Saturday, April 12, 2014

MIrrorless Is The Future

I have come from a long background of using DSLR (Olympus E-410, E-520, E-5, Sony A350 and A57) and I can testify that there really is nothing that I miss from my DSLR days, since I have fully converted to mirrorless Micro Four Thirds system now. Gone were the days of carrying huge and heavy camera and lenses, and now we are seeing the new generation camera system that emphasizes on smaller, lighter, yet siimilarly powerful, if not even surpassing what most DSLR cameras can do. Mirrorless system is maturing, what is your excuse in clinging to the DSLR?

Indeed, there are still that top of the line full frame cameras which seem to be somewhat untouchable when it comes to pure speed and low light shooting performance, cameras such as the venerable Canon 1Dx and Nikon D4/D4S. Yes, you may need to shoot at ridiculous ISO25,600 and you need the shots to be usable. Nonetheless, looking at how far the other systems have caught up all these years, I do not feel inferior when I am using the Olympus OM-D cameras. I am perfectly fine with ISO3,200 images, and would not hesitate if I needed to boost up to ISO6,400. Now we have a wide selection of F1.8 lenses, and Panasonic has taken the wide aperture game a step further by introducing their latest 42.5mm F1.2 lens. You have sub F2 lenses to work with, at very usable ISO6,400, and you know what, the technology is still improving, surely things will get better and better with every new camera releases. More and more interesting lenses are being released. For most photography situations, that combination should be more than sufficient! Times are exciting for the next generation mirrorless camera and there is still a huge potential of growth. 

All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 or PEN E-PL5, and M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 or Panasonic 14mm F2.5 lenses

Fashion



Religious

Waiting

Covered

Hard Work

Carry

I believe the day will surely come when mirrorless camera systems will fully taken over the DSLR camera systems, the only question that remains is when.

Basically, any mirrorless camera can do what most DSLRs can do now, and some even do them better than DSLRs. Image quality, AF performance, camera features, video capabilities, etc. There really is less and less needs and justifications to buy a DSLR, especially true for new-comers to photography. I may not be able to speak fully for the professional crowd, but for most people who do not shoot professionally, why do you need something so big and heavy (and honestly ugly)? 

I have heard stories of a professional photographer who broke her wrist shooting with a 5Dmk3 and a 70-200mm lens on an assignment. I have also heard how some photographers suffered back-ache and shoulder pain lugging their DSLR equipment around all day, either on assignment or holiday. Size and weight advantage, or disadvantage (whichever way you look at it) can be serious considerations that must not be overlooked. 

More and more professional photographers are switching over to mirrorless system, and I have known many who use Micro Four Thirds system for their assignment. Their feedback has been consistent: the mirrorless system is more than sufficient to deliver what they needed and has performed admirably. 

It is indeed strange seeing how so many photographers (mostly new-comers) who believe in the full frame camera system so desperately that it was the ultimate photography machine that they strive for, without allowing any room for consideration for other camera systems. In their minds everything else is less than what full frame camera is, and somehow, I wish they can see that photography is a lot more than just getting a full frame camera. 

Street Waitor

Fabric

Five Foot Way

Friendly Stranger

Local Fashion

International

Innocence. 

Take today's street photography session for example. Can you tell me what advantage I would have had, or how I could have done better if I was using a top of the line DSLR camera instead of my OM-D and PEN cameras? 

The Micro Four Thirds system has provided me more than what I needed. I never wished the images were any sharper. That 45mm F1.8 is crazy sharp. The depth of field at F1.8 wide open was so shallow I needed to stop down to F2.8 or F3.5 for some of the above shots, just to have enough zone in focus. The focusing was super fast and dead on accurate, any misses was my own fault. All images were almost straight out of camera with only minor tweaking, I was pleased with the resolution, details and color rendition of the system. Seriously I do not think using a better camera can give me better results. 

The painful truth is, the limitation is not on the photography system itself, but myself. 

If you have used and experienced mirrorless system (or if you are using both mirrorless and DSLR system) kindly share your opinion. 

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79 comments :

  1. I have an APSC Nikon DSLR and a Lumix GX1 but lately I've noticed that whenever I leave home the camera I pick up is always the GX1. The MFTs are so easy to carry around town. It never attracts attention towards yourself and the results are similar to what I would get with my DSLR. Who knows? Maybe in the coming years I might ditch the SLRs altogether! :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing Mathai. Indeed, who knows, one day mirrorless will fully replace DSLR!

      Delete
  2. Hi Robin...good article...I have a Canon 5dii and a Canon 60D and a host of L lenses...i am off to South Australia for Easter and am taking the epl-5 and fuj XE1..Dont like the idea of lugging around the weight..Can't wait for my shutter therapy

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    1. Get some awesome shutter therapy there!

