For travel, DSLR or micro four thirds?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by justin_stott, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. I have been shooting with Canon DSLRs, I have a 40D and a new 5DmkII. I have 24-70 2.8L and a 50 1.4 lenses to which I was planning to add a 70-200 2.8L to round out my kit for a while until I invest in a few more primes.
    However, my kit is getting heavy pretty quick (even without the 70-200) and I have a 10 day trip to Spain coming up this fall.
    My question is, after seeing what the 5DmkII will do through the L glass, it's low light capabilities, and the shallow depth of field with the full frame sensor at f1.4, would I be satisfied with the image quality from a micro four thirds system (and could I build one with similar range for the cost of the 70-200 2.8 IS)?
    Images from the trip will be displayed as streched canvas prints at 24x36 or so in a commercial space.
    So 5DmkII and L lenses worth the weight? Or will the compactness of the micro four thirds make it worth it?
    Thanks much for your responses.
  2. Unless your trip is a photographic safari if you want to enjoy the holiday then it makes sense to pick compact gear which meets your quality requirements. Seems to me that 4/3 appears to answer this requirment although having the reach of a top level pro-sumer camera [ bridge camera] I think is desirable when often you will never have the opportunity to get closer to things you pass. A lot depends on how close you let the viewers get to those 24x36 prints as to if they will be acceptable and also the subject material ... bold yes, detailed maybe not.
  3. Way baack in film days, Sonny, my Nikon packed up in the middle of a trip to Maya ruins in Yucatan. I had my tiny Rollei 35 with me, and when I went to project and later scan the slides, I couldn't tell where the Nikon quit.
    After that, it was a struggle sometimes to convince myself that all that weight was really necessary, and there's just no doubt that smaller kits do well, but in the end a SLR (dSLR nowadays) simply has the over all edge in potential. If the pictures are an important part of the holiday, then take the full rig. As JC says, otherwise liberate yourself from going around bent over like Igor. I wouldn't begin to try to duplicate the range of the EOS system. Just get a decent, long zoom, maybe two.
  4. Hi Justin.
    Well, as much as I am excited about the m4/3 system, and as good reviews are of the Panasonic G series (as well as the Panny (and some Olympus) lenses, IMHO, the m4/3 sensor cannot compete with your FF Canon 5DMII and L glass, especially at that level of enlargement). If you were just shooting for web or prints up to maybe 11x14, I'd say yes, go light (m4/3). But for that size output, I would say that you are compromising in image quality, to say nothing of any low-light shoooting you may be doing. Sounds like you have to weigh (pardon the pun) the advantages of the heavy L glass and very high quality output at your desired print size, against the extreme portability, light weight, and quite good image quality of the m4/3 at moderate output size. Whichever you choose, have fun with it!
  5. Images from the trip will be displayed as streched canvas prints at 24x36 or so in a commercial space.​
    I've made 24x36 canvas prints from an LX3 point & shoot. On screen, the files don't have the detail that I get from any of my dSLRs...both 1.3x crop and full frame. Printing on canvas does tend to even the playing field quite a bit since canvas will lose detail as compared to traditional prints. The bigger sensors show more detail but not *that* much more detail, especially at typical viewing distances. I'd imagine the 2x crop of the 4/3rds would fair even better. While I haven't done blind tests, I'm guessing the average viewer wouldn't be able to tell the difference. If a photographer were told to pick out the one with the larger sensor, he could but it would require a little effort and careful comparison.
    This is assuming you're shooting in fairly bright light and working with low ISOs. Crank up the ISO and the smaller sensor will quickly lose detail to noise.
    If I were shooting landscapes or otherwise static shots in bright light and having to lug around the camera for long periods of time, I'd seriously look at one of the micro 4/3rds systems for the weight savings. Once you get into the more exotic lenses like fast telephotos, the weight savings disappears (and the lenses are actually heavier than their "full size" counterparts) and the cost is more than for traditional systems.
  6. Eric, I agree with your points, especially about "Printing on canvas does tend to even the playing field", as the canvas texture does obscure fine detail. And most viewers will see quite enough detail from the m4/3 format. I just come from a large format background, and hence my "detail and sharpness requirements" are not that of the average gallery viewer, which is why I commented as I did. But you are quite right that the detail may well be sufficient for the intended audience. Good points!
  7. Use what you've got and are familiar with. A 4/3 camera might have adequate image quality, but you're used to something better. A do-all lens like an 18-200 would make more sense for travel than an entire new system, lenses and all (probably storage media too).
  8. If I had the kind of money sunk into a full frame format system it sounds like you do, that's what I would be taking on trips. Otherwise, why did you even invest in it?
  9. Thanks everyone for your responses, they contain very helpful information.
    I guess I will be carrying the heavy lenses, the canon system has the added benefit that if I want to stick an extra film body in the bag, I can shoot a few rolls of B/W film for traditional processing.
    The canvas printing was part of the reason I was wondering if I could get away with the 4/3, i know it does not show the same level of detail as a traditional print, but it won't hurt to have the higher quality for other uses.
  10. I just got back from a trip to the North Carolina mountains, and Savannah, Georgia. I took three cameras with me: a Canon G11, a Panasonic G1, and a Nikon D200 (my wife jokingly referred to them as small-medium-large). The G11, although I love it, got used hardly at all; the bulk of the photos were done with "medium" and "large". The micro 4/3 G1 was very handy when I didn't feel like carrying the D200 around and I'm pretty impressed with the images it generated. It certainly was a lot easier to carry than the D200, and while it may not rival the Nikon in every category, the detail from its 12MP was pretty amazing. So for me, it works as a viable travel camera but I will always carry "large" for those times I'm after absolutely the best IQ I can get.
  11. When I travel, I take my trio of f/4 zooms (17-40, 24-105, and 70-200 IS) and one fast prime (35/1.4 or 50/1.4) with my 5D II and 1V. That way, things stay relatively light and compact. And to "lighten" the load even further, I don't carry all my lenses around with me when I'm out "sightseeing."
  12. I have four types of camera gear loadouts. You will see a progression here. Most serious photographers I know have similar setups.

