FF + mFT: A 5 Year Summary

Started Oct 19, 2017 | Discussions
MEDISN
MEDISN Contributing Member • Posts: 768
FF + mFT: A 5 Year Summary
34

I’m a hobbyist going on 30 years in photography (the last 10 seriously).  In 2012, I purchased the new Canon 5DmkIII as a workhorse/portrait/low-light camera, in addition to the new OM-D E-M5 for travel/family/vacation/fun, and to backup the Canon with different focal lengths while shooting in good light. That was the plan anyway.

After 5-years using both camera systems, I mined my Lightroom statistics/keywords in anticipation of upgrading either or both systems. My primary interest was determining how I was using each camera. If you are a Lightroom user, this is a really fun way to look at how you shoot: https://www.lightroomdashboard.com

This is in no way scientific, simply observations. Some I expected to find, some surprised me.

Lightroom statistics and keyword summaries from 2012 - 2017

Overall the E-M5 saw more use – a direct result of being carried more often.  Keeper rate was similar for both cameras.  Keeper Rate was number of photos retained in Lightroom catalog divided by total shutter actuations.  I rate each photo, 1 being junk (usually deleted), 2 usable but flawed, 3 average, 4 great, 5 excellent.  Over the 5-year period, slightly more 4- and 5-star photos for the E-M5 but not a significant difference in my mind.

Portraits

Clearly, I favored FF for portrait use (one of the reasons I purchased).  In fact, I was surprised to see almost 30% of the portraits in my catalog came from the Olympus.  If we factor in geography (map module), most of the Olympus portraits originated some distance from home, whereas Canon portraits were within a 10-mile radius of where I live.  More often than not "kids" keyword appeared in E-M5 portraits.

Landscapes

This one surprised me – I expected to do more landscape work with the Canon.  After becoming familiar with both cameras, I saw little practical difference between images and dynamic range between the two in good lighting. The FF certainly more forgiving for crops and low light work but held back for being less portable.  Toward the end of the 5-year period, close to 85% of landscape shots were coming from the E-M5.  Easy to get good results from a camera that traveled well.  To be clear, I wouldn’t consider either of these cameras to be landscape powerhouses despite them suiting my needs.

Kids/Family

With a young and growing family, this is one of my most common types of shooting by volume.  This is pumpkin patch, zoo, trimming the tree, backyard play, birthday party’s kind of photography.  The fun stuff!  The stuff most people shoot with their cell phones.  The mFT had three clear advantages in this category:  (1) It’s not at all intimidating, especially to kids.  (2) Face-Eye priority autofocus.  (3) I could stick it my pocket and forget about it.  As much as I love shooting the 5DIII + 70-200, it’s a lot to point at a kid.  My kids are used to it, but in mixed company, the 5DIII attracts so much attention.  I’m there to have a good time and capture a few memories not put on a photo shoot (as my wife likes to remind me).  While the Canon does face-priority AF in LiveView mode, I prefer keeping my eye in the viewfinder, especially outdoors – a big plus for the OM-D.

City/Travel

My second most common type of shooting.  I travel for work and leisure so portability is key.  I have a flat case not much larger than my Bose Quiet Comfort headphone case that fits the EM-5 and two lenses.  It holds a permanent place in my messenger bag making impromptu photo walks possible wherever I travel. This is the reason I was drawn to mFT and it shows in this category.  The 6% from the Canon are almost exclusively in my hometown.  My 5DIII has only been to three states not named North Carolina.

ISO

This is one of the fun things you learn about yourself with the Lightroom dashboard link I posted above.  I am not a low light shooter.  The vast majority of my work lives at base ISO. 90% of my E-M5 use came at ISO 400 or less and my 5DIII use at ISO 1600 or less.  I have no problem shooting 3200 on the Olympus which is my ceiling in AutoISO. Most of the time it just isn’t necessary. Moving forward, I don’t think high-ISO performance will be included in my future purchase decisions.

Final Thoughts

The best camera is indeed the one you have with you.  Both of these cameras have been solid over the course of 5-years, I have no regrets with either system.  I tend to use them…differently.  If I had to have one, it would be the mFT for practicality.  Luckily, I don’t have to choose, I can have as many cameras as my wife allows   I’m in no hurry to purchase another FF DSLR.  I have tried to embrace the A7 series but my attempts to warm to it end in disappointment.  Like others, I am waiting to see what the A7III series brings as well as mirrorless offerings from Canikon.  My EF glass isn’t going anywhere.

