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

Jeff1:1

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Any chance you can sway Olympus and Panasonic to up their game in the USA? They definitely need more involvement, promotion, store presence. A commercial running on cable tv is Canon claiming they have the smallest dslr. Where's the counterpoint commercial with the GM1 or E-M5? In fact, where's the commercials for any m4/3 camera?
 

Dogman

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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.

Thank you for that observation...you just saved me $2300 (for now)!
 

LivingLoud

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Great post & very interesting topic, Napier! Congratulations on your new title!

Honestly, that topic is hugely debated in russian forums - I guess, m43 is the most discussed mirrorless system out there. This is partly due to the shift of some honered russian photographers into m43 camp. Everyone now want to know the benefits of going Micro Four-Thirds. I`m not controversialist myself, so I prefer to read all the discussions without taking part in it.

A lot, I mean A LOT of people now comparing m43 to a FF cameras & talking about how poor`s the IQ, how awful is signal/noise ration on higher sensivity settings & how they miss a shallow DOF on m43 cameras. I`ve got my hands almost on every system out there & my point is quite simple - there`s a few genres and/or shooting conditions when FF is hard to beat: sports, landscapes, commercials, low light shooting &, to some extent, shallow DOF portraiture. But if we`re talking about sharpness & DOF there`s a lot more nuances in it:
- many of the FF lenses are not sharp wide open, so you got to stop them down to get desired sharpness;
- many of the FF lenses are not that sharp at the corners of the image, so sometimes you`ve got to crop your image a little to get rid of that;
- there`s quite few situations when you REALLY need to go 1,2 or 1,4 on FF, on that apertures a group portrait becomes russian roulette when any inch of model position can cause unwanted OOF blur on someones face;
- shooting wide open on FF in specific conditions can cause considerable AF missing percentage;
- when shooting macro or small subjects sometimes f/22 is not enough.
So, I`m not talking about benefits of m43 over FF or something like that, I`m just talking about nuances, that can affect your results when shooting FF.
I know some of that honorable PRO`s that gone m43 - all of them switched from FF. Still got their FF gear but shooting less and less with it. One of them`s Dmitry Zverev - architecture photographer, you can check his last entries with m43 gear here: http://dimazverev.ru/canyouseeit/ So a lot of pros got m43 as a second or a walkaround camera, but as time goes, it becaomes their main gear. Same goes for me - I`ve bought m43 camera while having DSLR. Now I`m already sold all my DSLR stuff and switched to m43 exclusively.

Maybe that`ll sound a little strange, but as a working professional, I don`t really care about the gear I use. I mean, I can achieve the desired results with any system out there. I picked m43 for it`s size, quality & diversity. Lens choise is terrific too. When I read people talking about lack of IQ on m43, I smile - It`s down to HOW GOOD ARE YOU. Your camera`ll give you as much IQ, 3D pop, dimension & as you get out of it. I get all I want & need from my m43 setup.
I`m very enthusiastic about future of mirrorless systems - there`s a lot of options already, any form-factor, any sensor size, a lot of interesting lenses and so on...
But talking m43 only, there`s few wishes I have:
- pro flash like FL-50R but in a smaller package;
- fast ultra wide-angle prime or considerable fast ultra wide-angle zoom;
- ultra-fast AF portrait range prime (check!);
- a few fast telephoto options both primes & zooms.

So I guess with that PRO bodies (GH3 & E-M1) & upcoming PRO lenses (12-40, 40-150 & rumored 7-14 from Oly & 42,5/1.2 and 150/2.8 from Panasonic) m43 will get more interest from pro photographers and there will be more of great stuff shot with that cameras. Cheers!

P.S. BTW, Napi, you're one of those who cite the example on russian gear communities when it comes to m43. So keep up, you`re doing it right! )))
 

jloden

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Congrats on the new gig Napier, and not a bad idea to keep things fresh Amin :smile:

[...]

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!

