Sunday, January 3, 2016

Why M43 is The Best for Street Photography

Why I Think M43 Is The Best For Street Photography

When it comes to street photography there is alot of debate as to what the best camera choice is. Some guys prefer their dslr's, others their camera phones, and some frown on anyone that doesnt shoot a leica. When it comes down to my money though I know that m43 is the best system for me and my uses. Read more after the break to find out why I think m43 is the best for street photography.

Street photography is fun and can be very different for different people. For me it is fast paced, dynamic, and fun! When I am shooting on the street I need a camera that is responsive, easy to use, and doesn't take away from my enjoyment in what I am doing. M43 is the system that steps up to the plate and here are the reasons why.

1. M43 is a small system (size wise)

M43 as a system is tiny compared to its competitors. Stack a m43 kit up next to any apsc or 35mm dslr and the difference is shocking!  Because m43 is mirrorless and uses a smaller sensor than 35mm it enjoys huge size savings over most dslr setups. Sure a 35mm camera may give you better technical image quality but

A. It is not worth the size and inconvenience on the street

B. The difference between m43 and a 35mm camera is almost invisible. When printed the differences are minimised and everything becomes good enough, and when shown online everyone uses small display sizes and resolutions anyways.  There may be a 2 stop difference in iso ability and dof but in all honesty that difference is basically imperceptible in most cases.

Unless you are printing huge and observing those huge prints at much closer distances than you should m43 offers good enough iq for pretty much any circumstance. 

2. Evf technology

This isnt exclusive to m43 but they do it very well. EVF's are fantastic and in my opinion far superior to ovf's for street photography. When shooting on the street you dont get a second chance for the exact same photo. Nailing your exposure and composition the first time is absolutely necessary. A well implemented evf has minimal lag, is sharp for judging focus, and shows you what you will get when you press the shutter. The what you see is what you get aspect of an evf is absolutely fantastic for nailing exposure in street photography and evf's are infinitely superior to ovf's for manual focus.

The best evf's in m43 belong to the gx8 and the em5 mark II (same as em1 but possibly with better optics). These provide huge views comparable to or better than full frame dslrs, sharp details, minimal lag, focus peaking, etc. As a bonus the gx8 evf tilts on a hinge which is very useful.

My favorite features implemented in evfs are focus peaking and magnification for manual focus. Manual focus is now far faster and easier than ever before and I love it! I can quickly and easily nail focus in any situation now with my manual lenses.

3. Manual controls

The current crop of m43 cameras offer great manual controls. They have dials, buttons and even levers that are assignable to different functions and all work together to create a custom personal interface.  I have my em5 mark II setup for the fastest possible manual control and quick switching to manual video mode.

Imho with cameras like the em5 mark II, gx8, and em1 m43 is in the sweet spot for manual control. Just the right number of controls on well design and shaped cameras. With my em5 mark II each buttons falls under my fingers naturally and smoothly. I do not ever have accidental button presses and, with the exception of the on off switch, the ergonomics with the matching fotodiox grip couldnt possibly be better. I do use an accessory grip as I use very heavy lenses on my camera and find the extra purchase valuable for one handed usage.

4. M43 is a huge system (option wise)

M43 has a great selection of lenses. They range from exotic f0.95 glass to high quality standards. The m43 lenses offered in the 10.5 to 25mm range are generally fantastic!
You can choose from the 4 super fast voigtlanders (which are my personal favorites)

10.5mm f0.95
17.5mm f0.95
25mm f0.95
42.5mm f0.95

If you prefer AF lenses then Panasonic and Olympus have you covered from 7-300mm (14 to 600mm for you ff folks) with dozens of fantastic lenses. For street anything from the 12mm f2 olympus to the 42.5mm f1.2 panaleica nocticron will be fantastic.

At this point in the mirrorless world m43 has hands down the best selection of lenses available to meet all your needs.

Then there are the bodies. No other camera system does bodies like m43. With m43 it is possible to go as small as a gm5 and 12-32 kit lens or scale up to an em1/gh4 with professional controls and use the same lenses and have the same image quality the entire time. There is a m43 body you will like. There just is.

My personal favorites have been the panasonic G6, the Gx7 and now the Olympus Em5 Mark II.

5. Adaptability

One of my favorite things to do is adapting old manual lenses to my camera. My first fast primte was a 60 year old cannon 50mm f1.4 on my panasonic g6 and I used it for practically everything. It now sits on my canon ae-1. Older lenses made for film are less perfect than modern glass and I like the way this comes through in images. There is a nice vintage vibe with older lenses. One of the cool things about m43 is that its short flange distance allows almost every lens every made to be adapted to it. People are out there using 1/2 cmount lenses for security cameras and 16mm film, and they are out there using medium format lenses made for 645. You can even adapt cinema lenses to your m43 camera for shooting video. It really is awesome. And with olympus bodies and the gx8/gx7 from panasonic you can have stabilisation with all of these vintage lenses thanks to ibis!

These are just a few reasons I like to use m43 cameras and feel that they are the best for street photography. Feel free to share your own reasons down in the comments!

Joshua Son

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