Micro 4 Thirds is a mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera system. It was introduced in 2008 by Panasonic and Olympus.
The Micro Iv Thirds camera system gives photographers a smaller and more than compact culling to total-frame DSLRs.
In this article, nosotros’ll explain in more detail how and why Micro Four Thirds came to exist. We’ll besides discuss what the future looks like for this great camera organization and whether you should include i in your equipment bag.
[Annotation: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Production links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you lot use one of these and buy something, nosotros brand a little fleck of money. Need more info?
See how it all works here.]
What Does Micro Four Thirds Mean?
The name Micro 4 Thirds (often abbreviated to MFT or M43) relates to the size and shape of the sensor used in all Micro Four Thirds cameras.
So, permit’s first talk most sensors.
At the rear of your digital camera is a sensor that detects and organises light to create an image. In photography, we often refer to a sensor’s size and how many megapixels information technology can create. These sizes are standardised, making comparisons betwixt dissimilar camera manufacturers a lot easier.
Full-frame and APS-C are ii common sensors that you lot may already know about.
Full-frame sensors are modelled on the size of a 35mm film negative. This ways that when y’all’re shooting on a total-frame camera, the size of the sensor is 36mm ten 24mm. Total-frame sensors are usually institute in high-stop, professional person-level DSLRs.
This type of sensor is often referred to as a cropped sensor. An APS-C (or Avant-garde Photo System type-C) sensor is smaller than a full-frame sensor, measuring 23.6mm x 15.7mm. APS-C sensors are found in entry-level and mid-range DSLRs. They are used across different camera manufacturers. Canon as well has a smaller version, which measures 22.2mm x 14.8mm.
What Size is a Micro Four Thirds Sensor?
The Micro Iv Thirds system uses a Iv Thirds sensor, which measures 17.3mm x 13mm.
The attribute ratio of this sensor is iv:3, compared to the 3:2 ratio of total-frame and APS-C sensors. This is where the MFT system gets its name.
Why you may ask, is the sensor this size? Isn’t a bigger sensor ever better in photography? Not necessarily. This depends on how you utilize your camera and what you intend to shoot.
Many photographers value ease of utilize over image quality. This is precisely the niche grouping that MFT caters to.
Back in 2008, Panasonic and Olympus saw a potential gap in the marketplace. The problem? Heavy, bulky and expensive camera gear weighing down photographers.
Their solution was to introduce the much smaller 4 Thirds sensor to a new organisation, without a mirror box or pentaprism. And, considering there’southward no need for a mirror in the Micro Four Thirds organisation, both camera and lens are far more than meaty.
Trouble solved, correct?
Well, the Micro Four Thirds organization isn’t perfect. At that place are some drawbacks to consider when using a smaller sensor. We’ll explore these at present in more than detail.
One consideration is the crop cistron.
What is Crop Factor?
Crop factor is the amount of lens magnification caused by a cropped sensor. In photography, we use this term to assist us understand how the size of a cropped sensor volition affect the focal length of a full-frame lens.
To assistance us understand this, let’southward first compare full-frame and APS-C sensors.
Total-Frame Sensor Crop Factor
Nosotros already know that a total-frame sensor is larger than a cropped sensor. So when y’all attach a full-frame lens to a full-frame camera, the project it makes perfectly exposes the sensor, corner to corner. Whatsoever more than would exist overkill, and whatever less would result in an incomplete prototype with black edges.
APS-C Sensor Ingather Gene
Considering an APS-C sensor is smaller than a total-frame sensor, information technology covers a smaller expanse of the projection fabricated by a full-frame lens. This difference in coverage is known as the crop gene. The crop cistron of an APS-C sensor is ane.5x.
What’southward the Ingather Factor of a Four Thirds Sensor?
A Four Thirds sensor has a crop factor of 2x.
This is considering the sensor covers close to one-half the surface surface area of a full-frame sensor. To put this in context, this would mean that a 300mm total-frame lens on an MFT camera body actually has a focal length of 600mm.
As a upshot, MFT systems can be much smaller and more than compact than total-frame DSLRs.
Merely, ingather factor affects not only focal length simply likewise aperture. This means that an f/iv lens on an MFT camera actually has an aperture of f/8.
Are Micro Four Thirds Cameras Any Good?
