Why You Should Consider Abandoning Full Frame and APS-C and Go for Something More Extreme

Why You Should Consider Abandoning Full Frame and APS-C and Go for Something More Extreme

There are good arguments for photographers walking away from full frame/FX and APS-C/DX, instead going for medium format and Micro Four Thirds (MFT). This may be where cameras are heading in the future anyway.

Before you raise your hackles, hear me out. I should start by saying there is nothing wrong with your camera. All big brands make great models, and if what you own is probably perfect for your purposes. I’m not going to argue with that. Furthermore, if you are a competent photographer, I am sure you will be able to adjust your shooting techniques for getting the best out of any system you use. I also understand that you have invested a lot in the system you use and have an interest in it not becoming obsolete.

However, if you are thinking of changing your camera system for any reason, and there are a multitude of reasons why people do, or you are considering buying an interchangeable lens camera for the first time, then please mull over what I have to say.

The most compelling photography usually happens when we push parameters to extremes. Very fast and very slow shutter speeds typically produce better results than those that sit in the middle. Super wide-angle and telephoto lenses regularly bring us more exciting images. High- and low-key images look great, as do those with a lot of contrast and very little. Then, photos shot at low level or very high up generally hold more interest than those taken at eye level. When we shoot between those extremes, the photographs can become, for want of a better word, meh.

Shooting outside normal parameters can make images more interesting.

Challenging the conventions of the herd and shunning the commonplace can enhance your creativity, letting you stand out against the rest.

Therefore, should we consider choosing interchangeable lens cameras at the largest and smallest end of the range? If so, pushing the boundaries means that, instead of full frame and APS-C, we should think about the medium format and Micro Four Thirds.

I can already hear the steam coming from under your collar, but let me explain further.

The Argument Against Full Frame and For Medium Format

Again, I reiterate that images shot with any camera can be superb. There’s nothing wrong with the full frame you have. It's well made, and you take superb photos with it.

Nevertheless, the results of images best suited to larger sensor cameras are not the same on full frame as can be achieved with a medium format camera. Moreover, medium format is relatively rare, whereas full frame cameras, while maybe not 10-a-penny, are widespread. Shoot with a medium format camera, and the result has a greater chance of uniqueness.

Then, on top of that, there is the price overlap, which is growing. Medium format cameras are coming down in price. A Fujifilm GFX 50S II retails at $3,999 while a Canon EOS R5 is only $100 less, while the EOS R3 is $2000 more. Additionally, the physical size of medium format cameras is shrinking, making them more versatile in the field; the GFX 50S II (149.9 x 104.1 x 86.4 mm) is about the same size as a Canon 5D Mark IV (150.7 x 116.4 x 75.9 mm).

Yes, there are some functionality differences, and the overall cost of a medium format system is more. Nevertheless, If you've been arguing in favor of full frame over crop frame cameras, then, logically, the same arguments apply to medium format over full frame. Therefore, you should upgrade.

The Argument Against APS-C and for Micro Four Thirds

Here's looking at the other end of the sensor-size scale and why Micro Four Thirds (MFT) may push other crop sensor formats from the market. Getting back to my introduction, this is about taking advantage of the extremes, and like medium format, MFT is an extreme.

I want you to forget the boring arguments from the usual detractors of crop frame cameras. They are usually driven by two factors: justification for their own more expensive choice and commercial interest. The arguments are skewed too, only presenting the supposed disadvantages and none of the advantages of crop frame systems.

Moreover, their criticisms aimed at MFT are invariably based on comparisons with a full frame. But that is comparing apples and oranges. A better comparator would be with other crop-sensor formats, such as APS-C and Nikon’s DX.

Just like the comparison between full frame and medium format, a big advantage of MFT is that their images are rarer than those shot with the ubiquitous APS-C cameras. This difference will help your photos stand out from the crowd.

Photos that look different from the rest stand out.

There is not a huge difference in sensor size between MFT and APS-C. But because MFT is slightly smaller, it is more capable of taking advantage of the crop factor benefits.

What are the system's advantages? Firstly, it is the reduced perspective, bringing background subjects closer to the foreground for any given focal length. That crop factor also means that the same focal length can be used to achieve a greater effective magnification, thus allowing wildlife photographers to get closer to the subject with physically smaller lenses. Similarly, macro shooters have a greater magnification too. 

You will often hear the uneducated complaint about the depth of field (DOF) at particular f-stops of MFT cameras. However, DOF is only partially affected by the aperture. Proximity to the subject, focal length, plus viewing size of the image also have a bearing. MFT just needs a different way of working, and you can say the same about any system. There are fast lenses with great-looking bokeh available at all focal lengths; MFT shooters can and do blur their backgrounds.

