Most of us no longer need to carry big, heavy dSLR cameras and lenses

Written by Gary on September 26th, 2013

Now that the Micro Four Thirds system is maturing, there are few photographic needs not able to be managed with this much lighter and smaller gear, while the image quality is good enough for the far majority of us, even at ISO up to 3200 and even 6400. With the Olympus M-D E-M1, there is also now fairly fast tracking autofocus for either Four Thirds lenses or Micro Four Thirds lenses which is narrowing the gap with high end dSLRs even further.

These cameras are capable of great prints at least to 20″x30″ size which should be adequate for most needs and is overkill for those who just post images on the web.

The smaller and lighter size means you can get away with smaller, lighter, and cheaper tripods (if you still need them given that you can now hand hold the E-M1 with a wide angle lens to around 1 second exposures for lovely flowing water shots!).

But perhaps most important of all, the lighter weight will mean we will all do less harm to our backs carrying the gear and hopefully may reduce osteoarthritis to our spines as we get older.

Just carrying one heavy camera in one hand will cause scoliosis of the spine whilst walking and this can’t be good for you!

I thus thought it would be worth while posting some of the great images on the web taken by others (often using dSLRs, posted here under licence usage guidelines), that could easily have been taken with Micro Four Thirds.

Please click on their links to check out the other nice works by these photographers.



Adeeb Alan Nikon D700 230mm f/14

road to Mordor

Road to Mordor by Juan Carlos Cortin Nikon D7000 18mm f/5.6

morning fog

Morning by Filip Molcan Nikon D3 70mm f/9 1/4 sec

foggy castle

Predjama castle by Gorazd Kranjc Canon 100D EF 24-105mm f/4L lens


portrait by Paul Apal Canon 60D, 85mm f/2.8, beautifully lit with studio lights

forest fairy tale

Forest Fairy Tale by Jon Jon Photography


Tree of Wisdom by Aaron J. Groen Canon EOS 60D, 300mm f/16, 1sec ISO 100


Yosemite Moonglow by Darvin Atkeson Nikon D800E, 36mm f/2.8, 72secs, ISO 800


owl by Stefano Ronchi Canon 1D X sports dSLR 300mm f/2.8 ISO 400 1/4000th sec

This owl shot is a great example of the benefits of Micro Four Thirds, an almost identical image with similar quality, depth of field and bokeh could have been taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 which weighs 1/3rd the weight (497g vs 1,550g for the 1DX), about 1/4 the price, and then add in the lens, the Canon 300mm f/2.8 will weigh about  2550g and cost about $US6,800 while the Olympus ZD 150mm f/2.0 will offer the same telephoto reach, better IS and only slightly more depth of field for around $US2400 and weighs in at only 1600g (Olympus will probably make a Micro Four Thirds version in 2014-2015 which will be even lighter, be less expensive and have faster AF as it will also have CDAF compatibility plus silent AF for movies).

Difference between the 2 kits:

  • Canon 1DX + 300mm f/2.8L II = $US13,000 and weighs 4100g plus you need a big heavy tripod as it is not hand holdable
  • Olympus E-M1 with ZD 150mm f/2.0 = $US3900 and weighs 2100g – easily hand holdable even for long periods, and you could potentially hand hold it for HD video

Now if you wanted to catch birds in flight, the Canon 1D X may do a much better job given it will have faster phase detect AF with more points, and the burst rate is 12fps compared with 6.5fps with AF, but it won’t be long before Olympus comes out with a camera that will compete even with this – the technology is changing so fast for mirrorless cameras. The Canon has 2 other main advantages over the E-M1 – shallower depth of field options especially at wide angles and with zoom lenses, and the option of radio wireless TTL flash instead of light-based remote TTL flash. But if you don’t need these particular functions, the E-M1 will do the job much more cost effectively and you will have more fun as it is much lighter and less intrusive.

So if you are not aware of how good the latest Micro Four Thirds cameras are, do yourself and your back as well as your wallet a favour and check them out.

HOWEVER, no matter how good your camera is, it is just like a grand piano – you do need to learn how to play it to get the most out of it!


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