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Thread: Grass is not always greener on the other side

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    Lightbulb Grass is not always greener on the other side

    I haven't posted for a while here.
    Since I got in a business photographing weddings with a friend couple of years ago it's been going well and *knock on wood* I hope it will continue since we're doing our best and everyone has been extremely happy with the photos.

    Anyway, I used to have E-5 with SHG glass and while it was great most of the time, purchasing OMD was really an eye opener.

    My firend/business partner had Canon 5Dmk2 and he was never happy with it's AF.

    So, several months ago we decided to change the entire gear line up and get Nikon D800/D600 combo since it seemed like the best thing on the planet if you believe the internet

    Anyhow, we first got D800 and few lenses, among them Nikon's new 85mm 1.8G which everyone is raving how great it is.

    It's not, in fact it's quite bad (lot of vignetting and CA/PF at wider apertures).

    Also, "famous" Nikon AF was less than impressive to me, friend thinks it's great (especially after 5D2), but to me OMD has far better AF, more accurate and faster in lower light plus it doesn't make a difference which AF point you choose.

    To cut the story short, I decided to get OMD for myself (again) and skip the D600 and few other lenses, but we'll keep D800 and that way we'll have best of both systems.
    Plan is to get OMD, 7.5mm fish, 9-18mm, 25mm 1.4, 45mm 1.8 and 75mm 1.8 and for D800 we have 3 Sigma lenses - new 35mm 1.4, 85mm 1.4 and 70-200mm 2.8

    Having used D800 for a few months it didn't work for me at all. It's ergonomics are quite bad for such a large camera. Someone mentioned how E5 and D800 were roughly the same size - it might be but using D800 is a pain compared to E5.
    Grip is too small and not deep enough, buttons are horribly placed, ISO and WB buttons are really hard to access and use.


    It is true that D800 can offer amazing image quality, but the problem is just that - can.
    If you're using tripod, base ISO and/or shooting in pristine conditions with the most expensive lens it's output is unmatched.
    But you need to print huge or look at photos at 100% on screen to see that.

    In real world conditions, D800 rarely has an edge over OMD, most of the time it doesn't.
    For instance, in order to avoid ugly CA/PF using 85mm lens I have to shoot using f4 (and to get enough DoF for portraits).
    Compared to OMD and 45mm which can be used wide open, you gain 2 stops or so.
    D800 is also extremely sensitive to mirror slap and any vibration will give blurry images, so minimum shutter speed I need for 85mm lens is about 1/160 in order to guarantee sharp shot and minimize shake blur.

    When I use OMD I can easily have 1/60s if people are posing or standing in place - not running around, even with lens such as 75mm which gives field of view as a 150mm lens.

    At the end, I'm using 3-4 stops lower ISO at which point OMD trumps D800 in image quality, or most of the time they're pretty much on par.

    So... I don't wish to bore you that much with my rant, I just wanted to say that Olympus makes some really good gear and that you shouldn't get dragged into hype.
    Realistically, D800 is too much of a camera in some ways (resolution), but pretty disapointing in many others especially considering it's reputation and price. It's really only worth it if you're doing 1m+ prints regularly and you're using stable tripod and best glass available.

    In real world, there are much more important things than sensor size or number of pixels.
    Cheers,
    Marin

    E-M5, 7.5mm fisheye, 12mm, 45mm, various flashes and misc.

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    Default Re: Grass is not always greener on the other side

    Great write up...I'd love to share it with my nikon friends and say, neener, neener......but I won't. I'll just grin and smile when they start talking camera smack...
    Clint
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    Default Re: Grass is not always greener on the other side

    Quote Originally Posted by Mar View Post

    In real world conditions, D800 rarely has an edge over OMD, most of the time it doesn't.
    For instance, in order to avoid ugly CA/PF using 85mm lens I have to shoot using f4 (and to get enough DoF for portraits).
    Compared to OMD and 45mm which can be used wide open, you gain 2 stops or so.
    D800 is also extremely sensitive to mirror slap and any vibration will give blurry images, so minimum shutter speed I need for 85mm lens is about 1/160 in order to guarantee sharp shot and minimize shake blur.


    In real world, there are much more important things than sensor size or number of pixels.
    Absolutely! Try telling that to a fanboi is... well... a waste of breath!

