Recently I’ve been lucky enough to have several cameras to work with including the Olympus Pen F which I reviewed here
and the Nikon D7200 Review Here
I’ve been testing them out for a while now shooting portraits, street photography and a few landscapes too.
This weekend I was asked to photograph a wedding here in the Philippines and I thought it would be a great chance to test these three cameras against each other in a fast paced, unforgiving environment.
Now I’m not a professional wedding shooter. I’ve shot landscapes, portraits and commercial work professionally but wedding photography is a whole different ball game. I made it clear what the couple could expect from me and that they really should hire a pro wedding photographer. However budget was a concern and so I offered to help out as they are friends of my Fiancée.
I also wouldn’t recommend shooting a wedding with a bunch of different cameras as it was really hard work switching between three systems and still trying to get shots of the couple’s big day.
I shot all cameras with prime lenses.
For the Fuji I used the 23mm f/1.4 and 90mm f/2. On the Pen F I had the 17mm f/1.8 and 45mm f/1.8. On the Nikon I mainly used the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and the 20mm f/1.8.
In terms of handling I found all three to be well suited to fast paced shooting where you don’t get a second chance to capture the shot. The Nikon feels solid and well-built but you do start to feel the weight after a full day. I’m writing this article up 2 days later and my arm still feels a little sore so less weight is always better in my eyes as long as I don’t feel I’m compromising on image quality too much.
The Pen F is fantastic for blending in to the crowd and not intimidating subjects thanks to its small size and beautiful looks. Although as the only foreigner at a Filipino wedding it’s pretty much impossible to blend in despite the Pen F’s best efforts.
The Olympus Pen F also offers a fully articulating touch screen and touch to focus which is great for getting shots at interesting angles.
The Fuji XT2 was and is my favourite camera to handle of the 3 because it offers quick access to ISO, shutter speed and aperture via external dials. When you’re trying to photograph constantly changing and moving subjects it’s great to be able to see and change your settings as you bring the camera up to your eye. I can’t tell you how great the Fuji is for that reason alone.
The Nikon feels the most like a workhorse and it certainly is fast to use and solidly built. However during the ceremony I was aware of its louder shutter going off and I opted to use the more discreet Pen F and Fuji XT2 a lot of the time. That’s one of the major benefits of shooting mirrorless. The mechanical shutters are quieter and they have the option to use a totally silent electronic shutter. The Nikon D7200 does have a quiet mode but it’s not that quiet and it slows the camera down.
Some people deride Micro 4/3 because of the smaller sensor but I really don’t think these people use the cameras in the real World. I’ve shot loads of photos with all three of these cameras and as you can see in this article the difference in image quality between M4/3 and APS-C is very small now.
The only real benefit I see to larger sensors is the ability to create more shallow depth of field and the better high ISO noise performance but you only really see a big difference when you jump up to full frame.
Image quality from all three cameras is superb and certainly good enough for professional work. Of the three I prefer people images from the Fuji XT2 because at high ISO’s it does have slightly less noise than the other two. Just be sure to turn down in camera noise reduction to -4 otherwise any Jpegs you shoot will make your images look like mush. I shot raw at the wedding to give a little more leeway to edit the photos later on so it wasn’t a problem.
I also appreciate the ability to throw the background out of focus a little more than you can with the Pen F. This was especially useful as the locations I was shooting at didn’t always have pleasing backgrounds, in fact some would have quite easily ruined shots had the background been in focus. Obviously the new Olympus 25mm f/1.2 Pro gives us micro 4/3 users a great choice for shallow depth of field shots but I don’t have that lens yet despite it being on my Christmas list.
I had planned on shooting a Nikon D750 at the wedding too but thanks to the postal system here it didn’t arrive in time. I’ll be comparing it with the others once I get my hands on it.
For me the most important aspect of the cameras on the day was auto focus performance. This is where the mirrorless cameras actually kicked the DSLR’s butt. Yes, I know this is where DSLR’s still reign supreme according to most but in reality both the Pen F and Fuji XT2 focus really quickly and only slow down a touch in bad light. They lock on fast and when they give focus confirmation you can be sure you got the shot.
What I found frustrating with the Nikon D7200 when reviewing the photos after was the amount that were out of focus. It just isn’t as accurate to focus as the mirrorless bodies. It may be a millisecond faster but what’s the point if focus isn’t spot on.
The Nikon 50mm f/1.4 is not sharp until you stop it down so the benefit of a larger aperture is lost. Whereas the Fuji 23mm f/1.4 and 90mm f/2 are sharp wide open and combined with the more accurate focus of the XT2 gave a far higher hit rate. The 17mm and 45mm on the Pen F are both perfectly sharp too.
The Pen F in my opinion has the best S-AF of the three cameras as it is quick, silent and deadly accurate. The only down side to the Pen F is that you don’t have direct access to change AF points. Instead you need to press the left D-pad button and then press one of the direction buttons to move the focus point around. It’s only when you are shooting something like a wedding that you notice this tiny delay but it does make a difference occasionally.
I also can’t overstate how useful I find an electronic viewfinder in my photography. I love the WYSIWYG nature of EVFs. It is so much better to use as you don’t need to take a shot then chimp on the LCD screen after to check it. For me the constant chimping needed on DSLR’s does ruin your flow and gets irritating after a while. With the large EVFs on the Pen F and particularly the Fuji XT2 I could quickly change to Acros or the Pen F’s black and white modes and see what my shot would look like in black and white. It also showed me whether the exposure was correct and if focus was spot on.
So which one would I choose if I had to do it all again?
Before I shot this wedding I have to be honest and say that I had a preconception that although I prefer mirrorless cameras for personal use, I would in fact find that the DSLR was still better when it comes to Professional use in a fast paced environment like a wedding.
Well, I was wrong. For me mirrorless cameras have caught up and in fact overtaken DSLR’s in every area that matters and if I was buying just one camera now it would be mirrorless and it would be from Olympus or Fuji.
If I could only have one of these cameras and I thought I may be shooting further weddings then it would be the Fuji XT2 because of the external control dials, slightly better high ISO performance, ability to deliver more shallow depth of field and fast accurate AF performance. I also happen to think the Fuji lens line-up is fantastic. Mind you, so are the micro 4/3 lenses.
If I was buying one camera just for personal use it would be the Olympus Pen F all day long. It is simply beautiful and a joy to use. Lightweight, great AF, excellent image quality and I haven’t even mentioned how much fun the colour dial is for black and white photography. That’s the camera I take with me when I go out with family and friends.
If you are going to shoot a Nikon I’d opt to jump up to full frame because the DX lens line-up is pathetic. The Nikon bodies are very good but I just prefer using mirrorless cameras these days and with the Fuji XT2 the AF is now quick enough to do its job.
If I was shooting another wedding with a Fuji XT2 I’d be buying a lot of spare batteries though as I fully drained 2 before the reception had finished. In fact I would buy the VPB-XT2 grip so you don’t have to worry about battery changes.
The Nikon D7200 after a full day was still showing 80% remaining and the Pen F about 40%. I took roughly the same number of shots with each Camera. That’s the only benefit the Nikon had over the others.