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Has m43 finally lived up to the promise?

Discussion in 'Micro Four Thirds Forum' started by Archiver, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    618
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    When Micro Four Thirds was announced a number of years ago, I was very excited as I thought that it heralded the convergence of still photography and video in a small and versatile package. At the time I was shooting with a Canon 30D, 17-55 f2.8 IS and the Canon G7 and G10, so I thought this would be a great way to combine all of them into something smaller and lighter than the 30D. I hoped that, in time, I could shoot DSLR quality stills and full HD video with the same camera.

    Over the years the cameras have been improving, the lens lines have expanded, and finally the shooting performance and image quality rival mid level aps-c DSLR's. Depth of field control is not as good as full frame or even aps-c, but the tradeoff in terms of versatility and size may be worth it for many. With the Olympus OM-D and the upcoming Panasonic GH3, which ought to be a stupendous hybrid camera if the GH2 is anything to go by, Micro Four Thirds finally seems to be living up to the promise.

    Does anyone else feel this way? Have you held off from m43 until recently? Are you now more confident in the m43 format now with the OM-D and current lens line up?
     
  2. Country Parson

    Country Parson SC Top Veteran

    682
    Apr 5, 2011
    North Carolina
    Dan
    Thanks for starting this thread. I look forward to the answers you get. As for me i used m4/3 for a while but now with the small APS sensor cameras that is my choice.
     
  3. Brian

    Brian SC Top Veteran

    638
    Jul 7, 2010
    I'd like to know more about what improvements have gone into noise reduction and dynamic range for 4/3 sensors. Mostly I see more megapixels rather than reduction in noise. The older M8 at ISO 160 gives far cleaner images than the EP2 at ISO 200, and does not blow highlights like the EP2. The M9 is even better. Until I see an m43 camera that can at least match the M8, I will be sticking with the EP2 as my only mirrorless camera. I don't think the answer is more megapixels in the same size sensor: that decreases the size of the individual detectors. Smaller detectors saturate more easily, less dynamic range. That points to larger detectors, APS-C and bigger. I've read reviews that the Olympus EVF-2 is still the best available among mirrorless cameras. That is the second feature that must be substantially improved to warrant an upgrade.
     
  4. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    For me M43 has lived up to its promise from the start. When I bought my GF1 I at last had a small camera with IQ to print reasonably large, and good manual controls. That was the promise, and it has delivered.
     
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  5. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Micro 4/3 was always a compromise based on having a smaller sensor and based on Panasonic not being at the pointy end of sensor technology. That never made it impossible to take great images on an older Micro 4/3 camera, but it required more care to be taken to achieve that. As different sensors have come out, firstly the GH1, then GH2, and G3/GX1, the operating window became larger and allowed more latitude. The E-M5 has taken that a significant step further because the sensor is not inherently noisy, and it maintains shadow and highlight detail much better than previous sensors. For instance, the GH1 was measured as having the highest dynamic range of all Micro 4/3 cameras, but now I can easily shoot the E-M5 in situations where even the GH1 would have blown out the sky.

    Combine a camera like the E-M5 with lenses like the 12/2, 25/1.4, or 45/1.8 (and with more higher end zooms and primes in the pipeline) and I don't see myself looking elsewhere because I'm dissatisfied with the IQ. Any other camera or system would be of interest mainly to provide something different.
     
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  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Depends on what you see as its promise. The small size and convenience of the system is an obvious part that they've lived up to from day one. If it also includes the ultimate in performance too, they basically started living up to that in late 2010 with the GH2 and then more fully last year with the newest Oly Pens and the the G3, GX1, etc, only really lacking for great tracking in AFC with faster live view refresh. If yor definition includes IQ that will be as good as full frame and the best of APS cameras, it's not there and likely never will be, but it's gotten a lot closer - the differences are smaller than ever and won't matter to many but will to some.

    For me, it lived up to its promise very VERY early, maybe from day one - every camera/system is about compromises and m43 has always been a set of compromises I could be happy with and there are fewer and fewer of them as it improves - in fact, for how and what I generally shoot, I'd say it makes no compromises in its current iteration. For people who demand the absolute best posssible IQ or AF reflexes capable of shooting an NFL game as a pro photo-journalist it may well never live up to that.

    So, define its promise however you like and then judge from there... For me, yeah, waaaaay.

    -Ray
     
  7. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    My personal view, and review

    I have used M43 for 3 plus years ........ I used my G1 and EP-1 more than any other system in the first year

    I now use the G1 quite often and the EP-1 very occasionally
    I mostly use the M43 lens although I bought about 6 different adaptors in year 1
    I now hardly use legacy glass on the M43 system and if I do it is mostly rangefinder lens

    I use my S95 more than the G1

    I use my M8 and Nikon D300 most of the time
    I find the physical size of the D300 far more easier to use than any M43 cam and the user interface on the Nikon is, for me, far superior and user friendly
    DOF and IQ are certainly better with the APS-C sensor and at the longer end the availability of good lens is better with the DSLR

    as far as the M8 is concerned it is my cam of choice if I want to go compact - I prefer the Leica simple UI to any M43 cam and I have always been happy with MF.

