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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

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I heard Gitzo is excellent when it comes to IS.

Olympus.

I don't think you need IBIS. I've used Fuji X cameras pretty much since they were available and I don't think I've ever had an issue with camera shake with lenses that weren't stabilized. If you want a new camera, sell the Fuji and buy what you want. This IBIS thing sounds like a rationalization.

I love so many things about the Panasonics I've owned...but the shutter issues still present at times on the GX8 give me pause.

The Sony is an amazing technical spec machine in a horrible, lifeless shell. No fun to shoot, gets in its own way often. I tried very hard to make it work and hated it more every day.

The Oly is great, overpriced, and still weird for me, if you like it, it's amazing, but if you don't...

I'd say check out the issues on the GX8 shutter shock, and if they don't apply to you, full steam ahead. You had the Nex-6, if that didn't drive you crazy, you may have a healthier relationship with the 6500 than I could.
The Oly is last, simply because it's grossly overpriced for what it is - it's no where near better a camera than a D500, D750 - at that price, dial it up to an A7RII.

That's really the best choice, ya know....:)

Oly----the best IBIS from the reviews I read, and it has the chip you like so much (as does the GX8 I guess). State of the art in a lot of ways right now.

(After saying all that, I have to admit that after reviewing my Lightroom library by camera tonight - trying to ponder if I want to keep this ZS100 i'm trying out - that my biggest run of mediocre shots was with my D600, the biggest sensor I ever had. My Fujis and D7000 smoked it, with the Fujis having the highest keeper rate....so what the heck do i know. Buy a camera you can love.)

Mike, seriously, can't you just buy a camera that you love? Why IBIS now? High ISO quality is through the roof, fast lenses are affordable. And even if you do need IBIS, which one of these three cameras do you love? Stop being cerebral about it. I'm sure each of these systems has a good 35mm equivalent lens. That's what you like. You've said so yourself many times. I agree with your brother and I want to share some smart advice with you that may sound slightly familiar: one camera, one lens, one year! Whenever I don't spend enough time making photographs, I buy gear. Now go out and take some photos, and stop chasing rapidly depreciating technology.

Oh and by the way, instead of buying a new camera, take one of your old ones on a trip with Peter Turnley. Invest in experiences, not stuff.

What lenses would you get with each camera? And what lens do you use now? One wide angle prime as I recall...

Hi, Michael. Overly simplistic but here's my quick take: If video is important: GX8. If fast autofocus is important: A6500. If you want the best IBIS: E-M1 mk II. Of course, then there are all the lenses that will really make quite a difference.

    ...doug

Doug Kaye Photography
Former Host of All About the Gear
Co-Host of the Cameralabs.com Photography Podcast
DougKaye.com
doug@rds.com 

The Fuji with a fast prime plus the the approximately one-stop low-light edge that comes from its bigger sensor than micro 4/3 should offset at least some (if not most/all) of the benefits of IBIS from m4/3 cameras. Do you often shoot in poorly-lit interiors or at twilight? If not, just how much stabilization do you really need? Or is this a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence? Only you can answer those questions.

My personal take: Switching systems to chase slight perceived advantages is a [very expensive] fool's errand.

My guess: you love the Fuji - you'll be happier if you stick with it. And your wallet will be happier.

An addition to my last comment:

After you've laid out your lens choices, don't forget to consider the images! :-)

Personally, I like Olympus colors better than Panasonic, and I'd put Sony last on the list. Just for reference, I think Fuji is great for colors, but I'm not thrilled about the tonality with some of their cameras. I'm not talking JPEG here, I'm talking RAW - specifically in Lightroom.

Have you downloaded RAW images from Imaging-Resource and Photographyblog and tried them out in Lightroom? RAW samples are available for all three cameras.

Lenses?

What I've got:
Olympus E-M1 Mark II

Which one has the 35mm-e lens you'd love to use?

As for needing IBIS, I'm surprised. Since I have the X-T1, no camera announced since has given me any incentive to change.

Also, for what it's worth, I've had an Olympus E-3 at the time and the IBIS was incredibly effective. The Pentax K-5 also had IBIS but a notch worse than the Olympus. The E-3 was also the top of the line for Olympus at the time and I fondly remember its extraordinary build quality, finish and workmanship. Everything was smooth, tightly adjusted and felt like a well oiled mechanic. I'd expect their current flagship to reproduce that feeling.

And you seem to particularly like the new 4/3rd sensor, so that might be a strong choice influencer.

Since you're a lens gourmet, I cannot see how Sony would attract you more than Olympus either.

Olympus Pen-F ;-) plus 17mm and 25mm

It's pretty simple with this type of decision, IMHO. Just imagine you randomly select one camera, let's say the GX8. Now imagine you are using it, in the situations where you normally use your camera. Now ask yourself, would it have been much better if you have the other camera, for whatever reasons, and is it important enough that you'd hate the camera you selected.

