Blog – Elliot Stern
Everyone one of has different tastes as well as needs when it comes to camera equipment systems and it is those factors that make us determine what we are going to settle down with in regards to what we use now and will probably use in the future.
There is also a shadowy area that may leave others in limbo. Many photographers love their Nikon, Canon and Sony full size, APS or Full frame set ups but it really can be a love hate relationship. The love part is the sensor size that the camera can house and the focusing speeds that the systems can attain for sports photography. If the question is posed to these photographers as to what they dislike it generally boils down to size and weight. They do not like carrying around a heavy and bulky Slr body with a heavy lens all day long. It is tiring and it just might rob them of a great photographic experience.
I have been in involved with photography for a long time and like clothing fashions, camera gear goes through cycles. Sometimes it goes full circle. I can remember cameras of the 35mm type starting off small. Then they got bigger. They got heavier as did the optics that went along with them.
The first company, during the film era to come out with a SLR system that was both small and light was Olympus. They began that full circle trend that finally allowed SLR users to have a small and light and optically beautiful system that did not cause shoulder ache, bad knees, and bad backs. Olympus, then and now, enjoys the title of trend setter.
It was only a few years ago that Olympus brought to market the first small mirrorless camera systems. Lighter weight and smaller than there Aps and full Frame distant relatives, with a smaller micro four thirds sensor and incredible imaging. They built a system of high resolving optics developed around micro four thirds sensors that provide the most superb imaging. The new trend was set and the race was on.
Nikon developed a mirrorless camera system with a very small sensor. Smaller than Micro Four Thirds and a small body and lens. The sensor for the Nikon cameras is about the size of a point and shoot camera. Pentax developed a small sensor mirrorless
called the “Q” and that too is more like a point and shoot sensor. Sony has developed a small camera system which is very good, using an APS sensor. The Nex-5 and Nex-7. The lenses for the Sony are few and those that are available are heavy and large. They are larger lenses even though they are on a mirrorless camera because of the APS sensor.
Olympus and Panasonic have steadily moved forward on a road that has put them right in the middle of small and large sensors. They have retained the Four Thirds and built incredible body and lenses around the Micro Four Thirds sensor size. What is the difference between a 4/3 sensor and a Micro 4/3 sensor. There is no difference at all. Micro four thirds refers to the mirrorless body design.
The most recent camera called the Olympus OMD-EM5 has brought us once again full circle and raised the bar very high. It looks like the first small SLR that Olympus had decades ago that set the trend in the industry. The OM-1.
It is made of magnesium. It is weather sealed. Highly controllable. It is small. It is lightweight. It has a 16mp Olympus sensor. It has a full system of high quality primes and zooms to fit ones needs. It focuses fast and it has five level in body image stabilization. It has clean and sharp high iso capability. The lenses because of the sensor design are small and lightweight. The electronic viewfinder is sharp, clear and quick and is built into this very small body.
The versatility allows for the use of mount adapters, like Nikon to micro four thirds, Canon to micro four thirds, Leica M mount to micro four thirds. It can fire up to 9 frames per second and can bracket 5 frames in one stop (1) increments for doing HDR photography.
As for image quality, all I can say is that I have not found enough of a difference between APS sensors and Micro Four Third systems. What it all boils down to is how much size and weight you really need to carry to get incredible images. Micro Four Thirds is the answer.
There is an incredible list of creative features available. You can read about them here. This is a review by DPREVIEW – who awarded the Gold Award to the Olympus EM-5.
While the EM-5 is very small, let’s not forget that Olympus and Panasonic make even smaller cameras taking the same lenses. Micro Four Thirds has set the trend and Olympus and Panasonic are in the forefront.
We are in the midst of setting up an Olympus Meet Up group. If you are an Olympus user and want to know more please contact us at:
If you are looking for a small camera system we would be glad to advise you. What you ultimately choose to replace or supplement your current system will be determined by how long you want to carry around heavy and bulky gear.