Around the web. A micro four thirds revival in full swing? Maybe. Looking to the blog masters for clarification.

My first true love amongst the m4:3 cameras. 
That would be the Olympus EP-2. 
A marvelous photography machine.

Okay. So this is kind of "tongue in cheek" but a quick glance around the web this morning would make the readers of several blogs think that we're in the beginning stages of a backlash against the hyper-perfectionism of full frame cameras and all the attendant hype. I looked at Ming Thein's blog this morning to find that (in a subconscious reaction to all the preciousness of the new H-Blad???) he snapped up an Olympus Pen-F camera body and has been (joyously???) re-learning the unbridled joy of shooting Jpegs straight out of the camera and enjoying the crap out of the process. 

This is an interesting development given all the recent deep dives into medium format and his propensity for ultra-control.... But it's nice to see and the rationale he posits is a good one.

Then, over to Michael Johnston's, TheOnlinePhotographer, to find that after days, weeks, months of torturous research, conjecture, testing and mulling he too has slammed down cash for..... a micro four thirds camera and a matching lens. His choice, based on a large part about camera handling, haptics (and nostalgia for the rangefinders he professes to be disinclined to shoot), is the Panasonic GX8, which I will confess is a camera that looks beautiful to me. Michael paired his camera with the Panasonic 12-35mm, second version, giving as a reason the dual image stabilization. I can't imagine why he declined to try the 12-100mm Olympus lens but it may be he felt he needed the extra stop of speed. I owned the first version of the Panasonic 12-35mm and it's a wonderful lens. Not quite at the level of the Olympus 12/100 but a great lens nonetheless.

You can read the executive summary of Michael's excruciating search for the small sensor Holy Grail here: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2018/06/never-mind-all-that.html

And Sony blogger/workshop leader and brilliant scientist, Gary Friedman, has taken the whole argument about sensor size one step further and written about his infatuation (long term love affair?) with the even smaller one inch sensor cameras here: http://friedmanarchives.blogspot.com/2017/03/full-frame-vs-small-sensor-dont-laugh.html

It's a fun read and has the lure of big, luscious prints and focus grouping to make his points.

As you know, I am still in the micro four thirds camp with several Panasonic GH5s and a small collection of impressive Olympus Pro lenses. Two big zooms in inventory with several of the pro primes causing serious salivation over here. Pavlov's dog has nothing on me when I look at samples from the Olympus 17 and 45mm Pro high speed optics. Seems a great way to burn through even more money in the pursuit of..........?

A hand held stage image done outdoors at night, handheld 
with an Olympus EP-2 and the ancient Olympus (original) Pen FT 60mm f1.5 lens. 
Marvelous enough to massage your eyes....

We'll see if retro-format-fever strikes more blogs and photo sites in the days to come. Feels like a backlash to me. And a welcome one from the steady drum of the full frame orchestra (or is it a punk band?....). 


  1. I'm holding out for micro 17/12 which is a hair larger and I feel will hit the sweet spot dead on.

  2. They're fun tools to use and more than good enough for most people's work.

    I've stuck with oly for near on a decade now and haven't found a reason to shift. But it's not the sensor format. The lenses in m43 are superb with a few that are modern classics. Even if they never release another great lens I'd be staying to use my existing ones. Given their track record I'm sure there will more top glass in the pipeline.


  3. I followed your blog posts about micro 4/3s from early on and bought an E-PL1 shortly after returning from a trip to Israel in 2010, during which I found myself sweating under the load of two Canon bodies and several lenses. I was ready to downsize.

    I liked the E-PL1 and soon acquired a pair of E-M5s, which I still have. However, one is going up for sale shortly, and I would sell the other also, but it has an intermittent shutter malfunction which doesn't render it unusable, but unsalable. I have already sold all my m4/3s lenses but one, and it will soon be for sale also.

    Last year, I sold my Canon gear and switched to Fuji, but kept my m4/3s stuff because I wanted to be sure I was on the right track before divesting myself of it. After having given micro 4/3s a (very) long trial, I recognize all the persuasive arguments for its image quality, but ultimately, I am just not satisfied.

    The Fuji lenses are great, and not much larger than m4/3s lenses, which, to be fair, are also excellent. The lenses were never the issue. The X-T20 is actually smaller than an E-M5 and produces gorgeous files, including S00C jpegs. The X-T1 is the friendliest camera I've used since the Olympus OM-2n (of which I still have a pair, BTW).

    I have absolutely no argument with those who are happy with m4/3s. It just does not work for me

  4. Well reasoned and the right move for you. But, I've seen your work and believe that you can make just about any format sing. Best, Kirk

  5. Thanks, Kirk! I deeply appreciate the compliment.

    BTW, about half the photos in my Backroads and Byways of Georgia book were made with m4/3s; most of the rest with a Canon 6D. At that reproduction size it really wouldn't have mattered much what camera I used.

  6. I happily continue to use my two micro 4/3 cameras, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and the Olympus PEN-F. Though I have added a Canon G7X Mark II as my pants pocketable 1" sensor camera. These cameras work very well for on the go travel photography as well as my daily blogging.

    Of course the Archer Hotel seems very happy, as do their guests, for a wall sized photo I created with a 16MP Olympus micro 4/3 camera. https://blog.atmtxphoto.com/2016/09/25/my-photograph-at-the-archer-hotel/

    Sure, full frame might be nice for some applications, but how often are they really needed...?

  7. Um. Not nearly as often as I sometimes believe....

  8. It was your writing and photography in West Texas which lured me to M4/3 and I’m now on my third camera in that format. Interesting, your link to Ming Thein’s post. During his period of advocacy for M4/3....back when he was testing and reviewing lenses like the 45mm and 75mm primes...he cranked out some downright lovely candid images. After moving on to ever larger sensor Nikons and deeming the 16 MP Olympus sensor passe except for video he found reason, from time to time, to pick up an Olympus camera. And every time he did, the quality of his imagery (to my taste) would skyrocket.

  9. I've used primarily 4/3 sensors since about 2006 or 07, when I switched from Nikon APS to Olympus DSLRs. I bought the G1 mirrorless at the end of 1009, when it first became available in North America.

    Counting on my fingers, during those years I've spent something like $12,000 on full-frame cameras and lenses -- one from Nikon and two from Sony. Being cheap/broke I bought used and shopped hard, so I got back about 90% of my money when I sold. A good thing because none of them stuck. Right now I have a Sony A7r and lenses in the locker -- I've promised myself to give it one more chance on a real portrait session then use it or lose it.

    Sure, FF is great when I look at an image on screen, but once I put a photo on Instagram or up on a gallery wall I'm damned if I can see any real advantage to the larger format. Maybe there is a tiny sliver technical advantage, but in terms of content and connection with the viewer, the things that really matter, it just ain't there.


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