Shot with Micro Four Thirds (OM-D E-M1). The crop factor effectively magnifies the subject within the frame, and out-of-focus bokeh is achievable (190mm at f/5.6).

Additionally, we photographers don’t always want the shallowest depth of field; just because you have an f/1.2 aperture doesn’t mean you will be shooting at that setting. For example, with a portrait, we may want the whole face in focus and not just the eyes. There are also times when we want to add background detail for context, and MFT can do this at a wider aperture. Then, with landscapes, we often want back-to-front sharpness, something that's easier to achieve at a wider aperture with MFT.

With the massive advances in modern sensor technology, the image quality of MFT is so good that any real-world differences in quality between it and APS-C are redundant. After all, look at the excellent quality of modern cell phones. Their sensors are far smaller than MFT, yet for a few photographic genres, people are shooting more than adequate photos with them.

If you want further convincing, look at the photographs taken by the top pros that use Micro Four Thirds. For example, in Joe Edelman's photography, you would be hard-pressed to tell his photos apart from those shot on any other system.

On top of all that, there are the practicalities and ergonomics of shooting. The MFT system brings huge advantages in size and weight. With the aging population, a smaller, lighter system that delivers outstanding results is massively appealing. This advantage doesn’t just apply to older photographers. Having previously worked in outdoor education, I know mountain guides, sailors, canoeists, and hikers who happily carry the rugged, weather-sealed, and diminutive OM-D cameras on their adventures.

The small size and weight of MFT make the cameras great for genres as diverse as travel, landscape, wedding, wildlife, and photojournalism, plus everything in between. Their discreteness suits street photographers too; larger systems become obvious and can get in the way.

Will Canon and Nikon Catch Up?

Sadly, for their dedicated fans, it will probably take time for Canon and Nikon to catch up. Historically, those brands were regularly late to the game in adapting to the latest advancements. They were behind in adopting mirrorless, slow implementing in-body image stabilization, and, even now, Canon hasn’t restyled their cameras to the more attractive modern look that even Nikon has finally embraced with the Z fc.

Moreover, when they have finally made changes, the results from those brands have, at times, seemed rushed and inadequate. The Nikon 1 system was a flop, and the Canon R5 was brought to market with an overheating problem.

So, let’s hope, if they do ever swap to medium format or even MFT, they learn the lessons of their past and don't launch before they have properly tested their cameras.

Back in 2017, Sony was believed to be developing a medium format camera with a curved sensor, and new patents for the design of lenses have been trickling in ever since. If that happens, and Nikon and Canon don't catch up soon, they will either miss the boat or rush out another poorly conceived model. I wonder if there will be any other surprise announcements around the corner from other brands.

Thinking out of the Box About Camera Systems

Do you shoot full frame? If so, are you tempted to switch to medium format now that they are becoming more affordable? Or, if you were starting afresh, would you reject medium format in favor of full frame/FX? Alternatively, has the convenience and the quality of contemporary cameras in the smaller MFT system already made you abandon a larger format?

If you managed a camera brand, and in the context of the rapidly-shrinking market, would you take notice of the steady leakage of customers to both the bigger and smaller formats, would you be pushing your research and development department to change tack? Would medium format and MFT be in your game plan?

There are, of course, counterarguments for my point of view. As always, I welcome a friendly discussion about that in the comments. Thanks for reading.

If you're passionate about taking your photography to the next level but aren't sure where to dive in, check out the Well-Rounded Photographer tutorial where you can learn eight different genres of photography in one place. If you purchase it now, or any of our other tutorials, you can save a 15% by using "ARTICLE" at checkout. 

Ivor Rackham's picture

A professional photographer, website developer, and writer, Ivor lives in the North East of England. His main work is training others in photography. He has a special interest in supporting people with their mental well-being. In 2023 he accepted becoming a brand ambassador for the OM System.

Log in or register to post comments
Previous comments

Let me rephrase for your case.

Upgrading from a D810 to a D850 isn't going to give you much. The proposition isn't that a D850 isn't massively better than a D100.

You keep framing this as an edge case. Clearly specialist photography requires particular gear

If you want to capture bullets in flight, you're going to need the strobes to do it. If you want to do x-ray crystalography; or microscopy: or... but that's missing the point.

Absolutely correct!

Back in 2013, I upgraded my main body from a prosumer Canon 50D with a 1.6 crop sensor to a professional grade Canon 1D Mark 4, with a 1.3 crop sensor.

I spend a full month photographing the Whitetail Deer rut each fall. 30 consecutive days of deer photography. The year I finally had a "professional" grade camera was by far the most productive year! I produced 3x more keepers (marketable images) with the 1D Mark 4 than I had ever produced in one year with the 50D or the 5D prior to that.

