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Why I got my wife a micro 4/3 camera

I got my wife a microsensor camera (micro 4/3) – but promise not to drink the KoolAide

I poke fun at the micro 4/3 system (i.e. “microsensor cameras”) fairly often. It’s typically triggered by the outrageous, bulldog-like persistence of many microsensor fanatics who breathlessly extol the virtues of the small sensor format as the best in the universe. I guess my ascerbic & contrarian intuition to poke fun at them. But I don’t really mean it (well, not completely).

I got my wife an Olympus micro sensor camera.

I got my wife an Olympus micro sensor camera.

So, my wife and I decided that it would be fun to share a hobby and that we would get her a nice camera. It was my job to choose a camera, and I wanted her to have something herself, rather than just borrowing something of mine. My parameters were:

  1. She had to LIKE the camera. This means, it had to be a desirable looking and feeling object. Being cute and not too heavy (given a history of back/neck pain) were important.
  2. It had to have an EVF – I believe that learning to frame images with an uncluttered view is important. I also believe that 3-points of contact is a good habit to form
  3. I preferred a system camera, because I’d like her to start out with a normal, fast prime… but know that a standard zoom would be in the cards
  4. It had to work well in the GREEN SQUARE, but also offer simple, tactile manual controls. IF she decides to learn at a deeper level, having dedicated dials for aperture and shutter speed are important, IMO

Micro 4/3 checked all the boxes – and was best for her

So, the choices were an entry level or used DSLR (like a 60D, or A65), a Sony E-Mount camera (like the NEX-6 or a6000), a Fuji X camera, or something in the microsensor arena. Ultimately we chose a used OMD-E M-5 (I have no idea where the spaces and dashes go in that one). It’ll likely be paired with some kind of kit zoom and a fast-ish 25mm lens. Why?

  • The body is attractive, but it’s very small and light. She likes it, is intrigued by it, and will want to pick it up
  • It offers very simple operation to start – and straightforward manual controls for learning the fundamentals (if there’s interest)
  • The EVF is very nice, and inviting to use… and there’s a dedicated button to turn the rear screen off
  • The lenses are reasonably priced (ish) and fairly compact. Most importantly, the kit lenses are actually very good
  • There is (with a fast prime) at least some ability to creatively manage depth of field
  • Decent noise performance, good JPGs, and overall quality product

Why not the others? Well, I feel that the Sony kit and lower-end lenses are pretty terrible, and they are a little menu-happy. Not as simple and elegant an experience for learning. And I just don’t think she would like the a6000 as much. The Fuji system is just a little wobbly at the lower end to me. I wouldn’t be in the market for the upmarket primes, and the cost started adding up with a body and two lenses. Just wasn’t right. And I’m not sold on manual focus with those lenses, the focus by wire is not smooth to me.

Bottom Line

Yes. I’m still of the belief that either APS-C or 35mm format provides the best option for serious and flexible photography… but this is definitely the right camera for her. BUT… if she starts pontificating about how the microsensor format is superior to APS-C and 35mm full frame, and that all other formats are doomed, I will KNOW they have some kind of brainwashing mind-melt going on inside those EVFs.






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About Leica BOSS

I heart grain. I'm also an unapologetic Leicaphile - bringing original content and photography goodness from around the web with gear, photos & tutorials. Pay it forward.

8 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Dave
    May 21, 2014 at 5:57 am #

    I own FF and m43 cameras. I can say from experience the only real difference between them is the slight advantage of better noise reduction and dynamic range. These are virtually imperceptible in most circumstances. I was even looking back at shots I’d taken with an old Ricoh GR D with a small 1/1.7 inch sensor and even with that camera the files looked great at base ISO. For a number of years now digital technology in even lower end consumer cameras goes far beyond the needs of even professional photographers.

    A lot of the time when it comes to digital bodies performance is usually more dependant on the manufactures investment in R&D as opposed to the fundamentals of sensor type or size. The better bodies are a result of more investment and better design rather then having a bigger sensor. Something proved by the leaps forwards in CMOS sensor technology in the past few years due to Sony’s desire to invest in that technology above other forms of sensor.

    The m43 system is popular in Asia, so you see a lot more investment in it then other systems. As a result there are lots of great bodies and lenses. Most of which are more compact and practical then the more expensive full frame cameras available. I’m a big fan of the system in general.

    I think it’s nice to have both FF and m43 cameras at hand. The benefits of fast contrast detection AF and a larger depth of field are actually very useful. In a way it’s the FF systems that are a little out of place, being that they aren’t the IQ and Bokeh monsters medium and large format cameras are and not the tiny convenient cameras m43 are.

    • Leica BOSS
      June 15, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      My wife shoots m4/3. I’d say that in terms of controlling the aesthetic aspects of an image – FF is the happy medium. In terms of low-light capability, depth of field control, where diffraction limitation sets in and the resulting shutter speeds you need in the “sweet spot” – FF cameras really give you ultimate control. Show me a good 35mm FOV equivalent lens on u4/3 that can give you a nice, shallow DoF. It’s the creative flexibility that makes the 35mm format important today.

      • HF
        October 9, 2014 at 8:47 am #

        The 75mm/1.8 and 42.5/1.2 give you nice shallow DOF, but: they are comparably larger and expensive. My experience is with Nikon, and here the 1.8G lenses provide excellent quality for the price (e.g. the 85/1.8g is one of the best rated lenses and can be had for 350 Euros, compared to the Panasonic 42.5 for 1600 Euros!). So if shallow DOF is your bread and butter you need to pay a lot within m43 compared to FF.
        Your test of the 70-200/4 convinced me that a APSC 50-150/2.8 equivalent is not on my list any more (since FF provides the same DOF control and size and can compensate with higher ISO values for the larger f-stop. Furthermore, you can always attach fast lenses from other systems if required and not available.). My only concern is the loud shutter and lack of EFCS on the a7r. For traveling I like my m43 system, on the other hand.

        • Leica BOSS
          February 26, 2015 at 7:22 am #

          Your thoughts are very fair. Another “option” that may sound crazy is having a standard A7 and an APS-C E-mount body as a backup or for wildlife, etc. The shutter on the A7r doesn’t really concern me personally, but I understand the sentiment.

  2. Joe Yung
    May 30, 2014 at 5:04 am #

    Wise choice!

    By the way, the picture above is not OMD-E M-5. You may want to change the picture to correctly reflect what you have bought for your wife.

    • Leica BOSS
      June 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

      I showed her the photo – and she said she didn’t see the difference. So, I’m satisfied :) (and too lazy to change the image!)

  3. Carlo
    June 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    I have got my wife a sony RX10 and she’s happy ;-)

    She do not have to think how to change a lens
    She use the same lens for portrait and for landscape (24mm to 200mm!)
    She can remotely control the camera via the Iphone for a selfy (important for facebook..)
    What else?

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