Micro Four Thirds

Micro Four Thirds Equipped Cameras are serious contenders and provide what photographers need.

Click on this gallery below. Seriously I have yet to find anything in photography where a micro four thirds camera cannot equal or out perform Full Frame photography when using a max print size of A2 42cm x 59.4cm print size as the criteria for test. For most people A3 or A4 is about as big as you need to go.

All these images were taken using Olympus OMD M1 Mark 2 and Olympus Pro Series Lenses. The Olympus rig costs about 60% of the cost of a full frame rig and is faster focusing with sharper images.

Bigger Sensors often give less noise but also give softer images out of camera. I like sharper images and I’m not in the minority.

When comparing cameras one of the points of distinction that is referred to is the size of the sensor inside the camera. The general position is that bigger is better. The rule has so many holes in it and misses out on the truth so many times that it really needs a rethink. We can already print A3 prints from cameras equipped in phones where the sensor size may be less than 5 mm x 4 mm. Such is the quality of technology today and the processing power available that some arguments get trampled down with the improvement in technology. I was thrilled to read recently of a photographer who received a lot of praise for an image that he took at a wedding and which was taken on a previous generation iPhone. The image is excellent. Those who argue that full frame sensors are the only way to go are still to a large extent borrowing from the state of the industry five years ago.

We need cameras that focus quickly and give us detailed sharp images. Micro Four Thirds is answering the call.

SHARP IMAGES MICRO 4/3 MFT LENSCRAFT AT F6.3

From experience I can tell you that when I compare the quality of images taken some years ago with full frame sensors to images taken recently on smaller sensors it is only possible to really see the difference when looking at the image at 100%. [Totally unrealistic for practical purposes.] True, larger sensors in some cases work very well in low-light and that is a limitation for smaller sensors however you have to consider that not a lot of images are necessarily taken in low-light and, if you have a camera that doesn’t take images well in low-light you can usually find a workaround so that you can get very good images in any case. For example some micro 4/3 cameras are equipped with industry-leading stabilisation built into the body and in some cases paired with lens stabilisation so that it is possible to take images handheld for half a second. This allows you to take the image without suffering the noise that you would get using a faster shutter speed if the camera isn’t able to handle low-light without introducing lots of noise.

STRAIGHT FROM CAMERA MFT LOTS OF DETAIL

Many professional photographers specifically limit the upper ISO limit that they will shoot with to below 1600 ISO anyway which makes some of the arguments mute.

The arguments for using cameras with smaller sensors such as the Micro 4/3 sensor are many. You can work with a smaller camera which is much lighter and therefore you do not suffer with camera fatigue. The lenses are both lighter and less expensive and often sharper than their full frame equivalents in direct comparison. When focusing you get greater depth of field at the same focal length that you would against 35mm full frame. The dynamic range is admittedly not quite so good but, the argument is essentially mute when you compare the dynamic range against so many cameras that are pretty much the same. You just have to learn to expose your images correctly. It’s not rocket science.

Any Professional Photographer sees the need to get the image right ‘in camera.’

Any photographer who wants to be successful needs to learn to get the image right in camera or as close to right as possible. You do not want to spend hours and hours in front of a computer lightening and darkening unnecessarily when you could have got the image right in situ. You should be able to set up a standard profile on your computer and run your images through automatically and then just go through and crop and straighten as necessary if needed with some minor adjustments. Why be a closet photographer who spends all your time in front of a computer instead of being out there with your camera enjoying the sunlight?

Modest equipment can yield great results. It’s about technique.

An amazing number of photographers who take awesome images use very modest equipment. They don’t want the largest or the biggest or the best. But they simply know how to get the best out of it. It’s not about the gear and about continually upgrading and changing the gear. It’s about taking the image. Micro four-thirds gets you a lot closer to the finished image and quickly.

SHARP AND CRISP

We have conducted direct comparisons of Micro 4/3 cameras against the very best 35mm full frame sensors available today. We used as our rule of thumb printing images out at A3. If anything the micro 4/3 images require less work and were much more accurate than the files coming from the 35mm full frame sensors. True we didn’t take the JPEG straight from camera for the comparison as each of the current manufacturers of cameras in our view don’t quite get the JPEG to where it needs to be. Although to be perfectly fair they are pretty good and we would be perfectly happy to use JPEG’s. However we did want images at 300 dpi. We compared large pixel images to Micro 4/3 based on the A3 comparison and we found no discernible difference whatsoever in image quality using the A3 standard. On screen and zooming in to 80% we could certainly see a difference however you have to be realistic and think about the size of image you are trying to generate. A 20 megapixel Micro 4/3 sensor is enough for just about anyone.

