New Olympus E-5 review at Biofos (including speculation about the 43 and m43 Apocalypse!)

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A few days ago ex Olympus chief Mr. Watanabe reassured that there will be new Four Thirds products coming soon. Today Biofos (Click here) posted a very detailed Olympus E-5 review you might want to read. And he starts with the following (to much pessimistic?) statement “Here we really see history repeating itself. Pen F (half-frame SLR) was launched in February 1963 and ceased in April 1971, a period of 8 years. Pen F was judged to be a commercial failure due to lack of acceptance by film processing manufacturers. FourThirds (quarter-frame DSLR) was released in October 2003 with the E-1 and remains in production with the E-5 today but I suspect the last batch of E-5’s will be made sometime in 2011 – another period of eight years! FourThirds has also been a commercial failure due, basically, to a lack of acceptance by the DSLR buying masses. Whereas Pen F was a derivative of the popular viewfinder Pen series, MicroFourThirds is a derivative of 4/3rds. The original viewfinder Pen cameras remained in production until the mid 80’s with an overall production life of 25 years; let’s hope the m4/3rds machines achieve half of that!

and after the long E-5 testing he writes: “Am I disappointed with the E-5 – in short no but there are things that Olympus could have done better – but we must remember this is the 4/3rds swan song so it is not brimming with technology or a great deal of thought either. I just get the feeling that the Olympus did not want to make the E-5, they did so purely as a sop to E-System users on the cessation of the rest of the system. It follows that not a great deal of enterprise or original thought has been levered into the camera and I suspect most of the technology comes from m4/3rds offerings anyway.

and he doesn’t stop here: “Personally, I think Olympus have lost their way. How can micro-fourthirds be their future when it too is dependent on a non-standard sensor size which still has innate problems with noise and DR. This is the same set of problems that beset 4/3rds. Perhaps Olympus think that m4/3rds users will not be as critical or demanding. Maybe they are right, I hope so. But as all the other manufacturers introduce their own mirrorless versions Olympus and Panasonic will be back to square one. Either that or mirrorless cameras will prove to be a short lived fad and simply disappear. I genuinely fear for the camera divisions future. And that’s a great pity as in 2019 the company celebrates its centenary.

Read the full article at Biofos (Click here) and feel free to discuss his very (provocative?) statements on 43rumors with reasonable and respectful argumentations ok?

Check out the E-5 price, availability and specs at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay (Click on shop names to visit the E-5 product page).
For your curiosity: Link to the Pen F on eBay (Click here).

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  • CRB

    ““Personally, I think Olympus have lost their way. How can micro-fourthirds be their future when it too is dependent on a non-standard sensor size which still has innate problems with noise and DR. This is the same set of problems that beset 4/3rds. Perhaps Olympus think that m4/3rds users will not be as critical or demanding. Maybe they are right, I hope so. But as all the other manufacturers introduce their own mirrorless versions Olympus and Panasonic will be back to square one”…

    I think this is so true…since my original G1, still IQ has moved in a very slow pace….

    • Bob B.

      CRB…Image quality in the Panasonic realm hasn’t moved at all either, except for the GH2…truth be known. (No change for the G2 or GF2..nothin…nada) With the GH2 as far as still photography goes there is very little improvement on IQ. Some…but nothing sensational…but a hefty price if you are not into video. Focusing is a nice step up on the GH2…but I think if Micro 4/3 does not have a spectacular new sensor around the corner…I think the apocalypse could happen.

      • CRB

        Thats my fear Bob…a great idea that is going to be used by the Big Boys (in the end). Panasonic is becoming a video camera manufacter.. The sad part is that Oly (and Panasonic) can make pretty excellent lenses…thats really a shame…

  • jak0b

    Let us hope that Olympus lives to be at least 100 years… and that the E-P3 will be worth the wait…

    • admin

      +1

    • Sam

      +2

    • GreyOwl

      +3

      • Zuikoid

        +4
        Admin: Is the next PEN (non-pro EP3?) expected to have articulated screen?

        • Miroslav

          I’m afraid the source that told admin about the articulated screen PEN mixed it up with E-30 successor.

  • speculation?

    armageddon?

    *yawn*

    the dead horse was beaten here too many times already. the short-termness of Oly strategy (aka “lack of strategy” or “lack of vision”) is well known, especially on this forum.

  • furb

    what if Olympus, decides to all of a sudden, change the sensors it uses for four thirds or micro four thirds? Same size, but something new that offers better DR and high ISO performance?

    • Sam

      Modular sensors could be interesting optimised like film used to be – 50 asa colour positive for super dynamic range in good light, 400-512,000 asa for low light use etc. Nikkon rumors had something like this about the d700 replacement.

      Niche lenses like the Cosina Voigtlander 25mm f0.95, the Canon TS-E 24mm and the top quality Olympus 50mm macro? The last one I’m sure would sell well with an m4/3 mount – it’s rated as one of the best 50mm macro lenses in the world but not many people know about it.

      Personally I’ll be getting a GH2 body and the 7-14mm f4 next but I will be waiting to see what Olympus does with the next crop of m4/3 bodies and higher end glass first. I hope for a rangefinder style body with an ovf/evf built in and decent weather sealing (it doesn’t have to be OTT just enough to not worry about a British downpour) Basically an M9 style camera with a good manual video implementation (easy transfer to Apple Pro-Res, variable frame rate, thunderbolt and usb I/O etc) and a rather more *cough* affordable price tag.

      I think a new high end camera from Olympus may well sell much better under Zuiko branding – i.e. leave the Olympus brand name and logotype off it all together, I know this will be heresy to the brand police at Olympus but the corporate brand looks really, really old, and really corporate in a bad way. It looks a bit like a chemical manufacturer to me not a maker of cameras for photographers.

      The pen brand is going for the low-end and the Zuiko brand is not being used to full potential as really high-end products for the decerning photographer. I might be very wrong but I might be very right. It is a gamble to drop the mother brand but it is not unprecidented.

  • pdc

    The jaundiced view of a lifetime of experience. Probably a good prediction on FourThirds, but not convincing for MicroFourThirds. The principal advantage of MFT are side-stepped – full functionality in more compact packages than DSLRs, APS-C sizes included. IF Nikon are going to succeed with a small sensor mirrorless system, Panasonic will continue to succeed with this platform. Question is, will Olympus continue to play second fiddle?

    • Of course, the NEX-5 is an APS-C camera and smaller than any m4/3 camera, so what’s that point about “more compact” again? ;~) This has been my harping point with Olympus since 4/3 was originally introduced: if you’re going to use a smaller sensor, you have to use that to produce a smaller camera, period. Imagine if Nikon took a Coolpix sensor and put it in the D3100 body. That’s essentially what Olympus has been doing since the beginning of 4/3, and even with m4/3 the cameras are bigger than they need to be. There’s a design dissonance that they’ve created and not fixed yet. When they fix it, they might see a different result. If they don’t fix it, they’ll see the same result as they’re currently getting.