    Frankly ergonometrics, ease of handling, and work flow are significantly more important to me than slight differences in image quality. The one thing that any DSLR offers me over the mirrorless cameras (OM-D) is the optical viewfinder. EVFs are deal breaker for me. But if you can live with that, more power to you! And you've got a LOT more cash in your pocket.
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    Default Re: Grass is not always greener on the other side

    Thanks for sharing this Marin

    I have one niggling little question though, do you not feel you are crippling the D800 by using Sigma lenses ?

    Cheers, Don
    From E-510/E-30/E-3/E-5 to Nikon D7100 and now D7200/D800
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    Default Re: Grass is not always greener on the other side

    I don't know, Marin, my D800 smokes my OMD in IQ (I was doing side-by-side comparisons) for ordinary walk-around shooting (except for the weight (the 24-70 is one heavy piece of glass)). I loved the handling of the E-5, but the D800 is even more comfortable for me. So different people obviously react differently to the thing. I will say that you now have two crackerjack systems to use.
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    Default Re: Grass is not always greener on the other side

    Yes, it generally produces better results, but what's funny, for low light or night shooting, it doesn't unless you have stabilized lenses or are willing to shoot at very wide apertures with all drawbacks that comes with.
    However, why would you compare side by side? I guess you're using the images either printed or posted on the web.
    Now, I rarely print bigger than 70x50cm (28x20") and for that OMD is more than enough, for weddings we print 30x20 and 20x15cm, or landscape books at 55x28cm or so max (for 2 page spread).

    As I said, it can produce really amazing results in an ideal set of conditions, but I often ask myself - what to do with those big files. I have 36mp file and then post 1-2mp files on the internet or print at sizes even OMD is more than enough.

    Now, add all that size and weight, comparable FF kit measures at least 3x the size and weight and it's a lot more expensive - there's simply no point.

    If I ever need that extra resolution, I can always use the camera since I'm part owner - for example some ridiculously large stitched panoramas measuring in gigapixels, but how often am I going to need that...
    Cheers,
    Marin

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    Default Re: Grass is not always greener on the other side

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Kondra View Post
    Thanks for sharing this Marin

    I have one niggling little question though, do you not feel you are crippling the D800 by using Sigma lenses ?

    Cheers, Don
    Hi Don,
    I don't think it's crippling it using Sigma lenses since recent Sigma lenses have been fantastic.
    35mm is said to be the best 35mm out there and 85mm 1.4 is not shy of Nikon's own 85mm 1.4G but costs a lot less.

    I have first hand experience with Sigma 70-200mm OS (for Canon) and it's a great lens, I was actually surprised how good it performes, excellent image quality and fast AF. It has pretty good IS as well.

    Sigmas for 43rds were never really popular and have always been considered second rate to ZD (except maybe macros) because they were older designs and made for FF in mind, compared to ZD which are made for smaller, more dense 43rds sensors.
    Cheers,
    Marin

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    Default Re: Grass is not always greener on the other side

    I just made the decision to widen my horizons a bit. Have my name on a list to get a Nikon D7100 as soon as they are locally available. I can't really justify the cost of a FF camera so this looked like a good alternative. Going to keep most, if not all, of my Olympus gear for now since there are still some things that are a lot easier and cheaper to do with Oly than with Canon or Nikon. The OMD with the 60mm macro lens will continue to be my goto setup for macro work. The E-5 will still get used for a lot of long telephoto work. Unfortunately there are some things that are still too difficult to do with my Oly gear. It may be a short lived experiment but I doubt it.
    As far as your experience with the D800 Marin I also would question the use of Sigma lenses to judge the overall picture quality. Ken Rockwell has an interesting comment about Sigma lenses on Nikon cameras in his review of the D7100. In his words, it is always a gamble. As far as the 85mm I have not used it but since it is not a VR lens it will be moere susceptible to camera movement or vibration. From the sound of it though you may just have a bad copy.

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    Default Still testing the different pastures

    I haven't tried the D800 yet; but I think that it is more of a landscape and studio camera than a wedding camera. And I think it needs rather good lenses to perform at its best.

    I am currently in the process of trying out as many of the different alternatives; to find out my future direction. My current findings is as follows.