Yes, I was already taking good photos with the old gear, but I wasn't taking ENOUGH good photos.
Upgrading to gear that was more capable in terms of high ISO performance and faster frame rate gave me so many more quality images, and I was able to market and sell so much more than I had ever been able to market and sell before.

So you are right - gear won't improve one's photography. But gear upgrades can help you be more productive, and that makes an enormous difference in how much success one can have with their images.

I'm still shooting on a D700 and D300 (I have an A6000 but use it less and less). They do exactly what I want - athough weather sealed lenses would be nice, but nothing a plastic bag won't do.

My next acquisition is probably going to he a large format camera, so I can start doing alternate process. I can't do that on digital.

What is alternate process? If you have a link to a webpage that explains what it is, I would be interested in learning about it.

All the old stuff. So think of pictoralism (Google that if you can't visualise).

Stuff like gum bichromate, gum platinum, and oil bromide. There's a heap of them. Also wetplate, and tin type.

I view it more broadly than most, as being any photographic process that isn't digital. But that's just me.

I have seen the term "wet plate" before, but have no idea what it is.

I can't recollect ever having seen the terms, "gum bichromate", "gum platinum", or "oil bromide" before. I will do a bit of Googling to see what that is all about.

I am wondering if these are things that will help me better produce the kinds of wildlife images that I like to produce. Will these things help me make my kind of images better than the gear I am currently using? If so, then I will want to learn a lot about them and how to implement them into my wildlife photography.

Honestly, Tom, start by looking at pictorialism.

For any of it to be of value to you, you'd have to switch firmly to art. If I were doing that in your position (I wouldn't, it's radically different to what you do), I'd be starting with a digital file, then projecting it onto your media, and producing 1 of 1 prints.

I'm looking up pictorialism ..... looking at Google Images for the term. I am seeing lots and lots of images that look like primarily sepia tone. I don't really care for the look of sepia tone at all. Rather distasteful to me.

Is pictorialism really mostly sepia tone imagery, or did I just do a bad job of Googling? I may be interested in pictorialism if it can not have those ugly sepia tones. If pictorialism can be done with accurate lifelike colors I would be interested. I'll keep searching Google Images to see if there is any pictorialism done in a way that resonates with me.

You can use whatever tone you want. You can also lay down multiple tones.

It will never be accurate or lifelike; that's what digital is for.

Edit: Steichan hand coloured.

"Never accurate or lifelike".

Now I get it!

It would be interesting and maybe even fun to do such techniques to my images. But I am so obsessed with the kind of wildlife photography that I do now, that I am not ready to take any time away from that to use in learning about things that are new to me.

I only have about 30 years left to live, and that isn't enough time to do all of the realistic digital wildlife photography that I want to do.

If we got to live for hundreds and hundreds of years, then this pictorialism is something that I would undoubtedly want to explore at some point. But I could fill another 5 or 6 decades with realistic wildlife photography before I tire of it and want to try something new ... so I think I'll have to pass on pursuing pictorialism.

Yeah, I can see some interesting applications to what you do, but it's so far from what you do that it would take a complete mental shift to do it.

I've been doing straight landscapes for a long time, and I need to stretch.

So here are the disadvantages to MF and MFT. Almost nobody is developing and releasing products for those formats at this point. FF is the segment with the most advancement and the most options for consumers in terms of products at this point.

Well, for m43 there are already multiple choices at pretty much every focal length and speed from fisheye to an 800mm equivalent. And the lenses are really, really good. Panasonic has the incoming GH6 body. OM Systems just released a new lens a few weeks ago.

Fujifilm has a roadmap for their medium format system out. There's a few new lenses coming including a wide zoom and TS lens. They've released three bodies in 12 months.

So I think your point of a lack of development is false.

That said there's no denying that 135 format gets most of the development and also has by some way the most system flexibility.

Personally I shoot with little besides miniMF sensors any more. For my needs 135 format's AF superiority is irrelevant.

I'm a m43's user that acknowledges nearly all the believed shortcomings are legitimate. I accept them to get a camera that feels good, and is easy to hike with. All in exchange for abysmal photos over ISO 3200 and terrible focus tracking.

Try a newer Olympus with PDAF for tracking (E-M1 II+, E-M5 III).

I am so glad to see you post this comment. Micro 4/3 users so often go on and on about how great their gear is - actually, how SUPERIOR their gear is - and almost never acknowledge any of its limitations.

I have asked them flat out,

"if I want to focus track a running deer in very low light and freeze the motion and get the hair detail sharply and distinctly resolved and rendered, and print it at a nice size like 48" by 32", how good will the print look when viewed from a reasonable viewing distance of 3 feet?"

