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Archive for August 24th, 2018

According to DPReview, the Micro Four Thirds format was introduced 10 years ago. DPReview calls it the start of a revolution, because it enabled Panasonic and Olympus to offer serious, even professional, system cameras without a mirror-based viewfinder, thus entering a market previously reserved for Nikon and Canon.

In 2008 I was already committed to the Nikon SLR format. I had been using an F50 film camera for more than a decade, and I had just replaced my D70 of 2006 with a second-hand D80. So I did not really care about the MFT announcement, what I wanted was an affordable full-frame Nikon DSLR (still waiting, by the way).

When my Fujifilm X20 started to show its age a year ago, I started looking around for a possible replacement. I went looking for an affordable small camera with a decent viewfinder, a usable zoom lens, a hot shoe and serious controls. After a lot of searching an pondering I decided that the Panasonic DMC-LX100 could be what I was looking for. But it was still a bit too expensive for me at that time: I looking for a second all-in-one camera, not for a replacement of the Nikon D5600 I considered to be my main workhorse ;-) Some of the MFT cameras that were presented to the public the past 10 years did catch my attention, but the really interesting ones are system cameras, and they would have “forced” me to build up a second collection of lenses – and I did not want to do that, for financial reasons as well as lack of space in my photo cabinet.

At the beginning of this year, just by accident, I found out that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80 with its standard 12-32 zoom was offered for (substantially) less money than the LX100.¬† So I bought the GX80… and that was the start of an unexpected experience.

You see, the GX80 showed me that the MFT platform has matured so much that the image quality rivals that of APS-C, at least¬†for my purposes. No, the viewfinder is not as large as the viewfinder of a Nikon DSLR like the D7500, but it will do for me. In fact, I prefer it because the electronic display is capable of displaying the complete menu system of the camera, meaning that I don’t have to get my reading glasses to change a setting during a shoot! At the same time, the GX80 and its lenses are so much smaller and lighter than the corresponding Nikon material – I admit to having bought a cheap 45-150mm telezoom for the GX80, contrary to my plans for this camera . And the results, in terms of image quality, are good enough for me even now (and I know I still have to learn more about them in order to use their full capabilities).

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80
with the excellent 12-60mm zoom lens

To cut a long story short: I am replacing my Nikon material with Panasonic cameras and lenses. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G80 body weighs a bit more than the D5600, but the lenses are much smaller and lighter – and the whole system is weatherproof as well. The ergonomics of the camera are great as well: you need the manual to come to grips with the many capabilities and options of the camera, not with its use. I have added the Panasonic G Vario 12-60 lens to my collection. That means I now have a camera and lens that can do almost everything I want to do while on holiday without having to change lenses, while weighing less than 800g.

I know that an expert or professional full-frame DSLR with premium lenses will deliver better images, even if it’s just me using it. But these products are way too expensive for me, and I don’t want to haul them around a whole day while I’m supposed to enjoy my surroundings – so I have put the dream of owning those to rest.

Having a smaller range-finder-like camera like the GX80 or the GX9, that can use the same lens collection, is another plus. In fact, in combination with the standard 12-32mm lens these cameras are not that much bigger than the Fuji X20, just heavier – they still fit in the supple Nikon camera case I bought a long, long time ago for an L35AW. I don’t see Nikon (or Canon) offer me the same capabilities in the same small package. Unless Nikon or Canon are ready to embrace the MFT platform as well – that would be interesting, don’t you think?

For another view on the MFT platform and its place in recent camera history, check out the DPReview video:

 

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