On Friday, 11 March 2016, <john> wrote:
My name is John and I live in Abbotsford Sydney.
I have and am enjoying your photography. Your images are wonderful.
A question that you must be asked by so many, but please forgive the question again.
I know that the most important ingredient to capturing an image is the person behind the camera and the available light. I have been looking to purchase a mirror less camera and the choice is quite bewildering. So many different opinions. I am enjoying your images and am wondering if you can give me some advice re this choice. I would appreciate any help that you could send my way.
The first question you need to ask yourself is what sort of photographs you would like to take? If tracking of sports athletes is a high priority then Mirrorless may not be the right choice. Would you like a range of zoom lenses or a set of primes. Is weight and size your highest priority?
The second question is how big will you print? As this can sway your choice with the number of mega pixels becoming important. If you never plan to print larger than A2 with the majority of your prints at A3 then 16 mega pixels is more than sufficient. Actually ten was more than enough for my work.
Personally I am very biased towards Micro Four Thirds because it is an open mount. Meaning that any manufacturer is welcome to join and make cameras or lenses. I think this is admirable in a world where competitors try to keep you tied into their brand by forcing you to lock into their system. Because of this you have the widest range of cameras and lenses of any other mirror less system. For ethical reasons alone Micro Four Thirds is a sound choice. I find the lenses and bodies a lovely compromise between size, sharpness and quality. I always hoped some other camera manufacturers would come on board such as Fuji, Leica and Sony or lens makers like Zeiss, but alas they have chosen their own paths.
The Micro Four Thirds system clearly has the best and most comprehensive lens choice in any of the Mirrorless systems with around 70-100 lenses to choose from. I must admit I don't know how many there are. I started counting and stopped at fifty and still wasn't close. There is a list on this page here.
I am also biased towards in camera image stabilisation. It works very very well and it can be used on any lens. I can hand hold at half a second and get a reasonable photograph. It is just so fantastic for people that have trouble hand-holding.
Olympus is by far my favourite mirror less camera manufacturer. My love affair with their cameras started with my OM-1, my first slr. My first camera I loved. It was the first compact slr and it is no coincidence that its dimensions closely matched the Leica M3 as it is also a lovely camera to hold and use.
In Micro For Thirds their cameras are a firm favourite for still photography. The sensor based image stabilisation system is outstanding and for that alone their cameras lead the pack. Some of the cameras are too small and benefit from extra grips. I always buy the Really Right Stuff camera plates and add them to the camera. The EM-5's handling substantially improves with their extra grip. The EM-1 with the Really Right Stuff base plate extends the camera body just enough to get my little finger around it which makes the camera very comfortable in my large hands. For all day use the EM-1 is my preferred camera, and for walking where every ounce counts I like the EM-5 mk2, which is also my preferred camera for videoing as it has a headphone jack in the extra grip so I can monitor my audio input levels.
The Panasonic cameras are well known for their beautiful colour renditions and their high quality video. One of their latest models now includes sensor based image stabilisation. A huge improvement which I hope to see on all their future cameras. I can't comment on their use as I have never used one. You tend to find that Micro Four Thirds users are either in the Olympus or Panasonic camps and won't consider the other. A few members of my family have Panasonic cameras who aren't very serious photographers so they shoot in jpg and print or share their work. The colours and photographs from the Panasonic cameras is always outstanding. So I have no reason to doubt their quality. It was that the image stabilisation system they initially developed didn't work with my favourite lenses.
Fuji has a solid range of mirror less cameras. They are renowned for their beautiful colour rendition and and lovely lenses. They use a very different sensor array. The colours are layer out differently and therefore many third party image processing engines used to struggle with processing their raw files. So make sure you check this out before going ahead with Fuji. Some may find their lens choice limiting while others say it sufficient. Fuji cameras are very popular among street shooters as there are a few models that have hybrid viewfinders that allow for either electronic or optical and both mixed together. A feature that isn't seen in any other manufacturers cameras.
Sony's latest mirror less offerings now have sensor based image stabilisation. They apparently work equally as well as the Olympus ones. My theory is that they bought half of the company just to get this technology then sold it on latter once they had it. There are few lenses to choose from and the lenses are much larger than Micro Four Thirds. So you may find you end up with a heavier kit. Many of my students went to a shop to buy an Olympus and came back with a Sony. I think the full frame and large mega pixel count is an easy up sell (the camera store makes more money when you buy a more expensive system). You will be spending 2 - 3 times as much money as you would on an equivalent Micro Four Thirds kit when you consider the lenses. It would end up being nearly twice as heavy overall too. Mind you these students who have gone with the Sony love them dearly and haven't ever looked back. There is plenty of room if you want to crop. They also make an amazing low light camera that has great high ISO capabilities. The Sony system has limited lens choice so consider if they have the lenses you want before committing to it.
I haven't looked at the Canon or Nikon offerings in Mirrorless much as they seem to be very limited with lenses.
The new Sigma Quatro looks interesting, though only a few lenses might be limiting. The Samsung Mirrorless System didn't pass the economic test of time.
The only other Mirror less camera I would consider is the Alpa / Phase One A-Series combination which I actually lust over. When I can afford the price of it yes I would love to use it, but alas for now the plus price tags put it firmly in the 'Len you're dreaming' category.
When buying a new camera I now start with the lenses, for the most interesting and desirable camera in the world is useless to me unless I can find an as equally desirable lens. I have written an article on my thoughts for Micro Four Thirds lens choices, which you can read here.
I have another article brewing in my head comparing full frame with micro four thirds, with the advantages going to micro four thirds. After the last nine months with a full frame DSLR, my conclusion is that it is not worth the pain it causes. ;)
I wish you well in your search and purchases