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Archive 2012 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?
  
 
coppertop
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p.1 #1 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


I'm struggling with a decision on which Micro Four Thirds camera to get. Plenty of choices but not an easy choice as to which brand.

Panasonic or Olympus?

I think image quality is close enough with either option?

Panasonic has more models with 1080p video capture but the Olympus seems to be more of a system. Panasonic only has the viewfinder attachment while the Olympus has the EVF, microphone, BT, and macro light.

Lenses don't seem to be an issue with them being cross compatible.

The models I'm considering are the Panasonic GF3 (maybe the GF2) or GX1 as well as the Olympus E-PM1 or E-PL2 (maybe the PL3).

One question to those who own the Olympus PM1 or PL2, does the lack of a grip bother you?

Any advice is appreciated.



Feb 21, 2012 at 09:39 PM
mawz
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p.1 #2 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


I'd recommend waiting for the E-M5 if you want to compare on a level playing field for IQ. The 16MP sensor is noticeably better than the old 12MP sensor that all the Oly's except the E-M5 use. For the same reason I'd skip the GF3.

Panasonic offers a range of models while Olympus offers very limited model differences but a wider range of accessories. Note that while Oly has more toys, Panasonic also offers a true video solution which can interface with professional-level kit (the AF100) in addition to the microphone they offer for the GH2 (the GH2 has a proper Audio input port, it doesn't need to rely on the EVF port for input). Panasonic does assume that you'll buy the body most suited to your desired use (ie GH2 for serious video, G3 for general use, GX1 for light carry, GF3 for P&S replacement, AF100 for pro video) rather than making the bodies more generic as Oly has.




Feb 21, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #3 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


On the "Any advice is appreciated" front, I think if you're primarily interested in video then Panasonic's GH cameras are in the lead. If you're mostly interested in still image IQ and general robustness of practicality then it goes:

Sony (because it's APS-C)
Olympus (Because it has IBIS)
Panasonic

And I dunno anything about the Ricoh or the Samsung.



Feb 21, 2012 at 10:34 PM
kwalsh
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p.1 #4 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


What do you shoot?

If it is things that move in low light - get a GX1, G3 or GH2 for the better sensor or wait for the OM-D which appears to have at least as good a sensor. All the other Olympus cameras have sensors at least one stop worse than the GX1, G3, GH2 and OM-D.

If it is things that don't move in low light and you like primes then waiting for the OM-D will likely be best and the EPs will probably still have a slight advantage over the newest Panasonic's because of IBIS.

Only shoot zooms? The IBIS doesn't matter, the Panasonic zooms have OIS. Advantage GH2, GX1, G3 or wait for OM-D.

If you honestly care about video the GH2 is your best option, OM-D may prove to be good as well.

If you care about base ISO stills quality, GH2 or wait for OM-D.

If you shoot JPEG, probably Olympus.

Of the specific models you listed the GX1 sensor is at least a stop better than the others. Again, if you shoot primes of static objects in low light hand-held then the Olympus IBIS is probably better than the GX1 sensor advantage. Any other low light condition besides that specific one and the GX1 is better.

Ken



Feb 21, 2012 at 10:48 PM
coppertop
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p.1 #5 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


Thanks... this will be an alternative to my Canon 1D Mark III when I don't want to carry a lot of camera. Probably fit it with a 17mm or 20mm lens and go from there.

I don't think I want to go as large as the M5 or GH series (odd calling them big) and prefer to stick around the PEN or GF/GX size.

I shoot a combination of JPEG and RAW. Just depends on the mood. I shoot RAW with the Canon so every now and then I like a break. I guess in a way this would be a "just for fun" camera.



Feb 22, 2012 at 12:36 AM
millsart
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p.1 #6 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


Not to knock m4/3, but if you want a compact "just for fun" type camera that you'd use with a 17mm or 20mm prime, I'd say go for a X100 instead.

Great optical/electronic hybrid viewfinder, compact size, amazing high ISO performance, beautiful Fuji JPEG color, very sharp 35mm equiv lens, exceptional fill flash ability, silent leaf shutter etc.

m4/3 is great as a system, such as being able to have 14-600mm equiv in pretty compact little kit, but if you just want a RF style body to stick a 35 or 40mm equiv prime onto, there are better options out there IMHO

coppertop wrote:
Thanks... this will be an alternative to my Canon 1D Mark III when I don't want to carry a lot of camera. Probably fit it with a 17mm or 20mm lens and go from there.

I don't think I want to go as large as the M5 or GH series (odd calling them big) and prefer to stick around the PEN or GF/GX size.