    Olympus OM-D: A solid camera, with a nice sensor. But I don't like the ergonomics - the rear control wheel is badly placed; it should be there those two tiny buttons are; and they should be somewhere else (and preferably a litte larger). Some photos here (not all are from the OM-D).

    Panasonic GH3: Also a very nice sensor; it has better ergonomics than the OM-D. But I think Panasonic went a little over the top with too many buttons and wheels. It is also a bit large; but that can be positive when used with larger lenses. Some photos here.

    Nikon D600: The 24Mpx sensor is OK; I like the size, but the grip could have been better. I had expected the high ISO performance to be better. Some photos here. (I see that I should spend another round on the photos taken on that session; I have quite a few more).

    Canon 6D: This camera has got a lot of heat in the press and on forums as being underwhelming; but I found that it handles very nice and the image quality was good. Especially on high ISO. Some photos here (not all are from the 6D).

    Fuji E-X1: A dark horse in the mix. The XF lenses are amazing; the reason they get some flak is that they are compared to the best from Leica and Zeiss; but they are only in the league of the best one from Canon and Nikon. The X-Trans sensor is performing above it's size - it's much closer to D600 than OM-D; it should have been in the middle. There was issues with supprt from third-party AW converters, but LR 4.4 (RC version) and Capture one 7.1 tackles the files beautifully. Some photos here.

    I haven't tried any NEX cameras or Pentax K5IIs; but if I get a change, I will.

    Olympus and Panasonic are releasing new bodis this spring; it will be interesting to see if there is anything exiting there.

    What I have found is that all the systems have their upsides and downsides. I am not sure if the grass is greener on the other sides; it's probably just different shades of green.

    I don't do weddings, action or birding; so all of the above cameras will probably give me great photos, but I still deciding on which one that I will be most comfortable with ...
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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    Well I own the D800 and find your thoughts very accurate. There are lots of people in denial but its true. I own the D800 for its amazing image quality and use it for a landscape rig. Since I manual focus and am shooting on a tripod at static objects it gets the job done. The dynamic range is off the map, shadows and highlights are easily recovered or mostly no need to. With a ND grad my out of camera shots need virtually no post work.
    But for a flagship it's performance is well below par. The focusing system is a joke for the price paid as any compact on the market will out focus it except maybe the Xpro 1.
    But the high ISO noise at 6400 is less than a lot of cameras I have used at 100 ISO. The color depth is exceptional and again the dynamic range is a landscapers dream.
    If I shot weddings or sports I wouldn't use the D800. The huge files slows my computer quite a lot especially if I do panos.
    My other camera the a99 blows it out of the water in performance. I understand Nikon shooters hate for the Sony products. They make their sensors for them and Sony cameras are much better performers. If Sony would only match high ISO noise with the D800 they would own the market.


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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    D800 is excellent in shadow recovery, but I could swear OMD has better highlight handling. Probably because they use different approach with Olympus using underexposed ISO100 and lifting mid and shadow tones leaving highlights in a great shape.
    Cheers,
    Marin

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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    Reading posts in this thread, I'm wondering if we aren't arriving at a point where there's no longer that one system that can adequately meet all the needs of serious photographers who shoot a variety of subjects in a range of conditions, whether they make their living through photography or have a professional-level commitment to the craft of photography while working a day job, so to speak.

    It's always been the case that each system (by which I mean more than just camera/lens combo) had strengths and weaknesses, of course, and that some systems were better suited for specific subjects and conditions than others. But it was also the case that excluding highly specific or technical applications, a serious photographer could at least "make do" with her/his system even if it was not exactly the best one for the subject or conditions.

    And maybe that's still the case. But it does seem distinctions between systems are getting sharper in terms of suitability for specific subjects and conditions. I'm thinking of the comments made here about the D800 as a landscape camera vs. wedding and about observations here and elsewhere about sensor performance in different conditions.

    Maybe I'm naive or just now figuring out what everyone else already knows (like that hasn't happened before), but it seems to me that serious shooters are more and more likely to need several systems if they don't want to be limited by their gear or else accept becoming highly specialized in terms of subjects. Yes, there is much more to photography than gear, much, much more. But gear does affect what and how we shoot, and I'm wondering if those effects might be getting stronger.

    Maybe this post belongs in another thread, but it was prompted by comments in this one, so here it is.

    FWIW.