Buy the one you think you'll use the most. It's hard to buy a bad camera today. Rent them each for day. One will surely have better viewing for your taste and feel better in your hand.

GX8.
The current price is a relative bargain.
You like Panasonics.
Combined lens and body IS using Panasonic lenses.
I don't think the alleged shutter problem will be a problem for you but only you can judge.

If IBIS is the fundamental requirement, then the E-M1 II seems to beat the contenders due to Olympus's traditionally excellent IBIS.

In many situations, the very good Olympus IBIS allows a handheld shutter speed sufficiently slower to negate the 2/3 or so stop otherwise gained by the larger APS-C Sony A6500 sensor.


GX8 and E-M1 II reputedly both use the same nice Sony 20 MP M43 sensor. I really like the image quality from that sensor despite initial doubts about the smaller pixel pitch.

GX8 and E-M1 II share the excellent M43 lens catalog but continuous focus isn't as good as the Sony A6500.

Sony A6500 has a nice sensor, decent IBIS, and good continuous autofocus if you're an action photographer, but the lens catalog for high-end smaller prime lenses is rather sparse and expensive except for those excellent Sigma 30mm and 60mm f/2.8 DN ART series lenses and the pricy Zeiss lenses. Using large zoom lenses on any of these cameras seems to defeat the fundamental mirrorless ILC premise of small, fast, and agile.

On balance, if an action photographer, then the Sony A6500 makes the most sense if the right optics are affordable.

Otherwise, the M43 GX8 and E-M1 II seem to provide better optical performance at a lower price and in body/lens package that's smaller overall.

Of these two, the E-M1 II might be the better choice if top-quality IBIS is a primary criterion. Have you thought about the Pen-F with some Panasonic and Olympus primes as an alternative to the GX8? It's rather nicer to use than I expected, with excellent image quality in a smaller though not weather-sealed (!) body and the IBIS is on par with the E-M1 II.

Sony

A monopod would be cheaper.

My friend Mike who runs the excellent blog Macfilos, has recently invested in two M43 systems in quick succession.

He is more pleased with the Panasonic than the Olympus, but I do not think that the deciding factor had anything to do with IS.

Personally, I can't get past the mini sensor, I cannot cope with anything smaller than APS-C, it's probably psychological though.

Olympus.. best ibis ......loads of lenses from oly. +Panasonic lenses e.g. 15mm 1.7 & 42.5mm 1.7 I have an nex7 too but use manual lens with adapter on that..( leica r & contax )

Will you be influenced by whatever lens you already own.

Being rather old I must say to me image stabilization is a prerequisite! In the body is great. I own the Sony A7R2. Experience is that IS is most effective with combined IBIS and lens IS. In my case the Batis 85/1.8.
Of your candidates. The GX8 is by far the less expensive - but also with the IBIS being not state of the art. There are a lot 2nd hand lenses available many with image stabilization. I really like the Pana user interface and logic!
The Sony 6500 is a great camera, rather small and light. There are great lenses for it, many being quite expensive. The APS-C 35 and 50 are good and that Rokinon 12/2 is great. Voightländer 15/4 is great. The Batis 28 excellent as well as expensive. Sony FE 28, 50 macro and 85/1.8 are all great.
The Olympus is a great camera and its IBIS is really state of the art! Expensive but with a great range of lenses in different price levels. The mk2 is expensive, but you can buy 2nd hand lenses rather cheaply. Then we have that new Oly 12-100 with IS and super IQ. Expensive but what a combo!
You can't go wrong with any of your alternatives! Recommended: Panasonic is the most wallet friendly alternative, opening up for lens investments.

Let us be logical.

Panasonic GX8, you like the sensor but which lenses are you going to use with it. Plus some doubt, (probably exaggerated), about Panasonic's commitment to photography.

Olympus E-M1 Mark II, excellent IBIS, but again which lenses will you use?

Sony A6500, very good IBIS and you can use the Sony/Zeiss 24mm f1.8 which is what you really want to do. And I can tell you from experience that the 24mm and the Sony/Zeiss 55mm f1.8 (FE) make a great combination.

"I believe I need ...." A self generated problem. The vast majority of our problems are just this.

Good luck in the search for the ephemeral perfect camera!

Best
drimé

That is an almost impossible choice. I am leaning towards the GX8.

Great sensor, more compact and cheaper than the OMD E-M1 II. You also like it already :)

I would use it the 12-35mm f/2.8 and 35-100mm f/2.8 zooms and a few select primes.

Decide which lens you'd like to use and you have your answer

Maybe it's too small for you - I don't know what size your hands are - but the Olympus PEN-F is a little more versatile than the EM1 MkII ..specifically in its ability to set the right ISO (..and not be limited to an upper setting of ISO 6400..) in all of its P, A, S, M modes - so YOU can set the shutter speed and aperture, and let the camera "ride" the ISO settings ..and this is also true in 'Silent' (electronic shutter) mode.

