An Editorial Introduction and an Opinion on the Strength of Micro Four Thirds

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by napilopez, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Real Name:
    Napier Lopez
    Dear readers of Mu-43,

    My name is Napier Lopez, and many of you have probably seen me posting around various parts of this forum, having been a member of the site for almost two years. Well, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me now. Amin recently contacted me looking for help expanding Mu-43 and its sister sites--SeriousCompacts, TalkEmount, FujiXSpot, and LeicaPlace--with regular editorial and review content. I was eager to oblige. Starting out as a complete photography novice, I lurked around this forum for months, finally made an account and posted many of my very first “real” photos for critique, and have since developed my style and technique by observing the works of countless other members more experienced than me. I’m a philosophy graduate preparing for an advanced degree in physics, but photography is an equal passion of mine (some friends have called me the triple ‘ph’, although I’m most fond of philographerist), as well as my full-time source of income. That probably wouldn’t have ever happened without the warm, thoughtful, and encouraging community that is Mu-43.

    All that being said, I now hold the title of Contributing Editor, and you can expect to see posts from me on the front page at least once a week in the form of opinion pieces, gear and software reviews, and more spread across Amin’s various sites. I hope you’ll join me in helping Mu-43 become an essential resource for all things Micro Four Thirds, and in fostering the continued growth of this wonderful community.

    Onward, then.

    Micro Four Thirds in a Changing Mirrorless Landscape

    I. The Mirrorless Revolution

    Standing Steady - Panasonic 25mm - f1.4 - E-M5

    I’m a bit of a gearhead. I like knowing about consumer technology I have no real interest in buying for the sake of technological progress itself. I remember being fascinated by the “idea” of Micro Four Thirds long before I got my start in photography (not like I could afford a G1 back when I was 17 anyway, but I digress). I also remember reading about how mirrorless cameras (Leicas notwithstanding) would herald in a new era of photography, with this new camera technology soon to take over the DSLR market… over, and over again. Clearly, this change has been slow to come; the US in particular has been lethargic in the widespread adoption of mirrorless systems. Even in a tech-savvy city like NYC, Canons and Nikons are still mostly what you see.

    That said, I think it’s undeniable that all the seeds have finally been planted for mirrorless cameras to take over. With the arrival of the Sony A7 and A7r, full frame DSLRs lost the one area where they had an incontrovertible advantage for many users: maximal image quality. Now, mirrorless cameras are capable of results equal or better to what you can get with a D800, of the same shallow DoF and low-light performance, in a substantially smaller body.

    There are definitely other limitations to acknowledge. You’ll have a tough time shooting the Olympics with an A7, and you won’t be able to find the same breadth of lens options even on a seasoned system like Micro Four Thirds. But there’s a key point to emphasize: most of the limitations here are simply related to fleshing out the systems and their hardware, rather than a fundamental limitation of the system itself (and don’t even start on OVFs vs EVFs). More importantly, the advantages of mirrorless systems outweigh the disadvantages for more and more users with every new release.

    So yes, Canikon DSLRs still rule the public mindshare, but every time I go out on a photowalk, I do seem to spot just one more mirrorless camera here or there. If there were any doubts before, I now firmly believe the ultimate success of mirrorless is simply a matter of time.

    II. Micro-ish Four Thirds

    Decagonal Cells - Voigtlander 42.5mm - f2.8 - E-M5 and Temple - Panasonic 25mm - f1.4 - E-M5​

    With the mirrorless market gaining greater prominence, it’s important to consider how Micro Four Thirds will survive these changes. Right now, one of the primary arguments for the system is that it’s the most complete of the mirrorless lineups. This is partly because it’s the oldest, and partly because there are two main manufacturers that have a tendency to fill in each other's gaps. But ultimately, given enough resources and initial interest, the completeness of a system is just a matter of time. Sony has already accumulated a decent amount of APS-C lenses for its E-Mount, and has ramped things up to an admirable level with its full-frame FE line, expecting to have 15 lenses out by 2015. Fuji is rapidly adding on lenses to its system, and even the Samsung actually has arguably the second strongest lens selection in the compact market right now. Furthermore, both Fuji and Samsung are rumored to be working on full frame systems of their own, and if things continue down this path, you can bet Canon and Nikon are at least thinking of starting their own full-frame mirrorless lines. In a few years, Micro Four Thirds' competitors with bigger sensors (and bigger budgets) will have likely filled in most of their gaps.

