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M4/3 for professional use?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by TexChappy, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. TexChappy

    TexChappy Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 30, 2012
    Question up front: Does anyone use their Micro 4/3 kit as a professional photographer for work?

    Caveat almost up front: Not a professional photographer and don't play one on TV, just curious.

    Wondering if the system has matured enough that anyone was making a living with it. Any type of photography counts - weddings, portraits, etc.
    • Like Like x 2
  2. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Jerry Jackson Jr
    I've started using my m4/3 gear for location portraits and weddings since that work requires me to run around with my gear for hours at a time with little-to-no breaks. I've been complaining about the bulk and weight of my DSLR gear for years but it's only been within the last year that I've felt m4/3 cameras and lenses deliver what I need (in terms of AF speed/reliability, lens selection, etc.) to serve as my "primary" work kit.

    Here are a couple for a recent outdoor shoot:

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  3. CUB

    CUB Guest

    I have done wedding, portrait, architectural and construction photography for some years now. I wouldn't consider a system for work that was primarily aimed at people trading up from compact p&s and trading down from entry-level DSLRs to something lighter, smaller and cheaper with many or most key components of the system based on moulded plastics.

    I have used Nikon, Canon and Pentax SLRs and Nikon and Canon DSLRs and currently use Nikon D800 and D3 bodies and Nikon lenses. With all due respect to m4/3, the robust build that you expect from Nikon and Canon simply isn't there. I don't have the time to baby my photo gear, it just gets slung in bags and has to survive some less-than-ideal handling.

    There are also the issues of dynamic range, noise at high ISOs and control over depth of field where m4/3 still falls far short of full frame.

    I like my Panasonic G3 and small collection of native m4/3 lenses (Pana and Oly) but I would not entertain using them for paid work. It isn't impossible, but you would have to work within their limitations and take care of them to an extent that is mostly alien to working shooters.
  4. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    With all due respect to Cub, not all professional uses require D800 / D4 or EOS 1D level build quality. Not every pro is doing war reporting, PJ or sports photography.

    Similarly, not every professional use high ISO (although the latest bodies from Oly and Panasonic are better at high ISO that FF DSLRs of just a couple of generations ago, and most people thought those cameras were "good enough" for professional use). Ditto for DR, for which the latest m43 bodies are not only better than FF cameras from not long ago, but far better than most film, which somehow managed to serve professionals for decades.

    And Cub's definition of DOF control appears to be rather one-sided. I rarely need extremely shallow DOF for my compositions (although if I do lenses like the 45/1.8, 25/1.4 and 25/0.95 can generally provide it). Frequently, the m43 combination of wide aperture (to allow faster shutter speed) and greater DOF is more valuable to me than is shallow DOF.

    Aside from that, Cub's knowledge of m43 bodies is sadly lacking. The OM-D body is all metal. The GH2 is functionally an all metal chassis clad in a plastic skin. You could peel most of the plastic away and the camera would still work just fine. NONE of the "key components" of either camera are made of "moulded plastics." He owns an m43 camera that's at the lower end of the price scale (the G3), and apparently bases his conclusions about the entire m43 system from that. Priceless.

    Finally, no matter what camera / lens combination you choose you need to "work within their limitations." A FF camera is limited in certain respect compared to both m43 and MF. Just as MF cameras are limited in some ways compared to FF (or m43) cameras. No camera can do it all.

    No system is ideal for every use, but there are certainly professionals who make use of m43 for some of their work, and m43 is certainly capable of being used for some professional work. Can it replace a Nikon D4 for everything? Of course not. But not all professional photography demands a D4.
    • Like Like x 4
  5. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    Take care of them? My G2 hit the pavement at 45mph and still works just fine. Try that with slr, might as well call it a loss before even looking at it. Even the pany 7-14 lens was undamaged, I'd say the build quality is beyond adequate. Hell the insides are exposed by the rear thumb dial and on the back of the lcd, both must have gotten moisture in them at this point, still works fine, and I doubt that bit of electrical tape is keep all that much out. Anectdotal, sure... but it's 45mph from the top of the vehicle.
  6. Photodan1

    Photodan1 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 26, 2012
    Nashville, Tennessee, USA
    I use my G3 and have even used my EPM-1 for paid work and they are more than adequate for what I do. There are certainly some jobs that require a DSLR, particularly sports, but my G3 works fine in the lowest light work that I do, which isn't that low. I also don't shoot sports other than snapshots of my son playing soccer.

