On Micro Four Thirds

Its been a long struggle, for me and everyone that knows me.

My journey with Micro 4/3 format has been interesting to say the least and may be worth sharing with you, from a gear interest perspective and also as a study in photographic philosophy and hypocrisy.

"The Waiter" Harajuku Japan. OMD 25 f1.8

"The Waiter" Harajuku Japan. OMD 25 f1.8

To start with, some background.

I have been interested in photography in one form or another since the 1980's and have always had one recurring theme...dissatisfaction with gear, results or process.

Working in a camera shop does not help!

Selling and buying gear is a normal occurrence in my house. Nothing has lasted for more than a year or so since the film era, and (yes this is the hypocritical bit), I preach what I believe on a daily basis, that any camera is a good camera, or else why do we bother. Do we wait until the perfect camera comes or have we always just gotten on with it?

Does this stop me?


Oh but it gets better. Once gone the unwanted items of equipment are usually missed. Some not, but some very much. Looking at old images is poor therapy.

The countless blogs out there will talk of "GAS" or gear acquisition syndrome or some such, one of the recognised five steps of the photographer (hoarding step 3?), but with some the cycle repeats.

 More than once.

As recently as a year ago I sported four brands, 8 cameras (more or less) and a clutch of lenses! My photographic output was neither more nor less than usual, but my dissatisfaction with my gear went from "lots of choice...great", to "can't carry it all, don't want any of it....grrr".

Something had to give and with this came the realisation that I had been here before.

Canon went pretty easily as it was a flirtation with an old friend, but nothing serious.

Sony went easily as well as my poison took the form of the NEX 7. A camera with plenty of potential, but Sony refused to reveal it. Their desire to hide the cameras secrets behind an atrocious menu is well documented, showing that perversely Japanese trait of over complication for its own sake.

Now... Fuji or Olympus?

Olympus had a great record of faultless service, solid image performance and the lenses I had accumulated were of a high standard, but sometime the images were just "drab".

Being a Fuji Velvia and digital Canon child, rich colour and warmth are pretty well baked in.

Fuji on the other hand has lots of ZAP, POW and WHAM. Like the proverbial super hero though, nothing was simple.

There never seems to be a good solution ergonomically with them. Granted the XE1 I am using is an older model and even with Fuji's great firmware support culture, the camera is much improved from its original form, but the Olympus came out of the gate well and has not faulted. The fuji always had a "disconnect" between me and the process. Also there is the ongoing saga of RAW or JPEG files, processing and the "odd" behaviour of some files.

Problem? Fuji with its trials; getting another camera that will not give me better images than the one I have, but will fix responsiveness issues, or get more responsive lenses (I have the 27 with no aperture ring and 60 with poor AF) to help out the camera?

Or drop Fuji and make the Olympus work better for me.

Make no mistake, the images out of the OMD and later PEN series of cameras is giant killing. I have several times tried to jump ship (camera shop curse), but even a Canon full frame could not blow away the Oly and the RAW file flexibility, accuracy of focus, depth of field benefit* and lenses always tipped the balance. 

I like the Canon deep colour, effortless warmth, smoothness and contrast. Out of the camera, the Olympus lacked much of that, instead offering hard sharpness, neutrality/naturalness, punchy but "thin" colour and a general "realness" that made dull conditions look well.... dull.

In a trip to Japan we suffered poor weather and the Olympus struggled to give me the magic I knew the Fuji would. It is worth noting that the Olympus cameras hardly missed a shot and even the worst mistakes were salvageable.

"Frost web" Tasmania.  Fuji XE1 60mm Macro

"Frost web" Tasmania.  Fuji XE1 60mm Macro

Lightroom to the rescue!

It took a little effort, but I got there in the end. Half a dozen lightroom pre sets, some creative thinking and there is all of the Canon warmth and depth, the Fuji sparkle and colour pop.

"Bel Air time"  Fuji XE1 60mm macro

"Bel Air time"  Fuji XE1 60mm macro

"Bel Air time alternative" OMD 75 f1.8

"Bel Air time alternative" OMD 75 f1.8

Although different, the two shots above are both acceptable to me and the truth is I can make both match almost perfectly (the red in the Olympus shot is actually closer to the truth than the Fuji red), but everyone will have their favourite I am sure.

Add to that, the super clarity and sharpness, bullet proof RAW'S and the accuracy of the cameras and it has suddenly become an easy choice. 

I now have for the first time in a long time a "1 bag kit".

There... that wasn't hard was it?


*The M43 format has a slightly smaller sensor than other crop frame formats, giving about one stop more depth of field at the same aperture.

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