Leave Micro 4/3 and Go Back to APS Cameras ?

And the saga continues.  The new K-5 that I ordered arrived.  As I have discussed earlier, I have had problems with accidentally pushing the buttons on the rear of the micro 4/3 Panasonic G3 camera.  The reasons for this are two-fold.  First, as you can see in the photo below, there is no room on the right side of the rear of the G3.  Second, I have arthritis in my right hand, especially the thumb joint, and I no longer have as much gripping power with my extended thumb.  To compensate for that loss, I have used the base of my thumb, or the palm, to hold the camera while only resting the tip of the thumb lightly against the camera in conjunction with the hand grip on the front of the camera.  Unfortunately, this results in my occasionally “mashing” the controls on the lower, right – rear of the G3.

While seeking another camera with better ergonomics, I found that the above control situation is prevalent on all smaller micro 4/3 cameras.  The only cameras with sufficient “real estate” for my situation are the larger DSLRs.  I tried both Canon and Nikon DSLRs but found that the Pentax K-5 fit my hand better, so I decided to give it another try.  As you can see below, it has just enough space for me to use my palm to support the camera, but it weights quite a bit more.  So much more, that I thought that the G3 would serve me better … until I found the ergonomics to be frustrating.

Panasonic G3 …. Pentax K-5

Since my primary use for the G3 has been for shooting wildlife with the Panasonic 100 – 300 mm lens, I also ordered the Pentax 55 – 300 mm lens for my comparison studies.  As you can see below, these are of comparable size mounted on their respective cameras … but not equal in their range.  With the G3, the end of the zoom at 300 mm is effectively equal to 600 mm while 300 mm on the K-5 is only effectively 450 mm.  You can see the differences below.  (You can also see that the K-5 has a better grip on the front.)

Panasonic G3 …. Pentax K-5

G-3 and 300 mm

K-5 and 300 mm

While gaining better ergonomics with the K-5, I would be giving up focal range and gaining weight.  The G-3 with the 100 – 300 mm lens weighs a total of 925 gm.  The K-5 with the 55 – 300 mm lens weights 1210 gm.  Both of those weights include the batteries and memory cards.

I’m now faced with trying to decide whether the change is worth it.  With the K-5 I gain a rugged weather resistant camera along with faster focusing, faster shooting, better sensor, and better ergonomics at the expense of added weight to lug around and a shorter focal range.

I need to comment that having this added weight would not be practical for me if I didn’t also have a lighter weight better camera … the Fujifilm X100.  It has a fixed effective 35 mm lens.  I sold my Olympus E-P3 and replaced it with the Fujifilm X100 … thus I have already made a partial move from micro 4/3 to APS size sensor.  The X100 is, and will be, my preferred choice for a walk-about, travel, etc. camera when the primary use is not shooting wildlife and the ruggedness, weather resistance, zoom ability, etc. features of the K-5 are not needed.  The weight of the X100 is only 470 gm and the size is more suitable for taking pictures in crowds of people.  You can see the differences in physical size below.

Fuji X100 … K-5 with 55 – 300 mm lens

470 gm vs. 1210 gm

My problem now is to decide whether the added weight of the K-5 warrants replacing the G3 and lenses with the K-5.  I do have another option which is weighing on my decision … give up heavy cameras and heavy long zooms and give up shooting wildlife; i.e. become a one camera — one lens photographer.


  1. Anonymous

    Hi. I’ve had my G3 for 1-1/2 years now. I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the accidental button pushing. It seems to happen at precisely the worst possible moments. Also, I came to G3 from an Olympus E-PL1. Although the imaging is better on the G3, it doesn’t have the same “likeability” that the E-PL1 had for me. The G3 is fine, but it has never felt like my friend the way the E-PL1 did. Also, I never pushed buttons accidentally on the E-PL1 despite the same crowded right/back of the camera. I appreciate your thought process regarding going to APS DSLR. I’ve been tempted because of the ergonomics and better low-light capability, but I know from experience that I simply won’t carry a bigger, heavier DSLR with me as often as I do with micro 4/3. Also, I feel the micro 4/3 system is worth it just to be able to use the magical Panny 20mm. My personal conclusion is that it is time to move on from the G3, but stay within the micro 4/3 family, perhaps even go back to Oly.


    • John

      One of my solutions was to get the Fujifilm X-100. It has better IQ than the micro 4/3 and the effective 35 mm lens is close to the 20 mm (effective 40 mm) lens that I loved on my Olympus E-P3 and Panasonic G3.


      • John from Boston

        Thanks for the quick reply. I’ll definitely check out the X-100. The G3 has taught me that there is more to finding the “right” camera than just the specs and the IQ. The G3 is a superior camera to the E-PL1 by all practical measures, but I’ve never developed the same affection for the G3.


  2. Pingback: Why I Returned to the Pentax K-5 « Everchanging Perspective
  3. NR | ExPlanet

    The size can be an issue with these m4/3, as I’ve been very interested in the Oly EM5, but I have reservations about the size and getting annoyed with mashing buttons. The other issue is the state that Olympus is in right now, I think it’s rather risky to buy into Olympus gear considering they are so much turmoil at the moment. I tested out an EM5 and I was very happy with the capabilities and I really didn’t like the layout of the buttons.

    I’ll stick with my Canon gear for a little while longer, it’s much more capable than I am.


  4. John

    The OM-D doesn’t work for me either. Take a look at the back … even has the off-on switch on the lower right back corner. I have also been reading user reviews and some others are starting to complain about the buttons.