Five Years of Micro Four Thirds

kwalsh

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Mar 3, 2012
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In September of 2009 after experimenting successfully with an LX3/FZ28 combination on a trip instead of taking my Canon APS-C gear I decided I would try out a m43 system as a "do it all small" kit. The G1 had been getting great reviews and the introduction of the 7-14 meant that I wouldn't be missing UWA for my landscapes. So I picked up a G1+14-45 kit (blue because it was the cheapest) and was pretty impressed with first tests around the house. Lucked out on a used 7-14 off of E-bay (they weren't even sold by US retailers yet at that time) and a used 45-200 as well. Gave the kit a first run on a Death Valley trip a month later and found it was just about perfect for my needs.

Well, it is September 2014 now which means I've been shooting m43 for five years now. For the past two I've rarely been able to shoot much landscape, but my gear list has expanded greatly with a slew of primes for shooting our now two year old daughter. When I bought that G1 the forums were filled with complaints about no primes or portrait lenses. These days forum posts are mostly angst about which of the many great primes to get. Times change!

I figured the five year anniversary was worth commemorating some how, so here are ten photos I've shot over the past half decade using m43. Apologies, I'm sure forum regulars may have seen many of these before. Despite the overwhelming focus on kid photos for the past two years I've only included two shots since I know family/kid photos can get tiresome to those not in the family! It was hard culling down to ten, but that already seemed like too many photos for one post. Short description below each one.

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From my very first trip with m43, this is shot with the 45-200. That trip had a lot of keepers, but this one is my favorite. Eureka Dunes.

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From my next trip to the Death Valley area, this shot in Panamint Valley. It really looked like the sunset twilight hour was going to fizzle, but there were some cracks in the clouds to the west so I waited it out. Some color made it through in the end! This is the 7-14 obviously.

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We were very fortunate on our visit to Denali National Park in 2010 that the peak actually did emerge during the couple of days we are there, it tends to stay hidden in clouds for months on end. While there were some periods in which the peak was entirely clear I preferred the look of it almost emerging. Actual peak is marked by the standing lenticular clouds which formed over the top of it. Stitched pano using 45-200.

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I spent a few days in Northern AZ in the fall of 2010 and it was generally a poopy trip. The weather was not pleasant and I was just in a bad mood for some reason. As plans changed I ended up doing way more driving than I wanted. But I did find this vantage point around mid-day and decided I wasn't going to find anything nicer and so just took a nap and read to wait for sunset. Predictably bad weather moved through while I was waiting and so it looked like the whole thing was going to be a waste of time. But I could see low on the horizon in the very far west the sky was clear and so there was a hope that despite being cloudy where I was that a thin line of twilight fill would be present on the horizon giving a soft side light that could work - or it could all fizzle. Well, it seemed to work out. Shot with the 14-45. The B&W version is very nice too, but I had to chose just one to post.

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Adapted lens fun, this a 500/8 mirror lens. There is a particular kind of lighting you can get in morning or evening twilight if there are cirrus clouds at the horizon in the direction of the sun but clear skies everywhere else. The cirrus clouds lit from below by the rising sun (still below the horizon where you are shooting) produce a broad pink light source along one horizon while the rest of the sky produces a blue fill light. When I see that kind of light may develop I head for locations likely to benefit. In this case the canvas for that light are sand dunes. I wish I could claim I thought of this particular super-telephoto interpretation of dunes, but no I'd seen a similar shot by an excellent photographer a few years earlier. But I wanted to try it with my favorite kind of light, and so here it is.

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This shot also shows the effect of pink horizon/blue fill on an otherwise normally monotone subject. This also uses a bit of forced perspective, shot with the 7-14 at 8mm with the camera about 6.5 ft above the ground. The salt cracks in the foreground are much larger than you might expect (I spent awhile hunting for extra large ones). The combination of UWA, high view point and unusually large foreground objects gives a very strong appearance of perspective sucking the eye into the picture and making the salt flats appear even more extensive.

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Daughter was on the way when I shot this one, I knew my landscape shooting trips were going to be stopping for awhile but I managed to sneak one more in before life changed. By this point upgraded to GH2 and this is actually shot with the 45/1.8 - was starting to collect primes in preparation for parenthood. Shot this well after sunrise, was back at my truck packing up after having shot my planned morning composition (it was so-so). The layers of mountains and aerial haze was very striking and well complemented by the clouds in the sky. Liked this unexpected composition better than my carefully planned one from earlier in the morning. Shot from the Panamint Range looking east over Death Valley.

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I did get one short trip in when our daughter was almost nine months old, but it wasn't a photography trip really. Whirlwind tour of NW Death Valley for my brother and nephew that was more about exploration and hiking than any dedicated time for photography. But we were at Racetrack Playa around sunset and so I did take the time to find a composition. That's the beauty of m43, it comes with you when a bigger system would have been left behind. This one I thought was going to be unimpressive when shooting - didn't think the light was going to work well in post processing. Nonetheless, it would be silly not to shoot so I did with AEB stacks to handle the large DR. Now shooting an E-M5 (what a great camera for shooting kids) and this with the 7-14 of course. This one ended up really shining in post, glad I kept clicking the shutter as the light changed!