    The 20 f1.7 still shines on the G1 as does the original 14 45 ........ if I use the G1 I carry those two lens

    As far as upgrading is concerned, I'm really in no hurry but, because of my (now) preferred subjects, (nature and wildlife), I will go for the successor to the D300 as I would like better low light performance and like the crop factor of the APS_C sensor ....... if the D400 is not released soon maybe I'll give the D3200 a try because of it's reported better low light performance.

    If I can find a used M9 at a good price I would buy one, but I reckon my next investment will be a used 300mm f2.8 VR or a similar used Nikon prime.

    When I replace the S95, (soon, maybe,because it will get worn out), I will look around for something similar, but the Nikon V1 does appeal because of size, lens availability and as importantly the FT-1 adapter.

    The last piece of kit I bought was a gimbal
     
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  8. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    I was never interested in the m4/3 setup which I feel was a 'created' format-size right from it's film days. I didn't (and still don't) see the logic in the sensor size. To me it's a 'toy camera' for DSLR users who find lugging around their big cameras a bit of a chore. And everyone seems to be buying in to this marketing bullshit. It will always play catch up to the big DSLRs, and will always be second best when compared to a DSLRs in their current avatars.

    To me (this is only my opinion) the only conversation that is worth having is on image quality. And mu43 is certainly not the answer now, nor will it ever be, because it's crippled itself in selected a limiting sensor size, that defines it's genre. Unless of course through some reversal of the laws of physics, having a bigger sensor that captures more light becomes a bad thing.

    Sure, it might be "good enough" for most people. That's not much of a debate.
     
  9. nippa

    nippa SC Top Veteran

    561
    Aug 7, 2010
    Cheshire UK
    Dennis
    My main aim was to find a lighter alternative to a DSLR for taking Ground-to-Air shots.
    Aviation has been my passion and occupation for all of my life so being able to shoot fast moving aircraft has always been important to me.
    With the arrival of the fast focusing G3 and the Panasonic 100-300 lens I feel that m4/3 has reached a stage where it's good enough for action.
    Improvements in continuous focusing speed are still needed but it's almost there

    P1010066.
     
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  10. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    great shot - but I bet you are annoyed because of the half wing on the top plane - with shots like that you only have micro seconds to get it right and as you say you need lightening AF and auto exposure ........... DSLR

    As I said, "great shot" - my comment in no way is negative
     
  11. nippa

    nippa SC Top Veteran

    561
    Aug 7, 2010
    Cheshire UK
    Dennis
    Too right :(
    But I had plenty of others

    P1000808.

    The huge advantage of m4/3 is that while I was using a 600mm equivalent lens about 7 inches long ,those around with Canon/Nikon gear had lenses up to four times the weight.
    As I get older I appreciate that but m4/3 is also a better bet for Air Travel Handluggage.
     
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  12. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    hmmm.

    I originally bought into m4/3 with the full expectation that it was going to be a compromise of size & portability against "image quality". At the time this was about the availability of fast long lenses rather than other IQ issues such as noise and DR, which really I was too inexperienced with digital to make a judgement about.

    Two years on, my "needs" (I probably mean "wants"!) have changed as my experience and understanding has increased, but also as my "style" has changed. I have come to recognise that my E-P2 has significant limitations in noise performance (at the sub-1600 level - I rarely if ever want nor need to shot above that, and I usually stick to 160) and DR.

    Nevertheless, it's still the camera I want to pick up and use.

    As the system has developed, there have been some wonderful lenses released (none of which I can afford for the foreseeable future), but I have yet to be persuaded that any of the bodies (including the vaunted E-M5) offer a significant improvement in the areas where my E-P2 is lacking. I don't want more pixels, a touch screen or ISO25600. I do want noise-free shadows and unblown skies at ISO200.

    So I guess I'm with Brian on this one (except I can't compare to what a digital M does ... :frown:)

    I'll continue to use my E-P2 more than my Sigma or Bessa, because I love it and I can work within it's limitations. If I can ever afford it I'll buy the 12mm as well. But in the meantime, I've just ordered 10 rolls of Fomapan 100 ...
     
  13. texascbx

    texascbx SC Veteran

    410
    Jul 10, 2010
    Canton Texas
    Ricky
    I had a G1 and was disappointed in it's focus lock speed and high ISO performance. I had the 14-45 and 45-200 lens I ordered with the cam so I went all in. I did fall in love with the EVF though.

