Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:30 pm

It's sad that the build quality doesn't seem to coincide with the price premium associated with MFT. Hopefully, Panny and Oly are paying attention. Failure to address these issues could be disastrous to the format.


Dude. Stop.

You're turning into one of those new age nerd-rage filled photographers who do nothing but read stuff on the internet, rather than just focus on your camera and gear, and just taking photos like a normal person. God those people were so annoying when I used to work at the camera store. They'd come in and start asking me about all these "problems" they read online, from crap like millisecond shutter lag to raw color issues and all this garbage. Honestly, who gives a ****? The worse of them would return a product because of stuff they've read on the internet that they haven't even experienced themselves.

I mean, honestly, why do you care? Do you own an EP1? Do you know people who own an EP1? Are their cameras falling apart? How do their problems effect you in any way? I mean, is your camera falling apart? Even your 'expert' opinion on lenses are formed by reading graphs and reviews on websites, rather than examining performance of the lens for yourself.

Seriously. I apologize in advance - I really don't mean to be insulting, or as a personal attack ... but speaking from experience, you're on a one-way road to becoming a gear troll.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:07 pm

What he said...

I beat on my toys.

I have owned the G1 since it was first released, and so far:
My original serial number was <100 in the series. I wound up exposing a flaw in the processing engine that caused the viewfinder to go B&W and all weird, but still took great pictures. They exchanged it with a new camera no charge after 3 months of use, and I got to help them nail the flaw.

A little coating had rubbed off of the hinges for the tilt/swivel display. Who gives a flip.
The A-mode on the dial is so heavily used, it sometimes gets in a mode where I have to press a little on the dial for it to understand. I cleaned it out and it works fine again.

So I am at 8K pictures, and have NEVER had dust on the sensor (which is saying something when you own two cats). I change lenses often, and take the camera everywhere, and have bounced it around quite a bit.

The premium we are paying for u4/3 is due to lack of real competition in this small form-factor and IQ. We are hit with early adoption fees. We are certainly getting the shaft when it comes to build and ruggedness, but it is not as bad as it sounds on DPR. DPR is a cross-section of mostly disgruntled and overly-picky gearheads and pixel-peepers.

However when you look at the view from Panasonic, that is NOT what a vast majority of the intended audience of this camera system shop for. If shopping for a rugged camera, you jump right up to the pro stuff.

What would be a real killer to the dSLR market is an ASP-C rugged mirrorless cam with sealed lenses, body and a top-end viewfinder with dSLR-like performance. Whoever hits this market would capture a great deal of the "dSLR downsizers", P&S with money, and travel market. I would certainly pay a premium to get my hands on such a system.
liquidsquid
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:11 pm

phez wrote:I mean, honestly, why do you care? Do you own an EP1? Do you know people who own an EP1? Are their cameras falling apart? How do their problems effect you in any way? I mean, is your camera falling apart? Even your 'expert' opinion on lenses are formed by reading graphs and reviews on websites, rather than examining performance of the lens for yourself.


Why should I care if cameras I don't own are falling apart? It's simple. If poor build quality drives people away from a format, then that format dies. And the people who have invested in it get shafted.

As to reading reviews on the web, isn't that what we do? The average person doesn't have access to an unlimited pool of hardware to play with, so we rely on impartial, technically capable 3rd parties to do the legwork for us. Naturally, I test out gear at the shop before buying whenever possible, but it's not always possible, and it's impossible to do in-depth testing before buying. In my canon days, I had plenty of friends with compatible lenses and bodies, and we used to borrow and check out gear from each other, but MFT is much less widespread. I also tend to prefer looking at actual samples from real users to colour my opinion, not just technical specs, since there are a lot of characteristics which interest me that don't necessarily get conveyed in specs.

No need to apologize. I've been down the gear troll road. I agree it's not productive, nor pleasant. After posting mostly positive feedback about my own experiences, though, I only felt it fair to warn any prospective buyers that some people are having problems.

liquidsquid wrote:I beat on my toys.
...
The premium we are paying for u4/3 is due to lack of real competition in this small form-factor and IQ. We are hit with early adoption fees. We are certainly getting the shaft when it comes to build and ruggedness, but it is not as bad as it sounds on DPR. DPR is a cross-section of mostly disgruntled and overly-picky gearheads and pixel-peepers.


I'm certainly not gentle with my cameras. I look at them as tools to do a job. I've taken my GF1 to the beach. I've gone trekking in the jungle with it and taken it out on boats with sea spray. I take it out when it's raining. I'm not expecting Canon L levels of weather sealing and ruggedness. But I do expect it not to fall apart on me. I believe those are basic expectations from a consumer. So far, my expectations have held up.

I do agree about the type of people that frequents dpr forums. I do hope I'm not as bad as the worst of them. At the very least, I enjoy taking photos, and don't obsess over their technical faults. Some of my favourite shots are the ones that weren't perfect. I do try and learn from the mistakes I made on them, but that doesn't stop me enjoying them.

