The battle is over – my Micro 4/3 camera outsold my full frame DSLR in image sales

Mar 27, 2017

Chris Corradino

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

The battle is over – my Micro 4/3 camera outsold my full frame DSLR in image sales

Mar 27, 2017

Chris Corradino

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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The battle is over, and full frame cameras have lost the race. Here’s why:

I’ve been selling photos through a high end stock agency for the last two years. In my collection are images from a full frame DSLR, an APS-C DSLR, and several Micro 4/3rds cameras. After tallying my sales for an entire year, my highest selling image was taken with the Olympus OM-D EM10. That’s right, the entry level OM-D model. What’s more significant is that I would not have even been able to create the photo with a DSLR. To capture the traffic on the Vegas strip I used the Live Composite mode which is unique to Olympus.

Now you may think that this is an anomaly, but guess what…my second most sold image was taken with the same micro 4/3rds camera. Put simply, a 16 megapixel micro 4/3rds sensor outsold a full frame sensor many times over. The funny thing is, it cost me far less to purchase, and was easier to carry along. Was there enough resolution to go around? Absolutely! The agency I work with asks for 50MB Tiffs and I was able to hit this mark easily by shooting in RAW and processing through Alien Skin’s Blowup software.

In addition to shooting travel work, I’m a photography teacher. People ask me what camera to buy all of the time. I can’t think of a reason why I would recommend a DSLR anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I was a loyal Canon shooter for years, but they totally missed the mirrorless boat. Nikon is way behind the ball as well and their slumping sales numbers prove it. While Sony got into the mirrorless game, they got all caught up in the full frame hype. As a result, the lenses are huge which totally defeats the purpose of a smaller camera. Dare I also say, their selection of zoom lenses is rather disappointing. Meanwhile micro 4/3rd users enjoy seemingly endless options from Olympus, Panasonic, Voigtlander and more.

Why do I feel the need to write this piece? It’s to counter the marketing machines which have done a great job convincing people that they need a full frame sensor. They are preying on unknowing customers and it is wrong. Try it yourself. Walk into a camera store and tell them you are looking for a pro quality camera. Do they pull the micro 4/3rds body from the case or the more expensive full frame DSLR? I think you already know the answer. These camera salespeople need to be educated as well. Then again, if they work on commission it’s their job to mislead you. This is why I am voicing the benefits of micro 4/3rds systems.

My cameras have five stops of image stabilization built into them. This means I can hand hold at much slower shutter speeds than a DSLR. This alone negates any ISO advantages the full frame sensor had. Then, there’s the depth of field benefits of micro 4/3rds. At f4 I am gathering a ton of light but getting the equivalent to f8 depth of field. This means there’s no diffraction to worry about as I am using the lens in it’s sweet spot. When I want shallow depth of field I use one of the many amazing f1.8 lenses. For a trip to Iceland I even rented a Panasonic f1.2 lens. Let me tell you, the bokeh was beautiful. So tell me where I’ve gone wrong here? I’m inviting the trolls to chime in. I’m shooting more, selling more, and enjoying my photography more. How can you still justify the extra cost and size of a full frame system?

With just two lenses (12-40mm f2.8 and 40-150mm 2.8) I have the full frame equivalent to 24-300mm at a constant aperture of 2.8. These lenses combined weigh less than three pounds and totaled $2500. Alternatively, a Canon 300mm f2.8 runs over $6000 and weighs in just over five pounds. In addition to this monster, you’d still have to buy other lenses to cover the entire focal range at f2.8. This means more cash and weight. The idea that bigger is better has come and gone. Your new photography philosophy should be “less is more”.

I’ve sold all of my Canon gear, every last bit of it. I would recommend you do the same. Use eBay to get the best return. DSLRs are a dying breed, and full frame sensors are a sales gimmick for an industry with a shrinking bottom line. Don’t feed into the machine. I just saved you thousands of dollars and a sore back. Use the savings to take a trip to Iceland or Rome, or New York. Along your travels you will run into haters who are still clinging to their old ways. The same was also true of film, but look how that ended.