The EM1 MkII - like its predecessor - caps the ISO at 6400 (MkI at 3200) when used that way, especially in 'Silent' mode (..which I use all the time).

The PEN's IBIS is the same as the EM1 MkII's, and it has the same 20 megapixel count. It's not as 'chunky' as the MkII, and is a little slower at processor-intensive jobs such as in-camera perspective correction using 'Keystone Compensation'. (If you're going to use that a lot, choose the MkII instead.)

The PEN is smaller, lighter, more 'svelte' (if that matters), rides ISO better, and can't - though the MkII can - shoot Cinema4K ultra-hi-def video and doesn't have audio in and out jacks. As an unobtrusive, fast, extremely capable m4/3 camera, the PEN-F is pretty much unbeatable ..but you'll need to put a dot of resin - or something else tactile - on its little 'Magnify' button, if you're going to use that for manual focusing, as the button's too flush with the camera body to find it quickly if you need it.

Strongly recommended: try it and see what you think..

I would suggest the Sony Alpha 7II. Just because of the lenses you can use with it (Loxia, Batis, or the nice and cheaper trio from Sony: 28 f2, 50 f1.8, 85 f1.8).

I know, it's not on your list:)

P.S: If you like to shoot black-&-white like Eugene Atget, or with old-style blue-sensitive (ortho) film, the PEN-F is the only camera I know of which has a built-in electronic BLUE filter, to make the distance go whiter, and give more contrast between foreground and background. However, this may be of absolutely no use or interest to you at all!

Hi Mike, guy on youtube David Thorpe who's a pro does good comprehensive workaday (but not dull) reviews, has videos of the Panasonic and Olympus.
I think he prefers the GX8 but he's very fair in his offerings on both.
With a look.

Keep the X-T1, which you love? The "I believe I need" doens't sound as if you're really convinced.

If you want IBIS then the Olympus E-M1 Mark II has the best IBIS and its a much nicer camera to handle.

Don't you often say how much you like the Sony A6xxx form factor and controls?
It seems like you already know which one to get.

May I add to your choice overload by feeding you another option: Pentax.
Partly pulling your leg, partly serious. After all, in your previous life, as Sunday Morning Photographer you’ve written many a kind word on Pentax.

A few weeks ago I bought a K-3 Mk II (second hand), and already I’m really fond of it. Not too big, not too small; not too heavy, not too light; IBIS; very good viewfinder; shoots DNG (!) and very good iq. Additional irrelevance: it’s a tad ugly, which I like; I mean it’s a proper camera, not a product from a "design studio".

I advise you to buy the GX8 (if you truly need to change systems again!) because:

-You had a Sony "NEX" system before; there was evidently something that you didn't like, other than the fact the camera didn't have IBIS at the time, or else you'd have made IBIS number one priority for your next purchase.

-Your shooting style doesn't require the superior speed of the EM1 MkII.

-You have recently written an article stating you like the additional noise of 4/3rds sensors over APS-C and full frame 35mm, so the superior high ISO performance of the EM1 MkII is likely not to bother you.

-You have previously stated that you are in love with the tilting EVF concept.

-The GX8 is nearly a third of the price of the EM1 MkII, which will both fit in better with your "cheapskate" persona and cost you less in depreciation when you (inevitably soon) change your mind again! ;-)

simple....Olympus have the best ibis, (Sony just leveraged their shareholding to get rights to it) and you have access to all the m43 lens goodness out there.

OH Mike I do so fear the 'I need' I t has cost me dearly over the years for all the technology and capabilities my ex partner reckoned that I made my best images with a twin lens Rollie and that I only needed one lens.
I fear she was right but ' I need' appeared many times and I should have re-phrased it 'do I need'
David

I think cameras are tools and need to fit the user. You wouldn't buy $1,500 boots online without trying them on first, right? Make thou a pilgrimage to B&H and handle 'em. Your hands and eye will tell you right quick which one is the right one.

Also, I have been purchasing cameras a "generation back" in the development queue. You can save over half buy buying the three-year-old version of the Oly. ...

Hi Mike,

Although I'm an Oly user, I still find the small sensor a drawback at times(noise). As the tuner said in the early days of stock car racing: "there ain't no substitut for cubic inches". I'd go for the Sony.

Thanks for a great site.
Dudley Wood - Cascais

It depends on the lenses you want/need. You know that the Sony has the best sensor, so I think you will choose that.
I don't think a pro and con discussion is very a interesting read ... There are thousands of them already on different fora ...:)

Pen-F now or wait for G9

M1 version ii (or if you'd like to save quite a few $100x, the M5.2, which is selling at a steep discount. Discounts of $200 are currently around on the M1.2, so with good timing or finding refurbished units, both can be kept affordable.