I started with m4/3 first so I don't necessarily think of it as a secondary system per se ... more like using each to their own strengths. I use primarily m4/3 and Nikon gear (with a smattering of Fuji in the mix). For me, m4/3 is great for the following:

  • Greater DoF at larger apertures. This weekend I was shooting with controlled lighting and a backdrop, so ability to shoot with lots of DoF at f/4 meant needing less light while still maintaining plenty of in focus area.
  • Mature system: lenses, accessories, featureset are all there. There's a small list of things I'd like to see come to the format but ultimately it's a very complete-feeling system that I feel I can rely on.
  • Ergonomics and controls. This is more specific to the GH3 for me, but I appreciate the battery grip, physical controls for essential features, and excellent, comfortable grip.
  • System size (not camera size). I love that I can pack the 7-14, 12-35, 35-100 in a small shoulder bag and cover a huge range comfortably. Doing that with my Nikon gear would be considerably less comfortable :wink:

When I'm not depending on heavy cropping/big enlargements, shallow DoF, or high ISO, m4/3 makes for an excellent compromise of features, size, and quality.
 

spatulaboy

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Hey Maxim, you do really incredible work and I'm glad you are a part of this diverse community! Speaking of Russian photographers, I do follow one on Flickr. He goes by the name of Stanislav aka "archerMZ". He does some very impressive portrait work with m4/3. He has not posted since February though so I assumed he had left Flickr. Here's his photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66984294@N02/

You don't happen to know this guy in your Russian circle of photographers do you? lol.
 

jloden

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Hey Maxim, you do really incredible work and I'm glad you are a part of this diverse community! Speaking of Russian photographers, I do follow one on Flickr. He goes by the name of Stanislav aka "archerMZ". He does some very impressive portrait work with m4/3. He has not posted since February though so I assumed he had left Flickr. Here's his photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66984294@N02/

You don't happen to know this guy in your Russian circle of photographers do you? lol.

First thing I thought of too, Vin! He goes by Sean Archer on 500px also, and I've been following his stuff quite a while now. Excellent, excellent portrait work and mostly with m4/3 until his more recent work where he's started using a Canon DSLR in addition to the G3 & Olympus 45mm.

http://500px.com/seanarcher (NOTE: some images NSFW if your 500px settings allow displaying adult content)
 

spatulaboy

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Yep that's him! He was one of my many inspirations to strive and improve my own portrait work. I have not checked my 500px in a while. I find it too difficult maintaining both sites. Most of my friends are still on Flickr so I stayed there. shrug.
 
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Ever since digital began I have used a variety of cameras throughout my life, owning a gazillion point-and-shoots along the way. Taking pictures and preserving memories was of the utmost importance to me. Up until about 13 years ago when, on a whim, I took a photography course at a local community college. Going back to film and actually using the different dials and options was a novel idea--and I loved it. I discovered that I didn't just want to preserve memories, I wanted to take pictures. I loved taking pictures. Not as a profession (although I still think that would be dreamy) but for myself. I received a B- in the course and was told that I needed to have a better understanding of exposure, white balance, focal length, etc.--basically the technical stuff. I was a little discouraged by this, however, my instructor encouraged me to keep shooting. He told me that while technically I was "not great" I had a really good eye for composition and mood. That, he said, is more difficult to teach than the technical stuff. That was when I dumped my point and shoot and bought the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30. I read some camera reviews at DP and this camera was in my price range and appeared to be a perfect fit for me. I didn't understand much of the technical stuff, but I jumped to the sample images and conclusion and decided what the hell.

I loved that camera and found that the pictures I took on vacations and of everyday were definitely better than what I had done in the past, but I was still shooting in auto mode. It's like I forgot everything I learned in that class. And I was unhappy. Not realizing that the problem was not with the camera (it's still a great camera) but with me, I saw a commercial for an E-PL2 late one night and decided that was the camera that was going to change my photography life (the bottle of wine I had consumed might have helped in this decision :drinks:). Later that week I went down and traded in my Lumix for a brand new E-PL2 with the 14-42 and 40-150 kit lenses. I didn't now what m4/3 was, or what I was getting into. I just knew that THIS was the camera that was going to change my photographic life.

