Dear Micro Four Thirds, Should We Try Again?

On paper, Micro Four Thirds (M43, or MFT) seems a wonderful fit for me. 

The flexibility of interchangeable lenses (including, with an adapter, my beloved M42 lenses), in a more compact body, and with a larger and better performing sensor than a digital compact, these cameras seem to offer the ideal sweet spot between my favourite DLSRs like my Pentax K100D, and digital compacts like the Lumix LX3.

In the past, the only MFT camera I’ve used is the Panasonic Lumix GF1. 

I’ve written about the GF1 more than once before, and in short, it’s a beautiful, well made, digital classic.

But I’ve never quite connected with it, even as much as the, in comparison very simple, and very tiny, Lumix XS1.

So as summer starts to turn to autumn, perhaps it’s time to try again. 

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Another option (a dangerous comment to make when discussing camera gear) is a more DSLR shaped MFT camera, like the Lumix G2 that was recommended to me a few weeks back.

Or a smaller, better handling MFT Lumix, more akin to the LX3, like perhaps the GM1.

We’ll see how I get on with the GF1 first.

I really don’t want another camera, but equally I don’t want to give up on a mount that seems to promise so much. And I do like a Lumix.

How about you, are you a fan of Micro Four Thirds? Anything you can recommend? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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26 thoughts on “Dear Micro Four Thirds, Should We Try Again?”

  1. Knowing your penchant for small cameras, I was going to recommend the Olympus E-PM2, but the LUMIX GF1 has a better control layout since Olympus went with menu controls instead of physical. The GF1 also has the small finger grips which the E-PM2 lacks. All-in-all, I’d say you chose well with the GF1.

    Having larger hands I do find that I prefer the DSLR styled mirrorless bodies. I paid the silly price Olympus asked for the ECG-3 grip, but it proved to be worth the money for the improvement in handling it gave my E-M10 Mk II, especially with the 12-40mm f/2.8 mounted to it.

    I recently picked up a used E-M1 and I like the ergonomics of it even better than the E-M10 Mk II. It’s pretty much perfect for me when I don’t feel like carrying a DSLR.

    1. I have looked into Olympus MFT a couple of times and been absolutely bewildered by the model names. They seem so complex! So I’ve lost the will to figure them out and just stuck with my Lumix GF1.

      The EM-10 looks good though, in terms of size and handling…

  2. I had exactly the same notion; that the M4/3 would be a good fit for me falling as it does between the APS-C and the 2.3 sensors. It should give better low light images, closer to the APS-C, while offering great zoom range near to the 2.3.
    Instead I found the cameras were all expensive and clumsy in design. Smaller than ‘full size’ DSLRs but not compact like a pocket-size camera they just become difficult to handle with tiny controls. The lenses offered weren’t anything that came close to the ‘bridge’ cameras either.I just couldn’t find one that warranted investigation beyond reading the specifications. I think there isn’t a camera that takes full advantage of the format potential.
    More and more I find I am disappointed with camera offerings. It’s like they hit a peak, and have since been going downhill in a bucket full of ‘attempting to impress with raw numbers’ rather than delivering good images. Unless you spend psycho money.

    1. I think I should have got in earlier with MFT. Now there are so many models it’s just baffling, even just from the two main manufacturers, Panasonic and Olympus.

      Interesting that you mention bridge cameras, yes many of the MFTs are like a bridge camera but with interchangeable lenses…

  3. I have an Olympus EPL-1, much like your GF1 in size. I’ve used all sorts of lenses on it, and I love it, but I’ve found that the lenses it works best with are the really tiny ones. I have a C-mount 35mm f/1.6 lens that I love on it. Next on my wish list is the 15mm body cap lens.

    As for the bigger lenses, they do work much better on the larger DSLR style M/43 bodies. I have the original Panasonic G1, and switch back and forth between it and my DSLRs. They don’t go for much these days, and I think you’d have a lot of fun with them. Especially looking through the viewfinder, and seeing the image as it will be, with all your preferred settings applied.

    Love the blog.

    Wes Medlin

    1. Thanks Wes. Yes I’ve had a couple of the C mount lenses on my eBay Watch List on and off for a few years! Never actually bought one. I have the 7Artisans 25/1.8 which is a little more sophisticated, but still not as refined as a native MFT lens, or one of my M42s. It’s fun to use with clickless aperture, the many blades stay close to a circle as you close down, and it’s manual focus too.

      I’ve been looking at the Lumix G2, and it seems like it was a relatively minor upgrade of the G1. I would like to hold one in person to see how they handle, and especially to try the viewfinder.

  4. I’ve become a fan of M43 since having replaced my full frame Nikon with an Olympus OM-D EM-10. IQ is excellent, build quality is superb, and the small size and weight are great. Olympus glass is phenomenal, and the camera’s appearance evokes the classic OM’s of the 70’s and 80’s. It functions well as my meter for large format sessions. I’m not a big guy and it fits perfectly in hand. Also nice to be able to share in the huge array of compatible lenses from other companies such as Panasonic. Hope the format doesn’t disappear!

