I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system? Locked

Started Jun 30, 2013 | Discussions
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David Banner
Senior MemberPosts: 2,337
I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
Jun 30, 2013

Hi, I have a Nikon D300 and several lenses but they're used mostly for portraits around the house and special events like pony competitions, dance show, etc.  For travel, vacation, and walking around I find them too big/heavy to take with me.  So I've been making do with a cheap Canon compact and my old LX3 (I love the B&W of the LX3).

I'm debating about buying a more capable yet smaller and lighter system.  If I sell my Nikon 18-200 I can pay for part of the new system.

I'd like to get a camera such as the GX1 and a 50mm equivalent prime such as the 20mm f1.7 and a super zoom like the 14-140.  I think these two lenses would cover my travel needs and allow me to travel light.

I'm not familiar with 4/3 models but here is what I see:

Panasonic GX1 - I definitely want a very small camera, I don't need a viewfinder

Panasonic 20 1.7 - This is $400.  Why so expensive?  Any better alternatives?

Panasonic 14-140 - Walkaround zoom is $680.

All together this adds up to be about $1200.  I'm comparing this with something similar from the Nikon 1 system which is a lot cheaper.  for the same price I can have a 10-30 kit lens and the FT1 adapter which would allow me to use my Nikon cameras.  I don't know if this is possible with 4/3.  So I'm leaning a bit towards the Nikon 1 but I'm still researching it and I'd love to get some feedback from the 4/3 crowd.

Thanks!

Nikon D300 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 (Lumix DMC-FT1)
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REShultz
Senior MemberPosts: 1,108
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

Many will trash the 1 system but it's actually very good.

I've shot with both. For IQ, go with the newer generation sensor in M43. Another advantage of M43 is lens options (far and away better than the 1 system).

For IQ similar to the older generation M43, for fast and accurate AF, or for silent shutter, the 1 system is great. It's also more economic. The 18.5 1.8 (50mm equivalent) is an excellent and sharp lens. It's less than 200$, and a refurb 30-110 can be had for 125$.

One last thing to add, metering is great on the 1 system. My biggest issue with the system is that in areas of dynamic range and low light, there are better options.

For you, I think it's really about how you intend to use your other DSLR to supplement the IQ factor. If you're willing to use it when needed, the 1 system will work out very well. If you end up leaving it at home more often than not, and you need IQ, M43 is the better option.

sbszine
Regular MemberPosts: 464Gear list
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

Price seems to be a factor, so I'd go for the Nikon 1 and use your existing primes with the FT1 adapter. The M43 gear will give you better IQ but the lenses are on the expensive side.

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axlotl
Contributing MemberPosts: 918
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

If you want to use a "walkaround" lens such as the new, or the old version if you can get one,  Lumix 14-140mm or the Nikon1 10-100mm then I would suggest you consider a built in viewfinder for sharp photos at the long end. The G5 is going for very attractive prices right now and gives clearly better image quality than Nikon1 System cams. I have confirmed this by testing the G5 against a V2.

Dr_Jon
Senior MemberPosts: 1,606Gear list
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

My holiday kit used to be a GF1 (pretty much the predecessor to the GX1) with the 20/1.7 and 14-140. It was pretty good and fitted nicely in a small/light Lowepro Rezo 110AW bag. I could carry it all day and it covered super-zoom and low-light territory. I eventually moved away from it due to the limitations of the GF1's sensor (noise/dynamic range) which I found a bit limiting. These days I usually take my GH3 with the two f2.8 zooms in a light bag (out of your price range though) or my RX100 which is a great little camera (and doesn't the mk II look just amazing with its super-star sensor). Note I always carried the external EVF for the GF1 as it allowed more stable positions (camera to eye) and was very handy in bright sunlight.

I feel the advantages of the 1-series are really fast focusing, really fast burst modes, generally very sharp lenses (excluding the 10-100 ones). The disadvantages are it's bigger than the sensor size would suggest it could be, a lack of lens range, the lenses not being that fast and the smaller sensor (although if Sony do a backlit sensor for them it could be pretty amazing, but that's not happening for a while). If I was going to Nikon I'd get the 30-110 as well rather than adapting lenses, as then the size gets out of hand.