If I sound upset, it’s because I am. It’s simply not right for camera manufacturers to take advantage of people. A camera is only as good as the person using it. Give a veteran National Geographic photographer like Jim Brandenburg a basic point and shoot camera, and he will create spectacular art. You can do the same if you get out of the rat race and shift your focus. The camera that you are going to bring with you all the time is the one you should own. Are you really hiking up that mountain with a six thousand dollar 300mm f2.8?

For those of you who dream of becoming a professional photographer, now is the perfect time. You can get into the game at a fraction of the price it used to cost. You have to be super careful of who you listen to regarding your gear recommendations. In fact, you’re going to have to go against popular opinion. This is not easy when you’re just starting out, but remember how this article started. I made more sales with my micro 4/3rds camera than my full frame.

About the Author

Chris Corradino is the CEO and Head Instructor at Photo Mentor NYC, a personal mentoring service for photographers of all skill levels. You can find out more about Chris and the mentoring service on his website, follow his work on Instagram, or reach out to him through Facebook. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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45 responses to “The battle is over – my Micro 4/3 camera outsold my full frame DSLR in image sales”

  1. David Harpe Avatar
    David Harpe

    It always amazes me how people are always making photography equipment choices into “battles”. Why does it have to be Canon vs. Nikon, MFT vs. DSLR, medium format vs. large vs. 35?
    Answer: It DOESN’T
    Guitar players don’t say, “THE BATTLE IS OVER AND GIBSON WON!” (although they may debate the relative strengths of each)
    Just use what works for you and quit acting like your choice is the only choice for everyone.

    1. Leona Rose Avatar
      Leona Rose

      gibson has one of the best fret boards out there… and yeah.. that’s not a good example because Gibson is better than most guitars out there.. it’s more fact than opinion

  2. Bob Vest Avatar
    Bob Vest

    So it’s not about the photographer after all. It’s all about the camera. I’m glad that’s settled once and for all. Thank you so much.

    1. Wayne Avatar
      Wayne

      For my two cents worth………it dosnt look sharp plus lots of noise and pixel bleeding,so who cares !

  3. Robin Avatar
    Robin

    If you think you will ever counter the marketing machine your deluded, in fact you were sucked into it youself, mirrorless are not that much smaller or lighter, and when you add battery grip, and a 50-140mm or pro primes your not far off the same weight as a DSLR, for me it was the Fuji sensor and quality primes for a much lower price.

  4. Steve Gey Avatar
    Steve Gey

    Nope, only thing I will replace my DSLR with is a full frame Canon mirrorless (hurry up guys!) Or a digital medium format if I win the lottery

  5. Taylor Maduro Port Avatar
    Taylor Maduro Port

    Not yet waiting on hss and ttl OCF support for Fuji.
    The current offerings aren’t exactly seamless

  6. TByte Avatar
    TByte

    The most amazing revelation in this article is that the included photo, with its noise, poor focus, horrible exposure, and lack of composition, was his best selling image.
    Seriously? That would not have made the first cut in my culling. As an image, it certainly does not flatter the camera.

    1. Adrian G Avatar
      Adrian G

      I’d like to know who bought it and why. But we’ll never know

  7. Rocco Avatar
    Rocco

    Just a couple of comments:
    1-“I would not have even been able to create the photo with a DSLR.” That is wrong. It may have taken you more time, or more tries, but you definitively could have gotten that image with a DSLR. People are gettig lots of images like that with a DSLR. And this is a case, where a DSLR woudl get you better results cause of noise.
    2-Images sell more cause they are better photos, not cause they are taken with one camera or the other. I wont say you are saying the contrary on your article, but needs to be said.
    3-Of course what you are saying is that for certain genres, the camera is not that important (but again, we must say that for other photography genres, it is)
    4-Finally, congrats! If your camera suits your needs, and it is lighter, and less expensive! that is a win win.

    1. Adrian G Avatar
      Adrian G

      I’m glad I looked over the comments before replying. This is near enough word for word what I had in mind.

  8. Mike Downey Avatar
    Mike Downey

    Completely made the switch – all my Canon gear has been out of here for a year now. No regrets at all. Even with Olympus Pro lenses like the 7-14 2.8 and 12-40 2.8, I still have a much lighter camera bag than I ever had with my Canons.