    The other argument, of course, is size, but even that advantage seems to be muddied. Until the release of the tiny GM1, the smallest APS-C kit--the NEX-3N with the 16-50--was actually smaller than the most comparable M4/3 kit, a GF6 with the 14-42 pancake. More affordable, too. Similarly, the NEX-6 is slightly smaller than the GX7. Even the 35mm A7 and A7r are virtually identical in size to the E-M5 and its quarter-area sensor, and they're smaller than the E-M1 and GH3. For all the forum-flaming and system wars, it seems difficult to argue for the merits of Micro Four Thirds when its most popular cameras are comparably sized and priced to products with substantially larger sensors. What then, does Micro Four Thirds really offer?

    III. Compromise and Versatility

    On the East River and Fort Tryon Arches - Voigtlander 42.5mm - f0.95 - E-M5​

    Photography, like any other craft (and perhaps more so), is about compromise. Shooting a picture of a couple? You’re going to have to make some careful choices if you want to both isolate your subjects and get everyone’s eyes in focus. A basketball game? Better pick the right ISO if you want to maximize detail without risking blurry pictures.

    Similarly, the photographer needs to make important choices about his or her gear. Do you really need to bring that long tele for an indoor birthday party? Is it worth bringing a flash for a golden hour shoot? In the same vein: What camera system best suits you and your work? Of course, it all depends on what sort of versatility you will require. And that, versatility, is where I believe Micro Four Thirds holds a particular strength.

    I sometimes get upset with comments about new M4/3 bodies or lenses being too large, or not in the “spirit” of the system. M4/3 isn't just about downsizing--it's about variety. Yes, a GH3 with a Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 isn’t that much smaller or lighter than a DSLR setup with comparable light gathering capabilities. But on the other hand, you’ll never get something the size of a GM1 by using a full frame sensor; to have something the size of a GM1 have equal image quality to something like the GH3 is rather remarkable. Even more so when you consider that with the right optics, it can at least get quite close to typical results from a full frame kit.

    As evidenced earlier, APS-C and FF kits can get pretty darn small. The caveat is, however, is that these small kits usually come with a host of sacrifices, or only in specific lens combinations. Start adding different lenses, and the number of considerations you need to make will start to increase substantially. The A7 and A7r bodies are engineering wonders, but it's also hard to imagine them ever getting any smaller; add any long and/or fast lenses, and the size differences become more and more obvious. Truth is, it's easier for Micro Four Thirds users to imitate the look of APS-C or 35mm than it is for those camera systems to downsize to the extent Micro Four Thirds can, especially while maintaining a high quality to their optics.

    This has been particularly relevant for me, as recently I’ve found myself having less and less reason for borrowing or renting a full frame kit for weddings or night-time events. For my day to day social and street shooting, I’m quite happy just carrying around my 25mm f1.4 and 45mm f1.8. But as somewhat of a bokeh addict, I find myself making use of the Voigtlander 42.5mm f0.95 quite often for portraiture (particularly of the environmental type), and will very likely purchase the upcoming 43mm f1.2 lens for its AF. On the other hand, it serves well to remember that the existence of these large chunks of glass does not negate that of the smaller and lighter primes, like the wonderful 20mm f1.7.

