Saturday 27 February 2021

A Change in Directions


Nikon Z5, Nikkor 35mm f2 AI

Welp, the E-M1 Mark II didn't last long. It got returned and a Z5 came home with me.

Why? Not anything wrong with the E-M1.2, but entirely looking at what I'd need to get to make m43 a full system for me, then looking over and realizing I already owned most of it in F mount. Why buy a bunch of new lenses when I already own equivalents that I know work for me. I basically needed to build a full system in m43, but I need a telezoom only for Z at this point (I'd arranged to sell my Laowa 15/4 Macro to a friend, but they kindly allowed me to back out of the deal now that I'm back on FX, it's an amazing lens but I couldn't see a real use case for it on m43, a 30mm-e shift/macro is a lot less interesting than a 15mm macro, the shift capability is crop-only)

I'll miss both the E-M1.2 and the 12-40 f2.8 Pro, they were an amazing combo. The Z5 beats the E-M1.2 in some areas, and lags in others. The EVF is one area it's like night & day, the Z5's is much better than the already quite decent E-M1.2, while the E-M1.2 had a better LCD setup as Nikon does tilt-only. The Z5 also has USB-C charge, one thing oddly lacking on the Olympus. I'll miss the 4:3 aspect ratio, although I can shoot in 5:4 crop on the Z5. Only crop mode missing is the 1.2x crop. Nikon is way behind Olympus in the way of multi shot and computational capabilities, but quite frankly I mostly use those to make up for the less flexible RAW files of m43. I will note that I pushed the E-M1.2 pretty hard on DR and found the files very close to my Fuji's in terms of usable DR, a surprise to me and much better than my experience of the 16MP m43 files, which got crunchy when pushed.

As to the Z5, the ergonomics are if anything better than the already excellent E-M1.2, the button layout in particular is better and the grip is just a bit chunkier which I like. The key thing is that I can get a nice 2 zoom setup in the system pretty easily and not too expensively if I'm willing to exploit equivalence and I am. Where the Olympus is ahead is in sealing & cold weather capability, something I don't need at that level, in speed, again something I don't need and in computational photography, which I like, but again I don't actually need. 

Lots of cool toy advantages for the Olympus beyond the sealing, but in terms of practicality they're pretty non-impacting for my uses. The Z5 has very good IBIS, adapts very well, better than the E-M1.2 thanks to the lack of crop factor, and a best in class viewfinder.

One neat thing is that once I get my adapter situation sorted out, I'll be able to use my beloved Nikkor-S.C 5cm f1.4 lens on an actual Nikon for the first time. It's a Leica Thread Mount lens, so I've never had a Nikon body it fit, but LTM and M mounts are very adaptable to the Z's, like Sony and unlike Canon R (the sensor filtration on R cameras is very unfriendly to M/LTM lenses). This is actually a big reason I want a FF mirrorless, there's been a boom in inexpensive but shockingly good M mount lenses, ranging from Laowa's insane 9mm f5.6, the world's widest rectilinear lens for Full frame, to the 7Artisans 75mm f1.25 and with all sorts of niftiness in between and all for 3 digit USD prices, similar to what Voigtlander's used to cost before they became another premium brand.

In terms of adapters, I have the FTZ, have an E/FE to Z adapter coming and will be acquiring M and C/Y adapters at a minimum, I already have a M42 to C/Y adapter for my 3 M42 lenses and because of how that adapter works, I can stack adapters with no tolerance issues. M42 adapters for C/Y and K mounts actually are only bayonet to screw mount converters and sit entirely inside the mount. That was a unique design and deliberate as both M42 and C/Y mounts were intended as successor mounts to M42 and adaptation was a design requirement.

I still think the E-M1.2 is a great camera, and would have worked quite well for me long-term. However I would still have had the lure of Full Frame and I simply needed to acquire too many lenses to offset the value proposition of the Z5. There's a difference between buying a kit + a telezoom and buying a full setup including UWA, telezoom, macro, a fast AF normal, plus a couple more lenses and buying the kit+telezoom an maybe a fast AF normal. I already have an extensive F mount manual focus setup, covering 15mm, 24mm, 8mm, 35mm, 50mm, 55mm macro, 105mm, 200mm and 300mm, plus a 50-135/3.5 zoom I'm not overly fond of. Plus I have a 35mm f3.5 and 135mm f3.5 in M42 mount, a C/Y mount 70-150/3.8 I quite like and my beloved Nikkor-S.C 5cm f1.4 in LTM. All are very usable on the Z5 and most are kinda questionable on both the Fuji and Olympus bodies, really only the the 55 Macro, the 105/2.5 and the 200/4 are interesting on crop bodies, and the 200 isn't a great match to m43, it doesn't quite deliver enough resolution for the high density 20MP m43 sensor.

More to come on the Z5 as I shoot with it. Lets see if I'll hit 1000 images in a week, like I did with the E-M1.2. Although I will note I was on vacation that week and am working this week.

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