The actions of Panasonic and Olympus haven't been too stellar, though. Panasonic essentially ignored the lug issue on GH1, then when it became too widespread to ignore any further, tried to reassure customers by saying they would fix any lugs that fell off, which is below expectations. If I had bought a $1500 camera and a production problem came up, I would expect them to accept it for inspection/repair *before* something went wrong it, and not have to wait until bits fall off.
Wind, Sand and Stars.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Sat May 15, 2010 2:50 am

Well, after a lot of humming and hawing, I bit the bullet and bought the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45/2.8. You'll probably remember that I haven't been too enthused by the lens and its high price ($899 list) before. However, I managed to snag one at retail for $799 (I still think it's overpriced. It would have been a no-brainer for $699) and I wanted a portrait lens for a family reunion this weekend. Initial impressions:

Build quality is more solid than other MFT lenses I've used. It's better than the 20/1.7 and even better than the 7-14 (itself a solidly built specimen). The Leica branding is very subtle - there is nothing printed on the front element that screams 'E-PEEEEN~!', for which I'm pretty thankful. :). It's a pretty small lens, at 2.5x2.5in and is lighter than the SMC-Takumar 50/1.4 lens that it'll be taking duties over for (love the lens, but full-time MF can be very exhausting, and obviously the legacy lens can't pass distance information back to the camera for flash exposure metering).

The lens is as sharp at 2.8 as the 20/1.7 is wide open. While the 20/1.7 rapidly increases in sharpness on stopping down, though, the PL 45/2.8 stays at about the same sharpness as you stop down. I normally shoot the 20 at f/2, and it is noticeably sharper than the PL 45 at any aperture. That's not saying it's bad, because the 20 at 1.7 is already super sharp. But if the Leica name and the Macro label made you expect stratospheric levels of sharpness, you may be disappointed.

The focusing ring is very nice. It's still focus-by-wire (FBW), but unlike the 20/1.7, is very responsive. With the 20, FBW can be a bit sluggish, and it often feels very "stepped", but the 45 is just silky smooth and has a nice tactile feel when you're focusing. Unlike the 20/1.7, I never found myself overshooting or undershooting in MF. I still prefer physical MF or at least a distance readout, but the PL45 has the best focus by wire system I've used.

AF will hunt at macro distances. Probably no surprise there. You're better off focusing manually or using the smallest AF point. Turning on the limiter switch makes AF much more responsive at portrait distances, although the cutoff point is a little too far out for my liking - one of the advantages of the PL 45 over the legacy 50/1.4 I was using before this is that I can focus much closer on subjects.

OIS works, although I haven't used it much. Seems to be good for 3 stops, like dpr found in their review. I can get sharp handheld pics at 1/20s and acceptable ones at 1/15s (non macro distances). Of course, don't expect to get sharp portraits at those shutter speeds, unless your subject is a stone statue. Mode 1 is 'always on', Mode 2 only turns on when you press the shutter, and Mode 3 is for panning (it would have been nice if they had auto-pan detection like Canon does).

On to the good stuff. The bokeh is AMAZING. No, not 'Amazing BAD' like the Noktor, but amazingly smooth and creamy. There is no ringing in specular highlights at all up to (and including) f/4, and the blur transitions are very smooth. It's possible that during the design process, they deliberately balanced the sharpness of the lens against the bokeh, if so, GOOD JOB (sounds like they consciously undercorrected spherical aberration to minimise distracting bokeh elements). For comparison, I have a SMC-Takumar 50/1.4, a classic lens renowned for pleasing bokeh, and the PL 45/2.8 is just as good as it. It makes the 20/1.7 look busy by comparison, and a lot of people (myself included) are quite satisfied with the bokeh of the 20/1.7. Here are a couple of examples that I took at the store and on getting back home:

Image
Taken at the store when testing out the camera. This was at f/4, and I was impressed that the highlights remained nicely round and smooth with very little ring artefacts (kinda amazed at the lack of polygon-shaped highlights at f/4). The f/2.8 shot is even smoother. Obviously not a memorable photo, just think of it as the equivalent of a brick wall test :P.

Image
Not a taxing test of the PL45's macro capabilities, but it does show how creamy smooth the bokeh transitions are.

Oh, and the 'Leica Look'? It's there. Shoot a scene with a lot of dynamic range, and you can get a pleasant glow to the highlights while still retaining deep blacks and midtone detail. It's been 10 years since I've owned a Leica lens, and I have to say I missed them terribly in their absence.

I bought the lens primarily as a portrait tool. Will be testing it out some more this weekend at a family reunion.

I've castigated this lens in the past, and as it turns out, unfairly. It isn't the sharpest lens in the world, but I believe that it turned out to be a better portrait and macro lens as a result - portraits and macros with bad bokeh are, well, bad. Numbers don't tell everything, I guess.

