Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Part I: Choosing Olympus Vs. Panasonic Micro 4/3's Cameras

By Chip Lenkiewicz, Penn Camera Tysons Corner
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Part I
Why choose Olympus over the Panasonic? Or the Panasonic over the Olympus? In the end it is what I tell my customers that are torn between a Nikon, Canon, or Sony DSLR - how does it feel in your hands? I learned that lesson when I upgraded to the Nikon D200 from my Nikon D80 - before moving to the Olympus Pen series cameras. I kept going back to my D80 vs the D200.

A lot of the difference for me is making the choice has to do with the lenses available. Being an eager beaver on photo gear I jumped at getting the Panasonic 7-14 and 14-140 lenses for PEN cameras I have. This was after buying the Olympus 4/3's 9-18 and 40-150 lenses for use with MMF-1 (now the MMF-2 adapter, by the way the change between the two seems to be only the color - the MMF-1 is Silver and the MMF-2 is black). At the time I thought I would be adding an Olympus 4/3's DSLR body for the few paid shoots that I do. But made the decision after getting the EP-L1 that I was going to stay the course with the m4/3's format.

Just wish I had waited, the slight additional weight of the Panasonic lenses does add up. Not to mention the size differences between the Panasonic 7-14 and 14-140 m4/3's lenses over the the Olympus 9-18 and 14-150 m4/3's lenses. Add to that the the Olympus m4/3's 9-18 is not much larger than the m4/3's 14-42 lens when retracted! And it takes a filter that the Panasonic 7-14 m4/3 lens does not!

Specs between the two series of m4/3's lenses:

- 7-14/4 Panasonic and the 9-18/4-5.6 Olympus; 10.6oz vs. 5.5oz, 3.3"L x 2.9"W vs. 1.9" collapsed x 2.3"W, bug-eye lens vs. being able to use a 52mm filter, image stabilization is not built-in to either lens

- 14-140/4-5.8 Panasonic and the 14-150/4-5.6 Olympus; 16.2oz vs. 9.9oz, 3.3"L x 2.8"w vs. 3.3"L x 2.5"W, image stabilization built-in to the lens vs none (relying on the body)

I went with the Panasonic m4/3 7-14 over waiting for the the Olympus m4/3 9-18 because I wanted the extra FOV (field of view) that the 7mm gave over the 9mm FOV. Or so I thought. In the end I would like less FOV and a smaller and lighter weight lens. And one that can take filters. To that end I am leaning towards the Olympus 9-18 to replace my Panasonic 7-14 m4/3's lens. And as to replacing the 14-140 from Panasonic over the 14-150 from Olympus is about the weight.

One of the reasons I went to the Olympus m4/3's camp was a smaller and lighter weight kit. And these two new lenses from Olympus may fit the bill better than my two Panasonic choices so far. Don't get me wrong here... the Panasonic lenses have been great. But compared to their Olympus cousins... I am more willing to take the the weight and size savings of the Olympus lenses over the Panasonic lenses.

Some may be puzzled a bit about my comments about the size and weight differences between the Panasonic and Olympus lenses that I have talked about. The m4/3's 7-14 is a great lens but on the larger size compared to the m4/3's 9-18. But when you combine the weights of those two lenses series in a camera bag the Olympus lenses save about 11.4oz or nearly 3/4 of a pound. May not sound like much - but learned back in the day of backpacking an ounce saved here and there adds up. As does the choice of the camera bag that you want to carry.

More to come in Part II next week!