Well I ask these Micro 4/3 users that question from time to time, and they never give me an honest answer. They just respond with a non-answer about how light it is or whatever. Small size and light weight don't matter to me - they are not an advantage for the way I shoot. Unless something is literally so huge and so heavy that I cannot pick it up and carry it, then these things don't matter.

Thank you for your honest assessment of your Micro 4/3 gear. I do believe that there is a great advantage in size and weight, for those to whom those things matter. But of course those things are going to come at a price, and I believe that image quality and depth of field are the price that must be paid.

But we all need to remember that ...

Ivor is not just telling everyone to go get a Micro 4/3 kit because they are so great. That would be foolish to recommend. Rather, he is urging current APS-C users to consider Micro 4/3. That is a reasonable thing to do. APS-C users are already giving up a little bit of top-end image quality (with regard to huge ginormous prints) in exchange for either size, weight, or affordability. So it is reasonable to think that it may benefit some of them to give up a bit more image quality in exchange for even more portability. It is actually a very reasonable recommendation by the author.

Your full frame bias is strong Tom, you have been studying every angle possible to make your purchase decision superior to others, it’s quite pathetic.


I also shoot and own APS-C crop cameras and APS-H crop bodies. I have found that when printing very large, the 30 megapixel full frame gives better, more detailed results than my crop sensor bodies do. How is that pathetic?

I don't think my purchasing decision is "superior to others", because other photographers don't have the same objectives that I do. I like to produce files that are capable of being printed very large. That is my objective.

Hence, my purchasing decision is right for me.

If someone cares about size and weight, and wants to have gear that is easy to carry around, then their purchasing decision to go with Micro 4/3 is right for them. I don't give a rats ass about a camera being small or light, that is not an advantage at all to me. So I wish the world would stop telling me that I should switch to Micro 4/3.

I would be a fool to recommend full frame gear to someone to whom size and weight are a primary concern. Full frame would be a terrible choice for them!

I have read dozens of articles and posts over the years telling me why Micro 4/3 would be better FOR ME than the full frame, APS-H. and APSD-C gear that I use. This pisses me off because the people telling me to use Micro 4/3 do not know my specific objectives and end usage.

I have never told anyone that they should ditch their small sensor cameras and get full frame gear instead. All I have done is to explain why full frame gear works best for me, based on what I want out of my images.

I do not think that FF is better than Micro 4/3. And I do not think that Micro 4/3 is better than full frame. I simply think that FF is better for certain things, and that Micro 4/3 is better for other things.

How is that pathetic?

So just to return the argument… those of us shooting on other formats are beyond sick of full frame users projecting how their system is ‘the sweet spot’, how it’s the only system that can take pictures in low light, how you can only get blurry backgrounds on that system, how there is no weight advantage to smaller format ‘because equivalence’, how the sensor size is hugely important compared to APS-C, yet barely a difference when compared to Medium Format.

Speaking of which, they also project how companies like Fujifilm are somehow conning customers because it’s ‘not real medium format’, an argument that didn’t exist when Hasselblad, Phase One and Pentax were using the sensor size, but now suddenly is the worst thing one earth after Fujifilm have created a system that falls into the same price bracket as full frame.

So believe me when I tell you, however annoyed/frustrated you have gotten with M4/3 or other users telling you about their system, the situation is tenfold for those of us who have to listen, read and digest the utter nonsense we see on a daily basis from people who use full frame.


I have never told anyone that they should switch to full frame.

I realize that every person's objectives are different. Hence, I have only explained why full frame, so far, has given me the best results when pursuing my own specific photographic objectives. I have never said that someone else should switch to full frame.

So .....

Why were you seemingly bothered by me explaining how full frame is better for accomplishing my objectives than Micro 4/3?

I love for Micro 4/3 users to tell me why it is so great for them. And I love reading when people write about medium format and why they prefer it to full frame. And I enjoy reading things that tell me why APS-C is better for certain things than full frame is.

Again, why did you tell me that I was pathetic? I never said that anyone else's gear choices were wrong for them. It's like you just wanted to attack me because I have chosen to use full frame. If other full frame users have told you you're wrong for choosing something different, then don't take it out on me. I respect your gear choices. You should respect mine.

You really should not have made the "pathetic" comment unless you are willing to back it up and explain what you meant and why you said it.

Look at all your responses on this article to people, combine them together and it reads as a huge bias towards full frame systems, coupled with little digs here and there about other formats.

In my book, thats pathetic. If you don't think you have done anything wrong then thats up to you, my opinion differs.


