March 18, 2012

Why switch and why Micro Four Thirds


Quite a lot ask me the questions, why switch? Why Micro Four Thirds? On this post I'm going to answer those 2 questions based on my experiences and research. I want to reiterate that this is my own personal opinion based on the data I was able to gather. I'm quite sure others out there will agree or disagree and I'm all ears to what you have to say. Leave a comment please as I want to hear what you have in mind.

NOTE: I might add a part 2 to this after I have used a M 4/3 system particularly the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

1. Why switch?
  • I don't really need a full frame camera for my style of shooting. Sure it's nice to have but for what I do a smaller system would work I'd say 99% of the time.
  • If I have the money I would have kept my 5D Mark II, Canon lenses and accessories. Don't get me wrong, I love my 5D Mark II and I know the controls by heart but I don't make money from shooting. I sometimes get paid assignments but those seldom happen. I'm simply a photography enthusiast and I have a family to support, mortgage payments, etc. Basically, I'm not rich and I only have a limited budget to support this hobby of mine. So in short I have to let go of my Canon system in order to get another system. As mentioned I have a limited budget and since Canon quality glass is so expensive I cannot afford to buy the lenses I "want". The difference in price with a quality glass on a M 4/3 system is big enough. Heck, if I can afford to buy L lenses for my Canon full frame body I can easily buy a M 4/3 system, right? I know people who owns a M 4/3 system as back up, or as a second system, or as a light weight camera that they can bring with them if they don't want to haul a big honking DSLR. If you can keep two systems why not. I think at that point it's just a matter of justifying if you need both. In my case I cannot justify owning both.
  • I love photography so much that I always want my camera with me no matter where I go. I simply cannot do this with the 5D Mark II. It is too big and always needs a separate bag when travelling. I do have my iPhone, a 3GS version but come on, I think most of you would agree it has limitations. It may work sometimes but it just frustrates me if I cannot do what I want to do if I'm presented the opportunity to capture a spectacular or interesting moment. Getting a smaller system will allow me to bring it with me all the time without having to worry about weight and space. It is small enough that I don't need a bag for it sometimes and I can simply just put it in my jacket pocket. 
2. Why M 4/3? Or why Olympus and not Fuji, Sony, Nikon or Canon. Some of the reasons I'm going to state below are partly why I'm switching as well.
  • Availability of lenses. I believe (and please correct me if I'm wrong) there are more choice of lenses for M 4/3 compared to competing Fuji, Sony, Nikon or Canon cameras. I also think in terms of adapters there are more options but I'm not sure about this. Anyway, I think with M 4/3 lenses alone there are a number of choices and there's more to come.
  • For me M 4/3 is the leader in this category or field right now. Some will disagree (or maybe a lot) but again this is my own opinion. I'd be glad to hear your thoughts as to why you think others might be ahead of Olympus. Maybe Sony is ahead but I have not researched it enough so prove me wrong if you think Sony or another is ahead of the race.
  • I like the technology and image processing of Olympus compared to others. I have read that Olympus has the best JPEG processing software or engine out there. I often find this subject is heavily dependent on the viewer but from what I have seen I totally like how the colors are rendered. For me, color is on top of the priority list when I'm looking at a photograph. The implementation of a thinner anti-alias filter helps make results sharper/crispier but still look natural and not over-sharpened. 
  • The introduction of the E-M5. A lot about the camera and initial results really excite me. It's very promising, it has a solid body, it's weather sealed, its high-ISO performance is quite awesome for a smallish sensor and is has a 5-axis image stabilization. All of that in a small package and oh it looks quite vintage too. What more can I ask for?
  • Olympus users are loyal and they really love it. I'm not saying other system users are not loyal but I've never seen such enthusiasm and loyalty from Olympus users. From when I started shooting I remember that whenever I encounter or meet an Olympus user they really love their gear and the results they get despite of short comings in dynamic range and high-ISO results. I often hear having IS in the body is a great advantage but there is that special connection that I often feel when I speak with Olympus followers.
I'll wrap this up here. I may have other reasons but I think that pretty much sums it for now. Again, I may have a part 2 of this but I'll decide on that after I use the system. I would appreciate your comments, feedback, anything. Feel free to speak your mind, I'd be happy to hear from you.


  1. Well first of all you should not have asked – and especially not at such prominent place – unless you are really prepared to open the can of worms

    my current background, just to let you know: E-PL1 plus 12-60 SWD plus 50-200 SWD plus EC14 plus 45 F1.8 plus a looot of „ancient“ glass

    This means, I am one of the very rare braid that did *on purpose* combine FT HG glass with mFT body – absolutely aware of the benefits and shortcomings and with no regrets whatsoever (actually I ordered just when the E-PL1 arrived and some serious shots ware available to examine).

    This said, the OM-D_5 in my eyes (!) is a clear break in Olympus image quality. You will find out when you have a closer look to images available that there is a loooot of Sony style creeping in – basically meaning :

    1.) too heavy NR even alt low ISO and already performed in RAW resulting in loss of fine details and a very specific image appearance
    2.) color shift towards too much of blue
    3.) a very hard to describe pattern of way too high detail sharpening
    4.) as for FW 1.0 has a HDR like look from bad integration of highish DR
    5.) aggressive anti-Moire suppression via software, resulting in unpredictable loss of fine structures
    6.) sometimes overly saturated colors not at all "Olympus like"

    If you are after small package plus decent/ good IQ the OM-D_5 certainly will deliver – plus a pack of cool features you are already aware of as I've seen.

    As for the lenses – one thing you must stay clear of :
    almost any of the more interesting 4/3 lenses are a no go in terms of AF speed (if you don't need that, and don't mind size, weight an price they are stunning of course)
    among the m4/3 lenses (being after high IQ in still photography) as for now only now the prime lenses deliver both in terms of resolution an bokeh (regarding bokeh I hope you already are aware that this is slightly compromised with respect to larger sensor formats – no big deal in real life IMO though)

    so to sum up my point of view – with the OM-D_5 you will basically get what an Sony Exmor cam (or derivate thereof) plus Olympus lenses can do for you – if that image appearance is what you are after – just fine.

    Don't expect the E-5 or PEN image appearance though

    Just my 2ct

  2. Thanks mige0. I will keep your points in mind and see for myself once I have the production unit in my hands.

  3. I had the Nikon D90 for 4 years before trading it with the D7000 for a year now! My day job is a lecturer and sometimes I bring along my DSLR so I could enjoy a little of my passion after work but it is just too heavy. Really 'like' that idae to have a camera system with we every day at work, finally decided the EM5 last month. Looking forward to enjoy photography wihout those extra weights to carry! At 50, its getting toughher everday, Micro Four Third will be my solution, although I will keep the D7000 as I have somewhat "attached" to it after a year !!!! Cheers !

    1. Thank you Wong. Sorry for the delayed response as I was away from photography for a while. Hopefully you still like your MFT system. Cheers!