Kathy Cavallararo Wants to Know About Moving From Nikon D700 to MFT

Posted Aug. 18th, 2016 by Daniel J. Cox

Hi Dan,
I currently shoot with a Nikon D700. I’m contemplating upgrading my camera body. I have an investment in F/2.8 lenses. Your article on the four thirds cameras has me thinking maybe I should go mirrorless. I typically shoot low light landscape and macro. I’ve notice several pros have switched from their heavy Nikon systems for high quality mirrorless. Would I give up anything by making the switch?

Thanks for your time,
Kathy Cavallaro


For the most part, there are few limitations to the Lumix Micro Four Thirds system I shoot compared to my old but trusty Nikon D700. The D700 was one of the first really great Nikons for low light capture. I have’t done any side by side comparisons, but I will tell you that low light is one area the MFT cameras don’t do as well in. The smaller the sensor, the more noise that comes in low light and higher ISO’s. I will often shoot my Lumix GH4 at 1600 ISO. I’m not excited about going higher than that but will if needed. When shooting at higher ISO settings, I typically run the original RAW files through my favorite noise reduction software DXO Optics Pro 11. Adobe’s Lightroom has a fairly decent noise removal tool but I really like the look of the images coming to of DXO Optics much better.

Freddy is just way to confident with his baby Lumix system and Peter's about ready to let him have a lens full. Oh, by the way, Freddy is shooting 840mm's and Peter has 600mm's. gCuiaba River, Pantanal, Brazil.

Freddy is just way too confident with his baby Lumix system, and Peter’s about ready to let him have a lens full. Oh, by the way, Freddy is shooting 840mm and Peter has 600mm. Pantanal, Brazil

I would be interested in knowing which 2.8 lenses you’re referring to.  If they’re big glass lenses like a Nikkor 300mm F/2.8 I can tell you the money you get from selling a lens like this will easily pay for an entire Lumix system. I’ve sold almost all my big Nikkor lenses, my 500 F/4, 2 200-400mm, and 2 80-400mm . With that money I’ve been able to purchase all my Lumix equipment, I have almost every lens they make, and when all was said and done, I put

Tree frog from Costa Rica shot with Lumix GH4 and Leica 45mm F/2.8 macro lens. One lash off camera fired by Lmix wireless remote system.

Tree frog from Costa Rica shot with Lumix GH4 and Leica 45mm F/2.8 macro lens. One flash off camera fired by Lumix wireless remote system.

thousands of dollars into my retirement account, money that was leftover from the sale of the very expensive Nikon lenses. Keep in mind, not all mirrorless cameras are created equal. Sony, for example, is making a superb mirrorless camera but it’s full frame. That’s great for low light but the telephotos are actually larger than the big Nikon and Canon lenses of the same range. Even more disappointing is they cost more than the Nikon and Canons of the same range.

The new Leica 100-400mm is going to revolutionize bird photography like nothing we've ever seen due to the tremendous reach a=of 800mm and the ability to hold it by hand. Bare-faced Curassow, male and female in the Pantanal, Brazil

The new Leica 100-400mm is going to revolutionize bird photography like nothing we’ve ever seen due to the tremendous reach of 800mm and the ability to hold it by hand. Bare-faced Curassow, male and female in the Pantanal, Brazil

That’s about it for a comparison. You’ll be missing super low light capabilities, though not a lot less than the Nikon D700. It was a great cameras in its day but there are many models that do much better in low light now. The GH4 is not quite as good as a D700 but it’s not too far off for low light capabilities. What you will gain is a pocket full of cash, a much smaller system that is a breeze to travel with, and some of the finest optics being built today in the Leica lenses that are made for the Lumix bodies. The lenses that are made for the Lumix cameras you have to multiply by 2 so the Lumix/Leica 100-400mm becomes a 200-800mm, but in the size of a 100-400mm. That’s the reason the image above shows one lens, the Olympus 300mm F/4 being so much smaller than it’s Canon

Dan shooting the new Leica 100-400mm on birds.

Dan shooting the new Leica 100-400mm on birds, handheld at 800mm.

counterpart at 600mm F/4. Additionally, if you can’t find a lens that Lumix makes such as the 300mm F/4, you can always check out the lenses from Olympus. Two of my favorite are the 300mm F/4 and the 40-150mm F/2.8. In case you’re unaware, Olympus and Lumix share the same lenses mount. All Lumix lenses fit on the Olympus MFT bodies and all Olympus lenses fit on the Lumix bodies. I shoot the two Olympus lenses I mentioned above on my Lumix cameras. As good as Olympus lenses are, I definitely much prefer the Panasonic Lumix bodies. More ergonomic, easier to understand button placements etc., and a much, much easier to use Menu system. On top of that, the Lumix gear is virtually bomb proof. Every bit as durable as my Nikons.