      • deniz

        “Of course, the NEX-5 is an APS-C camera and smaller than any m4/3 camera, so what’s that point about “more compact” again? ;~)”

        um. large lenses on a tiny body? whats the point of that?

        • Boooo!

          To completely screw up the physical balance of the whole thing, so you can’t hold it without looking like a complete idiot — which you indeed are if you bought a tiny camera.

        • napalm

          one thing why NEX was able to make the body smaller is the lack of image stabilization. this is a must-have for some folks however, especially those using legacy lenses. so some people might think NEX has the advantage on body size, but some also would not give up the image stabilization just for a smaller body size (and i’m one of them). also lenses with optical image stabilization tend to be a bit heavier, so the imbalance of a small and light body on a relatively bulkier lens is there.

      • Bunfoolio

        As a system my E-pl2 with kit lens as compared to the Nex with kit lens is smaller. You are wrong! Before I bought the camera I tried putting both in large pockets. THe E-pl2 fit and the Nex did not. Also have you seen the gigantic and expensive Nex 18-200mm? M4/3 has smaller lenses!!!!! In fact I bought the E-pl2 two lens kit fo $675 and it cost less the the Nex 18-200mm lens at $800. You asked where Oly has strategic advantage in the market place and there it is.

      • Zuikoid

        Making everything smaller is not easy or cheap. I’ll cut them a little slack, the two PENs expected for 2011 release may tell the tale.

    • CKDexterHaven

      If wishes were horses…A) such a sensor doesn’t exist, otherwise we’d expect them to already be using it and B) any underlying sensor technology that improves DR and high ISO performance will only be that much better on a larger sensor.

      [This comment was meant @furb. I hit the wrong reply link. Sorry.]

  • Nathan

    There have been many rumors of Olympus innovation, but so far none have materialized. Other companies have a significant lead. My E-30, though, still takes good photos. While I like what Nikon is offering, currently there isn’t quite enough reason to switch.
    If no innovations reveal themselves this summer, though, I will begin making plans to get a D7000 and end my relationship with Olympus.

    • No, Olympus has had plenty of innovations. They hold many of the original sensor cleaning, mirrorless, and other patents for things that changed since the early DSLR intros. The problem is that innovation alone is never enough in design. The innovation has to lead you to a product that is differentiated enough to warrant someone giving up their current equipment. The closest they’ve come to that was the E-P1, but then they’ve let Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, with more to come into the game but not driving the innovation to it’s true differentiation: size.

  • “Personally, I think Olympus have lost their way. How can micro-fourthirds be their future when it too is dependent on a non-standard sensor size…”

    I stopped reading right there. The guy is a moron. The sensor size is defined by a standard, it just happens to be a different standard than full-frame – which isn’t even a standard as it only defines the size of the sensor and nothing else like the distance between table and lens mount and so on…

    There’s life in the old dog yet. Don’t underestimate Micro-Four-Thirds. It will outlive most of the APS-C sized mirrorless systems, I believe. Also, Four Thirds will stick around for a long time with all that fabulous glass available. And honestly, look at the feature set and build quality of the E-5. You won’t get that at about 2000€ with ANY, I repeat ANY other maker. That’s stronger criteria for many folks than the size of the sensor (and the related criteria such as noise etc.). Who wants to put their Canon 5D Mk.II under the shower for a quick endurance trial? ;)

    • David

      Pentax K-5. 95% of the build quality and weather sealing (actually feels better to hold if you ask me); much smaller; better sensor; overall better camera.

  • Man has blog. Man has opinion. Opinion MUST be worth considering because man has blog. Isn’t there something wrong with this logic…?

  • spam

    Ignorant reviewer. I agree that E-5 was something Olympus did with a minimum of effort to keep FT alive until MFT can take over, but the talk about a non-standard sensor size (there is a standard??) and inherent disadvantage of the FT-sized sensor is stupid. FT like all all sensor sizes are a tradeoff with advantages and disadvantages.

    Even smaller sensors have 85% of the market, and that doesn’t even include cell phone cameras. Of course Olympus and Panasonic have to deliver good products to survive, but that’s the same for all manufacturers.

  • I think Biofos misses a key point. It’s highly likely that Olympus has realized that they’re not going to dominate DSLRs, or even mirrorless. The choices at that point are simple: give up completely and walk away, or continue to iterate in what essentially is a small self-defined niche. I believe Olympus (and Fujifilm and Pentax for that matter) have decided to take that route. As long as they still make a reasonable product margin off the products and sales don’t collapse to zero, basically you just scale back your expectations, staff, and resources to match that smaller market. Olympus doesn’t need a plant that can build 7m DSLRs a year, for instance (Canon does, and Nikon will soon). Instead, it can just keep shooting for a profitable 500k serious users a year with perhaps a bit of growth and be a happy little division within a much bigger company.

    In the West, investors would have beaten down any company that tried that. But in Japan, especially if the imaging division can get above profitable and stay there, no one is going to ask them to shut it down, and they won’t. So we end up with all these small-share makers doing their own thing.

    • The first camera company to put apps into cameras and do it well will take massive market share (I can see it being Olympus, Panasonic and/or Sony), Ricoh has shown people aren’t interested in modular and Micro Four has proved the right size, design, good enough images/video and creativity is the right way to go, with personalisation and connectivity being the next step forward…

      • Boooo!

        Apps in the camera? “Yo dawg, I heard you like shooting, so I put an app in your camera so you can shoot pigs with birds while you shoot birds with telephoto lenses!”

        • I’ll think you’ll find there are loads of photo iphone and android apps, they could be for casual/amateur and professional photo and video use, use your imagination…

          • +! Everybody I know with an iPhone, (and that seems like damned near everyone I know) has several photo apps, which do fabulous, funky, fun things with your photos. It’s just plain stupid that nobody did it with a camera yet. The genius of it is, that Apple makes a ton of money from these apps without even having to go to the bother of developing them.
            And as a footnote, how come my phone can do HDR and my camera can’t? Ridiculous.

          • cL

            Well…, once users start to use apps as the main outlet of their creativity, they cease to be pure photographers. I mean it’s not pure photography anymore, but it’s illustration. It’s a separate type of art.

          • @cL
            camera apps won’t just be for after you have taken the photo/video it will also be for before and during…
            Imagine a GH3 or E-7 with camera apps, you are into bird photography and you are in woodlands. You can hear the call of a bird but you are not sure what it is you hit the record button and your app analyses and tells you it’s the greater spotted kingfisher and the direction it came from (the camera’s GPS would of got you in the rough location from the co-ordinates your friend gave you).
            Next you set up your camera in a good likely location and using another app and wi-fi you are able to live view and shoot from your phone or other camera from a safe distance away.
            The camera app would automatically added the meta data to pictures/video because it recognises that it is a Greater Spotted Kingfisher and would group such shots accordingly in folders (if a different bird or Otter was photographed they would be identified, tagged and placed in seperate folders).
            Next your flickr app would send the folder of images into your flickr sets and email/text/tweet your like minded chosen friends.
            Also the app would keep a tally of which birds you had photographed and which ones you still had to, this info could be shared via like minded individuals…

            I can see 1,000’s of scearios for all kinds of people…

          • Boooo!

