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MFT from a FF user's perspective
Hi everyone,
I know some people are considering MFT to complement their FF kit. If it's your case or if you are just curious, you may be interested in reading what I wrote below.
I own a D800 plus a rather large collection of lenses, from 17mm to 500mm with everything in between. I'm extremely happy with the IQ, fairly happy with the handling (I used to own a Pentax K5 which IMO has much better ergonomics than anything else I've ever tried) and not very happy with AF reliability.
Originally, I wanted to get a super cheap MFT body to try out the system because I wanted a small camera for occasional snapshots on my way to work or when I was going somewhere and didn't want to lug my D800 around. I was also curious to see how AF accuracy would fare in terms of accuracy/reliability compared to DSLRs. I had read AF is always spot on, but I wanted to see for myself. Another requirement was that I wanted a camera that would fit in my short's pocket with a lens attached. Oh, and it had to have a viewfinder.
So I settled on a lowly Panasonic G3 because it was on sale, brand new, for $230. At that price, it wasn't very risky. I also purchased a 14mm f2.5 on ebay for something like $170. Again, nothing much to lose.
To my surprise I liked that combo a lot. It was very compact while being competent enough in most situations (when DR wasn't too demanding). But what surprised me the most was how fun it was to use! I would carry it everywhere. At that point I truly understood the meaning of  "the best camera is the one you have with you". This statement couldn't be more true.
More and more, I'd take my G3 instead of my D800, simply because it was so small, light and fun to use.
Around the same time, my dad made the switch from Pentax (K20) to MFT, buying an E-PL5 with the following lenses: Oly 12-50, Pana 20mm and Pana 100-300. So I got the opportunity to try new lenses. It's just impressive how small they are and I really enjoyed using the 20mm. Such a great performer given its size.
Then came around the holidays. I was going on a kite surfing trip to the Caribbean. I own the Sigma 50-500 which is a great lens paired to my D800... but given I was already travelling with all my kitesurfing gear, I needed something more compact and light. I took my G3 and my dad lent me his 12-50 + 100-300. It was a revelation! I found the IQ to be good enough for most of my needs. I was very happy with the shots I got from the G3 + 100-300 @ 300mm wide-open. While not matching the D800 (obviously...), I came to realize that real-life differences are much smaller than what the graphs (dxomark for instance) suggest. The one thing a bit lacking was DR, but I know it's been improved dramatically in the the last crop of MFT sensors.
In the last months, I bought additional lenses to complement my 14mm: Pana 25 f1.4 (awesome even wide-open), Oly 45 f1.8 (same), Oly 40-150 (for 100 euros used!). That last one surprised me most: given its low price the IQ is truly impressive, even at 150mm and it's so tiny.
The thing is, MFT has easily reached "good enough" IQ for me (using the latest crop of sensors), even at high ISO (up to 3200). Mind you, I seldom use my D800 these days. Most of the time, I don't want to lug my D800 kit around, so instead I grab my G3 plus the trio (14, 25, 45). Despite the G3 sensor being outdated compared to the one in the OM-D, I still grab my G3 in place of my D800! I never thought I would favor my MFT gear over my FF kit. Well... it happened.
Funny how things turn out. My dad's E-PL5's IQ is really good for 95% of my needs... I think we have reached very high IQ standards and it's very very difficult to distinguish between cameras' output regardless of the format, except perhaps under exceptionally challenging conditions.
What I forgot to mention is AF accuracy (or the lack-of) with DSLRs: this is one of the main reasons I would never consider going back to traditional mirror DSLRs. I find it so liberating to know my photo will be sharp and the focus will be exactly were I wanted it to be, regardless of the lens or lighting conditions. This is probably why I enjoy my G3 so much: no more AF frustrations!
We often hear that you loose 2 stops of depth of field compared to FF. This is very true and I was the first one to mention this fact. However, I realized that situations where I truly need shallow DOF are fairly rare and the 45mm at f1.8 gives me enough DOF in most situations.  The same can be said about the Pana 24mm @ 1.4. Although it only equals a 50mm f2.8 FF lens, it's enough in most cases. The one thing one can't have with MFT is shallow DOF with somewhat wide angle lenses. Instead you have to use longer lenses. Given my usage it's actually not a problem and I don't miss it. Of course, depending on your needs, that may not be true. Objectively, I think that situations where critically shallow DOF is needed with shorter focal lengths is fairly rare.
From my point of view (I'm no pro), carrying a big backpack full of FF lenses doesn't justify the IQ difference over the convenience MFT provides. In the real world, as long as I don't print a 3 by 2 meter billboard, I find the difference in IQ between FF and MFT to be insignificant. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Oh and I now enjoy photography much more than before
I decided I'll put all of my Nikon FF gear on sale in the next few days and I'll upgrade my G3 to either a GX7 or a E-M1.  Ideally I'd like a E-M1 in a GX7's body.. Oh well, we can't have it all I suppose.

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Messages In This Thread
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by thxbb12 - 09-10-2013, 06:07 PM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by dave9t5 - 09-10-2013, 07:47 PM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by Guest - 09-10-2013, 08:01 PM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by Sylvain - 09-10-2013, 08:28 PM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by joachim - 10-23-2013, 06:03 AM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by nwinspeare - 04-22-2014, 03:12 PM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by Mahadragon - 06-07-2014, 06:34 AM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by JJ_SO - 06-07-2014, 06:59 PM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by thxbb12 - 06-11-2014, 08:21 AM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by Gabrigh - 08-05-2014, 10:34 AM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by Gabrigh - 08-05-2014, 10:48 AM
MFT from a FF user's perspective - by Steinar1 - 01-18-2015, 10:38 PM

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