    1. Ah another vote for the EM10, thanks Martin.

      I don’t have a native MFT lens currently, the only one I had rolled off a bench and whilst physically it looks perfect, it just doesn’t register on the camera anymore so it’s useless.

  5. I’ve thought about these for a while… just never pulled the trigger. The lenses are not as cheap as you would hope for, considering the smaller format.
    There’s the Nikon 1 also – these seem to be pretty affordable these days since it’s a discontinued system. And the great lenses and it’s very tempting indeed.
    And then there’s the original 4/3 mount, also discontinued… some of the cameras, particularly the Olympus E-500, are very sweet due to a Kodak CCD sensor (8MP) that is capable of some stunning images – but keep the ISO at 400 or under, otherwise it’ll be very bad…
    Having all these options, and then some, I usually end up getting paralysis by analysis and just stay with what I have 🙂

    1. Yes I looked at the Nikon 1 a year or so ago and it looked good for what you get. But I guess I didn’t like that it was such an enclosed system.

      With my Pentax DSLRs I have a vast range of K lenses, plus M42.

      With MFT there’s native lenses plus M42 with adapter (I’m sure you can get other adapters too).

      I might revisit the specs of the Nikon 1 system though, they’ll be even cheaper now.

      1. Another thing I look into every so often is the original Canon 5D (they call it the “5D Classic”)… sometimes they’ll show up for like 150 dollars. The bokeh can be better with a larger sensor, and shooting that with a 50mm is what is appealing… if both can be found cheap.
        Thankfully I didn’t really have any funds on me at the time I did find the camera for cheap…
        And my dream camera is even larger… the Pentax 645D.44x33mm Kodak CCD sensor – how can you not want one 🙂 one day, perhaps…

      2. Yes! I look at the prices of the 5D every now and then too, and have been doing so for about five or six years! Still not got one yet though. It would be interesting to try a full frame DSLR with M42 lenses.

  6. What a beautiful coincident, yesterday I bought for a few pounds the G10 with G Vario 14-42mm in a perfect condition (around 4000 claps) as a more advanced companion to my Tz-5 which I love for its simplicity and joy of use. I was full time Pentax shooter (digital and analog) while I discovered Panasonic digital classics.

    I must say that your blog helps me to discover it 🙂 Cheers!

      1. Hm, I would say, not so refreshing as the TZ-5 was recently. The body is from strange material, a kind of slippery plastic velvet (don’t know how to name it) and fingers are easily making a stamps, it’s easy to scratch it (I assume the G2 is sharing the same body material, from photos I saw).

        It’s very light and grip lands nice in hands. The VF is so poor, so much that I will probably never use it, to forget that it’s there 😉 I spent too much with Pentax P30, that’s for sure.

        The live view is very responsive and smooth, better than TZ-5 and close to Nex 5T which I also have. I like the film like gradations that can be set like dynamic monochrome or own customized patterns.

      2. Ha yes the mistake in trying to get used to any digital viewfinder, especially a DSLR, which often aren’t great anyway, is to compare them with a film SLR. I had a Pentax K-x around 2013 ish and just couldn’t get over how rubbish the VF was compared with the likes of the ME Super, Super-A, P30 etc.

  7. Personally I absolutely love my Olympus MFT. I paid a fair amount of it but that was offset by me selling my Canon dSLR and all associated lenses etc. The Pen-F was targeted at street shooters which I’m not; I liked it because of all the physical controls and I rarely have to go into any menus – I find it very intuitive to use. All the information is in the viewfinder which is great. Also, if I need image stabilization it is in the camera so I get it no matter what old lens is attached.
    Lens-wise I have a small set of modern and vintage lenses my current favourite being the Killfit Macro Killar. My only issue with MFT in general is finding lenses that provide a wider angle; to get an equivalent 35mm you need a 17mm lens and if you are looking for vintage those aren’t very common; if I found a nice little 20mm I think it would suit me well.

      1. I believe so but my problem with the Panasonic lenses is that they have IS built in and so it feels like a waste buying a lens and then having to turn off an expensive feature.
        Also having bought an expensive camera, my budget for additional lenses is, shall we say, reduced.

      2. This is definitely a reason I’ve held back with MFT. Even to get a decent couple of primes I’d by spending hundreds, when I can get (or rather already have got!) similar older lenses in M42 or Pentax K for a fraction of the cost.

      3. I have two lenses that I use a lot; a modern 25mm and a vintage 40mm. Then I also have the kit zoom and a 17mm wide angle for landscapes which I rarely use really

      4. Never heard of that Killar, it sounds like something modern but obviously isn’t!

        I have the 7Artisans 25/1.8 (the only MFT lens I have now), so I expect it’s the same one you have.

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