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07-04-2015, 01:56 PM   #1
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A M4/3 quandry

Since we have a little guy (2.5 yrs), and we're always running short on room for my DSLR, I recently bought an Oly EM5 ii along with some with the 12-40 & 40-150 PRO zooms, as well as the Pana-Leica 25 1.4, and Oly 17 1.8 with the notion I could potentially replace my larger Pentax setup with a smaller, more portable system that could give me comparable image quality.

As I'd need some of the funds from the sale of my Pentax system to afford the new M 4/3 setup, and I'm coming up on the 30 days I have to return it, I keep waffling back & forth due to my love for Pentax glass (of which I have some of the best examples - FA Ltd, DA*, etc - see my profile if you're interested in specifics). Obviously this crowd is going to be biased towards Pentax, but I'm wondering if anyone has anyone else made the switch to M 4/3 (or tried switching) and some of the reasons behind it?

Some of my gripes about the Oly body are: autofocus (esp. tracking/low-light), high ISO performance, non-intuitive menus on the Oly and overall handling (< than Pentax). Thoughts?! I'd really appreciate any feedback as this has been keeping me up at night!!

07-04-2015, 02:27 PM   #2
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Panasonic GH4 is supposed to have very good AF, both AF.S and .C.
07-04-2015, 04:02 PM   #3
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seems to me that the only real step forward you made was evf over ovf, which is of course a huge advantage, but you never even mentioned it.

k3 video vs. em5 video, maybe the oly wins there? i know nothing about em5 video, but if you have a kid, you'll want to shoot video... em5 video, like the gh4, will suck in weak lighting conditions, but it's got to better than the k3 video.

i'm not seeing a scenario where 16mp m4/3 is going to have comparable still p.q. to 24mp aps-c, i think that was a failed assumption, you should have done your homework better.

returning non-defective new gear that you've used for 30 days is a lousy way to treat the vendor that you bought the gear from... i would sell the k3, camera bodies are disposable, but keep all pentax lenses that are not decentered, aren't there kmount-m4/3 adapters?
07-04-2015, 06:06 PM   #4
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M43 did not satisfy me in general so over time i let it go. I tried G1 GH1 and GF2 but no Olys. My small cam now is a NX300 with 16+30 pancakes and a K adapter. Thing is the K-r isn't much bigger with 15, 24 & 40 primes (plus 55-300)!

07-04-2015, 08:06 PM   #5
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2 years ago, I used an Oly E-PM2 concurrently with my K-01. The E-PM2 has a very similar sensor to the EM5 II. After a couple months I sold off the Oly. Ultimately, the slight IQ advantage of the Pentax's sensor proved more important to me than I had thought it would. I found a bit of crunchiness is the E-PM2's files that sometimes bothered me. Or maybe the problem was that I didn't do a good job processing the Oly's RAW files.

I think if I were already an M4/3 user I would not migrate to APS-C - image quality is so close - but as an APS-C user I simply was not satisfied with the slight regression (in terms of IQ) to M4/3.
07-04-2015, 09:47 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback thus far, gang. I shot a K-30 for a long time (along with a 10 MP Nikon 1 for vacations where size was a real challenge) and was happy with the output. The main reason I upgraded to the K-3 was for the upgraded AF and metering, as well as more direct control shooting stills. The EVF is a good point - it is nice to have a WYSIWYG viewfinder, however I sometimes feel the K-3 has a more organic feel to the way it operates.
07-05-2015, 12:39 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Last month I bought an Olympus OM-D E-M10 and I'm loving it. I discovered that the strength of a u4/3 system lies in its primes. There are many pancake and compact lenses that can be attached to a u4/3 body to create a very small and portable camera. Consider the Panasonic 14mm and 20mm lenses. Your u4/3 body with any of these lenses creates a small and unobtrusive camera that can be used when you want to be discrete. It's also great when you want to go lightweight such as when traveling. There is no comparable K-mount solution. Yes, the DA 21mm is small and the DA 40mm is even smaller but the bodies are huge compared to the M10. u4/3 zooms are smaller than their K-mount counterparts but not small enough to make me want to get one. At that point I might as well take my K-3.

The 16MP sensor is very good but it's no match for the 24MP sensor in the K-3. Not only is the resolution higher but the dynamic range is wider and the sensor noise is lower. This is not so apparent in good light at low ISO but it becomes very obvious when you have harsh desert landscapes or crank up the ISO. Don't forget the native aspect ratio too. APS and FF is 3:2 while u4/3 is 4:3. Consider how much you will be cropping from your image when you make prints. If you make 4:3 aspect ratio prints then u4/3 is a good choice. If you choose something more traditional for 3:2 then think about your K-3.

I am blessed to have a very nice set of lenses for my K-3. The FA Limiteds and the DA 18-135mm make up most of my kit. I have a D-FA 50mm for film scans and a FA 50mm f/1.4 for nostalgia. There is nothing in the u4/3 ecosystem that will match this so I don't even try looking. u4/3 lenses are very sharp and punchy but kind of sterile. Someone somewhere called them clinical. They are great at photographing flat pieces of paper with patterns on them to derive test result. The K-mount lenses do have a special rendering that is a artistic to say the least. Perhaps this has something to do with the lenses being designed before the age of the internet where online test data rules our credit cards. The FA 43mm seems to have terrible performance on paper but well done image samples will melt your heart ... and the u4/3 body sitting on the table in front of you!

Consider too that the day is coming when Pentax will have a FF body. This is the potential that our APS bodies are striving and hoping for. Imagine a body about the same size as your K-3 but with a massive FF sensor. u4/3 doesn't have that. The sensor size you see now is what will be forever. You can couple u4/3 with FF as a "medium" and a "large" system. "Small" can be something like a Q7 or even a premium compact with a retractable lens. Heck, even the Fuji 2/3" sensor cameras would work.

