I have a problem... of choice

Started Jun 9, 2012 | Discussions
rosvo
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I have a problem... of choice
Jun 9, 2012

I have an assignment in Berlin 3d and 4th weeks of July and also two weeks in september.

It's some kind of written reportage (maybe a book as well) over bars, clubs, restaurants and multicultural life in some parts of the town: Kreuzberg and Neukölln.

I'll need photos as well.

The photos will mainly be outside photos from the different bars,clubs restaurants but also ambiance photos at night inside several bars.
I will also need to do a little bit of street photography.

I need new material: until now I made photos (mainly in "P" mode) with the Lumix LX3; so, I'm not very experienced.
Having an art background (painting mainly), I'm not too bad in composition.
I need a small camera, no DSLR.
I have a budget of approx. 3000 euros (+ - 3700 USD) for the material.

First I wanted to buy the Fuji X-pro with 35 and 18 lenses (very good IQ and high ISO quality) but , luckily or not, the shop had sold the 2 models they had in stock; since then I'm thinking about the OM D EM-5, because the good diopter correction (I wear reading glasses) and the probably smaller learning curve.

Do you think it's a good choice and also, my main question: what lens would you suggest for inside photos in bars at night in low light and if possible without a flash ..?

Thanks for your help.

Pentax K-r
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jeffharris
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 9, 2012

rosvo wrote:

I have an assignment in Berlin 3d and 4th weeks of July and also two weeks in september.

It's some kind of written reportage (maybe a book as well) over bars, clubs, restaurants and multicultural life in some parts of the town: Kreuzberg and Neukölln.

Interesting gig! Need a sherpa who sprechs pidgin Deutsch?

I need new material: until now I made photos (mainly in "P" mode) with the Lumix LX3; so, I'm not very experienced.
Having an art background (painting mainly), I'm not too bad in composition.
I need a small camera, no DSLR.
I have a budget of approx. 3000 euros (+ - 3700 USD) for the material.

First I wanted to buy the Fuji X-pro with 35 and 18 lenses (very good IQ and high ISO quality) but , luckily or not, the shop had sold the 2 models they had in stock; since then I'm thinking about the OM D EM-5, because the good diopter correction (I wear reading glasses) and the probably smaller learning curve.

The EM5 is a good choice. The GH2 is also very good in low light and prices are a bit lower these days. Either way, skip the kit lenses, if possible.

As far as lenses go, fast primes would serve you best. The Panasonic 25mm f1.4 and Olympus 45mm f1.7 would be your best bets.

If you need a longer lens, Oly sells the 40-150mm for $99 when you buy a camera, so that's kind of a no-brainer. It's fairly small and has good IQ, too.

Then there's wide angle. You really can't do better than the Panasonic 7-14mm f4.0, since it gives you a lot of flexibility. The EM5's IBIS should help in low light and it IS sharp at f4! The 14mm end can be used as a walkabout and then there's the WIDE end! It takes some practice to control, but it's well worth the effort. You can get some really dramatic shots with it. Plus, it's a lot of fun to use.

Here's a good piece by Ken Rockwell on shooting ultra-wide:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/how-to-use-ultra-wide-lenses.htm

EM5 body = $1000
25mm = $530
45mm = $400
7-14mm = $900
40-150 = $100
Extra Battery = $60
Fast SD-Cards = $100

That's about $3200 for a damn nice kit!

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jeffharris
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to jeffharris, Jun 9, 2012

jeffharris wrote:

rosvo wrote:

I have an assignment in Berlin 3d and 4th weeks of July and also two weeks in september.

EM5 body = $1000
25mm = $530
45mm = $400
7-14mm = $900
40-150 = $100
Extra Battery = $60
Fast SD-Cards = $100

That's about $3200 for a damn nice kit!

By that time, the Oly 75mm f1.8 should be shipping. GRAB one!

I've been using a Voigtländer 75mm f2.5 for a month or so and it's an extremely useful focal length!

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rosvo
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to jeffharris, Jun 9, 2012

jeffharris wrote:

Interesting gig! Need a sherpa who sprechs pidgin Deutsch?

why not, do you live near Berlin ?
(-> spricht

Either way, skip the kit lenses, if possible.

that was my plan

As far as lenses go, fast primes would serve you best. The Panasonic 25mm f1.4 and Olympus 45mm f1.7 would be your best bets.

my plan also

If you need a longer lens, Oly sells the 40-150mm for $99 when you buy a camera, so that's kind of a no-brainer. It's fairly small and has good IQ, too.

too long I think and I would prefer to avoid zooms

Then there's wide angle. You really can't do better than the Panasonic 7-14mm f4.0, since it gives you a lot of flexibility. The EM5's IBIS should help in low light and it IS sharp at f4! The 14mm end can be used as a walkabout and then there's the WIDE end! It takes some practice to control, but it's well worth the effort. You can get some really dramatic shots with it. Plus, it's a lot of fun to use.

thus, for inside shots in bars, that should be the one ?

and what about the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12 mm 1:2.0,
not wide enough for cramped bars insides ?

