The Seperate Ways of Nikon and I: Why I Bought a MFT Camera System – Part III

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Editor’s Note: This is the third and final part of Erwin Van Asperen’s series on why he switched from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera system. It is being syndicated with his permission. Part 1 and 2 are at the according links. 

So, this is the last part of why I switched from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera system. Again, I’d like to sum things up a bit for you, given that you already had a hard time to reading these long articles anyway:

  1. I want to take pictures
  2. I need tools for that;
  3. I don’t want the tools to get in the way of me taking pictures.

We already established quite a few considerations in Part I and Part II of this study. I needed to carefully consider what tools I needed for conveying sensory perceptions and feelings on the very moment I decide to take a shot.

Now the big question arrives:

Which mirrorless camera system do I need?

I am going to give you my verrrrry personal, subjective take on this matter: I like Fujifilm and Olympus. They seem to (want to) represent the kind of camera company who actually listens to their biggest customers. Therefore they make cameras with well-placed knobs and dials, great features and proper ergonomics. They are two of the big native camera-manufacturers, unlike brands like Sony and Samsung (take that with a grain of salt please)

This is a very subjective matter: Fujifilm and Olympus (and for a bit Panasonic) are just the kind brands that makes me feel like I’m grabbing a photo-camera. They aren’t known for their representative neutral colour rendition, but rather for their beautiful skin-tones, or how Fujifilm cameras render blue colours or see how the auto white balance on Olympus cameras seem to render the colours a bit on the warm side (which I really like).

That’s what I like about them: they seem to have character. That makes me want to pick them up. I like that.

On the various review sites you can find on the internet, you can pixel peep pretty much every camera available. You can check out lab tests of lenses, dynamic range, ISO-noise performance, etc. However, the thing you can NOT measure is how a camera operates, handles and feels for YOU. Whenever I walked into a camera store and tried the available cameras, I almost always ended up liking Fujifilm, Nikon (because I used to own a Nikon and therefore knew what to touch), Olympus’s OM-D series cameras and Panasonic. It should feel natural and intuitive to control a camera.

Wait, intuitive huh? It took me some time to figure out my Nikon D90, though when I did, I didn’t had to worry about the camera’s controls, I could focus more on taking the picture.

So my new camera needs to have a low bar in terms of its learning-curve. It needs to be discreet too. Bigger cameras often have a lot of well-placed knobs and dials, resulting in easy operation, though at the cost of not being very low profile.

There aren’t that many cameras that have both, though I think I found one: The vintage-styled camera. 

You see, to me, they do not only look pretty – in a time where everything looks like it comes from a distant future, with sleek, simple designs that look as if it is crammed with technology, the average vintage styled camera looks like something not worth bothering about. That said, my main photography styles are mountains, street and architectural photography. So my new gear should be capable enough to sport the very wide and the telephoto-range.

Big...
Big…

Trust me on that one, walking in mountain ranges and picturing them taught me one thing:

Mountains are – yes Mr. obvious – quite big. In fact, it is the sheer size of the mountains (and their beauty of course) you want to capture. Going wide, is going to make the mountain you stand on look BIG. Going tele is going to make the mountains you see around you look BIG. That is why I wanted an interchangeable lens camera in the first place, I want a system that is capable of adapting to your needs, otherwise one of the many quite capable compact systems of nowadays could work well too (X30 anyone?).

...Very big
…Very big

So then, vintage styled cameras, eh? Not that many options are left now…

I need:

– A lens-interchangeable, fast focussing, fast and accurate metering equipped, vintage styled camera that produces great colours, has good handling, good framing capabilities (viewfinder anyone?) and should fit in any kind of bag I own.

Yes, there they are again: Fujifilm or Olympus. To be exact: Fujifilm X-T1, Fujifilm X-E2 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

Now let me tell you why I chose the Olympus OM-D E-M5:

Its AF-speed is outstanding, its color reproduction capabilities are wonderful, it is small and discreet (because of its vintage looks) it is not too expensive, makes me want to go take pictures and is mostly intuitive (to me) to operate…

So there it is: I sold my Nikon D90 for a Olympus OM-D E-M5.

According to various Lab tests on the internet, the image quality of the both is almost exactly on par (!). Many people would consider me crazy ditching a fine DSLR with a APS-C sized sensor for a camera with a much smaller MFT sensor….

Me? I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Over the years I began to see the flaws of a DSLR in this day and age.

Whether the DSLR as we know it is dead is another thing. I don’t know what will happen in the future with camera technology, though there does seem to be big progress in what modern camera technology is capable of.Just look at what Sony does with its new full frame sensors… these things can see in the dark! It’s astonishing…

Just remember that what we want or what we need are two very different things… It could happen to you that you find yourself wanting something you really don’t need. And that will likely be the exact moment you’ll start worrying about how to convey your thoughts, emotions and sensory perceptions in the best way possible.

And that kind of questioning just might have to do quite a lot with art and photography….

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My new tool… (beautiful thing, though)

Greetz to all and thanks for reading!