Add Your Voice!
There are 11 comments on this post…
  1. Les. CraneOn Aug. 25th, 2016

    I’m currently switching from the Canon DSLR (1.6crop) to the Lumix gx8 for bird photography. My only motivation was due to size and weight (real bad back issues)

    So far it’s been a challenge. Not because of IQ. As Dan and others have pointed out, unless you’re a pixel peeper,shooting really high ISO or printing huge, you will not see much IQ difference.

    Unfortunately I’m finding the Panasonic system much harder to learn and use. Now of course some might say, “you’ve been using Canons (or Nikons) for 30 years, what do you expect.

    The challenges for me relate to m43 mirrorless i general and some to Panny. A smaller body may be easier to carry but no matter how many customizations are available, it’s harder to adjust settings. Also, while an EVF gives you nice real time view of contrast and exposure of scene, I find even slight lags of live image annoying. This camera is much more complex than a DSLR imho. As far as pansonic goes, I find the organization of their menus and how they label certain functions to be nonsensical. Thank god for forums like dpreview and Dan Cox.

    Despite my complaints I’m not likely to go back to DSLR for any telephoto photography but will still use it for some landscapes with shorter lenses. I suggest that before you “invest” a lot of $ and hard work, you rent or borrow a Panasonic and an Olympus to gauge your comfort level. Everything is a tradeoff. Good luck

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 26th, 2016

      Les, Have you followed the setup guide I created on the Blog post Birds in flight Settings for Lumix Cameras? Although the title suggests thee are settings for birds in flight, they are actually the settings I use for virtually all other shooting situations as well. Make sure you see the notes under the Custom Tab explaining that you need to make sure Constant Review=OFF as well as Auto Review Duration Time=OFF. This should eliminate your “slight lags of live image”.

      Interestingly, I’ve shot Nikons for almost forty years with the last 12 or so using the Nikon digital camera menus. I’m a bit puzzled with your troubles getting used to the Lumix menus but it may have to do with the difference between Nikon and Canon menus. Nikon and Lumix are extremely similar when it comes to the layout of their respective menus system. I find it much, much more intuitive than either Olympus or Sony. I’ve used Canons as well and will say that the Lumix system is very different than Canon but to me it’s quite logical. However, as you said, maybe it’s just what you’re accustomed to.

      Regarding the Panasonic system being more difficult to use, I’m going to vehemently push back on that comment. I’ve shot Nikons for the time I mentioned above and shot virtually every body they made. I’ve shot the Canon EOS1 series of cameras as well as the EOS5’s. Being in a position to see virtually every camera made and needing to help my students learn to use them, I can honestly say I’ve combed through the menus of all serious DSLR’s on the market today which include Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony, Pentax, Lumix, Fuji, Hasselblad, and probably some others I’m forgetting. Without a doubt I personally feel the Lumix GH4 is by far the best layout of any camera on the market for being able to reach the exact tools I need, such as WB, ISO and +/- EV which are all placed on the top deck in easy reach of one hand. I personally feel that if I could spend five minutes with you, you too would see what I’m talking about. Admittedly, the controls are different but I’m convinced they are better. Just my two cents.

      Regarding the GX8 in particular. I love this camera for travel photography but I’m not a fan of the GX8 when it comes to wildlife. The main reason is due to the Rangefinder type EVF, which is placed on the far left of the top deck of the camera, off center of the lens. This creates parallax issues when shooting a lens such as the Leica 100-400mm and the Olympus 300mm F/4 and 40-150mm F/2.8. For all wild shooting I much prefer the GH4.

      We may have some differences on what we like or expect in a camera system and their menus but we do agree that using these smaller cameras are indeed the future. Thats for adding your voice to the conversation.

    • Les. CraneOn Aug. 26th, 2016

      Thanks Dan. YES, I use your guide for the settings and have it linked on my mobile phone,thank you.

      I haven’t given up on the Lumix and am still learning it even though we may not agree with the ease vs. Canon, it’s definitely more user friendly than the Olympus I tried.

      I’m not sure what you mean by the parallax issue. Since the EVF image is though the lens as opposed to a real rangefinder it shouldnt change the view. Do you mean that there’s a perceptual issue with our brain since the eye is to the left but the lens is in the middle?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 26th, 2016

      Even though the EVF does see what the lens is pointing at it’s difficult to find your subject since your eye is off center with the barrel of the lens. When your eye is over exactly over the lens, it allows you to use the lens like a sitting tool to find the subject quickly. With a lens that is equivalent to 800mm’s that one inch the EVF sits off to theft, can make lining things up very difficult.  So yes, it may just be a brain to eye thing but it’s definitely an issue with the longer telephotos on the GX8.