I'm curious to hear from other multi-system shooters.  Are your experiences similar?

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Gregm61 Forum Pro • Posts: 15,663
Re: FF + mFT: A 5 Year Summary
2

Excellent write-up.

I tend to drift between my two systems (Leica M262 and E-M1 Mark II). Did Alberta, Canada last month with the Leica. White Sands National Monument was definitely one where the Olympus excelled due to the dusty conditions. I think the Leica could accumulate dust on the sensor sitting in my office and never changing lenses. In a couple of weeks I'll be in West Texas hiking in canyon country with the Olympus.

I'll often go weeks using one system while the other sits. No rhyme or reason. I'll just get an urge to use one over the other.

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zuikowesty
zuikowesty Veteran Member • Posts: 4,111
Re: FF + mFT: A 5 Year Summary

Interesting tool, thanks for the info. I will have to give it a try.

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zuikowesty
zuikowesty Veteran Member • Posts: 4,111
Re: FF + mFT: A 5 Year Summary

zuikowesty wrote:

Interesting tool, thanks for the info. I will have to give it a try.

I used the offline converter to reduce my catalog size, but it was still very slow to process. I assume you must have processed several separate catalogs to get the breakdowns that you did. I have all my photos in a single catalog, so only major trends are possible without breaking it down further.

Right away, I can see that I use the ends of each zoom by far the most, with 12mm being by far the most popular FL, followed by 7 and 40, then 150, 14 and 32, representing the ends of the zooms I've used in the past 8 years: 12-32, 12-40, 12-50, 14-42, 14-54, 7-14 and 40-150. The only other focal lengths between 12-40 which stand out at all are 17 and 21mm, which is interesting, since a 17mm is the one prime I would like to get.

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shinndigg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,911
I'm curious...
2

would a lens like the forthcoming 45 1.2 motivate you to use m43rds for portraits more frequently?

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shinndigg
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Kiwi Mike Regular Member • Posts: 100
Re: I'm curious...
1

Thank you so much for your excellent write up, very much appreciate your sharing your experience with both systems . I am just getting started in MFT after 40 years with Nikon and other than a few agonizing times at first I am now really enjoying my EM5m2 and comparing the results from the Olympus to my Nikons (D3 & D3s) I am rather amazed at how good the little Olympus is and the small size/weight is a bonus.

Best regards.

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Mike

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Cornu Regular Member • Posts: 119
Re: I'm curious...
3

shinndigg wrote:

would a lens like the forthcoming 45 1.2 motivate you to use m43rds for portraits more frequently?

Don't know about the OP, but for me, getting a 42/1.8 obviously was the tipping point that made my switch from FF (Canon 5D) to mFT (Pana G6, YI) complete.

I can only recommend anyone doing portraits trying this lens category.

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glassoholic
glassoholic Senior Member • Posts: 3,936
Re: FF + mFT: A 5 Year Summary

Fascinating... and thanks for sharing.

If you have the coin, I reckon a Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 (or forthcoming Oly 45mm f1.2) will "cure" you of the 85mm you like to obviously shoot at f2 yet m43 will be similar at f1.2 (perspective and bokeh) and be a much smaller less intimidating outfit as you seem to like and the Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 is incredibly small and should put your 70-200mm "out of business". And then there is the EM1 Mkii which has noticably better IQ than the EM5... hmmm.

As you say, it is the camera you enjoy taking out that matters and m43 is growing into a lovely mature system with bodies and lenses from mild to wild that should satisfy almost all situations.

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MEDISN
OP MEDISN Contributing Member • Posts: 768
Re: I'm curious...
2

zuikowesty wrote:

I used the offline converter to reduce my catalog size, but it was still very slow to process. I assume you must have processed several separate catalogs to get the breakdowns that you did. I have all my photos in a single catalog, so only major trends are possible without breaking it down further.

Right away, I can see that I use the ends of each zoom by far the most, with 12mm being by far the most popular FL, followed by 7 and 40, then 150, 14 and 32, representing the ends of the zooms I've used in the past 8 years: 12-32, 12-40, 12-50, 14-42, 14-54, 7-14 and 40-150. The only other focal lengths between 12-40 which stand out at all are 17 and 21mm, which is interesting, since a 17mm is the one prime I would like to get.

