Reasons to Jump to Micro Four Thirds: We Review the System and the OM-1

Reasons to Jump to Micro Four Thirds: We Review the System and the OM-1

The tired arguments against the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) standard are obsolete and rarely voiced now. Furthermore, the release of the OM-1 a year ago has seen a massive migration to the system, and for good reason. Many consider giving their creativity a boost by swapping to an MFT camera.

To begin, a disclaimer. As I mentioned in a previous article, I was recently appointed an OM Ambassador. I don’t get paid for that, and I have not been asked to write this article. All it means for me is that I am publicly declaring that I think the system is superb. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have agreed to sign up for it nor continued to use the cameras. I am not paid, so what have I got in return? I can network with some astounding photographers from around the world that use the system, and, from a personal business perspective, it’s an endorsement of my photography by a respected company.

The OM-1 was released a little over a year ago, and I've been putting it through its paces. Many of its functions are far ahead of anything else on the market.

Secondly, I am not saying you must change your camera system. If you are happy with what you use, then great. Nevertheless, I want to discuss that the huge leaps forward in sensor and processor technology have meant that lots of photographers are seeing benefits of Micro Four Thirds that outweigh any perceived disadvantage.

The OM-1 has a higher dynamic range than its predecessors, and the lenses for the system are needle sharp. Both the pleasing black and white and accurate color renderings have long attracted photographers to the Olympus, now OM System, brand.

That is reflected in the success of the new and rapidly growing OM Digital Solutions Corporation and the unprecedented sales of their flagship, the OM-1. The orders of that camera, at first, took the corporation by surprise. Demand outstripped supply, although that has evened out now, with production keeping up with the continued high sales. Even more surprising were the sales of the system’s flagship lenses. For example, production has been increased for the M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO, so they can address the long waiting list.

Responding to continuing strong demand for our flagship lenses, we are currently adding further capacity to our production facilities. We are setting up a new system to meet the current demand from August onward and expect to catch up with outstanding orders well before the end of 2023. This increase is part of continued investment in the OM SYSTEM brand and will greatly speed the take up of our products by high-end photographers. We ask for continued understanding from those customers with outstanding orders while we undertake this work.

OM Digital Systems

The $7499.99 M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO have been met with a huge demand that far exceeded PMDS's expectations.
What Nearly Tempted Me Away From Micro Four Thirds

Although I have been tempted to leave a couple of times in the past, I am now glad I didn’t. Thinking back to the late 2000s when I bought a Four Thirds Olympus Evolt E-510, I did sometimes doubt my choice. That was mainly because I was reading disparaging magazine reviews that were, I realized later, more than influenced by their advertisers than adhering to the truth. However, the criticisms in those less-positive reviews didn’t cohere with my experiences with that camera, nor those pointed at the E-5 that I owned after it. Furthermore, if I look at the photos I took with those cameras, they more than hold their own today.

Shot using an Olympus E-5 Four Thirds Camera before I upgraded to MFT.

There were some major advantages to owning an Olympus back then that I take for granted today. The E-510 was the first of the Olympus cameras that included image stabilization, something in which the OM System still leads the way. Also, I never once had to clean dust from the sensor. The OM System’s “Supersonic Wave Filter” is still widely acknowledged as outshining the rest.

A clean sensor is essential for images such as this, with large areas of negative space.

Admittedly, the resolution back then wasn’t as high as some of its competitors, but 10 megapixels was more than enough to print a 20” x 30” print at photo quality. That was far bigger than I ever needed. Plus, if it were necessary, there was fractals-based software that would enlarge it. Those smaller images also meant smaller file sizes and all the advantages those bring in handling speed and storage.

The OM-1 had no problems creating a super-sized print of this picture for a client.

Now, with the 20-megapixel OM-1, I can happily create a photo-quality 30” x 40” print before considering using any of the excellent AI-based image enlargement tools that are now widely available or switching to the camera's 80 MP high definition setting.

There was another camera I considered in the past when those doubts haunted me. First, it was the professional Canon EOS 1D Mark III, which had similar resolution and slightly larger APS-H sensor. However, I am glad I didn’t, as that camera had a raft of technical issues. I was tempted again by the EOS 5D Mark III, but I found the ergonomics were wrong for my large hands. Combined with its weight, it was so uncomfortable to use, especially when coupled with bulky full frame lenses. Moreover, the lack of an articulated Live View screen was the final issue that steered me away from that camera. So, I stayed with Olympus instead, buying into the Micro Four Thirds system. Considering where the technology sits now, I am very glad I did.

The Quality of the Cameras and Lenses

The M.Zuiko lenses' outstanding image quality is widely known, so I will not dwell on it here. What is underappreciated is the robustness of the system’s build. A friend of mine dropped their borrowed Olympus camera at the top of some stone stairs in a castle here in England. It bounced down to the bottom. There was just one tiny mark on the camera.