  9. Dušan DuPe Pethö Avatar
    Dušan DuPe Pethö

    …only fuji

  10. Adrian Gordon Avatar
    Adrian Gordon

    “Guys we need more engagement on Facebook, any ideas?”
    “Lets make sweeping statements everyone will argue with us and each other over, ignoring vast swathes of situations and reasons for the other side of the coin”
    “Perfect!”

  11. Hector Macias Avatar
    Hector Macias

    It’s not the equipment that defines a photograph. It’s the photographer. The article is an attempt to stir up feelings between dslr users and the mirrorless folks. Get attention. There’s no wrong type of equipment.

  12. Julio Hnntl Avatar
    Julio Hnntl

    Florian, Tobi, Julius, David, “The battle is over” guys, i won thanks to the olympus E-M10

    1. Julius Oder Auch Harry Avatar
      Julius Oder Auch Harry

      congrats.
      Just write me a pm, i will give you the number of my bank-account and you can transfer me the money to buy a leading-light-weight-super-hyper-duper-mega-giga-kamera :D :P

  13. Jimmy Harris Avatar
    Jimmy Harris

    So if you sell some photos on a stock photography website, you’re a professional photographer? Cool! That means I’m a professional photographer, graphic designer, musician, painter, sculptor, poet, illustrator, voice actor, gardener, auto mechanic, electrical engineer, chef, teacher, carpenter, fashion designer, and architect! I’m gonna write articles about each of these subjects so I can add author to that list!

  14. Pete Cockerell Avatar
    Pete Cockerell

    “With just two lenses (12-40mm f2.8 and 40-150mm 2.8) I have the full frame equivalent to 24-300mm at a constant aperture of 2.8.”

    Not really. In terms of both total light and DoF, the FF equivalent is f/5.6.

    1. Dewsy Sipos Avatar
      Dewsy Sipos

      I was looking for this! Well, after i saw Tony Northrup’s video on the subject… I’m not that smart by myself…

      1. Pete Cockerell Avatar
        Pete Cockerell

        Well, I think most of us know it either from Tony or DPReview, but once you do, it makes perfect sense :)

    2. rutenrudi Avatar
      rutenrudi

      I see that depth of field has to be taken into consideration when it comes to crop cameras.

      But total light? I mean the f-number doesn’t really tell us the actual transmission, but usually it’s not far of.
      And a Transmission of T3 is exacly the same on either system. Think of a windows projecting light on to a wall – cropping the wall down will get you not less light.
      Unless you mean that because there’s less area, there’s less light which is of course true, but doesn’t change the exposure of the cropped area, so it’s basically obsolete

      1. Pete Cockerell Avatar
        Pete Cockerell

        The reason I said total light is because I was referring to noise equivalency as well as DoF. The noise figure of an image is determined by the total light falling on the sensor. The total amount of light (for the same shutter speed and aperture) falling on an mft sensor is 1/4 if that falling on a full-frame one, so the noise figure is essentially two stops worse. Or to put it another way, all else being equal, you could use four times the ISO on a FF to get the same overall image noise. This is the reason I abandoned mft after moving from my 5d3 for the “portability” advantages.

        1. rutenrudi Avatar
          rutenrudi

          That makes no sense. For noise, the importsnt fctor is the size of the individual sensels on the sensor. There’s a big difference if you use a fullframe sensor with 100mp over a MFT sensor with only 10mp, because the sensels on the MFT would be larger.

          That’s what I meant with the window-example: fullframe will get more light in total, but also has a larger area it’s used for. Crop down the wall the window shines on, the area won’t be less exposed, it’s just less area. That surely alters dof etc, but not the amount of light that you get in the resulting are.

          The additional light the FF sensor has is needed for the additional area. It makes no sense that fullframe vs mft would be always two stops worse noise-performance, that’s not the case.

          1. Pete Cockerell Avatar
            Pete Cockerell

            You probably need to update your view of the role of sensel size on the overall IMAGE (which I deliberately stated) noise. There were a couple of references of places to start earlier in this thread.

          2. rutenrudi Avatar
            rutenrudi

            If the sensels are the same size for fullframe and mft in comaprison, that also means that the resolution can not be the same, which means it’s just a cutout, which means that you get the same amount of noise for a given area.

