Hello. Is this goodbye?

Started May 24, 2014 | Questions thread
Bob Topp Regular Member • Posts: 481
Re: Hello. Is this goodbye?

You asked if there was anyone else who had followed a similar path.  You'll find many on the M43 forum.  I still have my D300, D700, SB-600, SB-800, a Nikon-compatible Nissin, 28-75/2.8 Tamron, 70-200/2.8 Sigma, 12-24, 60 mm macro, etc., etc.

I played with a Panasonic GH-1 with the 14-140 kit lens for a while, then bought the EM-5 with 12-50 kit lens, adding a 14/2.5 pancake for real ease of use.  This last year I've bought the EM-1, Panasonic 12-35/2.8, the Samyang 7.5 mm fisheye and the Panasonic 45-200 used from KEH.  I also have a lot of legacy glass dating to the 1970s, both Nikon and Minolta, that is a lot of fun to use with very inexpensive adaptors on the EM-1.

I kept the Nikons because I have shot a few tennis tournaments each year for some time now; however, I played with the EM-1 and the 45-200 in good light and found I could do quite well with it.  It does require a modification to my shooting style, but I have shot about the same number of frames with about the same rate of keepers with both systems.  I'm holding out for the Oly 40-150/2.8, expected out this year, as a solution for shooting under the lights, but I don't do that much any more.  For the most part my monster of a Manfrotto monopod sits in the closet these days.

Much more of my shooting now is social dancing in a low, club-style light environment.  I bought the D700 specifically to do that, but I now use the EM-1 with 12-35.  Again, the main issue was that I had to adjust my shooting style a little.  A major difference between M43 and DSLRs with shoe-mounted flash is that none of the M43 cameras will activate the heavy duty IR focus assist built into the strobes.  On the other hand, once you learn to size your focus point right, the EM-1 will lock on in surprisingly low light.  The EVF can also be programmed to amplify your image in low light, actually making composition easier than with an optical viewfinder.  At times I still find the reduced quality through the EVF a bit distracting, but I know that the images are fine.

Because I'm 64 and have used DSLRs a long time, I am pretty dependent on an eye-level viewfinder.  However, recently I have begun to play more with the touch screen capability on the EM-1 (also available on the EM-5).  I took over half the 1200 frames at a recent salsa dance using the touch screen and was quite pleased with the results.  Focus and response are almost instant, sometimes feeling faster than when I use the EVF.  Composing and shooting that way lets you look at a much wider scene to anticipate dancers moving into view, as well as their moves.  And using the touch screen is easily superior to moving a focus point around with a 4-way controller: just touch, and the camera meters and focuses for that location.

This last weekend I shot around 1200 frames at a the dress rehearsal for a dance academy.  I had the 45-200 on the EM-1 and used it almost exclusively against the stage lighting, mostly at ISO 3200.  Shooting at 1-2 stops underexposed (due to the slow lens), I was able to hold shutter speeds at 1/125 pretty well, and in Lightroom I could recover the exposures quite well.  Believe me, the Olympus raw files are quite manageable and can do anything my D700 can.  Colors are rich even at higher ISOs, unlike my D300, which tended to be more washed out up around 1600.  Oh, yeah, I can click off 2-3 frames per second manually in raw+jpeg and never fill up the EM-1 buffer; neither the D300 or D700 can come close to that.  A 32 GB card fills up around 1200 frames.

You need to understand that an M43 battery will never match the mileage you get with the D300/D700.  On the other hand, third party batteries are quite cheap and very rellable.  Between the two cameras I have four batteries.  Depending on my shooting style, I can sometimes get right at 1200 frames with the EM-1; other times it will run out around 800 frames.  I hardly ever use the tiny flash provided with the cameras, so I'm not draining the camera battery there.

Despite my praise of M43, it is expensive to get into.  There are many high quality primes that are affordable, but a limited number of your high end zooms.  Since you're not into birding, you're well off.  I may never get the 40-150/2.8 because I'm pretty happy with the 45-200; however, I do not shoot racing cars and don't need blitzing fast focus.  Yes, there is viewfinder blackout above 5 fps, but you'll find there's an awful lot you can do at lower speeds.  I usually shot tennis at only 4 fps with the D300/D700, if for no other reason than to conserve memory.  The real key to shooting sports (and this held true in the film era as well) is to become familiar with the movement and time your shots accordingly.  Manual focus is a feasible resort to sorting out things as well.  By the way, if you're shooting a lot of grandkids now, you might want to back up an EM-5 with a used GH-2; I really did like the Panasonic movies, as well as the full flip-and-fold screen.

Do I still shop around?  Yeah, but not seriously.  The Fuji system is coming along well now and is quite attractive.  The Sigma DPx Merrills are an interesting solution.  The RX100-III is very attractive, especially now that it has a fast lens in the 24-70 range.  If anything, you are faced with too many choices.

So, best of luck,

Bob Topp

 Bob Topp's gear list:Bob Topp's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus E-M1 Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D +22 more
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