It was fun when it lasted but 10 years after the micro four thirds format was launched perhaps the end is night.
A couple of years ago I lamented the ever increasing size of mft cameras and the subsequent loss of their advantage. At the time I mused that thankfully pro end mft cameras remained smaller than their larger format counterparts (https://davebobphotos.com/2016/07/18/is-there-a-benefit-to-micro-four-thirds-cameras-in-street-photography/).
But this is no longer the case. I had read some criticism in the blogosphere about the large size of the Lumix G9. And today I have finally been able to compare it online to Nikon’s full frame mirrorless Z series. They are nearly identical sizes. And for the record the Sony A7 III is smaller than the G9. (See camerasize.com)
The size difference will remain in the lenses. Mft lenses can be smaller and lighter, and because of the crop factor effectively longer. So under certain circumstances I can imagine a comparative advantage to mft.
But for someone shooting primes in the wide to short tele range, I suspect there will be less advantage in mft lenses. And the image quality and noise handling of full frame is likely to persuade many away from mft.
Where mft used to excel was size and price but now both have crept up close to their ff equivalents.
I hope I’m wrong. But if I was a pro or wealthy enthusiast, I’d be hard pushed to consider mft now.
Perhaps Olympus and Panasonic have acquiesced to the ff mirrorless crew. But if not, in my opinion they need to remember the competitive advantage they used to provide by being a little smaller, lighter and cheaper without compromising quality.
It’s 10 years since the first mirrorless camera appeared on the scene. Amateur Photographer magazine has a whole issue devoted to the subject (Saturday 18th August 2018).
One article compares the first mirrorless camera, the Panasonic Lumix G1 with its contemporary counterpart the G9. Unsurprisingly, there are great improvements in the latter over the former model.
However what struck me was the relative similarly in the sample images. Yes the G1 delivers noisier shots. But given that there has been a decade between the cameras I was surprised with how well the G1 images compared.
Now, of course their have been very significant changes in other areas. The viewfinders today are a huge improvement on the laggy earlier offerings. Image stabilisation, autofocus, focus peaking and 4K have also made their mark. But basic image quality has possibly improved less that some other technologies.
I have seen similar comparisons of each iteration of Canon 5D. Yes their have been improvements, but the actual images can appear similar without too much pixel peeping.
The thing we have to remember is that photography is not just about art, it’s about business, marketing, sales and profit. There is an industry devoted to parting you from your cash with the promise of better images. But new cameras and lenses will probably make a marginal difference compared to practice and devotion to the art of picture taking.
The blogger Giulio Sciorio confirms this in a recent post saying that after years using and testing the latest camera tech he is now using an older and adequate camera with only a few lenses. However, he sounds much happier than when he had all the newest gear (here).
Sadly we convince ourselves that if we just get a new camera or lens, we will be more satisfied and our images much improved. The problem is that the new gear satisfies for a few weeks and then something better comes along. Our new gadget is psychologically relegated and we remain the same photographer we were before.
Technology moves on and we need to catch up from time to time. But we should challenge more often the myth that the latest gear is most important.