I would also say the Olympus EPL5/EPM2 do have a noticeably better sensor than the Panasonic GX1 so could also be worth a look. (The EPM2 is smaller but you can go too small so the EPL5 might be a better place to look.) I'd choose one of those over the GX1 I think (with the VF4 viewfinder, which looks great from the spec and initial reports).

On lenses the 20mm/1.7 lens is a star. The 14-140 is okay for sharpness but like most big zoom range lenses not really great and you're getting flexibility over optical quality. (I'm not planning to sell mine yet though.)

Other suggestions:

Sony RX100 mk II (king of the compact cameras, by a mile)
Fuji X-E1 with the two zooms (18-55 and 55-200)

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jquagga
Contributing MemberPosts: 595
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

David Banner wrote:

Hi, I have a Nikon D300 and several lenses but they're used mostly for portraits around the house and special events like pony competitions, dance show, etc. For travel, vacation, and walking around I find them too big/heavy to take with me. So I've been making do with a cheap Canon compact and my old LX3 (I love the B&W of the LX3).

My "main" camera is the D5100 and several lenses.  I have a m43 rangerfinder class camera for the same reasons as you list.

I'm debating about buying a more capable yet smaller and lighter system. If I sell my Nikon 18-200 I can pay for part of the new system.

I'd like to get a camera such as the GX1 and a 50mm equivalent prime such as the 20mm f1.7 and a super zoom like the 14-140. I think these two lenses would cover my travel needs and allow me to travel light.

I'm not familiar with 4/3 models but here is what I see:

Panasonic GX1 - I definitely want a very small camera, I don't need a viewfinder

Indeed.  Probably the best "bargin" at the time as it is a little long in the tooth.  An E-PM2 would have a bit better performance but costs a bit more.

Panasonic 20 1.7 - This is $400. Why so expensive? Any better alternatives?

m43 lenses do seem a bit more compared with their Nikon counterparts.  I have this lens; it's probably the sharpest lens I own.  It's not as "snap to" fast as the newest lenses but it is sharp, fast and tiny.  It's usually the lens mounted on the front of my E-PM2.  It actually often comes with me when I have the DSLR out as it and the camera take up the SB-700's spot.  With the E-PM2, the stabilization is in camera so my stabilized f/1.7 40mm equivalent isn't something I can get on the Nikon.  If you want the fast normal pancake, this is it.

On the other hand if you're willing to give up a stop and save some money the Sigma 19mm is well liked.

Panasonic 14-140 - Walkaround zoom is $680.

I think you have to ask - do you REALLY need the superzoom?  This lens is fairly large by m43 standards.  Do you shoot that often at 300 when on vacation?  I mean the kit lens could be had much cheaper.  Indeed, even the "pancake zoom" of the 14-42 X is half the price.  If you want the superzoom then I understand.  I bought my system with an emphasis on portability so I don't have any big lenses for the platform.  I presently have the 14-42 and the 20.  If I want zoom I'll add the 45-150 or the Sigma 60mm which are both smaller and cheaper.

All together this adds up to be about $1200. I'm comparing this with something similar from the Nikon 1 system which is a lot cheaper. for the same price I can have a 10-30 kit lens and the FT1 adapter which would allow me to use my Nikon cameras. I don't know if this is possible with 4/3. So I'm leaning a bit towards the Nikon 1 but I'm still researching it and I'd love to get some feedback from the 4/3 crowd.

You can get a Nikon-m43 adapter.  Most are geared towards D-type lenses (although there are adapters you can get which adjust the aperture ring).  However, most of these are essentially full-manual operations.  You're manually metering, focusing, etc.  Novoflex does make a Nikon - m43's adapter that has electronics and will let you use Aperture priority but it costs as much at the FT1.

Again, the question I'd ask is how often do you plan on putting the DX/FX lenses on a m43/CX system? I know in this forum there is a pretty big following of folks who use legacy lenses on their m43 systems.  It can be done cheaply if you're using an older lens and doing everything manually   If you want metering and aperture priority mode, that has a good bit of cost on either platform   Personally, if I'm going to pull out my Nikon 55-200, I'm just going to put it on my Nikon.  The reason I bought the m43 system was for size.  If I've already given up on size so I can have the "big" lens, then I figure I'll just put the lens on the camera it was designed for and not have any headaches or costs associated with adapters.