Here's a good piece by Ken Rockwell on shooting ultra-wide:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/how-to-use-ultra-wide-lenses.htm

EM5 body = $1000
25mm = $530
45mm = $400
7-14mm = $900
40-150 = $100
Extra Battery = $60
Fast SD-Cards = $100

That's about $3200 for a damn nice kit!

thanks for your time and all the help

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Anders W
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 9, 2012

rosvo wrote:

I have an assignment in Berlin 3d and 4th weeks of July and also two weeks in september.

It's some kind of written reportage (maybe a book as well) over bars, clubs, restaurants and multicultural life in some parts of the town: Kreuzberg and Neukölln.

I'll need photos as well.

The photos will mainly be outside photos from the different bars,clubs restaurants but also ambiance photos at night inside several bars.
I will also need to do a little bit of street photography.

I need new material: until now I made photos (mainly in "P" mode) with the Lumix LX3; so, I'm not very experienced.
Having an art background (painting mainly), I'm not too bad in composition.
I need a small camera, no DSLR.
I have a budget of approx. 3000 euros (+ - 3700 USD) for the material.

First I wanted to buy the Fuji X-pro with 35 and 18 lenses (very good IQ and high ISO quality) but , luckily or not, the shop had sold the 2 models they had in stock; since then I'm thinking about the OM D EM-5, because the good diopter correction (I wear reading glasses) and the probably smaller learning curve.

Do you think it's a good choice and also, my main question: what lens would you suggest for inside photos in bars at night in low light and if possible without a flash ..?

Thanks for your help.

Yes, the OM-D is a good choice (if you don't want to carry the bulk, weight, and expense of FF equipment). As to lenses, I'd take

Oly 12/2.0
Pany 20/1.7
Oly 45/1.8

The first two for "ambiance" photos inside as well as outside. You'll be particularly grateful for the 12 indoors. The 45 you will want for portraits and/or details. I'd personally skip the 25/1.4, which to my mind is neither fish nor fowl.

If/when you can work in good light or are shooting static subjects (with or without a tripod), you might also want the Pany 7-14 or Oly 9-18. A standard zoom (14-42 or 14-45) wouldn't be out of the way either for fast switching between different FLs when the light level is decent.

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jalywol
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 9, 2012

I'd get the 12mm Oly lens instead of the wide zoom. It's much faster, and quite small, and a heck of a good lens.

The E-M5 sounds like a great choice also. If you can't get a hold of one in time for your trip, you may want to consider the Panasonic GX1, especially if size is important. This body is inconspicuous, fast focusing, and has a very good sensor (and you can add an external viewfinder if you need to.)

The Fulis are great cameras, but they do not lock focus well in lower light at all, so for use in dimly lit bar environments, they are not a great choice...The E-M5 is much much better at speedy focus than the Fujis. In the very darkest environments, the Panasonics may still lock focus a hair faster than the E-M5, but both are quite good at this point, and far superior in that respect to any of the other mirrorless cameras out there at present.

The IBIS in the EM5 will be particularly useful for your shooting conditions, also. Overall, I think if you can get one, it would be the best choice in M43 for your purposes.....

Nice assignment to get!

-J

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jeffharris
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 9, 2012

rosvo wrote:

jeffharris wrote:

Interesting gig! Need a sherpa who sprechs pidgin Deutsch?

why not, do you live near Berlin ?
(-> spricht

Nah, I live in New York, aber hab ich frequent flyer miles mit Lufthansa.

Then there's wide angle. You really can't do better than the Panasonic 7-14mm f4.0, since it gives you a lot of flexibility. The EM5's IBIS should help in low light and it IS sharp at f4! The 14mm end can be used as a walkabout and then there's the WIDE end! It takes some practice to control, but it's well worth the effort. You can get some really dramatic shots with it. Plus, it's a lot of fun to use.

thus, for inside shots in bars, that should be the one ?

and what about the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12 mm 1:2.0,
not wide enough for cramped bars insides ?

