Time to be with your loved ones

Time to be with loved ones

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I'm going on safari in South Africa and wondering if a micro 4/3 camera will be able to handle the low light conditions (since safaris are at dawn and dusk). Specifically, I'm looking at the Panasonic G3 (with the 100-300mm lens). Has anyone taken this camera (or similar), and if so, how did it handle the low light conditions? Would a DSLR be much better?

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2 Answers

It really comes down to your expectations and priorities. In my case I moved from a DSLR to a G3 because I got tired of the size and weight of the former and love the form factor and discretion of the smaller camera. In terms of high ISO performance (which is what you need for the safari) - my DSLR was a 2006 model - great at low ISO but nasty at 400. My G3 gives me beautiful results up to 3200 although some detail is sacrificed of course due to noise reduction. Now, if you put the G3 side by side with a DSLR, you will probably see slightly better results due to greater dynamic range and so forth, but in my case it is not enough to make me want to go back to bulk. So bottom line: if size doesn't bother you and are really picky about image quality then go with a DSLR, but if you prefer something smaller, lighter and more discreet and almost on par in IQ then go with the G3.

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Every camera has a limit and so does the Panasonic G3. What's more is that you will encounter that limit on various occasions and quite possibly on safari.

A camera with a larger sensor will perform better in low light. That means DSLRs and even SLDs with APS-C sized sensors, followed by full-frame DSLRs. The real question is how much is this worth to you? Getting one of those cameras is more costs, bulkier and heavier.

The 100-300mm lens you mention is equivalent to a 200-600mm on a full-frame DSLRs, so you are getting a lot of reach in a relatively small size. You are also getting a reasonable F/5.6 aperture at the long end which is quite costly for a 600mm lens. If you go halfway to an APS-C camera you can use a bright F/2.8 400mm lens which will give you two stops additional light and lets you use higher shutter-speeds too. This would already be better not including the advantage of having a larger sensor.

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+1 - Lol - he wanted to buy a $500 lens and you suggested an $11k lens. –  rfusca Mar 5 '12 at 2:09
    
@rfusca - That's a bit the point which many beginners miss. With $500 budget, expect $500 quality! :) –  Itai Mar 5 '12 at 2:11
    
+1 Very true. That would likely be the lens to use and a nice sturdy tripod and a whole lot of experience shooting wildlife. –  Jakub Mar 6 '12 at 2:31
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