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Evolving my digicam system for a once-in-a-lifetime journey to the Galapagos: Digital Pictures Assessment

My final bucket checklist journey, taken proper earlier than becoming a member of DPReview in 2013, was a cruise across the backside of South America, with a number of days spent in Antarctica, pictured right here. Images taken with the Canon EOS 7D.

Fourteen months in the past I used to be imagined to be cruising across the Galapagos Islands onboard the National Geographic Endeavour II, seeing barren landscapes and animals you will not discover wherever else (blue-footed boobies!). It was a visit excessive on my bucket checklist, and one which I might been saving up for practically two years; cruises to the Galapagos do not come low cost.

However months earlier than my scheduled departure, the primary main outbreak of covid-19 within the U.S. tore by way of a nursing house 5 minutes from my home, killing practically 40 folks. Everybody is aware of what occurred subsequent.

I am planning on shopping for my gear, moderately than borrowing it from the cupboard within the DPReview workplace

Clearly, the journey was cancelled, however the good people at Lindblad Expeditions let me reschedule for 2021 (and why not, since they already had my cash). As time glided by I began to lose confidence about journey in 2021, so just a few months later I pushed the journey again to 2022, simply to be protected.

However I am not writing this text to share my journey woes. With the journey wanting like it would truly occur subsequent 12 months, I’ve returned to planning what gear to carry. Not like the primary time I carried out this train, I am planning on shopping for my gear, moderately than borrowing it from the cupboard within the DPReview workplace.

And why am I doing this now, moderately than nearer to the journey? Merely put: the worth of my present gear is barely going to go down between at times.

This iceberg was a lot, a lot, a lot bigger than our ship – and that is simply on the floor.

My present gear

The EOS 5D Mark III with the 24-104mm F4L package lens

For a few years I have been the proud proprietor of a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Though I hardly ever use it as a consequence of all the brand new toys within the workplace, it nonetheless has a particular place in my coronary heart. It takes nice pictures, the ergonomics are near good, it could take a beating and the optical viewfinder is giant and vibrant.

As for lenses, I personal Canon’s 70-200 F4L IS USM (the primary one), 17-40mm F4L USM and the 24-105mm F4L that got here within the field with the digicam. Whereas I may at all times purchase extra lenses, these three coated the bases, and nicely.

Digicam necessities

A very powerful consider my seek for a brand new digicam system is worth. I am in search of the worth choice, not one of the best digicam available on the market.

As for my digicam system needs, listed below are the primary options I am in search of on my 5D III substitute (the 5D already gives a few of these issues):

  • I need a extra succesful sensor; the 5D’s decision is okay, however the dynamic vary is behind the instances.
  • I need a tilting or articulating display screen so I haven’t got to put on the volcanic rock discovered on many of the islands.
  • I would like 4K video. Of all locations to take top quality video, the Galapagos is it.
  • I would like in-body picture stabilization. My palms have a gentle tremor and I do not need tmiss a shot.
  • I would like one thing rugged sufficient to get moist or bashed into… one thing.
  • I would like twin card slots; not taking any possibilities since that is seemingly a one-time journey
  • The show and EVF should go the “polarized sun shades take a look at”. I want to have the ability to see what I am (in each panorama and portrait orientations) when taking pictures open air.

Some could also be shocked that did not embody wonderful autofocus on the checklist. Whereas I would like one thing to focus shortly and precisely, having top-notch topic monitoring is not a deal-breaker, since most of my topics will not be operating round. (I am additionally a kind of focus and recompose folks: in all probability the one one left within the DPReview workplace. That stated, the swap to mirrorless might convert me to steady autofocus with topic monitoring.)

Subsequent, I’ve a tough checklist of the sorts of lenses I might like in my backpack, which occur to be similar to what I already personal. I might hire an extended super-tele lens, since I do not want one in my private assortment. Here is what I am trying to purchase:

  • Extremely-wide (16-35mm equiv.)
  • Customary (24-105mm equiv.)
  • Tele-zoom (70-200mm equiv.)

Ideally, these lenses could be within the F4 equal vary, since I do not want the easiest, and my checking account isn’t overflowing with money.

What’s my gear price?

My Canon gear, all boxed up and able to promote.

