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11-03-2010, 07:21 AM   #1
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System swap: Pentax K (K-5) or Panasonic u4/3 (GH2)

I realise the inevitable bias that people here will have, but I'm stumped and am going to ask anyway. So please try and be objective

At the moment I shoot Olympus 4/3 (classic, not Micro). I have an E-3 body, and the Zuiko Digital 8mm Fisheye, 12-60/f2.8-4 SWD and 50-200/f2.8-3.5 SWD. My gear gets a lot or use (I've shot around 30,000 images with this body in the last 12 months) but I'm not a pro and have no real aspirations to be one. I shoot for myself to capture and share the places I've been and things I've seen

I'm quite happy with the E-3, and would happily upgrade to the E-5 to improve a few E-3 issues (noise, resolution and LCD being the main ones). However, I'm unconvinced that Olympus still has any interest or commitment to the classic 4/3rds mount, and as such I'm switching systems (again...).

I don't have any specific area of photographic interest, and shoot basically whatever I see. My main subjects would probably be:

Landscape
Street/Urban
Architecture
Travel
Surfing

I'm an Architecture Masters student and have a keen interest in documenting urban space. I'm also quite keen to progress into video for this, as well as stills.

Here's my flickr stream to give you an idea of my shooting interests and style.

At the moment I'm considering two systems...

Firstly, Pentax K with the following:

Pentax K-5
Pentax DA 12-24/f4
Pentax DA* 16-50/f2.8
Pentax DA* 50-135/f2.8
Pentax DA* 300/f4
Total Cost (B&H) - $4989USD

And Panasonic u4/3:

Panasonic GH2
Panasonic 7-14/f4
Panasonic 20/f1.7
Panasonic 45/f2.8 Macro
Panasonic 14-140/f4-5.8
Panasonic 100-300/f4-5.6
Total cost (B&H) - $4228USD

**If I get the GH2 kit I will probably keep my 8mm FE and buy a 4/3 adapter**

Between the two I'm stumped... The Pentax obviously offers a more durable, weather-sealed kit, which would be great for landscape work. It's also faster and has better all round IQ, plus faster zooms, which would be great for action and so on... But then it's a significantly larger and heavier kit, which is one aspect of my E-3 kit that I'm keen to leave behind... The lens collection is also somewhat less versatile.

The Panasonic on the other hand is probably less of a sports machine (slower frame-rate, worse iso performance, slower focussing (although this has been much improved apparently). It also lacks the sealing and metal body. But then the lens line-up seems very nice (I'm really impressed with Panasonics offerings so far), it's VERY compact, and the video implementation seems outstanding. I also like the idea of the 7-14, 20/f1.7 and 45/f2.8 as a very compact, high-quality street kit...

Thoughts?


Last edited by nickthetasmaniac; 11-03-2010 at 07:38 AM.
11-03-2010, 11:45 AM   #2
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Your shooting style is well suited to the strengths of 43. Bright daylight, distant hiked-to locations, ƒ/8.0 landscapes, and street scenes where the small form factor helps to blend in.

As you mentioned, the Panasonic is probably better at video, which appears to matter for you.

I guess my question is this: Do you shoot this way because that is what your eye sees, or do you shoot this way because the camera doesn't work as well outside of ideal conditions?

I'm not trying to be a butthead. I owned a Sony NEX-5 for one week and had to return it because it simply could not operate well indoors, fast, lower light, with a fast moving subject. So it was basically only good for the type of shooting you do. If I had kept it my photos would end up looking like yours.

So if you love to shoot ideal conditions then stick with the 43. Maybe try one of those fancy new tilt shift adapters and get some manual focus old F mount glass to go with it. You'll appreciate the lighter bag weight and some of those lenses are probably really good (the 45/2.8 would be the very first 43 lens I'd own).

The K-5 is bigger and heavier, but it will do stuff that the smaller camera cannot. If you don't need ultra low light capability, phase detection focus speed, WR, and if videos are important then you should really lean toward the Panasonic.

Do you agree?
11-03-2010, 12:04 PM   #3
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How about...both?

Ok, running two systems isn't always great, but M4/3 doesn't do low light well, nor fast glass (which you have obviously grown accustomed to!).

I'm curious as to your potential choice of the GH2 over other M4/3 cameras?

