Should I Go Micro 4/3

Get out and about with Micro 4/3 cameras

This is a common question about which I receive quite a regular flow of emails. I have also noticed recently that this question is starting to show up in search engine queries directed to the Light Weight Photographer blog so I thought I would answer this for anyone arriving here with the same question.

YES (in my opinion)

I suspect the reason why people are asking this is that they don’t trust a tiny camera to produces images as good as the camera they are already using. The truth is I don’t know if it will be as good as good as your current camera because everyone has different expectations and priorities. Does my GX1 produces images as good as my 5D? With both cameras in my hands the answer is no, the 5D will produce superior image size and quality. BUT only you will know if you are happy enough to make the switch and also what you might expect of a Micro 4/3 camera.

So allow me to assist you with the decision making process by asking you some questions. Spend some time considering these and most importantly writing down the answers so that you can refer back to them in the future:

  1. Why are you unhappy with your current camera? Make sure you produce a list of all the factors.
  2. What do you think the Micro 4/3 camera will bring you that your current camera doesn’t? Rank these in order with the most important points first.
  3. What is stopping you making the switch to Micro 4/3 today? Again you need to list all the concerns or unanswered questions that you have.
  4. What expectations do you have of a camera (any camera, not just micro 4/3)? Again list these in order of priority to you. Don’t be influenced by others, what is most important to you?

To help you with question 4 above let me provide some suggestions that you might like to consider. Size of the camera, size of the lenses, ability to fit in a pocket, quality of the image (sharpness, contrast, clarity), image resolution, cost of the camera, cost of the lenses, range of lenses available, availability of third party lenses, availability of accessories e.g. lens adapter, noise characteristics, low light performance, ease of use, features in the camera e.g. in camera HDR, panoramic stitching, styling & design.

Interestingly when most people consider question 4 they tend to place in camera features and styling much lower down the scale of importance than some of the other points such as price and image quality. Camera manufacturers sell to us however based on camera features and this can cloud our judgement and decision making. Get clear on what is important to you and why.

Now go back to the concerns and unanswered questions in point 3 and research these. You need to take care not to just accept other peoples options for example what someone might think is a sharp image another person might think is soft. The best way to resolve this would be to find sample images and evaluate them yourself.

When you have answered these 4 questions look at the purchase you are considering and honestly answer, do I think this camera give me what I want and expect?

If you decide it will, do 2 things:

  1. Sleep on it for a week to see if you change your mind. At the end of the week review your answers again to ensure you still agree with them.
  2. Go and handle your chosen camera in a camera shop or if all the camera shops have closed in your area consider hiring one. Use the menu system. Take sample pictures. Do you feel comfortable using this camera?

Micro 4/3 doesn’t suit everyone and some of its quirks might drive you crazy. For me it’s almost the perfect system but then again I also know how I would improve it.

2 thoughts on “Should I Go Micro 4/3

  1. Robin,

    Thanks for a great resource with your views on lightweight equipment.
    I’m thinking of starting to purchase a new system, moving up from compact cameras in my quest to take decent landscape photographs.
    I was all set to buy a Sony Nex-5N, until I read some less than glowing reviews of the Sony lenses available, particularly at the wide end.
    The reviews of the 4/3 lenses indicate much better quality.
    I would be keen to go with a GX1, but it doesn’t have a tilting screen – do you consider this a problem when shooting from a low viewpoint?
    4/3 cameras with a tilting screen are way up the price scale – is it really a deal breaker?

    Keep up the good work.


    1. Hi Steve,

      I’m pleased you like the blog. The reason you are unsure about the NEX-5 is the reason why I sold mine. The NEX-5 does have a very nice screen and the tilting is useful if that’s something you value. I don’t however miss it. I do have the viewfinder for the GX1 which is very good and can be tilted to a 90 degree angle so that you are looking vertically down. Another alternative would be the G3 (or mrecently released G5) which internally is similar to the GX1, has a built in EVF and a fully articulated screen which is much more flexible than the NEX-5. It is however a little bigger than the GX1 and the NEX-5.

      All the best

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