      Delete
  3. In general I agree. The only place where I find my Nikon gear (D600) outdoes my E-M1 is sports. It's not by a large margin and shooting soccer in good daylight works fine with the E-M1 and Panny 35-100 f2.8. But under less than optimal lighting the D600+Tamron 70-200 f2.8 is better. I think that is primarily due to the glass. Of course the size and weight is considerably more but I am not shooting on the run. For travel or general photography I think mirrorless does make a lot more sense. Not having to lug my Nikon gear around Asia for month is definitely a big advantage. Image quality wise I can get every bit as good photos out of my E-M1 as I ever did from my Nikons. And all in a kit that easily fits into a very small backpack.

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    1. Then there will be 40-150mm F2.8 pro soon for native micro 4/3 mount, as well as 300mm F4! Those will be great for sports.

      Delete
  4. Well I guess it all depends on requirements and preferences. Sport photographers will probably grin at your article, but for most of us, generalist, or enthusiast and semi professional, the MFT system is more than sufficient. I also found the mirrorless camera appear to be less intimidating when shooting human interest or for reportage.

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    1. Don't jump the gun just yet. More lenses are coming. As I said, there is a great potential for growth in the mirrorless system.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Portability is the biggest reason I went with a mirrorless MFT when I was looking to upgrade from a point-and-shoot. I ride a motorcycle, and many of my rides through the countryside present fantastic photo ops. Being able to tuck a camera into my 3 1/2" tall tank bag rather than having to lug it in a backpack or saddlebag means that the whole process of stopping, framing, grabbing the shot, stowing gear, and getting back on the road can happen in under a minute. A lot of times I don't even have to get off the bike. That ease of use is key for me. In the 4 years I've been shooting on MFT gear, I can count on one hand the number of times I've wished for a bigger sensor/lens when shooting low light.

    Even when I'm not on my motorcycle, the size of my MFT gear is tiny compared to what I'd have to lug for a DSLR setup. I can walk around with my EP-3 with a short prime mounted, and my 14-150 f:4-5.6 in a bag that would fit a DSLR body. It's fantastic for walking around photography. Whether it's urban street shooting, or taking it on hikes, or having it on my wrist at parties, the size and weight mean that I'm more likely to have the camera with me than if I had something bulkier and heavier. And sure, maybe the full-frame sensor would capture a slightly better picture. But not if it's at home because it's too much of a pain to carry.

    Also, let's be honest: a lot of the new mirrorless cameras available are gorgeous to look at. They've got the features to attract professionals looking for something smaller and easier to use as a backup/travel camera, and the looks that are going to draw the amateur/enthusiast looking to step up from the P&S. It's a win all around.

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    1. Hey James,
      Thanks for sharing your experience and glad that you have been enjoying the micro four thirds setup! Interesting to know that you are actually shooting while on motorcycle, I am pretty sure you must have had some amazing shots.

      Delete
  7. Just wrote an article about the difference which a fast contrast detection autofocus can make when using one of these newer mirrorless cameras. Still love the haptics and ergonomics of my E-520, still love that incredible 50mm macro, but everything else? I'd prefer a Pen or an OM-D over a DSLR any day.

    So: still using both (one with that 50mm macro, the other with a 25mm PanaLeica), but the days of the DSLR are surely coming to an end. For mirrorless I see a bright future (it saves the companies costs, so they might think the same).

    Great photos as always Robin! Good to see what's possible with our "tiny" sensors ;-) (sorry; was just offended somewhere else by some of these "full frame" gearheads)

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

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    1. hey Wolfgang,
      And yes I have also read that blog entry you have written about comparing with the older E-520. Indeed the OM-D has come a long way and the advancement is quite a big margin.

      Delete
  8. P.S.: "Innocence" is a great portrait indeed...

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    1. Thanks Wolfgang, I love that photo too.

      Delete
  9. thanks for sharing. i used to shoot with nikons (d90 & d300s) but i ditched em all for micro4/3. well, i still have the sigma 35mm f1.4 art lens which i kept to use it with the metabones instead of spending money on the voigtlander 17mm. anyway, my experience with 4/3 so far is great. I don't mean to upset any dslr fanboy, but IN MY OPINION, u4/3 focus accuracy is 100x better (comparing to aps-c dslr at least). gone were the days i had to rely focus assist beam from flash to focus on anything ... anything. i had been doing photography since 2010, there had not been a single day that i enjoy using dslr cameras. for those who enjoy shooting everyday, "the best camera is the one you left at home" - somebody said it and i totally agreed. Although, even if i have the d610,d800,or markIII, i still consider my omd em5 to be my best camera.

    ppl think that full frame will give them better iso performance. consider this, current full frame dslr like nikd600 or can6d is only 1 stop better in noise performance as comparing to omd. flagship fullframe maybe 2 stop better. but, for anything other than sport and fast movement, i think the omd's ibis compensation can top that. In addition, i found myself rarely shoot at aperture smaller than f2 on crop body - dof is too narrow. thus, if i shoot full-frame i'll probably be shooting at f2.8 all da time - or even stop it down by 1 more stop. that means at optimal settings under very low light, i'll be shooting with d4 settings at 24mmf2.8 s.spd1/24 iso6400 while with the em5 12mmf2 s.spd1/10 iso1600 instead.

    that 2 stops advantage from a >$6000 doesn't really mean much for some one who opt for a little more dof to get sharper focus zone and take advantage of ibis.