    John
    Last edited by elbows2; 03-20-2013 at 07:52 PM. Reason: Typo
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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    It is an interesting question you are raising, elbows2.

    I don't think that situation is so bad that the allround photographers necessarily have choose multiple cameras. Unless you happened to shoot Nikon that is If you compare the Nikon D800 to Canon 5DMKIII, you will see that the 5DMKIII is a much better allround camera. It has a high-performance AF, decent low ISO performance, great high-ISO performance and great video-performance. Nikon D800 is not a allround camera in my view; it's high-ISO performance is lacking that last bit. But it is a very good studio and landscape camera.

    The D800 AF perfomance is supposedly up there with the best; so I am not sure why Mar find the AF unimpressive. There are a number of D800 produces last year had focus problems because of a misaligned focus unit. Also, it is not the easiest one to set up, so there are plenty of room for errors.
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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    If Sony would stuff a 36mp sensor in the A99 I would be all over it in an instant. I really got to like using the OMD EVF and being able to tweak exposure on the fly based on the EVF.
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    Default Re: Grass is not always greener on the other side

    Quote Originally Posted by Mar View Post
    However, why would you compare side by side?
    I had to make sure all that money i spend on the D800E was justified!
    Seriously, though, while the D800 files are just delicious pixel peeping at 1:1, once you start printing, the difference is not so apparent. I usually print at 17x22, and you're hard pressed to tell the difference unless you get inches away from the print. And if I had better m4/3 glass, the difference would be even less noticeable, I think. I'm really curious about the rumored Oly 12-40 f2.8, if it approaches SHG quality that will really be something. I used to walk around with the OMD (and Panny 20mm f1.7 or x 14-42 zoom) on a wrist strap. Try doing that with the D00 and the 24-70 for more than a few minutes!
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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    Well I have two systems and I like it. If I am shooting 100s of pictures I will usually use the a99 as the D800 files are so slow to edit. I got six TB storage and my computer isn't a bad one. I don't want a 36mpix Sony. I like it fine as is. If it handled 6400iso as well as the D800 I would probably drop the D800. I wish there were a way to drop the D800 RAW files to a smaller size.


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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    Quote Originally Posted by tomsi42 View Post
    It is an interesting question you are raising, elbows2.
    The D800 AF perfomance is supposedly up there with the best; so I am not sure why Mar find the AF unimpressive. There are a number of D800 produces last year had focus problems because of a misaligned focus unit. Also, it is not the easiest one to set up, so there are plenty of room for errors.
    I have seen an extensive direct comparison between the two by 2 pros, Nikon and Canon pros, and I do remember that AF on the Canon was superior, they both agreed.
    They really are horses for courses, but it does seem that most users would find the Canon easier and more rounded, with the D800 producing the better results in it's own field.
    Cheers,
    Don

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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    D800's AF performance is weird, and I don't think it's my technique or anything....
    I was shooting indoor volleyball and it was generally excellent, it would aquire and track ball in flight.

    On the other hand, I was walking around with a friend taking shots and when I tried to take a portrait, every single shot was slightly out of focus (85mm @f1.8), front focused.
    Same thing when I was going around Jadrija, place where my weekend house is. It performed great for lanscape/static shots which it should as it's very simple thing to do , but as the light started to fade and as the Sun went below the horizon, there was a cat standing still and camera couldn't focus where I wanted it to, it would constantly front-focus, no matter how many times I tried it. I even had enough time to try to use focus micro adjust but to no avail.

    When doing test shots in my room, all seems fine, even the dreaded left focus sensors seem to be working well, but sometimes it goes nuts and won't focus properly.

    In contrast OMD just works, no quirks, focus speed is very constant and it's extremely accurate - when it fails, it's the user error in 99.9% of the time.
    Cheers,
    Marin

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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    The grass is greener for me even since I moved over to Canon. There are things I miss though.

    a) This site, especially the people.
    b) The price. Even when I had the E5 and 300/2.8 Zuiko, the price for Olympus stuff is dirt cheap to get something similar in Canon
    c) The people on this site.
    d) Sharp corners. The zuiko lenses being telecentric have far better corners than even some of the best FF glass.

