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Thread: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

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    Senior Member GMB's Avatar
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    What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    I am a total 4/3 newbie, currently shooting with MF and Leica M9. I am looking for a small camera with relatively good image quality to supplement my normal outfit. Specifically, I am looking for something I can take on a safari to supplement my Leica S2, which is short on the long lens side. I am not shooting for National Geographic and there is no way that I will be schlepping around a full frame DSLR with the big gun (and now way I would put the money on the table for that), but I want to make a few shots where I would need something long, just for fun. Based on an article in LL, I am quite intrigued by the Panasonic GH2, but I also recognize that it is probably at the end of its cycle. The G3 seems to be almost as good, and is cheaper and smaller. The 100-300 mm for these cameras seems to produce great results. Anyway, any advice much appreciated. Thanks. Georg

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    The GH2 is a better choice for supporting the longer m4/3 lenses. It also has a very complete mechanical interface which would be more useable on safari. I like the larger sensor which handles multiple aspect ratios.

    Keith
    Last edited by woodmancy; 4th December 2011 at 16:40.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Look for posts by Terry Banet (TEBnewyork) here and in dpreview
    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=39948819 about using the GH2 and G3 with the 100-300 both on safari in Kenya and a recent birding shoot in Bosque del Apache. Since she has actual experience doing exactly what you are asking about her comments could be really helpful.

    I really like my G3 but for use with a long lens for long periods of time I think I would prefer the GH2. Not having used one though I can't really comment realistically. For day to day shooting, its "just right" as they say but you are asking about a specific situation with rather specific requirements.

    Diane

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Hi,
    Thanks Diane. Yes, if I had to chose one it would be the GH2 and the Panasonic 100-300mm lens. I've used the lens on both the GH2 and G3. For safari shooting I would recommend the GH2. I was in Kenya and needed the 100-300 for about 90% of my shooting. What country are you going to? Do you know what sort of vehicle you will be in? Then I can give you a little bit more info on camera support.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Hi,
    What country are you going to? Do you know what sort of vehicle you will be in? Then I can give you a little bit more info on camera support.

    Terry--I will be in South Africa at a private game reserve in one of these typical open Land Rovers for 6-9 people (although I very much hope there will be less in vehicle). The reserve is know for a high density of the big five. I plan to shoot mostly with the S2, but also want to get some closer shots.

    I should say that the main purpose of the trip is not the photography but having a great time with my wife to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

    Also, 2 years ago I was in Namibia shooting on safari with a M8 and M8.2: Let's say it was a challenge--but an interesting one.

    The reason I am drawn to the GH2 or G3 is because they seem to offer a reasonable compromise size-weight-price-quality for the long stuff.

    Thanks for any input you may have.

    Georg

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Quote Originally Posted by GMB View Post
    The reason I am drawn to the GH2 or G3 is because they seem to offer a reasonable compromise size-weight-price-quality for the long stuff.
    I would fully concur with that (and Di's shots support that too). Its because of the effectiveness of lenses like 300mm on the 4/3 (and the electronic viewfinder advantages found in micro 4/3) that I'd rate the G series cameras (with EVF) as being excellent in this role. I think of my camera as the equivalent of a x2 teleconverter on the 300mm lens (a G1 costs less than a good teleconverter too :-)
    Last edited by pellicle; 4th December 2011 at 13:20.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    I have the G1 and the GH2, and I am constantly amazed at how good the G1 images are. I think it was Vivek here who once said that, "It's amazing how much Panasonic got right with the first µ4/3rds camera". The only real advantage of the GH2 is its video (and why I have it). Good luck, KL

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    I have the G1 and the GH2, and I am constantly amazed at how good the G1 images are. I think it was Vivek here who once said that, "It's amazing how much Panasonic got right with the first µ4/3rds camera". The only real advantage of the GH2 is its video (and why I have it). Good luck, KL
    I think the GH2 has at least a full stop (but really more) over the G1 in ISO performance. This will be sorely needed on a safari with 600mm equivalent where you will need to keep the shutter speed up as high as you can.

    I would bring just one piece of kit; GH2 and 100-300. No need to make any lens changes you will have everything else covered with the S2 kit.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Panasonic's core interest which they defend vehemently is their battery (they disable 3rd party batteries even when the camera is not firmware upgraded but if you use a lens that has had a firmware upgrade).

    In the Eurozone, a Pana GH-2 battery is ~ 100 Euros and a Leica S2 battery ~150 Euros.

    The (CD) AF may start to lock on the fences and such than any faces, even in good light.

