Guest Post-Fred Kurtz Evolving From DSLR’s to Micro Four Thirds

Posted Jun. 13th, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

Fred Kurtz in Sorrento, Italy

Fred Kurtz in Sorrento, Italy

Guest Post- Fred Kurtz Evolving From DSLR’s to Micro Four Thirds. Every now and again I reach out to one of our NE Explorers to share an experience or information I feel others might be interested in. One of our most traveled Explorers, Fred Kurtz, is a dear friend and I’ve watched Fred grow immensely as a photographer. Recently Fred made the decision to follow my lead by jumping in to the Panasonic, Lumix, Micro Four Thirds, mirrorless camera system with both feet. I was hopeful he would see the many benefits I’ve experienced but one never knows. After our Italy trip, that Fred was a part of, I asked him if he would do this guest post regarding his experience and growth in to the Micro Four Thirds world. Fred agreed and below, are his thoughts, in his own words.  Take it away Fred.

Daniel J. Cox

Since the Nikon D100 was introduced I have been a Nikon shooter. The D200 and D300 quickly followed the D100 in my camera bag as they became available. In 2012 I decided to switch from the DX format to the FX format. I purchased the Nikon D4 and the D800. All my DX lenses were replaced by full frame Nikkor professional lenses:  16-35 f.4, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 VRII f2.8, 200-400 f4 and the new 80-400VR f4.5 – f5.6. For every trip I would pack two Nikons and an array of lenses. I loved my Nikon systems and figured I would be shooting them forever.

In 2012, on a Natural Exposures trip to Costa Rica, Dan introduced me to the new Panasonic Lumix GX1. – a Micro 4/3 mirrorless camera. I thought it was a neat fun little play camera for when you were just getting snapshots without the need to carry the big DSLR’s. When I got home I purchased one with the kit lens and started playing around with it.

Then when the Panasonic Lumix GX7 came out, I got one of those too. By then, Panasonic developed two professional lenses, the 12-35 f2.8 (24-70 equivalent) and the 35-70 f2.8 (70-200 equivalent) so I got those lenses to go with my GX1 and GX7.

At first I started keeping the images separated between Micro 4/3’s and DSLR cameras. Then I decided they would have to hold their own and I began to put all images in the same folder regardless of camera and I would select the best images for my books and website regardless of camera. Unless I specifically remembered which camera shot a particular image, I could not tell a difference as long as I was within the parameters the system was designed to achieve.

New Zealand landscape. Lumix GX7 with 12-35mm F/2.8

New Zealand landscape. Lumix GX7 with 12-35mm F/2.8

I took the Nikon D4 and Panasonic GX7 and GX1 to a trip in New Zealand this past January. The cover of my book was made with the GX7 – not the D4. In Cuba I took the D800 and the GX7 and GX1. I used the GX7 extensively and used it to try my hand at panning. So my standard trip went from carrying two DSLR’s to one DSLR and one or two Micro 4/3’s.

Seeding through the streets of Havana, Cuba. Lumix GX7 with 12-35mm F/2.8

Speeding through the streets of Havana, Cuba. Lumix GX7 with 12-35mm F/2.8

Then the brand new Panasonic GH4 was introduced. I was able to snag one of the first ones just prior to going on the Natural Explorers Italy trip. For this trip I decided to leave both DSLR’s home and just bring the Panasonic cameras.  This was a big leap of faith leaving both DSLR’s home. The images from the GH4 have been incredible and I have comfortably shot up to ISO 3200. The decision to leave the DSLR’s home proved to be a good one.

To emphasize the quality of the Micro 4/3 cameras and lenses, here is a comparison between the D800 and the GH4. The photo of the old woman was taken in Cuba with my D800 and the 24-70 f2.8 professional lens (55mm, f6.3, ISO200 at 1/160 sec).

The face of time. Nikon D4 with 24-70mm F/2.8

The face of time. Nikon D4 with 24-70mm F/2.8

The photo of the old man was taken in Italy with the GH4 and the 12-35 f2.8 professional lens (24-70 equivalent, 44mm equivalent, f4.0, ISO 200 at 1/200 sec). I cannot tell a difference in quality even when zoomed in 1-1.

An older gentleman on the streets of Sorrento, Italy Lumix GH4 with 12-35mm F/2.8

An older gentleman on the streets of Sorrento, Italy Lumix GH4 with 12-35mm F/2.8

The only thing missing from the Panasonic lineup is a longer professional zoom lens. I think they should offer a 200-400 or 80-400 professional lens to complete the system.

It has been such a joy to carry one or two small cameras around instead of one or two DSLR’s. For the first time, I suffered no fatigue in carrying camera equipment in Italy and I cannot tell you how nice that was.   So now when I visit Europe I will bring only Micro 4/3 cameras. They are that good.

After Italy, I decided to purchase a second GH4. I have never shot two of the same cameras before but this will allow me to setup both cameras identically and leave the 12-35 on one camera and the 35-100 on the other. Then my 7-14 wide angle will be on my GX7 and I will never have to change lenses. I am looking forward to that.

