From DSLR to Micro 4/3 By Paul Liu

From DSLR to Micro 4/3

By Paul Liu

In 2013, when my trusty (and luckily insured) Canon 7D and associated lenses were stolen in Rome, I was fairly devastated. However, taking the positive approach, I saw great opportunity to finally ditch the SLR and replace it with something more to my liking. While the 7D was always reliable and took great photos, it was a hulking, heavy beast of a camera that used hulking, heavy lenses that I simply no longer wanted to carry.

After much deliberation and a lot of help from this website, I picked up an Olympus OMD EM10. For lenses, I chose the Olympus 17mm f1.8 and 45mm f1.8 and a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye as a budget wide-angle. With these, I returned to Europe with new determination, firstly to not get robbed and secondly to learn this new camera system and get some great shots.

My trip was an overland train journey along the old Orient Express, starting in Munich and ending in Istanbul. With so many towns, train stations and exchanges along the way, travelling light was crucial to everything going smoothly and enjoyably and I was always thankful that the whole system was light and fit in a small shoulder pouch rather than taking up half a backpack.

While out shooting, the small size of the camera was a huge liberating. I found that compared to carrying the SLR around, I took far more photos. There were far less instances where I would photo with my smart phone while the big camera sat in the backpack, too large and cumbersome to take out. Instead, I could forget about the smartphone and pull out the OMD, often stashed in a jacket pocket with the compact 17mm attached, and shoot away.

But what surprised me the most was how little of the SLR experience I actually missed. A few small points of anxiety regarding speed and control that I had disappeared as soon as I came to grips with the OMD. When compared to the Canon 7D, the OMD was equally responsive, there was no real discernible difference in focus speed and the EVF was so good that I never missed the optical viewfinder. Finally, any potential pitfalls of have a smaller sensor size were safely negated by the faster lenses I used with the Olympus.

For the first time whilst travelling, my camera was a no longer hindrance that I had to endure to get the shot. Instead, it was something that I truly enjoyed carrying around and shooting with. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that having my camera stolen was the best thing to ever happen for my photography, but as a blessing in disguise, it was certainly a big one. For those still contemplating a switch, my message would be to do it as soon as possible and never look back.

Thank you for allowing me to contribute to your fantastic website. More photos from this and other trips can be found on my Tumblr and website at

Photo 1 – Parliament in Budapest


Photo 2 – Carpathian Mountains in Romania


Photo 3 – Small town pub in Austria


Photo 4 – Pumakkale calcium deposits in Turkey


Photo 5 – Fisherman in Istanbul


Photo 6 – Dancing in the street in Istanbul


Related Post


  1. Very well written ans sums up also my experience that I have with my Panasonic GX7 compared to my APS-C Sony A77.

  2. Very nice pictures and an interesting story. For a light and highly capable travel system with IQ superior to mft my money is on the Sony a6000 with 10-18zoom, Zeiss Touit 32 and Sony/Zeiss FE55 1.8

  3. I’m trying the 4/3 route also but still have my Canon 5DMk11 and 7D with a range of lenses. I have come to the conclusion the E-M1 is a good all-round carry camera with 12-40mm f2.8 lens on it and 50mm f2.8 in the bag, but for wildlife and macro shots, give me the Canons any time. The quality of the Canon images far surpasses that of Oly. I have found the Oly noisy compared to the 5D Mk11, and noisier than the 7D also (which is noisier than 5D) Still, I will persist but at this stage after 6 months and 1 oversesas trip, I have come to the conclusion it is horses for courses and both systems are needed. The Oly will not replace the Canons completely.

  4. Excellent pictures…..My EM-10 has much better ISO performance than my older 7D

  5. That’s interesting, I have made a similar journey from APS DSLR to micro 4/3, thinking it the ideal compromise.

    As nice as micro 4/3 is, my conclusion is that I was wrong. Micro 4/3 is a step down, and not that much more convenient to carry around.

    My conclusion now is that DSLR APS is the best compromise format after all, from so many angles. Image quality, real life viewing, speed, performance, battery life, lens quality (not corrected by software programs), image quality by virtue of larger format, but most of all price. I don’t find APS DSLRs ‘heavy, hulking beasts’ that have to be ‘lugged’ around. Equipment is equipment, a pound of difference is not that big of a deal.

    I’m not going back to DSLR APS anytime soon, since I still have micro 4/3 equipment and it’s good enough, and I also have “full frame” 135 format. But if and when the time comes, I will go back to APS DSLRs and experience the freedom of actually seeing optically what I’m shooting without lag, of using a wide variety of lenses, of unequaled speed, and most of all saving of money while getting better image quality.

    • Great photos! I tried micro 4/3 route in the past too but came back to DSLR. Please don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against m4/3 cameras, just after shooting my EM-1 for awhile I realized that I was still missing the full frame image quality. It was difficult decision but DSLR won me. Now I’m back to heavy bag and pain in the back still looking for lighter alternatives . Sony A7 series would be a good choice but lack of the lenses is a real deal breaker for me.