Whether an MFT camera is skilful depends on your approach to photography and what you’re shooting.
Micro Four Thirds users exchange lower weight, size and equipment cost for a driblet in paradigm quality. As mentioned to a higher place, the importance of image quality depends upon what yous’re shooting and how the image will exist published. For most devoted MFT users, this loss in image quality is a small price to pay for having an easier and lighter photographic camera to bear.
For travel and outdoor photographers, these characteristics make MFT extremely bonny.
To understand these differences better, let’s explore some of the central advantages and disadvantages of MFT.
What Are the Advantages of Micro 4 Thirds Cameras?
First, MFT cameras accept a greatly reduced flange distance compared to SLRs. This means that camera bodies can be much, much smaller. And because of the 2x ingather gene of MFT sensors, lenses are shorter and more than meaty.
Also, in photography, size and weight matter immensely! Every gram and kilogram counts. MFT cameras and lenses are significantly lighter than the equivalent total-frame designs.
Compared to full-frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, MFT cameras are considerably cheaper, as well. So for those on a budget, you tin can get more bang for your buck by shopping for MFT cameras and lenses than in the professional, full-frame marketplace.
With MFT lenses, you lot’ll too have broad options to choose from. Take your choice from Panasonic, Olympus, Tamron, Sigma, Voigtländer (COSINA), Kowa, and Venus Optics.
Finally, MFT cameras are great for video and filmmakers. This is thanks to their small and quick-to-edit file sizes, 4K video capabilities, native alive-view, and depth of field.
What Are the Disadvantages of Micro Four Thirds Cameras?
We’ve already mentioned that smaller sensors produce fewer megapixels. Then for photographers who demand large files to publish in large format, MFT likely won’t meet your image quality standards.
The 4 Thirds sensor also has limited adequacy in low-light conditions. This tin often issue in significant and noticeable noise.
Cheers to its 2x crop factor, the 4 Thirds sensor has a doubling effect on lens apertures. This results in limited bokeh and reduced depth of field. If you value a shallow depth of field in your shots, MFT may not be the right pick for you.
Considering MFT cameras don’t have mirrors, you lot volition demand to utilize a digital viewfinder or a live-view camera display to compose your shots. Digital displays are improving but still have lag, which tin slow you down.
Lastly, MFT cannot compete with full-frame cameras in capturing fast-moving objects in focus.
Is In that location Nevertheless a Market for Micro Four Thirds Cameras?
There has been a growing contend over whether MFT will before long become obsolete.
The main factor in this contend is the rise of smartphone cameras. But why?
One side argues that smartphones will supercede the Micro Four Thirds system altogether. This is due to Smartphones’ size, useability, and increasing prototype quality.
In the face of camera smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and Huawei Mate twoscore Pro, can Micro Four Thirds cameras still hold their ground?
The interchangeable-lens market has been shrinking in the Smartphone era. Yet, devoted MFT users still maintain that the system is relevant. This is especially true for vloggers and Youtubers who value the all-encompassing video capabilities of MFT.
The jury is still out on whether MFT volition survive. Yet, there is strong testify to advise that the system may be phased out in the coming years.
Olympus recently sold their camera segmentation. Just, it’due south nevertheless too early to say if they volition continue to release new products for the Micro Four Thirds system.
In recent years, Panasonic has been investing heavily in its full-frame R&D department. In 2019, the company made a splash when they introduced the award-winning S1 and S1R.
Panasonic has also joined the L-Mountain squad with Sigma and Leica. Because of this, some argue it is unlikely Pansonic will continue with both the Fifty-Mount and MFT mounts.
The Micro Four Thirds fence continues to polarise opinion within the photography community. Voices from each side tout stiff evidence for both its survival and demise.
Although the digital photographic camera market has certainly inverse in the smartphone era, Micro 4 Thirds may surprise u.s.a. yet.
Micro Four Thirds is a solid selection for photographers who want to footstep up from smartphone photography without breaking the bank. For vloggers, YouTubers, filmmakers, and travel and outdoor photographers, MFT still has plenty to offer.
Our choice for the best MFT photographic camera on the market goes to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark 3. We also like the mighty Lumix GH5 from Panasonic.
If you want to larn more nigh photography and camera types, check out our Photography for Beginners eBook.