Not desirous to take care of craigslist, I went to KEH’s web site to look into costs for my Canon gear (and remember to examine along with your native digicam retailer, who generally purchase used gear for commerce or credit score). Here is what they have been keen to supply on June 23, 2021:

Product KEH situation KEH trade-in estimate
EOS 5D Mark III physique Glorious $809
EF 70-200 F4L IS USM Glorious $520
EF 24-105mm F4L IS USM Glorious $683
EF 17-40mm F4L USM Glorious+ $365
Grand whole $2377

So I’ve nearly $2400 to spend, however I nonetheless need to hold my price as little as potential. What are my choices?

Choice 1: Get an EOS R6 and adapt my DSLR lenses

If I had a vast funds, I might promote the entire 5D III package and get myself an EOS R6 and some RF lenses (14-35mm F2.8, 24-105mm F4, 70-200mm F4), which provides as much as $6900. Sadly, I do not.

The EOS R6 with an tailored EF 70-200 F4 L

I really like the R6 as a result of, being a Canon digicam, it is acquainted to long-time proprietor of that model. Picture high quality is nice, it has actually good in-body stabilization, a totally articulating display screen, high-res viewfinder and 4K/60p video. And sure, its autofocus is de facto good too.

Downsides? Some rolling shutter in video, the small danger of overheating in video and so-so battery life (although I am planning on bringing a small fleet of batteries, simply to be protected.

On this state of affairs I might hold all three of my lenses and purchase the R6 and Canon’s fundamental EF-to-RF adapter. That will add as much as $2600 and, after taking the $809 I might get for buying and selling in my 5D III, I might nonetheless owe nearly $1800. Let’s strive one thing else.

Choice 2: Promote all of it and begin over

A extra sensible plan could also be to dump all of my present gear and begin from scratch with a brand new system. There are an awesome quantity of digicam and lens choices, although my digicam necessities assist slim down the sector a bit.


After a lot soul-searching, listed below are the cameras on my brief checklist, primarily based on the necessities I discussed earlier.

Digicam Execs Cons Price (physique)*
Canon EOS R6 Construct, acquainted controls, EVF, video, LCD sort, nice IBIS Value, rolling shutter, small danger of overheating in video, battery life $2500
Fujifilm X-T4

Design and controls, IBIS, JPEG high quality, video, LCD sort, battery life

Value, buffer dimension, too many dials $1700
Nikon Z5 Value, design, picture high quality, IBIS, EVF, battery life Sluggish burst, cropped 4K w/rolling shutter, no 70-200 F4, single card slot $1000
Olympus E-M1 III Construct/sturdiness, IBIS, quick burst, ‘dwell’ options, LCD sort. battery life Value, low res EVF, smaller sensor, menus, way forward for firm $1600
Panasonic G9 Value, construct high quality, IBIS, EVF, LCD sort, quick burst, 4K/60p video, compact lenses Uncommon USB port, “fluttery” autofocus, smaller sensor, battery life $1000

* All costs from B&H Photograph

If I used to be simply shopping for a physique, the $2377 I am getting for my 5D III package makes all of those merchandise very accessible. However I am not.


Now, for the opposite huge buy: lenses. As talked about earlier, I am in search of an ultra-wide, a typical zoom and a tele-zoom lens. Here is the place issues get a bit messy.

Digicam Lenses Equiv. protection Price (lenses)*
Canon EOS R6 14-35mm F4
24-105mm F4
70-200 F4
14-35mm F4
24-105mm F4
70-200 F4
Fujifilm X-T4 10-24mm F4
16-80mm F4
50-140mm F2.8
15-36mm F5.6
24-120mm F5.6
105-450mm F4.2
Nikon Z5 14-30mm F4
24-200mm F4-6.3
14-30mm F4
24-200 F4-6.3
Olympus E-M1 III 7-14mm F2.8
12-40mm F2.8
40-150mm F2.8
14-28mm F5.6
24-80mm F5.6
80-300mm F5.6
Panasonic G9 8-18mm F2.8-4
12-60mm F2.8-4
35-100mm F2.8
16-36mm F5.6-8
24-120mm F5.6-8
70-200mm F5.6

* A few of these lenses can be found bundled with the digicam physique, which can save me some cash. I am not together with these reductions above. All costs from B&H.

The Nikon package comes out as the cut price however, as famous earlier, my package solely consists of two lenses. Whereas there’s a 24-105 on the official roadmap, there isn’t any announcement date but. Additionally, a 70-200 F4 is not even on the map – a minimum of not but. Positive, I may purchase the FTZ adapter and use Nikon’s DSLR lenses, however I might moderately not. So, for now, I’ve to accept the 24-200 F4-6.3 VR (together with the 14-30mm F4) to tide me over.

Nikon is but to supply a 24-105mm F4 for Z-mount, leaving the 24-200mm F4-6.3 VR as the one various.