I shoot interiors for my design business and 12mm really isn't wide enough, especially in older buildings with smaller spaces. The 12mm is a very nice lens, but the 7-14mm is special and like I said, extremely versatile with the range it has. If you play with it a bit, you can get some great effects.

f2.0 vs. f4.0 is a consideration, but with the Oly IBIS and better high ISO performance, that could be rendered moot. I lean against walls, rest my camera on things and even use a monopod or tripod.

Often, even at 7mm, I'll jam myself in a corner, hold the camera above my head and shoot down, composing in the GH2's LCD.

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rosvo
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to jalywol, Jun 9, 2012

jalywol wrote:

I'd get the 12mm Oly lens instead of the wide zoom. It's much faster, and quite small, and a heck of a good lens.

I had a look on reviews and I also think that could be the best choice,
maybe slightly not wide enough, but the wide zoom is too big and heavy

The E-M5 sounds like a great choice also. If you can't get a hold of one in time for your trip, you may want to consider the Panasonic GX1, especially if size is important. This body is inconspicuous, fast focusing, and has a very good sensor (and you can add an external viewfinder if you need to.)>

I would prefer the build-in EVF from the EM-5

Nice assignment to get!
-J

yep! nice bars, nice girls and good beer, what else do you need ?

thanks for your help

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rosvo
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to jeffharris, Jun 9, 2012

jeffharris wrote:

and what about the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12 mm 1:2.0,
not wide enough for cramped bars insides ?

I shoot interiors for my design business and 12mm really isn't wide enough, especially in older buildings with smaller spaces. The 12mm is a very nice lens, but the 7-14mm is special and like I said, extremely versatile with the range it has. If you play with it a bit, you can get some great effects.

f2.0 vs. f4.0 is a consideration, but with the Oly IBIS and better high ISO performance, that could be rendered moot. I lean against walls, rest my camera on things and even use a monopod or tripod.

Often, even at 7mm, I'll jam myself in a corner, hold the camera above my head and shoot down, composing in the GH2's LCD.

problem: it is a lot bigger and heavyer than the 12 mm,
and also i'd like to be as less visible as possible

thank you again for your time and your expertise

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rosvo
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to Anders W, Jun 9, 2012

Anders W wrote:

As to lenses, I'd take

Oly 12/2.0
Pany 20/1.7
Oly 45/1.8

The first two for "ambiance" photos inside as well as outside. You'll be particularly grateful for the 12 indoors. The 45 you will want for portraits and/or details. I'd personally skip the 25/1.4, which to my mind is neither fish nor fowl.

agree with the 2 oly's
but my mind is still balancing between the 20 and 25 mm pany's

for the part "street photography", don't you think the 25 is a good lens ?

thank you for your help and your time

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pannumon
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 9, 2012

rosvo wrote:

thank you for your help and your time

It seems that you made your choice already and this may seem a little crazy, but why not get a 7-14mm AND a cheap 14mm fro eBay? The difference between 14 and 12 is not nearly as large as between 12 and 7. You could use the 14mm when you don't want to attract attention, or when you need the extra light to the sensor. Also at 7mm you can use longer shutter speeds than for 12mm (the motion of people might still be a problem, though).

For a book I guess you would like to have very different kind of photos and (view)angles. Maybe a couple of ultra wide photos would fit there nicely?

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Anders W
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 9, 2012

rosvo wrote:

Anders W wrote:

As to lenses, I'd take

Oly 12/2.0
Pany 20/1.7
Oly 45/1.8

The first two for "ambiance" photos inside as well as outside. You'll be particularly grateful for the 12 indoors. The 45 you will want for portraits and/or details. I'd personally skip the 25/1.4, which to my mind is neither fish nor fowl.

agree with the 2 oly's
but my mind is still balancing between the 20 and 25 mm pany's

for the part "street photography", don't you think the 25 is a good lens ?

I'd say that particularly for the "street photography" part of your mission, I think the 20 will give you more flexibility with regard to composition than the 25 without the perspective distortion of a real WA like the 12.

thank you for your help and your time

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Robbster
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 10, 2012

Actually, I sold my Pany 20mm because it would not AF fast enough for candid work in low light on my OMD. I replaced with the 19mm Sigma f2.8. It's been great! The 25mm Pany has a wonderful reputation, but I have no idea how well it will AF on the OMD, and AF speed is so crucial in candid street work. Sigma is so inexpensive, responsive and sharp that I would consider it... perhaps in combination with the Sigma 30mm f2.8, to get those tighter framings on street subjects.
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Anders W
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to Robbster, Jun 10, 2012

Robbster wrote:

Actually, I sold my Pany 20mm because it would not AF fast enough for candid work in low light on my OMD. I replaced with the 19mm Sigma f2.8. It's been great! The 25mm Pany has a wonderful reputation, but I have no idea how well it will AF on the OMD, and AF speed is so crucial in candid street work. Sigma is so inexpensive, responsive and sharp that I would consider it... perhaps in combination with the Sigma 30mm f2.8, to get those tighter framings on street subjects.