    Likewise, you have a wide gamut of bodies to choose from. The aforementioned GM1 gives you excellent image quality in a tiny package, but if you need a beefy grip and top-of-the-line video performance, the GH3 will be your camera of choice. Meanwhile, the E-M1 will be your go-to sports choice. The E-PL5 and G6 strike different but strong balances of size, image quality, features, and price. Don’t like Olympus’ interface? Then you can buy Panasonic. Whatever you’re looking for, M4/3 probably has a kit for you, and having more options means you’ll probably spend more time actually taking pictures with a “real” camera instead of your cellphone.

    IV. Thoughts

    Matching Hands - Voigtlander 42.5mm - f0.95 - E-M5​

    I don't pretend to ignore the other compromises. The hyper-fast Noktons are bulky and manual focus only. The best focusing camera on the system doesn't compare to the best DSLRs. And ultimately, Micro Four thirds will likely never perform at the extremes. It will never be quite as small as the Pentax Q or Nikon 1 system, and will never give you quite the potential image quality or depth of field control of a full-frame system. But in the spectrum of compromises you need to make when choosing a system, it’s fair to argue that M4/3 strikes a very good deal for a large majority of users--amateurs and professionals alike. And its versatility only continues to grow.

    The sacrifices one is willing to make will vary from person to person, and every camera system will yield different results. Still, and though it may sound cliché, no system is unvaryingly better than the other. Maybe you don’t care about having a small camera system because you regularly deadlift 967 pounds and always carry a large camera bag with you; an APS-C or FF kit might serve you better. Micro Four Thirds currently strikes the right balance for me, but I consider myself system agnostic. After all, the end result is about the photographer behind the lens, and what works best for that person at that time.

    So now I turn to you: Why do you use Micro Four Thirds? Is it a secondary system for you? What considerations did you make when choosing the system? Sound off (cordially, of course) in the replies!
    • Like Like x 51
  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I'm of a similar mind, Napier. I love having the option to use the not compact 17.5mm Nokton with my E-M1 - and I don't think there is a better low light combo currently available for any system - but that doesn't negate the clear size/weight advantage of my E-PM2 and 45/1.8 vs any comparable combo for a larger format.

    The Sony Zeiss FE 35/2.8 and 55/1.8, meanwhile, suggest that outside of Leica M, digital full frame sensors aren't yet ready for very small interchangeable lenses. As sensor technology evolves making smaller optics possible, the specialized Leica M sensors paving the way here, we've every reason to expect that shrinking full frame optics will be paralleled by shrinking MFT optics.

    Coffee table by Amin Sabet, on Flickr​
    • Like Like x 11
  3. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hi Napier
    A very warm welcome to this wonderful forum full of MFT lovers and critics. This question has been asked quite often on various forums why people chose or use MFT? IMHO every one has different motives., many of us have FF as their main system and MFT takes the role of secondary system . Some of us are or were high end P&S users and dipped their toes into different kinds of formats and MFT became their main system . Quite a few people wanted lightweight and easy to carry system and MFT offers that . If you look closely at MFT it actually offers something for everyone and thats the main beauty of this format .. camera bodies from USD 150-1500 , wide selection of lenses , fast primes , exellent IQ and class leading AF . Mirroeless is changing photography and MFT is the main leader , pioneer and the best mirrorless format currently .
    I use MFT mainly because of small camera body size , fast and small size primes and exellent IQ which is equal to current generation of APS-C cameras. MFT is the best blend of portability ,IQ and availability of lenses .
    • Like Like x 9
  4. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Totally agree Amin.

    Btw - what's the lens on the Sony A7 in your shot (nice coffee table BTW).
  5. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Real Name:
    Nice one Napier.

    For my money micro4/3 has so many options available that for versatility it's pretty darn hard to beat as a system, it goes without saying that for the breadth/range of focal lengths available and comparative size nothing in the mirrorless world's pretty hard to imagine ANY other format offering the shooter a chance to carry a 7-14mm UWA, a premium 35-100mm zoom and a couple of fast primes in a bag not too dissimilar to a Thinktank Retro-5. Tough to beat that with IMO. But it's not all about the (in general) compactness of the system, IQ holds up extremely well, especially when pairing the more 'premium' bodies and lenses together.

