Why M4/3 still competes with FF Mirrorless

I keep hearing some folks saying that M4/3 is dead because Sony has now shown that you can make full-frame mirrorless cameras just as small. I say that’s non-sense for the reasons that I have already mentioned in Lenses: The Most Important Part of a Camera System. While the Sony A7S ii is about the same size as an Olympus E-M1 (although the E-M1 is far from being the smallest M4/3 camera), the Sony FE Mount lenses are huge in comparison to M4/3 lenses and they are 2 to 3 times the price too. So your Sony kit will be 2 to 3 times the size, weight and price of the equivalent M4/3 kit. The camera size is really not that big of a factor. Not only that, but for me it actually becomes a hindrance to have a small body with such large lenses, it just doesn’t balance very well. So yes, the Sony has better image quality (mostly important if you are a pixel-peeper who must always have the newest and greatest), but if price, size, weight and convenience are important to you, than the M4/3 system wins hands down.

Let me illustrate with some actual examples (special thanks to CameraSize.com). Olympus E-M1 on the left, Sony A7S II on the right. All with equivalent lenses in term of focal length, aperture and stabilisation (applying the 2X factor of the M4/3 system).

First the bodies, nearly the same size:

OS bodies
Olympus E-M1 vs Sony A7S ii

And then with equivalent lenses:

With 85mm f/1.4
With 85mm f/1.4
With 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 IS
With 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 IS
With 25mm f/2.0
With 25mm f/2.0
With 24-70mm f/2.8 IS
With 24-70mm f/2.8 IS
With 50mm f/1.8
With 50mm f/1.8
With 70-200mm f/2.8 IS
With 70-200mm f/2.8 IS

I rest my case…

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  1. 1
    Carl Lum

    Amen. You’ve nailed it! The lure of FF is strong, but people don’t realize how montrously large the lenses are. Even the highly regarded Sony A6000: the camera is so ridiculously slim that even a cropped sensor lens mounted on it looks overly huge. This is why you see many pros with Sony A7s say they only use small Leica primes on that camera.

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