When I drag and drop my catalog it takes about 15 seconds to process and provide results. Maybe dependent on your internet connection?

shinndigg wrote:

would a lens like the forthcoming 45 1.2 motivate you to use m43rds for portraits more frequently?

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shinndigg
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Likely yes, it's something I've been mulling for a while.  I picked up the 45 f/1.8 new from BH Photo for $99 last month and I'm fairly impressed by the rendering for how small it is.  It will likely go in my travel kit and I'm strongly considering the upcoming PRO 45mm or Nocticron for portrait work on the EM1mkII (I purchased in November).  In the meantime, I enjoy the EF 85mm 1.2 so no rush to spend more $$$ on the same type of lens as long as I have my 5DIII.

If I were starting out today from scratch though I would likely stick to mFT cameras and lenses as the incremental advantages of FF just don't pan out for me according to how I shoot.  Seems pointless to invest all that money in a second system that caters to the 10% of photographs I take where FF offers an advantage.  But I have all this L glass I don't want to let go of!

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SamKnopf Regular Member • Posts: 436
I hardly ever use my FF Sony
2

My experience is much more uneven than yours, in that I use M43 much more than FF.

I originally had a Canon 5D Mark II.   I took it on an overseas trip several years ago, alongside a Panasonic G3.   I found the latter much more enjoyable to use, and the photo quality not seriously different.  I really liked having an EVF to review photos on site, rather than looking at them through the LCD (not very effective in bright light).

After that I sold the Canon gear and bought a Sony A7 to retain access to full frame.

I find myself rarely using the A7.   I have not invested in any of the bulky, very expensive lenses for it that are reputed to be of high quality.   The normal zoom lenses available for it are of much lower quality than comparable M43 ones.   I shoot mainly landscapes and architecture, and prefer the greater DOF offered by M43.

I also bought an A6000 as a backup for the A7.   I rarely use it, as the lower quality of the lenses outweighs the slightly higher quality of the sensor for outdoor use.   I have an 18-105 f/4 for it.   That does make it more capable for indoor photos using high ISO, such as weddings or parties, and I do use it for that in preference to my M43 gear.

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richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,100
Re: FF + mFT: A 5 Year Summary
1

MEDISN wrote:

I'm curious to hear from other multi-system shooters. Are your experiences similar?

My experiences are different: I use a Sony A7Rii along with my MFT system (GX7 and GX8). I don't have Lightroom, so I can't prepare a summary as you did (quite a fascinating and revealing summary, by the way!)

My guess would be that my use is 2:1 for the Sony. Most of my photography is out in nature, and I like the large sensor resolution for landscapes and flowers.

I was pleasantly surprised at how mirrorless has made FF camera bodies relatively small. My A7Rii is about the same size as my GX8. I use mostly prime lenses on the Sony, and the small FE 2.8/35 is an excellent general purpose lens.

The FF zoom I use is the UWA FE 4/12-24 G, and the 12mm is very useful for architecture, which I do a fair amount of.

Hotel Rotunda. 12mm

(I'm photographing cabin interiors for a mountain resort and the 12mm is handy in the tiny rooms.)

Size and weight are interesting: The GX8 + 100-400mm is larger/heavier than any of my FF combinations. Yet I don't mind carrying it on nature hikes. I'll often bring my Sony + 2.8/50 Macro along.

For as long as I can remember, I've used more than one camera system. Each has its uses.

- Richard

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Photo graphic Forum Member • Posts: 75
Ditto (me too)...
1

SamKnopf wrote:

My experience is much more uneven than yours, in that I use M43 much more than FF.

I originally had a Canon 5D Mark II. I took it on an overseas trip several years ago, alongside a Panasonic G3. I found the latter much more enjoyable to use, and the photo quality not seriously different. I really liked having an EVF to review photos on site, rather than looking at them through the LCD (not very effective in bright light).

After that I sold the Canon gear and bought a Sony A7 to retain access to full frame.

I find myself rarely using the A7. I have not invested in any of the bulky, very expensive lenses for it that are reputed to be of high quality. The normal zoom lenses available for it are of much lower quality than comparable M43 ones. I shoot mainly landscapes and architecture, and prefer the greater DOF offered by M43.