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    1. Whoah, that was a great revelation there, that your days with DSLR was not exactly as glorious as everyone claims to be, and you nailed it there when you mentioned about the accuracy of focus with Micro Four Thirds system. And I like your argument on the advantages of image stabilization and using smaller body that result in better handling, thus mitigating shake and not having the need to boost up ISO settings unnecessarily.

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately, people equate full frame sensors with improved high ISO performance because they get confused.

      Not all full frame cameras offer outstanding high ISO performance … but ONLY full frame sensors currently offer the best high ISO performance, and that comes specifically from only 3 cameras at the moment (all Nikons): the D3s, D4 series, and the Df.

      So when folks read about or hear about great full frame high ISO performance, it's typically one of those cameras that is being referenced.

      However, those 3 aforementioned cameras WILL offer you at least 2 full stops of ISO performance above the E-M1/E-M5 … and with less noise.

      Yes, IBIS can claw back 3 or 4 stops and make up the difference, but remember, image stabilization only works on you. If your subject is moving in low light, you're out of luck. That's where high ISO performance still rules supreme.

      So in some situations, yes, there is still "no replacement for displacement" as they say.

      Delete
  10. Awesome! Where you taken that pictures? There are similar to my language :)

    Regards,

    Adiew Cen | LIFE ~ MUSIC ~ PHOTOGRAPHY

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Read more, dig into my blog. It is quite obvious where I am at.

      Delete
  11. I'm agree with you, is also seeing your pictures that I wanted to try OLYMPUS.

    Nothing beats Olympus colors.

    After an experience with Nikon D300 + D700 and Sony NEX-7 + A7r, now I use two bodies Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus Zuiko 25mm f/1.8 ED + Olympus Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 ED.

    http://www.romeocolombo.com/Sony7andOlympus5

    Result: small is beautiful.


    Greetings
    Romeo Colombo

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    1. Thanks for sharing Romeo. Most people who have tried multiple system will come back to OLympus and know that Olympus has a lot more to offer! Small is beautiful, nicely said.

      Delete
  12. Nice article robin, but it seems to suggest that mirrorless = small sensor size, which is rather misleading due to the fact that we do indeed have FF mirrorless (Sony A7). It proves that mirrorless or not, does not always have the association with sensor size.

    Anyway, MFT is still the sweet spot for me in term of size & quality. The presence of mirror in DSLR is really for the sake of viewfinder, and the EVF these days are already up to the task.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hey ck,
      For me, I am only using micro four thirds, hence my examples of mirrorless would have to be taken from Olympus Micro Four thirds point of view. And you are right, the electronic viewfinder is getting better and better.

      Delete
    2. Sonys market is still super small because of lack of lenses so most people still think of mirror less as being a small format.

      Delete
    3. for dslr sensors, especially full-frame. lenses are still going to be bigger and heavier comparing to 4/3 systems lenes. for larger aperture lenses. it guess it will feel really unbalance.

      Delete
  13. Dear Robin,

    I wish that mirror-less cameras could do as well at sports. It will take time.

    I agree that for most other photography, mirror-less equipment with the same size sensor are equally good as dSLRs. I also believe that there will come a time when sports photography will be fine with mirror-less bodies. I wish that was today because my E-1 and E-5 are a bit tired. The image quality is there, the speed to capture the correct photo is not. It reminds me of photographing sports with a 1970s film SLR using ASA 200 film.

    I hope to be using a Panasonic GH4 and Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 by the end of the year for sports, so maybe things will improve over the GH3 and 35-100mm f/2.8.

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    1. Hi Sakamoto,
      I am sure improvements will happen, and it will sooner rather than later. I am having high hopes on 40-150mm F2.8 pro from Olympus, as well as the 300mm F4 lens.

      Delete
    2. It's funny people say that about sports but I have not found that to be a problem at all. I have sold more sports pictures this year alone than all my previous years combined when using a DSLR. I know it has to do more than just the cameras but I know that has helped

      Delete
    3. Thanks for sharing Bryce! I am sure in this case you as the photographer is a huge contributing factor to the "selling more photos" part!

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    4. Robin,

      I look forward to the 40-150mm although I wish there was a 50-200mm since it fits me so well in cross country meets. I'll adapt. A 150-300mm would be good also.

      Bryce,

      I'm glad for you. I haven't found a sport where mirror-less bodies aren't a problem yet, although my equipment is not bad for wrestling. Cross country/track, swimming, basketball, and volleyball have been a bit too much. I can pretend that I have a 1970s camera using ASA 100 film for races, but that doesn't work with other sports.

