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Micro four thirds or entry level DSLR?

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Last week was my second anniversary on Dreamstime. I'm still a beginner with a basic camera and at least a quarter of my images are rejected due to lens quality and noise, so I'm getting ready to upgrade my equipment.

I'm wondering about micro four thirds vs DSLR. MFT sounds interesting but I've read a couple of reviews that say noise is a problem. Do any of you have experience of using MFT cameras professionally? Any feedback about MFT and/or recommendations for entry level DSLRs is welcome.

Many thanks,

Posted: 02/24/2011, 12:09:19 PM
I owned a GF1 for a while and used it for stock. I actually think that MFT is somewhat ideal for microstock, but falls short for me in also being suitable for personal use so I've stuck with a DSLR. However, you should poke around Holger Mette's site: veoelmundo. He is a full time traveler / stock photographer that has used all MFT for travel type stock.

Looking at your portfolio I would say MFT could be ideal for you. My only real gripes with MFT were for indoor use, especially with kids running around, and the lack of certain lenses (macro and fast portrait). Those two issues are likely to go away as the gaps are filled with new manufacturers jumping on board. (You can get macro lenses and so on, the options at the time just didn't work well for me...).

Here is my best selling MFT photo:

   Kids playing in winter   

And my original blog on the subject: What is MFT

If you do go MFT and go small, consider getting an Olympus body with Panasonic lenses (like the 20mm f/1.7). I would either get a Panasonic with the flip screen and built in viewfinder, or the Olympus compacts with external EVF...

Also take a look at:

GH2 Revisited

Kirk on EPL2
ZD 50mm Macro f/2...
Edited: 02/24/2011, 15:35:25 PM
Thanks, Brad - this info and your blog was very helpful. (I didn't think of checking the blogs, only the message board.)
Posted: 02/24/2011, 18:51:32 PM
Wow, I didn't know you could get such nice images with that type of camera. It certainly would be more convenient than a DSLR. Thanks for the info.
2.8 Macro, Canon 15 2.8 Fisheye, Canon 35 2.0, Canon 85 1.8...
Posted: 02/24/2011, 20:16:07 PM
I've used once (company camera) an Olympus PEN E-P1 with 14-42mm lens.

It's nice to have it as a back-up camera since it is small and easy to carry around, however it's quite expensive (the price of a crop entry level D-SLR).

Their lenses are quite good (but expensive as well) so if you don't mind noise and perhaps a rather slow af system (but i guess you won't be shooting wildlife), then 4/3 might be ok for you.

But if you do mind those things mentioned above maybe an entry level dSLR (for good ISO performance take a look at Pentax Kx, or go and try some Nikon models) would suit you better.

F2.8, 50-135mm DA* F2.8, 200mm DA* F2.8, 100mm Macro WR F2.8, 80-200 ...
Posted: 03/03/2011, 05:28:33 AM
The prices are really coming down - the Olympus E-PL1 with kit lens is $429 versus $549 for a Nikon D3100 with lens. And the Olympus has sensor based stabilization :) The EP1 and EP2 are more, of course... Buy might as well compare the entry level pricing in both systems.

Panny DMC-G2 with lens is $499.
ZD 50mm Macro f/2...
Posted: 03/03/2011, 20:56:43 PM
Thanks, Antares and Brad, this is all useful information. Noise is a problem with my current camera, so I definitely don't want to upgrade and have the same issue. Then again, portability and convenience are important too. The exploration continues ...
Posted: 03/05/2011, 07:14:42 AM
Hey, I have a Nikon d3000 and it takes surprisingly great images. If you are having noise, that is most definitely a problem with your sensor. Upgrading your lenses and other accessories will not help with this problem, but upgrading your actual camera body will offer you a new sensor with crisper pictures, if you choose right. Search on for detailed reviews of most of your photography needs.
Nikon D3000 Nikon 18-55mm VR Nikon 55-200mm VR
Posted: 03/09/2011, 16:11:54 PM

Originally posted by Jubilist:
Quoted Message: I`ve read a couple of reviews that say noise is a problem. Do any of you have experience of using MFT cameras professionally?

My very first photos where made with Olympus micro four thirds. No rejection, no need to clean up the noise. I am now looking again for a smaller camera since it is easy to carry around.

