This blog is a commentary on the post linked below at Photofocus:
Five Things That Need To Happen If Micro Four Thirds Is Hoping To Take Over The World.
I read pretty much every post at PhotoFocus – topics range from industry news to photography tips to ideas on how to challenge yourself to shoot something new. I’m a big fan of Scott Bourne and his team. Scott’s post the other day about Micro Four Thirds (I’ll use MFT for the rest of the post) left me with a number of questions that all boiled down to “Why?”
Scott starts out saying he’s a huge fan of the format, but other than size and less fuss about vibration (MFT cameras don’t use a mirror like that moves during shooting like DSLRs do), why is MFT something I should consider switching to?
Don’t get me wrong – size matters. When I’m traveling, the idea of getting high-quality photos from a much lighter kit than my DSLR requires is attractive. For street and candid photography, it is a lot easier to be discreet and unnoticed, which is hard with a DSLR body and a 70-200 lens hanging around your neck.
But as I read Scott’s “Five things”, I’m struck by the question “Why” over and over.
- More Players: If there was a market, more players would emerge.
- Pro Support: As Scott knows far better than I ever will, pros use what works. I’ve seen several pros mention that they shoot MFT at least some of the time, but if it were superior for a pro, I think they’d be there already. If there was opportunity or a core of pro shootsers, one of the manufacturers would offer pro support services (which is a set of services exclusive to pros – faster repair service, access to loaner equipment, special tech support, etc.). While I do think there are “chicken or egg” problems for some markets, I just don’t think this is one of them
- Education: I’m a huge supporter of education, but it seems like this is another thing that is more of a “pull” than “push”. Also, how much different is the MFT world?
- Spokespeople: MFT has a good one in Scott, and I know Trey Ratcliff from Stuck in Customs has said mirrorless is the future (but he’s still primarily shooting on a DSLR – see my thoughts on that here).
- More of everything: (equipment, accessories, etc.) All I can say about this one is markets follow opportunity.
Why isn’t it more popular? At the end of the day, there are always going to be niche markets. If a platform like MFT were compelling enough, the products would be on the shelf. There is a constant stream of cameras that come to the marketplace looking for the right combination of features. At the end of the day, I think there are things that are keeping the MFT platform solidly in the niche segment, mainly centered around price (MFT isn’t less expensive than DSLR) and performance. Comparing the Nikon D5200 against two poplular MFT cameras – the Sony NEX-7 and the Olympus OM-D shows both of these cameras as more expsensive, offering fewer lens options (hence Scott’s point above) and short on specs like ISO performance and dynamic range. Nikon’s V1 didn’t compare well, either. They are a LOT lighter, shoot higher FPS, have higher boost ISO, etc., but those are “niche-specs” for me. I’m also wondering if the format is capable of delivering the shallow depth of field/bokeh that is such a part of the creative process in some photographs.
So other than performance-for-the-size, I’m not seeing a reason why I should consider switching – any comments or experiences are welcome!