Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses

Started May 28, 2012 | Discussions
msusic
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Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
May 28, 2012

I was just thinking a bit and came to the conclusion that there's really no advantage in a m43 kit if one wants zoom lenses over classic 43rds, and here's why:

Let's make a hypothetical high quality kit with zooms covering regular focal lengths from UWA to tele:

So, your best bet on m43 would be something like this:
E-M5
Panasonic 7-14mm
Panasonic 12-35
Panasonic 35-100
Panasonic 100-300 or,
Olympus 75-300

2 extra BLN-1 batteries (to make up for reduced battery life and enable you all day shoot)

Total weight: about 2200-2300grams (assuming 35-100 weighs about 500-600gr)
Price: roughly $5400-5700 (assuming 35-100 will be about 1500-1600)

This doesn't even account for HLD-6 grip which would be recommended for handling and battery performance (it also adds more to weight and price).

Now, 43rds kit would look like:
E-5 (or it's soon to be released successor)
Olympus 7-14mm
Olympus 12-60mm
Olympus 50-200mm
(optional) EC-14 teleconverter

Total weight: about 3100-3200gr, so not even 1kg more, only about 0.5kg if you add a grip to E-M5.

Price: roughly $5300-5500 (new, but you could get all these lenses second hand for much less money)

Also, there are numerous advantages to this kit over the micro:

  • Better lenses

  • Wider zoom range (less frequent need to change lenses)

  • Full weather sealing

  • Longer battery life

  • Significantly more rugged construction

  • Usable C-AF performance (I know, M5 is also apparently decent with 75-300mm, but there are a lot of quirks and it lacks longer lenses to really use it well).

So, at the end of the day, for a nature photographer, or just the one who wants to cover good range with couple of zooms, there's no advantage in micro kit.

It's even more expensive and you need more lenses. Lenses are not as good (especially in the corners) and long zooms are significantly lacking.

Also, even these high grade zooms on 43rds are virtually the same speed in the overlapping focal lengths as those new "premium" Panasonic zooms, but don't suffer from the limited zoom range (5x and 4x zooms vs 3x).

Don't get me wrong, I love m43 for use with few very nice primes (12/45 are fantastic combo and Samyang fish is great), but for zooms or longer lenses - 43rds is way better.
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Cheers,
Marin

Olympus E-5
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TEBnewyork
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

If you want to buy into a virtually dead system be my guest.

M4/3 allows you to chose between zooms and primes. If there are days you want to shoot primes you have a tiny excellent kit that you can't even reproduce in 4/3.

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msusic
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to TEBnewyork, May 28, 2012

TEBnewyork wrote:

If you want to buy into a virtually dead system be my guest.

How if they are making new bodies and lenses for it and are marketing it?

M4/3 allows you to chose between zooms and primes. If there are days you want to shoot primes you have a tiny excellent kit that you can't even reproduce in 4/3.

Yes, but for the price of 3-4 zooms for m43, you can get entire setup of HG (and 1 SHG) lens on 43rds and even a body if you buy second hand.

This will still leave you with enough money to buy m43 body and few nice primes and you'll have best of both worlds - small, unobtrusive camera for tiny primes and great handling DSLR camera with proper zoom lenses.

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Marin

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Bernard Carns
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If you're a nature photographer you should buy a D800e or a
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

5d3.

That's what I have a 5d2 for.

For lots of other fun stuff I have a GH2 with most of the lenses you don't think are good enough.

If you REALLY think 4/3 is better (for you) then buy it!

But I agree with the other poster who said it's sort of a dead end street these days.

BC

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normsmith
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Liberating rather than pointless
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

I've stopped carrying big bags of kit around. If I go to my wildlife centre then i just take the long zoom, if I am on a city break then i just have a small kit lens. if I do the zoo I would use a mid range zoom. For a travel bag I would just have a small lens and a mid zoom. I've given up on external flash.

I like to have just one system and I like the fact on day one I can walk around with a little lens and on day two I can have a large lens, with the same body that I have an intimate knowledge of. The thing that makes mirrorless NOT pointless is the vesatility of it.

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TrapperJohn
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So use both
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

I've been a 4/3 owner since the E1. And this EM5 beats the pants off of anything Olympus has produced up until now. It's actually worth shooting RAW now, you can kick the files around in LR and not see banding and noise as soon as you touch just about any adjustment. The EVF is almost as good as the E3's big OVF in clarity, and a lot more useful in just about every other regard. The IBIS exceeds expectations. The shutter sounds like the old E1.

The zooms aren't up to HG ZD standards, for sure. Which is my my old 50-200 has been on the EM5 a lot lately. Unlike the slow zooms, which are essentially SG ZD zooms in IQ, the 50-200 doesn't go soft in less than good light, and I have aperture I can use without banging into DL. With the battery grip, the combination handles very well, about like a 620. All that is left is the slower AF which is annoying at times, but I find that I can work around slow AF a lot easier than I can work around the E3's sensor limitations. So I have this very interesting combination: put the grip on, and use my ZD's. Or take the grip off and use the 45 1.8 or 12-50.