Do you think that for the kind of photography I do, and what I want o do with the images I take, full frame is the best system? Or do you think that one of the other systems would be better for me and what I do?

If you think that my objectives would be better served by a different system, then please tell me.

If you think that the full frame system is best for what I am doing, then accept the fact that I am biased towards it. OF COURSE I am going to be biased towards the system that fits my particular needs the best. That is not pathetic. It is the only logical bias to have.

Full frame is best FOR ME. That is the only thing I have said in any of my responses here. I have NEVER said or implied that full frame is best for you or for anyone else. Do you agree with that statement, or not?

You need to just back down and admit that what you said to me at first was wrong, and that you misjudged what I had written. You keep responding to me with a combative spirit, but your animosity towards me is only based on what you THOUGHT I SAID, not on what I actually did say. Please just admit that you didn't read my comment literally and objectively - that you carried baggage from previous discussions into your response to me. And that is just flat out wrong to do.

You shoot Wildlife, I’d say APS-C is exactly the right sensor for your needs, that’s why Nikon created the D500 and so many people swear by it.

If Fuji release this 42mp X-H2 and 150-600 lens, and it retains the dynamic range and image quality they are known for, then surely that could be an ultimate wildlife setup?

I will say cameras like the A1 or Z9 can probably shoot in crop mode equal to an APS-C setup, but they cost 6 grand, you can buy a D500 for about 1700, that’s a massive difference.

I have shot a lot, and I mean A LOT, with an APS-C camera.

The Canon 50D, with it's 10 megapixel 1.6 crop factor sensor, was my main body from March of 2010 to October of 2013. It yielded many fine images. But when a commercial client wanted to buy a few dozen metal prints at 48" by 32", and saw what they would look like when blown up to that size, they declined. The noise grain was visible, and unsightly, at that enlargement size. Furthermore, there was a decided lack of fine detail in the feathers of the birds and the hair of the mammals. I still sold them a couple dozen images at a reduced size of 36" by 24". The other images they needed to have larger sizes, so instead of buying 48" metal prints from me, they commissioned a local painter to do some acrylic and wax multi-media originals. I could have had those sales if my camera's sensor had produced more detailed, cleaner files with better rendering of fine feather and hair detail.

Lesson learned, so .....

In late October of 2013 I upgraded to another crop camera, with a slightly larger sensor, the Canon 1D Mark 4, with a crop factor of 1.3 in its 16 megapixel APS-H sensor. The image files it produced were notably better than those of the 50D. I could now shoot at 1600 ISO and get LESS NOISE than the 50D gave me at 400 ISO! Woo hoooo! This meant more marketable images in low light conditions at dawn and dusk - before sunrise and after sunset - when wildlife is more active and provide more image-making opportunities.

The Canon 1D Mark 4 remained my main body all the way up to December of 2019, when I finally upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark 4, with a 30 megapixel full frame sensor. I can now shoot at 3200 ISO and get the same results that I got at 1600 ISO with the 1D Mark 4. Another stop for those dawn and dusk situations, when so much wildlife activity occurs! And very fine feather and hair detail, particularly when cropping into an image or printing very large. Another great big "Woo hooooo!"

I still miss shots every now and then, particularly when an animal is running or flying rapidly and erratically. I screw up because I am not coordinated to keep the active focus point squarely on the animal's eye, and often miss focus on these wildlife action opportunities. So I look forward to the day when I will be able to upgrade to a mirrorless camera with high-performing animal eye autofocus.

I still think about getting another APS-C camera for those types of images that aren't likely to get requests for enormous prints - such as portraits of reptiles and amphibians. For those kinds of photos, that will never be enlarged to huge proportions, I don't really see any advantage to a full frame sensor. An APS-C camera, such as the Canon 90D, should do that job just fine. It has much grater pixel density than my old Canon 50D had, and much, much better noise performance at higher ISOs, so I think that with these improvements to the technology, the APS-C format will meet some of my needs these days - needs that it fell short of meeting in the past when I was using the 50D.


I should have added the fact that with my wildlife photography, I am not "reach challenged". By that I mean that I have a long enough lens to fill the frame the way I want to, even when using my full frame 5D Mark 4. Some wildlife photographers use a full frame camera, but don't get close enough to the animals, and end up cropping most of their images. In these instances, I would say that the full frame camera may not be the right system for them, and that they may do just as well, or better, with an APS-C or Micro 4/3 system, all else being equal.

But for me, I often don't need to crop my wildlife photos. So I do usually get the full benefit that the full frame sensor provides.

Your right Tom. There are only 2 companies that produced a APS-C H sensors that I know of and both make excellent images. I could care less about what others say, let me see your work then I'll decide.