      Delete
    5. Sakamoto, I shoot a lot of basketball, and volleyball and I don't use zooms indoors, only primes. It forced me to shoot differently too. I use zooms outside and it works great.

      Delete
    6. No worries Sakamoto, give Micro Four Thirds a bit more time to evolve even further. They have nailed almost everything, and the poor AF for sports is just one of the last few things to iron out. We will see what happens.

      Bryce, great way to counter the low light condition, by going prime!

      Delete
  14. Hello Robin, nice to hear your defense of m4/3, while another site advised not to buy anymore 'cropped' lenses as new FF35 mirrorless were introduced. Personally, with my E-M5
    I have all I need and I don't believe that I'd get more resolution in the Wides, or better Street Shooting with an A7. Ultrafast focus and IBIS play a role of course, and great lenses
    coupled with great colours. I am surprised that you shoot with a P 14/2.5 a much despised lens, that I use daily, wondering how people come to these memes. One of the secrets
    of m4/3 is of course that it allows to get closer to your subjects, and you get *very* close indeed, which is admirable.
    If you have a minute, check my new blog, which should be fun:

    Photo & Poetry

    http://amalric2014.blogspot.it/

    ReplyDelete
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    1. hey amalric,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience with the Micro Four Thirds system.
      I do think that the Panasonic lens is a good one, it is not excellent, but it is more than sufficient for what I needed from a wide angle lens. Yes I do wish it is slightly wider but there is that Olympus 12mm f2 for that (with a different price tag of course).

      Delete
  15. Mirrorless is definitely the future. I had a D600 w lens and Ep1 w 17mm on a trip to Australia. Guess which one I am more happier with. Weight is a major consideration especially when travelling. Mirrorless image quality with Sony or Fuji X or M4/3 is definitely good enough for most applications.

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    1. I agree, the mirrorless system is definitely good enough for most applications.

      Delete
  16. Want my opinion? Mirrorless rules the world now. ;)

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  17. I got an Olympus OMD-E5 ( with grip ) with several lenses. Now with the 12-40 2.8 mm . With this combo is all you need for street fotography . Light , beatiful quality and better quality then most camera's .
    But I got also an Olympus E1 with 12 - 54 mm , still love this camera more . The reason perfect grip to hold the camera. Mirrorless camera's are tiny to hold specoal when U have bigger hands.

    regards Jan

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    1. There are bigger mirrorless cameras with more substantial grip for better handling, such as OM-D E-M1 and Panasonic GH-3 (and the new GH-4). Coupled with vertical battery grip I am sure the handling is as good as any DSLR.

      Delete
  18. A few months ago, I sold my Nikon D7000 and DX lenses to get the E-M5 with 12mm. This was mainly motivated by the size factor. I found myself taking my DSLR out less and less because of its size. It was a great camera and very helpful for the learning experience, but I wanted something smaller. After reading the reviews of the E-M5 (and seeing its price drops), I decided to get one. No regrets since then. I find that the image quality between the D7000 and E-M5 sensors are comparable, but the Olympus wins out in the lens system. Great sharpness, small size, light weight. Since then, I'm wishing I took more advantage of the Olympus lens specials!

    And the one amazing advantage of the E-M5...the IBIS system. Getting a 0.5sec handheld shot that I can keep...wow (https://secure.flickr.com/photos/tvhow/13176623574/)! For my shooting style, the switch the mirrorless and the E-M5 in particular, has been great. I really enjoy shooting with it...which in the end is what the camera is for anyways!

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    1. Glad to find that you are switching over to the Micro Four Thirds system. OM-D indeed is as good as most DSLR cameras, if not surpassing them in some ways. And now you know the great 5 Axis Image Stabilization! It does work wonder.

      Delete
  19. these days the em5 offers me places to shoot where DSLR have been usually spotted by security and shooed out or charged..but the em5 offers invisibility cloak of sort when shooting in streeet

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    1. Being discreet is very important, agreed with you Joshua!

      Delete
  20. Hi Robin,
    In your portraits, you seem to capture the right amount of reflected light in the eyes (catch light?). How do you this? Flash?
    Just a conscious effort and/or positioning of the subject?

    Great pics! I'm in the states, I don't know if you are aware of this, but your blog gives a good photojournalist "window" into
    Malaysia, its people and its food. (I especially love the food pics.) I hope to visit someday. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Optimus,
      I do not use flash for my street photography. I always paid attention to the lighting, how it falls on the subject (face).
      Thanks for the kind words (too kind). I am a food lover, hence more food photos to come.

