Calling Judge Wendy

I’m looking for advice from the Camera Corner Lady (and any other Linux-loving photography hobbyists), specifically about the MFT format (probably Panasonic). Yes, I know the sensor is smaller than full frame, and smaller than APS-C, but it’s bigger than what I’ve been using (cell phone and my wife’s old Canon Powershot with 1/2.3" sensors).

Small and light are important adjectives (hence the leaning toward MFT), as I spend 2-4 months per year teaching in Latin America. My “classroom” is in my mochila (backpack) and in it I carry my laptop, projector, wireless mic system (including receiver), cables of all sorts, often a second laptop (to give away to one of the local pastors), and my books and teaching materials. The bag normally weighs in at 25-30 pounds, and I am my own “sherpa,” despite having just turned 68. I’d like a rugged, mirror-less camera with the the capability of interchangeable lenses. Video capability would be nice, but I don’t have much experience in the video realm. A brand with a healthy used market is good, perhaps preferred, since I’ll never get rich working with a small non-profit and “disposable income” is usually “disposed of” long before expensive new cameras could be purchased!

One other thought: I don’t go to the “tourist” areas. The countries I visit have fairly high crime rates (though I don’t normally have business in the “worst” areas). A camera that doesn’t draw attention to itself would be a plus here (like an older, smaller Panasonic/LUMIX body with a short-throw wide-angle zoom). An expensive Canon or Nikon (or Sony?) DSLR would almost be shouting, “Hey, here I am! Take me!”

Yes, I know that the Olympus “shoe” has recently dropped, and it seems like all the Youtube MFT’ers are holding their collective breath waiting for the other (i.e., Panasonic) “shoe” to drop. That’s why I haven’t made any purchases yet, though I have been doing a lot of MFT research. Will there be a glut on the market because folks will ditch MFT or will the law of supply and demand keep remaining inventory prices high? Who knows?

I haven’t “bought into” any particular system (unless you count my nearly 40-year-old Pentax SLR film cameras and lenses, which have been sitting in my closet since “forever”). I’d like to bring back much better photos than I have for the last 12 years, perhaps even have RAW-file capability. I have no problem shooting in AP or SP mode, but it would be nice for the camera to have a “newbie” auto-everything mode for those times that I turn over the “please take pictures of the class and its members” duties to a non-photographer.

Yes, I’m open to something other than MFT. I perceive APS-C as a possibility, but very expensive, particularly lenses. OTOH, what do I know? I’m guessing the APS-C’s haven’t been around long enough to have a viable used market. But profound ignorance in all of this is why I’m "Calling Judge Wendy."

@TheWendyPower

4 Likes

I need to do a little more research on MFT camera bodies. Give me a bit to do some looking, and I’ll get back to you.

2 Likes

Thank you, Wendy. I hope you and your family aren’t in harm’s way during this fire season.

There is no time pressure. I probably can’t travel abroad abroad again until spring of next year. But no doubt a few months will be needed for practice, learning the in’s and out’s and characteristics of the new camera.

Also, I’m not “married” to the idea of MFT gear. For all I know there might be APS-C cameras that are sufficiently small. I’m starting that line of research. And FWIW, it seems that it would be foolish for me to completely rule out good name brands altogether, despite the possibility of theft. I suppose there’s always the option of electrical tape strategically placed over the brand logo!

@TheWendyPower,
Just wondered if you’ve had time to give this any more thought. Thanks!

@Curbuntu I know you asked @user80237309, but I hope you dont mind my commenting… I actually shoot MFT, since last June. I purchased a Panasonic G85 based on knowing nothing about photography at the time, and recommendation from a camera shop based on my “I want to fit in in my backpack while mountainbiking” and “I will shoot local motorsport also”. It’s been a wild education in the last 12 or so months lol.

Basically, those 2 things do NOT go together. If I was going to buy another MFT camera, it would be the recently released Olympus EM1 III, because it has a joystick to move the focus point around, and phase detect for more reliable/faster autofocus. That is my main gripe with the G85: contrast detect autofocus. It works fine most of the time - when you have time to wait for it to lock focus… unfortunately a moving racecar is doesn’t allow that. Also the Panasonic G9 has a ton more autofocus settings and would be more reliable, but the addition of phase in the Olympus does give it the edge there. I’m not sure of your budget but I would only buy the top model of MFT personally, after using the step down from that.

Something I reeeally like the look of is the recently released Fujifilm X-S10, it has everything I want in a camera except weather sealing. Yes I know weather sealing is not always reliable, but any help is better than not having it. Slightly bigger APS-C sensor, hybrid phase AF, and DSLR style grip - in a small body. Check out some youtube reviews on it, there’s a ton. I have played with the slightly larger and more retro styled X-T4 and the autofocus is amazing.