Why are you photographing a running deer in "very low light"? LOL! Is the world 'running' out of deer? Speaking of low-light wildlife shooting, I routinely shoot wildlife in the dark (without artificial lights) with MFT at f2 and f2.8. I use a speed booster on a 5 lb 300mm f2.8L to get a lightweight f2 lens with 420mm reach. I have even shot birds in the dark (by starlight) at 1200mm equivalent at f8, taking a 2 sec HANDHELD exposure with the Olympus 300mm Pro + MC-20 teleconverter. Given your bias, I'm sure you'll think I am bluffing.

And speaking of bias, similar questions can be raised about your full frame gear over practical limitations of reach and weight. Can you carry an 800mm f5.6 lens over a days-long expedition in a jungle for for birding? m43 shooters can do this with the 150-400 Pro.

Anupam Katkar asked,

"Why are you photographing a running deer in "very low light"?"

Because Deer are most active at dawn and dusk, when there is very little light. And because I want photos of running Deer.

I also photograph running Deer during the daytime when there is plenty of light. But I don't wantt o be limited to those times. I am not just satisfied to get a few very good photos of running Deer. Rather, I want to take as many photos of running Deer as I possibly can! I want to be a productive shooter who returns from a trip with hundreds and hundreds of marketable images, not just a few dozen marketable images.

Hence, if I can get high quality photos of running Deer in low light, this expands my image-making opportunities, and I will capture a greater number of quality Deer photos than I would have if I had been limited to shooting only in better lighting conditions.

Anupam Katkar asked,

"Can you carry an 800mm f5.6 lens over a days-long expedition in a jungle for for birding?"

I don't know, because I have never been in a jungle. We have woods here, and prairies, and deserts, and marshes. I regularly carry my 300-800mm f5.6 lens in those habitat types during multi-day expeditions. But I'll admit, I don't like carrying it for long periods of time. I do it, but it is not pleasant.

If a much smaller system gave me the same high quality results, for images taken at 3200 ISO and printed 48" by 32", then I would gladly switch! But the systems that are much smaller and lighter come with some trade-off in terms of image quality at extreme usages.

Maybe the day will come when tiny light little lenses will give the exact same results, even under pixel-peeping scrutiny, that we get from much larger systems. I look forward to that day! But until then, I will continue to shoot with the gear that provides the better top-end image quality ..... even though I admit that it isn't fun to carry around all day.

Thank you - your reasoning makes sense. I have no experience with the 300-800 lens but Matheiu Gasquet ran some comparisons of the Canon EF 800mm f5.6L on an R6 with the Olympus 150-400 on an E-M1X. You might find the results interesting: https://mirrorlesscomparison.com/micro-four-thirds-lenses/olympus-150-40...

The gist is that the 150-400, despite being a zoom, is sharper than the Canon prime and the Four Thirds sensor had better highlights recovery than the full frame Canon. He could not test on the R5 sensor. So the results are closer than you might have expected. This year, MFT companies are likely to release cameras with BSI sensors which should further reduce the gap.

Hi Tom,

Thanks for all those contributions. That's a great conversation I've enjoyed reading.

I can't show you a 48" x 32" print because I on the other side of a big pond, and I never have cause to print that big. (My house isn't large enough to stand far enough back to look at an image that size.)

How many DPI are you printing at? At 72 DPI you need 8 MP to print that size. At 300 DPI. The maximum print size that a 38 MP camera can produce to stand up to pixel peeking scrutiny is 16" x 24". However, using fractal-based enlarging software, much larger sizes can be achieved.

MFT cameras are currently floating around 20 mp, but Sony are developing a new high-res MFT sensor with a 47 MP count. (I'm so looking forward to that in an OM camera.)

Thinking of other wildlife photographers, I know that Tesni Ward regularly shoots at high ISOs with MFT cameras, she has to as she is photographing crepuscular badgers in forests. https://www.tesniward.co.uk/badgers/

You could try asking Brooke Bartleson who is based in the Rockies https://littlebearwildlife.com/ - I have no idea how close she is to you.

Or, if you like experimenting, you could use the OM Systems Test and Wow scheme and borrow a camera and lens to try. If you do, I recommend getting advice from them for setting the camera for your type of photography. They do free 1-hour 1-to-1 sessions. They are quite different to use than Nikons. Saying that, if you are happy with what you have, and I am pretty sure you are, then the experiment will only be of academic interest.

Hi Jeremy, Thanks for the reply.

I occasionally and successfully shoot birds in flight with an OM-D E-M1 II, and that's using a slower legacy 50-200 Four Thirds lens with an adaptor. The Mk III and the E-M1 X are even better, especially if partnered with a newer lens.

