Micro four thirds and selling regrets

I have bought and sold tens of cameras and lenses: Canon, Nikon, Ricoh, Pentax, Olympus, Panasonic, and that’s only for the digital ones. If we look at film, then we can add all kind of soviet made cameras, and then Yashica, Rollei, Olympus, Holga, Diana, AGFA, etc.

I never believed in amassing objects, that’s why I constantly sold the cameras and lenses I was using less or not using anymore: it seems a good idea to own just what I use, what has a some sort of continuing role in my live.

It’s also good to put in the used market something that others can enjoy more than I do, for a cheaper price than retail . That’s how I see it anyway!

My architect friend! Shot with Olympus Pen-F + Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.7

I rarely felt regret for selling my camera gear.

I confess I wish I didn’t have to sell my small collection of beautiful AGFA Isolette medium format cameras! They were amazing, so compact and fun to use! Imagine this: to put in your pocket or small shoulder bag a real medium format camera that took 120 film (not the pseudo medium format ala Fuji).

In that moment of my life things were not going well and I had to sell some stuff for survival. My Honda motorbike followed the same destiny as the AGFAs, and in the end it was all fine and good that way.

I can’t find photos of my own Isolettes on this computer, so I picked one online. Look at that beauty!

Still, I would not call it “regret”. I had no choice, and for me a “regret” is connected to the act of choosing to act or not to act.

The funny thing is that if I look at some sort of proper “selling regret”, I realise it’s mostly about micro four thirds stuff, and this made me think and ultimately write this post.

My reasoning when selling my micro four thirds gear was this: since the image quality is similar in latest models, I wanted to keep only the camera I enjoyed the most.

So I sold the EM-10, the Panasonic GM5 and the Panasonic G9 while keeping the Pen-F. The G9 and the Pen-F offer the same image quality, but as much as I really liked the G9, the Pen-F just speaks to me, and it is considerably smaller and lighter.

Olympus Pen-F + Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.7

I also sold basically every micro four thirds lens I had and kept only the Zuiko 25mm 1.8, because that was the lens I would keep on the Pen-F all the time, if I had to choose only one. It is small, light, it has a beautiful rendition, it is bright and it has a versatile enough focal length.

By the way, if you are interested and you didn’t read it yet, here is my review of the Olympus Pen-F.

I didn’t like the Zuiko 17mm 1.8 much, so I gifted it away quite early in my m43 journey. Being a 28mm fan, I tried the Panasonic 14mm 2.5 but its rendering wasn’t that good, and in micro four thirds the difference between 1.8 and 2.5 is not that trivial, because it means that on 1.8 I can save me some noise trouble.

Olympus Pen-F + Zuiko 25mm 1.8

So what do I regret selling? A couple of items, to be honest, but the most notable ones are the Panasonic GM5 with the 15mm 1.7, and the Panasonic Leica 12mm 1.4.

The GM5 seemed like a perfect camera for me. I was looking for an everyday camera that was even smaller than a Pen-F and well, was the GM5 small!

Paired with the 15mm it offered me a bright and very defined 30mm equivalent, close enought to my 28mm goal, and the image quality was quite good. And it looked like a miniature Leica Q!

The GM5 was a true m43 camera. Look at how small it is compared to a Ricoh GR II.

So why did I sell the GM5? Image quality was not on par with the G9 and the Pen-F. So I felt weird bringing around a camera that gave me less quality, just for saving a bit of space and weight.

For this reason I sold it, and I now regret that, because that combo was so practical and fun to use, and it is extremely difficult to find a new one on sale, especially in kit with the 15mm.

There are many times when I don’t need better image quality, and using the GM5 would have been fun. So, that is a small regret.

Olympus Pen-F + Zuiko 25mm f1.8

A few words about the 15mm. On paper it seems like a perfect choice for someone looking for a 28mm equivalent and bright lens for m43. It was much better than the 14mm, for sure, and I gave it a try on the Pen-F and GM5 for some time, but I just never really liked using it.

