DSLR or Micro 4/3? Olympus TG-4 or GoPro?

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#1
351 Posts
Joined Mar 2016
I will be cruising to Bermuda this July on the Breakaway. It will be our second cruise (first was last year to Alaska). My primary camera is a Canon d70. Last year, I purchased the Tamron 16-300 to use as a walkabout as well as zoom lens for the trip. It worked well enough: got some really good whale watching shots, and my Glacier Bay pics are not bad.

I've never loved this lens--it's convenient, but it's not great in low-light, and isn't spectacularly sharp in general. Would it be worth considering renting a micro 4/3 camera for my still photos since I'm not loving this Tamron lens? Would there be something smaller/lighter/better quality that I could try out? Or should I just stick with what I have and consider a different walkabout lens.

For a water/sports camera, I currently have an Olympus TG-4. This is a great little camera for the beach/under water. We will be doing some active tours: parasailing, cave exploration/swimming, and cliff jumping (some small cliffs). I wonder if the Olympus Tough would be a good choice for these tours, or if a GoPro would be a worthwhile investment. The video quality on the TG-4 is poor (would do a lousy job for parasailing), though it does take decent stills.



TIA for any suggestions.
#2
351 Posts
Joined Mar 2016
I see that the TG-5 is just coming out--seems to have better video capabilities. So I guess that would be an option as well. My TG-4 is only a year + old, so I would feel a little bad about replacing.
#3
LI NY
527 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
I'm a little biased - but I would recommend micro 4/3 cameras just for the reduction in body & lens size. The image quality is comparable to APS-C form factor SLR's - but both the image stabilization and electronic viewfinder offer advantages over a typical SLR setup.

The blogger / photographer Robin Wong has an overview of the OMD 10 mark2 - his site also features street photography in and around Kula Lampour

Check with sites like lensrentals and borrowlenses - they may have a package with body & lenses [OMD EM5 mark 2; Olympus Pro 12-100 f4 would make a nice walk around combo]
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#4
Southern California
7,914 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
You might consider the Sony A6x00 caneras for a DSLR alternative. Same size APS-C sensor as the DSLRs (D7x00, etc.) and actually larger than the Canon Rebels' sensor. 50% larger than the M4/3 sensor despite the body being significantly smaller than all but a couple of the lower-end M4/3 cameras. With the 16-50PZ kit lens (performs way better than the somewhat misleading reviews) it is jacket pocketable and produces excellent image quality. Add class-leading low-light capability and you have the reason I retired my DSLR and switch to these cameras.

Here's a link to one of our recent cruising galleries shot entirely on my A6000/A6300 cameras: http://galleries.pptphoto.com/paccoast2016

Whatever you end up with, enjoy your trip!

Dave
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#5
63 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
I'm taking my Micro 4/3 in preference to my large bulky Nikon. It's a Panasonic G7 also taking a couple of lenses 12-60 and 45-150. It's a great small camera with excellent photos and 4K video.

Last year I only took my Panasonic TZ40, pleased with the photos but in the intense South Pacific sun having no viewfinder was a real pain. Chose the G7 because of its viewfinder and Raw capability.

Intense sun shouldn't be an issue this year as we are off to Norway


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#6
351 Posts
Joined Mar 2016
Thanks to all who provided feedback and suggestions. Funny how everyone has a favorite, and they are all different manufacturers. One of the ones that I've been eyeing now is Fujifilm X-T20. Just came out this year. Pros (as I see it): since Fuji doesn't make a full-frame camera, its higher-end lenses are made to fit the APS-C sensor cameras like this one. So you can get some pretty nice glass that's not horrendously heavy and balances well with this sized camera. For example, what looks to be a great pairing is the X-T20 and the 18-55 f/2.4-4. Downsides: camera body is not stabilized (though a lot of the lenses are--so maybe not a big deal), body isn't weatherproofed, and video isn't thought to be as good as Sony and Panasonic's.

The Sony A6000/6300/6500s also look nice. The general weakness appears to be their arsenal of lenses--not as many good options for the APS-C mirrorless cameras as Fuji offers. Though I see one of you posted that the "kit" lens performs better than expected, so maybe I shouldn't take reviews with a grain of salt.

My uncle who is a serious bird and nature photographer wrote to me saying he has a A6000 and he pairs it with high-quality Canon glass via a converter. This is interesting--I didn't realize you could do that. I wonder if I could still use my Tamron 16-300 when needed.

Still wondering if it's worth me switching over for weight alone: Here's one analysis:

Fujifilm X-T20: 383 g.


18-55 F/2.8-4: 310 g.
______
693 g. = 1.53 lb.s


Canon D70 plus Tamron 16-300 lens: 2.85 lbs.


There is a difference, but I'd want to make sure there were other advantages, too, before dropping that kind of money.
#7
Charleston SC
2,186 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
Why not just rent a better lens for your trip instead of starting over with a new system? Getting a new and learning a new system just weeks from your trip doesn't make much sense to me.
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#8
Summertown TN
804 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Originally posted by lmintzer
I will be cruising to Bermuda this July on the Breakaway. It will be our second cruise (first was last year to Alaska). My primary camera is a Canon d70. Last year, I purchased the Tamron 16-300 to use as a walkabout as well as zoom lens for the trip. It worked well enough: got some really good whale watching shots, and my Glacier Bay pics are not bad.

