Seriouscompact mirrorless size comparison and RiceHigh “provocation”: What’s the Meaning of Micro-4/3 Now?

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Serious compacts posted a mirrorless size comparison (well done!). Images and text below are from Amin Sabet (please visit SeriousCompact to see the full article).

Above (left to right): Olympus mZD 14-42mm lens (kit zoom for Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras, shown collapsed), Sony NEX 18-55mm lens (kit zoom for Sony NEX cameras), Panasonic 14-45mm lens (kit zoom for Panasonic G1 and GF1), Panasonic 14-42mm lens (kit zoom for Panasonic G2 and G10), Samsung NX 18-55 (kit zoom for Samsung NX10)

Above (left to right): Sony NEX 16mm f/2.8, Samsung 30mm f/2, Panasonic 20mm f/1.7.

Above (left to right): Olympus E-PL1 with Olympus mZD 14-42 (collapsed), Sony NEX5 with Sony 18-55, Panasonic GF1 with Panasonic 14-42 (Sorry, wrong kit lens pictured; should have been the 14-45, which is slightly smaller as shown in the first image in this post)

Above (left to right): Panasonic GF1 with Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, Sony NEX5 with Sony 16mm f/2.8, Olympus E-PL1 with Panasonic 20mm f/1.7

Source: SeriousCompacts.com


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And I would like to know from our readers what they think about the folowing post from RiceHigh “If Size Really Matters, What’s the Meaning of Micro-4/3 Now?

Just my two cent…The Sony NEX-3(5) surprised us all with their compact size, but they also had to sacrifice the usability. Anyway, I am sure Panasonic and Olympus will soon release even smaller cameras…

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More NEX vs MFT comparisons:

E-P1 vs G2 vs Nex-5 (dc.yesky.com / google english translation)

Leica X1 vs E-P2 vs NEX-5 Jpeg comparison test by Steve Huff

Sony NEX-5, Samsung NX10 and Panasonic’s Lumix G2 Shootout on Popphoto

Sony NEX-3 vs. Olympus E-PL1 vs. Leica X1 at Motimotion

Sony NEX-5 vs Panasonic GF1 (DPreview forum)

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  • lorenzo

    I really hope we will see smaller m43 cameras. So far they are not that portable. I hope Sony tought smth to panoly…

  • Agent00soul

    Well, the Pen is still by far the shortest with zoom.
    The Sony pancake is small only because it has an unusually short focal length. How large would a 30/2 be for the Sony?
    The Samsung 30/2 is short because the camera has 5 mm longer register distance than m4/3 and 7 mm longer than Sony.

    • Mer

      Actually, I think normal primes are probably the easiest to make into pancakes for any system. For full frame film, the only true pancakes were in the 40-50mm range. On m43, we have the 17-25 range where the current pancakes reside. Sony will probably be able to release a 30/f2 similar in size to the Samsung one. But even if you are right, and this is impossible to do, Sony could release a lens 7mm longer than the Samsung (that’s 7mm of empty space- really worst case scenario) and because the sensor is closer to the screen, it would still be more compact than the current m43 line.

  • Din

    That´s right but each system adopt the best specifications to them.
    There is an obsession by size, EVIL must be = smaller size possible and that´s for me is wrong.
    M4/3 already doesn´t have the advantage in size, they just launched first their system, but now the strong and heavy competence is here.
    Samsung will announce the compact 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens soon, it will be smaller than actual Panasonic/Samsung/Sony kit zoom.

  • Ulli

    Sorry, but how small does a camera need to be?
    I have a Casio Exilim which is really small but imo the size lacks enough “real estate”/volume to hold it like a proper camera. range finder sized cameras like the EP and GF series are spot on. anything smaller and the ergonomics will suffer. I think the EP started a competition in size reduction as (redundancy) effect 😉

  • Mark

    I’m really happy with the size of my GF1, but I look forward to an improvement in sensor/image quality and a bigger choice of lenses.

  • Miroslav

    The comparison pictures missing from both websites are with superzooms and wide zooms. That’s where m4/3 shines, away from kit lenses: http://a.img-dpreview.com/lensreviews/olympus_m_14-150_4-5p6_o20/Images/comparedto3.jpg ( and this is the comparison with smallest DSLR ).