Proper as I used to be wrapping up this text, Canon launched its RF 14-35mm F4L IS USM lens, which inserts my necessities. At $1700 it’s totally costly, however Canon gives all three kinds of lenses on my checklist.

The $2300 RF 15-35mm F2.8 is Canon’s solely ultra-wide zoom that I may purchase proper now, although the 14-35mm F4 is arriving quickly.

The one weather-resistant roughly 70-200mm equiv. that Fujifilm gives is its 50-140mm F2.8, which prices greater than I might like, however the 75-210mm equiv. vary is good and it is nonetheless comparatively quick. Because it’s nonetheless $700 lower than the Nikon 70-200 F2.8, I am going to splurge and add the Fujifilm 50-140mm to my purchasing checklist.

Being an F2.8 lens. it isn’t shock that the X-T4 with the 50-140mm is on the big facet.

The entire lenses for Micro 4 Thirds are have smaller equal apertures than the full-frame fashions, however they’re additionally extra compact and customarily lighter, which is among the greatest promoting factors of the m4/3 system. Olympus makes some nice lenses – and I like the concept of getting a 80-300 equiv. – however they’re costly, and that is earlier than I issue within the $1600 digicam.

The Olympus E-M1 Mark III is remarkably compact with its 40-150mm F2.8 Professional lens hooked up

Two out of the three Panasonic’s have variable apertures, so they don’t seem to be as quick because the fastened aperture Olympus F2.8 lenses, however they hit my desired focal lengths.

So what’s all of it going to price?

I’ve gone by way of my two choices – adapt my current lenses, or simply begin throughout – now let’s have a look at how a lot all of those choices will price. Do not forget that KEH has valued my 5D III physique at $809 and including my lenses brings the overall to $2377. This time I am taking promotions into impact, since that is how I might truly purchase the gear.

Choice Price* KEH trade-in credit score Out of pocket price
Canon EOS R6 + tailored present lenses $2500 $809 $1691
Canon EOS R6 + 3 lenses $6900 $2377 $4523
Fujifilm X-T4 + 3 lenses $4800 $2377 $2423
Nikon Z5 + 2 lenses* $2800 $2377 $423
Olympus E-M1 III + 3 lenses $5150 $2377 $2773
Panasonic G9 + 3 lenses $3400 $2377 $1023

* Price consists of digicam + lens kits, which can lower worth. All costs from B&H.

The Nikon Z5 seems to be the large cut price right here, however bear in mind, I might be getting one much less lens, and and the 24-200mm lens will get sluggish shortly (it crosses F5.6 at 50mm and F6.3 at 105mm). The EOS R6 with three new lenses is dear for apparent causes, and each Fujifilm’s and Olympus’s higher-end cameras and lenses are usually on the expensive facet.

The ultimate selection

On June twenty fifth, I visited B&H’s web site and ordered a Panasonic Lumix DC-G9, plus the 8-18mm F2.8-4, 12-60mm F2.8-4 and 35-100mm F2.8 lenses. Is the G9 the digicam of my goals? Nope. Relatively, it is one of the best one for my wants, by way of each its lens assortment and worth. I am nonetheless undecided if my journey will occur subsequent 12 months, however when it will definitely occurs, I am assured that I made the fitting selection.

Throughout my purchasing course of I thought-about what options I needed, what cameras to contemplate, and the way a lot it was going to price. Value-wise, the 2 finest values have been the Nikon Z5 and the Panasonic DC-G9 (with the Z5 being about $700 extra), in order that they have been my finalists.

In the end, it was the system that bought me

The issue that drove my decision-making was not picture high quality, which was the very first thing on my ‘should have’ checklist. I already understand how that will end up (the Nikon simply wins), and I did not even have a look at our studio scene comparability till after I might ordered my new gear. Given the type of taking pictures that I am going to do on the journey (and in life), it will be largely open air, so the smaller m4/3 sensor performs nicely sufficient for me.

In the end, it was the system that bought me. The Micro 4 Thirds system gives the lenses I would like for my journey, and dozens greater than I may purchase or hire ought to the necessity come up. The lenses are smaller and lighter than these for APS-C or full-frame, which is able to make them simpler to move within the restricted quantity of area I am going to have.

Nikon makes some incredible lenses for the Z system, however its assortment of midrange full-frame choices simply is not there but. I anticipate that to alter, however I am shopping for now and never later.

Homepage thumbnail picture of the Blue-footed Booby: PDolby by way of iStock

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