GH3 & 100/300 or Canon 7D 100-400L

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Questions thread
SHood
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Re: GH3 & 100/300 or Canon 7D 100-400L
In reply to AJWales, Feb 7, 2013

I have gone through the same thinking before I bought the G1 and 100-300 and then again when I considered upgrading to the GH2 that is used only for birding. I looked at all solutions like the 100-400L you mention and even the Sony 70-400. I was willing to carry some more weight if it meant better IQ.

When looking at the photos I take, BIF was not an area that I spent much time doing. Most of my time was spent shooting smaller birds when perched. So my priorities were good sensor, fast S-AF, good Optical and faster FPS. There is also the OVF vs EVF which can sway you one way or the other.

Optically the m43 lenses at 300mm are slightly better than the Canon 100-400 based on all the online reviews I have seen. This may surprise some people but remember that the 100-400 lens came out 15 years ago before digital. The Sony 70-400 is probably the best zoom out there right now, especially when wide open.

When it comes to the sensor, RAW output is what is needed for birding especially when cropping. m43 has now matched if not slightly exceeded Canon APS-C sensors but is still 2/3 stop behind Sony APS-C. The best birding body for Sony is the Alpha series but you loose 1/2 stop of light due to the transluscent mirror, cancelling out most of its advantage over m43. In order to take advantage of Sony's sharper 70-400mm, the 24mp sensor would seem to be a good solution, but the per pixel noise is noticeably worse than the latest m43 sensors. Sony also seems to be using a heavier AA filter which affects pixel level detail. Details is very important with birding due to the heavy crops required.

Continuous AF is an area where PDAF is still well behind. If you need fast continuous AF you should be looking at the 7D. Sony would be a good 2nd choice. For me continuous AF is not that important.

So in the end I stayed with m43 and upgraded to the lighter weight of the GH3 and 100-300. For pure IQ the Canon and Sony solutions would not bring me the noticeable improvement in IQ needed to consider adding weight and the GH3 has given me the speed/buffer/battery improvements I was looking for. But I am not tied to any system so if canon improves their sensor and lens or Sony improves their sensor/body then I will likely switch. Of course if Panasonic comes out with a 300-400 prime then I will upgrade again.

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Sony RX100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F4-5.6 OIS
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