Does M4/3 or DSLR produce higher quality photo's

Started Apr 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
sean000 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,356
Re: I own both, and I have kids (assuming you do too)

Based on the sample shot, I assume that's your toddler? I have a 9-month-old and a 2-year-old. I also own both Nikon DSLR gear and m4/3 gear. I prefer using the m4/3 gear...especially when it comes to family photography, but it depends. I still own a Nikon because I'm invested in some really nice Nikon lenses (17-55mm f/2.8, 80-200mm f/2.8, 12-24mm, 300mm f/4). I am headed in the direction of selling the Nikon stuff so I can buy more m4/3 (already sold four of my Nikon lenses... mostly primes that were redundant with m4/3 primes I now own).

So what's better? It depends on the cameras. I own an older Nikon D200, and my newer Olympus OM-D E-M5 has a sensor that is significantly better in every measure of image quality. It's on par with, if not better than, what you have in your D90. But the sensor does not make the camera. There are other features to consider depending on your needs, and more importantly your technique and the lenses you use. Of course a Nikon D7100 will have a higher resolution and superior sensor to my E-M5 (and part of me really wants a D7100), but there isn't much point to getting that kind of image quality unless you are prepared to invest in high quality lenses. I choose my tools based on what I want to accomplish. Currently the best low-light combos I own are the E-M5 with either an Oly 45mm f/1.8 or 20mm f/1.7 mounted, so that's what I use for photographing my family in available light. If I want the best outdoor portraits, I use my Nikon D200 with 80-200mm f/2.8. Even though my E-M5 has the better sensor, the 80-200mm f/2.8 is vastly superior to the 45-200mm f/3.5-5.6 I have for the E-M5. Of course I can use the 80-200 on the E-M5 as well with an adapter, but I will need to manually focus (and I do this sometimes), but the IQ of the D200 is still pretty darn outstanding so I am more likely to use it with my Nikon lenses. Besides... for most of these shots I'm not concerned with ultimate IQ. I want them sharp, with excellent colors, and low enough noise to look good up to 8x10 or occasionally 13x19. Well within the capability of either camera I own (although the E-M5 looks better at high ISO because of how old the D200's sensor is). If I want to print a landscape or architecture shot, or a family group photo, really large with the best IQ possible... I will choose the best lens I have for the field of view required, and I will use a tripod. I will probably go with the E-M5 since it's higher resolution... but I get excellent large prints from the 10 MP D200 as well when a tripod is used.

But I think you are simply looking for something that will give you the best sharpness and the lowest noise for family photography (mostly candid snapshots like the ones I like to shoot). As far as the sample you posted: That's a cute photo, but not a display of the ultimate image quality a DSLR or a m4/3 camera is capable of. I'm not saying the image quality is poor by any means... just not the most challenging of conditions to display what it is you like about that particular camera and lens combination.

Here are some samples taken with the OM-D E-M5 of my kids under varying conditions:

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 6400 - lit only by a decorative string of lights (some of which you can see in the background)

ISO 800

Not that Web-sizes tell you much of anything about IQ, but I can say that I photograph my family often under challenging lighting conditions with both a DSLR and m4/3 gear, and either type of camera is capable of delivering. I prefer m4/3 because it is more portable. If portability is not a factor, stick with your D90 or even upgrade to the D7100. If portability is a factor, consider m4/3 (the GH3 is the least portable m4/3 camera, but the lenses will still be smaller than your Nikon lenses). Either way you will get the most out of your camera if you invest in quality glass and use good technique.


 sean000's gear list:sean000's gear list
Olympus Stylus XZ-10 Nikon D70 Nikon D200 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Olympus OM-D E-M5 +14 more
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