      Delete
  21. I understand from having used the best of fuji/sony/panasonic/olympus(okay probably not olympus as much as you do but enough to have a stance) that it might lead to thinking that mirrorless cameras are there or "almost there". Well thing is that the mirrorless phenomenon isn't overly evolved enough to provide enough incentive for the dSLR buyer, new or old to consider.

    dSLRs possess "operational security" in the fact that they will work responsively (there is instant feedback in every decision), reliably (they will lock focus, show images right after the shot, last 800 shots and more on a charge) and are built on the focus that builds confidence in the user. They also still have the biggest library of camera bodies and lenses at various price levels you can find new or in second hand market. For the price of a 45 1.8, you can purchase a 450D with a 50 1.8 lens.

    major mirrorless problems are:
    1- systems built around image quality and lenses without good enough camera bodies to inspire operational security
    2- systems built around shoving absolute image quality (ahem fullframe) in the tiniest of bodies without providing small lenses that balances well with the body
    3- most of mirrorless camera having unreliable autofocus in areas nailed by autofocus film SLRs of the past.
    4- classic photography technique still being taught in school using fullframe dSLR principles rather modern mirrorless principles
    5- people still encouraged to use adapted lenses on cameras who's AWB isn't equipped to handle perfectly the light coming from lenses it hasn't been registered to handle.

    In the case of olympus, I do agree this system seems to be the better rounded of all of them (small lenses, small well built bodies for the OMD line, decent base to 6400 ISO images in lightroom). Yet I believe it needs to "shoot famous photos" like the legendary pro or has-been-pro brands of the past and carry on that legacy marketing-wise which the brands we know have...

    some thoughts :)

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    1. I am sorry but I have to disagree with some of your points.
      I have no issue with "operational security" as you have mentioned. There are many professional photographers who fully embraced micro 4/3 and other mirrorless system and they surely do not feel their camera is less responsive than DSLR. If you have really compared a micro 4/3 camera with any DSLR, micro 4/3 (OM-D especially) is superbly responsive, and I dare say their AF is indeed blazingly fast and dead on accurate. I do not see in which part have you described the AF being "unreliable". Many APSC camera users, including newer full frame bodies (I am not going to name cameras else I get bashed) do have focusing inaccuracy issues (back focus, etc). These issues are almost non existent, in the world of mirrorless cameras.
      Classic photography techniqye you referred to in what schools? I have seen numerous workshops taught by professional photographers and academies, using mirrorless systems. Live view is easier to demonstrate the changes in exposure and the relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO (live preview). I am not sure about your part of the world but I do not encounter photography school using full frame cameras to teach here locally in Malaysia.
      Also, true that 45mm F1.8 is the price of a 450D and 50mm F1.8 lens. But that 45mm F1.8 is worth every single cent and can run circles around that 50mm F1.8 any day.

      The truth is, for Olympus, it is NOT just well-rounded. It is surpassing what many DSLRs can do. And I believe it is getting better and better.

      Delete
    2. Robin, I have no intentions of starting a flame ware with your reader, but I feel inclined to respond. Having shot with Canon and Sony cameras before, I feel less secure about it's operational security as far as delivering photos to my clients. At the end of the day, I would rather deliver a photo that is focused accurately, but contains more "noise" than to deliver a high quality back focused or misfocused image. Phase detect systems sometimes require lens calibration, something I have never worried about with my Olympus m43 gear. In my experience with phase detect cameras, I had several back focused images that were just unusable.

      I fear, this reader is slightly misinformed or has never used mirrorless gear. I am more inclined to rely on your feedback and opinion on the matter given your experience than an individual speculating on aspects that are quite subjective. Some of the mirrored cameras, in my opinion, have not done anything truly innovative since going digital. In fact, I think manufacturers like Pentax is offering more, as far as technological advancement, than some of the more complacent big hitters like Canon/Nikon.

      Delete
    3. I am sorry to have offended people as a beginner camera user in a conversation of photography masters.

      I shall cite my facts as I understand the Olympus OMD represents 3 successful mirrorless cameras out of a sea of many mirrorless camera over 5 years of evolution and I have only shot with the OMD + panaleica25 + zuiko45 + zuiko14-150 everyday for less than a month.

      Mirrorless systems I have spend minimum of a month affected by AF problems: Nikon 1 (Quick during day, yet no lowlight af lock), Sony Alpha (ahem Nex) (Decent during day, yet no lowlight af lock), Fuji X (irradic AF movement... probably fast probably missing the target, we'll never know).

      Same brands are also affected with unreliable AF often missing high-contrast targets (some in lowlight) using contrast-detect AF.

      Same brands lack the overall built quality to achieve confidence (lack of serious bodies construction with ergonomics that fail to match even the entry-level dSLR, some have shutter-shock, the list of mechanical and software failures grows longer)

      Lets not kid ourselves here when the majority of mirrorless systems out there still don't take advantage of taking the mirror away and offer lenses as big as aps-c or fullframe lenses.

      Yes focusing issues can happen to dSLRs, they have more than 12mp now vs. back in 2009 and 20-36mp can make render AF-modules obsolete or make af-precision mistakes if one doesn't know which cross-type point to use on a target. To those who know their lens behaviors, it can still happens but less.

