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Recently I was given a Panasonic GF2 micro 4/3 camera + 14mm pancake lens for my birthday — a nice upgrade to what I have been using recently. I want to start to take my photography more seriously, and have been given the OK to spend a little bit of cash - maybe 5-600 - to upgrade my kit. I like the GF2 OK, despite it being a bit less popular in the m4/3 community.

I would say that I am probably a low/medium experienced photographer — I have owned several high end compacts and a Rebel XT in the past — though with kit lens only.

The big question I am facing at the moment is whether I should stick with the m4/3 system and my Panasonic camera or switch over to a full size DSLR setup — probably with a Nikon.

Primarily I like to shoot landscapes and "things" — architecture, sculpture, etc. — not frequently portraits, people, or action. I am also very interested in HDR photography and have started working with it a little bit.

It is also important to me to be able to shoot high quality video if the need arises. I currently work doing web development, and there is the occasional need for us to work with photographers or video people, so I am hoping potentially I can start to fill that role, and perhaps eventually do a bit more professional work down the road.

If I stick with the M4/3 format, I would probably look at adding a couple of lenses to my kit over the next couple of months. Currently I have been looking closely at the Panasonic X series powerzoom lenses — the 14-42 and 45-175. I think that this would round out my selection well for now. I know these lenses are yet to be totally proven. I do like the size of the M4/3, especially for travel. Also from what I gather, the Panasonic GF2 is less than ideal for HDR photography.

If I decided to switch formats, I would probably look at either a Nikon D90 or a 5100 — with a kit lens and probably a cheap prime in the short term. In general, from what I have read, it sounds like the 90 is preferred over the 5100 except when it comes to video capabilities — which gives me a tough choice.

Is the m4/3 camera / system good enough to grow with me as a photographer longer term, or would I be better served by switching into something else before investing heavily into it?

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Do you have a specific question that you would like answered here? –  dpollitt Oct 16 '11 at 18:03
    
Yes - from above: 1. The big question I am facing at the moment is whether I should stick with the m4/3 system and my Panasonic camera or switch over to a full size DSLR setup - probably with a Nikon. 2. Is the m4/3 camera / system good enough to grow with me as a photog longer term, or would I be better served by switching into something else before investing heavily into it? -- the rest is there as background. –  Nick Oct 16 '11 at 18:29
    
We already have questions around Micro 4/3rds compared to DSLRs and Micro 4/3rds for Landscape photography photo.stackexchange.com/questions/8159/… photo.stackexchange.com/questions/14640/… –  dpollitt Oct 16 '11 at 19:06
    
Nick, we welcome questions about Micro 4/3rds and DSLRs, but a few things come to mind here. First of all, you do not have a specific question, you have a "big" question along with some other questions. You are trying to evoke more of a discussion around the formats that may be better suited for the chat room here. The scope here is very broad, and I think the two questions already asked(linked above) provide the broad answers you may be looking for. Try asking a specific problem that you have and we can gladly answer! –  dpollitt Oct 16 '11 at 19:22
3  
@Nick - What you missing is your reason for doubting or feeling limited by the M4/3 system. –  Itai Oct 17 '11 at 2:53

6 Answers 6

So let me get this straight.

You have a small, light weight camera that can use a good selection of lenses, and you are thinking of changing systems. You like the camera, it weighs less with a lens on than a Nikon DSLR does without. If you are travelling, the weight is not going to dig into you back.

My questions are why change? Have you reached the limitations of what the camera can do?

Remember it isn't the camera that makes a good photographer, the camera is just a tool.

to quote Ken Rockwell again

Buying new gear will NOT improve your photography

Chase Jarvis even made a book from images taken from his iPhone. (interesting ideas in that book BTW)

My advice is pick up your excellent tool. and trash it until it begs for a break. By doing this you will understand a lot more on what you want to say, how you want to say it, and what you need to do to say it. When you have done that pick up your camera and start using it.

Last Christmas I went out and downgraded, deliberately. I bought a Pentax Spotmatic with a 50mm f1.4 for $130 NZD ($100 USD). It is lighter, I only have one lens, and it is brilliant. I wanted to learn how to see again, instead of "I need that $4000 lens so I can..." Because of this I have rediscovered an area in which I love. Night street scenes. While I have experience with clients and projects, I needed a reminder that it isn't a race to get into more debt.

It is being able to tell what I want. How I want. And the more simpler tools, mean I have to think harder. Which mean I am happy with any camera in my hand now.

I love photography. I love telling stories. I love expressing myself. The camera is just the means to that.

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I wouldn't consider APS-C a "larger format" than u4/3 (somewhere on here there was an answer where someone pointed out that the difference between u4/3 and APS-C was smaller than the difference between APS-C and full-frame). If you want substantially better pictures you'd be better off moving up to full-frame -- which isn't cheap.

But since you've got a good camera body, and some money to spend on lenses, you're probably better off getting a decent lens and taking enough pictures to learn your style of photography and figure out for yourself what equipment is limiting you.

And don't forget that smaller lenses means smaller, and therefore cheaper, filters; a smaller, lighter camera means a smaller, cheaper tripod; smaller camera and lenses means a smaller and cheaper bag. At every step up in format, your accessories get bigger and more expensive.

It sounds like you've got some research ahead of you, though, if you are really concerned about the u4/3 vs. APS-C question. Start by looking at all the questions here with the "micro-four-thirds" tag.

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Re specific question on the difference between sensor sizes: lensrentals.com/blog/2012/01/sensor-size-matters-part-1 (For what it's worth, I agree with the "learn first, spend money later" recommendations.) –  khedron Feb 1 '12 at 17:13

Nick, Keep the u4/3 as it is and go for an SLR as a main camera. It has already been said that it is NOT in the camera but the one taking the picture. True, but if you change to a SLR (Canon, Nikon, etc.), you will have a wider variety of lens selection. The u4/3 system is relatively small compared to the well established SLRs. There are not-so-expensive SLR bodies from Canon or Nikon you can start with. I would invest in good prime lenses since I can always change camera bodies anytime.

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If you have a small sturdy tripod and if you don't need to freeze fast moving objects, I think you will be very happy with your micro 4/3 system and some nice primes like the 14mm f/2.5, 25mm f/1.4 and 45mm f/1.8. Just don't use it above ISO400, because the noise gets worse quickly. If you need good high ISO peformance, buy a good APS-C or full frame camera.

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Given your current situation and trying to cut through the many questions you have, i can suggest two solutions

  1. Expensive - move to Nikon or whatever floats your boat but that's assuming you can sell off the m4/3 or something. And you are ok with the big size

  2. Stick to the m4/3 system. Your limitations that I understand are the video quality, etc. These are things that are body dependent more than lens dependent. You could continue investing in the m4/3 system and sometime in the future just get a different m4/3 body. It would be the easier route to go.

But like Ken Rockwell mentioned, the system doesn't matter. It won't be super different from m4/3 to APS-C

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Stick with what you have and invest in lenses. If you move up to a DSLR you will only need more money for lenses. And besides if you decide to use legacy optics I think your 4/3 will not be as limited. Plus if you want to do video I'm pretty certain that Canon beats Nikon in that department.

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