When I first started going on Natural Exposures Invitational Photo Tours, most of the explorers shot Nikons and Canons. This has now changed to where I see only one or two Nikons or Canons with most people opting for Panasonic / Olympus / Sony Micro 4/3 systems. The writing is on the wall.

For now the Nikons will still have their place with me. I will still use them on Safari’s and for sports and for hand held low light situations. However, I have no doubt the Micro 4/3 cameras will soon reach the level the current DSLR’s offer.

To put a period on my evolution to the Micro 4/3 camera systems and the smaller size and lesser weight, this photo shows the GX7 with the 35-100 (70-200), the GH4 with the 12-35 (24-70), the D800 with the 24-70 and the D4 with the 70-200. The difference is amazing.

Fred's arsenal of photographic tools which include the Lumix GX7, GH4, Nikon D800 and Nikon D4

Fred’s arsenal of photographic tools which include the Lumix GX7, GH4, Nikon D800 and Nikon D4

Add Your Voice!
There are 9 comments on this post…
  1. Tim BartleyOn Jul. 1st, 2016

    Have you had the opportunity to compare the Panasonic/Leica 100-400 lens with the older (and less expensive) 100-300 lens?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 9th, 2016

      Tim, I have not compared sharpness and details but the speed of AF is so much better on the new Leica 100-400mm I have no interest in using the 100-300mm. I may be able to provide some sharpness tests on this when I have a chance.

  2. william schumanOn Jun. 30th, 2014

    I am working in Barrow, Alaska. A friend of mine was fourtunate enough to meet Daniel in Barrow. We plan on going on a phot tour. Have been exploring the micro 4/3 world for awhile. Since reading the blog, I have narrowed it to a Panasonic model. Which specific model would you recommend.

    Thanks

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 30th, 2014

      William, I’ve been using several of the Panasonic models since they first came to market. Currently the best option for anyone interested in serious still photography is the new GH4. Lenses would be the 12-24mm F/2.8, the 35-100mm F/2.8 and if you plan on doing wildlife and nature the 100-300mm is our best option on the long telephoto side. The 100-300mm is very good but it’s the one lens I’m hopeful Panasonic upgrades to more professional standards in the near future. I have to say, as much as I love what Panasoinc is doing, my Nikon’s are still essential for some subject matter. Things like really fast moving action, birds in flight, cheetahs running, etc. But for everything else I’ve been extremely happy with the Lumix system. I’m confident it won’t be long and the action related issues will completely disappear with Panasoinc. They made huge improvements in the GH4, compared to the GH3, with only about a year between the two models. The new Gh4 is getting very close to my current Nikons in aF speed and accuracy and in reality, it may be the longer lenses that are holding the system back when it comes to really quick moving action. Panasoinc is moving extremely fast to close the gaps and any downsides between their mirrorless cameras and traditional DSLR’s. Thanks for stopping by and adding your voice. I’m hopeful the photo tour you plan to take might be one of ours. If so we’ll have lots of time to get you up and running on whichever new Panasoinc you decide to choose.

  3. Dean SwartzOn Jun. 15th, 2014

    Fred’s experience with MFT equipment parallels mine (although I’ve gone the Olympus route). I think it is a safe bet that as soon as there are pro quality telephoto MFT and wide angle (in the range of 14-16mm) lens for Oly and Pany users, there will be a stampede away from Canon and Nikon. All one has to do is shoot with the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f1.2 or Olympus 85mm f1.8 (or, for that matter the 12-40mm Oly or 12-35mm Pany lenses) to realize just how good the image quality is with the micro four-thirds system.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 15th, 2014

      Absolutely Dean. We definitely need longer, better quality, pro zoom lenses. If Panasonic would update the 100-300 to equal the build and quality of the 12-35 and or the 35-100 they would have an AMAZING lens on their hands. We need to start voicing our desires for these larger lenses. If they don’t come, Panasonic will squander an amazing head start. Another lens that I find a fabulous sleeper is the 45-175. Not as sharp as I would like but the range is really superb. Such a great range for people/portraiture in the streets. I hope they upgrade this one as well. Thanks for adding your voice. The more we all talk about this, the more Panasonic and Olympus will be encouraged there is a market. We all need to let them know.

  4. Portrait of Fred Kurtz

    Fred KurtzOn Jun. 15th, 2014

    Sunnie, I had to look up the definition of Sherpa – now I get it. I just gave my GX1 to my son and daughter-in-law last night and they were very happy. I also now have my second GH4 and I am very happy. It is such an easy camera to use right out of the box without needing to even open the instruction book. Panasonic hit a home run with this camera. We do need to get Peter back out in the field with us.

  5. sunnie hellmanOn Jun. 14th, 2014

    so, now that you are creating these wonderful photos, will you help me with mine? I’m in the playing stage with my Lumix and I just love traveling with it and it’s lenses! Peter still needs a sherpa for his!!!! We gotta get you guys (you, Dan and himself) together soon!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 14th, 2014

      Happy to help Sunnie, tell me how I can? Glad you are liking the Lumix. I’m loving it more everyday I shoot it.

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