Where is Micro Four Thirds headed?

jonoslack

Veteran
May 6, 2011
Hi There
Interesting discussion. Things which really strike me are:

1. The sensor
mft really isn't that much smaller than APS/c - especially if you like the aspect ratio (in which case you'll be prone to cropping the APS/c shots slightly) compared to the compacts the difference is infinitesimal (if I've got it right the pixel area on the GH2 sensor is 4 times as big as that on the Olympus Xz1). Trouble is that the sensors aren't good enough (with the possible exception of the latest panasonic sensors). I'm not a great fan of dXo ratings, but comparing the panasonic sensors to the new Sony APS/c sensors is eye opening. Added to which, personally I don't think 12mp is enough - I know this isn't trendy, but I do like to print larger, and the difference between 12 and 18mp makes a difference. I'm absolutely sure that it's possible to make a really good 18mp mft sensor - it's just that there isn't one yet!

2. The viewfinder
I don't like EVF viewfinders . . . but I can live with good ones - however, if I'm going to get something like a G3, then at that size I'd simply rather have an optical viewfinder on a compact dSLR (K5, D7000).
If you stick an EVF on top of an EPL2 then that's inconvenient, and anyway it's no longer small. I realise that sticking an optical viewfinder on is simply not practical, but a good EVF built into the body in the same position as on the X100 would be fab.

3. The range
Of course, I'm being self centred here, but personally see that there is as big (or more) of a market for those who have dSLR's but would like a decent quality smaller camera - upgraders from point and shoots are going to be there, but I don't see it as being a huge market, and anyway, those people are likely to buy a camera and a kit lens and leave it at that. It seems to me that the victim of good mft will be the serious compacts (which really do have smaller sensors).

Some of the panasonic lenses have the build quality, but there is a real gap in the quality mid range zoom workhorse - the decent 24-70 equivalent (12-40 f2.8 anyone?). I know that it's trendy for enthusiasts to write off zooms these days, and there's a move toward using primes, but there are times when a good zoom is a real serious asset. Added to this the build quality of the bodies seems to be going down and down - maybe the EP3 will fix this - maybe!

I really enjoyed my short time with mft, but got out of it for those reasons. I really think that a decent professional quality body and a quality mid range zoom lens with a higher quality sensor would bring in a lot of dSLR users who will then pay good money for esoterics like the 7-14 panasonic.

I think there's a huge future for mft - I don't think that the APS/c versions will compete in the end, because the lenses are inherently larger, whereas there is a perfect possibility of a great sensor in mft.

I'm sure there is a good argument for directing the cameras at the lower end of the market, but I'm sure also that there are a huge number of people like me who despair of getting a good small well built camera with some primes and a quality zoom.
 

ZDP-189

Twitter: <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/ZDP189">@Z
Apr 18, 2011
1. The sensor
mft really isn't that much smaller than APS/c
Yes, that's what I meant by imaginary differences. The difference in sensor size is a rounding error in IQ. Lenses and sensor tech are more relevant between the two systems.

2. The viewfinder
I don't like EVF viewfinders . . .
I hate them, though I have a few. Ricoh and Olympus. I never seem to need them and they don't make focussing any easier. Thankfully, AF works OK. I just shoot a bit wide and crop.

3. The range
there is a real gap in the quality mid range zoom workhorse - the decent 24-70 equivalent (12-40 f2.8 anyone?).
Yeah, I am disappointed with my 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6. A good system should have much better. Something like the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L, but scaled down proportionally in size, weight and price.

Regarding my previous comments, I still think the m4/3 system is in crisis, but my rationale may not apply to others and I am not giving advice. Having invested into the M4/3 system myself with bodies, native lenses, flash, and lots of adapters, I'd be very happy to be proved wrong.