            Erm, no, you’d have to have at least three microphones to pinpoint the general direction (but not distance), as well as a power-hungry processor inside to do the analysis of the sound.

            You also wouldn’t have “Wi-Fi”; maybe Bluetooth, but then you have roughly 80 KB/s bandwidth, which can transmit decent 360p video. However, say hello to an expensive h.264 hardware encoder in your camera, and say goodbye to your battery life with all of those gadgets.

            And visual recognition, oh boy, that’s extreme science fiction at least until the year 2030 :)

          • Sound dog app already does it for music,and Panasonic already do facial recognition (you can programme faces into your GH1 in Intelligent Auto mode), I’m pretty sure that I read Sony and Panasonic are working on putting 12-20 microphones close together (I’ll try and find the link ) to pinpoint direction. Could be either wi-fi, 4g or blue tooth, images would be resized for sending…

          • Boooo!

            Bird sounds are quite a bit different from music and vastly more complex. Large intra-species variety and large inter-species variety.

            Here’s something for your spotted kingfisher :)

            http://www.xeno-canto.org/XCspeciesprofiles.php?species_nr2=8831.00&pagenumber=&order=taxonomy&view=3

            Facial recognition (“uniformly coloured blob of a certain hue with two circles and a curved line below”) is simple. Identifying birds isn’t. It would take an incredible amount of data and processing power to differentiate between an Italian and Spanish sparrow – of course, if you’re content with “sparrow” alone, that’s probably doable with a high degree of accuracy, although not yet on a camera. Maybe in ten years or so.

          • cL

            @YouDidntDidYou

            Those are wonderful ideas. :-) I did think of something that nobody has thought before. I shoot on a tripod all the time, so I really wish for a Blue Tooth wireless connection to iPad thing, so I can use it instead of the miniscule 3″ LCD monitor (not to mention iPad is IPS screen). Because it’s wireless, then it is essentially a freedom swivel screen, no more awkward angles. You can also press shutter on the touch screen so you don’t cause any vibration when shooting on a tripod (replaces your remote shutter). There are quite a few ideas I am generating, but I need to patent them first. :-p

          • @Boooo!
            bird song electronic analysis see page 9 onwards of this link http://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-042910-001603/unrestricted/Bird_Call_Identification_MQP_2010.pdf

            GH1 and GH2 recognise and identify individual faces, so identifying species should be a lot easier, I also understand whales can be identified as individuals by sound(sonar).

            btw sound dog apps and others work in noisy and crowded pubs and clubs even when the DJ is mixing it just needs a few seconds of music..

          • @Boooo!
            LeafSnap App Identifies Leaves Using Your iPhone’s Camera
            http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/05/06/for-the-high-tech-naturalist-leafsnap-identifies-leaves-using-your-iphones-camera/ you were saying…

      • weiaperture8

        It’s these small camera makers with their distinct characters that are making the photographic world interesting. Without them, all of us would just have to accept Canon or Nikon. Wouldn’t that be boring? As long as they keep their followers happy and deliver what they wants and desired and believe me they’ve got a plenty of rooms to do that…. one year concentrating on ISO, another year concentrating on larger aperture fixed lens… there are so many improvements on their list they can keep their followers hoping for the next products. They will have higher profit than not just Sony but also Canon and Nikon (see how Apple small share still makes great profit in the dominant PC market). Look at the E-5 price comparing to the competitor’s 7D, D7000 or K-5 (I know E-5 is higher level) followers are still willing to pay much higher price for the incredible piece of equipment. I personally do not think they can survive by switching their sensors to APS-C or FF, in this way you are expose to much fiercer competition. It might be more profitable to stay 4/3 and improve 4/3’s sensor and keeps the model to the minimum (2 models each for E-System and E-P system) and serve the niche market that is special and unique and gain higher profitability. Their problem at moment is introducing too many models and products and they need to cut it and keep it simple and elegant like Leica~

    • Inge-M

      I think you have right, shareholder is more greedy in west, but the is in the camera market Olympus that can growth, because there is they not the greates there.

  • read this so called “review” earlier today via flickr, the guy really hasn’t got a clue, too much bleating on about camera history and the competion, I think guy has also been listening to too much marketing spiel by canikony…

  • MikeH

    What does the m43 sensor size have to do with “innate problems with noise and DR”? That is a lot of nonsense. The sensor is smaller than APS-C, this is true. It is much larger than the prosumer and consumer market sensors and can certainly provide better image quality than those while providing small and lightweight interchangable lenses. That’s the point to this system. The APS-C wannabe small form factor cameras cannot break the laws of physics to provide smaller or lighter lenses in comparison. Fixed lens prosumer cams are just that, with built-in limitations of their own.

  • M43 serves my needs with interchangeable current and legacy lenses, uses the “sweet spot” of lenses, has no limits on video shooting times, and is cheap, while also capturing lucious HD 24p native with the GH2. Thus far, Nikon, Canon, et al do not cater to my needs or budget. The M43’s small footprint is conducive to stealthy or non-descript video and still shooting. When I shoot documentaries with BIG GUNS, mofos put on a jejune reality show as if scripted, whereas the M43 DSLR looks like a point-and-shoot and people retain a more organic persona. I try to take full technical and social advantage of the M43. If M43 becomes obsolete in a few years, so be it. I’ll buy something else at that juncture.

  • JeremyT

    Meh, internet troll. I love this bit:

    “Personally, I think Olympus have lost their way. How can micro-fourthirds be their future when it too is dependent on a non-standard sensor size which still has innate problems with noise and DR. ”

    So how exactly is it that APS-C has done so well, when compared to full frame it was “a non-standard sensor size which had innate problems with noise and DR?” Is the arbitrarily smaller sizing of APS-C somehow magically more appealing than the arbitrarily smaller sizing of four thirds?

    TANSTAAFL. APS-C is a compromise. “Full frame” is a compromise. 4/3 is a compromise. It just depends on what your priorities are, and it sounds like this guy’s priorities aren’t where Olympus’s (or my own) are.

    • Raist3d

      I was wondering when someone would call John Foster a troll. You must be at best truly ignorant and at worst a true idiot. Do your homework.

      • napalm

        yeah, biofos has been in existence since the early years of 4/3 and had been promoting the format since. i could understand their frustrations with the current direction of 4/3 and m4/3 and we could all disagree or agree with them. but definitely he is not a troll.

  • Ropo

    Olympus created the ideal system. They designed a lens mount twice the diagonal of the sensor to give the ideal lens performance. The sensor size was as large as they could go without the lenses becoming huge. If APSC had used the same ratio with 3:2 format the lenses would be huge. The optimisation of 4/3 design was buried and ridiculed by parties with vested interests from the start. What a shame.

