Thursday, September 1, 2011

Camera downsizing

I'm now selling my Canon DSLR gear and will move entirely into a MFT system instead. The EOS 60D with the 15-85 mm lens gives excellent quality both for photography and video, but it is large and heavy. I also have some other lenses for it (a 100 mm macro, 50 mm standard lens and a Sigma APO Macro 400/5.6 telephoto lens), but it is simply too much for me at this moment. I don't have time to do any really serious photography and mostly use the camera at various outdoor excursions. A lighter system would suit me a lot better and I have now found a good system. I bought a Olympus PEN E-P2, 14-42mm / 3.5-5.6 Mk II kit lens, the 40-150mm / 4-5.6 lens and the electronic viewfinder EV-2 for a very reasonable price, since the new version E-P3 has just come out. This set weighs a bit less than just the 60D body and covers a nice focal range, 28-300 mm in 35 mm equivalent. I plan to complement the kit by bying the 9-18 / 4-5.6 widangle zoom, which is also very small. According to most tests, these lenses actually have quite good an image quality, not Canon L class quality, but still good.

Compared to the EOS 60D with the 15-85mm / 3.5-5.6 lens the new kit is much smaller. The lens in the middle is the 40-150 mm lens. In real life the difference seems even bigger.

The technical image quality is lower in the Olympus MFT system. With sensors of equal quality per surface area, the MFT will give worse quality since it is smaller. With Olympus being a step behind in sensor technology the difference is even bigger. But does it matter? With the pictures from last weekend, I think that you would have to print at a size larger than A3 to start to see any differences, and the quality would probably be very good even at larger sizes. The real difference comes when it is dark and you use high ISO sensitivities. The difference is probably around 1 1/2 steps compared to the EOS 60D. The 60D also have maybe one step better dynamic range. There are situations when all this could be of importance, but generally it is the photographer who determines the image quality and not the camera and for me good enough is good enough. Always wanting the absolutely best of everything only leads to constant upgrading, when the real limitation is somewhere else than in the camera. Of course, this reasoning might just be a sign that I'm now middle-aged.

Another big difference between the 60D and E-P2 is speed. The 60D with its much faster burst rate and better autofocus is a lot better for action photography. The autofocus of the E-P2 is now pretty fast with the updated firmware and newer lenses (the autofocus speed was quite poor in the beginning), but still not good enough for real action photography. Since I don't do action photography, this is not an issue for me.

The new camera also caused me to finally get Adobe's Lightroom software. With Canon cameras I've (barely) managed with the Digital Photo Professional (DPP), but the Olympus software is poor. Lightroom does seem like a very good piece of software and is a lot faster to use than DPP, so it should speed up the processing of the photos (I always shoot RAW) quite a bit. There is a bit of a learning curve to learn to use Lightroom to the fullest, but for now I've found it quite intuitive.

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