A crop of the previous photo. The level of detail produced by the Pen-F + Zuiko 25mm is quite impressive. Finding decent light makes a big difference.

I don’t know why but something looked off when using it. Framing seemed unnatural to me, uninspiring, and I found the image quality to be inferior to the Zuiko 25mm. All the tech data showed how wonderful the 15mm was, but it just didn’t work for me. So I was rarely picking it up, and I ended up selling it, this time without much regret.

Back to regrets now: I am often sorry I sold the Panasonic 12mm 1.4! Stellar lens, very good image quality and resolution, beautiful to look at and to mount on the Pen-F. I loved using it (despite not being a fan of 24mm) but at some point I just felt that the Pen-F was made for small lenses, not for big and heavy ones.

The Panasonic 12mm 1.4 looked stunning on the Pen-F. But it was just too big and heavy for how I see the m43 system.

For me, the Pen-F shines when used with the Zuiko 12mm f2 and the  17, 25, 45 f1.8. Everything bigger becomes a niche lens for special occasions. Bringing around the Panasonic 12mm seemed counterintuitive for what I intended to use the Pen-F for: an everyday camera I enjoy using.

So I sold it, and I ended up regretting it a bit, because there are times when a bright wider lens could have come handy.

I am considering getting the Zuiko 12mm f2, for this reason. Its rendering is less sharp, and the lens is less bright, but it weights so much less and it is so much smaller, and that balances it all for me.

Olympus Pen-F + Zuiko 25mm 1.8

After all, I stand by my own rule of not amassing gear I don’t use. It helps me contribute to the used market and it forces me to focus on actually using what I have. My selling regrets are rare, and it is surprising they are all concerning m43 gear.

I really like the m43 system and I wish Panasonic and OMD would invest on it and keep it alive, though I confess I don’t have high hopes.

Panasonic just released the G9 mark II, that is a m43 camera inside a Panasonic S5 II full frame body. What were they thinking, I don’t know!

OMD released the OM-1 mark II, a camera that introduces few features compared to the previous OM-1, which was itself a repackaged Olympus EM-1 mark III, which itself was adding very few to the EM-1 mark II. Still I will sooner or later buy one of those, maybe an E-M1 mark III, it seems the sweet spot to me.

Olympus Pen-F + Zuiko 25mm 1.8

Where are the compact cameras with newer sensor technology? Panasonic could bring back the GM line and give the GX8 a proper successor. OMD could create an improved Pen-F or at least a Pen with actual reasons for an upgrade.

The success of the Ricoh GR and or the Fuji XV100 proves that there is a market for quite compact cameras, and m43 can offer a more compact solution thanks to the smaller lenses. Some will argue that smartphones are the issue here, but I don’t think that’s completely true, as I wrote in my comparison of the iPhone and the Ricoh GR II.

I already gave my opinion on the m43 system in another post, so I won’t repeat it much here, since it didn’t change much!

Olympus Pen-F + Zuiko 25mm 1.8

I am keeping my Pen-F and Zuiko 25mm and I won’t sell them ever, I hope. That would be a serious regret! Maybe at some point I will buy back the 45mm 1.8 — right now I use an adapted Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.7 as “portrait lens” on the Pen-F, when I need one. And one day I will finally buy the 12mm f2, who knows.

I love the micro four thirds system and I believe it could have its place and a bright future, if only Panasonic and OMD started again creating small, courageous, brilliant cameras. An updated GM5 with a modern sensor could be a hit. The same goes for a well-priced and updated Pen-F.

I doubt we will ever see them, but never say never.

In meantime, let’s enjoy what we own and let’s have fun taking photographs, that’s really the most important thing!

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6 comments

  1. If the shit hits the fan, it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to get your Nikon D850 repaired.
    Your ideal camera’s the leica q (Typ 116). No frills. Terrific lense produces terrfic images. Great for documentary & street photography (my trade). Addictive. You’d never look back. The one camera I’ll never sell. Avoid the fuji hype.