    • cL

      4:3 ratio is a very nice format. Since 4/3 sensor is small, using 3:2 aspect ratio would promote a lot of waste of pixels. 4:3 is very close to 8×10 and 11×14 print sizes, so very little of that 12MP is wasted because of cropping. Once you crop an APS-C 16mp to 8×10, there is probably only 12 MP left. Honestly, there isn’t much advantage for APS-C if you are printing 8×10 or 11×14 size. APS-C is only better if you are printing it at native 2×3 (or 4×6). In large print that pretty much means 12×18 or 16×24. 12 MP is perfect for 11×14, and you need 16 MP for 12×18, so you see, there is no advantage between the two formats when it comes to print. If you prefer squarer format, 4/3 is better for the job.

      In medium format, 6×7 is called “perfect format”. Guess which aspect ratio 6×7 resembles? It’s 4/3.

      • Sam

        +1

        Speaking from a design and layout point of view 4×3 or 6×7 format images are much more flexible to work with on both print publication and web publication projects. You have a more flexible format when working with grid systems and typographic options such as a relationship between line length, leading and image aspect ratios.

        2×3 can work well but the vertical stress on portrait orientations is not ideal for web display especially on wide screen monitors of lower resolution, like 13″ laptops with only 800px vertical resolution available before browser and operating system menus. 16:9 in portrait orientation is an absolute nightmare for screen based display.

        I much prefer working with 4×3, 5×7 and 6×7 images for layout. In terms of fine art photography image aspect ratio plays an important element in the perception of the work.

        It would be good to see native 35mm and 70mm Academy aspect ratios available for video like 2.21:1 but I understand that they are not part of the HD specification like 1080p @ 60fps. Anamorphic lenses were the older method of squeezing widescreen onto film but down-sampling pixel data from the sensor means less loss of horizontal resolution.

  • Virtual reality on 43.rumors.com?
    Or targeted trial to damage Olympus’s reputation?

    Take a look at the “Amazon”-facts!

    8 of the best selling 20 cameras (DSLR + mirror less) in Japan are Olympus MFT-cameras.
    http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/bestsellers/electronics/387464011/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_e_3_4

    10 of the best selling 20 mirror less cameras in Germany are Olympus MFT-cameras.
    http://www.amazon.de/gp/bestsellers/photo/430662031/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_ph_1_3_last

    Apocalypse now – for Canikons?

  • Guy

    …I just hope that the Olympus m4/3 Pro body keeps the size of the E-5. I want a big, chunky, industrial-strength EVIL body. Not a little petite, “Oh my god! Did I break it?”, GH-2 sized body.

    • sderdiarian

      Develop a system where the essence is to take advantage of the smaller sensor for smaller lenses and bodies, then place it in a truck body? I don’t follow your logic.

      Olympus lost their way with the E-3, equating larger size with consumer desires, in the process ignoring their own brand history of small high quality cameras best realized in the OM-4ti.

      The ideal mFT will recognize their own user base with a similar small and light but strong body and jewel-like HG lenses to go with it.

      As for Thom Hogan’s feeble “Imagine if Nikon took a Coolpix sensor and put it in the D3100 body. That’s essentially what Olympus has been doing since the beginning of 4/3” statement, totally misleading and you should be ashamed, Thom. A Coolpix sensor is roughly 1/8th the size of a 4/3’s (or mFT) sensor, while a 4/3’s sensor is only 25% smaller than an APS-C.

      This small trade-off is worth it for the smaller lenses that result (Panasonic 20mm, Olympus 9-18mm both excellent examples), and Panasonic’s GH2 proves they can pretty much close this gap through advances in sensor design.

      • Boooo!

        Anything larger than a pancake or a slow kit lens is NOT comfortable to use on small, lightweight cameras. It simply isn’t.

        I’ve got a Zuiko 14-54 on an E-510. It balances poorly and needs at least an E-30 (preferably an E-3 or E-5) to be usable. On the E-620, which is smaller than the E-510, that 14-54 is a complete joke, almost entirely unusable.

        How about a 50-200 on a small body? LOL. No. Absolutely not. You get a body attached to the lens, instead of a lens attached to the body.

        For bright zooms and basically everything above 35mm you *NEED* a large, hefty camera body with a solid grip; not a little plastic toy.

        Of course, if you’re a street shooter who is happy with wide primes, that’s perfectly fine, but a system that should do everything needs to ALLOW doing everything – that includes both large and small camera bodies.

      • + 100 %

    • Raist3d

      – deleted- reply to wrong guy.

  • @Youdid +1

    Everybody I know with an iPhone, (and that seems like damned near everyone I know) has several photo apps, which do fabulous, funky, fun things with your photos. It’s just plain stupid that nobody did it with a camera yet. The genius of it is, that Apple makes a ton of money from these apps without even having to go to the bother of developing them.
    And as a footnote, how come my phone can do HDR and my camera can’t? Ridiculous.

    • lorenzino

      Quite obviously, you did not get that Thom’s sentence was a paradox. I.e. “imagine the absurd situation etc.” When the paradox is over, you have to reimagine it in the real context: a smallish sensor, although bigger than a coolpix sensor, in a large camera, à la E5, which is bigger than the D3100. The meaning of the story is obvious: Olympus could / should have built smaller cameras from stratch, but instead they tried to demonstrate the 43 quality primatus offering fast and expensive (and big) zoom lenses, eventually convincing everybody that 43 was as big as the other systems, as expensive as the other systems, but with a smaller sensor that, in such circumstances, offered only its negative sides (lower DR, lower high ISO capabilities, etc.)

      ps: I was obviously answering sderdiarian’s post. Dunno why the answer ended up here…

  • shep

    “Either that or mirrorless cameras will prove to be a short lived fad and simply disappear.” says Biofos. What an absurd comment. Mirrorless cameras, a brilliant innovation (and next, coming soon to a camera near you, shutterless cameras) will be the standard in a few short years.

    For those of us who want a small camera (I carry mine to the Himalaya, on hikes all over the place, when skiing in remote places, or just on a walk in town) a Canikon tank camera is way too big.

    • pdc

      On the money, Shep.
      A commercial videographer I know, specializing in extreme winter sports, now shoots nothing but GH2, and the compactness and low weight have allowed him to get in to ever more remote and difficult terrain and shoot superb and unique 1080p footage. MFT has the potential to become Olympus’s phoenix. The sooner they produce their “pro” MFT camera, the better.

  • calxn

    Olympus is a victim. At the high end, they don’t have the clout that Canikon has. At the low-end, smartphone are wiping out the p&s market. In the middle, they are prisoner to Panasonic’s sensors and what bone Panasonic is willing to throw to them.

    I really doubt they will be making any photographic equipment by their 100 birthday. They will continue on with their other divisions, but the photo division will probably shut down. I don’t think m43 is what kills them off. It is the final nail in the coffin, but it was regular 43 that killed them. Regular 43 put them in a corner. Pentax can continue on because they adopted the industry standard APS-C. If Thom is right, Pentax can continue to make small volume of good margin cameras based on APS-C since they have the lenses to support an APS-C system. Oly has none. It’s now an “all in” strategy with m43 for them. Too late to say “wait, we want a do over and scrap m43 like we did with regular 43 and do APS-C” with no lenses, and p&s market fate is getting sealed by smartphones.