The affordable M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4 PRO lens is beautifully sharp and, although not a macro lens, allows you to focus close to the action.

Another time, I was standing in the middle of a fast-flowing river and my camera and tripod fell over, bounced off a rock, and landed in the water. I picked it up, dried it off, and carried on shooting.

This was the image I shot immediately after my camera fell in the water.

Leaving the Tripod Behind

As a land and seascape photographer, I often use a tripod for the sole reason that it slows me down and allows me to concentrate on precise compositions. But the reality is that much of the time I don’t have to. The seven to eight stops of image stabilization are so good that I have handheld the camera for two seconds. This means I can use the OM-1’s inbuilt ND filters and handhold the camera for long exposures to show movement in water or for creating abstract shots of moving birds.  

The Live ND filters are an important part of the process for creating my images of moving birds.

Shooting in low light with faster shutter speeds is also far more attainable now because of the clean, high-ISO images the camera produces that have a far higher dynamic range than older cameras. This is thanks to the new stacked sensor in the camera. For me, this is useful for shooting weddings and indoor events when I don’t like using a flash.

Computational Photography and High Performance

There are other computational photography features too. With Live Time, you can watch the image gradually develop on the live view screen, and see the histogram gradually move to the right; it’s fabulous for night-time photography. In that way, you can judge when to stop the exposure before highlights are blown or decide that there are sufficient light trails. Live Comp (composite) is slightly different as it will take an image and then only add new light to the shot. Again, this is great for light trails, light painting, and capturing images of lightning. It includes a timer so you can leave the function running for six hours.

Shot four years ago with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, a 499-second exposure at ISO 800. I watched the exposure gradually develop on the live view screen. This would have been easier with the OM-1 because of its Starry Sky autofocus feature.

Fortunately, you can also run the camera off an external power bank for those really long exposures. However, the new batteries that power the camera are incredibly efficient. The last wedding I photographed was from 10 am until 8 pm, and I only changed the battery once.

There’s also the incredible AI-driven subject detection feature of the camera. For me, bird detection is the one I use the most, and it finds and tracks even distant birds that are tiny in the frame. It also works when birds are partially obscured by a twig or two.

The AI-driven autofocus recogniszd and latched onto the tern at the edge of the frame despite the focus being selected in the center of the frame.

Coupled with the fantastic black-out-free shooting at a frame rate of 50 raw frames per second (fps) with continuous autofocus with a compatible PRO lens and 120 raw fps with single autofocus, it also has the unique ability to buffer images when you half-press the shutter button. This means that you never miss the action because of your slow reactions. This Pro Capture feature means the camera will record up to 70 frames before you have fully pressed the button.

A combination of the subject detect autofocus and Pro Capture enabled me to capture this eider duck as it swam back up to the surface.

The IP 53 weather-sealing is also a must for me. I regularly shoot on a windswept beach and am buffeted by sand and sprayed with seawater. After extreme conditions, I’ve even rinsed the salt and sand off the camera body under the shower.

I'm regularly shooting at the beach, so the camera's resistance to airborne saltwater is essential.

The camera also has a built-in intervalometer, a high-resolution mode that composites eight images to create an 80-megapixel image, and in-camera HDR that combines up to seven bracketed exposures into one image. It has numerous video options up to 4K 60p too.

Light weight, portability, and a comfortable grip are essential for me when I am walking for hours and seeking subjects to shoot.

The OM-1 isn’t the only MFT camera out there, but I have used it to illustrate this article because I know it best. OMDS makes other cameras too, including the pocketable OM-5. Panasonic produces the Lumix G Series that a lot of videographers have adopted. The system is widely used in security cameras and other commercial applications.

What I Like and What Could Be Improved About Micro Four Thirds

Essential for me is that the ergonomic design is superb. Micro Four Thirds cameras are lighter than direct competitors, so I can easily carry them when hiking without worries. Plus, my long fingers can easily find all the buttons I want without having to carry out the painful contortions I attempt when trying to play my guitar.

The lenses are so much smaller than those you’ll find on full frame cameras. Consequently, I can catch a plane and have all my gear in the cabin luggage and not pay for excess baggage. I can also walk around all day without hurting my neck or back, as I have done using a heavier system.

The innovativeness inherited from Olympus has given it a boost. Being unshackled from the restrictions placed on it by the medical arm of Olympus, OMDS’s camera and lens sales are booming, mainly from people migrating to the system from other brands. That’s happening not without good reasons: the system’s lightness and unique features set it apart from other models, as well as the build and image quality.

The OM-1 is very much a camera that is made for being used outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it and other MFT cameras in a studio. I do! I also use them for weddings and events, as the smaller system makes it ideal for capturing candid photos at events. I keep dabbling with the idea of shooting some personal videos; again, it has the performance to do that.