    Then along comes Sony with their SLT cams and I moved on to APS-C and super fast and accurate phase detect auto focus.

    Some day, phase detect auto focus will be obsolete. Just not yet.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Until you consider that the VAST majority of all of the great photographs taken through history were taken with gear far less technically advanced than today's amazing cameras. To me , if "the only conversation worth having is on image quality" that's a really boring conversation to have and one that rejects about 99% of the great photographs taken through photography's still relatively short history. To me, image quality beyond a certain point of "good enough" is all marketing bullshit. I'm usually too polite to say that and figure to each their own, but if you're gonna call my camera choices "toys" I'll be happy to call your oversize behemoths sorry substitutes for size..... oh, never mind.

    But I actually do feel "to each his own" so maybe we can stop calling each other names and just talk. To ME the key ingredient in EVERY great photograph is getting the shot and having it communicate a vision. There are a lot of technical advances that make this easier today than ever before in most cases, but the difference in image quality between the best DSLR and the best APS and the best m43 is getting down to a level of meaninglessness in all but the most extreme circumstances. There are things you can do with a top DSLR that you can't do with an m43 camera and if those matter to you you should use one. But the reverse is also true - there are shots I'm faaar likelier to get with an m43 than a big DSLR and so it becomes the better tool for those. For that matter some of my favorite photographs were taken with the much smaller sensor GRD3 and even a few withcell phones. The image quality is so good in all of these cameras today that it's frankly about the last consideration I'd worry about. If its the most important thing to you, by all means knock yourself out. Just remember that just because it's your key criteria doesn't make it the only one that matters.

    -Ray
     
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  15. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    You should have hung in there a little longer. The ONLY area where I'd prefer a good phase detect system over the contrast detect systems in the current crop of m43 cameras and lenses is for subject tracking, particularly in burst mode. CDAF clearly hasn't caught up there, but it's every bit as fast in single shot mode and it's MORE accurate without any of the back-focus issues you can run into with phase detect. I tried an SLT briefly right about when the GH2 was coming out and, compared to the prior m43 bodies, the SLT was night and day better. But the GH2 almost completely closed that gap and the current crop are even somewhat better. Compared to the G1 you're clearly right, but m43 cams of today are NOTHING like those of two years ago - not even playing in the same league.

    -Ray
     
  16. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I feel like we're beating a dead horse here. For me (as Ray points out), the differences in pure IQ are small enough to be meaningless. I wish m4/3 could have tracking focus and be able to do sports photography. That's about the only thing that (for me) the format just doesn't do well enough.

    But I also believe that it lived up to it's promise with the release of the very first cameras. The promise was smallish cameras with quality that approached the big cameras. Basically, the trade-off is worth it for some and not for others. Choose ultimate quality or portability.....you don't get both.
     
  17. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Ray, I'm sure that you've noticed as much as I that it is quite a common occurrence to form an opinion of Micro 4/3 based on trying one of the original bodies and then assuming that nothing has changed since. I certainly feel like a right idiot for having bought an E-M5 when it clearly has the same autofocus, dynamic range, and noise as an E-P1!
     
  18. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi SC Regular

    31
    Jun 4, 2012
    Davis, CA
    I was a longtime 4/3 user before m4/3. I'm now on my 3rd go with m4/3, and by and large I'm pleased. Moreover, I think that unlike 4/3, m4/3 will be around for a good while. The sensor has reached the point of sufficiency - it's not quite as good as the better APS-C ones, but it's good enough to satisfy 95% of the time, which is to say an awful lot better than the old 12 and 10MP Panasonic sensors. The bodies also have reliable S-AF, a serious problem 4/3 never truly dealt with. C-AF still isn't there yet, but it's not an application I make any real use of.

    But the promise of m4/3 to me - being what 4/3 promised but failed to do - is still not quite there yet. They managed to solve almost all the problems of 4/3, but they lost a key advantage in the process - high quality affordable zoom lenses. The 4/3 'high grade' zoom line was the crown jewel of the system - sharp, well built, and reasonably fast, for a price that made sense. That something m4/3 badly lacks. Unfortunately, there are no indications that this will change any time soon.

    DH
     
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  19. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Nic I hope that's not a comment in relation to my post because that's not my position at all. But as I'm not in a position to buy and try for 3 months I have to rely on published raws and shadow noise in those looks only a tiny bit better than my ep2.
     
  20. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    No, it wasn't a response to your post, but just an observation that I have made in numerous places around the net. For instance, you wouldn't logically rate the current level of autofocus based on trying an E-P1 3 years ago, and you wouldn't logically judge the current level of sensor noise based on trying a G1 almost four years, yet it happens. No harm though since it doesn't really effect what I do.
     
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