    It’s evolution at work. The stupid companies don’t survive.

    • calxn

      My doubts on Oly’s survival is not a judgement on small mirrorless cameras. On the contrary, I believe they have a huge future along side DSLRs. However, I believe the future of small mirrorless cameras is in APS-C and maybe even FF. You don’t need a small sensor to make a small camera.

      • reverse stream swimmer

        Re: You don’t need a small sensor to make a small camera.

        -Yes, you actually do!

        However below flange focal distance (FFD), the design is depending on retrofocal design, being the dominant factor, irrespective of the sensor size.

        But for focal lenghts above the FFD, a small sensor camera benefits substantially, when providing tele zooms.

        This is the reason why we see 1/2.3″ sensors for supperzoom P&S cameras, while only moderate zooms at 1/1.7″ sensor sizes.

        P.S.
        Sony has achieved low readout noise with their latest sensor design using Column-Parallel A/D Conversion, which requires access to modern foundry fabs. Canon has been caught with their pants down facing the success of this Sony miniaturization, but rest assure Canon are designing their next sensors with similar approach. Panasonic has already taken this step with their GH1/GH2 sensors, produced in low scale at their own fab. I wouldn’t be surprised if Olympus already are sampling similar state of the art sensors from OmniVision, Aptina, Sony and Panasonic.

        • cL

          No, you don’t need smaller sensor to make smaller camera…. But it’s the easier way to go.

          Olympus XA was (and maybe it still is?) the smallest 35mm camera at the time. It was still using 35mm film. Though it’s a very simple to use camera from user’s end, but it had some very complicated engineering design behind the scene (retro-focus design). It is really small even by today’s standard (business card size).

          Olympus OM-1 was the world’s smallest SLR when it was launched. Still was using 35mm format film, not half-frame Olympus Pen was. Again, it had very complicated design behind the scene. All users see is a small camera. Olympus OM-1 was called professional photographer’s little secret, because it’s very high quality and can function without battery. Many professionals used it, but since Olympus name wasn’t as big as other makers, they rarely mention that’s what they’ve been using for private use (because it’s a darn good camera).

          Olympus OM-1 is what pros at National Geographic used. Olympus 35 SP is what Wired Magazine uses for some ads. You get the idea. Many vintage Leica collectors also own vintage Olympus film cameras for their everyday shootings. Even to this day, SHG 4/3 lenses are some of the closest equals of Leica lenses.

    • Inge-M

      You have wrong, reason for Olympus not use GH1/GH2 sensor is them need new great IS, and more room camera in side.

      “I really doubt they will be making any photographic
      rquipment by their 100 birthday”

      I belive not the, :-)

  • anonymous

    Question: are you capable of taking great photos with an (m)4/3 Oly? Think about it for 30 seconds.

    If answer is yes, the brand — as the sensor format(s) — won’t die.

    Thanks for your attention.

    • cL

      When I took digital photography class, I was the only person who used Olympus but my photos beat most of people’s in term of sharpness. I went to see some photos in my school’s exhibition, my photos still beat their photos when it comes to sharpness. A lot of which is not just cameras, but techniques, but Olympus 4/3 cameras (not so sure about m4/3…) is very capable of beating FF cameras at certain condition. You just can’t solely rely on your camera to make all the decisions and expect every photo would come out the way you want it. Camera is only capable of doing a reasonable job for most common situations. When you have backlighting, you need to know you need to overexpose the scene by 2.7 stops (for 4/3 sensor. Full frame is only 1.5 stops… That’s something no one will tell you, because most of the people have never shot with an Olympus DSLR)

      Some professional film photographers like to use slide films such as Fuji Velvia, which has dynamic range the size of a pea…. Guess how they get good photos out of that film? Proper exposure and techniques.

      • The Other Chris

        Well said.

    • Question: were you capable of driving well with a Studebaker? Think about it for more than 30 seconds please.

      Companies, divisions, and brands die for a variety of different reasons. But the number one reason is monetary: lack of ROI.

  • DonTom

    I think the main point of the smaller sensor for Olympus was the crop factor: achieving a greater effective FL with smaller lenses than APSC or FF, a real advantage for a telephoto wildlife photographer.
    But Thom’s right, they didn’t really beat APSC with Four Thirds. A comparison of Pentax system (APSC) vs Olympus 4/3 shows that Pentax have managed to match Olly for price and weight in a typical weather sealed birding outfit, with a bigger sensor (approx 400mm EFL):
    E5 + ED50-200 F2.8-3.5; $2900, 1.808kg
    K-5 + 300 F4.0 SDM; $2700, 1.810kg
    FF looks stupid in comparison:
    5dMKII + 400 F4.0; $9,400, 2.790kg
    (forgive the arbitrary nature of the comparison, I don’t have all day!)

    Micro 4/3 of course does much better in such a comparison, weight and price wise, but without the weather sealing (yet?):
    EPL-2 + ED75-300; $1450, .792kg! (And we’re out to 600mmEFL now)

    Olympus had to go there to compete, and I do think they have hit a sweet spot with the mirrorless system. Roll on a more serious m43 Olly camera!

    • Victor

      5DMkII @ 12 Mpix crop = 1.33 crop factor + EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM = $4030, 1.580 kg,

      5DMkII @ 12 Mpix crop = 1.33 crop factor + EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM = $3270, 1.490 kg.

      • m4/3: 200mm f/2.8
        APS: ~280mm f/4
        FX: 400mm f/5.6

        Those are the approximate equivalents we need to consider. The K5 is already doing better than the E5 in DonTom’s comparison.

    • Be careful of going too far with the size issue. I’m speaking primarily of consumer and mass products here.

      Mass has its benefits to the highest quality shooting, as does size of camera. But 4/3 and m4/3 were never designed to be able to match the highest quality shooting. A D3s just runs so many rings around an E5 in image quality (let alone an E-PL2) that you can’t begin to make the claim that 4/3 or m4/3 can truly compete with FX. But the shooter that wants that level of quality wants other things, too, and mass and size tend to be beneficial, not detrimental.

      But drop down into the mass market products (D3100, D5100, D7000 for Nikon, m4/3 and 4/3 for Olympus (other than perhaps the E-5) and user expectations and values change. For the average tourist/vacationer/casual shooter, weight and size absolutely matter, as has been shown over and over again in the camera industry. It’s here that I believe Olympus made its mistakes. The one thing they eventually did right was to make collapsible lenses for m4/3, but these now mount on a camera that’s bigger than some APS competitors, dulling the advantage.

      • Thom,

        I recently purchased an Olympus e-pl2 when what I really wanted was a Canon 7D.

        Scratch that.

        I really wanted a medium-format digital-back Mamiya.

        No.

        A Hasselblad H4D 60, yes, that will do.

        Not even.

        A RED EPIC system. Now we’re getting somewhere.

        OK, I’m being a jerk here.

        Picky consumers with delusions of grandeur, like myself, find their tools somewhere along the intersection of technology and affordability.

        That makes it seem easy though. You know, get the best camera for the money you’re willing to spend, right?