I shoot a combination of JPEG and RAW. Just depends on the mood. I shoot RAW with the Canon so every now and then I like a break. I guess in a way this would be a "just
...Show more



Feb 22, 2012 at 01:00 AM
michael49
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p.1 #7 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


coppertop wrote:
Thanks... this will be an alternative to my Canon 1D Mark III when I don't want to carry a lot of camera. Probably fit it with a 17mm or 20mm lens and go from there.

I don't think I want to go as large as the M5 or GH series (odd calling them big) and prefer to stick around the PEN or GF/GX size.

I shoot a combination of JPEG and RAW. Just depends on the mood. I shoot RAW with the Canon so every now and then I like a break. I guess in a way this would be a "just
...Show more

Given what you say here I'd consider the Pany GX1, which is the true update to the GF1.

I used to own the GF1 and the 20mm f/1.7 and I loved that combo. The 20 1.7 is as sharp as any of my Canon L's.

You'll here a lot of negativity on forums about Pany's jpeg's but I never had an issue with them except for reds getting blown (which my 5d does too).

These were all taken with the GF1 & 20 1.7 as jpegs....














































Feb 22, 2012 at 01:02 AM
coppertop
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p.1 #8 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


Nice pictures... I'm leaning towards the Panasonic line. Olympus is nice but there's something about the PEN line that I can't put my finger on that has me hesitant.

My budget likes the GF2. My gut says GX1. I like the GF3 but it's a little small for my hands and I don't know if I'd miss the hot shoe. I like the touch screen as well.

And yes, I like the idea of having a 14-600mm equiv. in such a small package. It's one of the appealing factors of the micro four thirds cameras.



Feb 22, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Jorgen Udvang
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p.1 #9 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


I don't understand this question. It's one system, choose any or both. Image quality is good with all of those cameras. Your personal needs and preferences are the deciding factors.

Two years ago, I chose a GH1 because it was what suited me best then. When the E-M5 becomes available, I will buy that. Maybe, if the GH3 or whatever it will be called is sensationally good, I'll buy that one too.



Feb 22, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Jman13
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p.1 #10 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


I owned the original E-P1, and now have owned multiple Panasonic bodies. Panasonic seems to really make cameras for photographers. Controls are very well laid out, easy to access. I didn't like the E-P1's control layout at all. That said, the new E-M5 looks to be incredible, both in image quality and usability. It seems that Olympus really concentrated hard on the experience and hit a home run. I use both the GH2 and the GX1, and I love both. The GX1 is really fun to use, and I actually tend to use it more. I also have the external EVF for it. I use my GH2 for longer lens use or more serious deliberate shooting. The tilt/swivel LCD and built in viewfinder work really well for this, and the multi-aspect sensor of the GH series is really a great feature....3:2 with no cropping.

But when I go out for off the cuff shooting I prefer to use the GX1. It handles beautifully, is really small and well built, and has great image quality. I have also been amazed at how good the little pop-up flash can be used. It can be locked into a bounce position and, at least with a fast lens, is quite useful for good quality lighting in a tiny package.

For instance, these both were shot with the GX1 and the pop-up flash, first with the Oly 45/1.8 and the second with the Panasonic Leica 25/1.4:















At low ISO, the GH2 might have a tiny, tiny bit more detail in the shadows. At high ISO, the GX1 is noticeably better, especially at 3200 and above, where it maintains accurate color and better noise control, while the GH2 moves to a green tint at really high sensitivities.

One thing I will say: If you go Panasonic...do NOT buy the GF2 or GF3...the sensor is old and way underperforming compared to something like the GX1 or the GH2. The GH1 is an older sensor, but a very good sensor, though it suffers from banding above ISO 1600. If going Olympus, the E-M5, E-P3, E-PL3 or E-PM1 are the way to go.

Take a look at the Micro 4/3 Image Thread for a bunch of samples of mine (and many other great photographers here), or go to my website...anything from the past year+ has been with Micro 4/3.

You can read my review of the GX1 here: http://admiringlight.com/blog/panasonic-lumix-dmc-gx1-review/



Feb 22, 2012 at 02:50 AM
 

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coppertop
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p.1 #11 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


Question. You mention not buying the GF2 or GF3 because the sensor is old and under performs what is installed in the GX1. But does that mean the GF2 or GF3 has poor image quality?

I can understand the GX1 being an improvement but is it an improvement over something that was terrible or over something that was good in it's own right.

The Canon 1D MKIII is an improvement over the 1D Classic but the Classic ain't shabby either.