    The system is not perfect however or without weaknesses and there is (and always will be) room for improvement. For those to whom it matters continuous/tracking focus still needs drastic improvement, the long tele guys have long been calling for something faster than the existing X-300mm tele zooms. But the system is so advanced now that 1 by 1 these 'gaps' are being addressed...finally we have focus peaking, finally Panasonic is implementing in-body stabilization, finally we have 'pro' quality fastish zooms and we will soon have our first sub f1.4 AF prime with the 42.5mm f1.2 from Pana-Leica....let's hope for even more f1.2 AF primes in the near future.

    But for all the amazing strengths and versatility of the m43 system there is still room for other gear and other formats, just depends what you want/need.....for example, I use the Ricoh GR for my street work simply because nothing for me in m43 land offers the kind of simplistic 'reactionary' ease of use from a street shooting perspective in a package barely larger than an obese iPhone....but in saying that, the GR is not without its own set of compromises of course, but in lives comfortably alongside my m43 gear, it has a place and a purpose as does my Sony RX1. I quite enjoy using other cameras alongside my m43 gear, each of which serves a purpose, performs a particular task or addresses a certain photographic need, but as a shooter who values being able to pack and carry a variety of cameras and lenses without being weighed down as if on a Himalayan hike (and still have killer IQ at my disposal) then micro four thirds as a system can't be beat IMO and if was allowed only one system to choose it would without a doubt be m43...but there are other cameras from other formats that can do specific jobs just as well and better/easier and I believe both the GR and the RX1 are 2 such cameras (for me atleast).

    I think there is a lot of truth in the suggestion that most of the higher end 'enthusiast' gear around these days is quite simply 'good enough'...if anyone doubts that then dig a little deeper into this forums image threads and on Flickr and see the insanely good work people are producing with m43 gear and even 'lesser' gear. If for some reason the world would stop innovating and producing ever newer and better gear, if the the production lines simply stopped and we were to be forever stuck with what we have at this precise moment, as much as the gear head in me would be disappointed, the photographer in me would barely bat an eyelid...the gear that exists right at this moment is good enough and I could see myself carrying on happily shooting with what we have now...and I reckon along the way, I'd take the odd cracking shot too.
    • Like Like x 9
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Thanks :). Lens on A7 is a 35mm Summilux M ASPH (FLE), borrowed along with the rest of the Leica gear from my brother who lives 10 min away. Turns out that the A7R sensor isn't so well matched to the Leica glass, which is probably at least part of the reason that the current Sony FE lenses are quite a bit larger than their Leica M counterparts.
  7. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Real Name:
    I ventured into u4/3 looking for an actually pocketable camera to take with me when I didn't want to drag around my large and heavy Canon APS-C kit with large 2.8 zooms. I loved the handling and output of my Canon, but found myself wishing I had a really good quality small camera. So, I bought an E-PM1 and found I wasn't a fan of its controls and it really wasn't pocketable for me anyway. I almost gave up on u4/3, but then I bought a G5 and discovered that while it didn't meet the pocketable requirement, I liked the handling and it is substantially smaller than the Canon, especially when lenses are considered. So, the G5 is responsible for me staying. I still don't have a truly pocketable camera, but I've decided my iPhone is good enough for when I don't have a camera with me, which isn't often now that I have my G5 kit.

    I'm now pretty invested in u4/3, so I'd better be happy with it :smile:.
  8. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    It's interesting to consider which lenses are really key to us with a given system and to consider what their replacements would be in another system.
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Congrats Napier. I look forward to reading your writings. I'm not sure mirrorless is going to "take over" but it will obviously increase it's role and importance in the coming years. I expect mirrorless may take over for an awful lot of the low to middle portions of the DSLR market, but I think it's gonna be a while before the full frame DSLR's are really going to be threatened. Also, as much as the growth of mirrorless seems like a foregone conclusion to me (because it just seems so OBVIOUS!), the few market numbers I've seen really don't reflect that, at least here in the States and I think in Europe. I know it's doing very well in Japan and perhaps elsewhere in Asia (I've seen throngs of Asian tourists in New York and am always amazed at the number of m43 and Nex cameras I see them with), but I don't think it's really happening in the west yet. But that's probably just a YET.

