DigitalRev: Is Micro Four Thirds Dead?

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 Mk II product photos (2 of 7)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 3.5

One big question that’s been on the minds of many Micro Four Thirds camera users is: is Micro Four Thirds dead? DigitalRev tries to explore this in a video of theirs and makes some very convincing arguments that the format could be on its way out. They speak a lot about size: particularly camera sizes and sensor sizes.

When the Micro Four Thirds camera world started, they were the first on the scene with interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras that have autofocus. Back then, it made a lot of sense because you get DSLR quality in a very small package. It affected every company as they all tried to make their DSLRs smaller. Shortly after that, Sony came onto the scene with the NEX cameras, Pentax released a camera we never speak about for good reasons, and Samsung, Nikon, Fujifilm and Canon jumped into the world.

Most of the mirrorless cameras out there now use APS-C sensors–which are all larger than a Four Thirds sensor. All of those cameras are also quite small.

The video talks about both Olympus and Panasonic’s strategies and praises Panasonic for jumping into the video world though also justifying that Sony has caught up.

While I see their, side I personally shoot medium format film whenever I can. I’ve got Olympus, Sony, Canon and Fujifilm cameras laying around and use any one of them because what I care about most is my lighting–and nothing digital can touch what Kodak Ektar and Portra are capable of at the 67 format. Further, Kai and Lok didn’t talk about one of Olympus’s biggest main attractions: ergonomics. Pick up a Sony camera, a Fujifilm camera, a Nikon camera, a Panasonic camera, and an Olympus camera and you’ll see right from the start that Olympus and Fujifilm have the best ergonomics right from the start. They’re both true photography companies that have been about cameras for many, many years.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus Pen F product images (2 of 9)ISO 4001-40 sec

If aesthetics and ergonomics are a big pull for you, and you realize that the majority of people won’t be able to tell the difference between an Olympus and Sony image without pixel peeping (and most normal people don’t pixel peep) then they’re fine. What’s screwing them is marketing involving pixel peeping–but pixel peeping isn’t photography: it’s lab science and unfortunately in this case most people understand science more than they do art.

With this said: some folks like Cosmos while others prefer to curl up with a nice cup of tea and lose themselves in Bob Ross’ the Joy of Painting.

Again, when speaking pixel for pixel, Digital Rev has fantastic points: but when looking at a whole, none of this matters anymore.

  • Ben
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    I don’t think anything that was said in the video was wrong, but I have issues with the conclusion. Their argument is basically m43 has no killer feature which makes them stand out, therefore they are dead. It’s a bit like saying with smartphones that Samsung have better screens, LG have been cameras and HTC have better build, therefore the iPhone is dead.

    Mirrorless is now a mature market, it is no longer sufficient to have a single killer feature. They have all matured and improved across the board. But even just scratching the surface, it’s easy to see why m43 is still viable. Body + lens combos with m43 are still smaller. Lens choice is very good, prices are reasonable, quality is great. Compare lens choice to Sony APS-C, and it’s not really much of a choice at all. Or with Sony if you use their full frame compatible lenses, they are both larger and more expensive. And it’s been said before, but the difference in sensor size between m43 and APS-C isn’t enough to get excited about. The DigitalRev guys are very quick to dismiss any camera which has a smaller sensor, and I think they massively overstate the bearing that has on the overall photo result.

    I don’t for a second believe this, but applying their logic you could make a case for Fuji being dead. Their video quality has never been a standout, neither has their single and continuous AF performance (both of which they have massively improved recently). They aren’t the smallest units either. Are they finished because Sony have full frame, better 4K video recording and faster APS-C continuous AF? Of course not, that’s not the whole story.

    Still, it’s been interesting to consider their point of view.

  • Pepperberry Farm
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    “….Pentax released a camera we never speak about for good reasons…. ” wha?

  • Victor Reynolds
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    I’m investing in the Micro 4/3 system after years of waiting. I decided at my stage I wanted something light and useful to work with.

    However, I see photography sites-including this one-turning into a nit-picking venue about types of cameras, media, etc. I could see why some photographers avoid photo blogs, etc like the plague. This is a far cry from earlier sites that gave you just the straight dope on that gear you had your eyes on.

    My two cents.

  • RP Photography By Design
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    Every camera has its use! Olympus cameras are small but perform to a high standard, DSLR cameras will always be around and M4/3 will be to due to there capability. Im a full time photographer and only use the M4/3 cameras with no problem on printing and publications. at the end of the day each to there own.

  • Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    God, what’s up with the captcha just to visit the site? And no, it has nothing to do with misconfigured or infected devices. It’s all about what country I’m visiting from… Just can the stupid thing already!