      Classic photography schools in Montreal at least. Teach the basic shutter-speed,aperture and ISO through bracketing (instead of live-viewing thank you fast-moving asia for making us comfortable NAmericans retarded) without adding in the concept of olympus five-axis ibis to offset technical light gathering capabilities given that the subject is still rather than moving.

      I highly believe in the quality of the 45mm having shot with it myself many times.

      To say that a small minority of "good cameras" of a certain sensor format has become what shapes the future of photography is something I don't quite see yet (no effective third party lens support, unequipped lens rental stores, lack of general knowledge about mirrorless concepts and impact on photography technique, lack of spread of the format outside of the internet). To look down on dSLR is almost disrespectful of the heritage this "tool" has accumulated through visually recording the history of the world in digital images instead of analogic. There were reasons why they were more used than newer more practical technology. I have yet to forget them. I guess we are probably at an era of transition without knowing what that transition will become. Cars still use a driving wheel instead of... a tablet to steer...

      I believe I was having a conversation with people that care about the format but are also aware of the situation at the "parlament of cameras". If I am indeed talking to a sect that only sees m43, I shall refrain from commenting here...

      Delete
    4. Please excuse if I come off angry. My aim is to have nothing but a respectful exchange. I just wanted to respond to some of your main bullet points in your first post.

      1- systems built around image quality and lenses without good enough camera bodies to inspire operational security
      - One's sense of operational security is purely subjective, which is made clear in that I feel more secure with my OMD than with Sony and Canon. I would be more concerned about a company's going concern over anything.

      2- systems built around shoving absolute image quality (ahem fullframe) in the tiniest of bodies without providing small lenses that balances well with the body
      - I assume you are alluding to the A7 line - they do have native full frame lenses that match it's size, albeit expensive. I cannot fault a company like Sony for being an infant in the mirrorless full frame industry and lacking a wide array of native glass. Their 35mm f2.8 and even their 55mm f1.8 is small and complements it's small stature.

      3- most of mirrorless camera having unreliable autofocus in areas nailed by autofocus film SLRs of the past.
      - I can't argue this point as I have never used film cameras with AF, but I am willing to bet my gear that Panasonic/Olympus/Sony's current line of cameras will have them beat by a long shot

      4- classic photography technique still being taught in school using fullframe dSLR principles rather modern mirrorless principles
      - Basic photographic techniques apply to all cameras regardless of the mirror. If you understand the exposure triangle (ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture), then you understand the basics of photography. Camera operation is another thing. To generalize that all schools use full frame dslrs as teaching tools is erroneous, in that some still teach via film and require students to print their own work. I

      5- people still encouraged to use adapted lenses on cameras who's AWB isn't equipped to handle perfectly the light coming from lenses it hasn't been registered to handle.
      - I see nothing wrong with encouraging people to use adapted lenses. In fact, I think it is a great learning tool and it opens the door to even greater artistic options. I understand that certain lenses can change white balance, but that's why I shoot raw and do custom white balance readings/adjustments. I am hard pressed to see this as a negative.

      I can understand why you have reservations about the future of mirrorless technology, but your aforementioned bullet points do not reflect the entire population

      Delete
    5. I think we can keep going on and on and there will be no end to this discussion. I appreciate everyone keeping their tones as neutral as possible, and being polite. I thank you all for that.

      We do not have to agree on all points, surely more and more professional photographers are coming to embrace the mirrorless systems. That is the main point, mirrorless system is NOT perfect yet, and there are a lot of things to be done.

      Hence, my title, Mirrorless is the FUTURE. Because, the potential of growth is there, and I can see mirrorless just keeps getting better and better.

      Delete
  22. Hi Robin, do you have a twitter or email list that we can subscribe to so we can be notified every time you post something new? Keep up the good work!

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    1. Hi Jay,
      I do not use Twitter. You may subscribe to my RSS Feed to get the updates and use RSS readers such as Feedly.

      Delete
  23. As an Enthusiastic MFT user (E-M1) - I'll weigh in with my experiences

    To paraphrase the title and a joke about Argentina - "Mirrorless is the future, and always will be...."

    Jokes aside, mirrorless has evolved to a point where is is good enough for most purposes. good enough may be an understatement
    Robin's work as well as others show the high quality possible and that great images for the most part are a reflection on the vision of the shooter, not the capabilities of the camera.

    I shoot for hobby and recreation, for me the E-M1 is fantastic for most of what I do. as a travel camera, for portraits, street, HDR etc... it's very good, no , it's excellent.
    I've sold 16x24 prints now from images taken with E-M1

    where it is weakest is Action/Sports - The Autofocus performance is adequate outdoors and inadequate indoors - this is shooting with the 75 1.8 indoors, and the 75-300 and 12-40 outdoors.
    the EVF lags or is choppy when taking low speed sequences. the C-AF performance is ok - but my old D300 got a higher percentage of keepers from a focus perspective.
    indoor AF performance is weak in action sports ( indoor track for example)
    the AF performance may get better in the future, may even equal a DSLR, but the EVF lag/choppy-ness hard to see how the refresh rate and initial refresh after a shot is going to compete with the speed of light in an optical system. The EVF needs to read the values off the sensor and process and display them - an optical mirror just reflects the light - essentially no lag.

