Why do I use micro four thirds?

Panasonic GH1 Leica 90mm f/2.5 Summarit


I've been an enthusiastic user of this format for some time, and I thought it worth doing a piece on why I like it so much. Many of my posts about it concentrate on the weight and size. But its not just that. I genuinely like the results. I find the images sharp, well-detailed and with a kind of "glossy" look, which suits the majority of my subject matter. 


I've just been editing the pictures from my last wedding (we managed to shoot just under 3000!!) and my colleague B was using a GH1 as his backup camera. The GH1 images are different to all the Canon ones we shot, and to me they have a very attractive look. Overall its a look I prefer. The colours look stronger and "cleaner" to me and they are certainly sharp. (They were shot with a Lumix 20mm f/1.7 and a Nikon 50mm f/1.2 MF lens) 


There may well be issues with m4/3 but the reason I keep using it is not simply convenience, size, weight etc. but the fact that I like how the images look. Despite using a Leica M9 and an X1, both of which give amazing image quality, there is something about those m4/3 pictures that keeps me coming back time and time again. 


Panasonic GH1 Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm zoom


Its somewhat difficult to define, but I noticed it again on the pictures I shot yesterday. Yes the M9 is sharper, and it has amazing colour. But my GH1 shots in particular, have a lovely "bright", "clean" feel. This is the only way I can describe it. The Panasonic sensor, minus its anti-aliasing filter, would I believe produce sensational results. With it, I still prefer the look over my Canons.


Panasonic GH1 Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm zoom


When comparing files processed in Rawker, which based on dcraw, gives I believe the best indication of what an original file looks like, I was struck by how bad my 550D files looked. Panasonic get a lot of stick for making "corrections" in their software, but its obvious that they aren't the only ones. I've always had misgivings about how Canon sensors produce an image. While admiring much of what they they do combating noise, I've always had the feeling that this takes away other things that I find important. For instance I've felt their colours are somewhat "dull" for landscape photography. This doesn't look like reality to me either. Why for example are Canon cameras so bad at auto white balance? Why has every Canon camera / lens combination I've ever used produced so much CA and fringing? Am I just unlucky or is there something else going on here?


I still believe that the 550D is a wonderful camera, for the price its simply amazing. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. But the reasons I don't use it are not all about the size and weight, because its not big or heavy. There are also light Canon lenses, and my lack of enthusiasm for it has as much to do with the look of the images rather than any ergonomic reason.


I've written many times about this before, and its very much my personal taste. However I did want to make the point that my reasons for using m4/3 more than any other cameras that I own are positive as well as negative. By that I mean that its not just because I have problems with other cameras because of how they are constructed, but that I really like and am constantly pleased by how the images look.


Panasonic GH1 Leica 90mm f/2.5 Summarit




There's no intention here of trying to persuade anyone to change their camera format, or to promote my own preferences as some kind of objective reference point. I know that this is a very subjective point of view and many others would argue the opposite. However I felt it worth saying. I'm way past the point where I have to try and argue that what I own is the best. I'm perfectly comfortable going my own way and I don't feel the need to justify what I buy or what I use. 


Micro four thirds suits me. I enjoy using it. I enjoy looking at the results. However I wouldn't use it if I felt it was handicapping what is after all, my living. At this moment in time, there are many camera systems that are perfectly capable of producing results that would satisfy most "professional" demands, and often I think that we make too much of what are, in the main, fairly small differences. Micro four thirds is one of these systems, and some have taken to it in a big way, some have ignored it completely. My personal enthusiasm for it shows no sign of diminishing, and I thought it worth taking the time to emphasise that the reasons for that are not only because of its design, but the fact that I also enjoy the end results. 


Panasonic GH1 Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm zoom


Words - D
Images - D & A