For now I am not excited enough by the current m4/3 line up to want more. I am considering investing what budget I have in other systems, especially fortifying the systems that I already have. One system is EF-S to complement my existing EF system and specifically add great value for money 600D body and a crop frame stabilised superzoom lens for travel. In EF I'm considering the EF 8–15mm f/4L USM fisheye lens. I'll be building up my M lenses ahead of the GXR-M launch; I mostly use CV lenses in LTM and should invest in some Leica glass. I'm particularly interested in a 35mm prime, or maybe a 28. There's no need for a 50 as I have the Nokton and some more 50s in LTM.

In new systems, I will eventually move up and down in sensor sizes. M4/3 and EF covers the middle ground already. I will buy a 1/2.3" sensor CSC body. Possibly that will be the baby Pentax despite it's awkward looks, but more likely it'll be the Kenco. Whichever shoots C-mount natively or does a better job of C-mount than my GF-1 will be my pick. I just want it for C-mount. I already have several good ones and the cheap supply of fast prime C-mount lenses allow me to fill in any gaps cheaply and quickly. I am toying with the idea of large format, maybe a lightweight 4x5 rail camera to get especially low DoF, for adjustments, resolution and the sheer fun of it.

In the meantime, I will be buying high performing compact cameras models on a second hand basis.
 

jonoslack

Veteran
May 6, 2011
Regarding my previous comments, I still think the m4/3 system is in crisis, but my rationale may not apply to others and I am not giving advice. Having invested into the M4/3 system myself with bodies, native lenses, flash, and lots of adapters, I'd be very happy to be proved wrong.
Well, we have different requirements, but rather than say that m43 was in crisis, I'd say it was pending - and there is lots of new stuff on the horizon, so I would have thought it wise to wait and see what happens - at least until June 30th.

To be honest, I'm thinking about jumping back in again if the new sensor in the Olympus looks like the real deal. We shall see!
 

kusch

Rookie
Dec 1, 2010
Yeah, I am disappointed with my 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6. A good system should have much better. Something like the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L, but scaled down proportionally in size, weight and price.
I am surprised to read this. Everywhere you read good reviews about the 14-45mm cheap kitlens, even that it is the best kitlens available.
You speak about a 24-70mm f/2.8 L, that is about 5 times the price, 5 times the weight and double of the length of the 14-45mm kitlens, ow yes, it is faster, sure. It would be a shame if it was not.
The question is, can you get better pictures with such a lens then with the 14-45mm kitlens? Honest? It would be a shame if you could not.
And my next question is, can you make better pictures then the following pics, made with a GF-1 with the 14-45mm kitlens? Yes? I doubt. And still, if you can, are they so much better that that lens would cost 5 times the money of the kitlens, and the extra weight, and and and?????
I never saw such amazing pictures made with a standard zoom lens, and no kitzoomlens will ever give such amazing pictures.
Disappointed? Much better? Can it get much better then this?

Panasonic GF-1 Review in the Landscape
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
Despite the questioning tone of my original piece I can't really see that m4/3 is going to disappear anytime soon. Its easily the largest system in terms of camera choice and lenses and likely to remain so. For those who want, it has the ability to accept 1000's of legacy and alternative lenses, and with the Panasonic cameras there is a serious video option.

People go on about the advantages of APS-C sensors, but in reality just what are they? Better high ISO performance? Well Samsungs offering is certainly very disappointing in that regard, though Sony NEX is better. Dynamic range? From my experience this is greatly exaggerated. Plus sensor size is no guarantee of improvement in this area, as the Leica M9 proves.

Because Panasonic are only involved in m4/3 they have been quite ambitious, both in camera features and lens production. Sony made the decision to go for a larger sensor compact and that's probably where they will stay. They do have a DSLR range after all. Samsung have put everything into CSC's, but are very slow in terms of lens development.