    I am still happy with the move, but I am curious to see what Olympus brings out (if ever) to replace the E5.
    Charles

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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    ^^^ Its hard to believe what you were able to get with that combo can be thrumped by any other gear.
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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    Quote Originally Posted by elbows2 View Post
    Reading posts in this thread, I'm wondering if we aren't arriving at a point where there's no longer that one system that can adequately meet all the needs of serious photographers who shoot a variety of subjects in a range of conditions, whether they make their living through photography or have a professional-level commitment to the craft of photography while working a day job, so to speak.

    Maybe I'm naive or just now figuring out what everyone else already knows (like that hasn't happened before), but it seems to me that serious shooters are more and more likely to need several systems if they don't want to be limited by their gear or else accept becoming highly specialized in terms of subjects. Yes, there is much more to photography than gear, much, much more. But gear does affect what and how we shoot, and I'm wondering if those effects might be getting stronger.


    FWIW.

    John
    Interesting observations, John. I think that there are a number of factors that have come into play... some photographers are demanding specific things that the equipment needs to do perfectly, without fail, under all circumstances. They want their cameras to "think" for them, and with those high expectations, it's no wonder that there are so many folks who are so disappointed.

    I think we're still some years from seeing that kind of automation. The problem for manufacturers is that if they spend their resources on auto-focus issues, they're not spending them on image quality... and so forth. This is VERY sophisticated programming and the demands being placed on the equipment are unreasonable... yet the camera companies continue to advertise their features as being perfected.

    As a matter of fact, any "pro" level equipment will do 97% of what any pro really needs. I'm sorry, but there isn't a need to shoot availalbe light at ISO 6400. People may want that, but the truth is you can do the job without it. I seldom shoot at ISO 800 and I usually have my ISO at the native value. The key to evaluating the competence of your equipment, of course, is how often you need to perform certain kinds of tasks, and how well suited your equipment is to those tasks. I think pros will/are screening those "out-lier" jobs that play to their strengths and will hopefully pass on jobs that their equipment isn't as well suited for.

    What really tells me that a company is committed to the "pro" market isn't the features of their bodies, but the depth of their system and how wide the array of accessories is. I was prepared to stay with Olympus until they did away with most of their "pro" equipment; belt flash pack batteries and a host of other things that they used to offer, along with their planned obsolescence of the 4/3rds mount. Those were mistakes on their part. The equipment is competent, and did the job but if you shoot weddings and the Olympus flash pack is no longer available as a replacement, what do you do?

    I don't really think you're going to see Nikon specializing in "this" and Canon in "that," but there's no doubt that their systems each are stronger in certain areas. It's up the photographer to choose the right tools for the job.
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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    Well, I am now a 2 system user (or 3 if you count FT and uFT as two separate systems :-) ) I picked up my Nikon d7100 today. Battery is charging so I haven't been able to try it yet. I am sure there will be things I like and things I don't but I am really curious to see what a 24.1 megapixel APS-C sensor without an optical low-pass filter can do. One of the funny things is that there is a mode on the camera to crop it down to a 15 megapixel image that gives you a 2x crop factor instead of the 1.5x that is native. :-)

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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    I can be as much of a gear head as anyone. I've spent lots of $ trying to buy a golf game. I always think there has to be a better pair of skis for me to try, even though I can't come up with one single thing (apart from really deep powder, they are not really powder skies) that my skis don't do pretty well. I'd happily have a D800 if someone funded it, and would carry it for me. But I've really made a concerted effort to start focusing on improving my photographic skills rather than thinking about the gear. We have the happy accident of having so many great photographic tools available. The E-M5 is better than I am. It's not perfect and I have my niggles that I'd change. But it's a tool that works really well for my needs. I'd like to have a FF system to go with it, but the E-M5 would end up going with me most of the time. And a high quality camera that slips into a pocket can also be a terrific companion.

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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    Quote Originally Posted by roger h View Post
    I'm sorry, but there isn't a need to shoot availalbe light at ISO 6400.
    Try telling that to anyone who shoots concerts in poorly lit venues ...
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    Default Re: Still testing the different pastures

    Quote Originally Posted by tomsi42 View Post
    Try telling that to anyone who shoots concerts in poorly lit venues ...
    Or any wedding photographer. I've done a few over the last few years, and the 5Dmk2/3 at 6400 is amazingly clean! I wouldn't touch 1600 with my E5!
    Charles

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