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Infants are ugly. I'm sorry, they really are. So I've left out the early baby pictures. But by 9 months to a year they get pretty darn photogenic. I've been so happy shooting family with the E-M5 and the m43 primes. This shot on the technical side captures a lot of why. It uses the gorgeous rendering of the 25/1.4. I love the flip LCD on the E-M5 for getting low perspectives easily, this shot holding the camera down into the crib. IBIS allowed this to be shot at ISO800 (exposure is 1/5) in a very dimly lit scene.

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Alright, we could have endless shots of the kid. But time to wrap it up. This is the 42.5/1.2 and a fairly recent shot of her (looks like she is going to be a lefty). The story on family photos is the system has performed amazingly well. E-M5 and lenses like the 25/1.4, 42.5/1.2 and 75/1.8 work wonders at home. These days the GM1+15/1.7 or 12-32 fit in my pocket when we are out and about. I do a photo book of our daughter through blurb once a year for family members, whom I'd expect to ooh and ah even if there were just cell phone photos in it. But I am told by said family members that visitors who pick up the books off the coffee table don't put them down and are quite struck by the photos. So apparently, despite when I started m43 five years ago and it was a "slow-zooms only" system by this point in time it is doing great in the portrait department too.

If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to share in my retrospective! Looking forward to five more years with this system.
 

darrellc

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Joined
Aug 21, 2012
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123
Kwalsh - I well remember your post on Fred Miranda about your upcoming sabbatical and considering if you should go FF for it. Amazingly great pictures posted here and even more on that thread and I well remember the many responses that you'd do fine with any camera. You've got artistry and impeccable technique. So m4/3 doesn't really have much to do with it, you could probably shoot anything and deliver beautiful imagery. But it sure is easier hauling around m4/3 than most FF kit for the kinds of landscape you do!
 

BeyondTheLines

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Sep 23, 2012
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Spain/USA
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Patrick
I try not to say this too much but, Wow! Excellent pics and processing. Also, really enjoyed hearing your insight into some of the compositions/technique
 

Bif

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May 28, 2012
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Bruce Foreman
To me the OP's post has been much more informative, inspiring, and visually stimulating than most of the excellent magazine articles I've read through the years. I'm a retired professional photographer and have seen a lot of nice work. This is really outstanding imagery.

I've been using m4/3 for about 3 years now.
 
Joined
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SW England
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Rob
Your pictures are just stunning!

And I love the comment about collecting primes in preparation for parenthood - that would have been me, except my return to photgraphy as a hobby postdated the onset ofparenthood by a few years!

Rob
 

slau

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Joined
Jan 26, 2010
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Location
Alberta, Canada
I am also one of those photographers who started M43 with the G1 and the kit lens 5 years ago. Naturally my M43 system grows to include GH1, GH2 & GH3.

Currently I am waiting for my GH4 as my GH3 is really falling apart (my GH1 & GH2 are still without any problem). Mind you that my GH3 was with me during my trips over the 4-5 continents since I bought it almost 2 years ago. I have used lots of cameras and still own lots of cameras, from M43 to FF Canon to Medium format Digital. But, none of those cameras ever gave me so much enjoyment and fun than my GH3. I started doing video seriously was completely because of my hacked GH2 and my GH3.

I routinely shot my M43 with Canon or Pentax side-by-side during my trips, and used both systems to their strength (and avoid their limitation). Yes, I am very happy with my M43 systems. I also have collected a lot of nice zoom and prime lenses over these years (i.e. Voigtlanders 17.5 & 25, PL25, Oly 12, 45 & 75, Pana 12-35 & 35-100), etc). I was very happy to see the improvement of the M43 sensor and AF technology, and the increased availability of nice M43 lenses over the years. As I am also a wildlife photographer in addition to nature/landscape, I am still waiting patiently for a good & fast 'super tele' from Panasonic. The current AF technology of M43 is very good but I am still hoping for some quick improvement in the near future to take full advantage of the new super tele lenses. I can see myself getting completely out of my Canon pro bodies when I can use my M43 with full confidence for fast wildlife action like bird-in-flight. Hopefully that should not be too many years down the road. Happy 5th anniversary to M43 !!
 

pellicle

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Feb 10, 2010
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Killarney, OzTrailEYa
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pellicle
Hi

thanks for posting
In September of 2009 after experimenting successfully with an LX3/FZ28 combination on a trip instead of taking my Canon APS-C gear I decided I would try out a m43 system as a "do it all small" kit. The G1 had been getting great reviews and the introduction of the 7-14 meant that I wouldn't be missing UWA for my landscapes. So I picked up a G1+14-45 kit
some great shots and I'm sure that they print successfully at almost any size you want. I too picked up a Panasonic G1 (perhaps we even know eachother from getdpi where Amin started too) and feel even more now than I did then that Panasonic got their formula nearly 100% on the money back then. For the Oly OM-D is now more like the G1 was than the E-P1 or P2 was.

That the G1 had such an incredible for its time EVF, Tilt and swivel screen (which is even selfie friendly as it inverts when facing forward) to me makes it clear how ahead of its time it was. Personally I even prefer its low key plastic exterior. Its a stealh camera. Like having a plain family 6cyl white sedan with all the trick bits out of view (and plain black steel wheels, although wider to take upsized tyres).

Thanks again for posting, it was a nice read (and glad to hear your got such good milage out of your 45-200)

:)
 
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