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12-17-2013, 08:16 AM   #1
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Conundrum

Hi all. I have a few DSLRs and a Pentax MX-1 for convenience. Currently there is a great deal at B&H for an Oly e-pl5 mirrorless with 2 lenses.

I was seriously thinking of pulling the trigger as it would be a great substitute for a DSLR when I want less bulk and weight. However, given that the kit lenses are your typical slowish lenses (f5.6 at the long end), is there really still that much advantage over the MX-1? Naturally as the sensor is much, much bigger, it would be a huge plus in terms of noise, dynamic range and detail. But, the lens on the MX-1 is so fast that it gives a over 2 stops advantage.

So, for example, I can take shots quite clean on the MX-1 at ISO 400. If it were the Oly, assuming we are in the f5.6 range, I would lose over 2 stops pushing me to at least ISO 1600. (Let's forget about buying faster lenses at this point as that would push the cost through the roof and I'm not even sure what there is in faster zooms for m4/3 lenses anyway.) When you think of it in these terms, doesn't the advantage narrow considerably? Of course, in good light when either can shoot at ISO 100 or so, there would be little competition. But, in any less ideal lighting situation, the advantages of the much larger sensor would be hobbled by the much slower lenses.

Anyone agree? Disagree? Am I overthinking this one?

Thanks

12-17-2013, 08:29 AM   #2
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Not worth it if you only want to stick to the kit lens. OTOH, most fast glass for m43 is in the good/great/amazing range of IQ.
12-17-2013, 08:40 AM   #3
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I will want to get fast glass in time. There are some great primes out there. But seems like not so much in the way of fast zooms for m4/3.

But, right, if I stick to the kit zooms, it doesn't seem to gain much in less than really good light, if anything.
12-17-2013, 08:57 AM   #4
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There's the 12-35 2.8 from Panasonic and the 12-40 2.8 from Olympus, then the 35-100 2.8 from Panny and the incoming 40-140 2.8 from Olympus.

12-17-2013, 09:05 AM - 1 Like   #5
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FWIW, I can offer the perspective of someone who started with (and continues to use) a similar camera (Sony NEX-5R and 6) as well as a Pentax (K-3). The size and weight of the NEX system, combined with very strong reviews for image quality, are what originally attracted me to the Sony NEX and I'm still very happy to have and use the system. (I believe the Olympus model you're looking at is a little lighter and narrower than the NEX-6 but only marginally so, so the comparison in terms of size should be similar.) There definitely are a number of situations where, if it weren't for the fact that the K-3 is my newest toy (and I'm trying to learn as much as I can about it), I'd take the NEX out with me but not the Pentax. It's a great camera for street photography, for city trips, and for natural light portraits. I particularly like the NEX-5R's touch screen (which you can use to manipulate the focus point) - great for shooting portraits of wiggly kids and pets. I have been very impressed with the image quality (shooting in RAW).

The main negative (and one of two reasons I switched to Pentax, the other being Pentax's WR) is the limited lens line. Although Sony is slowly adding E-mount lenses, there definitely are fewer options (and the zoom options in particular aren't great) and they're generally expensive. I also found that setting up off-camera flash was more challenging with the NEX-6 (not impossible, but just not as easy a more traditional DSLR). In addition, the 5R lacks an optical viewfinder and that was a huge inconvenience - that's the main reason I upgraded from the 5R to the 6 (although I continue to use the 5R for some purposes because of its touch-screen capabilities). The NEX system does have some nice fast primes, and Sigma makes a couple of good value 2.8s (19mm and 30mm). I use the Sony 50mm f/1.8 all the time and probably will add a wider-angle fast lens as well. But I don't expect the zoom range to get significantly better. For example, they added some (fairly expensive) constant f/4 zooms recently (16-70mm and 18-105mm) but f/4 just doesn't seem fast enough to justify the $, and I don't expect them to make constant f/2.8 zooms because they'd be huge - the f/4s are already really big on the small camera. I also tried and rejected the 18-200 zoom lens because it was huge and unwieldy. So that means I'm stuck with switching back and forth between the 18-55 and the 55-210, although I mostly use the 55-210, and that's a bit of a hassle.

So, the bottom line is that I think a MILC camera is a great second camera to have. It's not pocketable, but it is significantly less heavy and bulky than my DSLR and I think you would take it places that you wouldn't take your regular camera. But if the versatility of a zoom (in a fast/high quality glass flavour) is important to you, I think you'll end up being disappointed. If, on the other hand, you're happy to use a few fast primes most of the time, or are willing to settle for slower zooms when a prime won't work, then I think an MILC would be a great purchase.

Having said that, if you're still thinking about an MILC, I think you should check out the NEX line before committing to Olympus.
12-17-2013, 09:30 AM   #6
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Thanks guys. The real question for me is whether there really is enough of an advantage of investing in something like an OLY (great sale at the moment) when I have a Pentax MX-1 and have the advantage of really fast glass on that which generally helps me keep the ISO in a reasonable range, esp as I don't see me investing the $2,500 it would take to have the 2 fast f2.8 zooms any time soon.
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