    To me the strength of m43 really is the size. For now, it's also by far the most mature mirrorless system. But with APS you really do pay a size penalty with the lenses if not the bodies. Fuji has some really great glass, but only the 18 and 27mm are really small lenses. The 35 is pretty large and the 14, 23, 60, the new 10-24, the 55-200, and I'm dead certain the coming 56 f1.2 are all much larger lenses than the equivalent m43 lenses are. Everyone has their own personal tolerance level for size, but when I walk around with the GX7 or even the EM1 with 3-4 small primes in a small bag I always feel like I'm somehow getting away with something. I also have an RX1 and I'm absolutely intoxicated by the image quality that full frame provides. But to me it's not worth carrying a large kit around. To others it certainly is. The IQ differences are very real although it's up to each to decide how much it matters. I don't see more than incremental differences between m43 and APS image quality, but the leap to full frame is still pretty significant. So I'll be watching the development of full frame cameras, both mirrorless like the A7 / A7r and also smaller and lighter DSLRs like the Df, but I just don't expect I'll ever be willing to carry the lenses that will be required to make those great systems. The RX1 is a little miracle camera but there are compromises (such as a single focal length is a pretty neutral part of the range) that allow it to be as great as it is. A system like that will be a lot harder to pull of well without getting into the inevitable compromises that would probably keep me, and many like minded folks, away. Nonetheless, I look forward to checking out the progress as it all develops and look forward to your observations on it all... And, BTW, I hope I'm wrong - if Sony or someone else can pull off a great full frame system that's not too large or heavy or the lenses too slow, I'll be all-in. I'm just dubious...

  10. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    One thing I find lacking in MFT is telephoto options. The ones we have a decent, but there really aren't any fast telephoto primes or zooms with reach beyond 100mm. There are some nice 4/3 lenses that could be adapted, but I think MFT would really shine with its own lenses. That is where the smaller sensor and 4:3 aspect ratio will help keep lens size down.
  11. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    IMHO, Mu43 has come of age with regard to IQ. EM1 or GM1, the camera is not holding back your photography. Within the mirrorless realm, however, it's the lenses that make mu43 really attractive. Not only do the lenses make it possible for the camera-in-hand to be truly compact, but there is now a very workable selection in terms of quality and price. It leans a bit in favor of primes but the stable of zooms is rapidly catching up. As noted above, the fast telephoto range is really sparse in terms of native mu43 mounts and hopefully that improves. Still, I believe that there is enough commitment to mu43 that those holes that do exist in the lens offerings will be filled. Add in the excellent third party MF offerings, and mu43 becomes a very rich collection of offerings.
  12. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Nice read. I stepped into photography in the digital age, back in 2003, starting with a 4 MP Minolta DiMage F200. Lovely little thing, manual controls, terrible screen, good files in the right light. Canon soon released the 300D for what would now be considered absurd prices, I bought it, and shot it well past its due, collecting L glass along the way. Then can Canon's 5D mark II (currently for sale), and that remains a beautiful, great camera - not without its flaws, but image quality is not, to my mind one of them. Collected quite a few high-quality L lenses along the way, and not infrequently dragged 20 lbs of camera gear with me while travelling through South America, North America and Africa. That got old. Fast. And I love photography best when I'm combining it with one of my other passions - travel.

