Before I jump into the list of common misconceptions about Micro Four Thirds cameras, I wanted to understand why people have these misconceptions. I saw an interesting survery on the very popular Digital Photography School website, with regards to “Have you invested into a Mirrorless or Micro Four Thirds camera?” Here were the results:
“What’s Mirrorless?” – The leading poll answer with a 27% of votes was “What’s mirrorless?” And let’s keep in mind that this site is very popular among budding photographers. Online analytics company Compete.com measured them at almost 500k unique visitors for July 2014. And working in the industry, it’s common knowledge that could be off by as much as a factor of 10 as Compete does not have direct access to websites analytics, and tracks mostly US traffic.
To me it’s mind boggling that in 2014, people are still unaware of what a mirrorless camera is. And if you don’t know what a mirrorless camera is – then why comment on it’s capabilities? Unwitting comments remind me of the classic photography snob (funny video embedded at the bottom of this post). Perhaps the unawareness of the system lead to the second most popular poll answer:
“No way! They’re still lacking something in my opinion.” 21% of people believe that Mirrorless cameras are still lacking something. Perhaps it’s the snobby photography student, or the mom or pop who bought a DSLR at Walmart and all of a sudden they’re a “professional photographer.” I wish I could followup and ask them what is lacking. But a lot of us have heard it all before – and it’s typically the person who knows little about the technical end of photography. Let’s dive into the list of the 5 most common misconceptions of the Micro Four Thirds system:
1. “Your 45mm F1.8 45mm lens is really a 90mm F3.6 in the Full Frame world.”
Yes and no. In terms of FoV and depth of field, yes, but F1.8 is always F1.8 in terms of bringing in light.
2. “Well, Micro Four Thirds can’t match the depth of field of a Full Frame camera.”
You could also say the opposite, that a full frame system can’t match the depth of field of a micro four thirds camera. Some people prefer more than a single eyelash in focus. But when talking about depth of field, most people are really thinking about background blur. And background blur is much than a product of depth of field. For example, the Olympus 75mm F1.8 actually has more background blur than the very popular Canon 24mm F1.4 on a full frame camera (with >2m distance between subject and background).
The HowMuchBlur.com website is an excellent tool for comparing background blur on different systems. If you’re away from a computer, a quick calculation you can use is the physical aperture size, and the calculation for that is (field of view divided by aperture).
3. “Micro Four Thirds image quality sucks.”
This is a very generic statement that someone unknowledgeable about photography might bring up, let’s address this in a few ways:
– Camera/Lens setup – Like with any other system, there’s a difference between an entry level camera, and top of the line. You can get older m43 bodies for under $200, while the Olympus OM-D rings in around $1000. Same with lenses, there are cheap lenses, and there are lenses like the Panasonic-Leica 42.5mm F1.2 for $1600.
– It’s not the equipment, it’s you. Let me bring up an analogy, if Tiger Woods went to Walmart and bought the cheapest golf clubs, he’d still kick your butt at golf.
– Still not convinced? Amazing examples of Micro 4/3 photography have been covered many times, last week we featured Sergei Yurin’s Stunning Wedding Photography Shot Entirely with Micro 4/3. He sold his full frame setup to go with the much lighter OM-D and it didn’t look like he sacrificed much.
4. “Mirrorless cameras don’t have viewfinders.”
Wrong. Newer bodies like the GX7 and the OM-D series have electronic viewfinders built in, and they’ve always been available as attachments. But let’s talk about how that misconception could have arisen. DSLRs are mirrored base systems that allow for a through-the-lens optical viewfinder. “The MFT system design specification does not provide space for a mirror box and a pentaprism, allowing smaller bodies to be designed, and a shorter flange focal distance and hence smaller lenses to be designed.” There are also many advantages to using an electric viewfinder.
5. “Micro Four Thirds is a nice small system, but it’s not small enough.”
To wrap up this post, I’ll bring up a point I partially agree with, but I suppose you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Wishing for a mirrorless cameraphone might be a little out of reach right now, but we talked about that here and it could come sooner than we think. 🙂
With that being said, there have been remarkable advancements with the m43 system with regards to size, and the Panasonic GM1 is a camera that exemplifies that, and the perfect fit for your jacket’s pockets. Plus with a smaller camera, you can use a smaller tripod.
As a reminder, we just launched this website and would appreciate your help spreading the word. We’re focused on delivering pleasantly infrequent news and rumors on the Micro Four Thirds system. Please see the subscribe options on the sidebar to the right.