That's not to say that others don't do that all the time.  For me, I just didn't think it made sense.

PSCL1
Senior MemberPosts: 2,292Gear list
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

To the OP:  First, I would suggest deciding what my priorities are, e.g. size/portability?  lens range?  lens speed?  You've got lots of informed opinion in the prior posts.

For small size,  Oly EPL/M-x Pen body of any type.  Recently EPL-5 has the most capability, largest mp sensor.  Panasonic lenses and bodies are generally larger than their Oly counterparts almost as large as DSLR equipment and you won't gain much in portability.   Primes for that body:  the incomparable 20 f1.7 Panny, 45 1.8 or 75 1.8 Oly depending on budget and FL preference, 14 2.5 Panasonic.     Zooms:  Perhaps the 14-42 Panasonic X (questionable quality but tiny), 45-150 old or new Oly zoom, 9-18 Oly zoom but this might put you over budget.

If you want an eye-level built-in viewfinder, Panasonic G3 and G5 bodies, both discontinued, would be the smallest and operationally most like your DSLR.  However, these are functionally bigger than the Olympus Pen bodies.  When you get to the quite expensive Panny GH3 or Oly OM-D bodies, you are back up in DSLR size and, IMO, gain almost nothing over the Nikon gear you now have.

Nikon 1 system cameras are as large as the Oly bodies but the sensor is smaller, lens build looks like crap, and few lenses are available.  The fact that Nikon can advertise heavily and saturate the mass market retailers like Best Buy should not sway you.

I've just made two European trips with an Oly EPL-1 body, 3 zooms, 3 primes, and tiny flash.  ALL of this fit into a $50 Olympus TEN-inch long mini-backpack. I've abandoned my Nikon gear for these trips.

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SirSeth
Veteran MemberPosts: 9,032Gear list
Double lens kit is a good deal.
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

My choice would be EPL-5 + 14-42mm + 40-150mm. Something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Digital-14-42mm-40-150mm-Accessory/dp/B00A2QJ7OW

Some of the accessories are throw away, but the package for $689 is good imo. Then I'd add a prime like the new Panasonic 20mm or the Olympus 45mm.

I haven't used the one system, so I'm admittedly biased. I've heard the operational speed and IQ is pretty decent. I prefer the lens choices in Micro4/3rds (that's an easy one). I like the flip screen, removable grip, and regular flash hot shoe (that last one is a huge one imo). The optional VF-4 I've heard is really really good too.

Cheers,

Seth

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Gompie
Regular MemberPosts: 256Gear list
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

Hi,

I used a D300 for about four years. Had a couple of Nikon lenses and was very happy with it.
Last year while travelling I got fed up with it. The weight, the size, the bulk of the lenses.
I decided to buy the Olympus OMD with some lenses. Took them on my latest vacation and will not look at my D300 again. Even thinking of selling the stuff. The only thing I'm not happy with is the batterylife. Bought three of them. They won't last half or a third of the shots of which the D300 is capable of. I manage around 250-300 shots per battery on average.
The Nikon is smaller than the Olympus, but in the end it all comes down to is how it handles, how it feels in your hand and what it can deliver.
My guess is that the m4/3 system has an advantage over the Nikon system. The lens line-up is much bigger and I believe and read that the m4/3 sensor is more capable. You can even buy an adapter that can handle your Nikon lenses. (Haven't used one so far, so can't help you with that.)

Good luck with you choice

Ruud

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jeffharris
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,798Gear list
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

David Banner wrote:

I'm debating about buying a more capable yet smaller and lighter system. If I sell my Nikon 18-200 I can pay for part of the new system.

I'd like to get a camera such as the GX1 and a 50mm equivalent prime such as the 20mm f1.7 and a super zoom like the 14-140. I think these two lenses would cover my travel needs and allow me to travel light.

I'm not familiar with 4/3 models but here is what I see:

Panasonic GX1 - I definitely want a very small camera, I don't need a viewfinder

Panasonic 20 1.7 - This is $400. Why so expensive? Any better alternatives?

Panasonic 14-140 - Walkaround zoom is $680.

