Is Micro Four Thirds a Viable Option for Wildlife Photography?


Headshot of Majestic Tiger
Watch the Olympus OMD E-M1X being used for Wildlife Photography in the Bavarian National Park
Watch Jake Davis using the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 for Wildlife Photography in Yellowstone

Capturing beautiful imagery of wildlife in their natural habitats demands a high level of photographic skill, but does it always require high-end DSLR equipment?

For most photographers, the answer will usually come out as “it depends.”

In certain environments, you will need the low light performance of a competent full-frame, but the times where only professional equipment will cut the mustard are few and far between, and the line between full frame and micro four thirds mirrorless has been steadily growing thinner.

Micro four thirds cameras possess all the power and sophistication you need for most situations so that you can get back to the studio with captivating wildlife photography worthy of any wall calendar or portfolio.

Weight Considerations

The average piece of kit for a proficient wildlife photographer can weigh in at nearly 60 pounds when you add in all the lenses, optics, and camera bodies.

An MFT setup will take up considerably less room, and be less of a burden on your back. You will appreciate this more when you’re traversing difficult terrain while trying to keep up with a less than a co-operative subject.

Versatility of Micro Four Thirds

Mirrorless technology is advancing at breakneck speed, and the gap is closing between the capabilities of full frame and M4/3s.

There is now an equivalent lens for just about every full-frame lens out there – providing you take the 2x focal length of MFT lenses into account.

For instance, an MFT 12-35mm f/2.8 will have the equivalent focal range of an FF 24-70mm lens, which means a 100-400mm will give you an equivalent of 200-800mm. This is excellent news if you’re heavily into telephoto work.

Of course, you do have to account for the extra crop due to the smaller sensor, but careful framing when you take your shot will help eliminate any problems.

Also, how many photographers can you say aren’t going back to the studio to crack open Lightroom or Photoshop to slice off large chunks of their images?

Another MFT advantage is that there are many manufacturers heavily invested in the MFT framework, not just Panasonic and Olympus.

When you buy an MFT, you open up a range of options for choosing precisely the right optics to suit your style of wildlife photography.

Tons of Camera Features

Micro four thirds cameras now offer a stunning array of features built into the body.

In-camera stabilization, 4k video, 4K photo modes, focus stacking, and wireless uploads are just some of the tools you will find packed into even some of the low-end MFTs.

High megapixel counts (20M and growing), give you more detail and post-processing options.

Remaining invisible and staying quiet is of the utmost importance in wildlife photography, and a noisy shutter will send your perfectly framed subject skittering away out of the picture.

Some of the latest range of M43s now pack a silent shutter so that you can remain undetected.

Panasonic has also introduced a new 4K photo mode which can capture an astonishing 30 frames per second video file.

When you’ve completed the sequence, you can then go through and pull out any 8-megapixel still frame. Those are impressive numbers for a compact camera.

With focus stacking technology introduced by Olympus, you now no longer have to guess where the best focus point will be, which is a challenge at the best of times.

With a couple of taps, you can choose your starting focus point and ending focus point. The camera will then combine every frame into a final image with depth-of-field that is perfection itself.

Conclusion of Micro Four Thirds for Wildlife Photography

There’s no doubt that not every camera will suit every wildlife photography situation, but the areas where MFT can’t compete with full-frames are few.

Your micro four thirds camera may struggle in low-light conditions where their smaller sensors pick up more noise, and it may not be able to frame a fast moving subject perfectly, but the latest MFT cameras are closing the gap rapidly.

John Eather

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling and photography. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of Micro Four Thirds photography. Discover the advantages of carrying a small yet powerful camera system.

Recent Content