I really like the improved high-ISO performance, the image stabilization, and the exceptionally fast autofocus.

If there is one thing I don’t like, that is the tired argument from some who promote other brands that Micro Four Thirds lenses have more depth of field is a disadvantage. It is a redundant argument. Why? You just need to learn to shoot differently. If you want a completely blurred background, it’s still perfectly possible. You just need to learn how to use the camera.

A shallow depth of field is perfectly attainable with Micro Four Thirds.

Those who argue that are either unfamiliar with the system, technically unskilled, or want to promote a different system. Furthermore, for most photos, we want to include some background to add context anyway, and for landscapes, more depth of field is often what we are after.

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.

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The OM1 body weight is 600g (1.3lb) ... Sadly there's no more lighweight M43 bodies anymore... All the small models has been discontinued by OM (Olympus) and Panasonic.

the weight savings are all in the lenses! I shoot Panasonic LUMIX and I am able to easily cover 16mm to 800mm (in full frame terms) in a small sling backpack.

Not discontinued, Robert. The OM-5 is the newest release fon the OM System, it is far smaller than the OM-1 and weighs 14.60 oz (413 g) with the battery. It's a fabulous little camera. Also, it's the entire system you must take into account. As Steven says, the smaller lenses make a huge difference to the overall weight.

Thanks for signing up and taking the time to comment, Robert.

So you compare biggest m43 model with biggest apsc/ff model? Because if you would then your math simply does not work. Look at OM5 body or some smaller panasonics …

The weight advantage is mainly in the lenses, a full frame Canon EOS r6 mk2 weighs just 60 grams more, that’s about the same weight as a Mars bar or 60 ml of water.
I’m not going to contradict that it’s a great, well build system, but saying the ergonomics of a 5D mk3 are worse than an OM-1 for people with big hands I must wholeheartedly disagree with, I never felt comfortable holding an Olympus OMD EM-1 ( haven’t tried the OM) and to me it felt cramped, while I can carry around a 5D or 6D in my hands all day.
For landscapes , outdoor sports and bird photography I think it’s a great system and certainly something to consider when starting (a)new. For low light shooting there are better options I think.

"For low light shooting there are better options I think."
Low light shooting with a tripod, handheld the OM competes, at least in my experience. I had and EM1 mk ii and switched to Sony A7r3 and was very disappointed by the IBIS. I have no idea how the latest full frame bodies IBIS competes with the OM IBIS but I suspect the physic makes the OM still superior and therefore lower shutter speeds will compensate for worse ISO. Well, that's only true if the subject is still which contradicts what I was saying first... So, yeah, full frame is better for wildlife, concerts, astro, events, sport... If you do handled landscape at dusk the OM can compete, maybe for street photography where you don't really want to freeze the movement, it also competes.

Jean Francois ,Indeed I was referring to low light, high iso shooting of moving objects. The newest Canons have an IS rated at 8 stops when combining ibis and lens stabilisation, I personally don’t have a huge need for ibis apart from some casual shots.
Om does have a very good ibis system, they are very well build cameras with very useful features , they are just not for me.

Thank you both for those insightful and interesting comments.

Yes, the lenses make the biggest difference, Rudd. I tried to emphasize that in the article. As someone who once suffered a neck injury from carrying a heavy lens around all day, I welcome the smaller glass.

There are more body options than the OM-1. The OM-5 weighs just 413g with the battery.

The OM-1 has a bigger grip than the previous models, and it is adaptable with an additional battery grip that many people who prefer a bigger camera use. Although it doesn't suit me, those who want a bigger grip can achieve it that way.

Ergonomics is a very personal thing depending upon the size and shape of your hands and body, plus your ability to carry weight. I just worked with a Nikon D850 user trying a Canon 5D IV, and it didn't fit her hands either. But, that doesn't mean the Canon is a bad camera. Others use it happily.

For low-light work, check out Peter Baumgarten and Hannu Huhtamo.

Jean_Francois, I had a A7ii and have used an A7Riii, both excellent cameras, and I didn't find them comfortable to use. Others do and that is great. I'm all in favor of diversity and it would be problematic and a little boring if we all chose the same cameras.

Ivor, by low light photography I meant low light with fast moving subjects , so high iso shooting like indoor sports and poorly lit concerts. We are fortunate to have a choice of camera, we can choose the ergonomics and user interface that suits us best. And I really don’t care that much what brand my camera is. If I lost all my gear ( I hope it never happens) I might buy Nikon next, or if money was no object a Fuji gfx or Hasselblad X2D.