    I'm hopeful that the sports performance improves over time.

    The great advantage of MFT for me is size/weight and in the case of the E-M1 - wonderful ergonomics and functionality.


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    1. Thanks crazymonkey for sharing your experience. Surely for sports photography, there is still work to be done. Agreed that there is still the lag when using EVF, but of course, surely it will improve and get much better over time. Technology is moving fast, and I am sure the AF will catch up too as newer cameras and lenses are released.

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  25. Hi Robin

    Although I read your blog on a regular basis I rarely comment, but thought I would do so having read this particular entry. Like many of your readers I too started my interest in photography a few years ago with a APS-C DSLR - namely a Nikon D90 and a few lenses. When the Olympus EM5 came out, you and Steve Huff convinced me to try M4/3rds for its size and image quality. With one or two prime lenses I was hooked but could not come to terms with the idea that it was as good or better than a DSLR, despite looking at the results I was getting. So I upgraded the D90 to the D7100 - more megapixels equals better images?......how wrong I could be! I decided to have one system and invest in the Olympus EM1 and sell the Nikon gear.

    I have finally committed myself to the wonderful Olympus system. Why? - well just this weekend I printed some A2 size prints for an acquaintance of mine who wanted some images for his office. In my opinion the detail is outstanding from the EM1 coupled with any one of the excellent lenses now available. I will never print any larger so why would I want full frame? No, for me M4/3rds is the future and this system will I am sure give you and your fellow Olympus readers much photographing pleasure in all the days - happy 'Shutter Therapy!'

    If you and your followers wish to see what the system can produce, then do visit my website - www.alanfrostphotography.co.uk. The vast majority were taken with the EM5 or more recently with the EM1.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hey Alan,
      Thanks for sharing your experience, and wow, selling off the Nikon was a big move, especially the D7100 (regarded as one of the best APS-C DSLR for now). Glad to see that you are happy with what the E-M1 can do and surely your site is a testimony to that. Great images by the way!

      Delete
  26. I have an aging APS-C Pentax, and I do agree with several points in the post as well as in the comments. Sometimes I wish I had a system that is smaller/lighter for portability and ability to shoot discreetly.

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  27. While I agree a lot with you I don't quite understand this "get rid of your DSLR, mirrorless is the future"-stuff. Users of mirrorless systems, at least bloggers, seems to be very much into street photography and "every day life"-photography. I'm purely an enthusiast myself. Amateure at heart and have always loved photography. I have gone through most of Olympus and Panasonics m4/3 models and some of the Fujfilm cameras. I really enjoy using them all, but I see a difference when comparing them to my DSLR. I don't shoot people and portraits, and hardly any family events, but a lot when traveling or hiking in the mountains. I also do some wildlife and birding. My main complaints with m4/3 and Fujifilm - even the E-M1 and X-T1 - is the EVF. EVFs have come a long way and the best are very good today, but not like an optical VF. Especially in bright light. There simply isn't enough dynamic range in that small video screen to see what's in focus. Is it the eye or the wing? The weight is not a big difference either. My D600 with a 20mm attached doesn't exactly outweight a Leica either.

    It's a bit like with cars. Why buy a big car when a smaller car do the same thing, is cheaper and uses less gas? Okay, you need the space for the family, but when they are not with you, you could use the small car. I don't have a family so I don't really see the need for a big family car. Why do you need it when a smaller car gets you around as well, etc.. And for all you bicyclists out there - try a bike in -20 C, heavy snow and wind - the car is far more comfortable!

    My point is to simply accept that people have different need and wishes in a camera. The mirror is not the dealbreaker with DSLRs, It is handling. ergonomics, lens selections and number of used lenses available. And viewfinder. You could also add sensor but one could argue that with Sony entering with A7 that is no longer an issue. But it is if you don't like the Sony viewfinder. Or lens selection? I have and have had far more mirrorless cameras than DSLRs, and I also use them a lot more, but it's not a competition to win most users over to one system. I could be satisfied with the E-M1 but I wish it was bigger. And if it should be bigger, why not take advantage of the extra space to add a bigger sensor? Different people, different need...

