My brother Scott always said I'm great at giving other people advice but not so good at knowing what to do for myself. Whether he's right about that or not, here's my dilemma.
I love my Fuji X-T1, but I need a camera with IBIS (in-body image stabilization). Here's the reason. The three top contenders as of this moment are the Panasonic GX8, the Sony A6500, and the Olympus E-M1 Mark II. I've been thinking this over for more than a year now, and I can't decide.
Which do you think?
UPDATE: Sorry for the radio silence for the greater part of the day! Tough day working on finishing and paying taxes.
I have intently read all 187 comments and, surprisingly, you have collectively consolidated my opinion and helped me reach my decision. I'll get back to the subject in the morning. Thanks to all! —MJ
Original contents copyright 2017 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Tim Shoebridge: "I own the A6500 and E-M1 Mark II. From an IBIS point of view there is no contest, once you try the E-M1 Mark II there is no going back. It is stunningly good."
Mark: "Go with the one you lurv. You'll be regretful if you make the mature, sensible decision but in fact never have fun with it. Any one on your list is already more camera than most of us need. But why IBIS? Lack of it hasn't stopped other companies and other photographers from being extremely successful. The new Fuji X-T20 looks massively tempting from here...."
Andrew: "Easy: The Olympus has the best IBIS, the Sony produces the best files and the Panasonic is the nicest to use. So I solved the exact same problem by going the way of the heart: Fuji. Have fun choosing!"
beuler: "I don't want to be mean, but knowing your equipment choices over the years, we all know you will pick the Sony. We know that because it doesn't have the sensor you are obsessed with. And I mean that only half in jest."
Geoff Wittig: "All three contenders are great cameras in different ways. The Oly is perfect if speed is everything, like sports or wildlife photography, but I don't think that's your thing. The Panasonic has great video features, but...likewise. The strongest argument for the Sony A6500 is ruthlessly practical. The camera business is in distress, and when the music stops not everyone will have a seat. Panasonic is not broadcasting reassuring vibes. Olympus is still under the cloud of management scandal and near-bankruptcy. (Even Nikon is looking shaky!) Sony by contrast is colossal and moving from strength to strength. My suspicion is that five to ten years from now, Sony/Canon/Fujifilm will still by viable systems. For the other camera makers...I think there are going to be a lot of orphans out there. Pressure from cell phone cameras is only going to intensify."
Michael Roche: "Get the GX8 Mike, you know you want to, so man up and pull the trigger."
Roger: "The Sony A7II. You're in the ballpark cost-wise. It has 5-axis IBIS, it's mirrorless, glass is fantastic (even the 'low-end' non-G or -GM glass), and it's full-frame. I know that smaller sensors are up to the task but I prefer wide-angle glass; I really prefer my 24mm field of view not come from a 16mm lens. Rent one. I think you'll come away impressed."
Dennis Mook: "My primary camera is the Fuji X-T2. I find its limited number of features, as compared to some other cameras, refreshing. Everything about the camera is straightforward, in my opinion. It is a joy to use and the image files are pleasing. However, no IBIS. IBIS is becoming more and more important as I get closer to being a septuagenarian.
"Recently, I purchased an Olympus E-M1 Mark II to complement the Fuji and primarily for its extensive imaging features, one of which is IBIS, that I need or want to use on occasion. I find this camera very useful to use as opposed a joy to use. I know that owning both cameras is not an option for many. I find myself almost always picking up the Fuji unless I specifically need IBIS or one of the other features specific to the Olympus. The Mark II is very complicated when compared to the Fuji and not nearly as intuitive to use. However, I don't find it problematic as I had a the original E-M1 and the menu system is almost the same. Once you learn it, everything becomes easier. Both cameras produce pleasing image files and, if done right, can be matched for their overall 'look.' I really could be happy with either.
"Currently, the only reason I would give up my Fuji camera is for IBIS. I find the IBIS in the Mark II utterly remarkable as I can consistently make sharp images handheld at 1 second. Truly remarkable. If it comes down to using a camera that I 'love' to use but won't allow me to produce the work I want to create versus a camera I 'need' to use that is not as pleasurable but allows me to achieve personal photographic success, I'll take the latter."
Patrick Perez: "Lamborghini Murcielago. You can't go wrong."
Andy Munro: "I like this sort of game of spending someone else's money. My vote is for the Panasonic. I like the interface and the control layout—even little things like the power switch fall to hand. I have tried Sony and Olympus and didn't enjoy the experience. I seem to remember that you liked your Sony but not the Olympus. So that's one to move off the list."
john seidel (partial comment): "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."
James Moule: "I own the Sony Alpha 7RII and a bunch of Zeiss lenses and the Olympus E-M1 Mark II and a bunch of Olympus PRO lenses. I'm surprised to say that I would recommend the new Olympus. The image quality is stunning and the shutter release is almost instantaneous. The IQ has 'bite' to use your word. Shooting the Oly E-M1 Mark II reminds me of my old Leica IIIg with Tri-X."
Frank Petronio (partial comment): "Sorry I don't understand why someone would want image stabilization? I mean I understand the marketing point but in practical usage what does it mean? [...] How many good photos have been made thanks to someone using IBIS, VR, etc.? Because I can't think of very many."
John Lehet (partial comment): "I've never used the Panasonic or the Fuji, but I know I love IBIS. [...] Once you use IBIS, consistently, it's hard to go back."
D. Hufford: "Oh, am I too late to sway you?
"As IBIS/VR is important to you, I'd go with the Olympus. Maybe the GX8 is better than the GX7—gawd I hope so—but I doubt it can touch the newer Olympuses.
"I have had a chance to use a friend's Olympus E-M1 in low light recently and it was about 1 utlraquadzillion times more effective than the GX7 which is rumored* to have stabilization. It was even better than the stabilized Panasonic 12–35mm on the GX7. Then again, I believe my Olympus E-P3 outperforms the GX7.
"I have very steady hands and can get away without a tripod or support more so than most I know. However, in 2017 a camera without stabilization is at a disadvantage to one that has it. And of course, the longer the lens, the more important it is. I prefer it in body as if it is in a lens, it is just one more thing to go wrong. Since I change bodies more often than lenses, if something goes wrong, I prefer it go wrong with the body.
"Speaking of wrong, the GX7. I reckon you ought not let my comment be the deciding factor as I am biased. I think the GX7 is the worst designed computer game camera I have ever used. That may affect my view of the GX8 just a slight bit. And besides, rumors and propaganda have it that Panny is going back to its field of expertise—making VCRs and cassette recorders.
"*I'd swear it didn't. Can't be sure as the motion blurred photos match the soft, blurry, double-lined view of my warranty 'repaired' GX7's viewfinder."
Mike replies: You're being too hard on the GX7, and I suspect got one that isn't quite right, but you did make me laugh, because, yes, with the GX7's IBIS the difference between "off" and "on" is exquisitely subtle. I know people who love the GX7 even so.