I’m casually looking at Micro 4/3 cameras as an alternative to carrying a huge DSLR to and from work every day. Even though I see exactly the same things every day in my commute, I’d like to get back in the habit of shooting something regularly. As my recent Flickr feed indicates, I haven’t been shooting anything at all during the week other than the odd Instagram picture, which is sad. I’d like to keep things light and simple if possible. The hipsters are all about the smaller format mirrorless cameras right now, and I’m intrigued by the combination of small size and lens interchangability.
The biggest question is which brand I would start with. Olympus and Panasonic were the originators of the M4/3 format, and from all I’ve read their cameras are very good (Leica digitals are just rebadged Panasonic units, after all). I’ve also heard that Fuji’s cameras are very good from a first-hand source, so I started looking into their product offerings. However, they don’t use the M4/3 lens format–so they’re out. Most of the reviews I’ve read say Sony is making the best mirrorless cameras right now, but they’re not M4/3, and I’ve been on a Sony boycott for 20 years due to repetitive burns with expensive A/V equipment and some substandard video gear in the early 2000s.
So, back to Olympus and Panasonic. The Olympus E-P5 is a beautiful camera with a lot of the features I want, and a nice retro look I appreciate. The E-PL7 is a variant of the same basic model. Panasonic has the DMC-GX7 which tracks almost exactly to the specifications of the Olympus, plus or minus a few features.
Then, there are the lenses. The Wirecutter did a great writeup on M4/3 lenses that explains a lot of the details between price, performance, and flexibility. Lenses are the expensive and important part of photography, because a good lens can make a bad camera better. I’ve been using Nikon DX lenses with my first DSLR, and I’ve been happy with their performance, but having used pro-level Canon lenses at work I’m seeing the benefits of better glass. If I was to buy a M4/3 rig, I’d probably buy an adapter to use my DX lenses with the new camera and slowly invest in M4/3 glass. But I’m also seriously considering the purchase of a full-frame Canon DSLR to take advantage of the excellent lenses I have access to at work.
All of this is pipe dreaming right now. I don’t have the cash to drop on a new M4/3 camera or even a mid-level Canon DSLR. I’d have to line up some kind of photography job to help pay for that. I think what I’ll do is take a weekend to rent a M4/3 camera–Lensrentals has the Panasonic GX7 and an Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 for $60; a test drive is in order before I make any kind of major purchase.