I've never loved this lens--it's convenient, but it's not great in low-light, and isn't spectacularly sharp in general. Would it be worth considering renting a micro 4/3 camera for my still photos since I'm not loving this Tamron lens? Would there be something smaller/lighter/better quality that I could try out? Or should I just stick with what I have and consider a different walkabout lens.

For a water/sports camera, I currently have an Olympus TG-4. This is a great little camera for the beach/under water. We will be doing some active tours: parasailing, cave exploration/swimming, and cliff jumping (some small cliffs). I wonder if the Olympus Tough would be a good choice for these tours, or if a GoPro would be a worthwhile investment. The video quality on the TG-4 is poor (would do a lousy job for parasailing), though it does take decent stills.



TIA for any suggestions.
Sorry I'm late responding to this question.

I've encountered the same not great but good results from my Tamron 28-300 full frame lens.

My first first fix was to go back to carrying my f1.4 nifty fifty in addition to the Tamron for low light or any shots I wanted more control over depth of field.

My final fix was to replace the Lens with a higher quality "branded" f2.8 zoom lens . The problem is expense and I've gotten so use to carrying and using my 50mm that I will probably never go far without it.

Now to GoPro.
I have a Hero 5 and a Session 5. Great little video cameras. Sturdy, waterproof without a housing, easy to carry around even with a gimbal if you use one, and take great wide angle Time Lapse. If you shoot action video I would recommend them. If you want it for occasional video, stills, or any video that you need good ambient audio, there are better alternatives.

The only thing I'm using my GoPros for now are for stabilized video (gimbal with voice over) and Time lapse.
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#9
10,610 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
My travel kit consists of both a Nikon D500 and the Sony A6000. The A6000 is a very versatile camera, EXCEPT in two situations - 1, there is no good native long lens and 2, the kit lenses are just meh at low light (there are good lens options to fix that, I use the sony G 18-105 as my main lens on it). In terms of image quality the A6000 packs quite a bit of punch for its size, its what I am likely to use in towns, for example. The Nikon comes out when I am either shooting moving targets, shooting long range or using my landscape lens (I didn't buy one for the 6000). As noted, you can also use other Canon and Sony lenses with an adapter, with a small loss in aperture and focusing speed.

As to what I would do, depending on what you want to carry and shoot, is either rent a Sigma Art 24-105 as a walkabout lens if you want sharp (it is a heavier lens but super crisp) OR rent the canon equivalent of the Tamron (much like I am renting the Nikon 18-300 for an upcoming trip)
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#10
Boca Raton, Florida
2,344 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Just one clarification to what Loonbeam said, as some folks get a little confused when people mention 'native' lenses or comment that the Sony APS-C mirrorless bodies don't have very many lenses compared to other mirrorless lines, etc. What most people are referring to are 'native APS-C lenses' - of which Sony has 16 APS-C specific e-mount lenses, plus another 8 third-party e-mount autofocus lenses. However, the 'FE' or full-frame e-mount lenses are still NATIVE e-mount lenses on APS-C bodies...no adapters, no loss of function or speed, etc. The only difference is that they can also mount on full-frame sensors without vignetting. Including FE lenses, Sony has 39 native e-mount lenses, and third party adds another 15 autofocus native lenses, for a total of 54 - which includes 32 primes and 22 zooms.

When it comes to the longer lenses, full-frame vs APS-C has very little impact on lens size and weight. Consider the Fuji 100-400mm lens which is designed for APS-C only, at 3.03 lbs and 3.73" x 8.29", and the Sony 100-400mm lens designed for full frame at 3.07 lbs and 3.70" x 8.07". Nor does full frame have to mean 'huge' for all lenses either - the Sony 85mm F1.8 lens is a full framer weighing only 13oz measuring 3" x 3.2"...not exactly a monster. Some other FE primes are also reasonably small and light too.

Just wanted to clarify that one point as it can get a little confusing, with some folks thinking FE is a completely different mount...and a common criticism of Sony's e-mount is that they have fewer lenses than other mirrorless, because only their APS-C lenses are being considered.

My uncle who is a serious bird and nature photographer wrote to me saying he has a A6000 and he pairs it with high-quality Canon glass via a converter. This is interesting--I didn't realize you could do that. I wonder if I could still use my Tamron 16-300 when needed.

I too am heavily into bird and wildlife photography, and use both DSLRs and mirrorless bodies for it - my A6300 is my favorite camera for birds-in-flight photography as the autofocus and tracking is superb and the camera is extremely fast and easy to handle. My main lens for this camera is the FE70-300mm, which is a wonderful lens - and I'm also looking to add the FE100-400mm lens coming next month. If you do decide to use other lenses from other mounts via adapters, you may want to look at the A6300 or A6500, instead of the A6000 as they upgraded the focus system to work much better with adapted lenses...the difference is very noticeable. I use an Alpha-mount Tamron 150-600mm lens on my A6300 to great effect - it was almost unusably slow when I used it on my A6000.
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#11
Ireland
78 Posts
Joined Apr 2017
Just note that canon have a compact interchangeable lens range as well which also happen to be compatible with the lenses for the DSLRs, so if you want to get a smaller body that can take canon lenses you could consider that option.