    1. Hi Andy! I have considered the Leica Q/Q2/Q3 for some time, it’s truly a wonderful camera! I don’t rule it out and the option is still on the table, but I guess I am not ready to spend that much on a fixed lens camera. I just like to have the chance of changing lens if needed, and cropping is not an acceptable solution for me. We will see, maybe I will change idea!

      Fuji hype never got me 🙂 I actually don’t like the brand very much, I instinctively feel repulsion toward brands that are constantly promoted online and that become trendy.

  2. Hi Andrea! Well written and thoughts-provoking article again. I am glad I came across your blog some time ago, I really like to read your reflections – and your photos are beautiful.
    Regarding Micro Four Thirds, my experience there is with Olympus and I more or less share your view – I like the system a lot, have been using it for cca 8 years (leisure only) and so far I came back to it every time I tried something different. But for me too the beauty and might were in the original compact form of small bodies and lenses (and their prime lenses are so great, even those ten or more years old). Those virtues are now almost forgotten, yet I don´t see their replacement very meaningful, at least for me – I even tried some newer bodies, such as E-M1 mk II, but for me there is not significant difference in the quality of the picture (sometimes I even feel like I like the old 16 MP sensor better) and the camera with its functions is overkill for my needs. Not mentioning current niche in which the company placed itself recently. With proper care, the system could be so much more!
    Take care, I am looking forward to your next articles 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment, Bohuslav!

      It sadly seems OMD is really focusing on wildlife / adventure, with bigger bodies and a special attention towards long zooms. They probably decided that’s their niche, and I wish them all good, even if I think they are wrong.

      Panasonic is following a similar route, with some existential crisis where their full frame and m43 lineups are ending up sharing the same bodies weight and size.

      There is the diffuse idea that smartphones killed compact cameras, and I don’t believe at all, as I wrote in my post about iPhone vs Ricoh GR.

      We will see, I really hope we will get some updated compact m43 cameras! In meantime we can appreciate the small m43 cameras existing, they are usually more than enough for most use cases!

      Thanks again for your kind words and for commenting on the blog!

  3. Hi Andrea, thank you for your thoughts: Inspiring and with a perspective I haven’t read anywhere else. You helped strengthen my decision on acquiring a copy of the Olympus Pen F. Never dabbled into the m43 world so I was nourished by the narrative you so well shed light on in your review from 2019. I’m glad to see that years later it is still by your side, it speaks volumes !

    Lately, photography has been for me all about creating memories. Having a fun camera, not intimidating that I can easily bring anywhere is what I’m looking for. I really hope the camera industrie does not give up on quality compact gear because I don’t find joy neither with a phone nor with a beast like camera.

    Congratulation for the beautiful pictures accompanying your articles. I’m glad I found your blog. Might drop by again !

    Cheers

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Max! I also hope compact fun cameras will keep being made. Like you said, photography is a lot about capturing or creating memories. And also about having fun practicing it. The Olympus Pen-f is a lovely camera and I am glad I bough it years ago. At the time it received some unfair treatment by media and by people that didn’t even use it. It was a common opinion that the Pen-F was only beautiful but also overpriced and lacking in many aspects. Fast forward 8 years or so and this camera with a cheap M.Zuiko lens is crushing the image quality of over-hyped cameras like tha Fuji X100V — now, that’s an overpriced camera! I did multiple tests and the lens monted on the X100V is nowhere near the quality of a Zuiko 25mm. And the X100V also lacks stabilization, for instance. But in the end, trends and media drive the industry. The Fuji X100 line was blessed by a huge hype, thanks to Fuji massive investent in influencers on YouTube, and the Pen-F became an outsider that never got the recognition it deserved. Still, I am happy many are still using it or, like you did, started discovering it right now! May you have lots of fun with it and creating many beautiful memories! See you on the blog!

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