Ultimate Setup – Micro Four Thirds cameras
Having spent some time with the Panasonic GF2 recently, we thought it was time to advise on the ultimate Micro Four Thirds camera set-up...
We're big fans of the Olympus PEN E-P2 and the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. They both take advantage of the size benefits offered by the Micro Four Thirds format, resulting in spiritual successors to the Leica M series. Small, discreet but packing top-class performance. The EP-2 doesn't have built-in flash like the GF2, while the smaller GF2's touchscreen won't appeal to everyone.
Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7 £360
Modern photography was built on glass like this. It's a standard prime lens with a wide maximum aperture to make the best of low light and/or get a shallow depth of field for smooth out-of-focus areas (known as 'bokeh' to the photo-fanatics). The 20mm length is equivalent to 40mm in old money.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 £295
Purists might still harp on about prime lenses (non-zoomers) but you can't deny the convenience of zoom lenses. This Olympus model gives a useful equivalent length of 28-84mm, but the deal clincher is that it can be collapsed down to be much smaller when not in use.
Panasonic Leica DG 45mm f2.8 Macro £700
Very pricey, but think of it as two in one – an awesome macro lens for close-ups, and a super-sharp portrait lens.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f4-5.6 £300
When you need to get close without getting close, it's time for the big guns. And this is big done small. Argh, the contradictions!
Billingham Airline Stowaway £105
Just big enough to carry a camera and a couple of lenses, as well as having that cool retro vibe and being built to last a lifetime. It'll look more beautiful the more it gets battered.
Neither the Olympus nor the Panasonic GF2 has an eye viewfinder, which can be tricky when you're in harsh sunlight and can't see the main screen. Sadly, the add-ons aren't cheap: £220 for the Olympus VF-2 and £175 for the Panasonic LVF1.
If you really fancy some fun, there are tons of lens adaptors that enable you to fit most lenses ever made. Pick up some crazy uncoated Russian optics from the '50s and see what they do, or fit your favourite old SLR lens. Beware a couple of things, though... Firstly you'll need an eye viewfinder to manually focus accurately, and secondly the focal length will be doubled because of the Four Thirds sensor size - a 50mm lens will be equivalent to 100mm on your MFT camera.
Try out a circular polariser to reduce reflections in water and bring out the blue in the sky. Neutral-density (ND) graduated filters can also be useful if there's a huge exposure difference between the ground and the skies.
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