Should You Own Micro Four Thirds for Professional Use


Micro Four Thirds for Professional Use

If you tell people that you have a micro four thirds for professional use, some may scoff at you. Many viewpoints exist over this, and many pundits claim that the pros only use DSLR.

So, is this correct?

Here we will attempt to answer this question using objective reasoning. We will be talking about the following:

  • What are micro four thirds?
  • M4/3 vs. DSLR
  • Benefits of M4/3 and DSLR

What is Micro Four Thirds?

Micro four thirds, or commonly referred to as m4/3, are mirrorless cameras. Although other systems have mirrorless cameras, the m4/3 have smaller sensors than their counterparts.

There are three main categories of sensors, as shown below:

Full frame – these are cameras that have 35 sensors. If you have seen old cameras that used film, then you know how a 35mm looks like. The shots are 36mm in width and 24mm high.

These cameras were built to have these sensors because that is the capacity of the view that will fit on the film.

A full frame shows what your eyes can see, and this is why full frame cameras also use what is called a standard lens.

APS-C – this one crops the view by 1.6mm. This means that using a 50mm lens on your full frame, you will get that full view. But if you use the 50mm lens on an APS-C camera, the FOV you will see is 50mm X 1.6 = 80mm.

What this means is that you get a closer view of the thing you are shooting, but the sides will be taken off. The final output is a larger picture and a closer one.

Micro Four Thirds – finally, this is a camera that has a crop factor that is 2x. If you use a 50mm lens on a micro four-thirds camera, the view you will get is 50mm X 2 = 100mm.

What does this mean? It means that you have just doubled the size of the thing you are taking, and you have also taken away half of it.

Essentially, an m4/3 camera is just a smaller camera with a smaller lens.

Now, is it possible to get a full view with a micro four-thirds camera? Of course. But you have to compensate it with a lens that has the right focal length.

If you want a full view, you must use a 25mm lens. This number is derived from dividing 50mm over 2, which is the crop factor.

M4/3 versus DSLR

Now, let the battle begin. DSLR is the most popular choice for professional photographers. Let us pit the one to the other pound for pound and try to determine if you can buy micro four thirds for professional use.

Viewfinder – DSLRs traditional use an Optical Viewfinder or OVF, while m4/3s use an Electronic Viewfinder or EVF.

What is a Viewfinder?

A viewfinder is basically like a telescope. This is the thing that photographers look at, and this is how they focus their shots.

In DSLR, the one used is OVF, which means it uses the actual light that passes through the lens. As a result, it has better image quality.

In EVF, which is mostly used in mirrorless m4/3s, what you see is a digital representation of the shot.

Also, the thing you see in EVF is what the camera sensor sees. And when you take the shot, your view is not obstructed like it is in DSLR.

EVFs will also try to simulate the blur if there is motion, and will automatically boost the brightness if you are taking shots in the dark.

Auto Focus

DSLR cameras use what is called Phase-detect Autofocus. The m4/3s use that, too, but it also has another feature called the Contrast-detect Autofocus.

Phase-Detect – with this, you have a dedicated sensor that halves the light into two images. These two images are fused together to become one.

As it does this, the sensor now knows how far apart these two images are, and then re-aligns its focus to fill the gap. Its performance is faster than contrast-detect.

Contrast-detect – in this autofocus, the image sensor is used to capture the light and then it sends a signal to the camera to change the focus until the pixels are close enough as possible to achieve the best resolution.

Remember, digital cameras process images in pixels.

The benefit of contrast-detect is that it takes better shots of objects in motion than the phase-detect, but it works a bit slower, too.

Size – DSLR cameras are generally bulkier than m4/3s. Cameras in the m4/3 family are smaller, but they can punch the same power ass their DSLR equivalents.

Think of a lightweight fighter who has the same power as a heavyweight, which means carrying them and their peripherals is not a problem.

With a DSLR, you will be towing about 15 kilograms of your kit to be able to take professional shots while on the move.

Lenses

The m4/3 camera has an excellent selection of lenses. You can get manual prime to pro zooms, and there is a myriad of choices compatible with your m4/3.

There are also a lot of DSLR lenses, but they are heavy and expensive.

If you buy a set of five lenses as a professional photographer, you will be spending around $8000 for the lenses of the DSLR, while you will only pay approximately $3,000 for m4/3.

These are the things you would get for $8,000 for your DSLR

  • 24mm f1.4
  • 35mm f1.4
  • 50mm f1.2
  • 80mm f1.2
  • 135 f2.0

And these are the things you will get for your $3,000 for your m4/3.

  • 12mm f2.0
  • 17mm f1.8
  • 25mm f1.4
  • 45mm f1.8
  • 75mm f1.8

Range of Peripherals – regardless of the camera, there is a wide range of supporting gadgets that you can buy.

Both DSLR and m4/3 have been around for quite a while, so there are many manufacturers of their parts and accessories.

Some of the components you need are:

  • Flashes
  • Bags
  • Tripods
  • Lenses
  • Light modifiers
  • Filters

There are more lenses for DSLRs, but maybe because retailers are selling more for the DSLR than the m4/3.

Since m4/3 is not as popular as the DSLR, fewer merchants carry compatible gadgets. But if you know where to find them, you should be able to get everything you need.

Benefits of M4/3 and DSLR

Now, it is time to see the benefits of the two cameras and help you decide which one is better.

Benefits of M4/3

  • The smaller body; m4/3s is built to be compact
  • Mirrorless and therefore lighter
  • Smaller lenses
  • Cost is more affordable than DSLR
  • Better technology as new models come out
  • Highly portable and lightweight peripherals
  • Has many features typically found on DSLR
  • Lenses have a longer focal length which is great for outdoors

Benefits of DSLR

  • Has a faster autofocus system
  • Has more lens selection that m4/3 because the technology has been around for many years
  • Has superior low-light performance because it has bigger sensors; great for low light situations

Summary

Clearly, one cannot say that one is superior to the other. If there is anything, both cameras can deliver. And what this means is that you can buy micro four thirds for professional use.

It is only a matter of situation, preference, and budget. If the budget is limited, the m4/3 camera family is the better option, as it can deliver the same performance as the DSLR.

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.

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