Anyone have experience with micro 4/3rds format cameras?

edkwon

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The answer is probably no since this is relatively new digital camera technology, but after SLR shooting for a while, the picture quality of my compact P&S looks like crap and while I could upgrade to another P&S I wanted to get something almost as compact but with entry level dSLR picture quality and adjustability, but to shoot in sitautions where carrying around an SLR is inconvinient or inappropriate (social situations, restaurants, times where my SLR equip is at home but I can't miss the photo opportunity) and keep my SLR for more arranged photoshoots.

It's expensive and the choice isn't extensive but the Panasonic Lumix GF-1 is looking like a top contender

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCGF1/DMCGF1A.HTM

Just wondering what thoughts others may have?

 

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No direct experience, but they're basically P&S cameras with a large sensor, interchangeable lenses and some SLR-like features. I think they're well suited to what you have in mind.

Nomix will undoubtedly have more information on this than I do and will also recommend a PEN :p
 
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nomix

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A pen is a pencil-shaped object that contain ink and allow you to write stuff on pieces of paper. Back in the old days, here was a camera engineer at Olympus who thought he could make a camera that would be as easy to use as, you guessed it, a pen.

It was called the PEN F, it was a half frame SLR with a large range of lenses. Last year, Olympus launched the "new" PEN, the E-P1. Even if it was a large as the Olympus OM-series of cameras, which were normal 35mm SLR cameras, it is quite small. It's the same size as the GF-1.

Panasonic and Olympus are both in ?4/3. So which to pick?

Olympus makes the E-P1, the E-P2 and the E-PL1. Panasonic makes the GF-1 (and the larger G1 and GH1, I wouldn't pick any of those).

I wouldn't get the E-P1, as it can't use an EVF on the top, and the EVF is really useful. The E-P2 is in my mind the best bet, and it comes with the VF2 which is a very good EVF (1.3 mp resolution, I think) included. It's too expensive, but it's still a very good piece of kit.

The GF-1 has an optional VF, but it is not as good. The E-P2 has built in IS, which is nice, while the GF-1 has a built in flash, the E-P2 does not. The E-P2's AF is not much to shout about, while the GF-1 is very good in that respect.

The really good reason for getting the GF-1 is that it will be cheaper to get it with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake. That is a really, really good lens. The Olympus 17/2.8 is not a very good lens, it's very usable, but not nearly as good as the Panasonic pancake.

As for IQ, there's little to pick between.

You get the E-P2 if you want the best VF and built in IS. You get the GF-1 if you want the best AF and built in flash, and a cheap 20/1.7..

I don't own an E-P2, but I've written a review about it.
 

edkwon

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Yeah I looked into the Olympus models but lack in built in flash was a turnoff since I wanted that aspect of compact form factor to remain? What do I use a P&S for these days? Social situations, parties, clubs, lounges, restaurants, food blogging, usually places that are dark or dimly lit by nature, so having the built in flash is a must, loss of zoom with the 20mm prime, not so much, I can probably work around that with my feet.
 

marcos_eirik

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Whats a PEN?
Nomix did a fairly comprehensive test of the Olympus PEN E-P2.



Anyway, there's not much to choose between right now, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. The Lumix GF-1 has good ISO-performance, a built in flash, and a reasonably fast AF-system. The Olympus Pen E-P1 has a slow-ish AF and no built in flash, but slightly better image quality across the whole ISO range and body based IS. The E-P2 has a faster AF than the E-P1 and comes with an EVF. There is also the Samsung NX-10 and the Olympus E-PL1, but those are new and haven't been tested yet. One of the cool features of the micro 4/3-system is that you can use any piece of SLR optics on it via adapter, if you want.

Edit; Didn't pay attention/slow reply...
 
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nomix

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Then the GF-1 is the way to go.

I haven't tried it, but I've read enough about it to form an opinion. These cameras are silly with zoom lenses, that botches the whole idea. So you get the 20/1.7. It's a sweet gem of glass, it'll be a future classic, just like the regular 4/3 Panasonic Leica 25/1.4 has become. It's a gem of glass, and compact. It's the only real choice for the GF1.

The E-PL1 does have a built in flash, though.

I'll have to correct Eirik a little bit, the ?4/3 mount can't use EF lenses, even with an adapter. But EF lenses only work on EF mounts, cause it's a completely electric mount.

But make sure you get the optional VF for the GF-1, unless you want me to give you a beating with a bat. :p

Here's a feature comparison at DPR;
http://www.dpreview.com/previews/olympusepl1/page3.asp
 

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I must say, I am drawn to a 4/3, and thus far the GF-1 has impressed most.
 

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Just skimmed through the review, sounds amazing although that cheap new Olympus may tempt me price wise!
 

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As long as you get the EVF. Photographing with it is amazing fun.

You should also read commercial photographer Kirk Tucks review of the E-P2.
 

Ramseus

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The only way to make m4/3 cameras pocketable is using one of the pacake lenses, and then they're compact but not versatile. You would probably never use a zoom since then you'd need to carry it in a bag or something and might as well take your SLR. What compact are you using, anyways? Because I would just upgrade that, but that's me.
 

edkwon

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But make sure you get the optional VF for the GF-1, unless you want me to give you a beating with a bat. :p
Interesting point, but I want to ask you this.

I know the EVF is electronic and basically reproducing the image that is seen on the LCD viewfinder. Other than feeling like a 'proper photographer' by composing and framing shots thru the viewfinder;

(which when I used to have compact P&S cameras with a separate optical viewfinder, I found holding those small cameras up to my face ergonomically awkward compared to the more comforable feel of holding a full sized SLR VF to my eye)

what is the advantage of using the optional $200 EVF (not cheap)? Does the AF work faster or does it take any of the processing workload off the image sensor or CPU? If the answer to that question is 'no' what other pros are there to buying that extra hardware?

The only other advantage I can imagine is if youre shooting in bright light conditions, you can avoid sunlight glare on the LCD display but I've never found that a problem in my experience, and with dimly lit situations, again no real advantage.
 

nomix

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It will make it possible to hold the camera stable, while it is close to impossible without it. I've shot the E-P2 with and without it, loved the whole experience with the VF, hated it without.
 

edkwon

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So i ended up getting the GF1 with the 20mm prime lens,

overall impressions: takes fantastic pictures and the quality is honestly comparable to my D90, it is about the same same as an advanced compact like the Canon Powershot G11, and its much heavier and heftier than i expected, feels like an all metal body, no EVF yet, thats an additional $200 and so far I'm having no problems holding the camera to compose most shots. Shots in the dark will require tripod stabilization anyway so I'm still not seeing a need for the EVF yet.

Here is my actual camera





shot of my D90 taken with the Lumix

 

edkwon

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Here are some random shots i've made with the camera:









 

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Thats a nice buy mofo!
Quality seems to be real kickass. Or mabbe its just you.
But awesome buy.
How much did it cost and what lens did you get with it?
 
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