Food for thought - FF vs M4/3's cost

Started Mar 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Re: Food for thought - FF vs M4/3's cost
In reply to Dr_Jon, Mar 26, 2013

Dr_Jon wrote:

As I mentioned elsewhere recently a Canon 6D with the 24-105 is about the same price in the U.K. as a GH3 with the 12-35 (well unless you get the GH3 at Focus as I did, where it's a much fairer price). The 6D can take significantly better pictures, but you pay the size/weight penalty. I already have a 5DmkII and don't think the 5DmkIII or 6D are a big enough step-up to justify the extra cost, although new FF purchasers should get the 6D I think (with the 24-105 which is also good), the sensor is excellent as is the lens range (BTW the 70-300 IS, non-L is a good cheap longer lens, as are the 70-200 f4s, the 40/2.8 is the same as the 20/1.7 in m43, small and sharp).

I got a GH3 this month as I already had a GF1 but it was pretty much killed by the RX100 with less noise and more dynamic range. I had to decide to stay with m43 for lighter-weight photography or sell the kit. Stayed.

Compared to the Canon f2.8s, the 24-70 II and 70-200 II (I only have the latter, I prefer the 24-105 for a general FF lens) the Panasonic lenses are noticeably less good wide open (or anywhere actually) and less good in the corners (I try to stay at f4 or f5.6, but do use f2.8 if I need the shutter speed). However the Panasonic lenses are lighter, especially the 35-100 which is a real star at 360g (vs. 1490g) and has really nice out-of-focus rendering (well, so far).

I was surprised by the sensor in the GH3, it does solve the GF1 problem of lack of dynamic range (if you stay to ISO 800 and below you get 10 stops, which is nice, although a 6D does that to ISO 3200) but is noisier than I expected, even at ISO 800 I see detail obliterated by noise reduction (I'm a signed up believer for setting NR to -5 for every JPEG option). I also wasn't impressed with the raw processing options and hope today's DXO release (downloading as I type) will fix that.

The bigger sensor in the 5DmkII (the 6D is quite a bit better) really does give you extra sharpness and that with the noise performance allows more cropping to zoom, which is handy due to the lens weight for Canon and would have been especially so on the GH3 due to the lack of decent long lenses with m43 (I do have the 100-300 but it isn't great, especially anywhere near the long end).

Watching something through a FF optical viewfinder is a much nicer experience than watching it on a small fairly low-res TV with slightly iffy optics, I do get annoyed when I'm at some major event and having that TV view of it or not taking pics. I'm not really a fan of the GH3 EVF, it has fair resolution but as it's 16:9 a lot of that isn't used when shooting 4:3 (and as 16:9 is just a crop of the 4:3 image it is only worth doing occasionally). I think the E-M5 one is noticeably better. The 5DmkII is on a different planet.

The 6D has perhaps the best focusing point ever put in a camera as its centre one, it works to -3EV which is moonlight. If like me you only use the centre point most of the time it's a good feature. One of the first things I changed (after setting max ISO to 800) on the GH3 was to shrink the centre point to its minimum size, to try to help it focus on what I want it to, but it still does tend to focus on the background or window a bit (setting MF after AF is also a good idea, for a quick fix to that).

Finally on focusing the Canon Live-View focusing is crap (I use the Phase-detect Live-View option on the 5DmkII, which is a right Royal pain) and their better cameras don't have tilt/swivel screens, so for overhead shooting the GH3 is way ahead. This is a nice thing for me as allows me to get photos from X rows back in a crowd I might not have got otherwise (also the lighter weight is easier to hold up in the air for a while).

So, I bought a GH3 and am happy with it due to the size and weight, plus having the 5DmkII for when I really want to turn the quality up. The weight (550g vs 810g for the Canon) isn't as big a saving as I'd like (and once you are past coat pocket size I think weight matters more than dimensions, well within reason) but the 35-100 makes it a winner to me.

P.S. Links etc. (posted before)

5DmkII vs. GH3 noise - pretty much agrees with what I see:

Also compare the GH3 vs. 6D Dynamic Range curves on (also vs. RX100).

Pricing - the rest of the world seems to sell the GH3 for about 20% less than the U.K., which is annoying and a mark against the camera over here. I got 20% off at the Focus on Imaging show so was happy and paid what I saw as a fairer price.

Thanks for the comprehensive comments and feedback, much appreciated. There will be things about the OMD I will undoubtedly miss but there are lots of things on the 5DII I will definitely enjoy. Having played with a couple of 5DII raw files I am definitely reassured that there is still some significant step-up in IQ on it, and that's a bonus as the dof control is my main reason for making the change.

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