I was right. Not because the E-PL2 takes better pictures than the Lumix I traded in (well, it does but not the way I was using it) but because when I invested in the E-PL2 I decided I was actually going to learn how to use the camera. Since purchasing my Oly in 2011 I have come a long way, and I still take a lot of pretty average pictures. But I also take a lot of really good pictures now. And I'm only getting better. While I didn't know what m4/3 was, it has worked out to be the perfect system for me. First, it's lightweight enough that I carry it around everywhere, so while people around me are getting ok snapshots with their phones, I'm getting quality pictures with my camera. Second, my GAS has disappeared. :cool: I did just buy an E-M5 a month ago, but not because I needed a new camera to take better pictures--I actually knew enough about the limitations of my E-PL2 to understand why an E-M5 would be a good purchase for me. I use my E-PL2 as a second body--it holds a very soft spot in my heart. I do need a few lenses to round out my kit, but those will come with time (and money, lol). Third, my Oly just feels right--especially the E-M5. I can't really put it into words, but I'm sure those of you who have read up to this point totally understand.

That's my m4/3 story. And I'm sticking to it. :biggrin:
 
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Yep that's him! He was one of my many inspirations to strive and improve my own portrait work. I have not checked my 500px in a while. I find it too difficult maintaining both sites. Most of my friends are still on Flickr so I stayed there. shrug.

I want to love 500px but you're right, maintaing both is difficult. I tried to find you on Flickr--but "spatulaboy" brought up a user I'm pretty sure isn't you. Can you share your Flickr link?
 

penfan2010

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Napi - congratulations on your new role (kudos, too, Amin, for asking Napi to take on this role), and thanks for highlighting your very well-thought out article with some great work! Your question comes at a very appropriate time as I have just recently sold off the last of my Fuji X-mount gear a few weeks ago; ironically, I thought the Fuji-X system was going to be my main system after I purchased the X-Pro 1 a little over a year ago, with the mu-43 gear being relegated to a back up system. Today, I solidly cemented my allegiance to m43 by buying a slightly used GX-7 body so I can get better video than either my E-M5 or E-PL3 (that's what the rational part of my brain tells me; the emotional side says the silver and black body will go better with the silver Oly primes I own).

Why the shift back to M43? More than anything else, the M43 system in general, and the Olympus Pen and O-MD series in particular, are for me the best digital incarnations of two of my most beloved film cameras, the original Olympus Pen F and OM-1n. I am an old film head; I am one of those "old guys" who has more years shooting film under his belt than shooting digital. If I had my way, I would just buy compact digital backs for both of those cameras; since those are not available, the Oly digital Pen and OM-D lines fit the bill nicely.

Is it about size? In large part, yes; I do have small-ish hands, hence my preference for the smaller Oly bodies even during my film days. It's also about back-compatibility with a wide range of legacy lenses; this is the main reason I got into m43 in the first place. Prior to getting into M43 back in 2010 with the E-P1 (hence the moniker Penfan2010), I shot with an Olympus E-500, more because of my brand loyalty and the ability to use my old OM lenses with an adapter. But I wanted to use some of the other legacy glass I owned, and while I had originally pooh-poohed the E-P1 as a poor digital imitation of the Pen-F, when I learned you could use all sorts of legacy glass with an adapter on M43, I jumped right in. Perhaps it's because I never owned one of the Canon or Nikon APS-C DSLRs that I never really had problems with the smaller m43 sensor; I was always amazed by the gorgeous JPEG files I got from my 8MB E-500, so I felt I could trust the IQ on the Oly Pens. Third, like many others have pointed out, it's the versatility of the cameras, both in terms of lens selection and the ability to shoot quality still imagery and videos. Lastly, it is about the design: the digital Pens and OM-D line intentionally cue off of the Pen F and OM series, and I am right in the sweet spot of those danged marketers trying to appeal to folks who are nostalgic for either of those specific film camera lines (I understand and applaud them for what they are trying to do, being a marketer myself).

