Micro Four Thirds vs DSLR Video

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The Battle For 2008 Camera Of The Year

A few days before the end of 2008 I started to think about choosing the 2008 Camera Of The Year. I had a camera in mind and figured I’d wait until after the New Year and then publish an article with my camera choice. Then I had the bright idea of posting a Quick Poll to find out which camera the photography community thinks should to win. That opened up a big can of juicy, wiggly worms. It’s come down to a battle between digital SLRs with video and the new Micro Four Thirds format in the form of the Panasonic Lumix G1. I have to admit I am surprised by the results – the Panasonic G1 currently has a solid lead with 22% of the votes. Digital SLRs with video – the Nikon D90 and Canon EOS 5D Mark II are tied for 2nd place – each has 18% of the votes. The results are bouncing around with about 1% of variation. But it looks like the world’s first Micro Four Thirds camera is going to keep its lead.
Panasonic G1 vs Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Nikon D90

The results of what I’m calling the popular vote for Camera Of The Year have surprised me and really made me think. My original choice is on hold and I’m watching the community’s arguments closely. The camera choices in the poll are:

  • Canon PowerShot G10
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Nikon D90
  • Nikon D700
  • Nikon D3X
  • Panasonic Lumix G1
  • Panasonic Lumix LX3
  • Sigma DP1
  • Sony Alpha A900

Vote for Camera Of The Year >>
Camera Of The Year poll results >>

I expected better poll results for the compact digital cameras – the Canon G10 and Panasonic Lumix LX3. I also expected better results for Nikon’s recently announced 24-megapixel full-frame D3X pro digital SLR. But there’s no doubt about it, the battle is between the new Micro Four Thirds format and the two new digital SLRs with video capture. The question is, which new technology is more important? So far we only have one Micro Four Thirds camera with two consumer level Micro Four Thirds lenses. You can mount the excellent Four Thirds Olympus lenses if you want better glass. But you have to use an adapter mount and that pretty much voids the design goal of the Micro Four Thirds format by making the whole camera package larger than intended. But the promise of a sub-DSLR sized, high-performance, changeable lens camera is absolutely there. Reviews for the Panasonic G1 have been pretty positive – both from the professional review sites and G1 owners.

Initial reaction to the Nikon D90, the first digital SLR with video capability, was mixed. Many serious photographers dismissed video as a legitimate feature for a DSLR. And I confess that I was one of those photographers who thought video was a silly addition to a serious camera. But that quickly changed as professional photographers realized having a camera that could also capture HD video could add a new revenue stream to their businesses. Families shopping for digital SLRs have been very interested in the Nikon D90 because of the performance, price, and HD video capability – it’s a camera that can really do it all. And there’s a lot of buzz about the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II among pro photographers and even video communities. Video samples from the 5D Mark II have been excellent and near professional-level digital camcorder features like 1080p HD resolution and an external mic input make it a compelling option for photographers and videographers who want a camera that can do it all. What many of us first considered to be a gimmick is starting to look like the real deal. Digital SLR video is a solid feature and it’s definitely here to stay.

next pageMicro Four Thirds vs DSLR Video – Conclusion >>


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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of PhotographyREVIEW.com and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • Patia says:

    I don’t know that it comes down to just Micro Four Thirds format vs. video. I voted for the G1 largely because of its beautiful and innovative design, its small size and its tilt-swivel LCD. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely breaking new ground.

  • Bob Rogers says:

    I go back to using the original Nikon SLR for photojournalism in 1968; hand held meter even. I like small and light. Today’s over featured, huge heavy digital SLR’s are of no interst to me. I love my Nikon 8400; just the shutter lag drives me nuts, but I still do professional magazine photography with it. I want to take a close look at the Panasonic G1, a great compromise camera if it’s as small and light as it looks. It just might replace my 8400.

    Bob Rogers

  • Ysbrand says:

    Bob, hold on to your 8400 as long as you can. I replaced mine with an LX3. In low light the LX3 performs better, and it works faster than the 8400, with faster writing times. Other than that, give me the 8400 any time. IT handles a lot better, and I mean a lot really, it is built like a tank (not so with the LX3, even though most reviewers think it is…) and the image quality at ISO100 is equal to the LX3. At ISO200 it has more noise, but the LX3 has a very nasty maze-effect in its JPEG-compression whereas the 8400-noise is very agreeable. So think twice before you give your 8400 away.

  • Quazi Ahmed Hussain says:

    Olympus, Panasonic and Sony had no other option but to develop a new technology as they failed to take a bite off the DSLR market that is 80% dominated by Canon and Nikon with their wonderful array of 35mm cameras to suit all needs.

    It’s too early to comment on whether the new technology is going to be successful or stay at all. Pros and advanced amateurs prefer DSLRs and there’s no sigh that this trend is going to change anytime soon. However, if advantages by far outweigh the bottlenecks of the new system; they might stand a chance. The main advantage of the new system is smaller size. But DSLRs are in no way as big as medium formats. Only a few high end pro gears are big and heavy but most are very light and portable. Say for example, instead of carrying 1Ds Mark III; it’s pretty convenient to take a 5D Mark II that excels in all the departments as the flagship. It may be or may not be a fascinating battle. Whatever the case may be; we’ll have wait at least for a couple of years or so to witness the clear winner.

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