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Archive 2016 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE
  
 
austinschutz
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


I am in a bit of a quandary. A while ago I purchased a voigtlander 180mm f/4 SL II for what (at the time) was a bargain, but its price has increased to the point where I have decided to sell it along with an OM 50mm f/2 macro which is excellent, but I use only infrequently. Around Christmas, I should also have a little north of $1,000 saved up, which should leave me about $3,000 (we will say $3,200 if I stretch a little) to put together a complete system. I am in graduate school, and I have decided that having a solid all-around kit for photography is going to be really beneficial to my wellbeing (because grad school is insane and photography is my outlet); and that also means that this will likely be my last gear purchase for a long time (and since I'm still shooting a NEX 5, you know that I'm perfectly happy hanging on to gear FOREVER).

What I typically shoot (see my flickr if curious):
- Landscapes/cityscapes/old buildings
- Large wildlife
- Portraiture
- Some macro
- rarely, some events

What I can't really shoot that I would like to do a little of:
- Birds that aren't right next to me
- Small wildlife
- things that move faster than I can manually focus
- astro

What I am struggling to decide, is whether or not to go full frame with Sony, or with m4/3. I am aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both systems, and I had access to a Panasonic GH4 for about a year (last year) along with a Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 and an Olympus 45mm f/1.8. I really, really liked the Panasonic. It was very responsive, and in most situations, it didn't leave me disappointed. For 95% of what I did, the Panasonic was a better option than my Sony APS-C body (an NEX 5). The only time it disappointed was occasionally in low-light situations (I was comfortable to ISO 1600, 3200 was occasionally useful) and sometimes the DR wasn't quite enough for a scene (I learned that the GH4 overexposes slightly compared to my NEX 5, so that improved a bit over time). Also, the weather sealing advantage is actually a pretty big deal for me. I'm aware that not all of the lenses are weather sealed, but the fact that some are is great, and I trust Olympus/Panasonic weather sealing over Sony's "splash-proofing".

But the other option is to fulfill a dream that I've had since high school, to get a full frame camera. I've fiddled a bit with the A7 and I hate the placement of the shutter button, so I'd definitely go with an a7II. In the past I've thought I was close to being able to get a full frame camera, and I almost got an a7, but tried it out and disliked the ergonomics so I bought the VC 180 as a nice little telephoto for when the A7II prices dropped.

The decision I'm having trouble with is the fact that with m4/3 I'd be able to put together a much more "complete" selection of lenses than I could with full frame. But with the Sony I'd be gaining "absolute quality", and it plays a bit nicer with manual focus lenses (IMO). The second point is only semi-important to me. Obviously, lots of people take fantastic photos with both systems. By my rough estimations, with how I expect prices to drop through the new year and a teeny bit of budget stretching, this is about what I could choose between:

Sony A7II + 28-70 (If I can get a ZA 24-70 f/4 instead, I will)
Sony FE 70-300 (I'd really prefer an AF prime)
Pentax M 20mm f/4 (hopefully Sony will release a budget UWA, in which case I'd get that and the 50mm f/1.8)
Sony 28mm (unless Sony releases a budget UWA)
(and I would still have my Canon 55mm FL f/1.2)

OR

Olympus OM-D EM-5II
Olympus 9-18mm
P/L 12-35mm f/2.8
P/L 35-100mm f/4-5.6
P/L 100-300mm
P/L 25mm f/1.4
Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7
Panasonic GM5 + 12-32mm (for kicks and giggles)

Sorry for all the words, I'm just having a lot of trouble deciding what route to go. Ultimately I know that I will be happy with either one...it's just a hard decisions (that I have a few months to think about) and I'd love a bit of input. If you have different ideas for what might be *good* for my needs, certainly feel free to contribute a different lens/camera lineup (but note that I'm only considering Sony/m43). I don't do video, so that isn't a concern. Thanks!!!

