Even in this day and age I am hearing from some photographers that the micro four-thirds format is not good enough. I disagree wholeheartedly!

My start with micro four-thirds

For years I was looking for a camera system where the files would not explode in post-processing. My wife was always complaining that I was bringing 35 pounds of gear on vacation. Asking why it was a problem for her as I was the one hefting it she said, “You aren’t using the camera gear as you often — leave it in the room because it’s too heavy!” As usual I had to admit she was right.

I searched and tried multiple point and shoot cameras and found them wanting. Then I tried the Lumix GH2. I took it, along with three lenses, on a riverboat trip through southern France. The kit stayed with me for the entire trip never leaving my side and upon return I was able to create the art images I wanted. Yay! I ran around chatting up all my photography buds that I found the vacation camera of our dreams.

Cathedral in Avignon, France made with Lumix GH2 and G Vario 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 (link to newer model). 1/60s, f/4.5, ISO 12,800.

Lumix Luminary/Ambassador

While the GH2 wasn’t ready for prime time pro use I shared how excited I was to use it. My buddy Skip Cohen suggested with my excitement for the camera and my work I should talk to Panasonic. He had to twist my arm a bit but I met with Tom Curley, head of the Lumix Luminary team.

My question for him was, if I am out speaking with Panasonic as my sponsor and I’m sharing an image made on my Canon camera what do I say? Tom replied, “Tell them it was shot with the Canon — proper tool for the proper job.” That’s when I knew I could work with them as a sponsor.

Moving forward

Fountain in Chicago, IL photographed with the Lumix GH3 and G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0. 1.6 seconds, f/7.1, ISO 400.

The Lumix GH3 was a great improvement over the GH2 and I started using the format for some of my commercial work. There were still a few limitations, so I alternated the Canon 5D Mark II and the GH3 depending upon the specifications for the job.

When the GH4 came out I thought, “OK we are ready for prime time with the format.” I had a photoshoot scheduled for a Hilton property in Phoenix. I photographed the job using both cameras side by side just in case. Note the header image and next below. I submitted the micro four-thirds files and Hilton corporate approved the images with no problem.

Phoenix Hilton hotel exterior. Lumix GH4 and G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 lens. HDR images combined; f/14 at ISO 200.

I was so convinced of the solid performance of the camera I started selling off my full frame gear. And, I haven’t looked back.

Micro four-thirds manufacturers keep improving, consistently adding new features. You can have access to the new technology via firmware upgrades instead of purchasing a new camera to access new features.

In spite of my success with the files in a commercial application, printing large images with no ill effects. My joy with loosing a lot of weight in changing formats as an important aspect. Still I was hearing from some fellow professionals, “But micro four-thirds isn’t good enough.”

Panasonic added the Lumix GH5 and subsequently the flagship stills camera Lumix G9. This stepped up quality even further. I enjoy the features available in the micro four-thirds format including in-camera focus stacking, focus blending, time-lapse, silent mode and fast shutter speeds. The rotatable EVF screens make it easier than ever to place the camera in weird positions and still see the viewfinder.

Local area woodworking and metal artist Craig Christopherson. Lumix G9 with Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens. 1/20s, f/2.5, ISO 1600.

Meanwhile Olympus, which shares a camera mount with Panasonic, has been upping its game as well. I got the opportunity to try the OM-D E-M1X and was surprised with new computational features.

In addition to the features listed above in the Panasonic cameras, Olympus has an onboard neutral density filter system called Live ND, Live Composite, Live Time and Pro Capture. All of these tools make it possible to be ever more creative in image making.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with M. Zukio 12-100mm f/4.0 lens. 60 SEC f/16 ISO 64. Built in Neutral density filter mode.

When I bought my Olympus camera I opted for the OM-D E-M1 Mark III. It does not have the built-in battery grip so the weight stays low.

Final thoughts

Is the micro four-thirds system the be-all and end-all? Nope. But I’ve found the system is a LOT better than many photographers give it credit. I do all my work with the system. There are situations for which a larger format is needed. As Tom Curley originally shared with me, “Proper tool for the proper job.” Just know micro four-thirds works for my imaging with no regrets.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob