I mostly shoot events with D700: should I look at the G6, GH3 or EM1?

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owenb
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I mostly shoot events with D700: should I look at the G6, GH3 or EM1?
9 months ago

Hi all, this is going to be One Of Those Questions you've probably seen a thousand times, but I've done so much reading last few days I just wanted to run my thoughts past you all in case you can help narrow it down!

Anyone who makes it to the end of this monster post and offers their thoughts, whatever they may be, will get a special prize: the satisfaction of having helped out someone throwing himself at their mercy

HISTORY

I currently use a Nikon D700 with Nikon f/2.8 24-70 and 70-200 lenses. Photography is my second job (next to TV camera operating) but I've been doing a lot of event photography recently (parties, conferences, weddings, etc) and occasionally photograph a TV show or film. I do portraits too, using Pocketwizard Flex and mini with my Nikon flash for a bit of off-camera lighting - but those are very occasional jobs.

I love my D700 and know it backwards, but all this stuff is getting heavy, and it's also intimidating at some events, plus the shutter can be very loud. I have the Jacobson Sound Blimp for movie work but it's not practical for events so sometimes that shutter rings out across the room during a speech.

I recently bought an X100S to keep on me for in-crowd shots at events to save swinging a lens (yeah I need to buy a second body…) and also because it's way more friendly and less scary than the 24-70 suddenly appearing in people's faces. I'm getting more confident with it now and love the size, weight and lack of sound. It's the first non-SLR camera I've ever used for paid work, and made me realise how good mirrorless systems have got.

A pair of photographers that do stills on a show I work on have just switched from heavy, awkward Nikon-and-Blimp kits to pairs of Panasonics. One has the GH3 and GX7, the other has I think a pair of either GH3s or G6s. I suspect the GH3 because it's the 'pro' body and these guys do all the big network shows so why not get the best? Well, I have a bit less money to spend than them!

I've read as many reviews and forums as I can, and it seems like the G6, GH3 or OM-D EM1 would be of most interest to me. I don't think the GX7 will be for me because of the rainbow EVF thing, and the size of 4:3 stills in it. Plus I'd like a slightly more SLR feel in the hand and have the retro fun thing covered with the X100S.

QUESTIONS (SORT OF)

So here are all the questions/concerns I've come up with after a weekend of reading. Can anyone who's read this far filter out what they think I should consider most as I make my choice?

- I absolutely need to be able to rely on them in an event in low light. To be honest I expect that whatever I pick of those three will be just fine, but I know I'll need to get used to it coming from a DSLR, same as it's taken me a while to get used to the X100S. I often put my D700 and X100S on Auto ISO up to 6400 for 1/80th shutter speed, and most of the time if I do get to 6400 it's fine because event clients tend to prefer getting the moment over finely detailed images.

- I would keep my D700 and awesome lenses, flash etc for portraits/emergencies. But I would like options for using a flash with the M43 cameras at events, where I top mount it but usually ping it up at the ceiling or some other nearby bounce. Never fire direct, it looks awful. But sometimes the room is just too dark for ambient light.

- I want the same range covered with pro quality glass. So obviously I'm looking at the Panasonic 12-35 and 35-100 at about £1700 total for both those. Probably the long zoom first as I have the wide covered by X100S.

- a big drop in weight. Even carrying one D700 with lens, and the other lens in think tank waist bags, after a 10 hour day my shooting hand and back are aching. So I look forward to waving goodbye to that on long days.

- a much quieter shutter: although I understand none of the main players have a naturally near-silent shutter like the X100S, I gather the Lumix models have a 'silent' mode, which comes with rolling shutter distortion risks but is generally good? I'd need a virtually silent shutter for film/tv work or it wouldn't be worth getting and that's why the TV shooters I mentioned chose Panasonic I believe. An audible but much-softer-than-mirror-slap shutter would be fine for event work, but I do love the stealth X100S!

- I love the peaking focus assist on the X100S and fear I'd miss it on the GH3 and EM1.

- ideally I'd love to get two bodies but I could only really afford the G6 if that's the case, so it's not a deal breaker for this first purchase.

- I'd like the option of a grip and I think all three have one available

- I worry that the G6 is so much cheaper than the GH3 and definitely the EM1 that there must be a catch somewhere with that! I'll be shooting RAW with it pretty much 100% of the time so JPG characteristics are of little interest to me - so long as I can set up a nice looking JPG for the LCD screen and pretty much match it with a Lightroom preset on import as a starting point I'm more interested in the performance of the sensor's RAWs

- I'm not a videographer and have no plans to go hybrid professionally as it were, so I think video mode would only ever be purely for my own fun, holidays, silly short films with my friends, that sort of thing, so the professional video specs of the GH3 aren't really on my radar.

- I love the sound of the in-camera IS in the EM1, and I gather it works in the EVF too, but if I went with the panasonic 12-35/35-100 it wouldn't matter, right? And I don't really have plans to get primes because they're not convenient for the sort of documentary work I'll be doing with it.

- I like the idea of tilting the LCD up or down to frame sort of like an old fashioned twin lens camera and think I'd use it like that more often than at any other angle. For that reason the fully articulated LCDs actually look annoyingly delicate - don't you have to fold those out to the side before you can tilt them up?

- I read the EM1 EVF is the biggest and best, but that the G6 was pretty good too. The only EVF I've used in the X100S and I like that way more than I thought I would. Seems like the WB of the screen has a hint of some cast or other but generally good, so which EVF's are as good or better than that?

Okay, that's all I've come up with. Sorry it's so long, this is an entirely new field of cameras to me! All/any contributions welcomed.

Cheers,

Owen

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Portfolio: owenbillcliffe.co.uk
Photoblog: myglasseye.net

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Fujifilm X100S Nikon D700 Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
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