    RaceHigh gives only half the story. While I admire Sony’s good high ISO, small size, nice screen and advanced modes ( panorama, hand held twilight, HDR, … ) there are many drawbacks too: bad controls, below average lenses, autofocus on only three lenses etc. It is not an enthusiast’s camera. Besides, m4/3 cameras are able to use C-mount lenses, while NEXes with APS-C sensors are not ( because of vignetting ). That is why I consider m4/3 sensor the right size: it is able to utilize C-mount, APS-C and full frame lenses and cameras do not look ridiculous with most of them. If Nikon indeed comes out with mirrorless camera with 1″ sensor, they better not bother making an adapter for APS-C lenses …

    RaceHigh hasn’t mentioned some features of m4/3 cameras NEX is yet to have: Olympus’s in body stabilization, Panasonic’s flip out touchscreen, E-PL1’s bounce flash, Olympus’s excellent jpegs, small sub F2 pancake, excellent wide angle, macro and superzoom lenses, range of compatible external flashes, real 3D lens.

    What Sony has done size wise is interesting, but NEXes are as wide as small m4/3 and unnecessary low ( being able to rest vertically with pancake, kit zoom and only smallest APS-C lenses ). How thin it is is the only thing I find good concerning its dimensions – it makes the whole combo shorter. And yes, m4/3 camera bodies need to get smaller, but not by sacrificing functionality and ergonomics. Canon G size ( and controls ) would be perfect … Also, they need to make lenses proportionally smaller than APS-C. Nobody takes kit zooms seriously, but rumored fast zooms to be announced next month must be smaller than APS-C equivalents.

    And delaying NEX 7 is not going to do any good to that system’s future. It is supposed to correct the drawbacks of the first two and show Sony is serious about the format, but if it is announced in 2011, it is going to have a couple of more competitors than right now or after Photokina.

    There is a lot of promise in NEX, but much is yet to be fulfilled. I do not comment on Samsung because it is the worst by far of the three.

    @admin Sony did not have to sacrifice usability because of small size of NEX cameras. They chose to. And they were wrong because that put many people off NEXes. Imagine if they came out with “simple” NEX 3 ( as is now ) and rangefinder with flip out LCD NEX 5 ( as in many fan renderings ). That would be m4/3 killer. This way, they gave Olympus and Panasonic until 2011 to perfect their system even more.

  • Roy

    I just bought a m4/3 camera for three reasons:
    1, Much better lens selection than Sony or Samsung
    2, How long will Sony or Samsung support their formats? Their track record of developing new formats is good, but their track record of supporting them is extremely poor. As an example, Sony appears to be abandoning (or at least not maintaining high levels of development) for their Minolta acquisition of five years ago.*
    3, Handling of Sony and Samsung is not in the same league as E-PL1 or GF1 – I just couldn’t get them to do what I wanted them to do. Other Panasonics seem even better (G1, GH1, G2, G10).

    None of these products is perfect, but I’ll buy into the one that offers the lens I want, with a better promise of support for the future, and handling that makes me want to use the camera.

    *Note that Panasonic and Olympus seem to have slowed down their development of regular 4/3 cameras. Hope they don’t do the same with micro-4/3 and come out with a nano-4/3 or simliar!

  • mat

    lorenzo, with respect, are you kidding? not that portable?!? sure, none of them will fit in your pocket (unless you’ve got really big pockets), but come on!

    compared to SLRs with bigger sensors micro four-thirds are tiny. the only interchangeable lens camera system that comes close in size is the Leica M system and that’s not only a different focusing/viewing experience but orders of magnitude more expensive. if you want to shoot in the square format digitally and not crop, your next step up is medium format. lugging that around all day and then start talking about whether or not it’s portable.

    this obsession with the smallest possible camera, taken to the point that in adult hands it’s like you’re taking a picture with a pack of playing cards, is absolutely absurd. those have their place in the world of photography, but not everything has to get reduced to that standard.

  • bilgy_no1

    If size is really important, why not compare the GF1 with the Olympus 14-42mm?

    That, IMHO is the real advantage of the m4/3 system over the others: selection of lenses for various purposes.

    As to the NEX: yes, it’s very compact for an interchangeable lens camera. But it also feels strange when coupled with the kit zoom and Sony sacrificed a bit of functionality to achieve it. Still, let’s see how the others react.

  • napalm

    i’ve seen the NEX5 with the telezoom lens first hand and it wasnt a pretty sight hehehe… far from what i’d consider as “small”

  • lorenzo

    Sorry, Agent, but 16mm vs. 20mm 1) is not that shorter, 2) usually WA lenses are not shorter than normal lenses. The problem of all these cameras is in lenght of the lenses. A series of short but excellent primes would seal the deal, as long as the camera is small enough. Now: Sony is small but the lenses are big (and not that high quality, and not many at the monent). Lens selection for m43 starts to be interesting, but cameras could be smaller, or at least optimise the space for better UI an manual control AND OVF (or whatever).
    At the moment there is no real winner here…

  • Duarte Bruno

    Come on people! You want smaller? Get a LX5 and move along.
    Nothing to see here…

  • Eric

    A Rice High link? Virtually everyone in the Pentax Forum knows to ignore that idiot.