Ivor, thanks for this article. I started with the original OM-D E-M5 and then upgraded to the Mark II. I love the size and weight of the cameras and lenses. I enjoy walking around without getting tired of carrying a bagful of heavy equipment. I started having doubts about the image quality, dynamic range I suppose, when I noticed, occasionally, I would see digital issues in images with a lot of blue sky - I don’t know how to explain it. I am considering switching to Fujifilm X series cameras, there are some that are almost as small as the OM cameras but with larger sensors. I think the lenses are much bigger, so that’s one of the disadvantages. Another is the cost of changing systems. Your article has prompted me to reconsider. Perhaps upgrading to the OM 1 is a better alternative. Cheers, Francis.

Thank you, Francis. Yes, it is the lenses that make the big difference. The Fujifilm cameras are also great, but besides being a larger system, they don't have the range of features in an OM System camera. I would especially miss computational photography such as Live Time and Live ND in my OM-1.

I love that in an era when other manufacturers are suffering from a sharp decline in overall numbers of ILC cameras sold, Olympus sales numbers are surging so dramatically that they literally can't keep up with the demand! This helps all of us, because competition between manufacturers results in more choices for the consumer.

Personally, I hope that Olympus is so successful that Sigma, Tamron, and Laowa start making all of their specialty niche lenses in the Olympus mount. The day I can get ...

a 60-600mm f6.3 in Olympus mount for$1,500 ...

or a 25mm macro probe in Olympus mount for $900 (used) ...

or a 15mm 1:1 macro in Olympus mount for $300 (used) ...

will be the day when I probably go ahead and switch systems.

The 100-400 f/5-6.3 has an equivalent reach of 200-800 mm on a full frame camera and costs $1300.

(I'm saving up for the 150-400 though:

The new 90 mm 1:1 macro isn't available second hand yet, it's too new. It's an incredible lens.

Check out the macro work of Geraint Radford:

But the 60 mm 1:1 will be available. But, I think it is worth waiting for the 90mm if you need second hand.

Out of interest, why do you need shorter focal length macro lenses?

Ivor Rackham asked,

"Out of interest, why do you need shorter focal length macro lenses?"

For photographing small subjects such as frogs, lizards, and snakes, in a way that has a very wide field of view to show a large landscape type section of their habitat.

This 4 minute video does a good job of showing how a wide angle macro lens does what traditional macro focal lengths simply can't do:

As for the other lenses you mention, they are all slightly different versions of more popular, widespread, traditional focal length combinations. I have found that real outliers work better for the type of photography I want to do. I used the 100-400, 200-400, 200-600, 300-800, etc., kind of lenses for years. I also used a 400mm f2.8 prime and a 600mm f4 prime for many years.

Once I started using the Sigma 60-600mm - a full 10x zoom range - that showed me just how much more useful such a lens can be than the boring old 2x to 4x zooms I used for many years.

So I want oddball lenses that will only be made by 3rd party manufacturers, and only made in the very most popular, widespread mounts. That is why I would like Olympus to become as big as Canon and Sony, so that there will be just as many lenses and accessories made for Olympus as are currently made for the "big 3".

I see! I was considering buying one of those probes a while back.

There is a complete list of all the Micro Four Thirds lenses here: The range took me by surprise and there are a lot of oddball lenses there; I lost count!

What a great list! I appreciate that someone compiled all of that info into one well-laid-out list.

Some of the wide angle zooms really intrigue me because the focal length range is seemingly perfect for what I want to do, when the FF equivalent field of view is factored in. But the ones I did a bit of research on don't seem to be close enough to macro, with maximum magnification in the .2 or .3 range instead of being closer to 1:1. I'm trying to get away from extension tubes and use lenses that do what I want natively without the need for "fixes" and extras.

Maybe Olympus will make start making some of their ultra wide angle zooms in macro configurations in the near future. That would probably get me to switch .... or if not outright switch, at least add an Oly body and lens to my existing kit.

Look what I just found!

AstrHori 18mm F8 2X Probe Macro Lens, Compatible with M4/3-mount Mirrorless Cameras

Available for just $719. Wooooo hoooooo!

Whoever made that list you posted forgot to include the most radical extreme niche lens of all! That list maker has a section for AstrHori lenses - he/she really should add this to their list.

I agree that a lens like the Laowa 15mm f4 (wide angle macro) would be amazing for the MFT system. I have thought over this in the past and I've found that the best option for now is the Panasonic 9mm f1.7 lens with a Raynox 150 or Raynox 250 diopter mounted on the filter thread. The Pany 9mm natively achieves 0.25x (similar to 0.5x on FF) at MFD. Using the Raynox 250 on that would achieve 0.625x macro at f1.7. Best of all it has AF unlike the Laowa 15mm.

Another option is the Olympus 12-45mm f4 Pro which achieves 0.25x macro throughout its range.