I am not sure it is this type "street work" the OP will do. But if you do need to fire instantly, the proven technique of prefocusing (which is the one I usually use to minimize latency) works well. That includes using hyperfocal distance which at f/8 and focus set slightly beyond 3 meters gives a DoF from about 1.5 meters to infinity.

Apart from that, the reports about the slow AF of the 20/1.7 are much exaggerated. I have the 20 myself along with six other native MFT lenses, including the Oly 12/2 which is reportedly as fast as it gets at the moment. And while the 20 is indeed slower than most others, the difference is marginal rather than vast and of little practical significance. That such is the case is confirmed by this test by Pekka Potka:

http://www.pekkapotka.com/.../5/olympus-e-p3-af-speed-and-responsiveness.html

In every other respect, the Pany 20/1.7 is clearly superior to the Sigma 19/2.8: 1.5 stops faster, sharper at equal apertures (and very sharp already wide open at f/1.7), yet smaller and lighter.

Here are some results from the recent tests performed by LensRentals (Roger Cicala) on several different formats. The figures are lp/ih (line pairs per image height) at MTF-50 for unsharpened output, center/average. Note not only how the 20/1.7 compares with the Sigma but also with the Pany 25/1.4 and standard lenses on FF cameras, including Summilux 50/1.4 and Summicron 50/2.0 on Leica M9.

Panasonic 20/1.7 on E-M5 (16 MP)
1.7 870/735
2.8 1050/875
4.0 1075/880

Panasonic Leica 25/1.4 on E-M5 (16 MP)
1.4 690/590
2.8 960/820
4.0 980/850

Sigma 19/2.8 on E-M5 (16 MP)
2.8 850/745
4.0 920/770

Leica Summilux 50/1.4 on M9 (18 MP, no AA filter)
1.4 600/530
2.8 1025/860

Leica Summicron 50/2.0 on M9 (18 MP, no AA filter)
2.0 830/670
2.8 950/810

Canon 50/1.4 on 5D2 (21 MP)
1.4 650/530
2.8 920/690

Nikon 50/1.4G on D3X (24 MP)
1.4 560/500
2.8 830/750

And here are some complementary figures from Lenstip (lp/mm, center/edge, MTF-50, unsharpened output):

Panasonic 20/1.7
1.7 61/44
2.0 69/47
2.8 73/53
4.0 75/58
5.6 72/57

Sigma 19/2.8 on E-PL1 (12 MP)
2.8 64/42
4.0 70/43
5.6 67/45

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TrapperJohn
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EM5 would be good, but...
In reply to rosvo, Jun 10, 2012

They're hard to get. Even if you start looking today, you may not be able to get one by early July.

It's a more flexible tool than the XPro1 for sure, more options especially with lenses and AF is quite a bit better. Get it with the 12-50, add the PL25 1.4 for fast indoor and portrait work, maybe the 9-18 for interesting outside shots, you should stay within your budget.

The EM5 does have a P mode, actually has some good novice modes as well as P mode. You will want a few days to work with it, and be sure to go over the extensive manual that comes on the setup CD.

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Robbster
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to Anders W, Jun 10, 2012

Helpful data, Anders. I and most others would agree that the 20 is an optically superior lens, though in everyday use, I find the sharpness of the 19mm very good and very usable.

Having owned both the Pany 20 and the Sigma 19 I can say that the AF lag and hunting that I experienced with the 20 was disruptive to some shooting situations I find important to me, else I would not have sold it.

Just personal experience, not arguing with the data...
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rosvo
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 10, 2012

thanks everybody for your help and suggestions

already SOLD :

Olympus E-M5 OM-D WITHOUT kit zoom : 1099 euro 372 gram

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm 1:1.8 Objektiv silber 277 euro 118 gram

+++++

I still have to make up my mind...

for street, outside photos of bars, street candid work etc... :

Panasonic Leica H-X025E 25mm Objektiv schwarz 527 euro 200 gram
or
Panasonic H-H020E Pancake-Objektiv Lumix G F1,7/ 20 mm 340 euro 100 gram

AND

for inside photos (candid photos without flash) :

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12 mm 1:2.0 Objektiv silber 634 euro 141 gram
or

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6 Objektiv 536 euro 154 gram (49,5 mm long)

too bulky for my taste:
Panasonic H-F007014E Superweitwinkel-Objektiv Lumix G Vario F4.0/7-14mm
299 gram 1000 euro

(I have managed to make "relatively" good photos with my Lumix LX3 inside bars at 24mm, he will be in my pocket anyway)

1.00 EUR = aprox. 1.25 USD

I'm already "learning" :
http://olympusamerica.com/files/oima_cckb/E-M5_Instruction_Manual_EN.pdf

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rrr_hhh
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 10, 2012

rosvo wrote:

jeffharris wrote:

and what about the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12 mm 1:2.0,
not wide enough for cramped bars insides ?