Examples of what I shoot:

















Oct 23, 2016 at 04:27 AM
Frogfish
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


Personally, for what you shoot, and are hoping to shoot, I'd go with a Sony (I'm not sure if the A7ii solved the sensor reflection issue - a problem for cityscapes) not only for the FF but also that for you, going forward, as you don't anticipate having a lot of spare cash, you could still pick up a lot of superb older MF glass (much of which now has acceptable AF with the Techart Pro) that would look great on a FF Sony.

However I'll temper opinion though by stating clearly that I have no experience of the Oly/Panasonics (though have read good reviews on FM) so people with experience of both may be better placed to comment on it's suitability for your use.

As a bird photographer I'd say forgot distant birds and wildlife, they are only going to confuse the issue for you because they really do require specialised equipment to get great shots that will satisfy most people. Bar the outliers some people will post saying .. "I got this shot of a rampaging tiger with an iPhone"



Oct 23, 2016 at 06:58 AM
joshinthecity
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


A7II
M Adaptor.
50mm Leica glass.

A long lens for wildlife if you absolutely must.
The end.
j.



Oct 23, 2016 at 07:30 AM
justruss
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


For what you currently mostly shoot: Sony. No question-- if IQ is the most important factor.

For what you want to shoot a little more of: m43 is probably better, but the Sony, with the right lenses, may suffice. It is, after all, not your priority areas; my answer might be reversed if your priorities were reversed.

That said, consider the lenses. I'm not sure I'd recommend the Sony system for primary use with the 28-70. Better to go primes, in that case, and extract more advantage in IQ/speed. The 28mm and 50mm (AF is subpar) aren't a bad place to start. If you want to do some longer stuff, the 70-300 is also a nice choice. As your budget grow, you can decide what lenses an FLs to prioritize for upgrades/filling out. And then, on the next body update, you can expect a system that even better addresses your "new areas" of shooting desires.

But that's one perspective-- from someone who would never even consider m43 himself.

The best thing to do is probably... try.



Oct 23, 2016 at 08:14 AM
notherenow
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


I use both FF Sony and M4/3 and they each have a place.

I have now only a couple of Native lenses for each and use a mix of adapted lenses as well. Using Canon lenses on both saves buying more lenses than I would otherwise have and each can serve a very different purpose on each camera.

The A7s is my main camera (I shoot a lot at night) but I still love my GX7 too.



Oct 23, 2016 at 08:42 AM
telyt
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


Bearing in mind I haven't used m4/3, the Sony a7II has served me well except for a few things that move too quickly for manual focus (I have no AF lenses). For wildlife, good manual-focus lenses can be quite affordable; I use Canon FD 300mm f/4 L and 500mm f/4.5 L (along with a not-affordable Leica 280mm f/4). The 500 requires real commitment to use well while the 300 has broader application. Birds that aren't right next to you will be difficult (i.e., you'd be using the 500mm lens plus you'll be working on improving your field skills) but aside from this these lenses have worked well for me.

500mm lens using the truck as a blind
http://www.wildlightphoto.com/birds/accipitridae/circus/noharr14.jpg


300mm lens using a blind in my yard
http://www.wildlightphoto.com/birds/corvidae/aphelocoma/casjay09.jpg


Extension tubes to reduce the minimum focus distance of these lenses can be handy.



Oct 23, 2016 at 10:20 AM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


You don't mention what your output is (ie large prints, small prints, web only). If you want to make large prints then FF Sony is definitely a good goal, but based on everything else you've said if you don't need large prints then I would either go for the m4/3 system because of other advantages you've already mentioned/below, or I'd go for the system which felt better in my hands/taking images.

More (and better) lenses within your budget
Weatherproof if you choose the right combo
Better AF (I think for the OMD 5II over the A7II)

Ergonomics is up to you, but check the OMD before you buy if you go that route. It is NOT the GH4. The A7 series definitely had the shutter button in the wrong place but look at all the controls of the A7II and the m4/3 series and see which seems better.