HAND HELD AT HALF A SECOND. WITH OLYMPUS OMD M1 MARK 2 AND THE CAMERA WITH PRO LENS MADE THIS EASY…

Take a serious look at Micro Four Thirds.

Next time you look at a camera don’t be quick to discount Micro 4/3 because someone who has never actually done a direct comparison using the print basis says that the image quality isn’t as good as full frame. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and probably get a better camera anyway. You’ll also get a much faster camera as full frame cameras are not at the stage at which they can work at the speed of a Micro 4/3 yet. And Micro 4/3 will give you better lenses and better lens choices because you won’t be locked into and out of a number of choices. The very best lens that we have ever shot with is a Micro 4/3 lens made by Olympus which puts to shame its full frame equivalents by a considerable margin. Think about it and try the gear. Don’t let a salesman push you into what they think is better.

Take another look at the options. There’s a lot more than you might imagine.

A few comments re Lenscraft Photography. When we comment on equipment in these pages the comments are based on use in the field. They are never based on a single use or just a couple of days using the equipment. We try the equipment with at least two disciplines in photography and determine how it performs from there. Lenscraft Photography is a website devoted to photography and sharing experiences with equipment. We are not affiliated with any manufacturer. We have used equipment professionally from Canon, Nikon, Ricoh, Minolta, Sony, Leica, Olympus, Hasselblad, Zeiss, Sigma, Pentax, Zenit, Bronica, Rollei & Kodak.

Some of these companies have been absorbed into others. Currently we regularly use equipment from Olympus, Nikon, Sony, & Hasselblad. [Plus lenses from Zeiss and Sigma]


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Medium Format Full Frame or?

Over the last 20 years an ethos has been developing. The idea that larger sensors are better. They must be better. They are bigger.. bigger is better right? Right? Are you sure about that?

Cameras of Yesterday Look Remarkably Similar To Today

We need to dump the notion that bigger megapixels equals better images. We need faster focussing and faster speed. 20 Megapixels is plenty.

Well the cameras are certainly bigger and the lenses are. And they look impressive don’t they. All those huge cameras and lenses. You must be professional to use something like that. Well looks can be deceiving can’t they. Bigger is definitely not always better as many tens of thousands of photographers have learned at (sometimes) great expense. Better to know something of the background perhaps before reaching for the purse.

Taken with Olympus MFT

The first digital cameras had small megapixel sensors. But while the concept of digital was new the camera was an old beast. Recognized as a camera and well developed, there was a common shape and size. There was also a well regarded means for viewing the scene through the lens and these cameras were called single lens reflex.

Thus the camera we see today in common use is a marriage between concepts based around film and the digital sensor. The space is filled with electronics and batteries of course but it is a recognizable shape. It is comfortable in size. Along with this came the concept of ‘full frame’ being basically a sensor equivalent in size to a piece of 35mm film. Essentially lenses were set up for 35mm film and so making sensors a different size would mean making different lenses. There is some room for smaller sensors using the same lenses but ‘full frame’ is an expression that it is hard to go past. The merits of full frame and medium format are widely commented on.

Full frame sensors allow you to shoot in reduced light with a lessor amount of noise at higher ISO levels. The images will be softer but perfectly usable.

Most images are shot at ISO levels between 50-1000 ISO

Digital is Advancing Quickly. Old ideas are slipping out of date.

Images 2000mm high [2 metres] can be printed from well exposed images taken from a tiny sensor.

Image stabilization in cameras [best] or lenses [good] is allowing us to maintain low ISO ratings.

Heavy lenses are consistently left ‘on the shelf’ because photographers don’t want to carry them all day.

Colour Matched Images from different sensors printed at A3 give the same visible result whether the file size is 16 megapixels or 80 megapixels.

If I printed 4 images [colour matched] at A3 with cameras from 16, 20, 46 & 80 megapixels with sensor sizes from micro four thirds to APSC to Full Frame and Medium Format, and you viewed them side by side there is no way that you could tell the difference between the results. [Though the micro-four-thirds image would probably appear slightly sharper.]

If photography is your aim you would probably find that a lighter and smaller camera would cover all of your needs.

Taken with Olympus MFT
Taken with Olympus MFT

And as an after thought. Micro-four-thirds [MFT] is a much smaller sensor with lighter cameras and remarkable lenses that cost considerably less than alternative systems. Those of us that have been shooting professionally for years are coming to realize that what we need are smaller and lighter systems with sharper lenses and the MFT approach is clearly the right one for this.

Morning light in Western Australia – No filter required

Not that we don’t use DSLR for some styles of photography. But micro-four-thirds has far less limitations than some reviewers suggest. And 20 megapixels is absolutely the optimum size for photography for many reasons. But that’s another page.