Nikon Z7 + 200-500mm w/ 2x crop or Olympus EM1x + 150-400mm f4.5??

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andrewgntm New Member • Posts: 1
Nikon Z7 + 200-500mm w/ 2x crop or Olympus EM1x + 150-400mm f4.5??

I have been an Olympus user for a few years and in the last two years have really gotten into wildlife and nature photography. I shoot with EM1.1, EM5.1, EM10.2 and the lenses that get heavy usage are the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO, 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 II, 60mm f.28 Macro, 12-40mm f2.8. I live in the tropics, spend lots of time hiking, and love the Olympus setup for its weight, weatherproofing and ease of carry.

Since I'm doing more wildlife and increasingly, bird photography, I've been thinking of upgrading at the tele end (for more reach and a faster aperture). I was initially planning on buying the 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO Lens when it comes out, but the announced price for $7,500 is beyond what I was budgeting. I'm also planning for a body upgrade (and an underwater dive housing) in 2021.

I realize that many of the wildlife images I like from other pro photographers, tend to come from full frame cameras. I'm also slightly concerned about support for Olympus cameras going forward (the Olympus support center in the country that I am in has been closed for all of November, and I can't get repairs done). These factors and the sticker price of the 150-400m f4.5 is making me consider a shift to FF or APS-C.

I've recently discovered the Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 E ED VR lens, which retails for around $1k in my city. Price wise, a new Nikon Z7 plus this lens will be less than half the price of the Oly 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO + an Oly body upgrade, and the Nikon setup will weigh ~400 grams more.

I know it's strange asking about a cropped image vs. non-cropped, but I find myself regularly using the Oly 40-150mm f2.8 at 150mm with a 2x crop, instead of using my 75-300mm f4.5-6.7 II at 300mm f6.7, for the better IQ and faster aperture. For online posts, the images are great. I haven't actually done any commercial work or print outs, but have ambitions to pursue wildlife photography more professionally, so this upgrade is one I'd like to spend on wisely (with the option for further upgrades down the road).

What I'm trying to understand:

  • Detail loss: At the furthest reach (500mm @f5.6 w/ Oly 1.25x TC on), how different would an image from the Oly setup vs. a 2x cropped image of the Nikon setup be? I understand a 2x cropped image from a Nikon Z7 would have the FOV of a m43, but with shallower depth of field and better low light performance but there would be some loss of detail (45.7mp / 4 = ~11.5 mp, vs. 20.4mp on the Olympus setup). What does this really mean in practice? (i.e. less noticeable little details? difference in color? less sharpness?) How noticeable would this difference be?
  • Trade-offs: What would be some of the trade-offs of migrating to this Nikon setup (Z7 + 200-500mm), besides the additional weight and needing to re-invest in lenses? What would be some ways the Olympus setup would be better?
  • Image stabilization: From what I can read online Olympus would have 7.5 stops of EV vs. 5.5 stops of EV on the Nikon . How believable are IS claims, and what would this difference mean in practice?

p.s. I understand the Oly 150-400mm isn't out yet, and these kinds of questions need some live tests, but I'd like to conceptually understand the differences ideally from people who've used both systems, so that I can hopefully make some decisions before end of year sales.

p.p.s Upgrading to the Oly 300mm f4, 100-400mm f5-6.3, 1.4x and 2.0x TC are options I'm considering too. For the 300mm, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable not being able to zoom (I tend to be in close jungles with animals sometimes near). For the 100-400mm, f6.3 at the tele end feels like it may not be enough, given the performance of my 75-300mm f6.7, but would love to learn more if these could be what I should get instead.

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Nikon Z7 Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M10
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