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, 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 in 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.
This means 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.
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 with 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, the crop factor.
Viewfinder – DSLRs traditionally use an Optical Viewfinder or OVF, while m4/3s use an Electronic Viewfinder or EVF.
What is a V
A viewfinder is basically like a telescope. This is what 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 primarily used in mirrorless m4/3s, you see a digital representation.
Also, what you see in EVF is what the camera sensor sees. And when you take the shot, your view is not obstructed like in DSLR.
EVFs will also try to simulate the blur if there is motion and automatically boost the brightness if you take shots in the dark.
DSLR cameras use what is called Phase-detect Autofocus. The m4/3s use that, too, but it also has another contrast-detect Autofocus feature.
Phase-Detect – with this, you have a dedicated sensor that halves the light into two images. These two images are fused 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. Then it sends a signal to the camera to change the focus until the pixels are close enough 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 with 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.
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 DSLR lenses, 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.
DSLR and m4/3 have been around for quite a while, so many manufacturers of their parts and accessories are available.
Some of the components you need are:
- Light modifiers
There are more lenses for DSLRs, but maybe because retailers sell 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
- 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
- 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
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.