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Friday, 12 March 2021


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I think your point was pretty clear the first time. But right now a lot of m43rds owners are feeling very threatened and insecure.

Which in the end is a bit funny when you think we are supposed to be doing photography, and see these as tools to do so, but sports team dynamics enter in play.

Mike, the problem is defining best for what. You can't be rational without defining the problem. Your comments relative to micro 4/3 make no sense to others who have different styles, subjects, etc.
Your rationality makes no sense to others who don't know what you are optimising for.

[Oh dear. Much misunderstanding.

I've been working with and for the camera-buying public since 1988. Before that I was a photography teacher and before that I was a photography student. I know a thing or two about this market. I was basing my statement generally on my perception of the market as a whole. Naturally this does not mean what I say will apply uniformly to every specific individual. --Mike]

Nothing is ever rational. Will Durant said "Man is an emotional animal, occasionally rational; and through his feelings he can be deceived to his heart's content."

It's not out of the realm of possibility that a M4/3 or 1" sensor finds it way into smartphone, so you may end up being correct in the end.

I'm happy with 3 small primes at about 24/35/75 f/2 using an APS-C camera. Probably not long until an iPhone will cover this range for me.

A bit of controversy can be interesting (as long we stay polite and civilized) and I know for a fact that you are, Mike, a strong and early supporter of the Micro Four Third sensor format. Please apologize if my intro was a little bit too strong!
Warm salutations from Montreal!

[No hard feelings in the slightest! All the best. --Mike]

Charles Kettering said: The key to economic prosperity is the organized creation of dissatisfaction.

The simplest way to assure sales is to keep changing the product the market for new things is indefinitely elastic. One of the fundamental purposes of advertising, styling, and research is to foster a healthy dissatisfaction.

Industry prospers when it offers people articles which they want more than they want anything they now have. The fact is that people never buy what they need. They buy what they want.

The camera market is regulated by paid gurus and fake click-bait sites. What does rationality have to do with it—absolutely nothing?

[And did I not say that in yesterday's post? I don't get the objection. --Mike]

Sorry for my french! I would rather say that please apologize myself for the stiff intro!

Mike - I've switched back and forth a few times between full frame (Canon 5D, now Sony A7RIV) and m43 for the last 12-14 years. I now have two Sony A7RIVs and a bevy of lenses as my main camera, but a few months ago picked up an Olympus EM1 Mark III and the 12-100mm IS zoom as my beach camera for my weekly long walks/hikes with my dog by the beach. What I've realized is just how good the m43 system can be, and how much more practical it often is. The Oly 12-100mmm lens along with the EM1 Mark III has the most amazing image stabilization. Absolutely no need for a tripod, ever, except for very specialized purposes. There's also nothing like that lens in Sony or any other full frame system as far as I can tell at its size and weight that gives you that range, 24-200mm, in one zoom with very high quality throughout. . . . There's no question that the quality of images from the sensor in this camera is better than the quality of images from the sensor from my original Canon 5D, better dynamic range, less noise, better color fidelity, more resolution. . . . For prints larger than 24" and for being able to crop significantly, full frame is still better, and the dynamic range, noise and color fidelity is quite a bit better, and certainly if you want shallow depth of field (not my main thing), but m43, even with a sensor that apparently has not changed much since 2016, stands up surprisingly well and offers many advantages to full frame.

I left a comment yesterday but would simplify that comment to: the m4/3 manufacturers are making cameras that are in many ways behind what the APS-C makers are making. If they had competitive bodies, they might be more popular.

>> I've been working with and for the camera-buying public since 1988. Before that I was a photography teacher and before that I was a photography student. I know a thing or two about this market.

This gives you excellent credentials for chronicling the vagaries of the market in a retrospective or as-it-happens commentary sense.

In a forward-looking sense of where the market is going and drivers of behavior, it may not mean as much, and may even be a liability, depending upon the function you serve.

Looking on the bright side I was hoping that Olympus sale of their camera division would start a panic sell off and I could pick up some bargains. Alas, it actually seems used prices have gone up slightly, maybe 5%. So that didn’t work out. What is this world coming to?

If the first digital cameras had big sensors and shallow depth of field that made it difficult to make photos that looked like what people see, then everyone would be falling all over themselves to get small format deep focus cameras, with 4/3 being the Goldilocks format.

Instead the market has become bimodal. The “just take realistic pictures that serve as documentation of my life” market has been served very well by phone cameras. The “I have the technical chops, time, and money to take photos that look like I have the technical chops, time, and money” market is predominantly served by the biggest most expensive cameras that the consumer can afford.

