The Versatility of the m4/3 (or any mirror-less interchangeable lens camera)

I am from an old school era. That is, I grew up in the film era where they’re were a plurality  of camera makes to choose from. For example: Blue = no longer around as far as making 35mm cameras. Minolta, Konica (two separate and distinct makers), Yashica, Miranda, Topcon, Contax, Mamiya, Ricoh, Fuji, Olympus, Canon, Pentax, Nikon. Plus all the German, Russian and Japanese makes that only made cameras for the European market, that never saw the light of day in the USA. Many had some great new features. Ricoh had a 35mm with a Sun Panel to power the camera with failed batteries. The Topcon Super D had Interchangeable Prisms for example, and was the USA Navies camera of choice before the Nikon F. Canon developed a camera with a stationary mirror with a 60/40 split to allow “no blackout” during exposure. Olympus made the OM series, a drastic downsizing of the Full Frame 35mm system camera, that has changed the size of cameras since then. And Olympus also introduced “Off-The-Film” metering during exposure in “A” mode.

One of the biggest considerations was the “Lens System” to buy into. they all had a wide choice of lenses from Ultra Wide to Long Telephoto. But, only a few had large variety of lenses of similar focal length but with different f/stops. Some makers, like Contax, had a smaller selection, but very high quality lenses for those who want the best, but, are enthusiasts, not Professions. They just want the best camera in their eyes, More likely, the lenses where a bigger consideration. And Zeiss lenses are as Leitz lenses in image quality and build.

The other consideration where body features (just as today). You wanted a camera that thought like you, and had a layout that was easy to use, and remember so you could use it without moving your eye from the viewfinder. The Era of the 1980-90’s saw a large leap in camera advances. we moved from manual focus cameras, to auto focus cameras. In between was a set of models that had we would call “hybrids” today.

For example: The Canon “T” series was an FD mount camera with most of the technologically to be used in the EOS series of the next generation auto-focus SLRs. They had the 100% circuit board electronics that wrapped around the Pentaprism. They also had an LCD to screen on the top deck. (well, the T-90 did). They all had built in motor drives to advance the film. When the EOS was introduced with the Canon EOS 650 (1987), it had much of the electronics of the T-90, and new camera mount with a larger registration, “deeper” mirror house, so none of the FL/FD could be used without using an adapter that had low power optic in it. Which Canon did not provide.

Canon took a huge risk with that move, since the F1 and T-90 where still well used professional cameras. Having several high end models (in the F1 line), still in use with some very expensive lenses owned by News and Photojournalists world wide. That meant that all these users had to buy a whole new set of auto-focus lenses that matched their current set of Manual-Focus lenses, if they wanted to stay with Canon into the Auto-Focus age.  The EOS 1 was the Auto-Focus version the Canon F1. and mirrored the T-90 is body style, just bigger.

So, it was paramount to pick the maker that had the lens selection you could grow with. The Nikon system took a different approach. They made an auto-focus system of body’s that could use any Nikkor manual focus from the Ai mount forward, thus, had a very real advantage over Canon for the Professionals camera. The move to the EOS mount from Canon, started a decline in the Professional world for at least a decade. Canon had to work extra hard to produce the lenses Professionals used in their new EOS mount to try to get back their customer base that moved to Nikon.


So, back then, you where locked in using one lens mount on your camera. The same is true today for all the DSLRs on the market. Many people bought into several systems for various reasons. So, you, now you may have 2 or 3 brands of lenses in your arsenal. Especially Canon users that moved from FD to EOS.

Until the mirror-less camera came on the market in 2009, with the Olympus E-P1, you had no way to use different lens makes on a single mount. The mirror-less camera has a shorter mount registration, so, all that is needed is mount that extends the registration to fit a certain lens make. You lost all the automated functions, but, so what? You could your Nikon 50mm f/1.4 on the new m4/3 camera, and because it had a smaller sensor than a standard SLR or DSLR, the effective focal length was doubled from the full frame 35mm focal length. So, your 50mm f/1.4  ACTED LIKE a 100mm f/1.4 manual focus lens. It is still a 50mm f/1.4 in every respect. BUT, because the sensor is 1/4 the size of a 35mm full frame camera, the sensor only “SEE’S” the central area of “field-of-view” (fov), of the 50mm lens, and thus, only records the effective fov of a 100mm lens.  This is why it is called a “Crop” camera. Their are: 1:3, 1:5, 1:6, 1:2 crop cameras available. They all only a portion of the full frame fov of a full frame lens.

Olympus OMD E-M5 with a Leica M 50mm f/1.4 Summilux. To mount a Leica M lens on a Nikon, or Canon, or even a Pentax was dream was not to come true for decades. And, only with digital cameras, not film. There was an attempt by Tamron in the late 1980’s to make an interchangeable mount that kept all the automatic functions of the base lens (Tamron Adapt-all Mount). The Mount had all needed mechanical functions of whatever camera the mount was made for. This did allow you to buy one lens, and use on a variety of other branded bodies, but, it did not allow “Branded” lenses to be used in the same way. No name brand maker would make their lens mount on a competitors camera. That would be a dream come true. Just imagine using Canon Lenses on a Nikon, or a Nikkor lens on a Minolta, or a Leica R lens on a Pentax?

The only way to make this dream a reality, a camera with a shorter registration had be made to make this adapters via adapters. It took the digital revolution to do it, and it took many advances in imaging sensors to allow a digital camera the where-with-all to allow a mirror-less camera with interchangeable lenses. This new body could adapt to any lens brand with a simple adapter. You could focus through the lens on the cameras LCD or EVF, and have the ability to magnify the image up to 14x for precise focus. Now, your collection of Olympus, Canon, Pentax, Minolta, Nikon, Leitz lenses can be used on one camera body, with stunning results.

These are for using Leica M or Nikon F lenses on a m4/3 camera





This one, you can use Kodak Retina Interchangeable lenses (not the early interchangeable front elements) from the  second series of fully interchangeable lenses.





This allows Canon EOS lenses to be used, and the mount has a built-in iris to control depth of focus.





So, as you can see, today, the Dream has come true, in a sense. You can use your older lenses on your m4/3 or any mirror-less interchangeable camera. Or, you buy used older lenses at a great savings, and have a selection of great glass to use on today’s mirror-less interchangeable cameras.

Here is my collection so far!

Today’s Mirror-less cameras with interchangeable lenses allows us to explore all those great older lenses from yester-year, and put some of those lenses to good use.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and please share the URL on your social sites to spread the word.

4 thoughts on “The Versatility of the m4/3 (or any mirror-less interchangeable lens camera)”

    1. Opps, the Canon Museum was hard to understand. I thought so, I had a EOS 630. Thanks, I will update the info, Thanks.

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