4/3 was always about the glass anyway. We put up with the mediocre performing bodies to use HG and SHG. Supposedly, Olympus will fix the AF issue in the EM5 follow on, and then we'll have the one beautiful system.

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Makinations
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

And the volume difference is what?

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Paul De Bra
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You are considering an overcomplete setup.
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

I got: E-M5, 12-50, 75-300, 20mm just to have a pocketable option, Metz 58 flash. And I really believe I'm done. This is a compact and light setup. Not cheap, but I consider that I'm paying a price for having a pretty good small and light setup. Everything together fits in about half the size of my previous Canon dslr setup. That's what makes m43 so great.

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Big Ga
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

Ah ... Marin the FT fanboi does some thinking eh?

msusic wrote:

I was just thinking a bit and came to the conclusion

Just not very long or very hard by the looks of things ...

that there's really no advantage in a m43 kit if one wants zoom lenses over classic 43rds, and here's why:

Let's make a hypothetical high quality kit with zooms covering regular focal lengths from UWA to tele:

So, your best bet on m43 would be something like this:
E-M5
Panasonic 7-14mm
Panasonic 12-35
Panasonic 35-100

...

Now, 43rds kit would look like:
E-5 (or it's soon to be released successor)
Olympus 7-14mm
Olympus 12-60mm
Olympus 50-200mm

Whoa there fanboi .... hold your horses! You aren't currently going to get an exact one to one matchup, but if you're sticking in the 12-35 and 35-100 panny lenses, then you should be sticking in the 14-35 and 35-100 Oly FT lenses.
NOW do the size weight comparison!!!

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JeanPierre Koenig
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Re: So use both
In reply to TrapperJohn, May 28, 2012

Oh, common. No need to say something ridiculous to make your point. I have a lowly E510 and have been shooting RAW, only RAW, and have been able to do lots of stuff that RAW is for. If you don't know how to use RAW properly, it's on you...

JP

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JeanPierre Koenig
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

I tend to agree with you, but SIZE is something important too, not just wait, at least when you travel by plane.

JP

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msusic
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to Big Ga, May 28, 2012

Big Ga wrote:

Whoa there fanboi .... hold your horses! You aren't currently going to get an exact one to one matchup, but if you're sticking in the 12-35 and 35-100 panny lenses, then you should be sticking in the 14-35 and 35-100 Oly FT lenses.
NOW do the size weight comparison!!!

Because 12-60 and 50-200 match the speed more closely than the 14-35/35-100 and comparing with 14-35/35-100 wouldn't make much sense because 12-35/35-100 are not f2.0

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Cheers,
Marin

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Vlad S
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Pointlessness of ignoring the diversity
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

msusic wrote:

Total weight: about 3100-3200gr, so not even 1kg more, only about 0.5kg if you add a grip to E-M5.

1. 900g is actually a lot of weight if you have to carry it on your body all day long.

2. Yes, you can add all sorts of options to make µ4/3 heavier. But you can also pare it down to make it lighter, whereas in regular 4/3 your light weight options are very limited. Try to match E-PM1 with a 14 or 12mm lens. The attraction is that you can go very light weight very easily, while keeping the high quality of the image and the option of using heavier, higher grade gear.

Price: roughly $5300-5500 (new, but you could get all these lenses second hand for much less money)

You can also buy second hand µ4/3 gear and save a lot of money.

So, at the end of the day, for a nature photographer, or just the one who wants to cover good range with couple of zooms, there's no advantage in micro kit.

There are some people for whose shooting preferences µ4/3 gives no advantage. But there is also a lot of people for whom advantages are very significant, in terms of weight, size. Money - harder to tell. Legacy lenses offer a much bigger choice and cost savings on the micro format, but it's not everyone's cup of tea. Overall, the micro format offers more options.

It's also worth remembering that regular four third bodies do not offer the sensor quality that's available in the micro format. The new 4/3 SLR has not even been announced, only rumored.

Vlad

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TEBnewyork
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

msusic wrote:

TEBnewyork wrote:

If you want to buy into a virtually dead system be my guest.

How if they are making new bodies and lenses for it and are marketing it?

New lenses? What was the last new lens?

M4/3 allows you to chose between zooms and primes. If there are days you want to shoot primes you have a tiny excellent kit that you can't even reproduce in 4/3.

Yes, but for the price of 3-4 zooms for m43, you can get entire setup of HG (and 1 SHG) lens on 43rds and even a body if you buy second hand.

Just don't change your mind and expect the lenses to hold value....Selling a 14-54 VII now....lot's of sellers not many buyers.