    The GH-2 is probably the best camera in the current m4/3rds lineup.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    The proprietary batteries aren't really an issue anymore on the Panny cameras.
    I know for sure on the G3's I have non prop batteries that work just fine.

    For the GH2 at B&H the batteries are now $47.99 and with the GH2 they show a generic brand at 12.97.

    On the GH2 I did hear at one point that the generics worked but didn't show the battery usage information correctly on the screen. I don't know if that is still true.

    On my trip I went through about 2 batteries per day. Our AM game drive was longer than the afternoon and everyday sometime around late morning I needed to change batteries.

    The G3 battery life isn't nearly as good.



    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Panasonic's core interest which they defend vehemently is their battery (they disable 3rd party batteries even when the camera is not firmware upgraded but if you use a lens that has had a firmware upgrade).

    In the Eurozone, a Pana GH-2 battery is ~ 100 Euros and a Leica S2 battery ~150 Euros.

    The (CD) AF may start to lock on the fences and such than any faces, even in good light.

    The GH-2 is probably the best camera in the current m4/3rds lineup.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Terry: While I have no reason to doubt what you know about 3rd party batteries, I have little confidence in Panasonic's sneakiness based on my experience.

    The 3rd party batteries I used on my G1 (original firmware) would no longer work. Only possible source for this is the firmware upgraded lenses.

    Given that, AFAIC, 3rd party batteries and Panasonic are a no go. Especially, when one plans a trip far away and carry dead weights.

    If Panasonic make an official announcement that they will no longer disable 3rd party batteries, I might consider them.

    100 Euros and US $48/- pricing shows something is very wrong. Unless the OP imports the batteries from the US, the prices are a painful reality.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    One more thing about the 100-300 (this is more relevant to other safaris than open vehicle). I handheld the camera almost the entire trip. We were working out of a Land Cruiser with top hatch and I would brace my arms on the roof. My friend who was using big glass used something called a Todd pod that sat on the roof and allowed her to use a Wimberly. The 100-300 is difficult on a bean bag. I then used the 100-300 on a birding trip and while everyone was on a Wimberly I had a more difficult time. But Voila I just found this modification for the 100-300 and I've ordered it. Can't give any feedback yet on how well it works but once it arrives I will report back. I bring it up here because I'm not sure how you will be using the S2 (hand held or supported ) and if that will impact how you will use the GH2 type camera

    http://www.roesch-feinmechanik.de/29701.html



    http://www.roesch-feinmechanik.de/29701.html

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-DM...bxgy_ce_text_b

    http://www.amazon.fr/Panasonic-DMW-B...ref=pd_cp_ce_4

    http://www.amazon.de/Panasonic-secur...ref=pd_cp_ph_3


    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Terry: While I have no reason to doubt what you know about 3rd party batteries, I have little confidence in Panasonic's sneakiness based on my experience.

    The 3rd party batteries I used on my G1 (original firmware) would no longer work. Only possible source for this is the firmware upgraded lenses.

    Given that, AFAIC, 3rd party batteries and Panasonic are a no go. Especially, when one plans a trip far away and carry dead weights.

    If Panasonic make an official announcement that they will no longer disable 3rd party batteries, I might consider them.

    100 Euros and US $48/- pricing shows something is very wrong. Unless the OP imports the batteries from the US, the prices are a painful reality.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Just will interject that I use a generic battery in my G3 weekly (I rotate with 2 Lumix) and it works as well. I think I paid under $15 and its a Wasabi 1500 mAH. Its been totally reliable and it does show percentage and seems to be accurate.

    Diane

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    A whopping 30% off the list price is good.

    The apparent change of heart of Panasonic regarding the 3rd party battery use is a good sign.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    I left my GH2 charger in a bicycle basket in Paris and bought this with battery and it works!

    Michiel

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    I was on a safari in Kenya a couple of months ago with a GH2 and a G3, with various lenses which I changed relatively frequently. No dust problems, while friends with Nikons (D700, D7000 and D3s) next to me did have problems.

    I used the 100-300 most of the time, but the 14-140 did get quite a bit of use, and the 7-14 as well. Fixed focal lengths were used only in low light situations.

    The 100-300 on the GH2 was the best combination, but the G3 worked fine as well. Either needs some setting up as the options are rather extensive. I had about 6 batteries for each camera, and used up to 5 on the GH2 in a day. Probably about 2000 shots on a day like that. 4 of each kind were third party batteries, and they worked fine, but the OEM batteries had greater capacity. No problem, as I always had extras with me.

