Photography beginnings and upgrading gear...
Current setup and how I started out
After looking for several years and working out I need to spend more than initially anticipated, (isn't that always the way!) in June 2019 I finally pulled the trigger on some photography gear. I realised I didn't know what I didn't know, so relied a lot on advice from others. My basic requirements were weather-sealing, and I was looking at #microfourthirds for it's smaller size and weight, as I planned on it going in my Osprey Escapist mountain-biking backpack so I could capture nice scenery as I come across it while riding.
Auckland Camera Centre put up with my noob questions over several emails back and forth, and suggested the #Panasonic #Lumix G85 for it's focus subject tracking as I also mentioned I'll likely be using it for motorsport and mtb duties. I wasn't keen to go for the G9 flagship model as I wasn't sure if I'd stay with the system and figured I should get the cheapest model with weather sealing.
I ended up getting from them the G85 kit with 12-60mm f3.5-5.6 lens.
I needed a longer lens
After photographing a few events, I quickly realised that the 60mm long end of the kit lens wasn't long enough for motocross or car club sprints, to keep me out of the way enough. At 4x4 trials I was at the limit of zoom and keeping myself safely out of the way. Full resolution on flickr
I was eyeing up the 35-100mm f2.8, but realised the 100mm isn't much longer than 60mm... but keep in mind that m4/3 has a crop factor of 2, so to compare with 35mm full-frame it would be 200mm compared to 120mm. I found a cheap second hand as-new condition 45-150mm f4-5.6 for half the retail price ($300 new) so figured that would at least let me work out how much reach I actually need even if it turned out to be a rubbish lens. After a firmware update. this lens has actually done very well for the couple of months I've had it, and I've had great results especially for a really cheap lens.
I realised I still wanted a little more reach, so the 35-100mm was pretty much out of the picture now... I really did want the 2.8 for more subject separation, but ended up shooting at the extended lower ISO100 (native is ISO200) just to keep aperture low-ish around f7.1-f8 so I could expose correctly and run 1/200-1/400 second shutter speed in order to get wheel blur and motion.
Apparently that's really “old-school” technique, but I really dislike static frozen wheels and crisp tread as it looks like they're parked. For the most part. Anyway, that's not relevant to this I guess.
So, my options in the pro level lenses made in conjunction with Leica, are the 50-200mm f4-5.6 and the 100-400 f4-6.3. Thinking back to how I use the camera, I think I can get away with the 100-400mm (200-800 full-frame equivalent), which seems is massive reach on the long end, but for most stuff 100mm on the short end will be fine – and I can get the 35-100mm down the road to full the gap if needed where the 12-60mm doesn't have the reach.
G85 Continuous Autofocus
Something I've been considering is the focus breathing when in continuous autofocus (AF-C), the kit 12-60mm is actually worse for this than the 45-150mm, but that still has the effect. What happens is due to the contrast-detect focus system, it needs to breathe the focus a little to determine the focus direction. Usually this means that when I'm doing a burst of a car or bike coming at me on an angle, there are a few shots in the burst that aren't in focus. Frustratingly, it's often the best composed shot in the burst that is out of focus.
This started me on my journey looking at various brands and how the focus, and led me to Fujifilm, specifically the X-H1 as it is DLSR style body like the G9/G85, which I prefer. It seems a good compromise of price versus full-frame DLSR bodies and lenses, and still very good quality glass.
So I thought I had better do the sums for changing:
X-H1 w/booster grip $2730 16-55mm f2.8 24-83 eq. $1998 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 152-608 eq. $3478 Selling G85 & lenses –$900 Total $7306
Hmm, more than I wanted to spend... alright, lets compare to changing to the good Lumix stuff:
G9 & extra battery $1699 12-60mm f2.8-4 Leica 24-120 eq. $999 100-400mm f4-6.3 Leica 200-800 eq. $1697 Selling G85 & lenses –$900 Total: $3495
Well, that looks better, and I don't have to do it all at once. I can get the 100-400mm and keep shooting using my G85 for a while yet, then change to the G9 for it's better autofocus. Oh, I haven't talked about that yet.
So, I found and entire manual on settings for the G9 autofocus while looking online. It turns out that 2 of the 3 variable options aren't available in my G85, so it would make sense that the autofocus of the G9 will perform better when tuned to suit the subject matter.
Hmmmm... based on the severe price differential to the Fujifilm, it means I'll likely stick to Lumix gear at least in the mid-term. Bang for buck for someone at hobby level, I can not complain at all – even if we always yearn for the next best thing that doesn't make it practical.
I am open to comments on this :D