Personally I use neither; instead I use my 8mm f1.8 Pro fisheye which has 0.2x macro, or use the Raynox 250 with a Panasonic 12-32mm or Olympus 14-42mm which are compact but reasonably sharp lenses.

Thanks for the info - what you wrote actually saves me some time and tedious google searching for lens specs. I still wish that there were more viable M4/3 lens options for wide angle macro, that don't require tricks and accessories to get to 1:1.

Thanks for the article. I can't tell you how many times I've been reviewing older images in Lightroom and look at the EXIF data to remember what I used only to be shocked it was the OM-1 and not a Leica or Nikon. I have no fear packing Olympus in my backpack for travel knowing I can take a more diverse set of lenses at an extreme weight savings. Not my every day but certainly nothing wrong with being in more than one system.

That's very true, David. I think all systems have different advantages and all brands on the market today produce good cameras that take photos that stand up to inspection. When I look through Flickr for any moden camera, they all have images that could be reproduced in top magazines or hang on the walls in galleries. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I started out with Micro 4/3, before moving up to full-frame, then back down to APSC. Would I go back to micro 4/3? No. With that being said, I was still able to capture some fantastic images. I also had some of the best image stabilization and video features available at the time. Micro 4/3 is the perfect starter system to those just entering photography. Micro 4/3 strikes the perfect balance between price and performance. In some instances it excel beyond its peers, like wildlife photography and video. This particular camera seems to be a very good, albeit expensive option. Very appealing to travel photographers and those looking for a compact setup. Beyond weight savings, and a reasonably good lens selection, it's hard to justify this purchase over an APSC camera.

Thanks Roger. For me, besides the wide range of excellent lenses available for MFT, plus the size savings, there are all the unique computational photography features too. APS-C is a good format, but it has somewhat been neglected by some (not all) manufacturers and their models lack the capabilities they put into their full-frame cameras. There are no advantages for me to change to APS-C because I would lose lots and gain little from the slightly larger sensor. But it is just a different way of looking at it.

I have switched from apsc fuji to m43, and did not find any advantage of apsc sensor. I disagreee with saying that m43 is for people entering the photography, having in mind professionals (weddings, sports, lanscape, macro & stock photo) around :)

Another pointless article full of photographic fluff and nonsense.
The OM system is indeed a fine system that has some great features I wished my Sony had like Pro Capture.
If we just leave the dropping it in a stream or other dropping incidents as recommendations to one side.
Needle sharp lenses! All systems have sharp lenses. According to dxo (2020) none of their top 10 sharpest lenses are OM lenses where I have two in my bag, Zeiss 55mm f 1.8 and Sony 90mm f 2.8. Would that make me recommend my Sony system? No.
I wish people would stop making recommendations based on their own fairly limited experiences and then hunt around for reasons unsupported by the actual facts.
The OM system is potentially lighter as the lenses do tend to be smaller due to the laws of physics though body weight saving is marginal to say the least my A7R5 being around 40 grams heavier than the OM offering. Cost is indeed a major factor when it comes to the initial purchase with my Sony body being twice the cost…ouch. The cost of lenses is another matter. Buying into any one camera system is a complex and costly decision based on a number of reasons which differ from individual to individual. Your reasons are your reasons while the facts you present to support your reasons are debatable at best.

I love the idea of a lighter camera than my a7 and 150-500 Tamron for nature/birding photography, but the lens that is often featured by vloggers or M system advocate is the The M.Zuiko 150-400mm IS PRO which is literally $6000 more than the existing lens I’m using for equivalent reach (800 on MFT vs ~750mm in aps-c crop mode on a Sony full frame sensor) for a negligible weight savings.

Thanks Shawn for signing up to make that comment. It's an interesting point. I think it is more about the whole system than just one lens, but that 150-400 is a doozy!

There are some quite big differences between the two lenses. The Olympus lens' longest reach is equivalent to 1000mm because it has a built-in teleconverter. It also works with the other teleconverters. So, adding an MC20 2x converter could make it a 2000mm equivalent. It also has a constant f/4.5 aperture across its entire focal range and allows 120 fps shooting on the OM-1. It's also water and dust sealed to the IP53 standard.

In comparison with the Tamron, a super lens, I agree. It is slower, limiting its use for fast-moving subjects in low light. It also slows the continuous drive speed to just 15 fps on the A7RIV, which is otherwise capable of 30 fps. Furthermore, you can't attach a teleconverter to it. It also only has seven aperture blades, whereas the Olympus has nine.

But you are right, if your budget is limited then there are lenses that cost much less. Like everything in photography, there are compromises we make, one of which is our budget. There maybe some shots you can't achieve with it, but I am sure there are plenty you can.