    • OK, here we go.
      “from so many angles. Image quality”
      Shoot a portrait with a 24-Mp APS-C, then with an E-M1, print that 50cmX70cm and hang them side by side. The APS-C will be blown out the water (test already done)
      “real life viewing”
      OVF inferior in low light, doesn’t show you real-time adjustments so chimping (and losing occasion) needed.
      E-M1 shutter lag inferior of 5DmarkII (public tests, you can check for yourself)
      what do you mean? Sorry, vague concept…
      “battery life”
      I’m definitely with you with this.
      “lens quality (not corrected by software programs)”
      Sorry son, do the homework, EVERY camera correct lens aberrations.
      “image quality by virtue of larger format”
      Usual urban legend, last argument of naysayers
      “but most of all price”
      You pay for quality/specs you get. You can buy a 1200D at much lower price of an E-M1… if it is what YOU want 😉

      • How can 16MP m43 can ‘blow out of the water’ 24MP APS-C with measurably better dynamic range, low noise and twice surface area? The most absurd statement I’ve heard for a long time…

        • An “absurd” statement supported by FACTS: go to Robin Wong blog, search for “Malaysia E-M1 launch day”, READ about the PRACTICAL tests I’ve talked about, and you will learn your “supposed” better characteristics are simply NOT THERE. You have simply NO EXPERIENCE of the technology you are so readily dismissing – the main prob with forum dudes that have under their belt more forum posts than shutter actuactions 😉

    • While I’m not going to say there aren’t differences between the various sensors in terms of ultimate output, the reality is that with very few APS-C exceptions, you have to move from µ43 to full-frame to see a SIGNIFICANT difference in image quality, and even then, there are so many other contributing factors that come into play.


      Given that just a few years ago professionals were successfully working with cameras of a type many new photographers today would consider beneath them — and making wonderful images with those cameras — I would posit that most of these arguments about megapixel counts and full frame vs APS-C vs µ43 IQ are largely meaningless in the real world … except when talking in very specific terms about very specific shooting circumstances (e.g. commercial billboards, wall-sized fine-art prints, monster trucks traveling at high speed in outdoor auditorium light, etc).

      Truth is, there are very few instances in photography where ultimate image quality is necessary. The order usually goes: subject, creative vision, shot discipline, execution. “Ultimate quality” is usually last on the list.

      No offense intended, but I almost never hear professional photographers bashing the quality of µ43. It’s typically a baseless and misguided assertion that’s almost exclusively entrenched in the amateur mindset.

  6. Excellent post and excellent pictures too,well done.! I too have gone along that route,the size and the reduced weight of my new gear makes a huge difference.Best of Luck,John Petty

  7. Very nice picture !
    Personally I don’t like the 4:3 format, but I guess you can also shoot 3:2.

  8. The Olympus 25mm is permanently attached to my E-M1, that is always to my side inside a small 7″x8″ bag whenever I go. Got wonderful pictures exactly for this reason.

  9. I too have a Panasonic GF6 Micro Four Thirds, although it’s a low end of the food chain but it takes great pictures. However I still keep the Canon DSLR. 🙂

  10. Again proving the worth of the OMD series. Love my 7D for sports though, especially with the 70-200 f4 IS.
    OMD-E10 seems to be a sweet deal though.

  11. Great read, great pictures. That train ride sounds exciting too!

    I made a similar journey camera wise; 60d to E-M1 – no regrets, what so ever.

  12. Fantastic set! As a film (Voigt Bessa) and 4/3rd user (via GX1)…who at times feels the pull to APS-C or FF, this is just what I needed to calm my GAS. With all these new larger sensor mirror less cameras, it’s easy to forget what a perfectly capable system 4/3rds is and with fantastic lenses. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Thanks for that! Nice shots! The parliament is amazing…

    I bought an E-M10 lately, together with the cute 1.8/25mm. I just wanted a smaller camera and now I see not much of difference in actual pictures compared to my FF DSLR. DSLR-lenses just can’t compete if one looks at the size/quality ratio of the zuiko lenses. It takes a bit of time to get used to but I’ve never used my DSLR since I have the E-M10, a real quality camera. FF still might be better in some technical aspects but not in relevance.

  14. I especially like the last shot. On my last two trips to Europe, I opted for an MFT kit and left the DSLR at home. It worked out quite well.

  15. I have that exact combination of lenses in my purse for every day! I left behind a canon 60d and all the weight that came with it and I couldn’t be happier. Your pics are lovely and do well to showcase what the OMD is capable of.

  16. I too have gone to the M10 for a small, light, and capable camera. I have the 8-18mm , 12-40mm f2.8 and 75-300mm Olympus lenses and still have a very small outfit compared a Nikon DX camera or even more so to a FF camera with equivalent focal length lenses.

  17. Excellent set of photos. I’m thinking of going the Olympus route too, and your lens selection helps me think what will work best for lightness, portability and quality.

Comments are closed.