Many years ago when I used to cover the Paris fashions, I shot a feature on why, at a time when clothes were expensive in Paris and cheap in London, French women, Parisiennes, in the street looked better dressed.
The answer was simple. More expensive clothes meant buying fewer clothes. It meant you had to think what you bought in terms of what was already in your wardrobe. Three skirts, Three tops and three colours of tights, all of which mix-matched, gave a woman what amounted to a different outfit for every day of the week. At minimal cost, taking up minimal wardrobe space but requiring more thought in the choosing process.
It’s a concept that I’ve always found pleasing, mixing and matching. When I had Rolleiflex twin lens reflex cameras, I had a Canon rangefinder for carrying around. When I had Nikon Fs, I had a Leica for carry-around. With my first DSLR I alighted on Micro Four Thirds cameras as my carry around. None of these solutions matched my Parisienne ideal since each camera needed its own lenses. Mixed they were, matched they weren’t.
Then I went over fully to Micro four Thirds. Mixed and matched at last!
Fast forward to today. Recently I looked again at my video Why I Use Micro Four Thirds Cameras, made 18 months ago outlining my reasons for ditching my DSLRs and going over to Micro Four Thirds for all my photography. I listened to myself explaining how the system is for me an ideal compromise between IQ, portability and practicality with its comprehensive ecosystem of lenses and accessories.
I wondered if anything new had come along would make me rethink my video. It hasn’t. If anything would, the Sony A7 system would be it but if you look at the cost and size of an A7 system with f2.8 zooms and so on, it’s a lot more than M43 and as the laws of optics dictate, even a mirrorless full frame camera cannot match a tiny lens to that big sensor.
One particular new thing has come along but far from making me rethink, it has reinforced my relationship with M43. The introduction of the GM1, followed by the GM5 and their two tiny zoom lenses, the 12-32mm and 35-100mm f4-f5.6.
Now Micro Four Thirds is not only mix and match, one format has morphed into three logical systems with little lenses for little bodies and bigger lenses for bigger bodies. And just right lenses for just right bodies….sorry, that’s the three bears, isn’t it?
Lets call them casual, street and ‘serious’ systems. In my film past that would be respectively a Sureshot, Leicas and a Nikons.
In my ‘serious’ camera bag, GH4, 7-14mm f4, 12-35mm f2.8 and 35-100mm f2.8, with a Nikkor 300mm f4.5 with Metabones Speed Booster (420mm f3.2 equivalent, only half a stop slower than an f2.8 400 Nikkor selling for 8 times the price and eight times the weight!) and Nikon to MFT adaptor (600mm f4.5 equivalent). And the GX7 with 12-32mm for pulling straight out of the bag for instantaneous use plus mounting the 300mm for use stabilized. Serious stuff.
My street outfit, GX7 with Olympus 17mm and 45mm f1.8s. Street stuff, fun stuff.
And my GM5 with 12-32mm and 35-100mm titchy lenses. Casual stuff.
Plus 14-140mm superzoom and Olympus 60mm Macro for video and (obviously) macro with any of the camera bodies.
Sometimes I use the 14-140 on the GH4 for video, sometimes on the GX7 on a bright summer days when out walking. The GX7 makes a good backup for the GH4 in serious mode. The GM5 with 35-100 makes a good backup for the GX7 with 17mm f1.8 in street mode. The permutations are endless but the f2.8 zooms don’t make a lot of sense on the GM5 or the 12-32mm zoom on the GH4. The GX7 happily floats around between systems when not doing its street duty and seems as at home with the 300mm Nikkor as it is with the 12-32mm mini-zoom.
All in all, Maximum Mix And Match.
I’ve done a short video cum slideshow here to give a visual idea of my three outfits..
I started out talking about the Parisian women’s mix and match philosophy and its benefits. It’s exactly what I’ve achieved with my cameras now, for the first time in my life. Everything works with everything else and gives the same quality.
And if I lay personal claim to now being, photographically, ‘une Parisienne’, I hope you will understand what I mean and not conclude that I am gender confused.