My Mirrorless Choice(s) - Fuji X-E2 and/or Fuji X-M1 and/or Sony A7 and/or Panasonic GX7 - Part 3 - The ?future of m4/3

There is no doubt that m4/3 technology has come a long way. As you can see from the image above dynamic range isn't the issue it once was and while still not quite as good as the best APS-C camera / sensor combinations high ISO noise is much improved. But there is a serious question that those of us who use the format to make a living with have to ask ourselves - 'Where can it go in the future?' Panasonic seem to see the future as being linked to their cameras abilities to deliver top quality pro video and Olympus are making the most of their capacity to produce some of the most aesthetic and stylish cameras on the market. But both operate with 16MP sensors and there seems to be no indications that either company are going to increase this MP density anytime soon. 

Meanwhile Sony are standardising on 24MP for their APS-C cameras and squeeze 20MP out of their 1" RX100 and RX10 cameras. Samsung currently offer 20MP but are rumoured to be increasing this next year and Fuji, m4/3 'soulmates' at the 16MP level are also rumoured to be increasing their MP's with the next round of APS-C sensors. And whether we like it or not, those MP figures do impress people and are a factor in peoples camera buying decisions. And though we may deny it, if you scratch the surface how many of us are really the pixel-peeping high-resolution junkies that we claim not to be? And as someone who does benefit financially from being able to offer extremely detailed files capable of extremely large resolution with the possibility of severe cropping, is there any point in carrying on with a format that will be stuck in the mud when it's competitors are disappearing into the distance?

Well, sensor technology actually doesn't get stuck in the mud and there will be improvements in the future, of that there is no doubt. What Sony can achieve with their 1" sensor is remarkable, and to be honest I wouldn't mind if m4/3 had a sensor that performed like that with good results at low ISO's and getting worse the higher you go. But both Olympus and Panasonic seem determined to produce good 'all-round' cameras and both with their latest model seem to be targeting a much higher end market of enthusiasts, serious amateurs and professionals. I just wonder though how far this can go. There would need to be a radical improvement in sensor performance for m4/3 to significantly increase pixel density while still retaining the current all round performance. And of course if such technology exists then APS-C and 35mm / 'Full-Frame' can also take advantage of that.

To a certain extent however it doesn't matter that much. I'm currently upsizing my m4/3 files to 21MP, almost the size of the maximum that Canon currently offer. And with my new ACR preset they look great, are capable of high-level large-scale reproduction and most importantly for me, they sell well. So to a certain extent that image quality is already in the files and with very careful exposure and processing it can be accessed. As I indicated in a previous post, I am now selling quite a few images with very large file sizes, which is a fairly recent phenomenon. I have no idea what these are being used for so can't really comment on why this might be. 

But far from the vast majority of my work being bought for use only on the internet it's obvious that printed publication is still where many of my images end up. And can m4/3 cope with that? Well yes I think it can. And despite not being convinced that under current conditions the sensors in these cameras can go much further in terms of MP size, without loosing the quality that has been patiently built up, there are enough good reasons for me to carry on with the format, the excellent lens range, the genuinely small and light footprint of the entire system and the overall real class of the system being the prime attractions. And it is still my favourite system overall.

So in conclusion, though I may well be selling my GH3 the GX7 will be around for a while I think. That's not as definite as the fact that I'm keeping the A7 but I enjoy using the GX7 an awful lot and while that doesn't mean that I will end up keeping it, it does go a long way towards influencing my decision. It can't match what my Sony A7r + newly-acquired 55mm f/1.8 can offer but it has it's virtues and I know if I sold all my m4/3 gear I'd only buy some more in the future so it's a provisional tick for the GX7. 

So only my two Fuji's to think about now.

For my series on Mirrorless Choices - Click this link

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