Do you have much experience with primes? I would suggest trying out the Panasonic with their 20mm (which is a great combo). IF you find it enjoyable, keep it...BUT...stop there, get the K-5 and start your prime collection, they are a blast (or, get the 16-50/50-135 combo - you would have to pry the 50-135 from my cold dead hands, if I could only own one lens, that would be it). the K5 is a great camera from my brief experience, and it will simply do things that any of the m4/3 cameras can not.
11-03-2010, 12:40 PM   #4
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Thanks for your responses guys

Firstly, it's probably worth mentioning that previous to the E-3 I used to shoot with a Pentax dSLR system (K20D, DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135 & DA Ltd 35/f2.8) and I continue to shoot Pentax K for film (LX, K24/f2.8, M35/f2 & M50/f1.4). I've also used the K-x and K-7 extensively through family and friends, so I'm fairly familiar with the system. That said, I've used my film lenses on the K-7 and it's just not my thing, so don't let that affect your advice

@ Aegon - Generally speaking I shoot what I want to shoot The only criticism in that sense that I'd aim toward my Oly gear is the amount (lots) of noise present in low-light and long exposure situations. At times the E-3 DR struggles with contrasty landscape scenes as well. Other than that I don't feel my equipment has stopped me getting the shots I want. I feel that both the K-5 and GH2 would be significant improvements in this sense, the K-5 obviously being more so.

Really fast focussing for me just isn't an issue. The only fast stuff I shoot is surfing, and that happens far enough away not to be a problem.

@ pxpaulx - Not interested in running two systems. At all...

I'm interested in the GH2 specifically because of the form-factor over the GF1/Pens, and the feature set over the G2/G10, especially the video ability and oversized sensor: I like cropping between 4:3, 3:2 and 1:1 for different shots, so the abillity to do at the time of the shot without significant loss of resolution is a big plus.

11-03-2010, 01:14 PM   #5
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take to to consideration that I don't own anyof the aforementioned cameras.
so I assume the only upside for micro 4/3 is the size. now I believe that is less significant when using a large telephoto so bare in mind how frequently will you be using those. other than that , the K-5 IS similarly sized as your E-3 (K-5 is smaller actually) so you already know that path
11-03-2010, 02:46 PM   #6
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If size is your concern, why add Pentax's largest lenses to the list?

Primes are one of, if not the, reason to go to Pentax
11-03-2010, 03:02 PM   #7
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Good point yeatzee.

K-5, 15mm, 40mm, 77mm
That setup is very good indeed. Many variations exist, but those lenses would be my pick.

But what about video? I haven't used the K-5 and I don't read up about its video capabilities. I'm sure it does a fair job, but the Panasonic is probably going to be better.

11-03-2010, 05:01 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by yeatzee Quote
If size is your concern, why add Pentax's largest lenses to the list?

Primes are one of, if not the, reason to go to Pentax
Because the main lens issue for me is versatility, and in terms of a balance between speed, focal length, IQ and durability, the lenses I listed are the most suitable.

If I went with the Pentax system I'd get some Ltd primes at some point, but not first up.
11-03-2010, 05:17 PM   #9
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The way I see it at the moment, these are the pros and cons relevant to me for both systems...

Pentax:

Pros...
- Durability (sealing, metal body, -10C operating temp)
- Speed (AF and 7fps)
- IQ (resolution, DR, noise)*
- Fast zooms
- Very good control layout*
- Ltd lenses

Cons...
- Bigger, especially with lenses.
- Not really suitable for video (this applies to dSLR's in general)
- Slightly confused top-end lens lineup (I'm not sure that Pentax knows what DA* should mean)

Panasonic:

Pros...
- Small, especially when you take lenses into account.
- Very nice lens selection that seems to be heading in all the right directions (25/f1.4, fast standard zoom & fast wide-angle all planned)
- Cheap, fast, quality pancake primes (14/f2.5, 20/f1.7)
- Outstanding video
- IQ (not as good as K-5 but still impressive)
- Native 4:3 image ratio - this is a purely personal thing, but 4:3 is my preference for general shooting.
- Oversized sensor allows for various native image ratios, rather than crops.
- Very good control layout*

Cons...
- No sealing.
- Slower AF and frame rate
- No fast tele and currently no fast standard zoom (although this one should be released in the next 6 months or so)
- 1/4000 max shutter (this would rarely be an issue)
11-03-2010, 05:41 PM   #10
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Sounds like your already leaning towards the panasonic....