Which camera are you using? The Panasonic cameras and the E-M10s, plus the E-M5 Mk I and II have solely contrast detect focusing, and so are slower and don't track moving subjects so well.

I'm also happy with ISO 6400, though I never had need of using it. I do occasionally use On1 NoNoise and that does an excellent job of noise removal and leaving sharp images. (I used to use Topaz Denoise but find On1 even better.) If you are an Olympus user, they do excellent one-to-one online training sessions including about setting the camera for specific subjects, and it's free. I don't know if Panasonic have a similar service.

WOW! First, I should say thank you for the very kind words regarding the quality of the images I produce. You can see full res versions of some of them on Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeedelman/

While I do appreciate that Ivor is actively trying to get folks to broaden their perspectives - I don’t think this is a legitimate suggestion. Here in the U.S., we call it a straw-man argument.

The initial suggestion that considering Medium format or MFT for the reason that most people don't use them and that because of that you have the potential to expand your creativity and stand out from the crowd is - I'm sorry Ivor - simply ridiculous.

The entire point of my images shot with micro four thirds is to prove that you can make high quality images with any camera. Standing out from the herd and being more creative has nothing to do with your camera format. If nothing else - MFT and Medium format are more restrictive - especially for a new and inexperienced photographer. Forget all the trendy bokeh and pixel peeping low light arguments - full frame sensors typically have more dynamic range and are more forgiving when photographers are not paying attention to proper exposure - which, by the way, is rampant among photographers today and would be a much better topic to discuss.

Ivor did say that all of this conversation is something to consider if you are "thinking of changing your camera system". But I ask WHY are you "thinking" of changing? Buying a new camera will not make your photography better. Deleted User commented earlier on this thread about a quote he heard on a podcast: "If you are not producing good images on your current gear, you are not going to produce good images on different gear". Those words are extremely TRUE.

New gear can make your work easier. It can allow you to do things that you have not been able to do before, but it will NEVER make your photography better. I assure you, in 50 years of shooting, I have yet to find the camera that improved my photography.

I have just purchased a Sony A7R IVa and several Sigma lenses and I will be using them in the studio. I am looking forward to sharing images shot on a full frame 61mp camera placed side by side with images shot on a 20mp MFT camera with a sensor that hasn't been updated in years to show that the 61mp camera is NOT going to make my images better.

Only I can do that - and that is what I have been working on for 50 years. It's about the process - not the tools. Good tools make it easier - but not better, because all good photography is problem-solving. This is coming from someone who learned to shoot sports with a 200mm lens one frame at a time using manual focus. Look up names like Neil Leifer and Walter Iooss Jr. and understand that their images are on film - without autofocus, many without motor drive and none of them are retouched.

One of the reasons they were so amazing at their craft... they didn't have the internet to distract them - their love of photography never involved debating. It was about the doing. Just think of how amazing the images would be on social media if photographers actually took photographs passionately and stopped arguing over who knows best and what gear is better.

I have no argument with anything you've said here, Joel. As photographers who want good tools, we need to stop acting like agents for the marketing arms of big corporations. My advice to other photographers is to enjoy your equipment, and make good photographs. I own both m4/3rds and full-frame systems. I can make equally good photographs with both, and I enjoy using both, but sometimes for different reasons.

I have been sucked into arguments for m43rds on many occasions because the online ridicule that is often aimed at that particular form factor is ultimately harmful to all photographers. Having more tools to choose from is a good thing, and in many ways, I get more enjoyment from my Olympus cameras because the system IS small, convenient and versatile. That said, I derive enjoyment from my Canon system as well, and if I owned Fuji, or Pentax, or Sony products, I have no doubt that I would appreciate their cameras and lenses too.

The challenge for creative people is to be creative and make beautiful things that feel worthwhile to the person creating them. Honestly, if you work on your craft, and have a modicum of talent, you can achieve this no matter what product you're using.

Very nice work. It isn't the camera it's the photographer and you've proven it with your images. I've been in the business 45 years and know that a lot of people like to blame their gear for what they can't do.

New cameras are all super good. If you can't take photos with a 4/3 or medium format or whateverthehell, you suck.

With results like this on Micro Four Thirds, APS-C and Full Frame have some serious competition.

Nothing I see on the computer is going to convince me. Show me a 48" by 32" print taken after sunset at 3200 ISO, and let me look at it nice and close to see how the hair or feather detail is rendered. Only then will I know if Micro 4/3 is actually competition to FF or APS-C for high end professional large print imagery.

