Tag Archives: equipment

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.

Opportunity or Rip Off

Image

I have now been a Panasonic LX5 user for around 18 months and have been incredibly impressed by this little camera. I love its small size, its RAW files, its fast super sharp lens and its great little sensor. And whilst it’s only a 10Mpixel sensor I can easily create A3+ prints that look stunning. I was therefore very excited the other day when I read on the Online Photographer Blog that the LX7 is being released.

At the mere thought of the LX7 my mind went crazy with all the improvements that might be incorporated. Whilst the sensor and lens combination are great at A3+ I would ideally have liked a 14Mpixel sensor. Perhaps also a tilting LCD display and a built in EVF. Perhaps the lens will have its zoom range increased to 24-120 like the legendary Sony R1.

 I was however a little taken aback when I read the spec to find out it was quite like the LX5. Admittedly the lens is even faster and supposedly sharper, whilst the sensor is better at producing clean, noise free images. This wasn’t however the huge step change I had hoped for and I now wonder if some of the other manufacturers e.g. Sony with their RX100 20MP wonder are pulling ahead.

Having spent some time reading the specifications I doubt I am going to spend the £450 necessary to upgrade my LX5 which on paper looks to have a similar spec. Perhaps when I come to use one I will appreciate the great lens and sensor sufficiently to want one – but I can’t help thinking I might be getting ripped off.