All together this adds up to be about $1200. I'm comparing this with something similar from the Nikon 1 system which is a lot cheaper. for the same price I can have a 10-30 kit lens and the FT1 adapter which would allow me to use my Nikon cameras. I don't know if this is possible with 4/3. So I'm leaning a bit towards the Nikon 1 but I'm still researching it and I'd love to get some feedback from the 4/3 crowd.

I was a Nikon SLR guy and got into M4/3 as a way to use my AI-S manual lenses on a GH2, in addition to native lenses (7-14mm, 20mm & 14-140mm). Recently, I bought a GX1 to augment the GH2 and have a camera my girlfriend will use. It's well worth buying the LVF2 electronic viewfinder. You can get them both from B&H for about $360 (GX1 - $199, LVF2 - $160), so the GX1 is a nice small, inexpensive way to get into the M4/3 system.

As for lenses, the 20mm is the perfect size for the GX1, great in low light, very sharp, lots of fun. The 14-140mm (original version) I use as a travel and vacation lens, when I can't be bothered (and bothering companions) carrying and swapping primes. It's really a much better lens than it gets credit for. Yes, it can be a bit soft on the long end (beyond 125mm ±), but nothing that can't be tweaked in Lightroom.

As far as adapting manual lenses, if you're using manual lenses, there's no need to spend $250+ for Novoflex adaptors. Rainbow Imaging ($20±) and Fotodiox adaptors ($40±) work perfectly well. You can get adaptors that allow you to adjust aperture for lenses that lack an aperture ring, others will be able to tell you about them. So, with the correct adaptor, you can use your current Nikon lenses on the GX1. I consider using a viewfinder pretty much mandatory for manual focus.

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jeffharris
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,798Gear list
Re: Micro Four Thirds and Nikon 1 system similar size
In reply to jeffharris, Jun 30, 2013

Just to add an observation from today. I was doing some macro shooting at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden with my GH2 and Nikon 60mm and 105mm lenses. (Overcast, perfect!) My girlfriend was using my GX1 and new PZ14-42mm lens.

Anyway, I saw a woman with a Nikon 1 camera and a long-ish zoom. The camera seemed to be exactly the same size as my GX1 and the lens looked like the size of the Panasonic 45-175mm. So much for the smaller size of the Nikon 1 system… with a much smaller sensor!

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Escaping
Contributing MemberPosts: 626Gear list
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

hi David:  I am like you, having a D300 and loving my LX3 (now up to the LX7) .. I went to mFT first with the GF1 then G1 then G2 ... When Nikon launched the System 1, I was skeptical but bought the V1 with the kit lenses (10-30 + 30-110).  Now, I just love the V1, having added the 18.5/ 1.8 and the extremely spectacular 6.7-13mm ... Having Nikon lenses, I also added the FT-1 and the most used F mount lenses I have been using with the V1+FT1 are the 35/1.8 DX and the 60/2.8 Micro.

I still have the mFT system but have not used it as much.  If I need speed and performance, I have the Nikon's for something smaller, I just rely on the V1, especially with the 18.5mm and the 6.7-13mm.  For low light and some reach, there is the 35DX.

Comparing these systems (mFT vs System 1), for me the speed of the V1 is hard to describe until one uses it.  IQ wise, I dont see much difference between these (though I know my mFT cameras are of the older generation 12Mp and not the latest 16Mp).

Anyway, this is just my view ... yours may be different re. how you would pick mFT vs System 1.

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Jay Siegel
Senior MemberPosts: 1,223Gear list
check out this review
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

Thom Hogan uses both Nikon DSLR, 1 system and m4/3rd systems.  Here is his review of the V2 and at the end of the review he compares it to m4/3rds:

http://www.sansmirror.com/cameras/a-note-about-camera-reviews/nikon-1-camera-reviews/nikon-v2-review.html

I think he covers the issues very completely.

The Nikon 1 system could be a lot of fun for very little loss in image quality.

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Jay S.

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sigala1
Senior MemberPosts: 3,510
Expensive m43 prime lenses
In reply to David Banner, Jun 30, 2013

David Banner wrote:

Panasonic 20 1.7 - This is $400. Why so expensive? Any better alternatives?

m43 prime lenses are overpriced because Olympus and Panasonic discovered that people are willing to overpay for them.