    • Kathy CavallaroOn Sep. 2nd, 2016

      Thanks everyone for your helpful comments! Like Les, I know my Nikon setting inside out. I shoot manual almost all the time. I don;t use any in camera settings, with the exception of auto bracketing. Since I enjoy shooting butterflies and insects, any type of shutter lag would be a frustration. For now, I’ll stick with my dinosaur D700.
      Thanks again for all the valuable info!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 2nd, 2016

      It’s always difficult for photographers to make a change. I understand your feelings but have to be honest and say that your comment about your ongoing use of “manual most all the time” and “don’t use any in camera settings” tells me you’re missing massive amounts of technology that has been developed by all camera manufactures including Nikon to help us all get photos faster, easier and more consistently. Additionally, you mention, “shutter lag would be a frustration” yet I believe I mentioned there is NO LAG with any of the top end, professional cameras I’m using from Lumix. I appreciate and respect your desire to keep your trusty D700 but let me encourage you to keep reading about the new tools available for having even more fun with your photography. Thanks for your input.

  2. Rich BallOn Aug. 21st, 2016

    I might add a few thoughts to Dan’s comments. If you are using the 105mm macro for close up work the near equivalent would be the Leica/Lumix 45mm f2.8 macro. A very sharp lens. the 60mm Olympus macro and 30mm macro Panasonic lenses are also very nice macro lenses. Although as with most macro lenses auto focus can be a little problematic at times. In the area of HDR on the GH4 you can go to the auto bracket very easily with the knob on top of the body. For most stuff I much prefer my my Panasonic gear to My Canon 5d mark III. I can take the GX8 or GH4 and several lenses in a small shoulder bag. The IS on the GX8 when combined with the dual stabilization on some Panasonic lenses is phenomenally good.

  3. DeanOn Aug. 20th, 2016

    Please let me inject another view. Dan, understandably, loves his Lumix bodies and lenses. However, my experience with Olympus bodies and lenses has been terrific. All my Nikon gear (D800E, D810, D3S, D4, 500mm f4 VRII, 200-400mm VR, 300mm 2.8 VRII, 70-200mm 2.8 VRII, 24-70mm, and 14-24mm f28) was sold for very good prices on eBay (all was in perfect condition with the original boxes and I got 85% of what I paid for it). I pocketed tens of thousands of dollars when I made the switch to MFT. I bought a GX7 and GH4, and returned both after comparing them to the Olympus E-M1. In-body IS and massively flexible custom settings won the day. And, now that the E-M1 has Firmware update 4.0, autofocus function has caught or exceeded the GH4. And, as Dan wrote above, the Olympus 40-150mm and 300mm Pro lenses are awesome, even sharper images that with comparable Nikon lenses (and I used to own Canon Pro lenses and bodies, too, and the new Olympus Pro line beats them, too).

    I, too, shot with the D700 . . . she was my best friend for years. And, you may be thinking about the updated. I bought a Nikon D750, Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.4, and Sigma Art 50mm 1.4 because the reviews had been so spectacular. I shot those against an Olympus E-M1, Panasonic-Leica 42.5mm 1.2, and Panasonic-Leica 25mm f1.4. I was expecting the Nikon/Zeiss/Sigma gear to be significantly better, considering that the Nikon D750 is full frame and Zeiss is, well, Zeiss. Surprise! The Olympus/Lumix/Leica kicked proverbial butt! Identical shots, different equipment. The MFT images were sharper, with better contrast, and a much more pleasant “feel.” Even my wife noticed the difference on the screen of my iMac’s 27″ 5K monitor!

    Both Olympus and Lumix are going to be updating their best bodies (E-M1 MkII and GH-5) in the very near future. This makes for a great opportunity to pick up their current (still very good models) cheaply now. Or, you can “try out” MFT with the awesome Olympus E-M10 MkII (or similar Lumix) body now. If you’re not happy with them, no big loss . . . eBay is a great way to sell gently used gear (just keep all the packaging) if things don’t work out the way your hoped.

    Dan’s right on the money (and he’s been a pioneer here) when he writes mirrorless is the wave (tidal?) of the future. Lumix, Olympus, Fuji, and Sony have a huge head start on Nikon and Canon with mirrorless options.