These two are the champions of IBIS, and have some really wonderful lenses available, both primes and zooms. My personal favorite primes are the 25/1.4 from PanaLeica and the 75/1.8 from Olympus, but there are others which are widely loved. And for IBIS plus OIS, there are several zooms with OIS available. The new-ish 12-100/4 from Olympus is really astonishing. I've seen hand held pictures taken at the wide end with exposures of several seconds! Among the new entrants, GH-5 and M1.2, the M1.2 does video almost as well as the more purpose-built GH-5 and blows away the Panasonic at still photography because of its features and lens portfolio. (Perhaps only relevant if you are curious about video, but I am...) Even the feature heavy menus on the M1.2 are said to have had a cleanup and reorganization.

Well, I haven't used the Panasonic but I used to have an OMD EM1 Mk1 but sold it when I bought into the Sony A7 series. I then also bought the A6300 and was about to upgrade to the 6500 when the OMD EM1 MK2 was announced. I always regretted getting rid of the OMD as I feel it is one of the best handling cameras I have ever used (and I've used very many). So I am now back in my happy place with the Olympus MK2 and also my Sony A7, the main reason I have against the A6500 is purely the fact that I would still be locked into full frame lenses in reality plus it's handling is no where near as good as the Olympus. The Olympus lenses are fabulous as are the Panasonic I'm sure. Personally see negligible difference in image quality between M43 and APSC when exposed correctly.

Olympus E-M1 Mark II. Just my personal choice, as all 3 are supposed to be the bomb. I use a Pen 5 myself, among others.

Knowing you, suspect whichever image taking machine you purchase, will be changed to something else within 18 months; digital changes that quickly, sadly.
Me? I'd simply use the camera between my ears in lieu of spending money on another metal and plastic device.

May I ask why you feel the need for IBIS now? Is there something that your X-TI is failing to do for you? I guess I'm not sure this isn't just an excuse for a bit of GAS, not that that's a bad thing ;)

That said, I've turned into quite the Olympus fan boy, so I'll vote for the Olympus E-M1 Mark II. I'd actually prefer the Pen F for the RF styling and handling but there is no weather sealing and a few other points that I think would be of value to you. I'd have no trouble with the Panasonic either but I just don't care for the way Sony has handled the lens line up to be comfortable with their system.

If IBIS is what you're looking for (I'm sure that's not the only consideration), you really can't beat what Olympus is doing. The IBIS on my E-M5 II is amazingly good, and the new E-M1 is supposed to be better.

I haven't tried the others you've mentioned, but supposedly the Panny GX-8 has a IBIS much improved over the previous cameras.

I would strongly consider the Sony A6500, I prefer the viewfinder on the left side vs. center. It does feel nice in the hand, has 5 axis stabilization and has good to great lens choices from Sony as well as third party lens makers. Really, how many lenses does one need ? This version is one of the finer cameras from Sony, nice design improvements over time compared to previous models. I currently shoot with the original A7 and would love to own the 6500 as my second camera body, I much prefer shooting with two cameras vs. changing lenses, especially on vacations, hikes, photo excursions.

Image stabilization is nice to have but it's not really a necessity for most pictures you're likely to be taking. At least that's what I found out after owning several cameras with IBIS and several with OIS. For those times when you need some extra stabilization, consider the time-honored solution: a tripod. Or a monopod. Or a higher ISO. The Fuji cameras excel at higher ISO image quality.

I think you'll miss the Fuji. But if you insist on switching, I bet the GX8 will be the most comfortable in your hands, and have the better user interface.

Panasonic and Sony both have desirable lenses in their offerings and we know you like very much the 20/f1.7 and 24/f1.8.
But I feel their lineup does not come close to the Olympus one. Very well thought out range, consistently excellent performers and reasonable price.
My current lineup: 8mm, 17mm, 25mm and 45mm, all f1.8. Plus a few old Pentax from the 70's to play around.

I think your brother really knows how to get lots of comment activity on your blog. We're all full of advice we'd never take ourselves! ;)

In the meanwhile, can I donate a gift certificate to Lensrentals.com? Each of those cameras are available to rent for around $11-14/day, and trying them out might insure you stick with the Fuji for a while...

(And I'd bet you'll like the Olympus form factor, if it came with the Panasonic interface.)

Have you considered buying used such as the previous version Olympus OM-D E -M1? Bodies can be had for $500-$600.00. You could add a few lenses and use two systems. You could also just add a tripod if you can't justify having two systems, and keep the Fuji.

My preference is for the EM1 but it is too dear. How about the Pen F (I do own). Only missing the tracking focus and weather proofing of the EM1 at a fair saving and pretty as well. It matches well with the 17mm as well.