That there are still new products coming out is encouraging despite a global recession and a national disaster. There's also room for several systems to survive. Panasonic and Olympus knew they wouldn't be alone and have the market to themselves if they were successful, and so it has proved. However, I think that those who want to be in this market are in it. Nikon and Canon don't seem keen and would have to start from scratch anyway. Pentax are now a very marginal player and take ages to do anything, so its surely going to be left to the three electronics giants Sony, Samsung and Panasonic with Olympus to "contest" the CSC market. Even if Fuji get more interested, which I personally doubt, they will probably do what they have always done, which is come out with niche products every now and then.

2011 is survival year for many of these companies, and if they get to the end having just ticked over then they may count that as a success. I can see both Panasonic and Olympus getting their camera ranges sorted by the end of the year and then I expect to see a steady expansion from both.

Just as a final point, camera companies seem to survive. Minolta got absorbed by Sony, Pentax and Olympus seem to be continually on the verge of being written off, but they all still carry on and keep producing cameras and lenses. I suspect that we could well be having the same conversation in 10 years time, about the same companies and the same systems.
 
D

dixeyk

Guest
I never seem to need them and they don't make focussing any easier. Thankfully, AF works OK. I just shoot a bit wide and crop.

Yeah, I am disappointed with my 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6. A good system should have much better. Something like the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L, but scaled down proportionally in size, weight and price.
That hasn't been my experience at all. I have dodgy vision my dominant eye and in may instances the EVF helps me nail manual focus much more easily than I could with an OVF. I can't zoom the image on an OVF. I can appreciate that you do not like EVFs. I have used a number of them and FWIW the VF2 and the EVF on the G1 and G2 (and I assume the GH1 and GH2 as well) are the best I have ever seen. As to the 14-45...I have had Canon, Nikon and Olympus DSLRs (all in the same price range as my G2) and that 14-45 is as good or better a kit lens than anything I had on my DSLRs. The IS really does make the slower speed much less of an issue.

When I used to use an Olympus E500 and E520 I didn't think much of the 14-45 kit lens. I bought a 14-54/2.8-3.5 and it was a LOT better. It was $500 for the lens but it was worth it. My 14-45 isn't as fast but it's darn near as sharp and considering it's a quarter the size of that other lens I am definitely impressed. But, to each their own.
 

Sheygetz

New Member
Mar 2, 2011
Couldn't have summed it up better
1. The sensor
2. The viewfinder
3. The range

...a decent professional quality body and a quality mid range zoom lens with a higher quality sensor would bring in a lot of dSLR users ...
But I do think on this point
upgraders from point and shoots are going to be there, but I don't see it as being a huge market..
you are dead wrong.
This is a common fallacy because that type of camera user doesn't neccesarily frequent forums, or at least not the same that more seriously interested photogs do. You assume the reason for the build q being on a downward slope, the number of buttons and wheels is being reduced, there still being too few lenses is that Oly and Pana just don't "get it". But, what if they do, but their target group is not you or me, but the P&S upgrader for whom the availability of a mauve coloured body is more important that of a wide, fast prime. You have to agree on this premise their strategy makes a lot more sense.

Hendrik
 
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dixeyk

Guest
Couldn't have summed it up better


But I do think on this point

you are dead wrong.
This is a common fallacy because that type of camera user doesn't neccesarily frequent forums, or at least not the same that more seriously interested photogs do. You assume the reason for the build q being on a downward slope, the number of buttons and wheels is being reduced, there still being too few lenses is that Oly and Pana just don't "get it". But, what if they do, but their target group is not you or me, but the P&S upgrader for whom the availability of a mauve coloured body is more important that of a wide, fast prime. You have to agree on this premise their strategy makes a lot more sense.