Feb 22, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Jman13
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p.1 #12 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


The GF2 and GF3 will have fine image quality at lower ISOs. However, I find that the 12MP Panasonic sensor is really only usable until about ISO 800. ISO 1600 shots have a LOT of noise. 1600 is usable for 8x10 and smaller if you don't mind noise, but 3200 is basically mush. The GX1 is at least two full stops better at high ISO, and has a finer grained look at low ISO, and therefore the shots are more malleable at lower ISO. That said, the GF2 and GF3 at lower ISOs will provide quality images.

Here's a quick comparison I took with my GH2 and my old G1, which has the same sensor as the GF2 and GF3.

ISO 800...GH2 on left, G1 on right...these are center and corner 100% crops from a set scene.






ISO 1600:






ISO 3200:






Keep in mind at ISO 1600 and 3200, the GX1 is about a third stop better than the GH2 in pure noise, and much better in color response and dynamic range.

The GX1 is also much better in the controls department than the GF2 and GF3...much more direct control access, and the GF3 is missing a hotshoe. I'd honestly rather purchase a used GF1 than the GF3, as it has the same image quality, but a better build and more direct control...more akin to the GX1 than the other GF cameras as far as build and controls go.



Feb 22, 2012 at 04:18 AM
goosemang
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p.1 #13 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


this is slightly off topic, but i thought this may be a good thread to ask this question:

what kind of prints are you able to get out of the current 4/3 sensors? can you get good results at, say, 11x14 or 11x17 or 12x18?

i'm also intrigued by the system (particularly the size), but am not really sure if it's for me.



Feb 22, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Jman13
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p.1 #14 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


I've printed 16x24 prints with my GH2 that are outstanding. Current micro 4/3 cameras have better image quality than APS-C cameras from a few years ago, and in my opinion make outstanding 12x18s, very good 16x24s and would even make quite nice 20x30" prints.


Feb 22, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Qwerty64
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p.1 #15 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


I can't live without built-in image stabilization. Being able to shoot handheld as slow shutter speeds with all my lenses is amazing - can never go back to a body without it. Olympus for me.


Feb 22, 2012 at 07:09 PM
coppertop
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p.1 #16 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


Eh.. bit the bullet and went with the GX1.

Oh... side note... if you're looking for a Olympus E-P3, there's a great deal in the Buy/Sell forum.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1086435/0#10369134

Almost pulled the trigger on it but there's something about the Panasonic that kept pulling me in.



Feb 22, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #17 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


coppertop wrote:
I shoot a combination of JPEG and RAW. Just depends on the mood. I shoot RAW with the Canon so every now and then I like a break. I guess in a way this would be a "just for fun" camera.


From what I've seen and heard the New Oly engine produces better JPegs than the new Pany engine.



Feb 22, 2012 at 09:17 PM
bigkidneys
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p.1 #18 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


I have both the EP3 and GH2. Love the colors from the EP3 and only shoot raw with the GH2. The feature I love most about the GH2 in the multi-aspect sensor with no cropping for 3:2. Most likely selling one or both as I also have the Nex 7 so plan on doing a shoot out in the next couple days to see which system I stick with. I love having the IBIS option so most likely will sell the GH2. Also have some lenses as well if I sell my M 4/3 system if anyone is interested... Panny 25, Panny 45 macro, Panny 100-300, Oly 45/1.8... Really love the system but can't afford both it and the Nex 7 system.


Feb 22, 2012 at 09:42 PM
elkhornsun
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p.1 #19 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


Built in image stabilization is for the most part worthless. I have an Olympus E-PL1 and it is a great little camera weighing only 17 ounces with its 14-42mm zoom lens. IS though is pathetic and I ignore it and shoot at a high shutter speed to get sharp pictures.

When I first bought the camera I took it to a nearby harbor and shot in bright sunlight alongside a Nikon DSLR with a 70-200mm f2.8 optically stabilized lens. There was no comparison. Shots at 1/160s with the Olympus showed camera motion blur while with the Nikon I could be at 1/40s and have sharp pictures - all shots at 84mm FOV which the Olympus provides at its 42mm setting.

Part of the problem with in camera optical stabilization is that the camera is not braced against the user's face but is held out so that they can compose the scene using the rear display. Holding a regular DSLR in this manner would be considered very poor technique but that is what users of mirrorless cameras have to do.



Feb 25, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Jman13
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p.1 #20 · Best Micro Four Thirds System? Olympus or Panasonic?


Except when you're using a viewfinder...like with the E-M5 and with the add on viewfinder on any of the small form factor cameras


Feb 25, 2012 at 03:19 AM
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