I also bought an A6000 as a backup for the A7. I rarely use it, as the lower quality of the lenses outweighs the slightly higher quality of the sensor for outdoor use. I have an 18-105 f/4 for it. That does make it more capable for indoor photos using high ISO, such as weddings or parties, and I do use it for that in preference to my M43 gear.

I've owned everything from the NEX5 to the A6500.  The IQ different so many tout just isn't there, especially when lenses are taken into consideration.  In fact, in my experience it is usually worse.  To be fair the resolution is greater.

The size of the old NEX5 was amazingly small, but the relatively giant lenses, killed the whole experience.   In the past 4 years the lenses have only gotten larger and more expensive, and of course there no longer are any APSC specific lenses.

I've also owned the A7s (still do), the A7ii, and the A7Rii.    The bodies are similar in size to the E-M1.  But again the size of the lenses kill the "small" experience.  There was an article about how the D750 and a range of Nikon lenses is smaller and lighter than the A7 with a similar range of lenses, and I know people who have found the same with their kits.

If I only used wide angle lenses exclusively, I'd stick with the A7 series.   But once lenses larger than 60mm are used, the size difference (and usually PRICE) starts to take its toll.

One other thing I found.   The Sony "5 axis IS" is terrible compared to Olympus.  Video still looks jerky and long handheld exposures far more difficult  (over 1 second are near impossible).

ahaslett
ahaslett Senior Member • Posts: 5,198
Re: Ditto (me too)...
2

Photo graphic wrote:

SamKnopf wrote:

My experience is much more uneven than yours, in that I use M43 much more than FF.

I originally had a Canon 5D Mark II. I took it on an overseas trip several years ago, alongside a Panasonic G3. I found the latter much more enjoyable to use, and the photo quality not seriously different. I really liked having an EVF to review photos on site, rather than looking at them through the LCD (not very effective in bright light).

After that I sold the Canon gear and bought a Sony A7 to retain access to full frame.

I find myself rarely using the A7. I have not invested in any of the bulky, very expensive lenses for it that are reputed to be of high quality. The normal zoom lenses available for it are of much lower quality than comparable M43 ones. I shoot mainly landscapes and architecture, and prefer the greater DOF offered by M43.

I also bought an A6000 as a backup for the A7. I rarely use it, as the lower quality of the lenses outweighs the slightly higher quality of the sensor for outdoor use. I have an 18-105 f/4 for it. That does make it more capable for indoor photos using high ISO, such as weddings or parties, and I do use it for that in preference to my M43 gear.

I've owned everything from the NEX5 to the A6500. The IQ different so many tout just isn't there, especially when lenses are taken into consideration. In fact, in my experience it is usually worse. To be fair the resolution is greater.

The size of the old NEX5 was amazingly small, but the relatively giant lenses, killed the whole experience. In the past 4 years the lenses have only gotten larger and more expensive, and of course there no longer are any APSC specific lenses.

I've also owned the A7s (still do), the A7ii, and the A7Rii. The bodies are similar in size to the E-M1. But again the size of the lenses kill the "small" experience. There was an article about how the D750 and a range of Nikon lenses is smaller and lighter than the A7 with a similar range of lenses, and I know people who have found the same with their kits.

If I only used wide angle lenses exclusively, I'd stick with the A7 series. But once lenses larger than 60mm are used, the size difference (and usually PRICE) starts to take its toll.

One other thing I found. The Sony "5 axis IS" is terrible compared to Olympus. Video still looks jerky and long handheld exposures far more difficult (over 1 second are near impossible).

I combine an EM1.1 and a GM1 with an A7R2.  The A7R2 only has primes, although my Canon 300/4 does double duty between MFT and FE.

In principle it's zooms for MFT and primes for FE.  My only direct duplication is the 90G macro with the mighty Zuiko 50/2 macro.

I probably take more images with MFT but the A7R2 definitely has a place.

Andrew

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Bobby J Veteran Member • Posts: 4,828
Re: FF + mFT: A 5 Year Summary

Really an interesting commentary.  Kind of confirms what I already knew about m4:3.

Thank you for posting this informative and useful information.

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BJM

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webservants
webservants Senior Member • Posts: 1,001
Re: FF + mFT: A 5 Year Summary

Nice tool.

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blessings,
Steven

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