Sadly, I cannot find a close to the Olympus lens in the Sony catalogue that would be a fairer comparator to the Olympus 150-400mm. The closest Olympus lens to your Tamron would be the OM System Olympus 100-400 (200-800 FF equivalent), but again both lenses have their own unique features so they are not quite the same.

I'm not knocking the Tamron. It's a super lens, and I am sure you get fantastic shots with it. It would be great to see them in your gallery. Thanks for replying.

I think the Sony 200-600 f5.6-6.3 is a close competitor. If you put it on an A7Riv or A7r5 and put it in APSC mode you're already at 300-900mm and still are working with more resolution than the OM-1. It also takes the 1.4 and 2.0 TC which can get you to 1800mm so I feel like it's a pretty good comparison. Yes 6.3 is not 4.5 for matters of exposure (and that's not insignificant) but the cost of the Sony lens AND the A7R5 body is still significant less than the Olympus 150-400. Both of these setups won't get in the way of great images.

The Sony is a good camera, but there are other significant differences, not least the price of the A7RV's body is $1900 more, but also it lacks all the computational features of the OM-1.

The lens you mention is okay for what it is, but the Sony 200-600 f5.6-6.3, as you say, is slower, especially at the long end. It also lacks an Arca foot on its collar, and there are no alignment stops on the collar. It also suffers significant chromatic aberrations.

I'm not saying it is a bad lens, it's not, but it's a bit like comparing any standard quality with any pro lens.

The M.Zuiko 150-400 in terms of image quality, focusing speed, in-built IS that works in conjunction with the IBIS, inbuilt teleconverter, and so on, It also has a fixed aperture throughout its focal range.

Sadly, I can't see any comparable lenses in the Sony lineup.

Funny, I just don’t get it. The body is too small for my hands. The sensor carries all the baggage associated with its size. The equipment is expensive for small format, and for about the same price you can get the fantastic Fuji xh2. I tried MFT for stills, hated it and sold out. Each to their own, I guess

Yeah, as you say, each to his own. Which MFT camera did you try?

I tried XH2. It's a good camera, but I wasn't happy with the ergonomics for my big hands and long fingers. But we are all built differently. Also, there were also some weird artifacts appearing, especially in the foliage in some shots. I guess "fantastic" is subjective.

I've just Googled those artifacts I was seeing with the Fujifilm camera. It's a common problem with the X-Trans sensors called "worming." There seem to be some workarounds, however, although they do seem quite convoluted.

I owned 2 MFT cameras. The GF1 then the original Om E 5. Didn’t live up to my expectations
Ivor the quotation marks say it all. If a poster doesn’t agree with you then you demean their view

Paul, it's okay to discuss a topic and agree or disagree.

I try to reply to all sensible, constructive comments on my articles. If I agree with them I say so, if I disagree, I am not going to pretend the comment coheres with my experience.

Just as I did not accuse you of demeaning my view in the article because you disagree with it, I was in no way demeaning your point of view in your comment. I was just not fully agreeing with everything you have found.

The quotation marks are literally quoting what you said, and nothing more than that should be read into them. That's what quotation marks are for. It's a pity they have taken on a different meaning. All opinions about cameras, including mine, have a degree of subjectivity applied based on our personal experiences. What's right for me doesn't have to be right for you.

The MFT cameras I am writing about have come a long long way since 2009 when the GF1 came out and 2011 when the original Om-D E-M5 was released. The new OM-1 and OM-5 are completely different from the old models you tried. Just like the Fujifilm XE-1 is a long way removed from XH-2.

Have you had any issues with the worming? If so, have you found a way around it?

Well it is obvious that until you did not try you will not get it just from the article, or youtube “influencers” :)

Great article! I think m43 is an amazing option if you want light lenses and cheap gear. The computational aspects of the cameras are also very cool. Is it true that all Olympus m43 cameras are 12 bit? Not sure about new models, but in the past this has been true. While it is possible to get great bokeh out of a m43 camera, if you are a wildlife shooter you can’t always control the location of your subject. If you can’t get close enough to your subject and can’t get a good distant background you will have an overall better looking shot with ff, assuming you are using a fast lens. For me, I think apsc is actually more compelling than m43. Largely because of the adaptability of ff lenses, 14 bit, higher res and more reach than m43.

Thank you John.

Ha ha, I wouldn't necessarily call it cheap but you do get a lot of camera and lenses for your money compared with similar quality from other manufacturers

Check this out:

I'm saving for that. Compare that to, the Canon equivalent which costs $3500 more and effectively has around half the reach.

I think you are incorrect about other systems having more reach. Because of the crop factor, MFT effectively has more reach than APS-C, and double that of full frame.