That's how I see my M10 against the K-3. Each is distinct if you leverage its advantages. Don't make one emulate the other. You'll be disappointed with both in the end.

07-05-2015, 01:55 PM   #8
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Great points, Boris. I took the EM5ii + 12-40 zoom out today and also took the pana-Leica 25 out yesterday, will have to see how they look. I did notice the lower shadow detail when processing a shot of my dog with the 40-150 zoom. I was thinking I'd try and keep the FA Ltds (esp the 43 which I use all the time on my K3) and getting an adaptor for the m43 system, using the 43 as a portrait lens due to crop factor. I had a GR but it's not working correctly and Ricoh hasn't replaced it after 2 trips to their repair site, so I was hoping this would at least be a step up from the 1" sensor in the Nikon 1. I am also excited to see what the FF body brings to the table - maybe when it comes down in price a little
07-05-2015, 01:56 PM   #9
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Why is this lens so costly, and what is an approximately equivalent Pentax DA lens?

Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Interchangeable Lens

Thanks
07-05-2015, 02:00 PM   #10
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The 12-40 is equivalent to a f4 16-50 or so on APS-C but it's all metal and similar build to the DA* line with weather sealing and constant aperture. In the U.S. it's $800 now which isn't absolutely ridiculous but still pretty expensive, although it's sharp wide open and has gotten stellar reviews across the board...
07-05-2015, 02:49 PM   #11
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Thanks, Slip,
I am way out of date here with M43.
I am looking at a small, but quality camera for someone else.

To check that lens roughly, I put the SMC Pentax 1:2.8 24mm on the Oly EPL1 and set f/2.8 to see the ability to discriminate subject from background, that she requests.
24mm is slightly tele, even so, f/2.8 is not really what she would require, I think:
Camera jpg s from the Oly
https://app.box.com/s/pximr9ersqpuxfw1alzbhnkrlg3oop5l
https://app.box.com/s/v1omxjg9fc77wpwqj288u785r6hyirzd

---------- Post added 07-05-15 at 06:14 PM ----------

Continuing my crude tests,
Here is the Pentax Istds with the Pentax -M 1:2.8 40mm wide open, to check subject disrimination from background.
https://app.box.com/s/y4o3op8ffz35fk5ybhe0gjubclehvfq0
https://app.box.com/s/huql9gqs094xfqgdwjcb0tb2frozbco6
Discrimination is quite a bit better than the M43 in post 11.

However
I think the smallest Pentax aps-c camera that could do the needed job is the superseded K-R at body weight of 544 gram.
The current one is maybe the K-30 at 650 gram

These are a lot heftier than 6BQ5's Olympus OM-D E-M10 at 396 gram

Last edited by wombat2go; 07-05-2015 at 03:16 PM.
07-05-2015, 06:17 PM   #12
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Wombat, I just did some PP for some Pentax and Oly shots back to back, comparing the output of the 12-40 and Pana-Leica 25 to the FA 43 and 18-135, there's simply no contest, the sensor in the K-3 just blows away the Oly (which incidentally is not too far off from the Nikon 1 in terms of bokeh/image quality). Boris is right on the chunky-ness of the RAW files the Oly spits out. I think I'm going to have to keep running the Pentax and Nikon systems in tandem. While I like the size and level of control the EM-5ii provides over the Nikon, I can't see enough of a difference to make it a definitive win for the Oly. At least I know the grass isn't greener
07-05-2015, 09:40 PM   #13
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The u4/3 ecosystem has some ... oh, I don't know what you'd call them ... "advantages" over the Nikon 1. Maybe "advantages" is not the right word but it's a benefit to users. The ecosystem is very big. There are many, many, many lenses and bodies to choose from and the prices are reasonable, especially if you allow yourself to consider used lenses. There are more lenses from Panasonic and Olympus combined than any single person would know what to do with and we shouldn't forget about third party manufacturers like Sigma that throw in a few of their own. Bodies can be had for a pittance. I don't know if I would say that the grass is greener on the other side of fence between Nikon 1 and u4/3. Maybe one lawn is fescue and the other is clover cut really short so you can't tell the difference.

If you have a Nikon 1 system and are happy with it then stick with it. Nothing wrong with that.
07-06-2015, 06:59 AM   #14
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Thanks Boris. The grass I meant was actually comparing the fescue of M43 to the grass of Pentax-land Maybe I'll try and pick up a used GX7 and 20/f1.7 or something like that...
07-06-2015, 07:56 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by slipdm16 Quote
Wombat, I just did some PP for some Pentax and Oly shots back to back, comparing the output of the 12-40 and Pana-Leica 25 to the FA 43 and 18-135, there's simply no contest, the sensor in the K-3 just blows away the Oly (which incidentally is not too far off from the Nikon 1 in terms of bokeh/image quality). Boris is right on the chunky-ness of the RAW files the Oly spits out. I think I'm going to have to keep running the Pentax and Nikon systems in tandem. While I like the size and level of control the EM-5ii provides over the Nikon, I can't see enough of a difference to make it a definitive win for the Oly. At least I know the grass isn't greener
I've got the Nikon 1 V1 and a Panasonic GH2 and you are right that the IQ is surprisingly close. The V1 RAW files are crunchy too and it is best to get exposure right in camera including making choices on how to use the available exposure range. I'm pretty sure that the newer M43 sensors are a step above and word is that the GH4 AF.C is as good as the vaunted Nikon 1 AF.

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