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

Posted Mar. 14th, 2019 (1 week ago) 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


Add Your Voice!
There are 2 comments on this post…
  1. c. johnsonOn Mar. 19th, 2019 (4 days ago)

    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 (3 days ago)

      We use PhotoShop to output our fine art prints.

Add your voice to this conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In an effort to combat spam, your comment may be held for a brief moderation period.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.