Goldilocks is left with great hair but no actual gold.

Format popularity and prevalence is probably a quirk of which brands decide to pursue which formats, and with what types of products. Plus the consumer psychology angle. If Canon had produced an m43 mirrorless 1D-style camera (and a matching set of lenses) a decade ago, the camera landscape might look quite different today.

At least one of the comments in the previous thread alluded to the idea that the market can only be as rational as both consumers and producers allow it to be, and that perhaps rationality is in the eye of the beholder. I think that comment cited Olympus's clinging to a difficult menu design. I suggest looking also at Panasonic's fear of "cannibalizing" their pro and semi-pro video markets (where m4/3 is clearly the rational choice). Both decisions probably seem quite rational from inside the respective companies, but from outside, they only distort the rationality of the market.

I won't defend the typical irrational and underinformed consumer, but producers are susceptible to similar failings.

In response to Kenneth's comment :
"Very unimaginative, uninspired business management and leadership."

I think we imagine wrongly that manufacturers have so much margin of maneuver to distinguish themselves but how could they in this sony sensor monopoly. Most mfr cannot derive from the sensor & interface they're provided, it seems. Still, Olympus had a long track record of original ideas or novel implementations and I loved them for that but it appeared less and less possible. The Nikon Z9 for that matter, doesn't appear it's going to do much more than a sony A1? hell, even lenses don't seem to render things differently anymore. There is surely hope in the yet untapped "computational" paradigm as a differentiator...

I have both micro 4/3 and full frame cameras. Olympus and Panasonic in 4/3 and Panasonic in FF. I use the 4/3 more often as I print no larger than 11x17 and that, rarely. Actually I don't much like very large prints. My favored way of looking at photography is prints from 5x7 to 11x14.. Books are a great way to look at photos and 4/3 would be a star at book size printing. The increased dynamic range of the SR1 is very nice, but I do 90% of my photography in bright light, so don't really need it.

For this, and I emphasize, this, photographer, I hope that micro 4/3 has a long and happy life.

Despite what "YouTubers" say, what most customers want is a camera with an APS-C sized sensor. When you look at the sales data over the last decade, I'd estimate that at least 80% of ILC sales, mirrorless or not, were cameras with APS-C sensors. The data is the data.

And I agree with Ken that M4/3 might be the format that customers wanted when photography was in the artsy-craftsy world.

But what digital cameras really did was to take photography out of the artsy-craftsy world and democratize it in a really significant way. The result is that most photographers are not (fine) art photographers; most are hobbyists (much like audiophiles), some are gear geeks (these are 99% men, many of whom like to fight with each other in photography forums), and some are working professionals who have to deliver "product."

As for the Olympus OM-D E-M1X....I know a lot of folks have slagged this camera, primarily with the premise, "Olympus, what were you thinking?" All I can tell you is, that I've shot with one for motorsports, and it was AMAZING. Oly's judgement might be questionable for why they chose to build a Canon 1D-like mirrorless camera body, but don't blame the tool itself. For motor racing, the E-M1X had it goin' on.

Don't blame the katana for why the swordmaker made it.

One possible problem is that the Sony sensor used in Olympus cameras is a generation behind their apsc and full frame units. Sony don't seem to be interested in making 4/3 sensors. Panasonic may be able to come to the rescue but unless that happens or Sony decide to make a new sensor the future is bleak.

I was amazed to read this from one of your readers, "Yet it is frustrating to work with its raw files which are more than a stop behind contemporaneous Nikon D5500 consumer-grade APS-C files". I find this fascinating because I find my Oly OMID mkII RAW files superior in a number of ways to my Canon 5DIV files. The increased depth of field of m43 makes everything near and far in much better focus and this adds impact to most of the kind of photographs that I take. As to what possible real life difference 1 stop extra of dynamic range makes is most definitely open to debate. This is something that just does not factor into my choice of equipment, as it has virtually had no impact on my photography and I have been a professional photographer for the last 25 years. I also happen to greatly prefer the 4 x 3 format that makes 2:3 format look way to long and thin or tall and skinny. However, I think that this is one of the reasons that m43 can be less impressive on the average monitor as they are better suited to presenting a 2:3 image, which will appear at a greater magnification. An additional point is that I rarely ever shoot above ISO 400 with m43 because with the increased depth of field you have two extra stops of depth of field at your fingertips. Since much of the time with FF cameras is spent stopping a lens down to ensure you have sufficient depth of field, the fabled 2-stop difference in noise is largely negated in real life.

Obviously there is a difference in resolution, and I note another reader who mentioned they had bought a high res camera for no reason other than they can, not because they ever print at a size requiring it. There is the effect of marketing for you.