   Image not available or id is incorrect.   

One of my level 2 image with MFT. Make: OLYMPUS Model: E-410
Edited: 03/09/2011, 17:53:04 PM
I think the problem is still a lack of lenses options, but this is changing quite fast, of course it's noisier than a Dslr with a larger sensor, but still reasonable if you don't push the ISO.
f/4L Canon EF 70-300mm IS/USM f/4-5.6 Canon 100mm f/2.8 USM/Macro ...
Posted: 04/12/2011, 21:38:12 PM
IMO, it really boils down to what is your photography style. If you are only taking street snaps where portability is the most important, MFT are great choices given the advancement in technology, photo quality is respectable and even comparible to some entry level DSLRs. On the other hand DSLRs have the upper hand on choice of lenses (as mentioned above) together with the overall operational controls. Settings and adjustments can be made much quicker and buttons can be customized. With the noise issue, you will need to get cameras with bigger and newer sensors....
F4 Canon 50mm F1.4 Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro Canon 135mm F2L...
Posted: 04/19/2011, 21:45:46 PM
You can go to ISO 400 with no problems at all. Micro-stock is 99% about studio lighting (ISO 100-200 and good lights) and on the street only if you are some night shooter you will need a noise-free sensor; but at what costs?! IMHO save the money on camera and buy some strobes. Look in my portfolio, images with models (see one bellow) are isolated on white. Two strobes on background give me pure white. Another lights in front and you will see the differences. Try to use more light and not to push sensor limits.

Good luck folks!

   Image not available or id is incorrect.   
Edited: 04/20/2011, 06:05:16 AM
Alvera might be right, on studio with proper lighting, why not use the MFT?

The only thing is that on studio you are not that much worried about the size of the equipment,
f/4L Canon EF 70-300mm IS/USM f/4-5.6 Canon 100mm f/2.8 USM/Macro ...
Posted: 04/20/2011, 06:04:00 AM
Afagundes is right too.

But small size was not the first concern of topic's author: "I'm wondering about micro four thirds vs DSLR. MFT sounds interesting but I've read a couple of reviews that say noise is a problem. Do any of you have experience of using MFT cameras professionally? Any feedback about MFT and/or recommendations for entry level DSLRs is welcome."

To resume: you must buy the most expensive camera you can afford. But for stock with studio lighting and for sunny days outside shoots, MTF will do same job like others more expensive camera.

BTW, I use a Nikon D90 now. No refusal for noise or other technical problems.
Posted: 04/20/2011, 06:21:52 AM
It is really a matter of degrees. I use a Canon 7D, and there are those who would say I need to move up to a 5D Mk II to really see good noise performance. But those people who have a 5D Mk II should really move up to a Pentax 645D, and so on :)

Fact is, today's MFT is better than APS-C from two years ago. My 7D with it high pixel count seems to deliver lower noise images than my 20D ever did, with more resolution.

A 12MP micro four thirds sensor has the same pixel density as my 7D (APS-C sized sensor with 50% more pixels).

The biggest difference to me is the size and lens selection. I personally tried my GF1 for some studio work, and the small size of the camera just didn't just cut it (and lack of a sync socket). I found it fiddly. There is no fast zoom lens, no AF portrait lens with wide aperture, etc.

The story is reversed for outdoor and travel shots that I did. It was great to have in a pocket and got me shots I wouldn't have had my dSLR handy for. Bottom line, if you shoot at low ISO, and don't use fast lenses, MFT is great for stock. The more you get into indoor studio work with flashes and so on, the less appealing it is as the size doesn't help at all, and the accessories and online support are mainly Nikon and Canon based.
ZD 50mm Macro f/2...
Edited: 04/20/2011, 16:14:18 PM
There are 2 basic m4/3 cameras. The pocket type Panasonic GF1-GF2 and Olympus EP1 EP2 and the more DSLR like Panasonic G1, G2 and more recently GH2. The pocket type do not come with a viewfinder only an LCD. I think they are not appropriate to every kind of photos as a general purpose microstock camera. I am happy with the G1 and GH1 though. There are not that many lenses but all the focal length are covered from 7mm (14mm FF) to 300mm (600mm FF).