Oct 23, 2016 at 12:35 PM
austinschutz
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


Output is typically just on the computer, but I do make quite a few smaller prints and the occasional large print. Thanks for all the great input so far, a lot to think about but it is helping me clarify my priorities.


Oct 23, 2016 at 03:41 PM
austinschutz
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


joshinthecity wrote:
A7II
M Adaptor.
50mm Leica glass.

A long lens for wildlife if you absolutely must.
The end.
j.


I think if a 50mm lens were my priority, I'd probably get the VC 50 1.5. I like its rendering much more than any other 50mm lens. I've made due over the past 5 years with essentially my Sony NEX 5 and Canon 55mm f/1.2 FL. It means I have to stitch all of my landscape photos, I can't get wide shots with one click of the shutter, and things that are too far away are impossible to capture. I'm really trying to avoid that



Oct 23, 2016 at 03:44 PM
darrellc
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


I used a huge m4/3 kit for a long time, ran Sony and m4/3 in parallel and ultimately divested m4/3 as the Sony system matured. Had GH4, EM1, GM5, towards the end etc. and most of the glass you are considering.

Two key impressions:

1. The A7x bodies shine with the best glass, and the glass lineup you are suggesting seems kind of weak. Fewer, better glass choices may give you greater satisfaction with the FF choice.

2. That's a huge lineup of glass on m4/3 that covers every possible shooting situation. The opposite of your current gear lineup. That's a rapid and dramatic change. If you go the m4/3 route, a progressive approach slowly adding used glass might make more sense until you land on the lineup you want and actually use.

The two systems you are considering seem very different to me. Perhaps if you could enumerate your decision criteria and kind of weight or prioritize them, it might be useful. Try to get out more of your thinking about about what appeals between the two proposed kits.

Also, I think this is key, given you are operating under budget constraints, what are your most important focal lengths / shooting scenarios that you want to optimize for. I think if you could surface those things and make them explicit, it might make it easier for others to help. Is a mid-range zoom critical to have - would you be happier with two great primes in the same range like the FE 28/FE 55? An FE 70-300 will take up 1/3 your budget. How important is your wildlife shooting, do you need AF there?

My guess, given how you tend to shoot with the Nex and 55/1.2 combo now primarily, is that you might be well served with the A7II and 3 or maybe 4 high quality (don't have to be expensive if OK with some MF) lenses. I glanced at your Flickr and some really nice low light, landscape, portrait pics there. Both systems could deliver, but seems like Sony FF is right up your alley based on your Flickr photo stream!



Oct 23, 2016 at 04:43 PM
 

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goto_dengo
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


I'd go for the A7II with a few primes, pursuing the ultimate quality angle, but recognize you might still be limited on 3 of your 4 things you'd like to add:

- Birds that aren't right next to me - Small wildlife - things that move faster than I can manually focus

Your other wishlist item--astro--would be extremely well-served by the A7II + Rokinon 14mm + Sony 28mm f2, I would think, both of which makes tons of sense for any Sony FF kit.

I also love the 28mm for wider portrait, and especially street type shooting, and it's more than fine for landscapes stopped down.

Fill in the rest with budget adapted glass. In my case, I also shoot the Contax G2 45mm and 90mm with manual focus adapters. Quality is just ridiculously good. Extreme contrast perhaps unflattering for portraits, and 45mm sometimes has ugly bokeh. No problem--grab some other cheap adapted character glass for portraits.

Additional A7II caveats:
You mention weather sealing is important to you. The A7II has it, but it's not so great. See Roger Cicala's teardown here. Based on anecdotal data I've come across, I have to assume that a few drops of water, in the wrong places, are capable of killing my A7RII.

Also, while the A7II solved most of the sensor reflection issues of the earlier cameras, it can still be an issue. Make sure you've researched that, and that it's not going to bother you.