    This is a great time to be interested in photography. Enjoy the adventure!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 20th, 2016

      Dean’s right, I’m a big fan of the Panasonic Lumix bodies. He’s also correct when he states, “In-body IS and massively flexible custom settings” are important items, for some people. What he doesn’t mention is that yes, you can customize an Olympus virtually any way you want, but remembering what you’ve done is like hitting your thumb with a hammer. It’s painful! And it’s extremely easy to forget. What’s so frustrating about the Olympus bodies is that they do not mark any of their buttons showing the basics. In other words, the Exposure Composition, White Balance and ISO are not marked like they are on all Lumix bodies, with the GH4 being the best camera I’ve ever used for placing the right buttons in the right place for ease of use and ability to quickly access. No guess work on the GH4. Many professionals love the OM-D Em-1 due to it’s unlimited ability to customize. That’s all well and good if you shoot everyday. But if you take a week off, most people will forget how they set the camera up and there are no clues as to which dial, buttons and switches you need to flip, push or turn to get to where you want to go like simply CHANGING ISO. This doesn’t even cover the nightmare known as Olympus menus. Olympus makes great lenses but quite honestly I wouldn’t suggest their bodies to anyone other than a full time working professional who has tremendous desire to fine tune, tweak or just simply “fiddle” with a camera for the fun of fiddling and figuring things out. I say give me a camera I can shoot right out of the box and Olympus bodies don’t fit that description in the least.

      Dean with the Natural Exposures family in the Pantanal photographing jaguars before he saw the light with MFT.

      Dean with the Natural Exposures family in the Pantanal photographing jaguars before he saw the light regarding MFT.

      OK, so that’s my two cents on Olympus customization. Now lets talk about the other feature Dean’s so positive about. Yes, Olympus does have great in body Image Stabilization but in my tests, Lumix takes no back seat to the Olympus camera when it comes to Image Stabilization. All Lumix lenses have IS built in to the lens itself, not the body and I’ve not seen any overtly downside to the in lens IS in any way. Proof in the lens IS concept is the fact that Olympus just released their newest, greatest lens, the 300mm F/4 with IS built in to the lens. Just like Panasonic Lumix. That’s not to say in body IS isn’t a plus and in fact Lumix is now producing in body 5-AXIS IS in their newest cameras as well, just like Olympus. Lumix’s new 5-Axis IS is programmed to work in conjunction with the lens IS, a feature Lumix pioneered and is referred to as Dual IS.

      Regarding long term use and durability. If you do a SEARCH on DPReview you will find many people disappointed with the durability of the Olympus cameras, in particular the OM-D EM-1 where there are numerous examples of the camera strap lugs falling out and other issues. I’ve had to replace the lens hood on my Olympus 40-150mm zoom three times, this last time I just threw it out. The lens itself is superb but some of the add ons are much less durable than they should be.

      Finally, with Panasonic’s new Depth From Defocus (DFD) AF capabilities, I’m now seeing AF results close to my most expensive Nikons.

      Dean is a huge fan of Olympus and I’m a huge fan of Panasonic’s Lumix line. We’re good friends but both passionate about our respective preferred new mirrorless systems AND we both agree on at least one thing. The future is mirrorless and both Panasonic and Olympus have a huge head start. Yes, Sony is also mirrorless but Sony is reinventing the wheel with their full frame cameras that produce great images but have no lenses, the lenses they do have are as large and actually more expensive than Nikon or Canons of the same range. This all comes from the fact Sony is building full frame mirrorless camera with full frame sensors. Full frames sensors require full frame lenses. If you want small, light weight and reasonably priced it’s the Micro Four Thirds system all the way. The only question is which one Lumix or Olympus. You’ll have to decide.

  4. Kathy CavallaroOn Aug. 19th, 2016

    Hi Dan,
    I appreciate your response! I should clarify, I shoot long exposure and HDR with an ISO of 200. Sunrise and sunset light are my passion. The 2.8 lenses I own are the 24-70. 14-24, 105 macro, and the 70-200. I was thinking about replacing my 70-300 (an inexpensive lens) with the 300 mm. I was also contemplating replacing my D700 with the D810. I believe the technology is leaning towards MFT, not sure it’s it’s quite there yet. I’m not sure I want to invest more dollars in this system.
    Thanks again for your time,

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 19th, 2016

      Kathy, without a doubt, mirrorless is where all cameras will be someday. If you’re using 200ISO with HDR composites, the MFT cameras would do a fabulous job.
      That said, there is no question that full frame sensor cameras are superior for long exposures in low light. But for what yo are doing I think MFT would be fine. What you should really do is, buy one of the Lumix cameras and give it a try. That’ how it all started for me. They are very inexpensive when you compare them to the full frame Nikon cameras and lenses you’re using. I started small and was so impressed with what I was getting I just kept adding new lenses. I eventually upgraded to the more professional bodies, the GH4 which is still only $1200.00, so you won’t be breaking the bank to give it a try. This is what I tell everyone who’s just not sure. The Lumix system is inexpensive enough to TRY IT.

Add your voice to this conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In an effort to combat spam, your comment may be held for a brief moderation period.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.