Is micro four-thirds dead?
This morning the Photo Rumors site posed this question in the form of a poll. I joined the 52% of respondents (at the time of writing) who answered NO, micro four-thirds is not dead. It’s early days yet, but 36% of respondents actually believe m4/3 is dead (which is demonstrably untrue) while just under 13% are not sure what’s happening. Have your say below…..
The result might have been different if the question had been worded otherwise: Is micro four-thirds dying, rather than dead. If that had been the question, I suspect the YES vote could have been considerably higher.
The truth is, no one knows. I think the 2x crop sensor still has a lot of life in it yet. But there is no doubt that the tremendous exposure of full-frame sensors — particularly in the excitement surrounding the launches by Nikon and Canon — is drawing in more punters. Serious photographers will scrutinise crop-sensor cameras more keenly in future, wondering whether they would be better off with a Z6 or an a7 rather than a relatively expensive camera with a much smaller sensor.
In my view, micro four-thirds still has a lot going for it, not just in the economy of scale when it comes to lenses, but in the ever-improving image quality being squeezed out of the smaller chip.
Perhaps a more apposite question would be whether or not APS-C is dying. If micro four-thirds is under threat from the new full-frame wonders, then APS-C must be at even greater risk. The difference in system size between FF and the 1.5 crop is less dramatic, and the cost of a pro-APS-C system is not that much less than that of a full-frame system.
Indeed, full-frame cameras have become more affordable while, at the same time, crop-sensor systems have become more expensive. Price is therefore no longer of paramount importance in choice. It comes down mainly to size and weight — how much can you manage to carry.
In this new world, there is a good argument for considering full-frame cameras against micro four thirds. They offer more performance at the cost of a little more size and weight. APS-C is somewhere in the middle, and you do begin to wonder what future it will have.
The APS-C market is in itself interesting. There is only one company, Fuji, which is wholly committed to the standard. Other players, Sony, Leica, Nikon and Canon, could take it or leave it as their full-frame systems continue to develop. Fujifilm is in an odd position. The X system has been a massive success over the past decade and has a strong, almost messianic following. There are compelling arguments which suggest that Fuji X is all the camera you need, so why bother about full-frame?
Paradoxically, it is the very success of Fuji which has led to the company’s recent decision to shun full-frame in favour of the GFX medium-format. Without a doubt, one of the reasons for this choice was to avoid cannibalising sales of the X system. Yet opting for medium format is either the best of decisions or the worst of decisions. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, if any Fuji cannibalising is done will be by Sony and Nikon in particular with their full-frame systems. Fuji has opted out of the market.
What do you think? Is there room for the APS-C and micro four-thirds in the new full-frame world? Will there be a gradual migration of photographers from crop-sensors?