I have a fuji and hope it never gets IBIS, I like the sensor to stay where it is perfectly aligned with the lens, fast glass is a better answer, just saying.

GX8, of course.

I think your brother is right.

Oh. You mean about the camera?

Hi Mike. I've not commented before and rather than give an opinion I would be fascinated to know why IBIS is so important to you. I've read about your yips and getting older, etc but why can't you just set your minimum shutter speed at a speed where you think this is no longer an issue and let auto ISO take care of the rest. In the early years of digital this may not have been satisfactory, but I would have thought the XT1's files up to 3200 would suit your tastes for most pics. What am I missing?
Cheers
Martin

Which one do you already own lenses for? If you own any m4/3 glass, that eliminates the Sony. I seem to remember you loving the Panasonic in a previous post. The Oly is expensive, but more "pro" than the GX8, and more like the Fuji in terms of controls.

ALL of them are good options:

A6500 has mentionably better low-light capabilities and autofocus (not that the other's are slouches, but the A6500 really shines here)

Pluses for the Panasonic and the E-M1 MkII: lens costs are considerably lower than for the Sony. Also: a much larger selection of lenses are available

E-M1 is my vote if you feel the need for a weather-sealed body.

Plus, I think the camera is just pretty.


A few thoughts:

Given you own the GX8 [Hi Larry, No, I don't--I borrowed one from B&H Photo for a month to review it. --Mike] I think you should try using it for a month or so and compare the results to your Fuji. You know the shutter range where the shock issue happens so avoid that (and discount blurred photos in that range when seeing if the IBIS really helped).

My experience with an OMD-EM5 is the smaller M4/3 sensor with a base ISO of 200 helps as much as the IBIS in elevating shutter speed (I choose aperture for depth of field). But I still haven't been able to give up the full frame Nikon since the image quality is so much better. Based on that I'd be tempted to look at the A6500 vs the M4/3 cameras.

Another option is getting a stabilized lens for your Fuji. [I also did that, but haven't fallen in "like" with my copy of the zoom. --Mike again]

Wait some more time. That usually fixes GAS for me. [I've already waited about a year...I started thinking of this when I first heard the X-T2 was coming, thinking I should unload the X-T1 before the X-T2 arrived. I didn't do that, obviously. --Mike yet again]

Well, you really can't go wrong there. The micro 4/3 cameras have a wider lens choice. You might also consider the Olympus E-M5 II. I love my GX8 and my E-M5 II and both have great IBIS, with the Olympus being slightly better in this 70 year old's hands. I have a Sony a6000 that I haven't bonded with, but very good files.

Tripod...

Mike, one of the downsides of smaller pixel pitch (higher MP count, smaller sensors) is the fact that deficiencies in your hand-holding technique gets exposed. I've gone through the Sigma progression, and my technique for the SD10 was better that the SD14/15, which was better than the DP3M, which was way better than the sd Quattro (which I love).

Tripod... :-)

Personally, I would stick with the m43 options, as I'm a big fan of open source. I'm looking at similar options to replace my aging 5D, and in addition to the GX8 and EM-D1 II, am intrigued by the Panasonic G85.

Hi Mike

even though I have not yet acquired an EM 1 Mk II (I haven't made up my mind whether as an addition or as a replacement for the EM 1 MkI I have now), I am certain the former is capable of satisfying you in just about every respect.
Such a decision is always to a large degree about overcoming doubts as to the smaller format but I think m43 users can all rest assured the possible image quality nowadays only rules out some very rare and 'exotic' applications. Usually, the limit is the user her-/himself. The lenses available today serve to underline this position.
Concerning stabilization. It is definitely extremely helpful: Two weeks ago I did some flashless, hand held indoor shots in a dimly lit cathedral. They are as sharp as I could wish for.
BTW Provided one can afford an acqisition and provided one is well aware of all of its capabilities and especially its limitations I don't think trying to justify it by convincing myself I need it is at all necessary for most of us. Isn't it fair enough that I simply want it, for whatever reason?
On a closing note: I always enjoy reading your blog, specifically because it is about a personal standpoint, about photographers and their pictures, as opposed to being centered on technology and features.
erka

When I'm considering the type of equipment purchase you're describing, I give a lot of weight to minimizing indirect costs, i.e., re-using equipment I already own. Do you already have the micro 4/3s lenses you'll want for the Panasonic or Olympus choices? Same for the Sony. If you use ttl flash, do you have ttl-compatible flashes? Even minor costs have a place in the analysis. Are the batteries in your choices compatible with batteries and chargers you already own? How about a remote shutter release? Do you have pre-existing or adaptable filters that work with you lens choices? Since you have the best idea of what you'll want to use with the new camera body, you are in the best position to perform this kind of analysis.

richard
--
"An economist's guess is liable to be as good as anybody else's."
- Will Rogers

I think you should invest in renting your top candidates, each for a week, and decide for yourself. I've been doing that with cameras and lenses for a couple of years since a good rental biz became available. (Most recently on a decision regarding the Fuji GFX 50S.) Money and time well-spent in such situations.

