(FT4) FourThirds revolution

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43rumors is now certain that we will soon see a revolution inside the FourThirds product strategy. FourThirds will continue to live and grow but in a different and somewhat unexpected way. According to many rumors we received from many different sources Olympus has made some important decisions:

1) FourThirds will continue to exist. There are two reasons why this will happen.
a) MicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirdsMicroFourThirds cannot satisfy some of the needs of pro-semipro photographers (like fast and reliable autofocus for example). So there is still a need for classic DSLR cameras
b) There are many FourThirds users out there that Olympus don’t want to disappoint

2) Future FourThirds development will focus on High-End products. The low-entry FourThirds lineup will not be developed anymore. We don’t expect any new Olympus E-4xx or Olympus E-5xx.

3) In order to be competitive with cameras like the Canon 7D or Nikon D300s Olympus will introduce some very new technology with the upcoming High-End camera.

4) We received confirmation (from new and “old” known sources) that the Olympus modular camera concept really exists! This innovative camera was supposed to be introduced in 2011. But it is very likely that Olympus engineers are now working to introduce the hybrid-system by end 2010.

We received first details about that camera but we need to confirm the rumors before to post it on 43rumors. If you can help us send us an email to 43rumors@gmail.com
Thanks all for your help!


Reminder
:
As usual please keep in mind that we are talking about rumors and there is no official news yet!
(FT1) Only a dream (FT2) Sounds a little more real (FT3) Could be (FT4) Possible, from trusted sources (FT5) It’s done! FT= Four Thirds

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  • RS

    Finally, some rumors about 4/3 in 43rumors. :D Hope that Olympus continues to introduce innovation into DSRL market.

  • CR102

    Kudos to Olympus for acknowledging the limitations of m4/3 and for gratifying their loyal customers. Concentrating on high end products must have been a difficult decision, as it seems that the 4/3 sensor is not very appealing to pros and wannabes. This rumor made my day.

  • napalm

    i wonder if the rumored 1:1 adapter (making the focal length same as full frame) is part of the modular system.

    CR102,

    Oly wont be abandoning m4/3 rather it will focus 4/3 for hi-end, and m4/3 for a broader scale market. they still need to make money of course hehe

  • CR102

    napalm,
    Of course…

  • Good to hear! The usual nattering idiots on the net are claiming that the lack of specific mention of regular Four Thirds in the 2010 Corporate Strategic Plan
    (http://www.olympus-global.com/en/corc/ir/brief/pdf/n100512aE_n2.pdf) means that Oly is dropping Four Thirds entirely. This news sounds much more plausible.

  • Asaf

    Scheduale ?
    Time table ?
    End of the year doesn’t sound like the last 4/3 rumor for a 6xx replacement on June , it also doesnt sound like an Ex replacment by photokina which takes place on September hardely the end of the year

  • kainekainekaine

    Would have loved a E-420/E-620 with decent video mode :(

  • Voldenuit

    So… reading between the lines, does this mean that Oly is content to relegate MFT to the low end?

  • hannes

    ad 3) … very new technology…
    Please, tell us more!
    Once there was this 3 sensor technology rumored with 1 sensor per primary colour… Is it that?
    Can’t wait…

  • Rumonger

    Need more info re: the hybrid.

    What does it mean to be hybrid? Sensor changing? AF modules? i.e. do we only buy new sensors or AF modules in the future as opposed to buying whole bodies?

  • reverse stream swimmer

    1) Well, the E-4xx could be given an EVF.

    That should answer one of these models weakness.

    2) Another weakness is the lack of IS, which with was introduced with E-6xx and refined with E-PEN models.

    But who are the target customer for this model?

  • Jeff

    I have no access to inside information, but I just can’t believe Olympus would keep 4/3rds going for the pro&elite market, because 4/3rds was never popular with that market in the first place.

    More likely, they want to end 4/3rds altogether, but do it as gracefully as possible, so people don’t get annoyed at Olympus for releasing and abandoning 4/3rds in less than a decade.

  • Voldenuit

    >What does it mean to be hybrid?

    It means the brakes don’t work when you’re on the motorway. :P

  • Marcel

    Yes, I was waiting for this to happen. Excellent news! This rumor made my day as well.

  • Jeff – That’s about the most reasonable “pessimistic” assessment I’ve seen. I don’t think the end of 4/3 will come within the next few years – I mean, we know the E-5 is coming – but it also wouldn’t 100% surprise me if this marked a major transition, such that 4/3 as we have known it won’t exist, come the next generation of cameras. (There is one dingbat on Usenet who’s predicting Olympus will be out of the DSLR market entirely in three years…I am tempted to challenge him to put his money where his mouth is.)