I enjoy working with them because manual focusing is a lot easier when the image is enlarged on the live view LCD or viewfinder.

As was noted before a good lighting is essential and one should not push them above 400 ISO.
Posted: 04/26/2011, 17:54:50 PM
Hello folks,

I'm no pro photographer, but I've sold some of them made with E-420. Good camera, easy to carry, good looking :) - my personal taste - and takes good photos.

I had the chance to shoot with Canon and Nikon cameras but I quite like the way Olympus handles shadows, colors especially and it's sharpness, even with the kit lens.

So, MFT might be a good choice for Microstock, though I tend to like the mirrors, but for a travel kit, when you don't want to much attention, MFT might be better.

Everyone sees you when you got a big camera and that's not good when you want to sneak on people or be quiet :).
Olympus, Sony.
Posted: 05/01/2011, 06:52:39 AM
zeiss glass if I remember good
Posted: 05/01/2011, 14:30:05 PM

Originally posted by Jubilist:
Quoted Message: Last week was my second anniversary on Dreamstime. I`m still a beginner with a basic camera and at least a quarter of my images are rejected due to lens quality and noise, so I`m getting ready to upgrade my equipment.I`m wondering about micro four thirds vs DSLR. MFT sounds interesting but I`ve read a couple of reviews that say noise is a problem. Do any of you have experience of using MFT cameras professionally? Any feedback about MFT and/or recommendations for entry level DSLRs is welcome.Many thanks,jubilist

Noise is not even an issue on the better Micro Four-Thirds cameras like the Olympus E-PL2 and Panasonic GH2 (the upcoming G3 should have performance like the GH2). In fact, the new E-PL2 blows away the APS-C competition, especially for lack of chroma or luminance noise. That's the most important noise to control, as that noise can't be filtered out in post. The E-PL2 has an almost clear AA filter, like the pro-grade Olympus E-5, which captures the most light and resolution out of the lens, giving the most natural, clear colors.

You micro-stockers will probably like the fact that the GH2 (as with the coming G3) has a 16MP sensor for larger file resolution. The GH2 has an integrated EVF, while the E-PL2 has an accessory EVF. The E-PL2 is much more compact than the GH2 though, which is why many move to Micro Four-Thirds. They both have the same high resolution clarity (1.44 million dots), but the accessory EVF on the E-PL2 takes over the hotshoe leaving you to trigger your lights through the optical Remote Flash Commander. They both also have the same resolution (460k dots) LCDs on the back, which makes the E-PL2 particularly useful even without the Viewfinder attached (freeing the hotshoe). The new G3 will have the 16MP sensor of the GH2, an integrated EVF, and will be an intermediate size in between the E-PL2 and GH2.

The Micro Four-Thirds cameras you want to avoid if you're afraid of noise, is the Panasonic GF series (their version of the Olympus PEN) and the Panasonic G1 and G2. The GH1 had the best Micro Four-Thirds sensor of its time, which doesn't keep up to current technology but is still decent. The GF-1 and GF-2 are the noisiest. The PEN series has had pretty pleasing noise control since day 1 with the original E-P1, although the new E-PL2 is in a completely different class for image quality, not just in ISO performance but also with other factors like sharpness and detail retention.

The 16MP multi-aspect (oversized for no cropping at different aspect ratios) digital (A/D conversion built into sensor) sensor is considered the most advanced in the Micro Four-Thirds world, but I personally prefer the Olympus E-PL2 and E-5 (Four-Thirds pro-grade body) for their better capture of lens detail and resolution.
f/2.8-3.5 SWD | Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 | Vivitar 100mm f/2.8 Macro |...
Posted: 05/27/2011, 05:47:11 AM
I don't disagree with your excellent summary, but I think the G3 must have a different sensor. The GH2 is 18MP with the multiaspect, as you say, but the G3 doesn't seem to be the multiaspect sensor. So while they are similar in size on 4:3 aspect images, the GH2 gets larger on the wider formats like 3:2 and 16:9.

To further bolster the point, the GH2 has a slightly wider viewfinder (1.5 versus 1.4 million pixels) to show more when in the wider crop modes...
ZD 50mm Macro f/2...
Posted: 05/27/2011, 16:14:50 PM
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