Beyond Micro 4/3

Hasselblad X1D

While I’m really happy with the Olympus Micro 4/3 system and it meets almost all of my needs, it’s always instructive to think of another possibilities. After all, there are many excellent cameras and they often excel at particular tasks. After looking at the latest at the Precision Camera Expo, last Saturday, I entertained the possibility of future cameras. Following up on yesterday’s post on Panasonic Micro 4/3, today’s post is about the rest of the industry.

For a light weight, interchangeable lens system that works great for everyday, as well as travel, the Olympus system meets my needs well. Someday, hopefully not too far in the distant future, I’ll retire. I have romantic notions of getting into serious landscape photography, and as I looked at each vendor’s wares, I began evaluating the possibilities.

The big guys, Canon and Nikon, certainly have well-respected and capable cameras. But, they are primarily DSLR companies. I have no desire to move back to DSLRs since I’ve experienced the freedom and technology of mirrorless. In fact, I still own the full frame Canon 6D and an APS-C Nikon D3300, but they bring me no joy. They often sit unused. Unless Canon and Nikon bring out significant mirrorless system, they are not under serious consideration.

Next up, the Fujifilm X system. I still own a Fujifilm X100S, though I don’t use it much anymore. The similar but more capable Olympus PEN-F dominates for a small, stylish street camera. Fuji does have interchangeable lens X cameras which are loved by enthusiasts. An APS-C sized sensor adds about a stop of low light capability over micro 4/3 and perhaps with more resolution. However, they generally play in the same space as the Olympus cameras, which works well for travel. They also don’t have in-body image stabilization enabling 5 stops and 5 axis stability. I don’t think they offer enough advantages over the Olympus to build out a parallel system.

Pentax has the well-regarded, great for landscape, K-1. It’s a DSLR, which I dislike, but it has many more advanced features than the Canon or Nikon. They are also well priced with lot of value. But I wonder about Pentax’s long term viability. I’ll keep them on the list of possibilities.

Sony has done an outstanding job with their mirrorless A7 series and action oriented A9. With seven versions of the A7 camera, they have more than enough to cover my future needs. The just announced high-resolution A7R III looks like a winner but gets quite pricy. I supposed the high-resolution R model or the significantly less expensive A7 II model will make nice landscape cameras and work well for general purpose applications. I’m not fond of Sony’s unwieldily menu structure that makes even the complex Olympus one, seem simple. In the past, I haven’t always loved Sony’s color, but this seems to be improving with every generation.

Certainly for landscapes, medium format digital should at least be considered. Fujifilm’s GFX 50s and Hasselblad X1D are both mirrorless cameras offering the same, larger than full frame, Sony sensor at 50MP. The Fuji body is inexpensive as medium format digital goes, at “only” $6,499. The super stylish and svelte Hasselblad starts at about $9,000.

This big Fuji should be at home with any X camera user, sporting a similar interface, albeit with a beefier body. It’s not much larger than a professional full frame DSLR, however. I was most impressed with the Hasselblad X1D with its well-balanced, beautiful and modern body. The autofocus, though not speedy, is now adequate and much improved over the initial version I played with at introduction. The user interface has the simplicity of a modern iPhone camera app. The X1D looks like a futuristic camera completely reimagined. Its simplicity, both of the physical design and on-screen user interface, is zen like.

I still have a while until I contemplate getting into serious landscapes and a lot can change. If I was feeding my romantic future dream of being a high-end landscape photographer, I would see myself using a Hasselblad. All practicality and costs aside, it’s the camera that most impressed me. I would be standing at a beautiful location, with zen like calm using a fully modern zen like camera. Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he? Even someone who is so pragmatically oriented like me.

Note: Photo above, courtesy of the Hasselblad website.

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7 thoughts on “Beyond Micro 4/3

  1. great post!! I feel the same as you there are so many cameras out there that I sometimes wonder if i should switch system. I currently own the E-M10 but have been thinking about Fujifilm but my Olympus already does everything i want….

    1. Thanks Danny. Yes, many great cameras including the Fuji’s. As I mentioned in my post, the in-body image stabilization is so important to the way I shoot, that feature alone, among others, keeps me with Olympus.

  2. I have a friend in NY who has the A9 and now that he has retired, he seems to spend most of his life shooting everything in New York — people, street scenes, action — LOTS of black & white. He’s pretty good and probably, since he was a big exec at CBS, got a fair bit of practice over his 40+ years there. Funny, you know, because he and I were in college together at the college radio station. He was the LAST person I would have imagined a major executive force in network news. And now, he does some pretty special photography, so far all on Facebook. He is: and you can see the camera in action, too. He has some HUGE lenses for it. Really big pieces of glass.

  3. In the meantime, give yourself a Christmas gift: rent one of each. It may turn out to be the gift of contentment with what you’ve got.

    1. Wise words Mike and a great suggestion. I will certainly do a deep dive analysis before I pull the trigger on a new camera system.

      Luckily, I have some time.

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