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Four Thirds Camera: A Complete Guide

Read our complete guide on Four Thirds Cameras. Discover what a Four Thirds camera is, how it works as well as advice on which is the right Four Thirds camera for you.

What is a Four Thirds Camera?

A Four Thirds camera is a digital camera with a Four Thirds system. So, what is the Four Thirds System? The name ‘Four Thirds system’ comes from the use of a 4:3 aspect ratio within the system for images. Aspect ratio is the ratio of an image’s width to its height. Traditionally, most DSLR cameras have an aspect ratio of 3:2. 

One of the key features of a four thirds camera is that they are notably smaller than an average DSLR & SLR camera. This is particularly useful when used for street photography or documentary work. Photographers are able to be discreet whilst still catching high quality images in a 4:3 format.

Elements of the Four Thirds camera are seen as ‘future-proof’ due to their software updates. Four Thirds cameras have only been around since the creation of digital cameras. Therefore they are built with digital in mind. Making most lens designs adaptable to the requirements of digital sensors.

How Does a Four Thirds Camera Work?

A Four Thirds camera usually works the same as other DSLR cameras, however there are differences in lenses, sensors and their compatibility. A Four Thirds camera has a smaller sensor than other camera systems, which is purely optimised for digital images. Other camera systems opt for a larger sensor to keep compatible with older lenses at film aspect ratios.

Four Thirds compliant lenses produce a telecentric image circle, unlike lenses made for film. This means that the light will fall perpendicular to the sensor & stop any vignetting of the image. Most of the additional lenses available for Four Thirds cameras are smaller & more compact than those of larger format cameras. Yet they still have the large apertures of their counterparts, so the image brightness isn’t compromised.

Benefits of a Four Thirds Camera:

  • Smaller & More Lightweight

A Four Thirds camera is smaller than most DSLR cameras. More compact cameras are ideal for certain types of photography, such as documentary or weddings, as they aren’t as intrusive. Roaming photographers should use a Four Thirds or Micro Four Thirds camera to lighten their kit weight.

  • Brighter Image Corners

Due to where the sensor is placed within the Four Thirds system, the lenses used will stop any aberrations or distortions of the images. This results in nice bright corners with no light fall off, particularly useful for wedding shoots.

  • Mix & Match Lenses

The Four Thirds system is collaborative within most brands such as Panasonic & Olympus ranges. This means that there is no need for adapters, the majority of Four Thirds lenses will be interchangeable with any of the same system cameras.

What is the Difference Between a Four Thirds Camera & a Micro Four Thirds Camera?

A Micro Four Thirds camera runs very similar to a standard Four Thirds, however it is even more compact. This is due to a smaller sensor and smaller lenses. Most of the Four Thirds lenses will fit a micro Four Thirds camera body, however it may require some adapters. Unlike swapping between camera brand lenses easily, adapters allow you to use standard Four Thirds lenses, with your Micro four thirds camera. However you may lose some functionality. It’s all relative to what you deem as expensive but, micro four thirds cameras are usually slightly cheaper than their DSLR competitors. If budget is a concern whilst building your first kit, a micro four thirds is the way to go.

What are the best four thirds cameras?

Still not sure which camera is for you? Here’s our favourite Four Thirds & Micro Four Thirds camera:

Olympus OM-D E-M1 MARK III

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 MARK III is a compact & lightweight camera body that doesn’t compromise on quality or performance. The Olympus offers the world’s best stabilisation performance so you do not need image stabilisation within your lenses. Alongside a live view screen so you review your images instantly. Although this isn’t available for video shooting.

For this particular camera you don’t need to worry about the weather conditions when shooting. The Olympus weather sealed elements include dust proof, splash roof & freeze proof, up to -10c. Making it the perfect Four Thirds camera for a sports photographer on the go, shooting in all types of conditions.

Should I Buy a Four Thirds Camera?

Buying a camera for your kit will all depend on what shoots you are planning & what style of photographer you are. If you’re a travelling photographer who likes to have a large amount of lenses, a micro four thirds would be the way to go. Small & lightweight, it means they won’t add too much load to your kit but will still catch quality images.

Documentary & street photographers would benefit from either a micro four thirds or a standard four thirds camera. Again, the compact bodies of the micro four thirds means that shooting discreetly is easy. Plus, the stabilisation means that no tripods are necessary. This is a big help when shooting in busy street conditions.

View our range of new cameras and used cameras and see which camera is best for you!

by Harrison Cameras on 21/07/2021

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