        Well, would that be the Canon 7D or or Nikon D7000? What features am I willing to sacrifice to get the camera that best suits my needs for the money I want to spend? Why can’t I get camera A with with all the great features of camera B plus a sprinkle of feature C?

        The problem in the consumer DSLR market right now is that the choices are being illogically crippled by marketing decisions made to drive consumers to purchase certain products while not cannibalizing others.

        Example: Great! The Nikon D5000 is out! Wait, why is not not the clear winner over the D3100? Price vs. performance advantage not clear? What about the D7000 – so much better! Oh, no swivel screen… video features not as good. A lot more expensive… I don’t get it?

        Bah, video. Now it seems to be how marketers are setting their budget cameras apart from their competitors while simultaneously rivaling similar functionality in their upper-level models. What the F?

        Bottom line, it feels like there is a mission in the DSLR market to NOT make a single camera that combines all the best features while, simply substracting groups of features, from model to cheaper model. You get cheaper models with features you wish the more expensive one had…

        To make a short story long…

        I ended up with the e-pl2 because it was uniquely feature-complete in it’s eco-system and somehow also managed to cannibalize it’s higher-priced predecessors, unabashedly. By current standards, most would say that was a mistake on Olympus’ part. I would like to think it’s a trend towards logically better products, where consumers get what they want before marketers create artificial barriers to entry.

        • > Picky consumers with delusions of grandeur, like myself, find their tools somewhere along the intersection of technology and affordability.

          Certainly true. It’s a balance of compromises. The question at the forefront here is whether the compromise of image quality (sensor size) is paid for with a balancing attribute (camera/system size). It wasn’t when Olympus announced 4/3, and it isn’t today with m4/3.

          > The problem in the consumer DSLR market right now is that the choices are being illogically crippled by marketing decisions made to drive consumers to purchase certain products while not cannibalizing others.

          Absolutely no disagreement from me on that. Apple doesn’t tend to make that mistake (though taking out Firewire on the low-end laptops at one point could be construed that way).

          > I ended up with the e-pl2 because it was uniquely feature-complete in it’s eco-system and somehow also managed to cannibalize it’s higher-priced predecessors, unabashedly. By current standards, most would say that was a mistake on Olympus’ part.

          I think I’m pretty clearly on record as being cynical about this. Olympus has been hunting for the right combination ever since the E-P1. The “right combination” isn’t so much about features, which have remained similar. It’s about getting manufacturing costs down so that the product can compete at the right price point and still be profitable. The E-PL2 is almost there. But it’s taken too long to get there as far as I’m concerned.

    • Inge-M

      “I think the main pointof the smaller sensor for Olymous was the crop factor”
      Yes absolute correct.

  • napalm

    yes the Pen-F lasted only 10yrs, but by the end of those 10years there was dwindling support from consumers and manufacturers.

    i think it’s a little different with m4/3. 4/3 was an early phase that lead to m4/3. the support on m4/3 is just starting with some pretty good players like cosina and voitlander. sales have been pretty good despite the issues being thrown at them. i’m actually seeing more and more people carrying around PENs and GFs now, mostly tourists than years ago.

    also, other companies took notice of the mirrorless format and are now also in the same playing field. so i think it’s not an accurate comparison to the Pen-F history, i think m4/3 still has a long way to go.

    • cL

      Ten years is a long run. One of the longest run in photographic history is Olympus Trip 35, which run for 20 years and who knows how many millions of units were sold. You could argue Leica M series is longer, but Leica doesn’t create a new model every 6 months. The gap between models are often several years….

      By the way, Pentax’s market share is far below Olympus’s. Pentax would probably die before Olympus if that ever happens. Fuji has made plenty of cult classic cameras, none of which made much profit, and the company still survives to this day…. I don’t understand why the early eulogy.

      This is not the first time Olympus made a major flop camera in their history! After legendary Pen F, there were series of flops they made, and the company still survived. After legendary OM-1 was made, OM-4 almost bankrupted the brand, and it still survived. What make you guys think with Olympus’s financial support from medical group (definitely more healthy than Fuji’s revenue stream from film emulsions) couldn’t support its image division. If it ever closes the image division, it’s because “someone” wanted to kill it, not because it couldn’t survive. Most of the American businesses created unemployment not because they “need to” lay off people, but because they “want to” lay off people. The current business model is not sustainable. I figured that out even when I was in undergraduate. Business can only grow at the speed of the growth of consumer population who has disposable income. If you have too many unemployed people (therefore no disposable income), you can’t grow market shares. Yet the “growth model” suggests every year the company’s profit must grow at an arbitrary percentage which is exponential, when human population is currently growing at a linear pace and negative growth in some developed countries. How is that possible without consolidation of businesses, which eventually leads to oligopoly or monopoly, which is anti-market economy? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know this!

      • petermg

        At last someone who understands a little bit about the economics of the world. Perhaps Olympus understand this; if they do they will know they will bankrupt themselves trying to do what Sony is doing buying market share. Perhaps Olympus understand that they will sell to customers that understand the enduring nature of quality lenses, that camera’s are now just a passing fashion.

        I own a collection of OM glass and one day will have a Pen that will do them justice. I have a venerable E1 and high grade lenses, and would love an E5. I have to have patience and save for these items. I could sell it all and go Canon changing my camera every 18 months, but then I personally would not derive the same pleasure out of Photography. I think the comments in the review are borne of frustration rather than rational thought. And I have to say no one does a good job of translating what the Japanese really mean.

        • Inge-M

          +1

        • cL

          Very true. I hope Thom understand just because Sony could buy market share doesn’t mean it’s the right practice. Companies like Olympus and Fuji do not have the same financial backs as Sony and like you said, it would bankrupt the company if they copycatted Sony. Sony is essentially using shareholders’ money to buy market share, so executives can secure their jobs…, at the expense of shareholders’ interest.

          I also shoot films, and I got Olympus 35 SP because it has the legendary G.Zuiko 42mm f/1.7 lens. Quality will retain its value. Whether something is a successful product is not always dictated by ROI (irrational fear from management’s POV, and I suspect that’s why they lay off people frivolously). Olympus Pen F, even today, remains a cult classic. That’s not something people can take it away even though the model was retired. I also have the lower end Olympus 35 ECR (which is essentially a P&S), and when I got my photos back, scanned at 2 MP, the result still looks better than something shot from a low-end Canon with its kit lens, despite it’s like 10+ MP less resolution…. Good lenses last for a long time!

          Anyways, people could enjoy photography or scheming how to make the economy even more miserable…. Sorry if my tongue is getting too sharp for my own benefit. I got that from my Olympus lenses. :-p

  • Goodi

    In my opinion, the SLR cameras has no future. Why we still need a bulky and unprecise mirror viewfinder in a modern digital world? It only causes front and back focus problems.
    So future will be mirrorless cameras like the PEN. With the m4/3 sensor it is possible to make smaller an lighter systems then with APS-C sensors. The NEX body might be smaller then the current PENs, but the system with a lens is much bigger, did you see the tele zoom lens on the NEX? It is not very small. Additional the m4/3 standard has big advantages for the lens design and that is the must have for good image quality. What does it help when the sensor has a high resolution but the lens is not able to transfer the resolution to the sensor.
    Look at the E-5 it beats other cameras in terms of resolution even though they have a sensor with more pixels.

