Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds – What’s it all about?
Some things about the photo industry drive you nuts! Using almost identical camera model descriptions for different brands of camera for one, (Canon 750D as opposed to the Nikon D750 for instance) and at first glance the four thirds malarkey, may be the same, but this is technology at work.
Four thirds started as a direct alternative to D-SLR (Digital Single Lens reflex) and makes the overall size of the camera smaller, so easier to handle and lighter to carry. Some photographers prefer the SLR cameras, because bizarrely, they give more weight and feel to taking a photo, but the 4/3rds are large enough to get a good grip and small enough to be transportable. If you want all the scientific blurb (and who doesn't), follow this link and Olympus have put together a really great overview of the whole system for your delectatation.
The micro four thirds is even smaller (surprise, surprise) so even better for carrying around the mean streets of the UK, but due to the smaller sensor size, more cropping is likely and the information capture won’t be so good, but to be honest, for most of us, a 17.3 x 13mm sensor will be more than adequate and cropping is only an issue if you focus close into the subject matter and if that’s your mum, she’s likely to slap you if you get too close anyway.
One of the advantages of the four thirds and micro four thirds systems is that they have been developed since the launch of digital cameras, so there is no ‘history’ from film, meaning that the lenses have been designed from scratch and specifically for the digital sensors, so a lot of them are upgradeable via software updates, making them a bit more future proof. It also means that the lenses are designed to fit the sensor, giving the perfect match between lens and body.
Right now for the important bit, buying a four thirds camera and lenses:
A four third lens will fit a four thirds body – so far so good
Most four thirds lenses will fit a Micro Four thirds Body using an adapter, but may lose some functionality (lens and body specific – ask the store, they know everything)
Micro Four third lenses will fit a Micro Four Thirds Body – does it get any easier?
However (and remember this bit, as it will save a lot of angst and trauma).
A micro four third lens will not fit a four thirds body on its own, so if you are buying a used lens for a body you have or a body for a lens, choose carefully.