    My first setup, which I always have on my person if I leave the house, is a Minox B with one extra roll of film. Combined volume is about equal
    to 1/3rd of a pack of cigarettes. This camera has a fixed lens, with a fixed aperture (f/3.5) excellent lens, and a manual readout meter. It is pre-
    set for daylight photos in the cloudy conditions which prevail here, and pre-focused at about 12 feet which is the hyperfocal distance for 6-∞.
    It's small and handy, and with ISO 400 film can still provide enough detail for good enlargements.

    The next setup is bigger. It's my newly acquired S90, which I am often carrying instead of the Minox these days. I find this camera much more
    useful than the Minox in general, although it is quite a bit larger. It is about the same size as a pack of cigarettes. I have traveled with only the
    S90, and it worked out well. I rather enjoyed the feeling of freedom from a camera bag, which is something to always be fretting over if you're
    like me and have several thousand bucks worth of gear in an easily taken bag. This is the first actual photographer's compact camera I have
    tried, other than the GR-D which was both too expensive and too limiting for my uses. I would recommend it to anybody who is interested in
    manual control for their compact digicam.

    My third setup is my digital rangefinder gear. I have an old Epson R-D1 which I love dearly, and a large selection of mainly modern Voigtlander
    lenses with a few older "golden age" screw mount lenses, like the Canon 50 f/1.2 thrown in for good measure. This setup has become my
    usual travel bag, unless I am specifically in need of the capabilities of the DSLR. I have lenses from 12mm to 90mm, which gives an effective
    range of 18-135 which is about all I can ask for. This camera is also very sensitive to infra-red, and it is possible to hand-hold infra red shots in
    good light. With a true APO lens, you can simply focus normally without correcting for IR which is really nice. The entire setup fits into a small
    camera bag, or the Pelican 1260 case.

    My final gear setup is my Canon DSLR. I rarely carry it anymore, unless I am in need of its specific capabilities. Those are fisheye lenses, tilt-
    shift lenses, macro lenses, super-telephoto lenses, off-camera automatic flash control, and the intervalometer. It still gets a lot of face time but
    not nearly as much as it used to, simply because the whole setup including all lenses and flashes takes up 1 big photo backpack and two other
    camera bags and weighs around 50 pounds. All those bags only come with me on an expedition of some sort where I have my own vehicle the
    whole time.

    Take two great photographers, Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell. Both of those guys worked with lots of gear. Ansel used everything from a
    Leica up to huge view cameras, and Galen, while sticking to 35mm to my knowledge, had everything from the tiny Rollei 35 up to the largest
    and clunkiest hand-weapon grade Nikons available. I guess the lesson here is that you can never buy enough cameras?

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