Hendrik
If I were Panasonic and Olympus I would look at the kind of success Apple has had making premium priced consumer friendly devices and raking in the cash. It is not inconceivable that they have decided that this is a sound option at the moment.
 

jonoslack

Veteran
May 6, 2011
Couldn't have summed it up better


But I do think on this point

you are dead wrong.
This is a common fallacy because that type of camera user doesn't neccesarily frequent forums, or at least not the same that more seriously interested photogs do. You assume the reason for the build q being on a downward slope, the number of buttons and wheels is being reduced, there still being too few lenses is that Oly and Pana just don't "get it". But, what if they do, but their target group is not you or me, but the P&S upgrader for whom the availability of a mauve coloured body is more important that of a wide, fast prime. You have to agree on this premise their strategy makes a lot more sense.

Hendrik
Hi Hendrik
As I wrote that about a huge market I realised that it was ambigous.

I'm certainly not assuming that they 'just don't get it', and I certainly don't think that they shouldn't make these cameras, and I also understand and agree that the target group for these cameras isn't you or me. But it's noticeable that Olympus sales seem to have gone down since the early days of mft whilst they've been producing cheaper and less well specified cameras?
Whatever, I'm not suggesting that they shouldn't cater for those who are trading up from compacts, just that there is quite a big demographic that they certainly do seem to be ignoring.

all the best
 
D

dixeyk

Guest
Hi Hendrik
As I wrote that about a huge market I realised that it was ambigous.

I'm certainly not assuming that they 'just don't get it', and I certainly don't think that they shouldn't make these cameras, and I also understand and agree that the target group for these cameras isn't you or me. But it's noticeable that Olympus sales seem to have gone down since the early days of mft whilst they've been producing cheaper and less well specified cameras?
Whatever, I'm not suggesting that they shouldn't cater for those who are trading up from compacts, just that there is quite a big demographic that they certainly do seem to be ignoring.

all the best
I think Olympus' problem is that they have a poorly defined mix of products and too many available models that are too similar to one another. I like Olympus cameras but if I had to explain the product line to someone coming into it with no previous knowledge I think I'd have a tough go of it.
 

Lili

Hall of Famer
Oct 17, 2010
Dallas, TX
Lili
I think Olympus' problem is that they have a poorly defined mix of products and too many available models that are too similar to one another. I like Olympus cameras but if I had to explain the product line to someone coming into it with no previous knowledge I think I'd have a tough go of it.
agreed, they are too close to each other
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
I think Olympus' problem is that they have a poorly defined mix of products and too many available models that are too similar to one another. I like Olympus cameras but if I had to explain the product line to someone coming into it with no previous knowledge I think I'd have a tough go of it.
That sounds right. Panasonic seems to have a full set of 3 different cameras at different levels. You might even own two of them at different levels (say the more serious GH2 and the more compact GF3). But in the Olympus lineup you basically have the older E-P camera and the two very similar E-PL cameras. Panasonic is in a regular cadence (although the GF3 is coming out very soon after the GF2) whereas Olympus is sporadic. I agree that if I were buying the Olympus cameras I'd be hard pressed to choose.

Olympus needs at least two clearly differentiated levels with one model currently available in each. Make the E-P level the premium level and the E-PL level the consumer level. And they need a model with an EVF and perhaps a flexible LCD to compete head to head with Panasonic and also against the DSLRs.
 

rparmar

Regular
Jul 12, 2011
Limerick, Ireland
Well ... I just want more lenses please!!! Fast and small preferably! And a Pen with buit-in EVF! That's the direction I want! :)
I agree. MFT has only a couple of advantages over a system like the Pentax K-5. Unfortunately price isn't one of them, because by the time you buy an add-on EVF, as required by most models, you are in the same ball-park. The main reason DSLR users compromise on IQ, performance, features and system depth is to get a smaller camera. But if the lens is large you still need a shoulder bag to lug it around in... may as well take the K-5. (Or in my case the K20D.) Yes, there is a difference in size, but not a decisive one.

The first thing the MFT group should have done is released a series of pancake lenses in the three required focal lengths. But such a line-up is still incomplete. Seems they don't know how to leverage the number one advantage of their system.