EM1-MkII.All indications are it is has by far the best IBIS and the other specifications are amazing - and you already love the sensor. (Full disclosure: I got mine yesterday. It's solid and the ergonomics are great. I know I'm going to love it because I love the EM-1 Mk I)

As a Fuji user, and completely ignorant about what the other options offer, I value very highly having the ISO dial. I wouldn't switch to other brands just for that sole reason. Having the ISO buried in a menu is like having shutter speed right next to it two menu layers deep. My solution to not having IBIS would be to keep high shutter speeds, and crank the ISO dial up. Fuji X noise is not annoying, even film like, provided you expose enough at the moment of taking the picture.

I suggest you read Mike Johnston's blog, TheOnlinePhotographer ... that guy sounds pretty similar to you and from what he's written over the last few months, he's pretty taken with Panasonic.

Seriously, the A6500 is the high tech toy with lots of capabilities (video, high frame rates) you won't find yourself using and a pretty practical, but ultimately unsatisfying user experience. Limited lens lineup, but you're a fan of the CZ24 and there's an affordable new 85 if you want a long portrait prime (as well as the Batis, of course, which might appeal to you as a Zeiss fan, but then you're paying twice for IS).

Olympus does everything Panasonic does, just differently. Their cameras strike me as ones you have to work to love using.

Tough decision between the three, but the same advice given to most people (on choosing a system) holds ... don't pick a body, pick a kit (write down the body and 2-3 lenses you see yourself using, then think about the pros and cons of the kits).

I spent a great deal of time looking at images from the GX and the EM5 a few months back (the Sony ergonomics don't work for me) with various lenses from both makers and I was consistently drawn to the Olympus. The colors just seem nicer to me. The Panasonic has a slightly more clinical look that just didn't sit right with me. In the situation you describe I'd go Oly for sure. Having said that I sit here with a new to me X-Pro1 on my desk. As much as I like the Olympus I find that I prefer cameras with larger sensors. Ideally I'd be shooting full frame but financially I couldn't justify it since it's a hobby for me. The X-Pro1 with a 50mm eq "Fujicron" is the sweet spot between camera and sensor size to me.

I think the GX8 is the pretty clear choice for you. The E-M1 Mark II is amazing, but are the incremental improvements worth about double the price?

I just sold all my Sony gear and most of my Micro 4/3 gear and embraced Fuji. After using cameras with IBIS almost exclusively for the last few years, I've found it hard to start paying close attention to shutter speed again. I know I'll get back in the habit, but I found it somewhat amusing how much motion blur I get these days. I'm hopefully too young for the yips to take hold, but my hands have never been that stable (which put a damper on my competitive marksmanship "career"). I'm probably going to keep one of these older Olympus cameras and a prime for when I want IBIS. So much for streamlining.

Among your choices I'd recommend either the Gx8 or OMD-EM1 mkII, the decision based on whether you prefer a rangefinder styled body experience or a DSLR style experience. You've expressed your love of the sensor size and look, so that's a strong point in their favor as well. And the lens selection is comprehensive.

If I may add a suggestion that's not on the list; check out the OMD EM-10 mkII. Overall it's a more minimal design and experience while still being an immensely capable photographic tool which, reading your column for years, I get the feeling appeals. True, it uses the older 16MP sensor, but it's capable of excellent images and has that "bite" you spoke of. It's smaller, lighter, and less expensive; but mostly it appeals to a more minimalist mindset (at least as much as any Olympus is capable of). I purchased one a month ago and have been having a ball. This coming from someone with a large selection of Nikon and Fuji kit.

Wait a bit to see just what the Panasonic prognosis may be. Is the camera division reorganization a retrenchment or an interment? If that scenario is worst-case, then handle the Sony and Olympus products for a decent period. (See: Roger Cicala) It then comes down to your reaction to the hand-holdable characteristics of each plus or minus the perceived image quality difference.

You've made it clear you'd like IBIS, so if that's your priority, then go for the best and get the Oly. Olympus' IBIS, combined with a fast prime, practically lets you shoot in the dark handheld.
But, from reading this site for awhile, I also know you really like lenses (who doesn't!) and I think you'd be disappointed if you ignored that part of this equation. Have fun with this decision. I don't think you can go wrong with any of these camera systems.

Panasonic G85

hang in there! i have a feeling that fuji will add IBIS to their next generation of cameras. how else are they going to get us to upgrade?

I have the GX8 and several Olympus bodies including the E-M1 (Mk I), E-M5 & E-M10. I find the GX-8 IBIS to be just about useless. The E-M1 IBIS is 3 stops more effective than the GX8 using a lens that supports Dual IS. From what I've read in reviews, the GX85 is significantly better. I wouldn't be surprised if the XT-1 with an IS stabilized lens is better than the GX8.