This will still leave you with enough money to buy m43 body and few nice primes and you'll have best of both worlds - small, unobtrusive camera for tiny primes and great handling DSLR camera with proper zoom lenses.

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tgutgu
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

You forgot in your analysis the main point, why people buy m4/3: the significantly reduced size. The 4/3 bodies (except the extinct E-xxx bodies) are much smaller and so are the comparable lenses. That together with around 1 kg less weight is a clear advantage over 4/3.

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Thomas

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mfbernstein
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Nothing pointless about a 2x saving in weight
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

msusic wrote:

I was just thinking a bit and came to the conclusion that there's really no advantage in a m43 kit if one wants zoom lenses over classic 43rds, and here's why:

Let's make a hypothetical high quality kit with zooms covering regular focal lengths from UWA to tele:

So, your best bet on m43 would be something like this:
E-M5
Panasonic 7-14mm
Panasonic 12-35
Panasonic 35-100
Panasonic 100-300 or,
Olympus 75-300

The E-M5 is easily a stop better than the E-5 in terms of noise. To match that kit in 4/3, you'll need the ZD 7-14/4 14-35/2, 35-100/2 and 70-300/4-5.6. More than double the weight just to get equal performance.

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MFBernstein

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TEBnewyork
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

whoops double post

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Big Ga
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Re: Pointlessness of M43 and zoom lenses
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

msusic wrote:

Big Ga wrote:

Whoa there fanboi .... hold your horses! You aren't currently going to get an exact one to one matchup, but if you're sticking in the 12-35 and 35-100 panny lenses, then you should be sticking in the 14-35 and 35-100 Oly FT lenses.
NOW do the size weight comparison!!!

Because 12-60 and 50-200 match the speed more closely than the 14-35/35-100 and comparing with 14-35/35-100 wouldn't make much sense because 12-35/35-100 are not f2.0

Makes more sense to me, because:
Focal length matching and purpose are almost identical.
Constant aperture zooms, not variable

Quality matching is going to be closer - The 12-60 and 50-200 are excellent lenses, however you still need to stop them down a little to get optimal sharpness across the frame. The oly 14-35 and 35-100 are much better in this respect, and the SLRgear test results of the 12-35 panasonic show that its in a similar league to the 14-35, NOT the 12-60.

You do indeed give up one stop using the MFT setup, however, I'd take a guess that the standard fourthirds setup would be AT LEAST three times heavier. At least. When the panny 35-100x comes out, we might even find that the MFT equivalent is a QUARTER of the weight (and even more probable if we included the oly fisheye into the equation!)

I don't particularly like using MFT stuff compared to my standard FT oly gear. Its simply not as pleasant an experience, and in some areas, it is indeed still behind because of the lens range available. However these differences are TINY compared to the MASSIVE saving in size and weight you get, and with the new lenses coming out, the lens range difference is being whittled away as well. It just seems so odd that its panasonic producing the vast majority of lenses that interest me, not Olympus.

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msusic
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Re: Nothing pointless about a 2x saving in weight
In reply to mfbernstein, May 28, 2012

Only if you do all your photography at ISO1600 and above...

What's this? Who says we're not going to see new bodies in near future with even better sensors - it's the same sensor format.

Going by that logic, it's better to have all the newest and best sensored FF cameras and trash lenses because NOISE PERFORMANCE IS ALL THAT MATTERS!!!

mfbernstein wrote:

msusic wrote:

I was just thinking a bit and came to the conclusion that there's really no advantage in a m43 kit if one wants zoom lenses over classic 43rds, and here's why:

Let's make a hypothetical high quality kit with zooms covering regular focal lengths from UWA to tele:

So, your best bet on m43 would be something like this:
E-M5
Panasonic 7-14mm
Panasonic 12-35
Panasonic 35-100
Panasonic 100-300 or,
Olympus 75-300

The E-M5 is easily a stop better than the E-5 in terms of noise. To match that kit in 4/3, you'll need the ZD 7-14/4 14-35/2, 35-100/2 and 70-300/4-5.6. More than double the weight just to get equal performance.

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MFBernstein

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Cheers,
Marin

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mfbernstein
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Re: Nothing pointless about a 2x saving in weight
In reply to msusic, May 28, 2012

msusic wrote:

Only if you do all your photography at ISO1600 and above...

Well if you don't need fast lenses, why would you compare with the 12-35/2.8 and 35-100/2.8 to begin with? And if you do need fast lenses, then yeah, better high ISO is important.

What's this? Who says we're not going to see new bodies in near future with even better sensors - it's the same sensor format.

A new 4/3 body? Why on earth would Olympus waste another penny on developing for a dead format when they can't make E-M5s fast enough to meet demand?

Olympus knows a good thing when they see one. No way are they going to lose focus and pour good money after bad just to make a handful of 4/3 zealots happy.

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MFBernstein

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