I think Olympus' problem is that they have a poorly defined mix of products and too many available models that are too similar to one another. I like Olympus cameras but if I had to explain the product line to someone coming into it with no previous knowledge I think I'd have a tough go of it.
The line is indeed confused and undifferentiated. They should have pink and blue and purple and green menu-driven tiny systems for upgraders from p'n's. And a solid metal two-dial viewfinder model for those moving "down" from DSLRs. But they have neither market covered. (Doing a better job on the low end, however.)

Panasonic are doing a better job, IMO, but the fact they look like an SLR wipes out the second advantage of the system -- inconspicuous shooting. And the lack of IBIS makes the feature-gap between MFT and Pentax even more noticeable.

Another problem on the high end is the manual focus system, at least for their native lenses. Fly-by-wire sucks. :wink:

The third serious advantage of MFT is the mount that allows adapting practically every lens ever made. On an Olympus this means they all magically get stabilised. This is HUGE!

I still hold out hope we'll see the PEN PRO, a camera with the direct controls and viewfinder of, say, the X100 and the tilt screen of the Sony NEX. Without giving up anything on size. I could live with the MF since I'd largely be using adapted lenses anyway. This would trump the other mirrorless systems and provide a viable alternative to the K-5.
 

krugorg

All-Pro
Sep 26, 2011
Minnesota USA
Kyle Krug
Panasonic are doing a better job, IMO, but the fact they look like an SLR wipes out the second advantage of the system -- inconspicuous shooting. And the lack of IBIS makes the feature-gap between MFT and Pentax even more noticeable.
+1 I prefer the looks of the GF1/2 and E-P2/3's, but I know this is a personal thing. What is more important to me is that they look inconspicuous/non-serious.
 

Steve Noel

All-Pro
Oct 5, 2010
Casey County, KY
Seems many of the lamented missing features, listed in the posts last year, in this thread were incorporated in the OMD. I don't have one. So how many here that have actually used one, think this in true. Or what was missed.
I think this thread is worthy of a follow-up discussion.
Thanks,
 

krugorg

All-Pro
Sep 26, 2011
Minnesota USA
Kyle Krug
I think the features are all there now with the E-M5 (maybe too many with weatherproofing, for most?). It seems like many people dislike the middle hump for the viewfinder, both from a styling perspective and that it makes the body less stream-lined?

Personally, I love the E-M5 to bits, goofy viewfinder peak and all, but I would be willing to give up a bit of body height or width, in order to have a viewfinder/body setup that looks more like the NEX-7 design.

I am sure the product marketing people at Olympus can figure this out, but I can't see how the product line works if you have a PEN with a built-in viewfinder. Would dropping the weatherproofing and 5-axis IBIS, for the lesser PEN IBIS, be enough to provide product differentiation?
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
I think that the E-M5 pretty much hit the features that I wanted and the features that I didn't know that I wanted on the head. The viewfinder was not one of them but is still useful in some circumstances. I wouldn't have a lot of interest in a Pen with a viewfinder since the rear screen would be downsized just as it was on the NEX-7. Olympus is going to have to decide what features it will use to delineate the OM-Ds from the Pens. There seems to be a lot of interest in a Pen with a viewfinder but if it eventuates it will likely be similar in price to the E-M5, at which point I'd still choose the E-M5.
 

Julien

Top Veteran
Jan 6, 2012
Paris, France
Julien
in a word.....no. Viewfinders cost money. more than rubber seals do, for sure. There will be NO Pen with a built-in viewfinder.

I don't know. The Pana G3 is cheap and it has a built in EVF, and the sensor is very similar to the EM-5. The price of the E-M5 mostly comes from the fact that it is marketed as high-end, but apart from the 5-axis IS and weather sealing, it doesn't do anything special. Not to say that it's not a good camera, but I think manufacturer have very nice margins on those E-M5/NEX-7/X-pro1. So I think if they wanted to put an EVF in a Pen there would be "room" for it.
 

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