Mirrorless camera systems – my dream kit

Written by Gary on October 11th, 2011

The mirrorless interchangable lens camera systems are the future for most people wanting high quality images in a relatively compact kit.

Finally Nikon has entered the scene but their 2.7x crop sensor to me is just too small to get the imagery I like.

Sony and Samsung with their 1.5x/1.6x crop sensor has marginally better image than Micro Four Thirds 2x crop sensor cameras but have a BIG problem of always having to use larger and heavier lenses because they need to cover a larger image circle, and this makes their camerasless ergonomic to hold, and the kit too large and heavy.

To me, the 2x crop sensor size used by Micro Four Thirds and probably also by Canon, if rumours are correct, is the best compromise on image quality and camera/lens size and ergonomics.

It will be fascinating to see what Canon brings to the table, and I will certainly be looking forward to it given that I own a Canon 1D Mark III and quite a few pro level Canon lenses.

In the meanwhile, we have to look at what is available and to me the first is to consider the lenses.

Of course, most point and shooters will be very happy using the kit lenses but compact cameras such as these really shine when used with wide aperture small prime  lenses which means you can get the low light performance you need, ability to blur the background beautifully, and to shoot at low ISO values where image noise is not an issue.

My dream Micro Four Thirds lenses:

  • Olympus m.Zuiko 12mm f/2.0 – a superb lens albeit not cheap, but has great manual focus capability and provides a nice 24mm field of view in full frame terms while f/2.0 means available light even indoors is possible at ISO 400. It is also optimised for HD video and thus has silent AF which is very fast on the new bodies.
  • Panasonic Leica DG 25mm f/1.4 – another great lens to replace the much larger, heavier, more expensive Four Thirds version which I currently use – this allows lovely environmental portraits in available light at ISO 400 indoors, is superb for art galleries, shooting at dusk as well as being a general purpose “standard” lens. If you can’t afford this lens, then the cheaper, smaller Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 is not a bad compromise although AF is slower and noisier.
  • Olympus m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 – a nice “90mm” portrait lens, less expensive than the above 2 lenses but still has near silent HD-optimised fast AF.
  • Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 – a manual focus only lens but relatively cheap (under $300 new) with lovely imagery wide open – it gives almost identical imagery on Micro Four Thirds at f/1.4 as my Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L lens on my Canon 1D Mark III dSLR, but at a fifth the price, and half the weight and size. You will need a cheap adapter for this lens and there is NO auto-focus. See some of my photos here.

My dream Micro Four Thirds camera:

  • I currently own the Panasonic GH-1, but the new generation of Panasonic and Olympus cameras have faster AF as well as a few new features
  • I do not like taking photos by looking at an LCD screen at arm’s length, in general, that is bad photography as it encourages camera shake.
  • I thus will ONLY buy a mirrorless camera with a built-in EVF (eg. Panasonic GH-2 or G3), but I am eagerly awaiting Olympus to bring out a model like their E-P3 or E-PL3 but with 2 features from the new Sony NEX-7 – built-in EVF and peaking functionality to assist manual focus. Why not just buy a Sony NEX7? Their lenses are too big and heavy and they do not have the range of lenses that I would like, and their cameras have an annoying hotshoe (if they have one) while unlike the Olympus cameras, they do not have built-in image stabilisation.
  • Other features that I would dearly love include a faster flash sync as fill-in flash outdoors with wide apertures can really benefit from this.

Supplement my collection of dream lenses with a kit zoom lens, a super tele, a super wide angle and a macro lens and you have a full collection of lenses for nearly any purpose. For fun, you can play with almost any legacy lens ever made, or buy a tilt or shift adapter and play with Nikon full frame lenses for example.


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