Buy what YOU want and what YOU will enjoy....
11-03-2010, 09:13 PM   #11
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I'm at a similar crossroads. I currently shoot a K20d/K-x combo, and am very much coveting the K-5. But the GH-2 is enticing as well, for the smaller form factor, the flip/twist screen, and the more evolved video with manual controls.

The reality is that I take more photographs than video, so the answer should be the K-5. But I'm very interested in getting more involved in video and am worried that the K-5 won't help me grow in that direction.

I'm more open to a dual system though. Good luck, whichever you choose...
11-04-2010, 01:53 AM   #12
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a) I would consider the 9-18mm Oly over the 7-14 Pana. It is smaller, cheaper, lighter, and takes filters. Very slightly less IQ and less wide, but probably sufficient for your needs. Please note however I currently own neither, but will almost certainly buy the 9-18mm for my next "big trip".

b) I made a remotely similar choice, although my priorities and budget were different.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/86172-system-compa...resistant.html

I picked a GF1 and am reasonably happy with it, although miss the WR, DR and higher ISO capabilities that Pentax would have likely given me (but GH2 is a lot better on the last two points). But I enjoy the small weight and size a lot, and not having to worry about if/when the SDM is gonna fail.

c) I agree totally about moving away from classic 4/3. It is a complete dead-end.

d) I wouldn't buy the 45mm Panaleica if budget was an issue at all. I think getting a legacy macro lens instead is a much more cost-effective option.

e) Besides calculating the total cost of the kits, calculate also the total grams of weight. Then think about how much are you happy to carry around, and what would you have to leave back home on an example outing.

f) I think you will be happy with whatever you choose. GH2 is a great camera and the multi-aspect sensor is a cool thing, while K-5 just seems to get the APS-C DSLR right.
11-04-2010, 05:04 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by juu Quote
a) I would consider the 9-18mm Oly over the 7-14 Pana. It is smaller, cheaper, lighter, and takes filters. Very slightly less IQ and less wide, but probably sufficient for your needs. Please note however I currently own neither, but will almost certainly buy the 9-18mm for my next "big trip".
Excellent take on the two lenses. I have owned both, and currently use (and prefer) the 9-18mm. the 7-14mm is an amazingly solid lens with excellent image quality - the only other major factor (on top of all the ones mentioned above) is that the 7-14mm sits very squarely into the ultra-wide position. That can be great, but at the same time it won't serve as a walk-around lens in a pinch.

The 9-18mm is a great lens, the focal range is quite usable on its own as it delves into the 'normal' range at the long end. It's size also cannot be discounted - it is diminutive. The same height, but skinnier than the Oly kit lens, and with an obvious notch up from the kit lens in terms of build quality - it has very tight tolerances and despite the fold down design it is very well built. Neither the 7-14mm or 9-18mm have IS, so that is a wash. The 9-18mm is also the same equivalent focal length to the Pentax 12-24mm, of course one fits in the palm of your hand, the other not quite!
11-04-2010, 05:14 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
Excellent take on the two lenses. I have owned both, and currently use (and prefer) the 9-18mm. the 7-14mm is an amazingly solid lens with excellent image quality - the only other major factor (on top of all the ones mentioned above) is that the 7-14mm sits very squarely into the ultra-wide position. That can be great, but at the same time it won't serve as a walk-around lens in a pinch.

The 9-18mm is a great lens, the focal range is quite usable on its own as it delves into the 'normal' range at the long end. It's size also cannot be discounted - it is diminutive. The same height, but skinnier than the Oly kit lens, and with an obvious notch up from the kit lens in terms of build quality - it has very tight tolerances and despite the fold down design it is very well built. Neither the 7-14mm or 9-18mm have IS, so that is a wash. The 9-18mm is also the same equivalent focal length to the Pentax 12-24mm, of course one fits in the palm of your hand, the other not quite!
I've used both the Zuiko 7-14 and Zuiko 9-18 (classic 4/3rds) on my E-3 and for an ultra-wide I simply don't find the 9-18 wide enough...
11-07-2010, 03:39 AM   #15
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will your Zuikos fit (and autofocus) on a panasonic GH2 (and vice versa)?

Are you a tripod guy? If yes, you may want something with nice LiveView and a tilt/swivel screen.
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