Micro Four Thirds (MFT) is perhaps the most derided of all camera formats in modern digital photography. It is constantly overlooked, scoffed at, and is the subject of disdain. It really shouldn’t be, and you all are way too hard on it.
MFT is undoubtedly the least conventionally “popular” camera system on the market today because of how much photography snobs look down on it. I say “popular” in quotes because behind the scenes, it is still widely used and sells quite well. While anecdotal, we process a lot of photos here at PetaPixel that come in from a large variety of sources — from competitions, books, and personal projects — and there is a constant year after year: metadata that reads “Olympus Digital Camera.” You would be surprised how many award-winning images have been captured on MFT over the years.
Olympus as a camera maker has of course transitioned to the name OM-Digital, but that in itself is another indicator of MFT’s popularity. While Olympus was unable to make the camera business work as part of its larger suite of products, there was clearly enough value there to see it spun off as a standalone business — and one that appears to be doing just fine.
But making money is not enough of a reason to be appreciated in this industry; if that were the case, we all would be heaping praise on the Canon EOS M and the Rebel line because they’re very popular devices. No, for enthusiasts, image quality reins supreme and it is there that MFT has been shunned. For some reason, the format cannot shake the stigma that it takes worse quality photos than basically anything other than a smartphone.
This is extremely unfair, and it’s time to stop.
Earlier this week, OM-Digital announced a new 90mm f/3.5 ultra macro lens that was probably overlooked by most of you since it came out about the same time as Canon released two cameras and two lenses and Sigma brought out a new 50mm. All of those products either feature sensors or are designed for sensors that are larger than MFT, and a bigger sensor means better photos right? So we can just go ahead and ignore the macro lens.
No. Wrong. I was far, far more impressed with the photos that OM-Digital shared with that 90mm f/3.5 than I saw from any other camera or lens released that day. Heck, I might be more impressed with these photos than anything I’ve seen so far this year.
You cannot look at these photos and not be just blown away. I’m seeing them again for the second time as I’m writing this, and my breath is still catching in my throat. These photos are extraordinary, and most of you probably didn’t even see them because that’s how little you care about MFT.
MFT is over here, quietly making some of the most incredible macro photos I’ve ever seen, and there are plenty of award-winning photographers who will scramble to pick up this new lens and will make incredible art with it.
I have no doubt that over the next several years, I’ll continue to see photos shot on MFT take top honors in the world’s most prestigious photo competitions, while the rest of you argue about the negligible differences between a Canon, Nikon, and Sony.
If the measure of a camera system is what can be produced with it, then MFT would be a topic of constant conversation because these photos are as good as or better than anything I’ve seen taken on any other modern camera system. But, obviously, that’s not really what most of you measure a camera system on. You’ve decided, either consciously or subconsciously, that it’s actually just the size of the sensor or the brand on the camera.
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Image credits: Header photo left by Jamie Rosencrans, right by Chris McGinnis. All other photos individually credited, and all provided courtesy of OM-Digital