The Micro Four Thirds Triad Pro Results from Smalle​​​r Cameras

Posted Mar. 14th, 2019 by Daniel J. Cox

Switching from big gear to small gear

Many of you already know that several years ago I switched from Nikon to Lumix. Doing so had mostly advantages, but like anything there are some downsides. In short, the small compact system I now use requires the absolute best support to allow me to complete with the full-frame cameras from Nikon, Canon, Sony, and now Panasonic.

Having shot the smaller system now for ten years, I’ve come to rely on what I call the Micro Four Thirds Triad to get the highest quality possible from my Lumix cameras. So what is the Micro Four Thirds Triad? Well, it’s simply a set of rules I follow relating to my specific camera gear and the workflow I use to process my pictures. 

The Micro Thirds Triad stipulates that to get the absolute finest images possible you need to be:

  1. Using the most current cameras
  2. Using the highest quality professional lenses
  3. Processing images with the absolute best RAW conversion software available. 

Follow these three simple rules and you can make prints as large as 24×36 inches with no discernible issues that anyone other than pixel peepers can see. 

Raven Spirit fine art print hanging in our home in Bozeman, Montana (actual image size is 24×36 inches).

Most up-to-date cameras

Let’s start with cameras. Today the best MFT bodies you can get, from a sensor perspective, include the Lumix GH5, Lumix G9, and the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark ll or the new EM-1X. All of these cameras have a sensor in the 20-megapixel range which is perfectly fine for producing extremely professional quality. Since MFT is a new format, all players had to start from the ground up in designing their camera bodies. Both Olympus and Lumix designed their cameras with some serious advantages you can’t get with the original full-frame systems, since they are not encumbered by an old design that was retrofitted for digital capture. 

All of the well known manufacturers I mentioned, Sony, Nikon and Canon, now have their own new mirrorless designs. So that bit of advantage for MFT is now gone. But the second part of the MFT Triad, lenses, are still a major advantage for the MFT community.

Highest quality professional lenses

This is a very important part of the MFT Triad. The finest optics are necessary to give you the ultimate quality. Those lenses include all of the Leica branded versions in the Lumix system. My favorites are the Leica 45mm macro, Leica 15mm, Leica 42.5mm F/1.2, Leica 12-60mm, Leica 50-200mm, and the new Leica 200mm F/2.8. 

In the Olympus line I own and use the Olympus 300mm F/4 and the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8. I don’t use the 40-150mm much anymore due to the release of the Leica 50-200mm. All three of these lenses are stunningly sharp even with their respective 1.4X teleconverters. 

Software to finish it all off

There are so many RAW converters today, and I’ve tried virtually all of them. But as we all know the nine thousand pound gorilla is still Adobe. I find it amazing that so few people break out of that Lightroom/Photoshop mold to even see what else might be available. 

I did just that several years ago when my photo library went over 500,000 images. At that point Lightroom could not handle the load of scrolling through that many pictures. Even with a $6400 monster of an Apple machine, I was dead in the water and was forced to start looking for something different. 

That led me to Mylio, an unknown program with a funny little name that is absolutely the fastest piece of Digital Asset Management (DAM ) software I’ve ever tested. But it’s not Mylio that takes my digital files to the next level. I use Mylio mainly for DAM.

You can see Mylio for yourself here.

Serious processing of all my pictures is done through DxO PhotoLab. When I say serious processing, I’m referring to nothing more than tweaking my images. Things like adjusting white balance, exposure, or maybe taking a dust speck out that was on the sensor. But most importantly, running that file through DxO PhotoLab to gain the benefits that their special processing provides. I do nothing to my images in Photoshop or any other program that allows you to build an image in the computer. 

A screenshot of the window that allows you to manage your DXO Optics Modules

DxO PhotoLab was designed by image engineers. Whatever it is they know about processing an image, they’ve done a great job of building it into their software. The basic recipe they follow is to test virtually every lens combined with every camera, both from the same company. Their process is to document any and all anomalies a particular lens may have with a particular camera.

Here’s a link to the DxO PhotoLab website.

As an example, a Nikon 24-70 F/2.8 may have some vignetting at the edges, exhibit chromatic aberrations, and it might be a bit sharper at the middle and less so at the edges. These issues and any number of other optical problems are documented by the DxO engineers. They then write software that eliminates or mostly eliminates all of the problems they find, and they do this with every lens made for each manufacturers’ different cameras. It’s a lot of work, but it pays off in the final processed images. 

Interestingly, Adobe must feel that there are benefits to this process since several years ago they too started including what they call “Lens Profiles” in Adobe Lightroom. They most likely are also in Photoshop, but I’m not sure since I don’t use it. However, they obviously felt the DxO team was on to something, and as some feel, the highest form of flattery is replicating what others have done. So Adobe does have something similar but not for Lumix cameras. Not sure why they don’t support the Lumix line. Adobe says it’s because Panasonic already builds corrections into their files. But that’s not the way DxO PhotoLab sees it. They do build modules for the Lumix cameras and lenses. 