            Again, think of the wall, a window projects it light on it. See what happens if you make the wall smaller – nothing, except for the size.

          3. Pete Cockerell Avatar
            Pete Cockerell

            Yes, you keep on saying “for a given area” and I keep saying “total image”. If you can’t by now understand which of those things is more important to how your image looks, then I’m not sure there’s much else I can say.

            But one last try: I suggest you read https://www.dpreview.com/articles/8189925268/what-s-that-noise-shedding-some-light-on-the-sources-of-noise. You’ll notice that sensel size is not one of the factors discussed (other than as an irrelevancy), because any variation in noise caused by differently sized pixels is massively overshadowed by the difference in the actual sensor size. Even in your grossly exaggerated 100Mpixel FF vs. 10Mpixel MFT example, the FF image will have much better noise characteristics.

            Also, don’t forgot that the (still) image noise performance of the large-pixel Sony A7S was hugely overstated by DxO. The big pixels just didn’t make that much difference in reality.

          4. rutenrudi Avatar
            rutenrudi

            Maybe we try this.

            Open your Fullframe image in Photoshop (or any other given software of your liking), and use the so called crop tool. Crop it down.
            Did the noise increase, did the image get worse? I’m curious, because on the first and foremost point that’s what a crop sensor produces. Simply put, of course, as other factors get into it obviously. But that’s a huge one

            The light that hit the cropped area didn’t do anything for the preserved area.
            Again, the window and the wall. I bet you’ve seen that in a church with those fancy glas-art, for example

          5. Pete Cockerell Avatar
            Pete Cockerell

            “Did the noise increase”

            Why yes, yes it did. If I make an 8x6in (20x15cm) print from the the full image versus the cropped portion, then of course the print from the cropped portion will look noisier, because it’s been constructed from more noise and less signal, and the cropped image doesn’t benefit as much from the noise reduction inherent in integrating multiple image pixels to a single output pixel.

            But a more realistic example would be a print made from an MFT sensor vs a 4:3 crop of a FF sensor, everything else being equal (except possibly the sensel densities, which is largely irrelevant). If you can’t see that the MFT print will look noisier, then you’re just burying your head in the sand.

            Noise isn’t viewed at the pixel level that you seem to be obsessed with, but integrated over the full image. I’ve tried to explain this time and time again, but you seem to be stuck on the idea that pixel-level noise is the be-all and end-all. It isn’t.

          6. rutenrudi Avatar
            rutenrudi

            Ok you state that the image as treated at the same size/res which is obviously something very different than just cropping. Then the noise would appear stronger, that’s pure logic, but that’s not what I was talking about, as I stated way before. You didn’t read that, did you? Because I also already talked about your case. It’s not a pure crop in your case.

            The wall and the window. I tried to explain this for quite some time, but now I see that you didn’t even try to understand this. Maybe you should get some windows in your cave, they’re nice :)

            In an even more realistic scenario, you wouldn’t likely be able to be bothered so much by the noise unless you shoot everything at 6400asa. As it depends so much on camera, and not the sensor size, I don’t see how this generalism takes us anywhere. Well except for the comment section of a mediocre internet blog

  • Julius Oder Auch Harry Avatar
    Julius Oder Auch Harry

    congrats.
    Just write me a pm, i will give you the number of my bank-account and you can transfer me the money to buy a leading-light-weight-super-hyper-duper-mega-giga-kamera :D :P

  • Marcus Weinhold Avatar
    Marcus Weinhold

    Check out this rare pepe explaining shitposting.

  • Basia Kowalska Avatar
    Basia Kowalska

    Don’t get me wrong, the OM-D is a great travel camera (I’ve got the mark ii and literally take it with me everyday), but it does not replace a DSLR. Upscaling your images to meet the file requirement is not going to give you the same quality images a bigger sensor would, your one [flawed] experiment, though I hesitate to call it that, is not a reason to over-simplify the debate, and this is a really poorly written article that makes me wonder if DIY Photography got rid of all their editors, because I can imagine someone with even high school entry-level English would OK this word vomit for publication.