    Goodi

    • weiaperture8

      +1, a niche market with healthy profitable is much more easy to survive than large market with low profitability and the only objective is to grow bigger….

    • The Other Chris

      +1! Also, I predict large format view cameras will be obsolete soon. Who needs an archaic ground glass viewing system that projects the image upside down when you can just use live view and see it right-side up?

      All kidding aside, I don’t think SLRs are going to disappear anytime soon.

  • chon

    When a solid state component become available it usually ends up replacing its mechanical counterpart. Why should it be different with reflex systems, shutters or apertures? The days of the reflex camera are numbered.

    • calxn

      You poor deluded soul. Reflex cameras will be with us for decades more. What you’re seeing is the creation of a new market not a replacement market. So many delusional amateurs on this forum think it’s all or nothing. There are many advantages of EVF, but there are also many disadvantages. Sports photographers who need fast focus in all lighting conditions and landscape photographers who require true colors from their viewfinders would argue that they can do without the EVF benefits to consumers. Technology and features usually trickle down from professional equipment to consumer equipment.

      I have a digital MF camera, and guess what? It has a reflex system. Strange that MF is still around and still uses reflex system, isn’t it? Last I heard, Leica is selling some digital rangefinders and doing quite well. Have none of these guys not heard that the consumer advantages of EVF are supposed to obsolete them all? Or perhaps you’re too deluded to realize that there is no one size fit all. They will all coexist. Mirrorless will be for people looking for a move up from the smartphone cameras after the p&s market dies.

      I don’t see DSLRs getting replaced by mirrorless. Mirrorless, esp m43 will never be able to compete in IQ, speed, and performance of the DSLRs. Consumers know this and will not spring for both DSLRs and mirrorless. They will spring for one system to work along side their smartphones. That one system will be the best their money can buy. When comparing the price of a GH2 kit with a D5100 kit, I’m pretty sure we all know which of the two 99% of consumers will chose. Even if the D5100’s IQ wasn’t so much better than the GH2, the brand alone would sway their decision. “Don’t Panasonic make camcorders? Are they any good with photos?” m43 is a moment in time phenomenon. It will never be the main course.

      • You’re so living in the past, GH2 does fast enough, accurate focus for sports photographers (and videographers) already it’s just that canon/nikon users haven’t realised it yet, landscape photographers get the colours/mono they want with a LCD or a EVF not with a OVF.
        I think you’ll find there is a huge number of people moving from DSLR to Mirrorless, look around you…
        I think you assertion that 99% of consumers would chose a D5100 over a GH2 is wholly incorrect just on looks alone let alone features…
        Panasonic has pretty good branding/vision/marketing in the real world…

        • +1 Never say never. It’s not so long back that a guy on here was saying that contrast detect would never be as fast as phase. People CONSTANTLY underestimate what can be achieved, and how long it will take.

          “People expect too much in a year, and not enough in a decade.”

          Neil Armstrong.

      • Goodi

        Don’t underestimate digital technology. At the moment EVF might be not as good as an OVF but it will be improved month by month at it is only a matter of time when the disadvantages of an EVF disappear. The same with AF speed. I’m sure we will see a similar development as we saw in the transition from analog film to digital. In future SLR will be only interesting for a very small group of users.

        • Only one problem with that notion: EVF is not equal to OVF. Indeed, not all OVFs are equal, either.

          EVF reduces the view to a flat, two-dimensional plane. OVF does not, though the standard SLR/DSLR OVF does flatten the view compared to a purely optical accessory.

          Simply put, you frame and compose differently in two dimensions than you do in quasi-three. Some people will prefer one over the other, all else equal. And right now all else isn’t equal.

      • pdc

        @ Calxn

        Sorry, but you need to deal with your own delusions.

        Large, complex, mechanical and opto-mechanical systems will always get trumped by electronics that do at least as good a job in less space, more reliably, and at much lower cost. I’m old enough to remember using card punches and card sorting machines to write software and process data! If you want to see that technology now, you have to go to a museum. DSLRs, and in time larger reflex cameras, will be completely eclipsed by mostly electronic or conpletely electronic cameras within a few years.

        I have been an enthusiast photographer for 50 years, shooting German rangefinders and Japanese SLRs, and I can tell you I’m thrilled to now own the mirrorless gear I do – it is just much superior technology. Lenses are another matter entirely, and I don’t need autofocus and camera controlled apertures, so I use manual lenses a lot.

        Some of these manual lenses are large long telephotos, and yes, in poor light, they are hard to focus precisly, so I use an in-field HD monitor via HDMI, and focusing is now precise.

        My use of manual lenses is not to diss the fine MFT AF lenses I also own, which in social/street photography come into their own, especially the wides.

        Get with the program.

        • Boooo!

          People said the same thing for any new technology. “OMG, it sucks! It’s expensive and clunky! Old technology is so much better!”

          So I agree that mirrorless cameras and electronic viewfinders are the future. The sooner, the better, as the technology can offer incredible benefits. I think we’re about five years away from the first EVF that is truly revolutionary.

        • > Large, complex, mechanical and opto-mechanical systems will always get trumped by electronics

          Absolutely true. But something is often lost in the translation.

    • Trevor

      I don’t agree with calxn’s reasoning, but I do agree that mirrorless will not usurp reflex cameras.

      For mirrorless to displace reflex as the predominant style it would have to have a significant competitive advantage. The only true difference between reflex and mirrorless, however, is mirrorless being able to have a smaller form factor (although smaller is not guaranteed) mainly through a shorter flange distance.

      Small body size has its advantages, but its not for all situations, and in some situations (matched with fast, long telephotos comes to mind) small size may be a disadvantage. And, overall size is limited by the reality that shallow DoF will always require big sensors (43+) which require big glass.

      Aside from body size, reflex can do everything mirrorless can. You can shoot reflex using live view and CDAF without the mirror, and you can add EVFs on a hotshoe. Mirrorless, however, will never have a zero parallax optical viewfinder.

      Size being equal then, reflex has an advantage over mirrorless. While some may say an OVF is inferior to an EVF, I believe there are many who see an OVF (and possibly hybrid OVF) as a desired feature — and, again, you can always add an EVF to reflex.

      On the cost side, it may be slightly cheaper to produce mirrorless since it has fewer mechanical parts (although these are not esoteric materials or complex designs). For consumer cameras where a slight price difference could be noticeable, you could have something like a Rebel with just live view. But all you’re doing there is pulling a mirror out (you wouldn’t save money removing an OVF and adding an EVF). If you make it smaller and change the flange distance you have to produce new lenses. If new lenses come into play you’re saving a little on tried and true mechanical design and parts, but you’re increasing R&D and marketing costs and fractioning your consumer base.

