And indeed there are photographers who have gone that route. Giving up Nikon and Canon DSLR's they have decided that a smaller and lighter system is capable of allowing them to fulfil their working needs without compromising their ability to do a satisfactory job for their clients. And certainly there are many fields, travel photography being one of them, that are well-suited by m4/3. But it's certainly not everybody who feels this way. The massed ranks of press and sports photographers that we see on our TV screens at some newsworthy event are still resolutely attached to their D4's and 1ds's etc. and show little sign of giving up what many see as 'dinosaurs' these days. But these cameras are obviously not regarded as on the verge of obsolescence by the people who still use those well-established brands to earn a living.
Harsh? Well maybe, but as a professional photographer I want the best quality I can get all things being equal. And yes DSLR systems are generally heavier, though the Nikon 3300 announced a few days ago, which is lighter than the Olympus E-M1 will turn some heads. With what I assume is the D7100 sensor and no AA filter the files that camera produces will, unless Nikon have seriously screwed up, be superior to anything m4/3 can produce in almost every way. And that's the real issue here. It's all very well to have the mirrorless advantages, but we don't sell pictures of our cameras to pay the mortgage, we sell pictures taken with our cameras and ultimately that's how we will be judged and it's that rather than how 'sexy' our camera looks that will decide whether we successful.
Now for certain jobs previously the province of the DSLR, m4/3 actually does things better. The video on the GH3 for example is professional grade. The electronic shutter and burst rate are also very impressive and combined with the ultra-fast AF make this a very useful camera for fast-moving and sports shooting. But how many professional sports photographers will you see using one? That's right, not many, if any at all. So why is that? Well mostly it's a question of stick with what you know. Nikon and Canon DSLR's are proven, they have been doing the job for years and the likes of Panasonic, Olympus and Sony have to prove themselves. And the only way they can do that is for photographers to use them, test them out, find them suitable for the job and spread the word. And I certainly see that happening in the enthusiast world, but I see only occasional evidence of that happening in the professional world. Sure I see lots of posts about how this pro and that has started using m4/3 high-end cameras, but the truth is my local pro dealer doesn't even stock them.
So all of this maybe sounds like some male orientated, 'big-boy' camera loving, Ken Rockwell type Nikanon fanboy propaganda, but regular readers will know that isn't true of me. In fact I'd probably use a m4/3 camera in preference to most DSLR's anyday. But as professionals we are all different and my relatively relaxed daily working regime is nothing like that of a press photographer, a sports photographer, a busy wedding or social photographer, a fashion catwalk photographer, a studio based still-life photographer etc. etc. I have the time to test, see the advantages of the smaller faster cameras and explore what mirrorless offers me. But as I've indicated if a seriously well paid job came along, then I don't doubt I'd probably be off to the aforementioned pro dealer and walk out with a D800 or D4.
And ultimately it doesn't matter. I don't really care whether a camera has a mirror or not. And I certainly don't care whether it's got wi-fi or some ridiculous tech. geek app. that probably doesn't work properly anyway. And having wasted a lot of time yesterday trying to trigger my A7r from my newly acquired iPad (and watching the progress wheel on the screen of my Sony just keep going round and round as the devices failed to acknowledge each other) made me think that the Luddies were onto something!!
For professionals it's an ongoing bottom line situation. And the bottom line is what do we know, what do we trust, what can we rely on, what has done the job for us for years and what works for us? And like it or not many professional photographers just don't think m4/3 cameras are serious professional tools. Now they may be wrong, misguided, prejudiced, resistant to change and too embroiled in some macho outdated ideas of what constitutes a professional camera, but it's their money, their livelihood and their choice. And we have no right to criticise others for making their choices, just as they have no right to criticise us.
For me, it's the sensor that has always stopped me from going m4/3 exclusively. Yes, I can work round it and get pretty good results, but if I don't have to work round it, as with my Sony A7 and A7r, then so much the better. For a professional time is an asset. For example, if I could go without sleep for the next 6 months then I might be able to make a dent in editing, captioning and keywording and uploading the pictures I shot last summer, but I can't. And though I can do nothing about the images I've shot already, if the images I produce from now on are quicker and easier to get where they can earn me money then that's a serious advantage. And it has to be said, m4/3 slows me down. I have to post-process more to get what I want, eliminate the luminance noise that is present at all ISO's and use sophisticated (and time-consuming) sharpening and interpolation to get what I need. And having to do that makes all the advantages and pleasure of using the cameras in the field short-lived.
N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.