MFT users looking for a fast prime might still be better off with the Zuiko D 50/2 Macro, because it's half the price (not including adapter though), is one stop faster and is noticeably sharper. Especially for Olympus body owners, because the 50/2 will AF on a PEN body. However, I've also heard from some Zuiko 50/2 users that they find their lens to be too sharp for portraits, although it's a lot easier to soften an image in PP than to try and add sharpness later IMO. It's also only 1:2 magnification vs the 1:1 of the PL 45, so it's more suited to flowers than bugs, especially since it doesn't AF very fast, and the front element protrudes quite a bit when focusing, meaning you have a lot less working distance than the 1:2 rating would lead you to believe.

I'm happy to admit that I was wrong in dismissing the PL45 on the basis of the quantitative numbers in testing. This may just be buyer's justification, but it's promising to be a much better portrait and macro lens than I had given it credit for. I'll see this weekend if the f/2.8 aperture proves to be too limiting for subject isolation, but so far I've been pleasantly surprised by it. However, it's definitely got drawbacks, not least the price. It's still priced too steep IMO. I may have jumped on that 50/2 lens at $400 before, but now that I have the 45/2.8, I don't see myself turning back. Please please Panny, drop the price to $699, and you will sell a metric boatload.

Thanks to anyone who bothered reading this far. This guy has been taking amazing images with the PL45/2.8, and it's pictures like his that finally convinced me to give the lens a try rather than just technical ratings from review sites.
Wind, Sand and Stars.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Mon May 24, 2010 8:31 am

I just picked up an Olympus E-PL1 yesterday. Haven't had much time to play with it yet, but overall it seems pretty nice. I had a Sony Alpha A300, but it was just simply too big to use as my only camera, but I detest the picture quality, especially in low light, of the smaller point and shoots, so I made the compromise and sold the DSLR. I came out $50 in the red, but overall, its worth it. The picture quality is about the same, but for the size, the low light performance is very good.

Pros:
great image quality
light weight
art filters are a neat gimmick, and the 'blur background' will emulate a super low F stop very well
easy to use

Cons:
have to manually open the flash, even in 'auto flash' mode
lenses are very expensive with not many options/brands at the moment unless you go with adapter rings
Mono mic for video recording without the adapter
Having twins has dramatically reduced the time I have to nerd out.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Mon May 24, 2010 10:18 am

Corrado wrote:I just picked up an Olympus E-PL1 yesterday. Haven't had much time to play with it yet, but overall it seems pretty nice. I had a Sony Alpha A300, but it was just simply too big to use as my only camera, but I detest the picture quality, especially in low light, of the smaller point and shoots, so I made the compromise and sold the DSLR. I came out $50 in the red, but overall, its worth it. The picture quality is about the same, but for the size, the low light performance is very good.


Nice. Welcome aboard the MFT bandwagon, don't forget to tell us about your learning curve with the E-PL1 over the next few weeks, and be sure to post samples in the photo thread! :D
Wind, Sand and Stars.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Mon May 24, 2010 8:00 pm

Corrado wrote:I just picked up an Olympus E-PL1 yesterday.
Cons:
lenses are very expensive with not many options/brands at the moment unless you go with adapter rings
Everything's relative. I believe that your Olympus has auto-focus compatibility with quite a few more lenses than Voldenuit's Panasonic has.
JustAnEngineer
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Mon May 24, 2010 11:36 pm

Corrado wrote:I just picked up an Olympus E-PL1 yesterday. Haven't had much time to play with it yet, but overall it seems pretty nice.


@ Corrado: Do post your battery life experience with the E-PL1 as well. Also, how much does IBIS affect battery life?

I've been pretty impressed with the battery life of the GF1. CIPA rating is for 380 shots (50% flash use), but I got 640 shots out yesterday (no flash) and still had 2/3 showing on the battery meter. Shooting RAW with a PL45/2.8 and OIS on, with LCD set to 1s review. Standard battery. I'm pretty disciplined about turning off the camera between shots, though, a practice helped by the fast boot time (under 1.5s) of the GF1.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Tue May 25, 2010 10:00 am

I will report back. I'm not sure when I'm going to get the time to actually USE my camera. Maybe tomorrow as we're going rock climbing, or next weekend we're going to Baltimore for a family function. Usually I use my dog, but she's been sick and not exactly happy to be moving around and posing for me at the moment.

I am actually going to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in November for a combo honeymoon/Formula 1 race, so I plan to use the camera EXTENSIVELY there. I just need to be careful of what I photograph, supposedly.

Also, I updated the camera's firmware to 1.1 last night. Autofocus is a good bit quicker now. Its not instantaneous, obviously, but I'd venture that Olympus' claims of 25% quicker are valid. Its noticeable for sure. It was weird that I can update the lens' firmware too, but theres no updates for that.
Having twins has dramatically reduced the time I have to nerd out.
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