  • Miroslav

    Although FT4, this rumor is very vague, so everyone can perceive it the way he/she wants. I don’t see a revolution here, it’s a series of logical steps:
    – for the time being m4/3 cameras replace only lower-end products
    – high-end DSLR(s) continue to be produced, because m4/3 aren’t yet ready to replace them
    – Olympus continues to produce 4/3 DSLRs because the lens lineup is very good while there are only a few m4/3 lenses
    – Olympus ( like Sony ) doesn’t want to let down their customers by killing off at once the complete line of products they heavily invested in

    There is one uncertainty and one disappointment IMO. The uncertainty is what will happen to E-6xx and E-xx lines. Any revolutionary technology is expensive and not likely to appear in mid-range products at first.

    The disappointment is that they are not willing to invest more heavily in m4/3 R&D leaving it to fill the lower end of its ILC range. Panasonic has shown how to make m4/3 cameras with fast AF, high res LCDs and EVFs, flip out/touch screens, AF assist lights :), leading video performance and excellent lenses. Oly has so far shown two similar models ( very well thought of though ), E-P1/2 and E-PL1, and is selling a total of three lenses (!). Hardly something they should look away from – Sony will catch up with that number in a months time. So I hope that this high end technologically advanced modular camera will be able to work well with both 4/3 and m4/3 lenses and thus be both a new 4/3 DSLR and a high end m4/3 model that is also badly needed.

    Besides, mirrorless E-4xx and E-5xx successors would also be welcome.

    Oh, and please post some FT2 and FT3 rumors, however unconfirmed, this is a rumor site after all – we enjoy speculating the most :).

  • dMS

    Yes, I’m very glad to see this FT4 rumour, but truly need to see from Olympus real evidence commitment to the system and those who invested in it (specially lenses) and think m43 does not respond to their demands.

    @napalm: missed something, 1:1 adapter for full frame?, will be possible? cover a larger sensor area whith the image circle of a 43 lense via adapter? that would be great.

  • napalm

    i dont think this rumor says m4/3 will stay for entry-level. more that the focus on entry-level 4/3 will be shifted to m4/3.

    i think all developments for m/43 including the advanced models will continue, as an official Olympus statement said before.

    i agree with RSS, what is the target market of e-4xx now? the PEN series is smaller, lighter and has IS. pushing the e-4xx now will be a hardsell. for the e-5xx, it can be catered by the e-6xx with a better grip. i remember some rumor long ago about Olympus staying with only 2-3 4/3 bodies, probably e-6xx, e-5 and maybe an e-50. that covers the entry, mid and pro segment. that might likely be the case.

    dMS,

    actually its for use of FF lenses on 4/3. there was a patent from a japanese site which was also posted here a few months ago. it basically removes the 2x crop of 4/3 making it 1x thru a mirror inside the adaptor. here’s the link:

    http://43rumors.com/ft3-olympus-patent-rumors-adapter-with-integrated-wide-lens-and-adapter-with-swd-auto-focus/

  • Zo

    @napalm

    I believe you correct except for the 4xx.

    There are people who want a GH1/GH2 style camera vs the PEN camera style. I can see that being the higher end PEN that is often talked about.

    I can see a 6xxx, E-XX and E-X coming with the EXX and E-X being announced this fall at Photokina.

    I believe the patent is just a patent and we nothing from that.

    I do believe that Oly cares about have a D7 and/or D300 competitor — However, Canon and Nikon are standing still and since Oly delayed any E-series intro this year, whatever they come out with better be as good or better than the D400 Nikon will have out at the same time.

    All the camera companies are facing the same problem, lack of sales and a rising Yen.

    The PEN has done very well — BUT — I believe they have limited success in that the buyers have been mostly existing DSLR users — thus why they are pushing the PEN via commericial on major cable channels and during major shows.

    They will must step up to keep the faithfull E-series owners. Lack of E-series users means lack of glass sales which mean lack of profits. They seem to now have the technology, provided they can get a faster processing engine and we can get great ISO 3200 picture in the E-series then Oly will be knocking on Nikon’s back door.

    Note that Thom Thorn keeps talking about how Nikon fans are restless and ready to jump too. A Nikon killer + Oly glass would go a long way!!

