It's a bird

by Vian Esterhuizen

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I am going on a Safari and am ready to upgrade from a P&S to either a DSLR or a mirrorless. I love taking pictures and travel a lot (for fun) so expect to use this camera in multiple settings. I have a few months to learn how to use the camera before my trip.

My top DSLR choice is the Nikon D5100 and for compact system and thinking Sony NEX 5 or NEX 7. I am also open to other models.

My top priorities are (1) picture quality (for safari and general travels) and (2) weight / size (less of a factor but definitely a concern).

Thank You!

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Have you seen this?… –  MikeW Nov 23 '12 at 3:12
If you already know your top priorities, there isn't a remaining question that's on-topic for this site. I don't mean to be rude; it's just not what we're here for. See –  mattdm Nov 24 '12 at 4:20

2 Answers 2

Between state-of-the-art mirrorless cameras and cropped-sensor DSLRs, image quality is now close enough that you would not notice the difference until your make some largish prints.

Since you mention safari which generally requires long focal-lengths, it would be a big advantage if your went with a camera with a smaller sensor. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 delivers excellent image quality with a Four-Thirds sensor which gives you a focal-length-multiplier (FLM) of 2X.

This will let you use smaller lenses to get the same reach. The E-M5 also focuses fast enough and shoots at 9 FPS which makes it very competitive with similar priced DSLRs. It is also weather-sealed with the use of a weather-sealed lens for use in adverse conditions. The smaller PEN E-PL5 is not weather-sealed but expected to produce even better image quality due to its lack of anti-alias filter in a more compact and affordable body.

The NEX series use the same sensor-size as a D5100, so while the body is smaller, once you include a long lens, the size saving greatly diminishes. This is already 18 months old but I wrote a blog post showing the size-advantage of Micro Four-Thirds lenses. The lenses shown give an equivalent reach of 600mm, which requires a 400mm on a D5100 or NEX.

So, to answer your question, you can get slightly better image quality with a DSLR at this time but it will cost you significantly in size.

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I have a full frame dslr, crop dslr and and olympus micro four thirds mirror less.

For a safari I would suggest the cropped sensor dslr and at least a 300mm lens. The crop sensor will get you closer with the same lens on a full frame dslr (1.5x ish). I think the focus speed of dslrs and the viewfinder will help a lot with wildlife.

While the mirrorless cameras have great quality, and focus fairly quickly and are wonderfully light for traveling they never seems to do as well as a dslr For wildlife (I have a 200mm micro four thirds lens, which at 2x is 400mm on 35mm.). You can get close enough, but the focus and focus tracking aren't quite there on the nondslrs.

A lot of times when I travel I go with a dslr with a normal(24mm 105) zoom a long zoom (100-400mm). And the micro four thirds mirrorless with a very wide ange zoom and a fixed 20 mm.

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