Re-reading your up I see your budget is more in the second hand market? Can relate; there’s a reason I haven’t yet upgraded tot he cameras I mention heh.I’ll leave the above there though. As a minimum I’d get a second hand G85, I paid around $1600 new for mine last June, and now they can be found for $600-800 for the body - but if you can find one get the G95; 20MP instead of the G85 16MP (yes it matters), it’s basically a slightly less featured G9. And both do amazing video, I have only used the default record button on mine and it gives perfectly usable video every time.

1 Like

@swansinflight, it’s encouraging to hear from an MFT user. Thanks for the feedback.

Autofocus Systems: You repeat something I’ve heard a lot during my research, namely, some unhappiness with the Pana/Lumix contrast-detect focusing system when compared with phase-detect autofocus.

Menuing Systems: One personal upside for the Panasonic/Lumix line is that their menu-system seems to span their recent product line. That’s a plus in this household, because my wife is learning how to use her new Panasonic point-and-shoot (a Lumix DC-ZS200). If I were using another Lumix, I could learn that menu system faster and better help her. (She’s still wrestling with concepts like f-stops, depth of field, etc. She knows that she wants to venture out of “Intelligent Auto” mode.)

Cause for Concern? With Olympus getting out of the camera market altogether and Panasonic hedging its bets, one part of me feels like the MFT market is a little “if-fy.” OTOH, given that I’ve nearly completed 7 decades on the planet, one good-quality camera and few good lenses should suffice for the remainder of my life.

A man after Tevye’s own heart (“If I were a rich man…”): If money were no object, but size and weight still were, I would probably get a new Lumix G9 for use in the States and get an older, “beat-er,” slightly less capable model for my missions/teaching trips. (“Too ugly to steal” would be a major “plus” feature!) The lenses could work for both bodies, of course. I’m wondering about a 15mm (30mm in 35mm-equivalent) fixed focal-length lens on something like a used GX95. That way I could hand it to a non-photographer attendee before I start teaching and say, “Pruébalo y verás” (“Give it a try and see”). The wide angle would be useful in capturing a room full of pastors y pastoras y líderes from various angles, I think. (I don’t think a wide-angle zoom would be useful, as most non-photographers don’t have experience with them; plus, the zooms are “slower” f-stop-wise.) Wide-open at under F2 with autofocus and 20MP, I’d probably get some shots of various meetings that would be usable in reports and promotional materials.

2 Likes

The autofocus is something that only really bothers me because I choose to shoot sports. For still subjects you’d of course get away with single point AF, and contrast will work fine. Phase (which these days is on-sensor phase/contrast hybrid AF) will make it faster, though sounds like for what you’re doing contrast will be fast enough. Probably more critically would be a nice prime setup as you said, so give you those nice sharp images. I agree regarding the prime vs wide zoom.

If you were leaning that way I wouldn’t hesitate to buy Olympus right now, if you can afford to get all the things you need basically right away. As you say they’ll last years anyway and will most likely see you through. G9 is am amazing price right now though… so I would possibly lean that way anyway, as 1.5x the cost for the Olympus doesnt necessarily give 1.5x the image improvement.

Sounds like you’ve done your reasearch though; I hope my limited experience firmed up what you’ve discovered in your research :slight_smile:

1 Like

Yes, it’s encouraging to hear from someone shooting with MFT format equipment. I should check to see if there’s a camera store somewhere in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia to see if they rent cameras and lenses. It would be nice to get some “hands on” experience before the experience of “money gone”! :wink:

2 Likes

@Curbuntu looks like you got some greatffirst hand info from someone using the technology (@swansinflight). The cost of used has been crazy high, but coming into the holiday season you might be able to snag a good deal. The MTF cameras just don’thave any appeal to me personally, so someone else who is using them is a much better source then I!

The brand Olympuswwill ggo oon just not directly under Olympus. I can definitely see why people would be hesitant to purchase that line ad it is hard to know exactly where the new owner will be taking the cameras.

1 Like

@TheWendyPower, thanks for your reply.

If you don’t feel like you can weigh in on MFT, what’s your opinion of the various APS-C systems out there? Do you have a brand / camera-model preference?

I the past, as little as the beginning of this year, I’d be 100% on board for Nikon. Because they have changed reparability I’d say mirrorless Sony is my first choice. When I get a new camera it will be a Sony. They really have a great sensor, have been working with mirrorless the longest (from my knowledge), and have a great selection of lenses.