Gear - Why I Shoot with Micro Four Thirds

January 08, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

It's 2016 and resolutions are all the buzz, even in the world of photography. This year I made a few photography resolutions which include:

  1. Blog at least once a week.
  2. Be active on Instagram.
  3. Practice photography at least 3 times a week (like an instrument, you need to practice, practice, practice).
  4. Print more of my photos and hang them in my house.

Today is January 8 and obviously I missed blogging the first week of the year. Giving myself the excuse that getting back into the groove from the holidays. 

First blog of 2016 - Why I Changed Gear from a Nikon Full Frame to a Olympus Micro Four Thirds system.

For those who know photography gear this is a big jump - downwards. Down not only in weight and size, but down in sensor size. A camera's sensor is the most important feature of a camera. The bigger the sensor the better the image quality in low light conditions. The challenge for camera manufacturers is to keep the noise level down when shooting in low light. Full frame sensors produce images equivalent to the 35mm standard format. Crop sensor camera's produce images 1.5 (Nikon) or 1.6 (Canon) times the size of the 35mm. Micro Four Third sensors produce images 2 times the size of the 35mm. In other words, a 35mm lens on a Full Frame camera will keep the 35mm focal length. A 35mm lens on a crop sensor will be a 52.5mm focal length on a Nikon and a 56mm focal length on a Canon. The same 35mm lens size will be a 70mm focal length on a micro four thirds system. Bigger sensors produce less noise in low light than smaller sensors. Bigger sensors weigh more, a lot more. Bigger sensors require larger lenses which in turn also weigh more. 

I chose the Olympus OMD EM1 along with the "trinity" of lenses (7-14mm f2.8, 12-40mm f2.8, and 40-150 f2.8) along with several prime lenses (45mm f1.8, 60mm f2.8, and 75mm f1.8). Over the past 11 month shooting with this system I have been surprised at the image quality. In many ways it met or exceeded my Nikon system. Low light photography has been a challenge, but I have faced that challenge head on and am very pleased with the results.

Getting back to the point of this blog post - here are the reasons why I made the switch to a micro four thirds system:

  1. Weight. The system is light weight making it easier to take my camera with me for extended periods of time. I no longer feel exhausted and my body no longer aches after a full day of shooting.
  2. Performance. I can customize the knobs and dials on the camera so it works for me, autofocus is very fast and very fast frame rates. This camera actually out performs my Nikon.
  3. Weather Sealed. The Olympus OMD EM1 with the pro series of lenses (see "trinity" of lenses above) are fully weather sealed. No more stressing if some rain gets on my camera or a splash of water. Also, no worries about the extreme humidity we get here in Florida creeping moisture into my camera system.
  4. Lens Choices. Great lenses. Fast, lightweight, sharp.
  5. Image Stabilization. My Olympus OMD EM1 has built in 5 axis image stabilization which means I don't have to use a tripod as often. I can shoot at 1/30 of a second hand held with great results. Also, no more making sure the lens has image stabilization (as in Nikon and Canon) - it is built into the camera.
  6. Upgrade Ability. When I first got my Olympus OMD EM1 it was version 1.0. Over the past year I have upgraded to version 4.0 on the same camera! Even the lenses are upgradable online. What this means is I get to keep and love my camera longer. The other camera systems add one little thing to a camera and create a whole new camera for you to purchase.
  7. Discreet. I don't draw attention to myself with "pro" looking gear. This allows me to "fly under the radar" on both professional shoots (children in particular are more friendly to this smaller system) and when I am traveling. 
  8. Image Quality. The image quality is amazing. Put up against a full frame photo and you can't tell the difference. I can shoot at an ISO 3200 and know I have all the details intact. Of course, going higher than ISO 3200 is where a full frame shines, but for me the trade off is worth it. 
  9. Electronic View Finder. Because the micro four third system is mirrorless you do not have an optical view finder. The view finder is electronic. At first blush this may seem as a negative, however I have found that the Electronic View Finder helps you see things the naked eye (via an optical view finder) simply can't. This means I can make camera adjustments before I take the shot (as opposed to taking the shot, looking at it in the camera, then retaking the shot with the necessary adjustments).
  10. Depth of Field. I can get great bokeh at f1.8 and get an entire face in focus rather than just the eyelashes. I can take a landscape photo at f8 and get all I need in focus. 

Contact me if you have any questions! 



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