Can Lumix MFT Cameras Compete with Traditional DSLR’s?
Can Lumix MFT Cameras Compete with Traditional DSLR’s?
Susan Brown Matsumoto recently emailed me wanting to know more about the capabilities of the Micro Four Thirds cameras compared to her Nikon D700 and D800 bodies. I’m regularly getting the same question from lots of our readers, so I decided to put her question in a Blog post so others can learn from the question as well.
Here’s Susan’s Question
One of my South County Photo Club members travels with you and she just purchased the Panasonic mirrorless camera you were talking about on your website. I have a Nikon D700 and D810 which I love but sometimes the weight gets to me. I know need a longer lens then my 70-200 with 1.4 teleconverter but thinking of getting even a heavier lens made me think maybe I should go with a Sony A7II which a few of my friends have or the one you purchased. I have an Olympus OEM D purchased 3 years ago but I never felt the quality was up to par compared to my Nikon cameras. Plus for action do mirrorless cameras really work as well as the DSLRs? Just wondering with all my Nikon lenses what would be the best route. Thank you!
Let me just start off with saying that your Nikon’s have the ability to produce some of the finest images of virtually any camera being made today. So you have a high bar to reach. However, the first thought that comes to my mind in answering your question is, what do you do with your pictures? Using myself as an example, I’m currently working with some of the world’s highest quality publications, Nature’s Best for example, and the MFT Lumix cameras I’m shooting are doing just fine quality
wise. Next month Outdoor Photographer is also running a story about my work with Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras. Getting somebody to pay for the photos they use is the highest bar a photographer can set for themselves, especially when competing with thousands of other photographers vying for the same publication space. So that’s a proof of concept, so to speak, as evidence of the MFT quality being able to make the cut in the world of publishing.
The other publication arena I’m involved with and you may be as well, is large format fine art prints. Next month Outdoor Photographer is running one of my fine art images showing a framed piece printed to 24×36 inches titled Raven’s Spirit. That image was shot with the Lumix GH4 and the Olympus 40-150mm lens. So once again, MFT is producing high enough quality to conquer another of two different markets I regularly sell to.
The next part of the equation you need to understand is that just because a camera is mirrorless doesn’t mean it’s going to be smaller, an advantage you mention you’re looking for. Yes, Sony’s camera body will be a bit smaller, but since it’s a full frame body, the lenses will have similar bulk and weight as your current Nikon lenses. This is the huge misconception people have about the Sony system. Sony is in fact working to reinvent the wheel. What they’re doing is already super successful by Nikon and Canon. Along with similar size and weight you’ll be paying prices every bit as much as Canon and Nikon and for some of the the new Sony lenses, you’ll be paying even more.
So…we get back to the question, what do you do with your pictures? If you print up to 24×36 inches (most people don’t), then MFT has you covered. If you sell your work for publication or hope to, MFT has you covered. If you share your photos with friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media service or maybe you produce prints as gifts for family members, MFT has you more than covered.
To be completely honest, which I pride myself in being, I would be fooling you to say there aren’t a few downsides to MFT compared to the larger Nikons and Sony cameras. One is lowlight capabilities. MFT cameras just can’t shoot in as dark of light
as the newest Nikons, Sony’s and Canons. That said, the two Nikon’s you have are fairly old and the newest Lumix bodies do come close in the low light abilities of the D700 and D800 cameras. For most people the Lumix and Olympus MFT cameras do a
better than adequate job up to 1600 ISO, and I’ve shot acceptable images as high as 2000 ISO with my Lumix GH4 and GX8 bodies. Part of the low light answer for MFT is using proper software to remove noise issues. My software of choice for removing noise/grain is DXO Optics Pro which does a fabulous job.
The OM-D EM-1 you mention is a fine camera but I can tell you that it’s one of the most difficult cameras to operate I’ve ever used. And yes, I do have one. I need to shoot all the options to know what I’m talking about. Your disappointment with MFT might be as much about the camera’s experience as the quality of the images you were seeing. Just something to think about.
Finally, there is the question of MFT AF capabilities. There’s no question that MFT cannot keep up with my Nikon D4 when it comes to the most challenging AF situations, but it comes very close. As far as keeping up wth the Nikon D700 or D800, there is no issue. Again, the two Nikons we’re comparing to the Lumix GH4 or GX8 are considerably older Nikon bodies. The Lumix GH4 and GX8 are light years ahead of both Nikons in terms of ease of use, industry leading technology like 4K Video, wireless transfer of photos, touchscreen technology, and many other incredible features.
Hope this helps. Feel free to reach back out if you have additional questions. If you decide to move in the Lumix direction please make sure you see this Blog post, Birds in Flight for the best menu settings for either the GH4, GX8, or G7 cameras to get the most efficient use of your new camera.