    I have the 45 1.8 and it is a great lens with very thin depth of field if you need it.
  7. pharaviel

    pharaviel Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 20, 2011
    Reggio Emilia, Italy
    Daniele Frizzi
    I believe ned and gsciorio (already linked to you) here are both professional photographers and earn their daily bread with micro four thirds.
    There must be others for sure, I believe reporters would benefit from cameras like these :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  8. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    As a former photojournalist who worked for major market media firms for 15 years. I would use OM-D's as my everyday workhorse of a camera. (Granted I've only used my OM-D's for a few weeks so the jury is still out on durability ... but I'd give it a whirl.)

    My only caveats being, I won't use it for assignments where C-AF is vital (sports and equal) and I wouldn't use them until I had a full compliment of fast-wide lenses and fast-long lenses.

    Olympus, as a marketing ploy, gave out OM1's to a bunch of news organizations across the US back in the mid-'70s. (Then like now, media using a camera brand was a big deal.) We all loved the camera, but they broke. After about 90 days the OM1's were all broken and we went back to Nikon. Nikon's didn't break.


    PS- I have installed the C-AF update and I see improvements, but I haven't had an opportunity to truly test the new firmware. Anybody out there have any experience with the new firmware?
  9. jeffryscott

    jeffryscott Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 2, 2010
    Like Gary, I'm a former photojournalist, 25 years in the business. For nearly any daily assignment, my OM-D kit I currently use would suffice. Where it lacks is for certain sports. Lack of good c-af and fast, long lenses limits it for sports like football.

    I used my EP-2 wit VF2 and 7-14, 20 1.7 and 45 2.8 daily for over a year, supplementing it with my Canon 1dMkIIn and 70-200 2.8 or longer glass as needed. I loved this combo and the OMD is a much more capable camera.

    I started my professional career with OM's and had nothing but good luck with them, only switched to Nikon because Nikon was THE camera and everybody used them.
  10. wildwildwes

    wildwildwes Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 9, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    Been shooting professionally for going on 30 years and I wouldn't hesitate using my OM-D or E-P2 to shoot assignments. Both deliver the goods.

    Oh, and as far as build quality, the OM-D is better built in my opinion than my new Nikon D800e... (and it's water resistant!)

    Oh, and the OM-D has AMAZING in camera stabilization...

    Blah Blah Blah...
  11. landshark

    landshark Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 27, 2010
    SO CAL
    I have been shooting for over 30 years and other shooting some background plate photos, I cannot imagine using my OM-D for a paying job. Not that is does not take nice images, it is just I would not trust it to hang in there for the whole shoot. Also I have stated before any camera company that cannot supply batteries still, it is bad enough that they do not include lens shades, but you cannot even find them to buy. I baby my OM-Ds and XPro 1s, neither gets treated as roughly as my work cameras, which have to work no matter what everyday.
  12. arentol

    arentol Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2012
    The m4/3rds lens bodies are not built as strong as top 35mm lenses (though some are pretty dang close) because they honestly have absolutely no need to be built as strong. The smaller and lighter the lens internals are the less solid the externals need to be. For instance, my 45 f/1.8 doesn't need to be built like a brick because it is so light that even with a weaker body it would take less damage from 10 five-foot falls onto cement than a big L lens with a much stronger body, like the 35L, will take from just one such fall. And they all get minor scratches and marks equally as easy, but because m4/3rds lenses are usually smaller and lighter they are less likely to seriously harm each other if they are bouncing around in a bag together.

    Back when I had my 5d2 (I have a 5d3 now) I dropped it 3 feet onto cement with a Sigma 50 f/1.4 attached. The Canon broke and had to go in for repair (the lens was fine). I am completely certain that my E-M5 would handle the same fall with 25 f/1.4 attached with barely a scratch. It is built WAY stronger relative to its mass. The 5d2 would have to weigh probably 15 percent more and be noticeably thicker to have similar relative strength.

    Go to this page:

    Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review: Digital Photography Review

    Now add the 5d3, the D800, and the 7d to the list to the right of the E-M5. Now look at the graph and take your foot out of your mouth.