The only reason I started exploring the Fuji system, starting with an X-100, and then an X-Pro 1, was because I was attracted to the analog controls, the hybrid viewfinder, and the retro RF-like design (I also still have my Leica M3). The IQ and Fuji colors were also amazing, but I ver really fully invested beyond the X-Pro 1 and the 35mm F1.4, again buying adapters to use my legacy lenses. Over time, though, the bulk of the X-Pro 1 compared to the m43 got to me, and, when I really stopped to think about how I used the X-Pro or X100, I actually always had the shutter speed dial set to A, and got more use out of the exposure compensation dial. Neither of those cameras felt as comfortable to hold and operate as my digital Pens, and inevitably I would grab one of the Pens over my X-Pro when going out to shoot. That, for me, is always the best gauge of how useful a system is---how much do I actually use it for photography. And this why I am now back to m43 as my system camera (I do have an X10 for all around shooting and as a back up to one of the m43s).

It's been great to see the responses from everyone else; this is a great system, and like many other folks, I look forward to m43s continued expansion and innovation. I am looking forward to more of your editorials, and more of your great photography, in the future.

Ed
 

T N Args

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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?

I love this thread.

I cannot answer the question 'why do I use µ4/3?' because I don't use µ4/3. Not yet. Not until tomorrow, specifically!!! There is a nearly complete workable system sitting under the Christmas tree, and I think I will be skidding to a halt under the tree while Santa's boots are still disappearing from sight up the chimney. Can't quite find the smileys that best describe my mood; maybe this:

:yahoo::dance3:

But I can answer the last question on why did I pick µ4/3. I came from a semi-pro APS-C kit with 3 zooms and 3 primes where the zooms were the go-to lenses, and very nice, too. And my budget does not support keeping both - not that I would want to. What I noticed after a couple of years of full-on DSLR photographer hobbyism was, weight and social impact. The thing in my right hand normally weighed over 1.5 kg, and over my shoulder lay several more kg's. You ignore it for as long as you can, but eventually you realise you aren't ignoring it any more. It's a serious drag. Any sense of normality is dragged downward and out of the situation through one's sore soles. And as a session ends and you realise you have taken nothing from the bag, or maybe shot just one scene with a different lens, it even started to feel like it was more important to plan what to leave in the car or home than to take what you might need. Six months ago, I was struck by the writings of a blogger who described a scene where he went to the beach with his workmates and took his camera, and suddenly noticed himself refusing all the beach activities because he couldn't leave his full frame camera and backpack-full of gear sitting on the beach, so he was either photographer or nothing. This 'defining moment' led him to change to µ4/3 and never looked back. I read his blog and empathised with him. Then I realised why I was empathising with him.

It is one thing to be a tourist with a big kit -- bit of a drag but at least you fit in as a tourist -- but it is different to be on your home turf like that. There is no doubt in my experience that people watch you like a hawk in that setting. It does not feel friendly. I have been approached several times. Or people deliberately leave the area after noticing the big black camera coming up to eye level. Hands even get raised to cover eyes. But doing the same thing with a smaller camera and little or no kit, is a completely different experience. The acceptance is far greater. Nobody leaves. Nobody approaches. I feel like part of the setting.

So for me, it is a case of who cares about the technical perfection of the camera you left at home. :smile:
 

LivingLoud

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Hey Maxim, you do really incredible work and I'm glad you are a part of this diverse community! Speaking of Russian photographers, I do follow one on Flickr. He goes by the name of Stanislav aka "archerMZ". He does some very impressive portrait work with m4/3. He has not posted since February though so I assumed he had left Flickr. Here's his photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66984294@N02/

You don't happen to know this guy in your Russian circle of photographers do you? lol.
Thanks for your kind words, Vince! I`m glad to be a part of the community too, I rememeber myself looking for a several user`s posts out there back when I was learning photography myself and how encouraging that was to know that your gear can do things in right hands.) I`m always open for chat or for giving some advice on shooting or image pp`ing & it`s really nice to know, that my work can boost someones interest in photography.

Of course I do know him. He`s 500px #1 based on user rating. Unfortunately he`s living about 1 500 km from Moscow, so we never met. ) He was not considering himself as a professional till that summer, by the way - he`s got his first EVER camera APRILl 2012 or so i isn`t it incredible? So, actually, he is shooting camera just for a year and a half. Now he`s switched to FF I guess (based on his images metadata on 500px) - he`s shooting with 6D now. But his work`s shining example of what m43 capable of and how you can grow as a professional with that camera.
 