    I was always intrigued and enthralled by the potential of mirrorless, but originally swayed by the 'MFT is too small!' argument. And to be fair, compared to the 5D mark II, the 12 MP MFT sensors were hardly setting my world on fire. The announcement of the E-M5 and the impressive results (dynamic range, higher ISO) compared to its peers changed that. First, I picked up a GF-2 kit (for the 14/2.5, it must be said), intending to create a 'second system' to the Canon, for those travels where 16MP would be 'enough' and I didn't want to drag dead weight along. The GF-2 remains uninspiring in terms of handling and image quality to me, and if that's all I'd have tried, it may have occasionally come out to play, but I would have gravitated back to the Canon. The E-M5, bought at the duty free shop at Schiphol airport, changed all that and opened up new options. Very good IQ, good ergonomics, great IBIS, and a wealth of interesting lenses created a compact system that weighed less than my 5D with a kit lens (ok, arguably the best kit lens ever, the 24-105L, but still), but gave me coverage from ultrawide to extreme telephoto. To me, it's the ideal travel system.

    Had a few bumps in the road unrelated to the camera's quality (cards stolen in Ecuador, camera stolen from home a few months back, along with a few lenses), which led to a 'forced' upgrade to the E-M1 + 12-40. The 12-40 feels a little big compared to the 12-35, but it's just a few grams. The E-M1 isn't a small body, but my god it feels great to shoot, a better user experience than the E-M5 that's worth the slight increase in bulk to me. I wouldn't have bought it if I still had the E-M5, but it did allow the telephoto gap to be filled with a 50-200 43 lens. Big, pretty heavy, but not for what I'm getting, and I think it'll make an ideal wildlife setup that's still a reasonable weight. If and when a native lens option of equivalent quality shows up, I'll probably upgrade to that.

    In the meantime, the 5DII was collecting dust, so I decided to cut the cord and put all of the Canon gear up for sale. And then Sony's A7R jumped into the breach, providing me with the one thing I was 'missing' in MFT, namely that real FF look, that ridiculous resolution - big landscape prints are one of the few places I really think resolution matters. And in a package the size of an E-M1. The files are beautiful, the 35/2.8 is a great little lens, and I'm hoping the 55/1.8 that's waiting for me at home will prove equally intriguing, but the E-M1 is undoubtedly the better camera in almost every other important way. For me, it's a dream pair: a resolution machine for slowed down, challenging shooting - doing the sensor justice is a challenge for both the photographer and the lens stuck to the camera, and a 'does everything very well indeed' system with MFT. And all that will still weigh less than half of what my FF canon gear did with slower glass with a more limited focal range.

    I may buy a few more lenses to play around with, but I think we're living in a golden age of camera technology.
  13. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Real Name:
    David Dornblaser
    Yes, that is one of the disadvantages of :43:. If Sony adds long lenses to their A7(r) system, that might become a great birding/wildlife system. One of the strengths of :43: is video. It is nice to have a system that can take home videos as well make indie films and documentaries. As everyone has said, it is the versatility of the :43: system that is one of its core strengths. While we have considered other systems, our :43: family continues to grow over time.

    Napier, welcome. I, too, look forward to reading your articles.

    - David
    • Like Like x 1
  14. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Real Name:
    Napier Lopez
    Thanks everyone!

    Mu-43 certainly needs some native long telephotos, but those are seemingly in the pipeline. I definitely agree with Livnius that we're finally at a point where the technology is mostly "good enough", similar to what we're finally starting to achieve with our computers and cellphones, no longer needing huge desktop devices just to have smooth running programs. While I obsess over new gear as much as anyone else, I think that it's comforting to know that I can see myself being happy with my E-M5 for a really long time. Now, if they would just add a small focus point...
  15. ccunningham