Edited on Oct 23, 2016 at 05:43 PM · View previous versions



Oct 23, 2016 at 05:40 PM
timde
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


You might find that the new Sony A6500 is offering the best of both worlds. There are quite a few high quality Zeiss FF lens which would work on that system, and I believe there are a few general purpose zooms at various price points, both APS-C and FF, which would give good reach on the APS-C sized sensor of the A6500.


Oct 23, 2016 at 05:41 PM
austinschutz
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


darrellc wrote:
I used a huge m4/3 kit for a long time, ran Sony and m4/3 in parallel and ultimately divested m4/3 as the Sony system matured. Had GH4, EM1, GM5, towards the end etc. and most of the glass you are considering.

Two key impressions:

1. The A7x bodies shine with the best glass, and the glass lineup you are suggesting seems kind of weak. Fewer, better glass choices may give you greater satisfaction with the FF choice.

2. That's a huge lineup of glass on m4/3 that covers every possible shooting situation. The opposite of your current gear lineup. That's a rapid
...Show more

I certainly think in the long run, the Sony FF system is probably better for me, if I got m4/3 now it would just be to last through grad school, and maybe that's the answer I need to think about. Addressing your points

1. Yes, it probably is weak. The GH4 + 12-35mm made me appreciate having a high-quality standard zoom...but in general, I do enjoy primes more. It's just a matter of flexibility vs. performance and right now I don't have much flexibility. If I were to imagine an ideal lineup it would be something like:

20
24-105
35
50
85
135
300

But I probably need to think about what lenses are actually going to meet my expectations.

2. Yup, that's the appeal...but you are right, I probably wouldn't use all of it to its fullest (I imagine the PL 25/1.4 would be my most used).

EDIT:
3. Addressing this:
"Also, I think this is key, given you are operating under budget constraints, what are your most important focal lengths / shooting scenarios that you want to optimize for. I think if you could surface those things and make them explicit, it might make it easier for others to help. Is a mid-range zoom critical to have - would you be happier with two great primes in the same range like the FE 28/FE 55?"

I really would like a high quality walkabout zoom; but it wouldn't be a deal breaker to go with two primes. The Zony 24-70/4 with all its flaws, seems good enough with the prices that it is going for now. But I've obviously never used it. In terms of the telephoto, I don't think having autofocus is all that critical for me. It would be convenient, but perhaps an mf prime would be better. UWA (but not absurdly wide because the distortion characteristics are just a little bit too intense for my tastes) is a high priority and the Pentax 20mm f/4 seems like a decent, but not stellar performer, I've really enjoyed my Voigtlander on APS-C (270 equivalent) so I think a 300 would be nice; and I use it enough for landscape stuff to think it is justified.

The appeal of m4/3 for me is that it still performs well, the lenses are compact, and it is a "cheaper" investment...but there are also some scenarios where the GH4 failed me a bit that the A7 wouldn't (primarily DR, but the multiexposure on the EM5II solves that in many scenarios) wheras the A7 might be worse in a couple other scenarios (AF, flexibility, weather sealing, size). I just need to decide if the flexibility is worth it for me, because in most other areas the A7 is more attractive.


Edited on Oct 23, 2016 at 06:46 PM · View previous versions



Oct 23, 2016 at 06:28 PM
austinschutz
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


timde wrote:
You might find that the new Sony A6500 is offering the best of both worlds. There are quite a few high quality Zeiss FF lens which would work on that system, and I believe there are a few general purpose zooms at various price points, both APS-C and FF, which would give good reach on the APS-C sized sensor of the A6500.


I think if I did go with APS-C I'd likely go with the A6000 since the A6500 doesn't really offer all that much in price savings over full frame. I also find myself a bit underwhelmed with APS-C, I don't like that the crop factor makes things more telephoto...on the otherhand, m4/3 has the right balance of utilizing that crop factor to make lenses much smaller, while still giving great output (and enough options that my complaints on the wide end are effectively addressed).