I have a couple of canon 7Ds but I wound up getting the Panasonic lumix gm1 as my travel camera. I use the DSLRs for sports photography, I'd probably bring one of them with a 100-400mm f4 lens if I was doing an Alaskan or Norwegian fjords cruise, but for anything else I'd stick with the GM1 and my pseudo GoPro as the camera kit. I have a lens that goes up to 200mm for the gm1 which with the sensor size makes it 300mm equivalent.
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#12
351 Posts
Joined Mar 2016
You have all given me a lot to think about. I will definitely be keeping my Canon D70 for sports photography as well (my kids play soccer and run track).

For vacation, I just am getting tired of always carrying something big around. So my priorities are: small and light with as good quality lense(s) as possible without adding too much weight.

In an ideal world, I'd find a super light body with a standard zoom that works well for low light too (f/2.8). Tough to find a "light" f/2.8--and also one that doesn't break the bank.
#13
Southern California
7,914 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Originally posted by lmintzer
You have all given me a lot to think about. I will definitely be keeping my Canon D70 for sports photography as well (my kids play soccer and run track).

For vacation, I just am getting tired of always carrying something big around. So my priorities are: small and light with as good quality lense(s) as possible without adding too much weight.

In an ideal world, I'd find a super light body with a standard zoom that works well for low light too (f/2.8). Tough to find a "light" f/2.8--and also one that doesn't break the bank.
Amen.

Several years ago, I picked up a NEX-5 as a compact alternative to the A77 + battery grip which was my then go-to camera. It soon became my walkabout camera for the ship and when the NEX-7 came out with the newer version of the sensor in the A77, I picked it up to replace the NEX-5. Before too long, the NEX-7 and the 16-50 power zoom became the go-to with the A77 coming out when I needed the focusing speed and the excellent 16-50 f/2.8. Fast forward a year or two and the A6000 sent the A77 to the shelf with its performance and handling. Add another year and the A6000 became the second body to the A6300 and after I added the 18-105 f/4 G lens, I carry the A6000 with an alternate lens for the day, if at all. The A6300/18-105 combo is just that good for me. I use some primes, such as the SEL5018 50mm f/1.8 and the Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 (manual but fantastically sharp) but mostly on the A6000 since the 18-105 almost never comes off of the main camera anymore. I don't miss the f/2.8 much at all since the sensor has superb low-light capability, but would seriously consider your mythical "small, light, reasonably-priced" f/2.8 normal zoom.

I recently went to London with my kids for a weekend to see Guardians vol.2 a week early (daughter works for an airline and I foolishly booked a cruise on opening day in the US) and only took the A6300 with the 18-105. Here's the gallery from the trip, shot 100% on the A6300/18-105 combo:

http://galleries.pptphoto.com/london2017

I thought you might be interested that a one-camera, one-lens trip (not my preferred method) is indeed possible with good results.


Dave
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#14
351 Posts
Joined Mar 2016
Dave, great photos! You really did a fantastic job capturing your trip. A combo like you have is tempting--but is it really that much lighter than my Canon D70 plus super zoom or my D70 plus an 18-135? It's just (maybe) hard to justify, unless I am convinced I will have significant auto-focus (or other) benefits. Certainly, I'd have a lighter load with either the Fujifilm or the Sony and a small 18-55 lens--but that might not be enough reach for vacation photos.
#15
Southern California
7,914 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Originally posted by lmintzer
Dave, great photos! You really did a fantastic job capturing your trip. A combo like you have is tempting--but is it really that much lighter than my Canon D70 plus super zoom or my D70 plus an 18-135? It's just (maybe) hard to justify, unless I am convinced I will have significant auto-focus (or other) benefits. Certainly, I'd have a lighter load with either the Fujifilm or the Sony and a small 18-55 lens--but that might not be enough reach for vacation photos.
To clarify, I usually have the 18-105 mounted because of its f/4 constant aperture and exceptional clarity. I gave up some portability for image quality for destinations where I may not return to soon or ever. Autofocus is extremely fast with it and it seems to support features like facial registration and eye-tracking very well.

70D + 18-135 f/3.5-f5.6 = 1.27kg
24MP
19 phase-detect focus points
7 fps burst
DxOMark sensor score = 68
1080p-30 video

A6300 + 18-105 f/4 = .83kg
24MP
425 phase-detect focus points
11 fps burst
DxOMark sensor score = 85
1080p-30/60/120, 4K-30 video

Add a few things like in-camera HDR and multi-frame noise reduction and you can see why I dropped the DSLR and went to the Alphas. Incidentally, the 16-50 PZ "kit" lens is a lot better that some of the snooty reviews would have you believe. I usually mount that on my A6000 (identical body dimensions) when traveling for business and the total weight is down to .5kg. The combo will also fit in a jacket pocket.

Good luck making a decision..there really are no bad cameras out there anymore.

Dave
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