I shoot interiors for my design business and 12mm really isn't wide enough, especially in older buildings with smaller spaces. The 12mm is a very nice lens, but the 7-14mm is special and like I said, extremely versatile with the range it has. If you play with it a bit, you can get some great effects.

f2.0 vs. f4.0 is a consideration, but with the Oly IBIS and better high ISO performance, that could be rendered moot. I lean against walls, rest my camera on things and even use a monopod or tripod.

Often, even at 7mm, I'll jam myself in a corner, hold the camera above my head and shoot down, composing in the GH2's LCD.

problem: it is a lot bigger and heavyer than the 12 mm,
and also i'd like to be as less visible as possible

thank you again for your time and your expertise

I think that bars will be bigger than cramped flats in NY and that for your project 12mm will be enough. Also, in a crowded bar, the kind of perspective you will get with shorter focals is not necessarily what you would be after if you want to show some customers. Even if you keep your lens perfectly level, it will do nasty things to people standing/sitting in the bars.

Also beware that US price are always indicated without VAT, you will have to add 19% if you are shopping in Germany and anyway, even so, prices are often higher in the EU.

Also if you decide to go for an E-M5, don't wait too long to order one, they can be difficult to get. Although I've been told that they ar easier to get in Germany than in Switzerland. With respect to the GH2, the E-M5 will have better high ISOs, which matters for your project and about 1 stop more of DR, which also matters with night lights. And as already said while the Fuji's high ISOs are better, they are not very reactive and are slw focusing, which makes the E-M5 better for your project.

Good luck !
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rrr_hhh

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drummerman
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Why not the Fuji... ?
In reply to rosvo, Jun 10, 2012

The OM-D, i'm sure, is a capable camera as is the XPro-1.

If outright speed and large lens choice is not an issue then the larger sensor coupled with what looks like very nice quality Fuji Glass should give excellent results. The lenses are fairly fast and the camera lacks, as far as I know, an AA filter so detail should be first class as was bourne out when it was tested recently against Leicas M9 and Sony's NEX7.

I personally wouldn't discount either and get a hands-on feel with both, possibly some shooting too.

regards

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rrr_hhh
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Re: I have a problem... of choice
In reply to rosvo, Jun 10, 2012

Panasonic Leica H-X025E 25mm Objektiv schwarz 527 euro 200 gram
or
Panasonic H-H020E Pancake-Objektiv Lumix G F1,7/ 20 mm 340 euro 100 gram

I own both and I'd go with the 25mm F1.4; however both lenses have their advantage and disadvantage :

20mm pro :

  • Cheaper

  • Lighter

  • pancake and extremely compact

  • extremely sharp

20mm cons :

  • focus slightly slow (on Olympus camera, not so on Panasonic camera)

  • focus can hunt a little in low light (but that can be offset if you shoot with the center point and use the focus and reframe technique, aiming at a point of light)

  • the perspective distortion is quite strong which can be nasty for portraits when you stand too near of your subject, for instance with people standing at the same table.

  • the focal is in between, neither wide, nor normal.

25mm pro :

  • extremely sharp, only a tad less than the 20mm

  • slightly faster than the 20mm : you should gain a half stop

  • will offer a more shallow DOF than the 20mm if you are after that (being both longer and faster)

  • nice and creamy bokey.

  • will show less distortion in portraits than the 20mm

  • is still light despite its size.

25mm cons :

  • the lens, although light is cumbersome, especially once you add the lenshood

  • you can't reverse the lenshood for storing so it is cumbersome for storing too.

  • the aperture blades shutters as soon as you the light change which produce a continual rattle on the Olympus cameras (not on the Panasonc bodies), but bars are noisy enough that it won't disturb. It may disturb in quiet environments.

In the end, it comes down to what focal length you prefer to shoot with and whether you want a pancake or you are confortable with a bigger lens too. Concerning the focal length, you may judge that the 45 mm gives you all you need for straight portraits using shallower DOF. So this is really a question of personnal preference, since IQ is very good in both cases.

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rrr_hhh

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