  • Liam Avatar
    Liam

    …B.S. Anything that can be done with a micro 4/3 system can be done with a DSLR – I fondly remember the days when sports, wedding, event photographers etc., could actually nail focus every time with all those old fashioned manual lenses…

  • Adam Sternberg Avatar
    Adam Sternberg

    So because you sold a few photos suddenly DSLRs are dead? This has to be about the dumbest article I’ve read in a long time. I can assure you, there is a lot more to what makes a pro body than it’s ability to take a picture and sell it for micro stock

  • jwchretien Avatar
    jwchretien

    I don’t own a DSLR anymore and I own a Sony mirrorless APSC but when I read your article I can tell that you must not know much about photography.
    Having a micro 4/3rd is a big disadvantage for landscape, the DOF is far from being as good as a FF, and you can’t really compete for wild life photography.
    It can be enough for me, for you, for an amateur… but for a high end pro it won’t do it.
    Now I hope that you didn’t try to convince us with your photo, because it’s completly out of focus, the white balance is a fail and composition is at best average. I see hundreds of photos like that everyday made by tourists with smartphones.

    1. Mike Avatar
      Mike

      The Sony APSC camera are great, the sensors are the best on the market, but you’ve got to attach it to a hulking great FF lens to make the most of it. The APSC lenses they make are below average.
      MFT on the other hand have not as good sensor but fantastic glass.
      It’s the old story, no such thing as a perfect system, they all have their strengths and weaknesses.
      In a perfect world I’d like a Sony M43 body.

      1. jwchretien Avatar
        jwchretien

        You can always mount Canon, Leica,… lens on it. I use a Samyang 12mm f2.0 lens on it and it does a great job for landscape and for not much money. My 50mm f1.8 is great quality too so it really depend on what you want to do.
        I’m far from saying that one is system is better than another one, I just dislike article that want to push people to switch to a different system because they know the truth and everybody else is stupid.
        I dislike it even more when the photography to prove that he is right is so bad that I would trash it and not bother working on it — Yet I’m not considering myself great photographer or a pro.
        Now if what he wants to say is: “You can do “crap” and it still sells better than good quality picture”, then may be he is right about that. It all depends on the price you sell them and who you sell them too. I doubt that Loreal, Channel, Mercedes… would buy such quality photo and upscale them.
        I didn’t choose micro 4/3 because of the x2 ratio. I find it very handicaping. Right at the moment I’m trying to help a friend to buy a lens for his lumix GH2 and we have a hard time to find a wide angle lens. He wish he could have something like 16-18mm f2.0 to f2.8 FF equivalent. If you have any suggestions.
        Also, and that is purely a matter of taste, I’m not crazy about the 4/3 ration for pictures, I much prefer the 3/2 and cropping is something I avoid as much as I can.

  • pincherio Avatar
    pincherio

    Lots of comments dissing the author but no pics to back up their claims. Kool-Aid must be good. For the record, I have a 1Ds, 5D2, 60D, a6000, GF2, 1 AW1, F8008 but my favorite camera to bring around is an RX100M4. Whatever camera you prefer to use is none of my business.

  • Moronic Pentameter Avatar
    Moronic Pentameter

    I’m still working with my Brownie Hawkeye. Takes great photos. Lightweight. Hold still now.

  • rutenrudi Avatar
    rutenrudi

    “the battle if over, because I sold more stock images”

    Does someone not know how statistics work, and how is this kinda battle that no one knew before relevant, at all?

  • Quasi Annonymous Avatar
    Quasi Annonymous

    Yea I am flabbergasted that diy is so desperate that this tripe got posted.

  • Michael Goolsby Avatar
    Michael Goolsby

    Twenty-three years and a dozen or so cameras later and I can honestly say that I’ve never booked an assignment or sold a single image because it was taken with a particular camera or even type of camera. Maybe I’m missing something.

  • Lainer Avatar
    Lainer

    I don’t believe this at all. Not because someone couldn’t do this with that Olympus, but because that shot shown above is terrible. It’s one of the worst shots I’ve ever seen. Now, I’ve seen beautiful shots done by a professional who started in film photography 50 years ago and his videos about it are on YouTube, but the shot above is garbage.

  • Lainer Avatar
    Lainer

    Horse poop