I've mentioned micro four thirds, aka "mirrorless," in previous posts. As fast and as far as technology has taken imagery, there still are trade-offs no matter the type of photography you choose. 35mm digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLR), along with crop sensor DSLR's are used by most outdoor photographers due to their size, availability, quality construction, quality lenses, and finally, price. I guess one could say, DSLR's today occupy the space on a graph where price and quality meet. Of course there are better cameras with bigger sensors that offer better results, but for most, me included, they are not important to my workflow.
Outdoor sports and adventure photographers, wildlife photographers, and journalists are always looking for smaller, lighter, faster tools, while maintaining a minimal level image and product quality. That minimum level for image quality is today still largely based on the demands of magazine publications i.e., print. So, while I don't like to think I'm compromising on quality, I must in order to get my gear where I need to go - as mentioned, it's a balance between size and quality output. I use full frame Nikon cameras, and large aperture lenses when I'd prefer to use a 50 mega pixel back on a medium format camera resulting in even better files, but that's just not realistic for me, after all I'm a photographer first because I enjoy it!
Micro four thirds cameras offer that smaller size equivalent to DSLR's. But the image quality is still not there for print. I have not found a regular place in my professional photographic workflow (although I do own and use a Nikon AW-1 - a small, interchangeable lens camera - but that's for very specific purposes). The Nikon AW-1 while not a micro four thirds camera is a micro, mirrorless, interchangeable camera that fills a similar niche. The Nikon AW-1 is actually an eight to three ratio and not four thirds. I will go into more detail about this camera in a future post, but for now I'll get back to micro four thirds.
I've spent dozens of hours using the Panasonic Gh 3 and a good selection of prime as well as zoom lenses. For video, I doubt you can find a better set up, for the price, than the new Gh4. But for stills, mainly because I shoot a lot of low iso in low light, the micro four thirds, like the Gh3 still don't produce the quality of files I need for still photography.
I've heard people like Dan Cox say that micro four thirds are good enough for his work and I know there are other's that would agree. Just take a look at Dan's camera bag and read his blog posts about micro four thirds. I love the photo of his camera bag, makes me get scared of photography. In fairness, I like Dan, we are friends, so I'm not ripping on him, I'm pointing out that he's a fantastic, successful photographer and use's four thirds systems. Here's the link to Dan's blog.
Simply put, imagine if you need the quality of a full size DSLR with wide aperture lenses and yet you have the occasion to use a smaller, lighter micro four thirds camera. If size and portability are part of the equation, packing two systems does not make any more sense than leaving the DSLR at home altogether. So, I'm not sure how it helps anyone in my business to support four thirds when it's only marginally useful and if you do any amount of travel, it's nearly useless to try to stuff both systems (or more) into your carry-on. . . If you have a different view, or a real solution to this dilemma please share your thoughts by commenting below, we all would love to hear them.
On January 10, 2015, I'm not ready to change over to micro four thirds as my primary, commercial photography tool. It's not time for me to switch, but it is time to take notice and work one into to my photography business more completely.
If you are interested in learning more about 4k video, and micro four thirds photography, the following video does a great job of showing the benefits of 4k and the weight and ergonomics of micro four thirds. If you're a photographer and have been considering some video work, this video may help you make the move to owning at least one small micro four thirds camera system. 4k might well be the intersection of quality and price when it comes to high quality video. I suggest you take a closer look.