Yes, as I said in the article, you have to shoot differently. There are plenty of excellent professional wildlife photographers who switched to the system because of the longer reach and the portability. Check out, for example, David Tipling, Tesni Ward, David Lindo, Brooke Bartleson, Rob Cottle, Roger Hance, Espen Helland... As someone who is dabbling their toes in wildlife photography, my opinion is if it's good enough for them, then it's good enough for me.

If you want a shallow depth of field with a completely blurred background, it is easier to do with a 35mm camera. But, as you could see in the picture of the guillemots, it's also possible with crop frame sensors cameras too.

There are of course two sides to the argument that proponents of the bigger systems always completely ignore, when we want more depth of field it is easier with MFT.

As for bit depth, to see any slightest discernible difference, you need to hugely under or over-expose and then try to recover detail to notice any slightest difference between 12 and 14 bit. That's because the human eye cannot discern the difference. Go back in time far enough then there was a big enough difference in dynamic range, but with modern technology, that is a redundant argument. MFT is more than good enough.

A while back, I did some testing of an OM-1 against a A7RV. We actually preferred the rendering of the OM-1 in almost every photo, and it was only when we were shooting more than three stops under, and then recovering in Lightroom, that we could see any difference. Even then, it was fixable. My friend hasn't yet changed systems, but he was sorely tempted.

Sure, with any system there are advantages and disadvantages. It's down to each individual photographer to work out what he or she wants to compromise on. With modern sensor technology, like the stacked sensor in the OM-1, the far improved high ISO performance, plus the availability of good noise reduction from the OM System software and third parties, and image stabilization, those compromises are becoming ever less. So much so, the MFT cameras are more than good enough.

Similarly, the disadvantaged of APS-C over full frame are greatly diminished too. It's just a shame that the big manufacturers are not putting the same resources into the crop sensor cameras as they are into the bigger systems.

Anyway, none of my clients complain and I make my living from using one!

Thanks for taking the time to make a constructive comment. It's refreshing to see someone can disagree with courtesy.

Use the tool that works for you! However I am not incorrect about the reach. An apsc camera with an adapted full frame 600mm lens has a full frame equivalent fov of 900 mm. Correct me if I’m wrong but you can’t get to 900mm ff equivalent on m43. That’s not even considering the 800mm lenses now available for ff that could also be adapted to apsc. Also, you have even more cropping power when you consider the higher resolution available in full frame and apsc. For a lightweight hand holdable kit with plenty of reach m43 is the winner, but ff and apsc beat m43 hands down when it comes to reach. Again great article and I truly could see myself shooting a m43 camera as the size of my full frame gear can get cumbersome in certain situations! Great shots!

Olympus 150-400 has buld in (!!!) 1,25x teleconverter what gives you 1000mm FF equvalent, but including dualIS which works like magic on the olympus - with other lenses with this technology I am able to get sharp results from several seconds exposure hand held ;)

I agree that MFT offers something special in a smaller package for some applications ONLY. I've owned the Panasonic MFT GH4 and lenses and have l have almost purchased the Oly OM1 multiple times but the lack of lightweight high-quality standard Oly zoom lenses is limiting.

The 12-100 f4 Pro weighs the same as a full frame high quality equivalent (such as the Nikon Z 24-200 or Tamron 28-200)! That makes no sense. While it has a constant aperture, it can't compete with FF's bokeh & noise advantages. Why can't we have a small, lighter PRO lens alternative? I don't consider the non-pro Oly lens alternatives comparable for obvious reasons.

In addition, there is no high-quality lens similar to the high quality Sony APSC 70-350 in the Oly lineup - the closest is the 40-150 f4 but that leaves a gap on the short end (my high-quality Sony 18-135 covers that all) and on the long end where the only light lens is the old, slow, lower-end Oly 75-300.

I've heard the argument that you can use Panasonic MFT lenses to fill in the gaps but in-camera focus stacking, pro capture and other features only work with particular Oly lenses only, so that doesn't work.

If Oly fills the gap, I'm in.

The planned lenses on the horizon look like they will fill in that gap.

As you say, the Olympus 12-100 F4 is fixed at f/4 across its entire zoom range, and that technology adds to the weight but also brings significant benefits.

I think with any system, there are always holes that need filling and compromises that need to be made. No system is perfect. I dabbled with Sony a few years ago but sold it because of the disadvantages of that system for me, yet others rave about it. We all have personal needs and need to determine what we want from our gear.

As I said in a previous comment, the "advantages" of the shallow depth of field are also disadvantages, depending upon what you are trying to photograph and the depth you want. It's a common rookie error to always shoot wide open with a fast lens.

As most MFT shooters know, it is perfectly possible to get a very shallow depth of field, you just have to learn to shoot differently. Plus, the argument about noise is redundant now. Sensor technology is so good now that it's possible to achieve excellent-quality photos in near darkness. When I am shooting alongside colleagues and clients with full frame cameras, with the OM-1 I have yet to find a situation where they can get a good image and they cannot.