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Well...I have a deep commitment to FF DSLR. At the current time MFT is NOT replacing that. I came to MFT 4 years ago when the incredible GF1 was released for a smaller capable system to complement my FF system. I am glad that I have stayed with both and both of my systems have depth (10 high-quality lenses for each of my systems).
I love what Napier has to say...such robust intelligence for such a young man. WOW!
Photography is so personal, as is my current take of my MFT system. It complements my FF system and I have recently re-evaluated my system, selling off my E-M5 and purchasing an E-P5 w/VF -4 and just recently adding an E-PL6 (imported to the US from Hong Kong), with its own VF-4.
I decided to keep the "micro" in MFT...which is its biggest asset IMHO. I am just going to skip the M1 ( a great camera BTW) and grab my FF. Why mess around? I also consider the GM1 a novelty P&S camera. For "me", anything without a VF is not a serious image-making device ( being old and experienced has its caveats).
I LOVE the way my two current MFT cameras "break-down" for transport if need be, but when assembled offer incredible shooting abilities with the best electronic mirrorless VF on the market. ...and mounted on one of my cameras it offers a beautifully large view and is centrally located for high-quality, precise image-making. The E-PL6 is an incredibly small package, built like a tank and soooo capable. I feel it is truly an overlooked gem in the system.
All cameras are good fun though! Napier ..keep up the good work and I look forward to what the intelligent youth of photography will have to say in the new year..I am sure that I can get some fresh perspective and learn a lot!!!
 

F/Stop

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.....I love what Napier has to say...such robust intelligence for such a young man. WOW!.....

I Could not have said it better...


Thanks for the post Napier lopez. I agree with everything that you said and it pretty much sums it up for most out there. Congrats on your new role as Cont. Editor and i look forward to seeing more of your work and posts! Happy Holidays!
 
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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.

I find that the key lenses in my MFT system are three primes: Oly 17, 45 and 75mm f1.8s. Secondary optics are a 20mm Pany and 100-300 Pany.
All are used with an Oly EM5 body.

I find using the primes more than the zooms forces me to focus more on my position with the camera when shooting. It's also more natural for me since I've shot form many more years with film cameras of various formats (35, 120, 4x5 and 8x10) when zooms weren't options.

My DSLR system was built using zooms 16-35, 24-105, 70-200 with a 300 2.8 for the long end. I no longer EVER take the DSLRS out for shooting anything other than sports. They are too heavy for walking around. It also makes me feel very visible to the public. With the OMD, I just look like a tourist.

I'm in Oaxaca Mexico this week, and have seen 4 or 5 people using MFT cameras, which is a first for me!
 

jhawk1000

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I use two micro 43 cameras, the Olympus E-PL1 and the Panasonic G5. I only have two m43 lenses, both Olympus. I have the 14-42 and 40-150. These lenses are okay for most shooting and I do have a Nikon lens adapter and use the 85mm 1.8 D a lot as well as an older 185mm 2.8 for some long lens needs. I also have and still use a Nikon D200, a Nikon D2X, Nikon D700 and D600 with lenses from 12mm to 300mm 2.8. I shoot sports and the Mirrorless is not that good for fast action since the focus is slower and the manual focus is harder for my old eyes at basketball games. I like the mirrorless cameras for the weight. I have some distress with left wrist carpal tunnel so the Panasonic and Olympus are godsends for this. I will admit that I really like the out of camera images from the cheaper Oylmpus by far than those from the Panasonic. The Panasonic can be massaged with Lightroom to be excellent but it is not as seamless as the Oly. I am not a fan of the rear LCD so the Panasonic is my favorite with the Electronic Viewfinder. My wife is a pro photog with her own studio, and her forte is portraits. She has tried the mirrorless but I am afraid she will not use them.
 

drd1135

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I'm not sure I would use mu43 for studio portraits either. You certainly could do it but the Canikon flash/lighting systems are just better developed. Mu43 is great when the photog is on the move because of the size.
 

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