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Micro Four Thirds experiences and conclusions

I recently tweeted that I had a few conclusions based on my experiences with the Micro Four Thirds cameras after having tried a few of their most notable ones. Interestingly, Wouter Brandsma also chimed in immediately on twitter with his own conclusion as well. The truth of the matter is that they are quite capable of many things, let me explain further.


Beginning

My journey with the Micro 4/3 started with the classic Panasonic G1 the camera that introduced this form factor to the world. Prior to Micro Four Thirds, it was and it still exists Four Thirds. Which as the name implies with the former, they’re a smaller form factor cameras with similar sensors. The G1 was incredible camera with lots of qualities which I quite enjoyed and in the end it had its purpose but my photography drifted into a faster type of style which demanded a smaller size.

Lumix G1, Hexanon 28mm f/3.5

Before going any further, let’s get this out right from the beginning without getting into little details and all out photo geekery. With the exception of the following cameras all Micro Four Thirds cameras have a similar type of sensor.

Exceptions

  • Panasonic G3
  • Panasonic GX1
  • Panasonic GH2

Which means that all other M4/3 have tremendous similarities in their sensors, hence tremendous similarities with their end product — the image.

  • Olympus EPL1,EPL2,EP1,EP2,EP3, EPL3 et al.
  • Panasonic GF1, GF2, GF3, G2, and all the others

Olympus EPL2, Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.8


So what does this all mean? Well, basically besides sensors and sensor tweaks(increasing ISO) with all these cameras we have a common sensor being used and with various extrapolations to create an image. Off course I’m not mentioning the differences within all of them with their AF, ISO, etc. but we can safely assume that as they move up in generation these characteristics get a little better but confined to the physical properties of the same sensor.

So let’s rewind back to the G1 which for brevity I’ll bullet its best attributes

  • EVF which is extremely capable specially with Manual Focus of Adapted or Legacy lenses.
  • Articulated screen which is really awesome as it permits you to have different FOV
  • Relatively quick AF with native Micro Four Thirds lenses ie. Olympus 17mm(the most underrated lens in this genre)

What is ok but not great

  • No image stabilization(IS) its body, hence the use of adapted lenses suffer a bit in more demanding light situations.

Olympus Digital Pen

Then I moved on to Olympus side of things with the venerable and much respected EPL2. The Olympus EPL2 improved dramatically in various departments over its older siblings ie. EPL1 and EP1. Again this camera produced beautiful frames under a multitude of lighting situations. I loved its higher ISO output over the G1. Its night and day in my opinion and very usable. Off course you’ll see noise at with the EPL2 but it can be easily managed in Lightroom 3 or Noise Ninja or your app of choice.

Olympus EPL2, Olympus 17mm f/2.8

The single biggest characteristic which I absolutely adored was the image stabilizations which Olympus puts in all their bodies as oppose to Panasonic which puts their so called Power or Mega Image Stabilization on their lenses. Is it a marketing ploy on the part of Panasonic to get us to buy their own natives — who knows, conspiracy theories are plenty but I think Panasonic should have adapted their bodies with image stabilization.

You see when you adapt legacy lenses to these bodies you can set in the focal length which the body will stabilize ie. 100m(Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.8) or 56mm(Olympus OM Zuiko 28mm f/3.5). This is absolutely a proven fact in my experience. I could never get the same output with the Panasonic G1 and I tried. But in everyday shooting scenarios with the photography that I do primarily Street Photography and these days more Quotidian photography I can say without any reservations or hesitations that the Olympus bodies perform a few F-Stop better in this department. Check my this post “The Fortnightly Review“.

Panasonic GF1, Olympus 17mm f/2.8

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