Mike what are your typical shooting parameters ? I would rent first if you have concerns and compare shots to the Fuji.

I think you should rent each (lensrentals) and decide for yourself. Some cost upfront, but worth it in the long run. We can't know your personal preferences and experiences.

The e-m1 mk2 is truly what it is...an amazing stills camera that can conform to your style and preferences. I chose that over the fujis too. It might be overkill for some...but it is the best of what m43 can offer in a body. I still keep an x100 around for fun, but the ibis on all lenses makes a difference when I shoot. Plus the 12-40 pro lens is the closest lens to perfect I've ever used. (For what I shoot) It's a one camera and lens package that I have never regretted for a moment.

I loved the feel of the xpro and xt1 and the lenses are nice...but I prefer the modern controls versus classic manual ones.

I'm not sure if it's relevant but in my experience I have better luck with larger sensors/cameras when it comes to camera shake.

I can take a 'steadier shot' handholding my Nikon D4 than i can with my little Panasonic M4/3. I've always put this down to the mass of the big Nikon being naturally less affected by my shaky hands than the light weight M4/3 body.

And I've not noticed a huge difference with stabilised lenses, i've no experience of ibis however.

I see comments where photographers say they can get a sharp image handholding their olympus at 1/4 second or whatever.. I believe what they say but I think you have to be so steady and ready to take that shot that I could do the same bracing myself with the Nikon and no stabilisation.

Also, I prefer bodies without ibis as i like to be able to clean the sensor.

Finally, to close with a comment thats actually on topic, I'd choose the GX8 from your list, the rotating viewfinder is a unique selling point for me, plus it's just better value than the oly.

T
Aaron,L

I'm not sure I've seen where you've explained why you feel you need IBIS. Are you getting a large number of blurred photos at your preferred aperature and focal length? Would bumping the ISO or doubling the shutter speed do as well? Or perhaps a monopod?

Since you're a lens guy I'd think the Micro 4/3 options are the real choice. I've always liked Panasonics so I'd recommend the GX8, the 12-35 f 2.8 and the Panaleica 25mm f 1.4.

X-T2

I am a dedicated M43 user and have settled on the GX8 as my main camera. I also have an EM-1 but I have gravitated to the "range finder" position of the EVF on the GX8. I have flirted with the idea of switching to Fuji but I have used cameras with IBIS going back to the EM-5 and I don't think I could do with out it. I would also consider the GX85 or PEN-F along with the other cameras on you list.

I owned the Olympus EM-1 for awhile, really liked it for travel. I migrated when the XT-1 came out and now am "done", having just acquired the XT-2. I could never get over my feeling that Panasonic and Sony are consumer electronics companies, not camera companies. Particularly in lens selection, M4/3 (and Fuji) has it all over Sony?

Well the EM1.2 is the runaway winner when it comes to IBIS. There are lots of (reliable) reports of multi-second handheld exposures. So that's my vote. (Plus, I expect to get one myself!)

The last micro 4/3 camera I bought was the EM5 in 2012 and it has become the most used camera of my (very moderately!) long life. However I use Leicas for the work in which I am most interested due to the handling and the viewfinder, and the Olympus for everything else – that is fast moving subjects, telephoto, close up, etc. I know the image quality of the EM5 with Oly lenses rivals the M with its lenses when printed to 13x19 – It's just a bit easier to get there with the Leicas, and the EM1.2 will only close the gap. (When I show prints side by side, I'm the only one who knows which is which.)

I also use the EM5 to 'scan' my film negatives as this is much faster and of equal quality to my dedicated film scanner, and I am wondering how much better a scan I can get with the hi-res mode of the EM1.2.

The price is a bit high, but at the moment Olympus is offering $200 off plus the trade in value of your other camera, which will mildly ease the pain.

I don't know about the Sony or the Oly, but I tried the GX8 because I also was going away from the X-T1 and back to m43, whence I came. I thought the GX8's ergonomics were terrible, so I returned it and got the G85, which fits me like a glove. It's "only" got the old (but tried and true) 16MP sensor, but that's OK with me. I figure there will be a 20MP successor to the G85 down the line, but meanwhile I'm happy. The IBIS is wonderful and there is of course the embarrassment of riches with the m43 lens choices.

If you want quality, small glass at reasonable prices, stick with MFT. The E-M1 Mark II is just too expensive right now, unfortunately. The GX8 seems like the best value if you're ok with Panasonic's recent business moves; the GX8 will likely be fully obsolete before Panasonic itself is. In between is the PEN-F, which seems worth considering, though you'd lose weather sealing. I'm pretty happy with my used E-M5 Mark II, which is also a great value if you don't care about megapixel counts. Remember: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/04/print-offer-small-sensor.html

I really like the a6500, which I've had for a few weeks. I've been in a "wandering in the desert" phase for the past few years. I went from a D600 to an X-T1 to a RX10iii and none of them have really clicked. I think that the a6500 is just the right size and has the right mix of quality and features for how I use it and how it fits into the rest of my life. Its taken a while but I think I'm finally "home".

