M43 and Full Frame; my experience

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Sam in Hawaii Regular Member • Posts: 260
M43 and Full Frame; my experience
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What with all the brouhaha about full frame and the impending demise of M43, I thought I'd share my experience.

I have a Pen F and an EM 5 ii. I had an EM 1.1, but never liked it all that much; it didn't really offer anything special over the other two, except maybe sometimes a bit of an edge in AF, but having started with a 4X5 Speed Graphic and cut film, I consider any AF to be just shy of magic. I wanted better IQ, sometimes.

Sony has been slashing the price on the no-longer-current models. The A7 ii has been slowly sliding down into my price range, so about two months ago I found enough change under the sofa cushions, sold the EM 1, and bought the Sony, with the OK 28-70 kit lens and the better than OK 50 1.8. Right now, the Sony with the kit lens is about $1000, which is a steal.

I hadn't had a real chance to try it, since i had shoulder surgery right after and couldn't even pick up a camera, but last week I went on a bit of a trip and decided to take the Sony twins - the A7 ii and the RX 100 - instead of either Oly. Here's what I found.

I like the Sony interface. Their equivalent of the super control panel is user-definable, up to 12 functions out of a choice of more than 40. Members of this same 40 function set can be assigned to the buttons as well, unlike Oly which has a fixed SCP and limits what buttons can do what. Very nice.

The IQ is, at its best, definitely better than the EM 1 could do, even with my best lenses. The extra pixels and extra dynamic range definitely count, if you look hard enough. Thing is, you gotta be looking for it. Most of the time I don't care, but when I do, it's nice to have it.

Lenses are huge and cost a fortune. I can't imagine a telephoto, I'm not manly enough for that.

The camera is smaller than my EM 1, and  all the buttons and controls are in the right places. The shutter sounds like a door slamming, reminds me of the wind-up Speed Graphic focal plane shutter. Not subtle. And it absolutely eats batteries.

The Sony is soul-less, but a pretty nice camera overall. It does have kind of a beginner's Nikon feel, if that makes sense; melted plastic-y, even though it's way more capable than, say, a D3400. The Olys feel like nicely-machined bits of kit, pleasant to look at and hold, everything where it's supposed to be. I just like the Oly kinesthetics better. If it takes metal knobs to make me happy, then that's what I want.

Don't get me wrong; the Sony IQ is there, if you need it. I'll be keeping the Sony for those occasions - landscapes I really care about, for instance - when I want that extra bit. It's not my first choice for travel. I'm happy to have it, have no plans to spend a bundle on FF lenses or accessories, it's strictly for those times when I really, really want more px, more DR, and it's a bargain.

Somebody's going to say that the EM 1 ii is all that and more, or the G9. Well, they're undoubtedly very nice, and I wouldn't mind an EM 1 ii if I could afford it; thing is, the Sony has a few more pixels and another stop or so of dynamic range for a whole lot less money. It's a nice complement to the M43, not a replacement.

By the way, the little RX 100 is a nice item. The Zeiss lens makes up for a lot of shortcomings, and it's really tiny. It's the smallest camera I've ever seen that allows for a really flexible degree of control. It has to be seen to be believed; dense, metal construction, nice screen, good interface. Affordable used, makes a nice plus one camera. Did I mention, it's tiny?

Short version, I like the specific advantages of the FF when I want them, but for most things I prefer my Pen F and EM 5 ii. They all play well together.

 Sam in Hawaii's gear list:Sam in Hawaii's gear list
Panasonic ZS100 Sony a7 II Olympus E-M5 II Olympus PEN-F +1 more
Nikon D3400 Olympus PEN-F Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Sony a7 II
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