A couple of days ago, a fellow I know vaguely who just about gets by as a professional photographer sold all of his extensive Canon collection and bought an Olympus micro four thirds camera system. When asked about his experience, he was very forthcoming and his real world experience was completely contrary to the widely disseminated wisdom that comes from photo forums.
If one were fool enough to believe everything one reads on a photo forum then one would have to be a super being in order to carry the colossal amount of heavy gear they advocate. A simple 16 megapixel sensor would not be enough either. It would have to be the latest, greatest sensor for what photo forums are all about is the worship of camera gear - not the worship of photographic talent nor skill. Indeed, check any photo forum and the number of posters posting actual photographs is minimal. Those that are verifiably posting their own images are very rare indeed.
It was thus a breath of fresh air to hear a real world experience. In a nutshell, his experience was pretty much what I had thought it would have been albeit with some surprises:
1. The smaller sensor produced images not quite as stunning as those from a larger sensor but pretty darned close. No surprise there.
2. The smaller sensor had much cleaner high ISOs. That was a surprise and a very welcome surprise.
3. The smaller, lighter equipment were a wonderful asset. No surprise there.
4. The menus on the camera were horrendous to use. No surprise there.
So, basically the micro four thirds is close enough in image quality to standard sensors to be well worth considering. One of the camera retailers didn't think much of micro four thirds as sensor resolution seemed to top out at 16 megapixels but that seemed a blinkered approach to me. If Nokia can get huge numbers of pixels from a tiny sensor then four-thirds topping out at 16 megapixels is hogwash. In any case, 16 megapixels would be enough for a photo 4608x3456 pixels or at 300dpi, 15x11 inches. My preferred measure is 150dpi which would render to 30x22 inches. Even at 300dpi, image resolution is sufficient for just about everybody.
It is pleasing to see people doing what I have been thinking of doing. Those with long memories will recall that I sold 90% of my camera gear a few weeks ago. I retained two bodies and two lenses because I felt I had not used them to their ultimate. Seeing this fellow's experiences makes me seriously consider selling the remains of my Canon kit and following the micro four thirds route. The only thing I'm not keen on is the obtuse sounding menu system.