Welcome to the
Photography & Equipment Test Centre
What's this Site About?
I have always tested the equipment I buy to learn about it and know its limits, and also to see how well it performs in real world usage. Sometimes of course it is just to ensure that a piece of kit works as it should and it recently occurred to me that it may of be of benefit to others if I shared my findings, so I hope you find some of the content useful.
WARNING: I am not a brand loyal 'fanboy' so you won't read any bias, I say things as I find them, however controversial that may be!
PS. This is not launched as a fully functioning website, it is a work in
My Journey to Specialising in M4/3
I have been a serious photographer now for many a decade, but my passion only really came alive with the advent of electronic and digital cameras, and of course affordable home computers.
I grew up with SLR's in the 1970's but have used electronic cameras for commercial work since 1994. However it was around 2002 when I acquired my first 'modern' digital camera. And like no doubt many others I gradually progressed from a good quality pocket camera to a semi-pro Minolta bridge camera with its highly practical and wonderful (for the time) 28-200mm zoom lens. It also had a tilting rear LCD screen, a tilting viewfinder and could shoot tethered ! Finally I acquired my first DSLR a Sony A100. It was quite a masterpiece in its time, having in-camera image stabilisation - which worked flawlessly - and a self cleaning sensor. And although its large 10 megapixel image output was truly beautiful, I hated that camera !
DSLR No Thank You...
I had got used to electronic viewfinders with all the advantages they bring, and going back to an APS-C optical viewfinder - which didn't even show you the whole picture you were trying to take, - felt for me like a highly retrograde step which I couldn't get used to. Also the A100 sensor suffered from noise in dark conditions as soon as you tried going much over 200 ISO. After a short while Panasonic introduced the first ever M43 camera, the ground breaking G1, and this is when I decided to dip my toes into M43.
The Panasonic G1 looked and handled like a DSLR only it was smaller and much lighter, plus it had that all important 100% view electronic viewfinder and came with a standard kit lens that was a serious contender. Not only that, but it had a rear screen which could swivel and the G1 would shoot at ISO400 in dark conditions with very acceptable results. However all was still not perfect, it had very little highlight recovery - which at least I could compensate for, - but the real big problem was with sport photography when trying to capture decisive moments, because the G1 suffered from serious shutter lag. For the first time ever I would always miss that important shot. For professional use decisive moments it was a no go area. But for everything else, I loved it !
Back to Sony...
I had not got around to selling my Sony equipment yet - flashes and Lenses, etc - and the remarkable Sony A77 was launched with a huge EVF and Tilt-Swivel screen, this was a 24Mp monster with an ultra fast burst shooting rate, no shutter lag and fitted with almost every bell and whistle you could imagine. I was once more drawn to defect camps, and for about two years, unless I needed to travel light the M43 gear sat in the cupboard.
But alas photography moves on and we all like to push the boundaries of what is possible and like with all modern digital cameras after a rather short while I started to notice a few drawbacks - mainly noise when shooting in poor light and unfortunately we get a lot of that in the UK, - plus I am no longer a spring chicken and lugging a full size DSLR setup around with long lenses and the large heavy tripods that entails had started to take its toll.
Finally Saved by M43...
I had kept my eye on the progress of M43, read every test report of each new camera model, studied the lens line-up road map, and was desperately awaiting launch of the right one for me when along came the Panasonic GX7 - wow, what a little wonder - and I jumped in feet first.
This little gem was groundbreaking, in that it was tiny, it had no shutter lag, had a low noise 16Mp sensor with large dynamic range, a tilting rear LCD plus a tilting viewfinder (just like my old Minolta that I so badly missed) plus it was Panasonics first M43 with in-camera stabilisation, which would allow me to use all manner of lenses - Whoopi !
Was it perfect, no but it was close, very close. The EVF was a bit small and the 16Mp sensor seemed just a little soft, but fairly noise free and would push ISO's that the Sony A77 couldn't even dream of. I added some rather expensive Olympus Pro glass and this became my sole go-to camera for two years, right up until Panasonic launched their flagship GX8 - wow !
And my Love Affair with Panasonics GX8...
The GX7 was good, but the GX8 has really stepped M43 up into the big league. When pushing extremes, I always had to work hard with the GX7, whereas the GX8 does it all so effortlessly.
The GX8 is a fully professional bit of kit, packed with all the features needed to go out on a big job. It is so responsive in hand, has a new very sharp 20Mp sensor which produces amazing images even at very high ISO. And fills you with the confidence needed to bring back top class results. Focus is seriously fast, I'll repeat that, seriously fast, especially when I am using the fabulous Olympus 40-150 f2.8 Pro lens. And the new extra large electronic viewfinder is so big and clear that the camera is a dream to use.
Unbelievably, as I write this a year after launch, the price of the GX8 has fallen below that of the three year older GX7. I have no idea why, but am seriously considering buying a second one as a backup.