Tom

If IBIS is the main concern, buy a GX85 and wait for either a GX9 to come out or the ridiculous price of the em-1 mii to come down.

Try the 'eeny, meeny, miny, moe' method.

I know I'm interested in the Olympus E-M1 mk II but have decided to wait until the price comes down a bit, either at retail or when refurbished cameras are available. My Olympus cameras have gotten a lot of use over the past few years - very nice image quality, edge-to-edge sharpness from compact lenses (12-40 Pro especially), amazing image stabilization (sharp handheld 1 second exposures on the E-M5 II), and very portable.

I still own a full frame kit as well, but use the Olympus gear more and more. There is always a little voice at the back of my head reminding me that M4/3 gives up a bit image quality-wise, but the I always come back to the portability and the 4:3 aspect ratio that I've really come to love.

All the talk of Panasonic's shutter-shock issues (real or not) have kept me from seriously looking at the GX8. I did briefly experiment with a Sony A7II and was not very impressed. The battery life was atrocious and something about the ergonomics just seemed a bit off to me. Plus if you're looking for a nice, reasonably sharp, and portable standard zoom lens, Sony's E-mount offerings leave a lot to be desired.

Just my two cents!

Mike, those are all great cameras. I'd recommend deciding based on two things: lens mount and body style. First, do you still have m4/3 lenses? If so, I'd be reluctant to lose that investment by going with the Sony. Also, while I recall you mentioning that you would like the ~35mm ish EFL Zeiss prime in e-mount, the lens ecosystem is certainly lacking compared to m4/3. Second, as you are open to both the pseudo-DSLR and pseudo-rangefinder body styles, I think you might need to nail down which fits you better. Given that the E-M1 MkII is at the peak of its pricing, I would look for a used E-M1 Mk1 ($400ish) and see how it compares to your memory of the GX8. You aren't likely to lose much on the Mk I if you decide to sell it in a few months. If the E-M1 tickles your fancy, then you can then look for the Mk II and try to find it for less than $2k. Just my two cents as a happy E-M1 Mk I and Mk II owner...

The Sony still has a 'lossy' compressed raw file in the A6500 without the option for a real raw file. If you shoot at night, you will eventually notice that all is not right with your photos and it will not please you to find out that you can do nothing about it. You can search online for many examples of this misery.

I have the 5N and the A6000 and many thousands of night-time photos upon which I worked hard, to no avail. When I eventually learned that the problem with the files was not my doing but Sony's, I was both relieved and disgusted. What possessed Sony to do this? It is a betrayal of trust and, until I can afford a real camera, I can do nothing about it. This is a source of hard feelings toward Sony.

Not knowing, at the time, of the willful misconduct by the manufacturer, I thought the A6000 would surely be better than the 5N. The online camera review sites always paint a glowing picture of new cameras. The newest camera is the bestest ever, every stinking time! It's fast! (No, it's not. Startup can take several seconds, up to around 7 or 8 seconds if you change a lens). You can see the screen in broad daylight! (No, you can't see beans in broad daylight even at the brightest setting without contortions to block the sunlight––then you can see something, not enough). And so on.

Well, you get the idea. The slow startup from off to on, or sleep to on rendered both the 5n and a6000 useless on my motorcycle. The fake raw file is an abomination. Sony has a real raw file option on some of their newer full-frame cameras, but it's still not there on their "Flagship" APS-C camera. If Sony fixed the raw file on ALL of their cameras (i.e. the ones I own), I would not be against the A6500. Used within their limitations, the Sony mirrorless cameras can be great fun.

I can recommend Olympus. My camera (E-M10) has only the three-axis IBIS and it works great, so I can only imagine the 5-axis IBIS in the E-M1 II will be just what the doctor ordered for you.

Hands down, go with the GX8. You were smitten with it when you had the loaner from B&H; it's almost half the price of the EM-1 Mark II; the Sony is both expensive and the lenses are heavy, large and given your irresistible draw to Zeiss, expensive.

The GX8 is a fine camera and won't break the TOP budget. If you suffer from additional GAS, buy the trio of Panny/Leica f/2.8 lenses. That way you can use both the IBIS and lens-based stabilization.

Mike, will IBIS give significantly different results to the in lens stabilisation you already have? I've been repeatedly amazed at how well the OIS works in conjunction with my x-t10 and I've seen the comment that in practice there's little to choose between the two systems. I assume you've tried the different OIS modes available. Apparently some find a significant difference between them.

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