Oct 23, 2016 at 06:32 PM
austinschutz
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


goto_dengo wrote:
I'd go for the A7II with a few primes, pursuing the ultimate quality angle, but recognize you might still be limited on 3 of your 4 things you'd like to add:

Your other wishlist item--astro--would be extremely well-served by the A7II + Rokinon 14mm + Sony 28mm f2, I would think, both of which makes tons of sense for any Sony FF kit.

I also love the 28mm for wider portrait, and especially street type shooting, and it's more than fine for landscapes stopped down.

Fill in the rest with budget adapted glass. In my case, I also shoot the Contax G2 45mm
...Show more

I'm assuming you are talking about the MF version? I will keep it in mind. I'd kind of like a light/small option on the UWA end because I imagine that I will use it as a walkabout quite a bit...but the 28/2 would probably suffice for that purpose just find. Thanks for the link, if I go with an A7 I'll probably have to invest in a raincoat for my camera (I know there are a couple options). Thank you!



Oct 23, 2016 at 06:42 PM
taran
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


When A7iii comes out with touchscreen focus it will make the system far more usable, and negate an m43 advantage... I would just wait for that.


Oct 23, 2016 at 09:46 PM
aeonsim
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


I'd also suggest going A7ii.

One thought would be that with your current budget the 70-300 eats up 1/3rd which seems disproportionate unless 1/3rd of your shots are in that range. It maybe heresy but have you considered say the E-mount APS-C 55-200 if you need autofocus? In crop mode on the A7ii it'll give you 10MP and an equivalent reach for 1/3rd the price. Or if you don't need AF you could pick up any basic 70-300mm lens and adapt it.

That would leave enough money to pick up something like a Sony 35mm F2.8 (for 20, 28, 35mm), or Samyang 14mm for Astro. Or with the savings and the money your were planning to spend on the Sony 28mm you might be able to get a Second hand Batis 25mm or one of the other nice FE primes.



Oct 23, 2016 at 11:45 PM
austinschutz
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


aeonsim wrote:
I'd also suggest going A7ii.

One thought would be that with your current budget the 70-300 eats up 1/3rd which seems disproportionate unless 1/3rd of your shots are in that range. It maybe heresy but have you considered say the E-mount APS-C 55-200 if you need autofocus? In crop mode on the A7ii it'll give you 10MP and an equivalent reach for 1/3rd the price. Or if you don't need AF you could pick up any basic 70-300mm lens and adapt it.

That would leave enough money to pick up something like a Sony 35mm F2.8 (for 20, 28, 35mm), or Samyang
...Show more

This seems like good advice, I will look into other options on the telephoto end. Does anyone have any experience adapting other 70-300 AF options (preferably that take the LAEA3 because it is cheaper) or 300mm primes?




Oct 23, 2016 at 11:56 PM
TMaG82
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


aeonsim wrote:
I'd also suggest going A7ii.

One thought would be that with your current budget the 70-300 eats up 1/3rd which seems disproportionate unless 1/3rd of your shots are in that range. It maybe heresy but have you considered say the E-mount APS-C 55-200 if you need autofocus? In crop mode on the A7ii it'll give you 10MP and an equivalent reach for 1/3rd the price. Or if you don't need AF you could pick up any basic 70-300mm lens and adapt it.

That would leave enough money to pick up something like a Sony 35mm F2.8 (for 20, 28, 35mm), or Samyang
...Show more

I wouldn't look into using a APS-C lens on a full frame, there's too many compromises. Less MP, less room for further cropping. Also the a7II isn't a speed demon by any means, slapping a slower variable lens that goes to 6.3 on the long end, in crop mode, on a body that does what.. 5fps with focus locked and 2.5 FPS with AF?

