Are you thinking about switching to or from Olympus MFT? Read this article first to understand why I am no longer using Olympus MFT gear.

In this article, I would like to share the reasons why I have decided to part with my Olympus MFT gear. I used Olympus MFT for six years, and I was happy with the results… and still am. So why did I sell it? Read on if you think about switching to or from an MFT system.

Readers of my blog know that in 2014 I wrote about how I started using Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras in addition to my Nikon DSLR system. It is important to note that I never used Olympus as my only system. In fact, I have added it to my existing Nikons. But more on that later.

About two years later, in 2016, I did evaluate my MFT system against my expectations. Not everything was as nice and shiny as the marketing department wanted us to believe. Now, in 2021, this will be the third – and final – article of the MFT series.

Not the obvious reason

I am sure that many of you think it had to do with Olympus outsourcing their camera division. The reality is that I made this decision early in 2020, actually after the OM-D E-M1 Mark III was announced.

A quick sidestep: what had already confused me a lot at that time was the introduction of the E-M1x in 2019. This camera was in so many ways the opposite of the MFT idea, it was mind-boggling. I understand there may be a market for it, but it totally contradicted the primary MFT attributes – small size and low weight. In a way, it looked liked Olympus wanted to scale up, but where to? Did they seriously think they would be able to compete with a Canon 1Dx, a Nikon D5 or a Sony Alpha 9? Oh my…

Back to the E-M1 Mk.III announcement: three years after the E-M1 Mk.II introduction, it was the third camera of the OM-D line with basically the same sensor and the same eye viewfinder (EVF). And again, only one of the two SD card slots supported UHS-II. Yes, there were some minor updates, but overall this felt more like a “Mark II v2” than a “Mark III” to me.

Lack of technological progress

To be fair, we cannot expect a lot of enhancements from future MFT sensors. With 20 Megapixels on an area of 17,3 x 13 mm, diffraction already starts to kick in if you stop down beyond f/5.6. You can verify this using my infrared diffraction calculator, which also calculates diffraction limits for visible light.

But I didn’t understand why after 3 years Olympus had not opted for a better (meaning: higher resolution and / or frame rate) EVF. Two years earlier, in 2018, I briefly tested a Panasonic G9 and there was a noticeable difference in resolution and contrast. Now in 2020, still no update from Olympus.

Regarding the card slots: if two card slots of the same format are present, they need to be of equivalent speed, in my opinion. Why one is UHS-II and the other is only UHS-I, is beyond me. This slows down the camera when you write to both cards at the same time or use the second slot as an overflow. This was already a complaint with the Mk.II and should be easy to fix, you would think?

Really, I wasn’t looking to upgrade at this point, I was happy with my E-M1 Mk.II. I was just hoping to see that Olympus would put more emphasis on the development of their new cameras. In summary, while I was not exited, my E-M1 Mk.II was still a solid performer.

A temptation shows up

Already announced in 2018, I did not pay a lot of attention to the new Nikon mirrorless models, the Z 6 and the Z 7. The main reason was the new lens mount system. I was hoping Nikon would come up with a mirrorless system for the existing F-mount lenses. And people on the internet complained a lot about the missing second card slot, and a bunch of other issues.

Well… things changed once I had the opportunity to take it in my hands and use it. I could not believe how familiar it felt. Operating the Z 6 was like operating any other Nikon camera I had used previously, just with all the advantages of a mirrorless system. And the viewfinder was marvelous. Nikon really made a great effort to make sure the switching barrier was not too high.

From that moment on, I was not sure what to do next. I loved my Olympus MFT gear, but I could not deny the fact that I like what you can do with a full-frame sensor. I had previously owned a D700 and a D800E, and wide-angle photos with shallow depth of field was something I really missed.

A decision needs to be made

So, what to do? Adding another system was out of question, for logistical and financial reasons. Replacing my D500 was also out of question, as this is the camera I use for wildlife photography. Currently, no mirrorless AF system comes even close to the AF performance of my D500. And what about the MFT size and weight advantage?

In the end, after spending more time getting familiar with a Z 6, I made the following decision:

  • Keep my D500 plus all the wildlife (mostly telephoto) lenses
  • Sell the Olympus MFT gear
  • Add the Z 6 plus some Z prime lenses to cover the wide-angle part, replacing my existing D7200.

Surprised? For me, this is a well working combination of systems. The D500 will remain my wildlife camera for the foreseeable future. I can use the Z 6 with the FTZ adapter as a backup camera. For travel, I will use the Z 6 with three prime lenses as a compact system and to challenge myself. For everything else, I can decide on which camera and which lens to use.

FYI I have still kept my 2 Olympus MFT infrared cameras. And before I sold the majority of my Olympus MFT gear, I have used it to test the lenses in infrared light. Read the full review here: The Olympus lens infrared performance review.

Final thoughts on why I am no longer using Olympus MFT gear

After about a year of using the Z 6, I am very happy with the results I am getting from this camera and I am glad to have made the switch. To be fair, here is a comparison of what I gained and what I lost:

What I gained:

  • The ability to use my previously existing Nikon lenses on all my bodies.
  • A reduction of camera bodies: D500 (wildlife) + Z 6 (small & light, backup) instead of D500 (wildlife) + D7200 (backup) + Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk.II (small & light).
  • I no longer have to mentally switch between systems. My muscle memory needs to remember only one system, not two. Don’t underestimate the complexity of handling two different systems.
  • There is only one battery type I need to carry and charge for all my cameras. This is very convenient for vacations.
  • The ability to shoot in low light conditions without loss of image quality. Some of my shots with the Z 6 at ISO 12.800 were printed and used for online publishing.
  • A system that is likely to be developed further instead of a system where we don’t know how the future looks like. More on that in a later article.
  • The quality of the new Z mount lenses is mind-blowing.
  • A lot of space in my closet.

What I lost:

  • A mirrorless system with interchangeable lenses and the lowest possible weight.
  • Some features my OM-D was capable of, like visible highlight clipping in photo mode (zebra stripes), Live Bulb for long exposures.

Does this make sense to you? For me it did, and maybe it helps you make a decision in a similar situation. I am more than curious what other people do in this situation? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts or what your decision was. I am sure many others will appreciate that as well.

Header Photo by Rosie Kerr on Unsplash.

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Picture of Robert Reiser

Robert is an enthusiast amateur photographer from Austria with a preference for black & white and infrared photography. He is an active member of the Austrian Association of Wildlife and Nature Photography (VTNÖ). In his spare time, he likes to take pictures and write about various photographic topics. More about Robert.