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  28. Comparing the weight of the gear around my E-5 and the weight I'd have with a D700 or 7D e.g. I rather stick with it for the time being, it works good enough for me. The glass was expensive enough so I just wait until Olympus finally comes up with a camera that offers a decent video capability to boot, for us Europeans that would be 1080p25 or better 50 plus a clean HDMI signal. I had hopes that the FT system would live on as there was no sensor to match the quality of the glasses. And I've got big hands...
    Talking about small is beautiful - I am going on vacation tomorrow and take just my Sony RX100 with me plus the iGlide.
    Concerning the AF issues - I think the eye-controlled focus of the Canon EOS3 would beat anything. But that was in the film-based era. That thing nailed the focus point and - if moving - stuck to it. Camera builder's, are you listening??? Come on, this system was introduced more than 15 years ago and died quietly.

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    1. Canon's eye controlled focus system died because it was horrendously inaccurate when calibrating different people's eyes. I know this from experience.

      Delete
  29. Robin- I come here for the shutter therapy and your amazing street photography. I usually try to avoid the gear and brand stuff because it just isn't normally something I care about but this discussion has been interesting.

    I'm a wedding photographer. I shoot with Canon but I've been dabbling with MFT for a couple years and really like where its going. My shooting partner actually uses MFT for 80-90% of his shots. We'd like to be able to go all in 100% with mirrorless but it's not quite there. Olympus/MFT has great lens selection and the newest camera bodies (EM-5, EM-1) are great to use; fast AF, intuitive, nice EVF, good enough high ISO, etc. But sometimes we need to make those super shallow DOF/high dynamic range portraits that only a larger sensor and a fast prime can deliver. The sony/fuji's have the sensor but the usability of the camera bodies falls short. If I could somehow throw a sony sensor into an olympus body I'd sell every last piece of Canon gear I've got and never look back, but we're just not there... yet!

    I think ultimately you're right though. The technology is advancing so rapidly and the improvements made in just the last 2-3 years in AF, EVF and ISO performance are staggering. Mirrorless IS the future, but I need something that will let me get my job done today. And sadly, that requires having a DSLR in the bag for at least part of the job.

    -Joel

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    Replies
    1. You CAN take those super shallow DOF images...TODAY. The new Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 will do it, and if you need even shallower DOF still (and in three different focal lengths), try one of the Voigtlander f/.095 lenses for M4/3. They're manual focus, but that should be no issue with Olympus' focus peaking.

      Delete
  30. I have always used "serious" Olympus cameras starting with the OM-4 and those beautiful Zuiko primes. Your exemplary photographs with the little OM-D EM5 is a testament to this wonderful camera and the system it represents so well: micro four thirds. Olympus has done very well by sticking to the original OM ethos of very high quality in a small package for both its camera bodies and lens. Well done and keep producing those "in your face shots"!

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  31. Good article Robin. Really enjoyed last weekend's photowalk with you around Petaling street. Being using EPL5 and then EM5 for 9 months now, maybe was my old habit from DSLR, I had always manually set focus point before I took the shots. This photowalk with you, I allowed camera to find focus point for me, and I was amaze at how accurate it is. 9 out of 10, focus was spot on object I want, and I had higher usable photo outcome than my previous outing.

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  32. I ditched all of my Nikon gear last year and went full into micro four thirds. My DSLR gear included a D700 and D7100. The IQ from the D700 was great but the huge advantage in my E-M1 and GH3 is the incredible face detection and ability to nail focus wide open effortlessly. I was always stopping down the lenses on the D700 to get adequate DOF so the ISO would have to bump up.

    The ability to shoot wide open on the incredibly sharp primes and still keep the ISO down and get usable DOF is such an advantage it trumps the razor thin DOF of FF, IMO.

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  33. Been following your site with interest for a while now, Robin. You always get nice, clean, sharp imagery with the Olympus kit. Well done! Have you ever tried Topaz DeNoise on your files, btw?

    I recently acquired an E-M1. What I am trying to determine right now is if it's going to be good enough to frequently shoot at ISO 3200 or 6400. My application is unit still photography on film and television sets, where there are two criteria for one's camera:

    1. Quiet or silent operation (I think I can sort that)
    2. Good low light capability (less sure about this)

    I have little doubt that using either the new Panny/Leica 42.5mm f/1.2, or even the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 lenses coupled with IBIS will get me there … but, of course, the latter doesn't help you if your subject is moving around a lot.

    Reason I'm not using a full frame Nikon is that they're noisy and I want to avoid using a large, awkward camera sound blimp.

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  35. good writing Robin :)

    ditching my Nikon D3200 for Sony A5000.. I am an almost daily sportbike rider, and YES I'M AGREE, DSLR is too heavy for my back since my sportbike makes me slouch more and looks like KameSennin from Dragon Ball when carrying a backpack LOL

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  37. The one place where mirrorless cameras still fall behind DSLRs is with shooting fast action, especially sports. But the gap is closing, especially with the OM-D E-M1 finally incorporating phase detect autofocus onto the sensor and getting the EVF delay down to virtually zero. Now that technology needs to be refined and permeate to all mirrorless cameras. Once mirrorless cameras conquer sports action throughout its range of cameras, then that spells big trouble for the DSLR.

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