Micro Four Thirds hitting its stride


posted on 13th of september, 2012

I wrote back in June about my new camera, the Olympus OM-D and my decision to switch to Micro Four Thirds for all of my photos. How is it working out, you might ask? Has the glow of a new purchase faded away into the noisy shadows of a small sensor? Hardly!

I'm very happy with the system and the images I'm taking with it. Here are the highlights:

1. Smaller lenses and body mean I take it everywhere. To the park with the kids. On work trips. To the beach. The body is weather sealed so that helps too.
2. Fast primes add interest with their shallow depth of field. With a large camera I tended to take a single zoom lens over primes. The reason was primarily that the primes themselves were just a bit too big. The professional primes are even larger, but even a 50mm f/1.8 nifty fifty is twice the size of my 14mm f/2.5 lens. The end result is that even though my sensor has more depth of field at a given aperture, my aperture I have with me is two stops bigger - resulting in shallower depth of field than APS-C, and similar to full frame.
3. Movies are fantastic. Since my body has built in image stabilization on the sensor all lenses look great in video with smooth motion even when walking. This is a major step again compared to even Olympus bodies from two years ago.
4. I'm taking more stock images, and ones I'm proud of. I am finding that I've almost doubled the number of images I'm doing a month at the moment, and my interest in stock is building, not waning. Further, I feel I'm getting shots that are a bit more interesting. My approval for the last two months is at 93% and includes ISO1600 shots (paint tray below) - so that says something about the capabilities of the smaller sensor.
5. Pure performance. There is no question that the OM-D and its smaller sensor gives up something compared to the bigger dSLR bodies. But reading in a recent magazine the OM-D compared very favorably, keeping up in the noise department, falling a bit short in absolute resolution, and leading the APS-C Nikon in dynamic range and color accuracy. Personally I think it is all a bit moot compared to the end result, but always nice to see I haven't made a choice that limits me too much. The dynamic range on the OM-D is really a step up - I no longer have problems holding highlights like I did with the Panasonic GH2.
6. Tilt screen. I got the OM-D as much for the excellent viewfinder as anything. But for personal shots and sill lifes I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying the tilt LCD.

Here are a few recent images from my OM-D:

Comments (29)

Posted by Bradcalkins on October 24, 2012
@Retina2020 - I'm sure you'll be pleased with it. Note that the latest firmware update adds stabilization to video for manual focus adapted lenses. And gets rid of the hum when shooting stills.

@dreamtimephoto - there are a couple of factors, but I find either lots of detail, or no detail work well with high ISO. A middle amount of detail tends to show smearing unless you really target specific areas with noise reduction.
Posted by Dreamtimephoto on October 24, 2012
Very good article, I got the OMD too but never try uploading anything exceed 800. The highest ISO ever accepted was 640.
Posted by Retina2020 on October 02, 2012
Hey Brad. Thanks again. I ended up taking your recommendation and purchasing the OM-D. I decided to retire my Canon body in favour of the OM-D's smaller size since it's difficult to lug my Canon gear along side my toddler's gear if you know what I mean ;-) I did purchase an EF to m43 adaptor from ebay so I can still use my EF 85 1.9 and my other canon longer lenses on the OM-D. Which work very well on the system due to OM-D built in manual focus assist. The most awesome part is the IBIS works with my old lenses. I have a sigma 50-150 F2.8. And and I can get away with a 1/15 shutter speed at 150 mm in a much smaller package than Canon's 70-200 F2.8 IS. Thanks again. Keep up the great portfolio and blogs. Cheers.
Posted by Cosmostellar on September 16, 2012
Thanks for your article, I have been watching the smaller cameras and the one that you mention.....great photos and your logic is on the money....
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 15, 2012
Thanks!
Posted by Photobee on September 15, 2012
Very good blog!
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 15, 2012
Yes, sold the 7D and the P&S too. Now that I see the new full frame cameras I don't regret it. $2,100 for a body is just crazy to me! Not to mention $2,000 for the f2.8 zooms.
Posted by Photoncatcher on September 15, 2012
thx.
so did u sell ur 7D ?
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 15, 2012
@photoncatcher: I am currently using primes 100% of the time.