    ccunningham Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    I just don't have the mindset any more that I need 35mm format digital.
    It seems fairly common among enthusiasts, but I'm not sure anymore why so many enthusiasts think that it's critical for their camera to have a full frame 35mm sensor. Especially since so much of their work goes on flickr or other websites, where it's downsized, and compressed. That 36mp FF you invested in with the fancy lenses? I hate to be that person to say it, but I don't think it looks different from 12mp DX/APS-C/mFT when you downsample the images to 2mp for online use.
    Yes, I really wanted full frame when it offered me some significant increase in capability that I would have used enough for it to make a difference. At this point though, I'm no longer wanting full frame, and it's increased cost and lens size compared to DX and mFT.
    What changed my desire for full frame was the D7000 in DX, and the E-M5 in mFT.
    I'm not saying that FF doesn't perform somewhat better, Image Quality wise (although I will mention that Image Quality isn't the same thing as Quality Image,) but the cost difference is eye-popping (once you add in premium lenses to take advantage of the sensor real-estate) to me, and what I gain isn't something I can make enough use of to justify the cost. Increasingly, I find myself turning to <gasp> an e-pl5 body. I can pop the 14mm on it, have a really good camera that's roughly the same size and capability as a Coolpix A or GR, and drop it in my pocket (even with the 14-42 it is no struggle to stick it in my jacket.) And I can add an inexpensive evf if I want to.
    But I can also add the evf and and attach a pretty good to excellent, largish zoom(pick the one you like,) and now I've got a pretty capable general purpose piece of gear. And it's still pretty small compared to some other kits.

    To make a point (and I'm not trying to be critical of Amin, and this is not a reflection on him AT ALL) but I read his Leica M vs Sony A7, and when I looked at the photos, I didn't see any technical bit that REQUIRED the use of high mp count FF sensor. For that matter, I didn't look at the images and think, "Aha, there's what sets FF on the pedestal of achievement!" Heck shooting at ISO 320 is something the G1 and E-P1 were still in the "good/great" iso zone with. And the latest mFT and DX models have expanded that zone to (for me at least) something around 3200, mas-o-meno.

    And it's not that the pictures weren't nice, they were. My point is that they were nice pictures that probably could have been taken with the e-pm2 (or substitute a recent aps-c/dx/mft camera of your choice) without any significant difference.

    So anyway, I like mFT. I like the choices, the cost/performance I get, the reasonable physical lens+body size, and I'm realistic about what my output target is. Sometimes prints up to 13x19in, that are sometimes entered in exhibitions (FWIW, I've pulled 1st and 2nd place, this year and last year respectively with photos from a two generation old, 12mp DX/APS-C sensored body, and oddly the judges never pointed noted that I didn't but should have used FF)
    So for me these days, FF is kind of "meh", a fetish that I don't need. In fact I would rather have an E-P5, E-M1 or GX-7 instead of an A7 if I was getting one as a gift from St. Nick. (I'm pretty sure I'm not, but if he's reading this and looking for ideas - just sayin'.)
    • Like Like x 4
  16. EasyEd

    EasyEd Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 16, 2010
    Hey All,

    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the native aspect ratio of the camera as a major advantage. I really like the 4/3 aspect and if you wish to change to 3/2 or 1/1 the megapixel count drops are nowhere near as large as a 3/2 native format camera (Fuji XE-1 in my case) going to say 1/1 and on the Fuji the 4/3 aspect ratio isn't even a option. As an example a Canon 70D going to 1/1 "loses" a third of it's sensor resolution as does my Fuji. Micro four thirds going to 1/1 "loses about a quarter.

    Now admittedly maybe if all you ever do is show images on a computer monitor that isn't much but if you print and print big it may very well matter.

    Now given what I just wrote why do I use Fuji mirrorless? Simple - ergonomically for me it is the best feeling camera I've ever felt since my old Minolta XD-5. I often carry it in a ready to use one hand position while I have a dog on a leash in the other.. Also as everyone knows APS-C does do a bit less DOF and albeit a bit less telephoto than mico four thirds. The glass while somewhat limited is generally very good and Fuji is a very responsive company although a bit scattered in what they are doing at the moment. But at the end of the day we all make our compromises and I have made mine.

    This coming from a former G1 user.


    PS And not to mention the more "efficient" use of the circular pattern of a lens by micro four thirds.
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  17. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    M43 is my primary, and probably last, camera system.