The final piece of software we use, after the files that have been run through DxO PhotoLab, is On1 Resize 2018. This software does as its name implies; it enlarges a smaller file to whatever size your heart desires. This kind of software has been around since the first days of digital images. On1 Resize 2018 basically takes a quality image that might only be approximately 11×14 in size and interpolates the original pixels to build a new and larger image. It’s all through the magic of software, and it works amazingly well. Photoshop has a similar tool but On1 Resize 20018 started this idea many, many years ago and I still feel they do the best job.

That’s the Micro Four Thirds Triad

So that’s it in a semi-nutshell. If you want to see more about the MFT Triad I created a set of videos, two to be exact, that explain most of what I’ve shared in this blog. I’ve included them above but in case you missed them you can find them on the Natural Exposure YouTube Channel – direct links below.

Micro Four Thirds Triad-Part 1

Micro Four Thirds Triad Software -Part 2

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There are 9 comments on this post…
  1. pat johOn Jul. 5th, 2019

    lol, you’re just another filphy rich dude who can afford buying the latest top of the line, mr panasonic ambassador who’s supposed to manipulate the rookies into giving all their money for the most expensive stuff 🙂 telling me that my 24×36 prints made on hardware paid 1/2 or even 1/3 of the price he paid will be doomed to have “discernible issues” as opposed to that he makes 🙂 seriously ?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 5th, 2019

      Dear Pat, So sorry you feel this way. I hope your hands aren’t raw from too much wringing. Such a nasty attitude suggests you could use some anger management counseling. Even so, in the spirit of friendship and kindness, I’m going to post your nasty ass comment. If you think the best MFT equipment is expensive you’ve obviously never shot with any serious camera gear. Just for the record, my “filthy rich dude” status was earned from the ground up working my ass off striving for perfection since the age of 16. I’m still working at it only now with much smaller, lighter, less expensive cameras and lenses. You could do yourself a favor by eliminating the time and effort of writing such vitriol and instead start working harder so you too can attain “filthy rich dude” status. Then you could try the better lenses for yourself. Consider this response a onetime gift. If you ever come back with such a miserable attitude you’ll be DELETED on the spot!

  2. jeff harvilleOn Mar. 31st, 2019

    Hi Daniel.
    I appreciate your article. I’m a Lightroom user. I’ve tried to cut the cord several times but just can’t seem to commit to keeping it permanent. Based on your software recommendations, I may have to try again. Didn’t know you or your blog existed until I saw your post on MU-43 and then witnessed the verbal beatings. Obviously everyone is not cut from the same cloth and are easily distracted. Looking over your website brings back memories of all the years I subscribed to National Geographic so I could see the world through photographs. Thanks for being a part of that.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 1st, 2019

      Thanks for the feedback Jeff. Welcome to the NE Blog community.

  3. PavanOn Mar. 27th, 2019

    Thanks for this article. I just ordered a G9 and am looking forward to using it with a PL 100-400mm and an Olympus 40-150mm. I noticed you hadn’t mentioned the PL 100-400mm lens among your favorites. Was this just missed or was it because it’s quality has been superseded by the newer PL 50-200mm and PL 200mm f2.8? Are these two lenses with a 2x TC competitive with the 100-400mm or is that still the best MFT option to get to 400mm?
    I’ll also be getting the DxO software soon btw.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 28th, 2019

      Hi Paven, part of it is the fact the 100-400mm is a bit slower than the other combinations I’m now using. And I find the new lenses, the Leica 50-200mm and the Leica 200mm with the 1.2x teleconverter are consistently sharper. I still feel the 100-400mm is a very good lens, the others are just better. As far as the 2X teleconverter with the 200mm? I’ve not been able to get consistent quality results with this combination. Thanks for your questions and input.

  4. c. johnsonOn Mar. 27th, 2019

    Thank you, Dan. Lightroom has been so central to my workflow that I continually forget about printing from Photoshop (although I had to print from Photoshop recently when a Lightroom “update” refused to work with my Epson printers). So many Lightroom “updates” have broken functions I’ve depended on, I’ve been searching for Lightroom alternatives that give me a stable workflow. I’ve been trying your Mylio-based workflow and the 4/3 triad, but kept returning to Lightroom to print. It would be nice to completely remove Lightroom from my workflow

  5. c. johnsonOn Mar. 19th, 2019

    The triad you describe represents an interesting workflow. I wonder: what software do you use to print your images?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 20th, 2019

      We use PhotoShop to output our fine art prints.

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