Micro Four Thirds is Hard for Those With Low Camera Literacy to Understand: Panasonic

When Panasonic announced the S9, some were quick to ask why it needed to have a full-frame sensor, especially given the recording limitations that had to be placed on it as a result. In an interview with a Japanese retailer, Panasonic explains that full-frame is just easier for beginners to understand.

Speaking to BCN+R (and spotted by L-Rumors), a Japanese electronics retailer that is similar to Best Buy in the United States, Shiomi Noriaki, the Section Manager of the Product Marketing Division, Image Marketing Department, Product Marketing Center, Panasonic Consumer Marketing Japan Headquarters, says that the full-frame sized sensor was selected because it is easier for a beginner to differentiate it from a smartphone.

“Obviously, full-size sensor cameras are easier to understand because backgrounds are easier to blur with them and photos have less noise,” Noriaki says.

Panasonic produces both full-frame cameras as well as Micro Four Thirds. Still, Noriaki seems to admit that the latter can be difficult for beginners, or those with what he calls “low camera literacy,” to understand.

“I want you to experience something that you can’t get with a full-size camera. It is people who are knowledgeable about cameras who will be able to understand the advantages of Micro Four Thirds. For people with low camera literacy, Micro Four Thirds is difficult to understand. If it’s a full-size sensor with less blur and noise, even those people can get on board.”

Noriaki’s statement isn’t untrue. The benefits of Micro Four Thirds are less obvious; it’s much harder to explain why a photographer or videographer would want a faster reading sensor, more video codec options, and equally performant yet smaller lenses than it is to point to a nearly noise-less photo and deep bokeh. For many transitioning from a smartphone, the latter is more immediately appealing.

Even in the camera enthusiast space, it’s not hard to find vocal photographers who insist that Micro Four Thirds has no place in modern photo and video capture when full-frame options — even some in the media have claimed that anything smaller than full-frame “sucks” in 2024. While this take is false (different camera systems are good for different applications), the existence of these loud voices and strong opinions may have been enough to dissuade new photographers from trying something like the S9 if it used a smaller sensor, basically forcing Panasonic to go with the “bigger is better” approach to the sensor while taking a hit on performance to compensate.

Image credits: Panasonic