with mirrorless is that it's not really about size of one or two lenses here and there, but about the overall system size and weight differences. The aggregate effect is much more noticeable in my opinion than comparing a single camera + lens combo.
     
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  11. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    For me it's not about the total size/weight of the system, but the size and weight of what I'd carry in a typical day out. I don't mind having a heavy zoom or two on the shelf if they're specialty lenses and aren't gonna be part of my typical walk around kit. I have three lenses like that and they don't get a lot of use, but they serve their limited purpose. For most days I can get my walk around kit (DF with up to 4-5 smallish primes or maybe three primes and the 75-150 zoom) in an Ona Bowery, which is sort of my self-limiter for what I can comfortably carry around all day. If it doesn't fit in there, it doesn't come. And I'm not one to change lenses much anyway, so it works well. If I want to carry a bit more (maybe larger primes and a zoom), I'll take the Think Tank Turnstyle 10, which carries more but also carries it more comfortably. That's my limit for what I'm willing to carry around, though, and it's about the same weight as the Fuji gear I used to carry. I could do a notably smaller kit with m43, but I usually didn't - I'd just pack more stuff into the same size bag because it fit. But I don't change lenses much, so I really don't need to carry more than the Bowery very often...

    -Ray
     
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  12. jloden

    jloden SC Veteran

    266
    Jun 30, 2012
    Jay
    That's true Ray... I suppose it only matters if you're actually carrying it all around too! ;)
     
  13. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog

    Jul 15, 2010
    SoCal
    Bob
    I have to say it is not just about the day bag carry, size matters more for me when I pack to travel, which lenses, bodies, p&s and it is not just about lenses, it is also batteries and chargers, storage and other extras.
     
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  14. grillec

    grillec SC Veteran

    399
    Jan 16, 2014
    The Xf 50-140mm/2.8 and XF 56mm/1.2 were two lenses I was a little bit disappointed of them, so I didn't buy them although they were on my wishlist on introduction.
    I've startet with the X100, then X-E1 and later X-E2 and I like them all. But I can't find an urge to buy a new lens (or the X-T1) where my XF lenses or legacy adapted lenses couldn't serve this as well.
     
  15. mattia

    mattia SC Regular

    98
    Dec 20, 2013
    For me, it's down to the overall package. Which means a FF Sony for general use with a few primes and the 16-35:4.0 zoom (landscape addict here), and the E-M1 as the faster performing camera which really only gets used for telephoto. With the announcement of the mark II (which seems to address the only niggles I have with the a7r) I may have to think long and hard about how much MFT gear I want to keep. I don't want to go to FF sized glass for the reach I occasionally need (wildlife), but I'm being spoiled by the FF sensor for my landscape/large print desires
     
  16. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Addressing the original question, I saw the announcement of the two 2.8 zooms as Fuji's plan to be taken seriously by wedding and sports pros. It's been a stated goal of theirs to displace the DSLR model, and they can't even pretend to have arrived in that place without fast zooms in/around those lengths. They still lag in AF performance, of course, but it keeps improving. For some (like me) it's already "there" because I rarely track things that move too quickly for the XT1 to pull in a few crisp shots of them.

    Meanwhile, (as Ray said) that real-time view from the sensor is so crucial to my shooting that I cannot ever imagine giving it up. I still sometimes shoot the old Minolta SLR with film in it, and yes, I love the brightness and zero-lag, but I get so much MORE from the EVF. I shot a big party at a brewery last night, all in manual the whole night, using the aperture ring on the 35 f1.4 lens to fine tune exposure. It was such a pleasure to shoot, and for once the shots all started off exposed Exactly the way I wanted them. Not a third of a stop off here or there, but Just What I Wanted. I barely touched the exposure slider in post. So even though I'd be happy with the gains of the larger sensor, it would come with too many bad tradeoffs for my shooting needs today. I wouldn't trade my Fuji setup for a new Df + a few lenses, I don't think. But I'm no pro, either, far from it. At my experience level and with my subject material, the Fuji is perfect.
     
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  17. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin SC Top Veteran

    681
    Nov 15, 2011
    Dublin, Ireland
    Similar for me. I never had a "proper" photographic education/course, so simply seeing where the exposure lands in the viewfinder helps a lot.
    I sometimes feel like I should be more "methodic"/disciplined about getting exposures (so I'd be less dependent on technical aides like blinkies), but then again, what I'm doing kind of works... :)

    (One way to offset bigger lenses that works for me is the kind of bag you're using for it. The m43 Olympus 12-60mm (plus adapter) is probably as big as an equivalent APS-C lens.
    I'm carrying it with the Ultralight-Camera-Wrap (with integrated belt) though, which adds zero bulk and very little weight (6oz).)
     
  18. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    819
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    just a suggestion on why some feel shooting m4/3 at 1.8 is 'sharper than their FF equivalents'. i like and was an early adopter of m4/3. ive shot FF as well, and apsc. imo, and the 'o' is for 'o'pinion, the lenses are not natively sharper than FF. i believe the difference youre seeing is m4/3 lenses provide twice the DOF as their FF equivalents. a 25mm 1.8 m4/3 lens has the DOF of a 50mm FF lens at 3.6! so it will appear sharper when in reality it is simply that the 'in focus' area which has doubled.
     
  19. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    536
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    But they are still sharp at the same exposure, which is the real kicker. I'd have no problems shooting my 50/1.8D Nikkor if it were sharp at that aperture, but it is not. Some of that may also be dues to the potential for inaccuracy of the PDAF system and it's need to be calibrated, where as the CDAF m43 systems do not.

    Regardless of why they either are or appear sharper, makes no difference to me. It just is and works great for me.

    I do understand the point you are making though and appreciate your clarification on the technicality of the subject.
     
  20. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    819
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    i'm sorry, i dont mean to appear argumentative, but the exposure is not relevant to my observation of sharpness nor the objective reality of increased DOF yielding a sharper looking image due to the 'in focus ' field being at least twice as large at the 'same' aperture with m4/3 vs FF. so for the example i gave above, one would have to compare the sharpness of a 25mm m4/3 lens at 1.8 to a 50mm FF lens at 3.6, and decidedly not to a 50mm FF lens at 1.8. at 1.8 the amount in focus on a 50mm lens at 10 feet is about a foot where a 25mm lens in focus area is about 3 feet. to equalize the in focus areas you need to shoot the 50 at 3.6. do that comparison and see how the sharpness compares. (the SS--or 'exposure' is not relevant except that one too low will yield 'camera shake' fuzziness).

    it should also be noted that 'legacy' glass was not intended to be sharp wide open. that is a most modern preoccupation. old timers actually used different apertures to achieve different results. lenses were not designed to deliver maximum sharpness at every aperture, as an aid to the creativeness of the photographer. typically for legacy glass maximum sharpness is achieved at the range of twice the maximum aperture plus one stop. so a 50/1.8 was maximized for shooting at around 3.6-5.6. conversly, m4/3 glass is intended to be shot wide open, and is thus optimized for that type of shooting.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2015
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