    • Simon Patterson
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      If you get a VPN, you can be in any country you want…from the website’s point of view…

      • ChrisGampat
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        That’s worthy of so many bans in my opinion…

    • ChrisGampat
      Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

      Tell that to the hackers who have been trying to shut my business down for seven months and who I’ve been quietly fighting without trying to find a way from banning an entire nation.

  • Bernardino Pérez
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    They also forgot something very important: the lens size difference. I can carry on six m4/3 lenses in the same bag that I carried just two APSC Canon lenses…

  • Mike M
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    I recently purchased new 4/3 system and love the weight/quality ratio I have achieved:

    2 Olympus OM-D E-M5 II bodies
    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO
    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO
    With lens on each, fits perfectly in Lowepro Event Messenger 150 DSLR Camera Shoulder Bag

    Lugged this all over LA on recent trip and it was a joy.

  • justadude
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    digitalrev also don’t really take lens size into consideration. they talk about lens and then ignore them. overall size of your kit really matters and in that sense, pound for pound and cm for cm, m43 can’t be beat, imo. so def. not dead as long as oly and pana. keep advancing the systems.

  • Hector
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    They only have to price them a bit lower to truly make them over the shelf impulse purchases.

  • Turbofrog
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    Ironically, I consider Panasonic to have just about the most photographer-centered ergonomics of any of the mirrorless cameras I’ve used. But it’s also clear that so much of this entire thing is preference driven.

    I found Olympus cameras have clunky menus and worse direct controls, and Sony and Fuji cameras lack of touchscreens slow down any focusing operation (be it MF or AF) to a comparative crawl.

    • nunoabrantes
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      Funny you said that I have a gx7 and bought an OMD and I’m not struggling to use the Panasonic since the Oly feels more natural to me. I think it is a matter of getting use to it.

  • Ninja250
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    Here is why Micro Four Thirds will not be dead soon:

    Two Olympus E-P5 bodies + battery and SD cards
    Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7
    Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4
    Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8
    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6
    Two spare Olympus BLN-1 batteries
    Two Olympus BCN-1 battery chargers
    Two circular polarizing filters
    Two spare SD cards
    Opteka remote shutter release
    E-P5 printed user manual
    Monfrotto MMC3-01M monopod
    Generic ballistic nylon camera bag

    Total Weight 6.4 pounds!

    If I really want to lard up the kit I can add my old MC-Rokkor 58mm f1.4 and 300mm f4.5 lenses + adapters for another 4 pounds (and they work great with Olympus 5 axis image stabilization and focus peaking).

    The biggest size I print is 13×19 and to me, the results are virtually indistinguishable from full frame. Quality is high, weight is low, and everything about the images is good enough!

    Don’t think I’ll be switching soon… Now Olympus, how about getting that 75mm f1.8 lens under $500?

  • Bewar3them00n
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    I downsized from Canon DSLR to OMD EM10 and Ricoh GR ( I do have Medium Format and film rangefinders as well) and never regretted it, what I may miss in pixel peeping resolution, I gain in pocketability. With two young kids, the smaller, and lighter the better, I can have my Ricoh GR in one pocket, and and OMD with a prime in the other. 16MB is apparently equivalent to a full frame 35mm film neg, so it’s fine with me, for both form, function and price.

  • madali78
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    I have yet to hold an Olympus m4/3 camera with good ergonomics, have your really used one of those extensively? Olympus takes form over function, that is why most of their m43 cams are useless without optional grips.

    • ChrisGampat
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      I HATE GRIPS!!! Hate them!!

      I was trained on Leicas and the X Pro 1/X Pro 2 are the most perfect cameras ergonomically. The original Sony A7 was my favorite of theirs and the Pen series is nicer to me than most of the OMD cameras. The OMD EM5 Mk I has a great grip that was nice and small and because of the thumb rest you didn’t have to worry about much.

      • ChrisGampat
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        Try the EM10. The Mk II is actually pretty nice.

        • BuckarooBanzai
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          EM10 II is REALLY nice to hold. It has a great feel.

  • Jose Manuel Carrasco
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    Olympus ergonomics? What about the handling of the Em5II without the ugly optional grip?

    • ChrisGampat
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      I preferred the Mk 1. I still own one.

  • carnagex2000
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    I have a 645Z which is great for studio use, but when shooting events where im taking hundreds of photos, I use an Olympus EM5II. Theres something to be said about a working with smaller file sizes, so the 16MB is more then I need for web and lite print work. (not to mention Lightroom doesn’t crawl when using those tiny files like they do when I shoot with my Z). And as far as size, the EM5II and a few prime lenses fits in my coat pockets and weighs next to nothing. M43 is a nitch market, but its there.