How Do Micro Four Thirds Stack Up Against DSLRs and Bridge Cameras

The Micro Four Thirds camera system offers photographers and videographers many benefits over DSLRs and bridge cameras. The system, designed to take high quality pictures and keep the size of the camera and lenses small, contains camera options for people of all experience levels.

The system, created by Panasonic and Olympus, features cameras that offer the best of both DSLRs and high-end bridge cameras. All Micro Four Thirds cameras feature an interchangeable lens mount like a DSLR but work without a mirror like a fixed-lens bridge camera. This allows photographers the freedom to change lenses while also making the camera body smaller. Because the system features a short flange focal distance, virtually any existing lens can be used on the cameras, provided there is a lens adapter.

Sensors and Image Quality

Micro Four Thirds sensors, referred to 4/3 type sensors because of the aspect ratio, measures 18mm x 13.5mm and has an imaging area of 17.3mm x 13mm. Although its area is smaller than APS-C sensors used in similarly priced DSLRs, it is much larger than sensors used in many compact digital cameras. In addition to the native aspect ration of 4:3, these cameras offer shooters the option of shooting in 16:9, 3:2 and 1:1. The Panasonic Lumix GH1 and GH2 feature mulit-aspect ratio sensors designed to shoot native 16:9 and 3:2 images, rather than cropping the sensor like other models.

Micro Four Thirds cameras produce high-quality images. While perhaps not quite as good as APS-C DSLR images, the difference, especially in high-end models, is generally negligible. However, more expensive full frame DSLRs will produce higher quality photos.

Micro Four Thirds cameras, especially, the Panasonic Lumix GH1 and GH2, have gained a cult following in the world of low-budget film making because of their excellent video quality. The sensor size is very close to the size of 35mm motion picture film, allowing it to produce high-quality HD video with similar characteristics to that of film.

Micro Four Thirds Versus Other Cameras

The most common types of cameras in the same price range as Micro Four Thirds cameras are DSLRs and high-end point and shoots, often called bridge cameras. Each of these types of cameras has their own advantages.

The cameras most like Micro Four Thirds cameras are DSLRs. DSLRs in the same price range offer photographers slightly better image quality and low-light performance because of a larger sensor. The lack of a mirror means there is no through-the-lens optical viewfinder. However, Micro Four Thirds offer cameras and lenses that are smaller and lighter, making them less conspicuous. The lens mount allows any lens to be adapted and the absence of a mirror creates a simpler camera with fewer parts that can break. Electronic viewfinders, or EFVs, also offer advantages versus optical ones.  They allow for the real-time preview of images and allow the photographer to zoom into the preview for more precise focus. Finally, an EVF allows for 100% of the image to be previewed and the photographer sees how the sensor views the photo.

Bridge cameras appeal to many customers in this price range as well. They offer smaller size than Micro Four Thirds cameras. They may also feature longer zoom capabilities, because of their smaller sensor size. They will also, generally, be cheaper. Micro Four Thirds offers better image performance. Interchangeable lenses give the photographer more freedom to vary the look of their photos. They also give more flexibility when in comes to depth of field.

Overall, Micro Four Thirds cameras offer people looking for good image quality and portability a great option when choosing a camera.

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