But people are not willing to overpay for slow zooms that cover the basic 28 to 85mm equivalent focal lengths, so they sell for a lot less money. Not that such zooms aren't useful, they are.

captura
Forum ProPosts: 15,526Gear list
Re: Micro Four Thirds and Nikon 1 system similar size
In reply to jeffharris, Jun 30, 2013

jeffharris wrote:

Just to add an observation from today. I was doing some macro shooting at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden with my GH2 and Nikon 60mm and 105mm lenses. (Overcast, perfect!) My girlfriend was using my GX1 and new PZ14-42mm lens.

Anyway, I saw a woman with a Nikon 1 camera and a long-ish zoom. The camera seemed to be exactly the same size as my GX1 and the lens looked like the size of the Panasonic 45-175mm. So much for the smaller size of the Nikon 1 system… with a much smaller sensor!

I agree, a lot of this...what is compact and what isn't...often gets out of perspective. I've got numerous milc cameras but if I just want something 100% reliable, biggish sensor and wide lens I just put a 16mm lens on my old Sony NEX-3, into my pocket and don't care that much if I lose it.

This combo is as small or smaller than the cameras that were were already mentioned.

BTW I prefer the Pana. 14/2.5 lens to the 20/1.7 for numerous reasons. (I seem to have a very sharp copy.) But if I need subject isolation, I prefer the 20, of course.

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howardfuhrman
Senior MemberPosts: 2,631
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to David Banner, Jul 1, 2013

David,

One alternative to either of the two system that you are considering is either and LX7 or Sony RX100 (or the new RX100 II).  Since you are retaining your Nikon 300 and replacing it, why not get something that is very small that is capable of taking excellent photos. Both of my suggestions are less money than the two systems that you are considering.

GlennAA11
Regular MemberPosts: 167Gear list
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to howardfuhrman, Jul 1, 2013

I think there are several threads on this subject here.

I have a Nikon V1.

I recently got an OM-D.

For me the biggest difference is the lenses. Few available N1 lenses, and the ones that are out have a very cheap feel to them. I've had a lot of trouble with the 10-30mm kit lens. Sent it back for repair, they claimed it was fixed but it's still not. Basically any pressure on the lens turns the camera on because of the stupid mechanism they put in the lens that turns the camera on if you twist the lens barrel. Why they thought that was preferable to pushing the power button is beyond me. Sure you can use the FT-1 to put your other Nikkor lenses on you N1 camera, but that sort of defeats the purpose of having a small system.

For m43 there is a fairly robust collection of lenses. Some are better build quality than others, but they are all better than the N1 lenses I have. There are some quite decent lenses for m43 that are not expensive. I have the Oly 40-150mm R that performs quite well. Was only $99 for a while but is now back in the $200 range. I don't feel like I really overpaid for the lenses I have including the Panny 25 1.4 and the Oly 60mm macro.

You can take perfectly great photos with the N1 system just like you can with most any system if you know what you're doing. The video modes are interesting too in a gimmicky way. But I think m43 has a substantial build quality advantage at this point.

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Russ Houston
Veteran MemberPosts: 6,370Gear list
Be careful if you get the latest M4/3 gear
In reply to David Banner, Jul 1, 2013

If you get something like the OM-D, E-PL5, E-P5 or GH3, don't be surprised if you rarely use your D300 anymore.

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Donald Chin
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,411Gear list
Re: Be careful if you get the latest M4/3 gear
In reply to Russ Houston, Jul 1, 2013

Russ Houston wrote:

If you get something like the OM-D, E-PL5, E-P5 or GH3, don't be surprised if you rarely use your D300 anymore.

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It depends, my M43 gears are on the shelves collecting dust.

Here's what I shoot yesterday with a superzoom, why bother to carry all the lenses & bodies if one camera can do it all.

Stanley Dragon Boat Short Course 2013

Donald Chin
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,411Gear list
Re: I'm debating: Micro Four Thirds or Nikon 1 system?
In reply to howardfuhrman, Jul 1, 2013

howardfuhrman wrote:

David,

One alternative to either of the two system that you are considering is either and LX7 or Sony RX100 (or the new RX100 II). Since you are retaining your Nikon 300 and replacing it, why not get something that is very small that is capable of taking excellent photos. Both of my suggestions are less money than the two systems that you are considering.

+1

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