Four years ago, I don’t think that I’d heard of the snappily named micro four thirds standard. Now I use the format exclusively and have have (by my standards) an amazingly active YouTube channel with over half a million hits . How did that happen?
Quite simply. I am an ex press magazine and showbiz photographer (never a pap, in case you are wondering!). When I packed in the job, I flogged all my Nikon, Hasselblad and Mamiya gear and didn’t have a camera.
After 35 years, it felt great to go out without a heavy lump of glass and metal and light sensitive material over my shoulder. Then came the digital camera. It removed so much of the hassle of the old days and I bought one, a Nikon Coolpix 2 megapixel with an articulated body. I adored it and it relit my love of the medium in which I’d earned my living for so many years.
The came the the DSLR. I bought one, a Pentax, and I loved it. Then I bought lenses for it. I loved it but it was beginning to look like work again. And then came the GF1 Panasonic.
Here was a camera with interchangeable lenses that was not a nuisance to carry around. OK, so the image quality wasn’t as good as the Pentax but, as I rapidly discovered, it was good enough for my purposes, mainly stock and personal photography.
But I’m a bit of a minimalist at heart. It feels untidy to me to have two camera systems running side by side, different lens collections for each. And I was using the GF1 from choice more and more.
And then I saw a GH2. up quality well up to what I needed and essentially an all electronic replacement for a DSLR. And it used the same lenses as my GF! My Pentax gear was, with regret, sold off. It wasn’t the body size, it was the lenses.
Now I was all MFT. These days an Olympus E-PL5, and Panasonic GH3 and (newly) a GX7. Plus a raft of lenses, Panasonics 7-14 f4, 12-35 f2.8, 14-42f3.5-5.6 compact, 35-100 f2.8, 100-300mm f4-5.6 and 14-140mm f3.5-5.6. There’s more! Panasonic 20mm f1.7 and Olympus 45mm f1.8. I love and use it all. In fact I seem to be taking as many pictures as I ever did, earning a living or not.
The central thing that I love about MFT cameras is that they are not a digital development of a previous system, as a DSLR is. They shoot video as easily as stills. They are for and of the digital age. You can use them as a fully auto compact on program mode (p for pissed, as we used to call it in Fleet Street) or you can use skill and experience and they will replace a DSLR. Or anything in between.
I don’t hold with those who say the DSLR is dead, I think the full frame DSLR will be around into the foreseeable future. It does some things that MFT cannot. But the expense and size will inevitably decrease its appeal to new photographers, as happened to the Rolleiflex when the Nikon F came along.