Thanks for the great conversation.

Thanks Ivor. Can you expand on the planned lenses on the horizon please?


I'm away from my computer for a couple of days, but if you google the OM System roadmap you'll findthere are a couple of unannounced lenses in the 50-200mm-ish range, so will have an equiealnt field of view of around 100-400 mm on full frame. Nothing yet has been announced, but OMDS are good at filling in the gaps in the system. The old E-system has an excellent 50-200 lens, so I hope one will be a replacement for that, but we will have to wait and see.

I ama new OM-1 user. I have shot Canon for 40 years and have 2 R5s and the gamut of L zooms. Wonderful. However I wanted a 600mm f/4 lens and the Canon RF costs $13k, and weights 8 lbs. So i bought an OM-1 with 300mm f.4 (600mm f equiv) for about 1/3 the cost of the RF 600 f/4 alone. It has blown me away. Then I found a used Zuika 150-400 f/4.5 1.25TC lens Wow again.
My Africa photo safari kit now includes a R5, RF 100-500, RF 70-200, RF 24-70 and the OM-1 with the 150-400 (300-1000 (with TC in). Also the MC-14 TC. My back and the bush pilots thank me and I have 45mps fom 24-500 and 20mps from 300-1000mm and more (with the MC-14)

Why not run two systems?

I am glad you are happy with your kit, Alan. Indeed, some people do run two systems. I used to for a while, but found that the bigger full-frame system because redundant because the MFT cameras did everything I needed.

That 300mm f/4 prime lens is excellent, I would buy one but I am saving for that 150-400.

Thank you for the great comment.

I’ve never really understood why people get so argumentative over someone else’s camera gear choices, if it doesn’t align with their own.

M43 offers a good balance between size, weight, price, IQ, lens availability, and many other features, that make it a great choice for a lot of us. I use a Gx9 for street, an OM1 for my son’s soccer game (where a pretty sharp 40-150 f/4 pro focal length gets you really close to the action without breaking the bank or being unwieldy). Color rendition on the OM1 is fantastic. I like the color better on the OM than my z7ii. When I need higher resolution I go with my z7ii and if I don’t need the more compact OM1 I will take the z7ii as well.

They all have their time and place to be the right tool for the right job.

I also shoot street with a Fuji X20 or even a Canon G9 or G2. I have an Olympus XZ-1 that I use for street too. They’ll all good at different things and each offer a unique and cool shooting experience.

My personal preferences are my own and don’t diminish the value of whatever you picked instead.

Thanks for an interesting article and sharing your views Ivor. Super photographs and some are from my neck of the woods in Northumberland. Since you wrote your article there is now the revised mkii version. I am not an avid bird photographer so the better focus tracking is not likely something I will use but I am really struggling with the benefits of buying a mkii over the mk1 which I can get for a really good price now with the 12-40 Pro ii which will be on the camera for 80% of the time. I prefer general and landscape and the extra stop ND and the graduated ND might come in handy but other than that, rubberised buttons, well possibly. I'm coming over from film but I have used digital before. What are your thoughts for someone who hasn't bought one yet? Bite the bullet and go for the mkii? The only thing that worries me about MFT is if you lose bokeh, I didn't realise the aperture doubled too. So that makes the 12-40 f2.8 an f5.6

The only problem will be prising it from my partner who is an avid bird photographer and I could easily see the benefit of the mkii for her especially over her D850 and huge lens.

Hi Ian, Yes I live in Northumberland.

A shallow depth of field is perfectly possible with MFT (see the attached picture.). If you shoot the same subject at the same focal length, same distance, and same F-stop with a Micro Four Thirds camera and a 35mm camera, the depth of field with MFT will be shallower.

F/2.8 is f/2.8 on whichever camera you put it on. It will give you the same shutter speed at the same ISO if attached to any camera.

The confusion arises is because of a fake argument that one manufacturer makes. They point out, correctly, that if a portrait photographer wants to use an MFT camera instead of a 35mm, they either need a shorter focal length to fill the frame or stand back further. Therefore, you need to reduce the aperture to get the same depth of field.

But, what they always fail to mention is that it works both ways. With Micro Four Thirds, landscape photographers can get maximum depth of field more easily at faster shutter speeds, great for moving seascapes, and, shooting wildlife means you can stand further back and still get a shallower depth of field at the same focal length with MFT. Furthermore, even with portrait photography, having too shallow a depth of field is often an issue, so Micro Four Thirds works to your advantage. In photography, there is always an advantage to balance the disadvantage.

If you message me to get in touch, I'm happy to show you and your wife the differences between the OM-1 and the OM-1 Mark II and you can compare them to your film camera. You can either message me through Fstoppers or click on my profile and you'll see links to my social media and website.

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