    As far as size goes, both the GF1 and Sony NEX are more than small enough for me. Any smaller would be too small to comfortably use. When on vacation I always carry a messenger pack; I simply want a camera small enough to fit in it without a bother. Unfortunately all DSLR’s are too bulbous and heavy (they jab me right in the spine), but I carried an EP1 around NYC for a week without a bother. Honestly, my iPhone 4 is now good enough for a pocket camera, and it’s always in my front pocket, so I’d have no space there even if they could make a pocket size m4/3 camera.

  • I played around with a NEX5 in the Pentagon city sony store this week. I was impressed with the light weight compared to my EP2. I Liked the screen and the looks of it but don’t care for the UI as many have mentioned in reviews.
    The 18-55 lens is smaller than I thought it would be but man all the Alpha lenses next to it were Huuuuuuuuuge.
    I can see having a NEX for the pocket… with the 16mm that is… but images I’ve seen just don’t impress me. I have seen some that look great but not many. My hands are shaky so IBIS seems to help me get more keepers.

  • Neonart

    What happened to the Oly 17 2.8?

  • spanky

    I’m sure some users would like the mirrorless cameras to get even smaller, but I have to question the wisdom in doing that. They’ll never be small enough to be as pocketable as an S90/compact P&S, which means they’ll be hitting diminishing returns by decreasing the size, and likely losing functionality. In my case, if I can’t fit it in my jeans pocket I might as well take my G-series on my walk-abouts. The in-between size doesn’t matter, whether it’s the size of a GF/E-PEN or a NEX, they both fit in my cargo pants pockets, so there’s no difference – I’d rather go with the better functionality of the GF/E-PEN in that case.

    In other words, the smaller size of the NEX body is not an advantage over the GF/E-PEN cameras, and neither would be making these cameras even smaller because they can’t be made small enough to compete with compacts. As others have written, I’d rather maintain the range of available sizes for the mirrorless cameras, and focus on increased IQ for the moment.

  • lorenzo

    @ Spanky
    IQ yes, certainly. But I would also focalise in making lenses smaller. High IQ + small lenses = primes. This is what people all over the world have been asking for two years, now.
    Now we have 4 primes, of which one supposedly very good (20/1.7), one almost on the same lenght category, but not as good, one macro, supposedly not that good (nor small), and one extreme fish-eye (well…). I guess we still have “room” for improvement, here… (= NON fish-eye 10mm; portrait 40mm; 100mm macro; and a couple of suprises…)

  • Jeffrey D

    Well obviously size is a part of it. Nikon & Canon make cameras that are cheaper and take better pictures than anything by micro 4/3rds, and the principle reason people accept that and still purchase m43rds is that they want something smaller.

    But once you’re forced to carry the camera in a bag, I don’t see much of a difference between a small DSLR and an m43rds cameras. My ideal would be, something that could be squeezed into a pocket with a prime lens. Say, something the size of my Olympus Stylus Epic, a film camera with a 35mm F2.8 lens and excellent image quality.

    m43rds is popular now, but will never be good enough, and I expect that before too long the system will be surpassed and forgotten. However, I’d love for Olympus/Panasonic to prove me wrong.

    • Eric

      @Jeffrey

      I used to share your opinion of if you’re going to have to carry a bag, then you might as well carry a DSLR, but I have changed my tune over the years. First off I simply prefer using EVIL’s to DSLR’s. Secondly, there is still a pretty large size gap between and EP2 and something like a Nikon D5000 after you mount a lens on them. On top of that, aside from the Pentax K7 all smallish DSLR’s are made of cheap plastic. If Canikon decides to make a small well built DSLR then I’ll pay attention, but as of now you have to get a 2 lb+ monster from them if you want good build quality. Plus. their high grade lenses are equally as large.

      As far as your comment of M4/3’s will never be good enough. Good enough for what exactly? I had a pic featured on the flickr blog taken with a humble EP1 + 45-200mm zoom. Just yesterday the admin posted a link of professional pics taken with a GF1. If m4/3’s IQ isn’t good enough then you’re doing something wrong.

      • mat

        I agree re: IQ of m4/3

        I can print up to 16×20 from the GF1 using the 20/1.7 (slightly smaller using the 14-45) and you’d be hard pressed to see the difference between those images and those from my Leica M8 + 28 Summicron at that size. Close examination pulls the M8 ahead, and it gets that IQ printed in conditions where the GF1 falls apart sometimes, but in general it compares surprisingly well. I’ve published images side by side from both cameras and I have to go back to check the files to see which camera was which.

