still torn between m43 and Full Frame systems

Started Jan 5, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Re: still torn between m43 and Full Frame systems
In reply to robonrome, Jan 5, 2014

robonrome wrote:

I've been using both m43 and full frame systems for over two years now … I had hoped by now to have made up my mind to go one way or the other, but I feel a bit like those folk who emigrate to another country, decide to move back home and end up feeling just a little dissatisfied in both countries. I also recognise this is only a "problem" because I am so lucky/blessed to have such options, but I did wonder whether any others out there have had or are having similar mental tussles over what's the right system for them.

I first dipped my toes into the m43 world via a G3, later a G5 and more recently the GH3 and the top quality pany zooms, and I am using this m43 kit almost exclusively now but I still can't seem to cut the cord with my Canon 5Dmk3 (and earlier versions) and L glass despite these spending months at a time sitting bagged up and unused.

If something is mostly unused, it is the best indication that the tool is not for you. Sell it without worries. The longer you wait, the less money you would get for it.

Now for many, especially anyone making a living from photography, I can see having two systems makes sense as each has unique strengths… for me though I'm just an enthusiast, I can afford it, but I just don't take enough photographs to warrant such expensive gear languishing.

The GH3 is a true joy to use, fits the hand perfectly and is wonderfully configurable via physical controls alone. Having recently returned from Nepal where I only took the GH3, I thought I'd finally reached a point that I was content to let go of the full frame gear. I started processing through the several thousand images I'd taken and while I have some (I think) good shots, I couldn't help but notice the greater incidence of noise even at base ISO compared to similar shots I took with my canon gear (then a mk2) on my last visit to Nepal a couple of years ago. Noise in skies in particular I've found more than a little annoying even at iso200. Fine detail too I felt was perhaps just not quite as crisp as with the 5d2 and 3.

You and many other ore obsessed with noise. The fine grained noise, you see in 100% view on your monitor, is not visible viewing your image from the appropriate viewing distance or on a print. People tend to pixelpeep on their monitors by zooming to 1:1 view, which is in fact like looking to a huge wall image from a very close distance.

Then I hit the beach (I'm in Australia) over New Year and was keen to get some action shots of my son learning to surf. I don't do a lot of action stuff and this is probably the only prolonged bit I've done with m43 kit… while the high speed shutter and tracking is up to the task, the freezing of the image in the EVF is a killer (Not sure there's a work around for this?)…

So with the above in mind I got nostalgic for my 5d3 and dragged it out along with my 70-200/2.8 mk2 IS for a bit of a play expecting to be over-whelmed with feelings along the lines of "now this is a real photographers kit"…. well it didn't quite work out that way. Sure it would have been a better choice for those action surf shots (assuming I wanted to drag it down the beach), and sure it gives me creamy skies at ISO as high as 800, and maybe the fine detail is a tad crisper, but, but, but...

Smaller sensors take a little tribute to image quality, but you gain the easiness of carrying and a lot more pleasure to take photographs. I would always sacrifice the last bit of IQ in favor for the greater fun taking the picture. Also, that FF always produces better results is a myth, it depends technically also a lot on the lens you use. m4/3 lenses are often very good at the largest aperture, whereas you need to stop down many FF lenses in order to get similarly good results, so you loose some of the FF advantage. Or, FF lenses with similar optical quality are expensive, huge and heavy and as such fun killers.

  • it feels like I could beat whales to death with it (not a hobby of mine, just an observation)
  • my back hurts again
  • the grip is too big and too square for my hand
  • where are all my function buttons and twin dials that do everything without looking at a menu ever
  • where is my live histogram in the EVF for immediate exposure compensation
  • where is my articulating screen
  • where is my built in fill flash

In short, what the hell was I thinking! Now the 5D3 is back in its bag in the dark of the walk-in robe… still can't quite bring myself to sell it (not even sure why, maybe it's an innate love for big chunky shiny things) but it's now clear that there are just too many ergonomic and functional advantages to the GH3 over the 5D3 that I would ever be happy with the Canon gear alone again no matter how much better the IQ is (and, really, it's just not that much better).

Ergonomically, I think that the larger m4/3 bodies are better than most DSLRs. The DSLRs are so big and the controls are so scattered, that is it hard to reach the controls without taking your eyes frame finder. The GH3 and even more so the E-M1 have the important controls at your finger tips and have almost no buttons with multiple functions. So, even from an ergonomic point of view, smaller bodies (E-M1 / GH3 size being the sweet spot for me) are IMO preferable.

So after that brief flutter I'm back with the GH3 in hand and guess it will remain my primary if not sole kit for the fore-seeable futureā€¦ until next year when I no doubt will go through the whole cycle again

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