    Given their experience in the medical world, a modular camera is possible but do not see likely

  • Voldenuit

    Even better would be a multi-aspect FF sensor in a FT/MFT body. You could use compact MFT lenses and the camera will crop down the sensor area, or if you want quality, stick on a FF lens and shoot FF size. They might even be able to do TS operations using the sensor instead of the lens’ image circle. Course, this won’t happen from Olympus.

  • Tom

    It seems to me that it isn’t a choice of either 4/3 or m4/3 for the high end. If they are building a hybrid/modular camera surely it could accommodate both.

  • roy

    Monty:

    (There is one dingbat on Usenet who’s predicting Olympus will be out of the DSLR market entirely in three years…I am tempted to challenge him to put his money where his mouth is.)

    Which list on usenet are you referring to? Can you post a link…I would like to look up this ding bat…

  • dMS

    Thank you napalm

  • Abi

    OK, I’ll speak. Actually Olympus has reached the pinnacle of camera engineering; that is, they’ve succeeded to reengineer ALL major manufacturers’ autofocus protocol. They’ve figured out the AF protocols of Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Pentax lenses, you name the protocols: SWM, SSM, USM, screw drive, etc. And now with E-5, they will divide camera parts into four modules: lenses, mount+mirror+sensor, viewfinder, and body and apply their reengineering success into mount+mirror+sensor modules.

    The revolution is, Olympus will introduce EIGHT mount+mirror+sensor modules, which are Nikon FF, Canon FF, Sony FF, Nikon APS, Canon APS, Sony APS, Pentax APS, and Micro Four Thirds. All of those modules will have gasket to increase weather sealing. They will also bring TWO viewfinder modules, which is 100% 0.74x FF OVF, and current EVF-2 module. The FF OVF module will have masking switch when APS sensor attached similar to D3. If the masking switch is set to off when APS sensor is attached, the VF will vignette depending on the lens. This way, you will be able to mount ANY lenses from ANY major manufacturers on fully weather sealed E-5, just exchange the proper mount+mirror+sensor and VF module. All modules has 5fps limit, but it is mechanical limit instead electronic limit.

    The module package is similar to Ricoh GXR modules, the only difference is you can also remove the lenses. It will be connected via high-speed communication lane to TruePic VI processor.

  • Abi

    They will also have 0.5x telecompressor module for OM lenses, which consists of two elements which the one is a 15x diopter and the other one is focusing element. It is for Micro Four Thirds module, and when an OM lens attached the range is compressed by half but aperture becomes one stop higher (after all, aperture is only a RATIO value between front diameter and focal length; if the focal length is compressed and diameter constant, the aperture will be greater). It will be compatible ONLY with MFT module and EVF module. The OM lenses focus ring should be set to MFD, and the rear element on adapter will do focusing. Protocol is feedback loop contrast-detect similar to current protocol used in MFT cameras.

  • Martin

    @Abi
    … and then you woke up ;-)

  • Abi

    @Martin: Nah, my dream hasnt finished yet :)

  • Miroslav

    @Abi
    Some interesting ideas there. I hope you work for Olympus ( or some other camera manufacturer ) :).

    Being able to fully exploit any of available lenses would be great.

  • JNMPhoto

    @Abi,

    …. EIGHT mount+mirror+sensor modules, which are Nikon FF, Canon FF, Sony FF, Nikon APS, Canon APS, Sony APS, Pentax APS, and Micro Four Thirds….what about “normal” four thirds?

    John

  • Abi

    Well, it will be bonus. Buy one, get two :D

  • ffrima

    i was planning to buy a 5D. I’ll have to wait the E5…
    What about a 0.5 compressor for standart 4/3 ?

  • Russ

    My guess is that Olympus will have three 43 bodies to go along with the three levels of 43 lenses. I can see an entry level model along the lines of a non-weather sealed e6xx, a prosumer model like a weather sealed e30 with an improved sensor and processing, and new very high end model. My guess is that three such bodies would be around the $600, $1,200 and $3,000 price points.

  • Ffrima

    I’ve the point.
    You can mount a 0.5 compressor only on a micro 4/3 because of the shorter distance between the sensor and the mount.

  • Will

    I know what micro4/3rds is, having been interested in the EP1, but what is this “4/3rds”? Is it like a regular DSLR, but with a smaller sensor?

  • Chris

    @Will: Yes. DSLRs with smaller sensors and better lenses.

  • dMS

    @Russ. $3, 000?????

    Anything more than the price range of Canon 7D is too expensive!

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