Which mirrorless camera ? Micro 4/3 or APS-C ?

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The number of mirrorless camera users is picking up according to the sales statistics from CIPA. Globally, the sales of mirrorless cameras have increased by 24.4% as compared to last year. After several generations of mirrorless cameras, they have became more sophisticated and advanced. The build quality, image quality, AF system, size, price  and ergonomic designs have reached to a point where they can compete directly with DSLRs. The build quality of some of these mirrorless cameras are exceptional, like the Olympus OM-D E-M1, Fujifilm X-T1 and Sony A7R/A7S. There are mirrorless cameras capable of producing DSLR image quality like the Sony A7R/A7R and Fujifilm X-T1. Even mirrorless cameras capable of 4K videos like the Panasonic GH4  and Sony A7S. Two years ago, I wrote an article on which is the best mirrorless camera, while most of the article is still true, but there has been a lot of new mirrorless cameras since then. I have provided some recommendation at the end of this article.

Check out the new mirrorless cameras that are available in the market here.

But first, you have to decide which type of mirrorless suits you, Full frame? APS-C? or Micro 4/3? If you are thinking about FF, there is not much FF mirrorless camera to choose from but the Sony A7R, A7S and Nikon Df. But should you be looking at a FF mirrorless camera or a FF DSLR like the D610 and D810 instead?

Micro 4/3 is exclusively offered by Olympus and Panasonic, while APS-C mirrorless can be found from a number of manufacturers like Canon EOS M, Fujifilm X, Pentax K, Sony alpha. The obvious reason for choosing mirrorless cameras is because of its smaller size. Micro 4/3 used to offer the benefits of a smaller camera body but that’s no longer the case. Some of the APS-C mirrorless like the Sony a5000 and Fujilm X-M1/X-A1  are extremely compact in size.  What micro 4/3 still has an advantage of is the ability to produce compact large aperture zoom lenses like the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 (measuring 84mm in length and weighs 382g). There is nothing on the APS-C mirrorless system that can compete with this. The closest is the Fujifilm 18-55mm f/2.8-4 which is not as wide and only a f/4 at the tele side. Apart from that both system do offer a good selection of telephoto zoom lenses, compact pancake lenses and prime lenses.

APS-C system tends to have better image quality at higher ISO because of the larger sensor. The improved image quality reflects to lower ISO noise, better dynamic range and sharper image at higher ISOs. ISO performance tends to degrade at about ISO 800 for m4/3 whereas for APS-C, it starts at ISO 1600, so effectively the difference is about 1 stop. APS-C system also has the ability to create a shallower Depth of Field (DoF), also approximately 1 stop difference to m4/3.

Camera Focal Length F-Stop Subject distance DoF
FF 50mm f/5.6 10 ft 8.31 – 12.6 ft
APS-C 33mm f/4 10 ft 8.26 – 12.7 ft
m4/3 25mm f/2.8 10 ft 8.3 – 12.6 ft


The cost of both system is relatively comparable, there are some lenses that are more expensive like the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2 which is more expensive than the Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2. For high end mirrorless cameras, the costs are about the same too. Personally, I would go for APS-C mirrorless cameras because of the 1 stop improvement in ISO and DoF, given that their sizes and prices are similar. But if you are a landscape shooter or a travel shooter who doesn’t use high ISO or large aperture, m4/3 system is equally good for you.  At the current state, DSLR still has its place,  the longer battery life, better ergonomic design, optical viewfinder and less camera and shutter lags. Unless you are looking for a pro DSLR, the likes of Canon 5D3, Nikon D800, etc, you might want to consider a m4/3 or APS-C mirrorless cameras, they are equally good compare to entry/semi pro DSLRs.

Here is a list of recommendation on mirrorless camera that may help you. Bare in mind this is my personal preference only and  there are other factors that may influence your decision as well.

What you are looking for?

Recommended Cameras

Something nice with APS-C sensor Fujifilm X-E2
Sony a6000
Something nice with m4/3 sensor Olympus PEN E-P5
Something affordable Sony a5000 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon EOS M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Something small and compact Sony a5000 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6
Olympus PEN E-P5 + Panasonic 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6
Fujifilm X-M1 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon EOS M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Something retro Olympus OM-D E-M1
Fujifilm X-T1
Nikon Df
Something rangefinder Fujifilm X-Pro 1
Fujifilm X-E2
Olympus PEN E-P5
Something with OVF Fujifilm X-Pro 1
Something with awesome video Panasonic GH4
Sony a7S
Something with awesome image quality Fujifilm X-T1
Fujifilm X-E2
Fujifilm X-M1
Sony a7R
Sony a7S
Sony a6000
Nikon Df
Something with lots of features and customisation Sony a6000
Sony a5000
Something full frame Sony a7R
Sony a7S
Nikon Df
Something with fast AF Nikon Df
Panasonic GH4
Olympus OMD-E-M1
Sony a6000
Something with fast FPS Sony a6000
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Something AWESOME Leica M


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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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