    I went to South Africa in 2000, and was in a private reserve for a while. The vehicles there made anything except handholding a clumsy proposition, unless one was the only person on a bench. Even so, handholding works better. At that time I shot with Canon EOS3 and the 100-400 mostly, often with the 1.4x. This worked, but certainly did not deliver the quality of the GH2 or G3 with the 100-300, in large part because of the superior optical quality of the 100-300 vs. the 100-400 Canon.

    The typical 'pop-top' Kenyan vehicles allowed you to brace your elbows on the ledge of the roof frame if you were taller, or use a bean bag if shorter but handholding was still the best option with m43 and the 100-300.

    I mostly limited my sensitivity range to 800 or less and that was sufficient. As the sun dropped precipitously, there were only a couple of minutes where higher ISO's would have made a difference. In South Africa the transition time is somewhat longer.

    Image quality is essentially identical between the GH2 and G3. Controls are better on the GH2, battery life is slightly better and that is really the sum of the differences IMHO.

    Here: http://gallery.leica-users.org/v/hwu...90302.jpg.html
    and the other pictures are example shot with the Panasonics in September.

    I did not bring my Leica M9, and do not have an MF camera to take, but am quite satisfied that I took the right gear, considering that I'm unwilling to buy/carry big gun DSLR lenses and ancillary equipment.

    Henning

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    I traveled with an M8 (50mm, 35mm lenses) and G1 with the 90-200mm telephoto lens. The G1 (and hence, my new G3 or GH2 with 100-300mm lens) and zoom lens were so light that I could walk around the islands in the Galapagos with both of them around my neck. During serious walking, I could hole one in each hand. The weight was not an issue. That completely sold me on the m4/3 system. At times I put one or both in a back pack. I bought the G3 and 100-300 zoom lens as upgrades in sensor quality and lens reach and with a possible safari in Africa in mind. "They" say that 400mm is long enough for bird photography, but I found that it's still not long enough. The 600mm seems just right. Not sure how a safari jeep would differ from walking. I did it once in Kenya without any camera. I suspect the Leica might stay in the backpack most of the time in the jeep. But the jeep gets so close to wildlife that in many cases the G1 + zoom lens would be too close. There are also great landscape, panarama, and people (Masai) shots for I would want to use the Leica. Oh yeah, I broke down and bought the new Panasonic/Leica 50mm f1.4 for the G3 as well. Just couldn't resist. It's getting wrapped up for the Christmas tree. Photography was an expensive hobby and it seems even more expensive post-film.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Larry,
    For all but the big birds in Kenya 600mm is the starting point and the longer you have the better. My friend was using an 800 on a 1DIV (1.3x) plus a 1.4x teleconverter some of the time. Many of my bird shots were at reduced resolution jpegs shot with the GH2 in "ETC" mode.

    Henning - I used my arms (elbows) to brace myself on the roof but I was able to stand on the back seat. We had a brilliant guide and the same Land Cruiser for the entire trip. We only had two plus the driver in our vehicle (planned in advance). He removed a seat from each of the two rows and then we had the back seat all the way across. It worked brilliantly. Also, very nice shots in the gallery.

    If anyone reads this, booking no more that three in the vehicle will make your photographic life much happier and fruitful.
    Last edited by Terry; 5th December 2011 at 21:00.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    I have the G1 and the GH2, and I am constantly amazed at how good the G1 images are. I think it was Vivek here who once said that, "It's amazing how much Panasonic got right with the first µ4/3rds camera". The only real advantage of the GH2 is its video (and why I have it). Good luck, KL
    +1 to everything Kit said!

    Gary
    G1 and GH2...very happy with both.

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    Re: What 4/3 camera to supplment medium format outfit for safari and sport?

    Terry - Thanks for the comment. Yes, that was my experience with the vehicle as well, and for that matter, with bird photography everywhere except in the Galapagos. There, a 90mm was often enough and I got some good shots with a 12mm on a (film) Leica as well. You can stick it into a bush so it's about 2ft. from a red boobie, and it may wonder what the heck you're doing, but it won't mind too much. They seem to be sitting inside the bush quite often.

    Our recent trip to Kenya was a group of friends with a professional wildlife photographer with a lot of Kenyan experience who knew the drivers/guides personally and an ecologist to help. 4 persons per vehicle, with one a non still photographer. The latter was often in the passenger seat in the front.

    In our group 5 people had Nikons with a variety of bodies and lenses up to 500mm, 3 had no still cameras and 4 had Panasonic m43 cameras.

    Henning

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