How I Personally Improved My Photography With Micro Four Thirds
- It’s bad in low light…
- The sensor is too small…
- There is no dynamic range…
- You can’t get a blurry background…
The Limitations Of Micro Four Thirds.
However it’s those so-called limitations that opened up my skills as a photographer, the lessons I’ve learnt and the stretching of my creativity has been amazing since I converted over to the system nearly 3 years ago.
In 2017 I was – Let’s just say a semi professional using a full frame professional DSLR and everything was ok, I thought I knew it all about photography.
I wanted to try a mirrorless camera, in particular the micro four thirds system as the small size appealed to me. Olympus and especially Lumix were really kicking goals with the micro four thirds range, so I began my research in mid 2017 – Pretty much the same time the GH5 was getting released.
I knew I wanted to go “All In” so I sold my DSLR and purchased a new Lumix G7 with two kit lenses and put the rest of the profits from my DSLR aside to fund any future pro level lenses.
I remember getting it home and taking it out of the box and thinking this is a Toy!!! However as soon as I loaded up the battery and took a few shots around the house I knew I made the right decision and the photography lessons were about to start.
All Shot On Micro Four Thirds
At this stage I was still a guitar teacher and not really shooting professionally, only doing semi-professional gigs on the side, and even though I have always loved and pursued photography I was still very much getting used to the idea of becoming a professional photographer and still had many lessons to learn.
Up to that point I used Aperture Priority mode maybe 80% of the time and Manual mode the rest of the time. Like many photographers aspiring to become a professional I knew I needed to start shooting in manual mode to take full advantage of my camera – But how easy is it just to put it on Aperture Priority and shoot and spray, especially on a full frame!!!
Aperture and Auto ISO = Instant Awesomeness.
This is when I really had to change my attitude and take the deep dive into manual mode as the limitations of the small sensor on my G7 were starting to show very quickly and leaving two of the three exposure settings (Shutter and ISO) on auto to do their “thing” was not going to be a option.
Just a gentle reminder too I was using the kit lenses at this stage with apertures of f/4 to f/5.6 – So yes pretty slow, prior to that I was using a fast prime of f/1.4 on a full frame camera so the learning curve was massive and I had NO idea how much I relied on a full frame with fast prime to get my so called awesome shots.
Using my little G7 more and more on personal projects, with the family and on the streets – forcing myself to shoot 100% of the time in manual mode I started to feel a shift in my photography and the way I took photos. I really had to think about how I was going to take certain shots as the limitations of the tiny little sensor and slow lenses made me work for my shots.
You had to chase the light and work the shadows, find ways to steady your hands and really take into consideration your shutter speed and your ISO working in conjunction with your selected aperture. This was really the first time I started to grasp the “Exposure Triangle” and started to get some clarity, making me explore other functions like metering and setting my white balance – Things I would always leave the camera to decide.
The G7 is not a stabilised camera and the lenses were also not stabilised so handshake and capturing images crisp and clear was a challenge especially when the light wasn’t great. This then made me rethink ISO because as we all know on full frame systems we can keep the ISO relatively low and it works well in low light.
However not so much on the G7, the micro four thirds sensor made me experiment with ISO more and made me realise you don’t have to keep low, if you want to get sharp shots you might just have to boost that ISO to speed up that shutter.
After about a year of continuous practice and only shooting on manual mode I honestly felt more like a “Real” photographer. The little G7 and its limitations forced me to rethink my skill-set and made me really work for my craft. My photos were now starting to take their own charter and I felt like my own style was starting to form.
At this stage I started to look into other cameras in the Lumix lineup as I felt like a little bit of stabilisation could come in handy. Also If I wanted to start picking up more professional work I would need a 2nd camera.
After doing more research I decided to look into a Lumix GX8 and with a quick browse on eBay I found one locally for $400 and I jumped on it. Win-Win… I still had about $1000 left over from my full frame sale so I invested in a stabilised lens, the Lumix 35 to 100mm f/2.8
Now loaded up with what Lumix calls its Duel-IS – I could really expand out and I found my photography reached yet another milestone. I could now do handheld shots in all kinds of situations, the Duel-IS giving more stops to play with and options to work in low light and the GX8 soon became my primary camera.
Now in 2021 and with a few extra bits of kit in my photography bag – Most notably a Lumix G9 and a variety of pro level Olympus and Lumix glass. My little G7 still sits amongst it all and I continually use it to this day. If it was not for its so called limitations and its tiny little micro four thirds sensor I don’t think I’d be here today working as a professional photographer and writing this article.
When I sold my full frame camera many people would consider that a downgrade, but for me it was an upgrade – an upgrade on SO many levels! It made me research and educate myself on the technical side of photography because up to this point I was heavily relying on the creative side and letting the camera do the work.
I guess you could say it’s kinda like a musician who can’t read music – sure you can create music (and GREAT music EG: The Beatles) but it’s something that plays on your mind and once you get your reading down an entire new world opens up.
That was me – I really wanted to become a professional photographer but still was unsure of my technical skills and the language – However by changing my gear to a totally different system that made me work a bit harder was a game changer.
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Thanks for reading my latest post – My name is Grant and I’m a Freelance Photographer based on the Gold Coast.
Specialising in Branding, Family & Lifestyle Photography – Ranging from Families, Kids & Couples to Content Creation for Local Brands & Businesses, I’m always available to take any inquiries you might have.