10 October 2015

I’m upgrading from a much-loved Canon G15 compact camera to a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Here’s what I chose and why.

Requirements

What am I looking for?

Options

My requirements rule out a fixed-lens camera; none satisfy all of my requirements on compactness, coverage, and image quality.

Sony full-frame and Fuji mirrorless systems are out of my budget. I didn’t like the controls or lenses in the Sony APS mirrorless system. Nikon and Canon mirrorless systems are too limited. So, I narrowed it down to two MFT kits, the first from Panasonic:

and the second from Olympus:

Both have a compact body, a compact standard zoom, a compact normal prime, and a short telephoto.

Choice

I chose the GM5 kit. Its main advantages for me:

Its main disadvantages for me:

Are these lenses my ideal first three lenses? Probably, although I’ll be looking to add the Panasonic 42.5/1.7 or Olympus 45/1.8 and perhaps the fun little Olympus 9/8 fish-eye lens as soon as I can. One might argue that I should have selected a 14-140 or 14-150 superzoom, but such a lens would go against my strong preference for compactness and would have worse optical quality than the two equivalent lenses.

Is the GM5 body my ideal body? Almost certainly not. I almost got the GX7, but I prefer to emphasize compactness now and will look to substitute or complement it with a more capable body at some point in the future, perhaps something like the Panasonic G7, GX7 or GX8.

Is this a good kit for you? If your needs and preferences are similar to mine, with an emphasis on compactness and lightness, it might be. If not, then almost certainly no.

If you like the GM5 kit but want stabilization for all lenses, perhaps substitute the Panasonic 30/2.8 or 42.5/1.7 (since there are no Panasonic primes wider than 30 mm with stabilization) or use a Panasonic body with in-body stabilization (currently, the GX7 and GX8).

If you don’t need such compactness or such little weight, perhaps select the Olympus E-M10 kit but swap the pancake zoom for the standard kit zoom, which has better image quality and perhaps upgrade to the newer E-M10II if you can afford it, or select the Panasonic lenses with a more-capable Panasonic G7, GX7, or GX8 body.


Mix and Match?

Since many of the advantages of this kit are associated with the Panasonic lenses and many of the disadvantages are associated with the Panasonic GM5 body, you might ask why I didn’t buy the same Panasonic lenses but use them on the Olympus E-M10 body.

Well, although at first glance Olympus and Panasonic lenses are interchangeable, there are some subtle problems:

I’m fairly sure the banding will be fixed in the next generation of Olympus bodies, but suspect the purple fringing will stay with us. To some degree, buying Panasonic lenses now means I’ll likely continue to prefer Panasonic bodies in the future.


Other Disadvantages of the GM5

The disadvantages I listed above are the ones that impact me. Here are some other disadvantages that don’t concern me too much:


Reviews

The following reviews were very helpful.


© 2015 Alan Watson Forster