I know a lot of the guys are suggesting Sony FE. If you were seeking ultimate IQ, I would probably go that way as well. But you prefaced that you don't print large and most of your prints are small. You say your budget is limited as well. The FE system will accept but won't shine without top quality glass. That 28-70 is ok by kit zoom standards, but it's like getting a D810 and putting the 24-85 kit variable zoom on it. Top level AF glass will be large, heavy, and expensive. If you're ok with say one day wanting to move up to say a Batis 25 or a Batis 85 and spending $800-1,200 on the lens. Or one day wanting a workhorse zoom lens and spending $1800-2000 on a 82mm filtered GM.

If you want to shoot wildlife or fast action, the a7ii won't be the camera for it.

Might I suggest taking a look at the E-M1 either refurb or used or grey for $500, getting 1-2 lenses that you need, and save the rest. The E-M5 II has high res mode and a few slight improvements, but I would still say the E-M1 is still a great body. You can get that and a few lenses for under $2,000.



Oct 24, 2016 at 12:55 AM
Steve Spencer
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Struggling to pick a system: m4/3 or Sony FE


I think there are going to be some advantages and disadvantages for each system. Let me suggest a set of lenses for each system that basically gets you within your budget if you buy used.

m4/3rds -
Oly EM5 MKII
Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 (this comes in m4/3rds mount but is really an APS-C lens, which is good because the corners and edges on APS-C are suspect. It is likely a better lens on m4/3rds).
Panny/Leica 15 f/1.7 - very small and although not perfect quite decent
Panny/Leica 25 f/1.4 - a quite competent normal lens with a nice rendering, IMO
Panny/Leica 42.5 f/1.2 - here your a dropping some serious coin, but this lens is worth it, IMO
Only 75 f/1.8 - another beautiful lens and it is amazing what you can get these for now.
Panny 100-300 - a zoom that will let you do some wildlife photography. It isn't the best, but it covers a nice range.
To fit all these in your budget you probably need to sell your Canon FL 55 f/1.2. It won't be nearly up to par on m4/3rds, however, so if this is your system I think you should sell it.

Full Frame
Sony A7 MKII
Voigtlander M mount 21 f/1.8 - it isn't perfect on the Sony, but stopped down it seems to be ok. It is the most expensive of the lenses I am recommending, so you might want to get the Pentax plain K mount 20mm f/4 or the Olympus OM 21mm f/3.5 instead to save money. From samples I have seen, I think the voigt is better, but I'm not sure of that.
Sony FE 28 f/2 - a decent little AF lens and it is the only AF lens I am recommending.
Canon FL 55 f/1.2 - you have it and it will be almost as good as more expensive lenses
Tokina 90 f/2.5 Macro (Bokina) - a lovely lens at a low price. Great for portraits with excellent bokeh and excellent for macro.
Rokinon 135 f/2 - This lens is fantastically sharp and has excellent rendering. It would be fantastic for portraits and landscapes. For the quality it is a ridiculous bargain.
Minolta MC 400 f/5.6 APO - quite nice for wildlife that aren't moving to fast. A very nice rendering and decently sharp. If you are interested, I would sell you mine at a bargain.

The strength of the m4/3rds kit is that you would have very nice autofocus. It should be a nice upgrade especially with the quality lenses from your current system. Wide landscapes and wildlife will be possible, but these will be a bit weaker. You will also be limited by the reduced dynamic range and high ISO abilities of the m4/3rds sized sensor. Still I think this would be an excellent kit.

The strength of the A7 II kit would be the increase dynamic range and better high ISO capability of the system. Keep in mind this isn't an A7r II, however, and the sensor is a bit old for a FF sensor. Still you would get a big bump over your current system. It would be challenged for wide landscapes and wildlife, and you have only one AF lens. This wouldn't bother me, but it might you. You will also be shooting most lenses on adapters, so I would recommend taking the time to shim them appropriately.

Good luck, both in grad school and with your choice.



Oct 24, 2016 at 01:46 AM
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