I should point out some negatives with MFT compared to my old Canon 7D:

1. While I love the sensor stabilization, I wish the Olympus had an external switch. Sometimes I don't want it on for slow blur shots, but then want it for video.
2. AF. With certain lenses it is close to a dSLR, but in real life with primes it is just a bit slower to take a shot. In lower light I find I work around the AF a bit more.
3. Studio flash. AF in the studio needs a bit more ambient light.
4. Wireless flash. I am finding the wireless more complicated. I had to get the manual out, and still seem to get output from the trigger flash on camera even when set to 'off'.
Posted by Lostarts on September 15, 2012
Damn interesting blog. I like it ... not you got me thinking.
Posted by Photoncatcher on September 15, 2012
nice sharing. i got two systems include M43.do u use zoom lens or just use prime lens ,brad ?
Posted by Hanbaoluan on September 15, 2012
Olympus is very good with, some function is better than with price Canon, nikon, it's like sharpness is very good, have a lot of advantages. I use of E - 3 has been going on for several years.
Posted by Jdanne on September 15, 2012
Thanks for sharing your experience with us!
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 14, 2012
Yes, I got the idea of the ND from my old Canon G12 which had a 3 stop ND built in. Handy to shoot wider in full sun but also to get the shutter speed down for video...
Posted by Adeliepenguin on September 14, 2012
Thanks for the input, Brad. And thank you, thank you for the great idea. A ND filter! I am a relatively new owner to a Fuji X100. I am trying to learn to use its fixed lens more creatively and the thought of adding the filter opens up some new possibilities.
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 14, 2012
Thanks for the comments. I just noticed that the gas burner flame image is shot at ISO2500 :) Naturally detail isn't as critical to this particular shot, but still impressive low light performance. Plus handheld at 1/20s with the built in image stabilization!
Posted by Egomezta on September 14, 2012
Thank for sharing this great blog.
Posted by Janceluch on September 14, 2012
Impressive - I love the idea of portability - so many times I regret I have not had my big heavy camera with me (just because it was too heavy/bulky to carry it with me on daily basis)...
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 14, 2012
I think your article will make me to save money for this kind of excellent camera. What lenses you recommend? I do isolated indoor photos a lot, what do you think about lens flare (+2 stops background exposure against my camera). Thank you, I will click on useful article.

Lens flare is a lens specific issue that I don't have a lot to say about quite yet. I tend not to shoot with an overlit background any more. In the past it was a deal breaker for me - the 20mm Panny prime doesn't seem very good in that regard. I'm building up an LED light studio so I'll have more control over things and see how it works out.

In general, I'm disappointed by the Micro Four Thirds zoom lenses, and very impressed with the primes (Panasonic 14mm, 20mm, 25mm and Olympus 45mm and 75mm). I haven't tried the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 zoom yet.
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 14, 2012
I have been waiting to hear about your new camera! Your results are impressive.
And managing an image at ISO 1600-wow. I am curious, do you have a favorite aperture that you tend to gravitate to?

I tend to use f/2.2-f/2.8 outdoors (though I have an ND filter now so I my start shooting wider!). Indoors for stock I tend to sit at f/4-f/5.6 unless I need the depth of field.
Posted by Mikericci on September 14, 2012
I have found the something since buying my OM-D . I find i am shooting more stock images and my acceptance rate has gone way up . Here are a couple of my latest taken with the OM-D

   Cooking with love   
   Wet DVD   
   Nature trail sign   
Posted by Adeliepenguin on September 14, 2012
I have been waiting to hear about your new camera! Your results are impressive.
And managing an image at ISO 1600-wow. I am curious, do you have a favorite aperture that you tend to gravitate to?
Posted by Alvera on September 14, 2012
I think your article will make me to save money for this kind of excellent camera. What lenses you recommend? I do isolated indoor photos a lot, what do you think about lens flare (+2 stops background exposure against my camera). Thank you, I will click on useful article.
Posted by Rosariomanzo on September 14, 2012
Useful, thank you!
Posted by Bradcalkins on September 14, 2012
I am glad to hear that the ISO 1600 was accepted. Did you need to do some noise post processing? I never tried to submit anything above 400 from my GH1, with one exception, where noise was actually part of the subject.

I run everything through lightroom, and ISO1600 took a little bit more noise post processing, but nothing that completely robbed the image of detail like it would have with cameras I owned like the Canon 20D...
Posted by Gmargittai on September 14, 2012
I am glad to hear that the ISO 1600 was accepted. Did you need to do some noise post processing? I never tried to submit anything above 400 from my GH1, with one exception, where noise was actually part of the subject.
Posted by Chanevy on September 13, 2012
Great info, thank you
Posted by Peanutroaster on September 13, 2012
Thanks Brad. Count me as a 4/3 fan.
Posted by Amlyd on September 13, 2012
I found this very informative, thx



Comments (29)

This article has been read 1348 times. 9 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Brad Calkins.

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