As to whether it has stagnated, we shall see but, as others have pointed out, Panasonic are still in the game, and I'm not sure their FF system is really gaining traction, and m43 has a long life ahead of it drones at the very least. Oly's plans for the future are sensible too. The menus are ghastly, but once learned are no problem. Coming to any new system is an intellectual challenge, and one hears the same complaints about Sony, for example.

That was perfectly clear to me.


Camera companies pump out ever bigger, heavier, more expensive product, now capable of images scalable to 30 feet by 40 feet when their real competition is any pocket pet capable of generating a recognizable image right here, right now. Today's cellphone pix are what the 4"x6" drugstore prints used to be, except about a thousand times better in case that matters, and for the 98.7% of the population who thought that drugstore prints were OK, it doesn't anyway.

Industries fail from the bottom up. First the newcomers are laughably bad but cheap, then not-so-bad and still too cheap and profitless to bother competing against, and then suddenly they own the market and it's over.

Meanwhile, the big guys are mimicking the famous Concentric Bird (oozlum bird, floogie bird, weejy weejy bird, et al), which flies in ever smaller circles until at last it finds refuge by disappearing up its own rectum. Wait for the distinctive sound, any day now.

I did like M43 but my 1", with a built-in 25mm-250mm Barnack-Equivalent-Unit lens is about as good and so much less fuss. As soon as slab phones can be held by anyone who does not have suckers on their fingers, I may finally get sweet on them and just switch off my brain entirely. Could be.

Regardless of the dour prognostications I'll stick to my PanasonicG9. I switched from a Nikon D300 to the then new Sony range of full frames and then realised the body might be smaller but I was still carrying bag full of big lenses. I find the G9 a good size fit and my small camera bag able to carry all the lenses I want

Passing through 3 decades of 20+ camera bodies and connected lenses, I bought a Panasonic GX7.
I actually wanted a 12-32 Pana zoom failed to get it then) for its size benefit, GX7 happens then because of Pana 20mmf1.7. I was looking for better DOF and a compact system.
1 year down the line, I have a 12-32 and a 35-100 to put on with GX7.

I hardly takes my Sony A7R2 with 28mmf2 out any more.
I will take it out on my landscape shoots.

Bottom line, I should have tried M4/3 decades back, for the whole decade.

As far as resolution goes, Adobe's new Super Resolution feature might help level the playing field for anyone wanting to make large prints with M4/3 https://petapixel.com/2021/03/13/adobe-photoshops-super-resolution-made-my-jaw-hit-the-floor/.

Not that large (A3+) prints aren't possible with existing M4/3 - I have one of Ctein's prints that compares very well with larger formats printed the same size.

I've had it with Olympus. Three times they've let me down by abandoning the field (no AF for many years) and now giving up.

I had a fairly extensive OM film system but when AF became not only feasible but excellent, Olympus was nowhere to be found for quite some years.

Then when they brought in 4/3 and AF, I was wary and didn't buy in. Lucky, because then they changed the mount again for micro4/3. But they made it such that they severely restricted the sensor size. That may not matter now, but it was quite a few years before m4/3 could compete with APS-C.

I finally weakened and bought an OM-D E-M1 and a couple of E-PLs with five lenses. I agree with whoever wrote that it has the worst menu system ever devised. I admit I still haven't worked some of it out, nor the switch on the back.

Now they've dropped out again. It may be that the new company will continue to produce things, but thrice bitten, too late for me. I'm out. I'll go back to my other system, Pentax. You have to hand it to Pentax, the most consistent long-term compatibility maker on the planet.

I'd very much like to see Micro 4/3 continue. It's a near ideal format for much wildlife photography, because of the smaller lenses. At present, it suffers from the Olympus sale and from older sensors. But here's an example of why I find it appealing. I took this photo of a red-shouldered hawk on utility lines with an older M43 body (GH4) and not the sharpest or fastest 800mm equivalent lens (PanaLeica 100-400). They both, along with a couple of other lenses, spare batteries, etc. fit into a camera bag about the size of my daughter's chemistry textbook - maybe a little thicker. I had them with me. Handheld. The image here is about 1/3 of the area of the original frame. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VmsQLpdi-rdWJ9rDrFueAqApfywgh6Pb/view?usp=sharing

For me personally APS-C seems to be the sweet spot, but that might be because that is all I've known for the last 8 years...
There are a ton of great options with APS-C at a great, practical weight and size. That is probably why it has been so popular, I honestly think some of the more portable M4/3 cameras are too small for my hands...

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