News / Rumor Gear talk: Panasonic FF and m43

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
I don't want to start too much flame over on mu-43, so I'm posting here instead, but I want to get real about m43.

The importance of m43
m43 redefined ILC in 2008/9 with it's initial launch. IMO, very few in the photo-gear-space give m43 enough credit for revolutionizing camera gear, such to the point that even Canon and Nikon have had to completely alter their direction - both launching new mounts.

m43 is still a highly valuable system, providing options for the most compact, longest reach, lightest kit (and can still be pretty darn affordable).

The shrinking of m43
But it's surrounded on all sides -- by improving phone cams and post-processing tricks (ironic, since m43 was accused of the same, with their in-cam distortion and vignette correction), 1" sensor cams and Fuji. The first two handle compact, the latter handles quality while still being not too expensive and not too big. I think Oly and Panny didn't help their cause by swimming hard upstream, both in terms of cost and size (the G9 -- really??).

So now Panasonic is about to launch (with Leica and Sigma - Sigma themselves perhaps being shut out by the new Canikon mounts) a FF answer to Can-Nik-Sony, that they have to launch to stay relevant in ILC cameras. It's a coalition of those who didn't have the independent market muscle (Oly is crazy if they think they can survive on m43 alone).

FF is the new "standard size" format. Hail to the new boss, same as the old boss (35mm being the most common format back just before digital). Medium Format is the new high end, and Phones (or APS-C or 1") is the new compact.

I love Panasonic camera design, I think it could be a good system, and I am interested in perhaps investing in it down the road, but my m43 gear is still wonderful.

M43 won't disappear overnight, and I think it has massive advantages (people don't realize the impact of 4:3 aspects ratio on size), but I'm sad to think that it could eventually disappear. I don't see how it cannot, though. Old farts like myself are a dying breed (literally). Soccer moms might want more than an iPhone as their kids become active, but the places they'll visit for recommendations -- physically or online -- won't steer them to m43. Sony is the default presently amongst the BestBuy/Engaget/WSJ recommending types. Hipsters/the-cool-crowd/the-in-crowd who want compact are more likely to go Fuji.

I'm planning to keep my m43 kit until it dies. My one hope is that Panasonic might see m43 as their "small kit" and keep supporting it as a dual-approach to FF. Maybe they'll cover big, expensive and performing with FF, and concentrate on high quality compact in m43? I can hope, I guess, but I am fairly doubtful.

Until then, there's still a lot of pictures to take on my m43 kit.
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Aug 15, 2010
Some reference material on the camera industry that I like:

By Thom Hogan - Dead mounts...
I See Dead Mounts | DSLRBodies | Thom Hogan

By Ming Thien - Brand (dis)loyalty...
Brand (dis)loyalty, mirrorless and why it’s good for everybody
I'll try to read Ming's later, but Thom's was pretty spot on.

His m43 statement is
"Finally, we get to m4/3. The irony is that this is a mount that has a truly full lens set, and a broad array of providers. Ten years on the market will do that for you. The operative question here is not whether the mount will live, it's whether there's going to be an ongoing viability of new cameras using the mount. Olympus never really got much past the 500k/annual market and is still plateaued at 500k. Many of Olympus' sales are just upgrades to those fewer existing customers. Panasonic started strong, particularly in Asian markets, and lost volume over time. Their real winner in m4/3 is really a video camera (GH5). That rumor of Panasonic having a full frame entry for 2019 that will be introduced at Photokina later this month has already had a chilling effect on some m4/3 users.

That said, having m4/3 and full frame would be a reasonable combination of product to produce, as they're two stops apart (all else equal) and as much as 12x apart in sensor price (volume impacts this, unfortunately, and I'm not sure the m4/3 cameras have enough volume to get the full cost benefits). "
But given how small the recent full frame cameras are (Sony A7 series, Nikon Z), you really don't want to be making m4/3 cameras that same size. The E-M10 size camera seems much more appropriate for the smaller sensor than the big G9 body, for example.

I see some potential for m4/3 to keep being an alternative player that gobbles up half or more of the 10% market share that's available to them, but it's going to take some careful product placement as the Big Three elephants stomp around the camera shop with their new models and Fujifilm looks for growth."​

Thanks for posting. I hadn't seen that before. I agree with him -- I like FF and M43 as a 1-2 combo. I hope Panasonic continues to invest in m43, which they could if (somehow) their R&D in FF and m43 works together.
 

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