Tried NEX, sticking with MFT

Started Apr 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Timbukto
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Tried NEX, sticking with MFT
Apr 1, 2013

I already know some folks that really seem to think the Sony APS-C sensor as a big advantage over the Sony made MFT sensor.  After comparing my Olympus E-PM2 to the Sony NEX 3N, I do not think there is much of any advantage of the APS-C (especially as the NEX 3N also has a base ISO of 200 getting rid of any slight DR advantage).  Sometimes the 3:2 aspect ratio is nice, but as a family shooter more often than not I apply a crop close to 4:3 anyhow.  In portrait mode its 4:3 all the way over 3:2.  As such having 16MP all at your uncropped 4:3 aspect ratio picture is better than cropping the Sony 16MP sensor from 3:2 to close to 4:3.  Likewise if you shoot MFT and find yourself always cropping to 3:2, you are better served with NEX.

Other random considerations.  The 16-50 pancake lens is pretty nice.  However MFT already has a ton of kit zooms to choose from too, and it appears the latest Panasonic standard zoom is very nice (as is the old 14-45)

http://www.ephotozine.com/article/panasonic-lumix-g-vario-14-42mm-f-3-5-5-6-ii-lens-review-21563

Big determining factor is I already have the 45mm 1.8 which is quite nice and small and doesn't have much vignetting, etc.  The Sony 50mm 1.8 from what I've gathered from sample pictures and reviews is only a 75mm equivalent instead of 90mm, has a lot more vignetting, and doesn't seem to be optically better at all and again if used as a portrait length using 16MP in 4:3 aspect ratio is better than 16MP APS-C cropped close to 4:3.

As confusing as the Olympus menu can be sometimes, it treats you like a bona fide expert, and once you get used to it, you can really tweak and use a lot of advanced functionality including mysets, etc.  Sony's menu treats you like a child in comparison and its rather insulting how bad it can be as it commonly pops up dialog boxes saying you can't do what it has given you the option to do, except that you are in the wrong mode, etc.  I also disliked Sony's Auto-ISO compared to the very tweakable and more enthusiast geared Oly (the Sony by default assumes you have shaky hands and favors high ISO without any option to tweak this behavior).

Focus peaking however is nice, but the reality is, so is having top-grade AF with a very accurate and sensitive capacitative touch screen.  Also the LCD screen on the Olympus can have double the FPS.  In addition there is rarely anything taken out of the Olympus E-PM2 when compared to high-end Olympus in terms of features or even AF or FPS burst, etc.  The Sony 3N is deliberately made worse with an artificially slow 2.5 FPS burst (it shoots faster in its sweep panorama or bracketing modes).  The E-PM2 shoots something like 8fps.  Also external flash control is better on the E-PM2, the Sony 3N I suppose you use a fill flash with flash EC turned all the way down (it has no hot shoe).

The Olympus LCD screen overall is actually better than the Sony IMO regardless of inefficient usage of its aspect ratio in comparison.  It has far faster refresh rate, and its default brightness is equivalent to the *max* brightness you can squeeze out of the Sony.  Also the E-PM2 has what seems to be a smudge resistant screen as part of its touch-screen benefits, and the Sony is very smudgy in comparison for whatever reason.  The Sony tilts however, but both are rather good at viewing angles and I find a touchscreen to be far more advantageous than a tilt screen.

Sony has electronic first curtain shutter, which I wish the Olympus has...but the Olympus has a really well built AF and drive menu and UI that makes overall operation so much better in real use.  I can select from single, or continuous, or with or without anti-shock rather quickly.  The Sony NEX 3N has some of Sony's latest CDAF algorithms but it is still rather poor compared to Olympus especially when I have no touch screen AF selection.  Regardless its the Olympus E-PM2 with the much much quieter shutter anyhow (I believe there is something strange going on with the NEX 3N shutter which you can read on their forums...Sony may be adding electronic artificial shutter noise through its speakers which you cannot disable!).  There are times that I feel I might benefit from electronic shutter, but than I realize after firing off bursts at 8FPS with high responsivity from my E-PM2, at least 1 will be tack sharp or I get to pick the 'best' from a short moment in time, etc.  We can see from studio comparisons that shutter shock can not be too big a factor as the Olympus EM-5 has purely mechanical shutter and is still providing one of the most detailed studio images for its sensor size.

If you are switching from PDAF to CDAF, or CDAF/PDAF hybrid...you need to get something in exchange for losing out on PDAFs superior tracking capability.  That *something* should be incredibly nice and wide coverage of AF point selection...something you get with a touchscreen LCD.  The Olympus lets you toggle from shutter release, to AF selection, to touch-screen disable rather quickly and efficiently via the touchscreen itself and it works beautifully and you only realize how great it is after moving to a model with no such thing.

Trying out different lenses from different systems still makes me want to hang onto my EF lenses and 5DMKII even *more* despite the huge weight and size.  Quite frankly I just think I get a lot of lens quality for the price out of my 85mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4, 40mm f2.8, etc.  And as such I still do have a 3:2 sensor, which makes the MFT system more unique for a secondary system anyhow.  But if I had to pick between NEX and MFT I'd still pick MFT right now unless I went full MF.  However my Canon with ML already *has* focus peaking, and I'm well aware of my own capabilities and speed in knowing that my MF abilities can not match AF for wide-aperture shallow DOF shots!

Recent shots from both systems -

Overall I had a great lack of AF control with the Sony 3N compared to the E-PM2...I'm not sure what Sony NEX 6 shooters do either to remedy it.  Moving the AF point around is very slow and tedious and a non-starter actually when you really need it.  In addition I have plenty of AF misses or a tendency to have to shoot subject dead center on the Sony and its 50mm is at f5.6 compared to the 45mm shot wide-open which has never given me doubts in its AF capability.  The Olympus E-PM2's AF simply feels more 'pro' than the Sony which feels more P&S or makes me shoot like a DSLR with focus recompose or focus and crop.  If you are going to shoot CDAF...it has to be so you can maximize off-center focusing efficiently otherwise its pointless IMO.  I neither of the shots Sony shots did I ever feel in *control* of its AF...basically I'd just hope that it picked the right subject...and sometimes it doesn't (actually it doesn't in the first picture, my daughter is slightly OOF, its the playground structure that is sharply focused on.

 Timbukto's gear list:Timbukto's gear list
Canon EOS M Canon EOS 6D Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM +1 more
Canon EOS 5D Olympus PEN E-PM2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5
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