    I started with photography in junior high school, with a Ricoh rangefinder trade-in bought at K-mart. Fast forward to college and graduate school I shot a fair amount of medium format; Koni-Omega Rapid M, Rollei 3.5F, and Hassie 500EL and 500C. (I sold the EL and got the "C" because the EL was eating more film than I could afford!). Along the way I amassed a bunch of Nikon stuff, Fs, an SP, and an S-3. During that period I shot basically anything that paid. Then as life and career happened my photography declined and the camera bag ended up containing only a Nikon FTN (later an F3/MD4) and a bunch of Nikkor primes. Close to 10 years ago now, I decided I was tired of hauling the bulk, sold it all, and bought first a Konica Minolta A1, then an A2. I loved those cameras for ergonomics, including the swiveling EVF, and portability but just could not be satisfied with the short end of the zoom at 28mm. (On my Nikons, my most common choices were the 24mm and the 105mm. I didn't even own a "normal" lens -- just the 55mm micro.)

    So, seeing the emergence of M43 as a very compact interchangeable lens system with high potential for aftermarket lens vendors, I jumped to a Panny G1 and have never looked back. I rarely crop a photo and then mostly to make a square from a rectangle, and I almost never print as large as 16x20" so I find the IQ of the M43 system to be entirely adequate. These days I mostly do travel photography, so the compactness and light weight of the system is a huge plus. I can put two bodies and five lenses into my one carry-on bag and still have room for the clothes and "stuff" I need for a three-week trip anywhere in the world. Try that with a full-frame kit!
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  18. battleaxe

    battleaxe Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sony NEX(3 and 5 to be exact) is what got me into m4/3. I didn't really notice m4/3 until I saw the completion to the NEX cameras(Olympus and Panasonic) and had a look at all of them in store. What sold me was I didn't connect with the NEX interface or it's AF speed, but I did with Panasonic and Olympus. The built in VF and articulating touch screen if what finally sold me on the G2 vs the other models. Size is what sold me on the GF3 I still use. Now if Sony had used the interface of their Alpha DSLR/SLT cameras the story may have been different.
  19. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Thanks for putting down in words what so many of us already think and feel Napi. I've always enjoyed your work and like you, I've gotten more serious with my photography in the past year. Yet my cameras have risen to the challenge and I have yet to feel the format is restricting my growth. I think Micro Four Thirds is not just 'good enough', but more than good enough for most people's photographic needs. I have not felt the itch to upgrade to a more capable format, because for me, m4/3 is extremely capable already. In my mind, m4/3 still has a lot of room for growth. Well honestly, it is really our skills that need to improve to catch up to the technology, not the other way around.
    • Like Like x 4
  20. Jeff1:1

    Jeff1:1 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 2, 2013
    The small size and weight is the main reason. Also it's flat so feels like my Canon F-1. My former Sony A33 & stuff required a camera bag, the E-M5 & equivalent stuff (14-42mm, 45-175mm, fisheye attachement, close-up filters, FL14R & FL300R flashes) fit in a fanny pack. One thing about m4/3 I discovered and use often is the 1:1 aspect ratio, which I never had. With some subjects it eliminates wasted space on the sides in camera. Another is the FL-LM2 flash can be set to manual 1/32 power and trip any slave flash or RC mode off camera ttl. Nice, as that typically isn't available or is 2:1 ratio with built-in flash. I tried a Canon SX50HS camera and that small sensor was ok for snapshots, but didn't have the quality OOC the E-M5 does. M4/3 is a system, where as aps-c is incomplete/ lacking primes and some features until mid level model or going bigger FF. The lack of big aperture big mm telephotos to me isn't a shortcoming of m4/3, as it's always been a luxury anyway and their size/weight vs F5.6 lenses for the few times I'd need it (not want it). I was thinking about getting A77 or A99 in Feb. and looked at Nex too, but the E-M5 has "this is cool" factor. A few times others with Canikon ask "What is that?", to which I say 'Olympus' and let them look and ponder, answering any further questions they have.
    Best to you in your involvement with the m4/3 sites.
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