The micro 4/3rd system : A traveller delight? (Tales of a micro 4/3rd holiday)
These past few years I have invested quite extensively in the Olympus / Panasonic micro 4/3rd compact camera system. The system has not replaced my DSLR kit (in the form of the Canon EOS 7D, lenses, flashes etc) but has been more of less been supplementary, although increasingly it’s this compact camera system (CCS) that I find myself carrying.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that the m4/3rd system has taken a bit of time to evolve / mature however I am now at the stage that I am reasonably confident that the latest camera bodies (in the form of say the Olympus EM5 and Panasonic GH3, GX1 and G5) offer a true and possibly compelling viable alternative to any mid range DSLR out there. Throw in the availability of some absolutely first rate lenses, a lens line up that’s growing (currently around 30 lenses are available) plus the adoption of the mount by independent lens manufacturers (i.e. Sigma & Samyang, with Zeiss to follow) and I’d strongly argue that the Pany / Oly m4/3rd system has truly come of age?
To demonstrate my confidence in the m4/3rd system, this year for a 2 week holiday in Greece I took only my Olympus EM5, Panasonic flash and seven (7) m/3rd lenses, leaving the Canon DSLR system at home. So did I miss the DSLR or did I feel I’d second changed myself? No, not a bit, in fact the complete opposite was the case and the experience was a bit of a revelation.
I found the m4/3rd system to represent the near perfect travelling system. To start with I was able to comfortably pack all my kit into just one large (ish) camera bag that weighed less than 5 Kg’s and which therefore formed my carry on hand luggage. I was able to pack the equivalent 35mm focal range of 16 – 400mm an incredibly useful range. My kit included some versatile zooms (wide, standard & telephoto), has some high quality “fast” primes (14mm, 20mm, 25mm, 30mm, and 45mm) and even a fisheye (with adaptor).
In previous years the effort to lug my heavy 7D and lenses everywhere was tiring and sometimes uncomfortable to say the least. This year I was able to simply pack into my suitcase an empty medium sized shoulder camera bag and then once away simply pack the EM5 and usually 3 lenses (sometime 4) into this bag as and when. Overall it was a bit of a revelation and hugely liberating. I have yet to fully evaluate the images but I know for a fact that the Olympus EM5 can produces superb images so I certainly don’t think I’ve settled for second best by leaving the DSLR at home.
No, am rather cuffed that I’ve persisted with the m4/3rd system and firmly believe it’s finally come of age, offering a genuine DSLR system alternative. For me the advantages of Panasonic / Olympus’s M4/3rd system has in size and weight totally outweighs the small advantage DSLR’s with an APS-C sensor have in image quality over recent m4/3rd cameras from ISO 800 upwards. The system will grow. Camera bodies will feature new capacities (GPS, Wi-Fi, touch screen, improved EVF’s) and sensor technology can only move forward.
The most recent m4/3rd camera bodies in the form of the Panasonic GH3, G5 and GX1 and Olympus’s EM5, E-PM2 & EPL-5 can and do hold their own against more conventional DSLR’s and other compact camera systems especially when twinned with some of the sublime optics available for the system.My shoulders, back and most especially the doggy knee are all very grateful that there are some great compact camera systems out there and am cuffed that presently I am carrying the most comprehensive system in the form of Panasonic / Olympus’s micro 4/3rd system.
Mark Baynham (October 2012)