      What I believe it all points towards is basically what we have. Mirrorless will be an attractive market for some and could continue to increase in market share if it becomes a small enough step up to attract more P&S. Other manufacturers will continue their APS-C and FF lines with OVFs. All that could change with disruptive technology either way (small sensor shallow DoF, much cheaper FF), but short of that I think reflex has a long life ahead of it.

  • Fishfishfish

    There are always different groups of non-pro “photographers”:

    1. They often take snap shots and don’t care much about the quality of the pictures. The most important thing they are concerned about it the compactness of the camera so that they can bring their cameras with them all the time. Period. (iPhone track)

    2. Serious enthusiast photographers. They are serious about everything regarding photography: handling of the camera body, photo quality, accessories, and don’t mind paying a little (or so much) more for their gears (Canikon tack)

    3. The ones between 1 and 2. We like to take pictures, but photo quality does matter. We also care about the versatility of our camera system, but compactness is also critical. We do understand there is always a balance between compactness and photo quality.

    I think #3 is the way PannaOly should go for. 4/3 or m4/3 can never compete with iPhone or the FF cameras from Canikon. Sales channels are also critical. People don’t buy when they do see the products.

    • Inge-M

      Olympus is there, by m43/43 is now, 43 also groups 2.

  • David

    I think for all the hand wringing on this website by enthusiasts (myself included), Olympus and Panasonic have done a good job knowing their market. We got excited by the GF1 and E-PX series because they looked like preludes to serious, rangefinder models a la the L1, only smaller. Maybe they were. But Olympus and Panasonic must know that the largest potential market for m4/3 is those people who would normally buy entry level dSLRs from Best Buy. Some of these people will never take the camera off P mode, and will never buy another lens beyond the kit lens. They understand the advantages of a larger sensor, but if it can be explained that an e-plx with kit lens will perform almost exactly as well as a nikon d3100 with kit lens, in a much smaller package, I think a lot of people will go for the Olympus. (Note, even if you contend that the Nikon has a sensor advantage I don’t think it can be fairly argued that that advantage has any real world difference in the hands of this market with a kit lens).

    This is the main market for m4/3. That leaves Panasonic in a good position, because they never were a bespoke camera manufacturer. Olympus, however, has some serious decisions to make. 4/3 doesn’t make much financial sense. I get that SHG glass on an E-5 can compete with, or beat, anything from Nikon or Canon, in good light, without enormous differences in DR. That makes it a specialist camera. For a lot of people (like myself) if we are going to spend $1000-$2500 on a lens (singular) then we want to pair it with a body that gives us the most options for available light shooting and mixed light scenes. These scenes happen all the time, and I don’t think it’s fair to say that just because a GH2 does a decent job with them that it therefore matches a K5, or d300s or more especially a d700 or 5D Mk II. As shown above, from a leading retailer, I can get a E-5 with a 35-100mm for $4200. Or, for 25% more $, I can get a D700 with a 70-200mm for $5150. I will get much better bokeh, and will be able to shoot in lower light (both because the lens is brighter, and because the camera can shoot at higher ISOs). I think there’s a good argument that at this level $1000 isn’t your biggest concern. But let’s say it is. Then I can get a K-5 with a 50-135mm for $2700. Still weather sealed. Still brighter. It might not be *quite* as sharp, but I have enough money left over for a wonderful 31mm walkaround lens that gives me a very compact package (much smaller than the E-5 with it’s *walkaround* lens (either a 12-60mm or a 14-35 — both excellent, but large and heavy). This is why Olympus is in a pickle.

    I switched from a Nikon dSLR package to m4/3 because I thought we were going to see really high quality primes from olympus and panasonic, along with weather sealed bodies. I still think that is the real future of m4/3. Bright zooms will always be large. But if someone can make a metal chassis, weather sealed body the size of an e-p2 with top quality, weather sealed primes (give us a portrait lens for god’s sake, weather sealed or not), then I think m4/3 will have captured a nice niche segment of the market, and it’s where I think Olympus should head.

    • DonTom

      It’s the hand wringing that is keeping the better m4/3 bodies and lenses from being produced. I’m sure Olly would drop 4/3 in an instant, but are (rightly) afraid of the backlash. So instead of going wholeheartedly into the mirrorless format, they have to drag out the 4/3 format as their top-end option.
      Bite the bullet, accept the E5 as the last hurrah, and look forward to the innovations to come in the mirrorless world……
      I’m holding out for the real deal, my dollar will go in the meantime on the 25/0.95. At least CV get the picture! Maybe the body we’re all praying for will come from them too.

  • Arkersaint

    @David : +1, you perfectly expressed the need of someones. Let me add that reasonnably small primes fit into 2 coat pockets !

  • Per

    I do not see any future for 4/3: It has no added value. Contrary it will always be outperformed by APS-C competritors image quality-wise (larger sensor). 4/3 are as bulky as APS-C cameras.
    m4/3 has an added value: less bulk and weight balances the lower image quality.
    Buying a camera (for us normal wallet users) is always a compromize price – performance.
    It is possible to make excellent photos with m4/3 not least because you carry it far more often! And remember, looking at the most important images in photo history, they are not about technical quality at all! It is about seing the subject and release the shutter when the composition and moment is right! Image quality is a secondary thing in the really excellent photos. (I know nature photography is all about estetics and image quality – impressive but in the long run boring.
    Back to cameras: Olympus is capable of great conceptual product, but are not capable to turn them into comercial success. The Panasonic GH2 is a great camera. Panasonic produces m4/3 cameras that “real” photographers tend to favor before Olympus. Owning both E-P1 and GF-1 I agree with them

    • Inge-M

      The is not future for 4/3, is soon 10 years old news,
      and maybe it be 20 years old also. ;-)

  • anon

    While you troll at specs and fanboism, I take photos. Have fun, nerds, but don’t forget to get a life someday.

  • Winder

    I sold My E-3 almost a year ago. I really love the system and I think it could be a success, BUT:

    Olympus needs access to better sensors. Sony and Canon are kicking butt in the sensor development game. Panasonic looked to be on the right path with the GH1 sensor, but then they roll out the GH2 which seems like a step backwards for still images. Panasonic is focused on HD video optimized sensors and that does not necessarily mean better still images. If Olympus was using Sony sensors I think they might still be in the ball game, but Sony has no reason to make 4/3 sensors.

    Olympus needs FASTER primes. If Olympus had kept developing the lens line up I probably would have kept my gear, but I want fast primes and Olympus seems have have lost interest in making them. The 35-100 and 14-35 are excellent lenses, but they are just as big/heavy/expensive as my Canon FF versions….. What is the advantage again?

    Olympus should have entered into the DSLR market with a larger 4/3 sensor to begin with. A 24mm x 18mm (using round numbers for simplicity) would made all the difference in the world. 432 sq. mm of sensor area is exactly half of the size 36mmx24mm sensor. Larger than APS-C and smaller than APS-H. Had Olympus simply used a larger sensor to begin with I think the 4/3 system would be going VERY strong today. Pretty much all of the issues with 4/3 today are related to the sensor.

    • Inge-M.

      We need hope on G3 sensor is better to still images.

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