    As to high ISO noise, the E-M5 is better than the 7d for sure. And while the 5d2 has better High ISO NOISE performance it actually has similar high ISO PERFORMANCE. That is a subtle, but vitally important distinction. Color accuracy, dynamic range, and tonal range are all just as important as the actual noise at high ISO's, and the E-M5 easily beats the 5d2 in those areas. This offsets the actual noise difference and makes it just as good a performer at high ISO's..... To the point that while I almost never used my 5d2 above ISO 3200 (less than 1% of my photos were above 3200), I have set my upper auto-ISO limit on my E-M5 to 6400 without any concern that I will not get acceptable results.

    "control over depth of field"... I keep reading that on these forums and it never makes any sense to me. I have just as much control over DOF with my E-M5 as with my 5d3. Yes there are some things I can't quite achieve with 4/3rds that I can with 35mm, but there are other things I can't do with 35mm that I can with 4/3rds. In the end it all balances out almost exactly and neither has more control in total.

    Limitations or advantages? I frequently can't shoot my daughter in low-light with my 5d3 + 50 f/1.4 because the DOF is too narrow for it to find focus. In the same lighting conditions my E-M5 + 25 f/1.4 has a considerably easier time because the extra DOF makes focusing much easier.... And then the shots comes out better as well because more of her face is in focus. This would not be an advantage to some Pros (studio pros who fully control the lighting for instance), but it is a huge advantage to others, like wedding photographers who have to shoot moving subjects in dimly lit venues.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. I think that the battery supply issue is worst in the US, and is most probably the result of underestimating demand for the new camera more so than an inherent inability to supply accessories. Olympus has been supplying high-grade equipment to professionals for years in the form of their 4/3 DSLRs, albeit in vastly smaller quantities than some of their competitors. I walked into a local camera store last week and purchased a (genuine) spare battery for my E-M5, although even here some of our online stores are back-ordered for battery supplies.
  14. craftysnapper

    craftysnapper Mu-43 Regular

    I agree about not supplying them, but, there not on there own (think Canon) I do not agree that you cannot find them to buy.

    I just dislike the exorbitant prices charged for a bit of plastic by all camera brand producers.

    All my hoods are brought of E-Bay (usually from China) at a third of the cost and all fit and work perfectly, I have brought them for Pentax , Canon and now all mtf lenses with no problem.

    Of course if you are the type that needs to have the brand name emblazoned on it then they are not for you.:smile:
  15. craftysnapper

    craftysnapper Mu-43 Regular

    I agree about not supplying them but, there not on there own (think Canon) I do not agree that you cannot find them to buy.

    I just dislike the exorbitant prices charged for a bit of plastic by all camera brand producers.

    All my hoods are brought of E-Bay (usually from China) at a third of the cost and all fit and work perfectly, I have brought them for Pentax , Canon and now all mtf lenses with no problem.

    Of course if you are the type that needs to have the brand name emblazoned on it then they are not for you.:smile:
  16. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    I see two dinstinct trends in this thread:

    1) People that have actually shot professionally with :43: and comment within the strengths and limitations of the system.

    2) People that have nevershot professionally with :43: and speculate about the capabilities of the system.

    Am I the only one seeing this pattern? And am I the only one that can only consider the second category a joke?
    • Like Like x 2
  17. pheaukus

    pheaukus Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 22, 2012
    You missed a third trend:

    3) People who own m4/3 and shoot professionally but not with m4/3. They know that for them m4/3 does not do the job as well / in the best possible way.

    Who cares?
  18. Not really. There's no reason to put anyone down for offering an opinion, and certainly not here.
  19. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    I suppose about everyone participating in the :43: forum actually owns or used to own a :43: camera, right? Or if one is only here for informational purposes, and hasn't used a :43: camera before, in any environment, one shouldn't have an opinion about them, right? Am I missing something in this line of thinking? I believe not. :smile:

    I understand what you're saying, and it's not a matter of semantics. Going from ":43: is not ideal (or even adequate) for a particular professional application" to ":43: is not suitable for any professional application" is a huge logic leap. Particularly if the person holding this opinion hasn't actually tried to do the exersice. Is it more clear now? :wink:
    • Like Like x 1
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