It’s just ironic the how the, “Full frame,” arguments arise against APS-C because of the sensor size differential is justifiable, but when full frame pitted against Fujifilm medium format sensors it all becomes nonsense and taboo. Forget the popcorn, we need a lobotomy.

I mean this stuff can all be measured with a pretty decent amount of certainty. You have the dxomark lab tests, and for more "real life" tests you can go to the Dpreview comparison tool and download the raw files for all these cameras and test it yourself on your computer. The difference is small yes, but usually the best FF sensors will offer you an extra stop of dynamic range and a couple extra bits of color depth over the best APS-C sensors. On top of an even bigger jump in high ISO performance. Whereas these same best FF sensors have basically no difference when compared with the small sized 40x30ish mm medium format sensors (aside from better high ISO performance). But again, these are all very small differences and for most situations an extra stop of DR doesn't even matter at all, it's mostly pixel peeping fetish. It's just that this new budget size MF niche market doesn't even offer that, it seems more like a marketing juggle than anything.

As long as 44x33 is considered "medium format" : No i wont switch to that.

Is that the same as tiny 35mm sensors being classed as ‘full’?

No, it is not at all the same.

Do some detailed research on the history of the term "full frame", and you will see that the size of the frame that it refers to has not changed over time.

Then do some detailed research on the term "medium format", and you will see that it has shrunk in recent eras and for certain models.

"Full Frame" is a rigid standard of 35mm that has not changed at all over the decades. Medium format has been cheapened and shrunk.

So no, it is not at all the same.

Honest response, I couldn’t care less.

But you do you.

Medium format hasn't shrunk. There were many film stocks smaller than 645 and larger than 135 that were referred to as medium format. Medium format was simply bigger than 35mm and large format was wider than 6cm.

"Shooting outside normal parameters can make images more interesting"
If the photo published as an example is meant to undermine this point, the author failed!
I've rarely read such a load of cr**. "
It seems as if the author has a quota of articles to fill.
"If you've been arguing in favor of full frame over crop frame cameras, then, logically, the same arguments apply to medium format over full frame. Therefore, you should upgrade." Nonsense (as the choice of the format / camera is always a compromise)! Following the same logic, people wanting an APS-C over full frame should eventually get a 2/3" sensor camera or a phone, right Ivor? Simply ridiculous!

I think time has run out for APS-C as far as some manufacturers are concerned. Just in case anyone hasn't noticed the sales of ILRCs has been dropping. Two of the main DSLR manufacturers were late to the Mirrorless scene. So there wasn't a lot of monies around for camera development even prior to the pandemic.

The difference between APS-C 1.5x, 1.6x and MFT 2x as crop factors go, isn't that huge.

The Full Frame manufacturers will continue to push Full Frame, they simply don't have the development budgets to do otherwise. Even if they did decide to fracture their development costs and add to their manufacturing cost bases would we still end up with a crippled APS-C system, to remind photographers they are in the cheap seats?

If you don't believe me that APS-C DSLRs were crippled just take a look at DXOMARK lenses benchmarks, select just APS-C and MFT for the filters with no manufacturers. You probably will not be surprised to find only 2 APS-C lenses in the top 20, the rest are MFTs.

What might shock you is that those 2 APS-C lenses were made by SIGMA who clearly weren't on message.

What astounds me is that DXOMARK lenses only has 2 of the PRO range of Olympus/O M system lenses within its database, and precious few of the Panasonic Leica lenses. How far down in performance levels would APS-C lenses be if they were included?

So I personally hope that the Full frame manufacturer who has announced the death of the DSLR doesn't venture into Mirrorless APS-C production as they're likely to cripple it again, to push Full frame.

In my opinion a lot of the flack MFT gets from Full frame users stems from their journey from APS-C to Full frame, that was a journey from a crippled system to one that wasn't.

MFT had until recently two large dedicated MFT manufacturers with no reason to cripple the format.

The other plus factor for MFT is it's an open system, so new manufacturers arrive. They are new money, lean development, fresh ideas and commitment to the format.

All good points, Malcolm.

Exactly right. The issue is not a trivial one. The FF manufacturers may make APS-C bodies, but they make few if any pro-grade lenses designed for APS-C. So you're either shooting with a consumer grade lens or a cropped pro-grade lens, both quality hits over sensor-native pro-grade glass. That leaves the third parties as your best choice. I came to this realization ages ago when I had my Canon 60D and found the best lenses came from Sigma, not Canon.

This is why Fujifilm APS-C outperforms anyone else's in normal photography, and why M43 usually outperforms other APS-C on sharpness/clarity.

DXO Mark also doesn't include the Leica APSC lenses, which would be high up the list, especially the 35mm Summilux. But your point that lenses are generally the weaker point for some APSC systems is very valid.

More comments