  • Agent00soul

    Jeffrey: I often carry my E-P1 in a pocket. I would never carry any camera in a trouser pocket (=lack of style) but the E-P1 fits in a pocket on all of my jackets.
    Eric: You really got a point about consumer DSLRs being plasticky. I compared my E-P1 to the entry DSLRs from Canon and Nikon. They simply felt like toys next to the E-P1. So flimsy and plasticky! It’s simply not the same feeling shooting with a large lightweight piece of plastic, compared to the E-P1’s solid metal feel.

  • omox

    WTF?
    Is size important? Yes, as long as we talk about “over 1 kg” vs “around 500 g”. Do we really need to put camera in the pocket?
    I can tell You my reasons why I switch from film DSLR to digital P&S and after that EVIL (u43). In my case it was the evperience I had not looking through the viewfinder… My pre-u43 camera was Sony R1 – I loved it very much, The quality was there and it was real pleasure to use (my only complaints was quite slow AF) and I’d live with R1 several more years but on the long trip it was too heavy. So I switch to G1, bought many lenses and now I have the same experience of using real live view and have an option to change lenses to meet different situations.
    From year to year we’ll get better IQ from smaller cameras, from new cameras or even new systems… It’s normal. Micro Four Thirds was the first system… so I have invested in it hoping it will last for many years. This is the system that gives me a really good quality. Now is the time to learn how to take photos. u43 equipment as I can see it now is good enough for fun, for art, for family shots, for even making money… It’s time to use it, learn how to be better photographer, expands our artistic visions, ideas and show them to the world.
    It’s not the high ISO performance, small dimensions, pixel by pixel analysis that make great photos… remember it. It is the person who takes a shot that matters.
    In next 5 years u43 camera bodies will have 3x better specs than todays NEX or DLSR’s, so what?… Equipment gets better and better… This is great news… I’d like to see all of us in 5 years as 3x better photographers, no matter what equipment we use 🙂
    EVILs are great tools no matter what brand in front of them. 🙂

  • shep

    The LENSES are key to compactness. Sony fails badly here–indeed their tiny bodies seem TOO small for those big lenses.
    For me, Olympus has it just right. Really small lenses with very innovative collapsible designs.
    Why do I want small, and low weight? Two reasons–for world travel, and for carrying when walking. An Olympus E-P plus 3 lenses (9-18, 14-42, and 40-150) makes a really small package.

  • luckyrooky

    As I already said (http://photorumors.com/2010/06/09/canon-aps-h-1-3x-mirrorless/#comment-8092) what SONY release with NEX platform is amasing and shows the way for m4/3 bodies capability in engineering point of view!
    Competition is really good for us (consumers)…

    Small is what I am looking for but of course weight is indissociable and m4/3 is highly the winner for mega-zoom ! Look at OLYMPUS 14-150mm…
    So my present dreaming shooting tool would be :
    – SONY NEX body engineering
    – OLYMPUS lenses. To me 14-150mm + a prime lens
    – OLYMPUS in body stabilisation
    – PANASONIC GH1 sensor and treatment

    and in he futur my dream is :
    – SONY NEX body engineering (already sufficient)
    – OLYMPUS inbody stabilization
    – OLYMPUS lenses (because no stabilisation required means smaller): a 12-100mm f:2.8-3.5 + pancake 35mm f:1.8 would be the ultimmate rapture
    – PANASONIC 15Mpixels SQUARE sensor with multi format like GH1

    @ omox
    Nice though and analysis ! YES material will be better and better and that’s a really good thing to us because there will be less and less bad apologies to not be good or searching to improve our skills 😉

  • lorenzo

    I must say that for me mirrorless means every-day transportation. For long trips and special places I can carry bigger cams with bigger lenses. When going to work, with book, computer, and other stuff, I can bring with me small cameras only. Small does not mean that it can fit into my pants’ pocket. But in my jacket pocket, yes. And in the other pocket another lens (or two?) would be highly desirable…

  • Fred

    I want a build in camera in my head that uses my eyes as lens.

  • George

    hey sony fanboi
    you are funny
    nex image quality is a joke next to gf1
    compare a ISO100 image …
    oh!!! wait !!!! nex doesnt have ISO100 L O L
    anyway 🙂 compare a ISO 200 ISO 400 raw or jpeg
    and you sak what is the meaning of m4/3 :))))))))
    lemme ask this what is the meaning of NEX with these image qualities?

  • Alright. Deep breaths.

    Now, let’s really compare. Put the 20mm on the GF1 and the 16mm on the NEX-5. With the 1.5 multiplier the 16mm on the NEX-5 (a 24mm equivalent) is too wide for everyday use. And (just like the Leica X1’s 35mm lens) at f2.8 the 16mm is a stop and a half slower — so the NEX-5’s ISO/noise advantage disappears.

    If the sensor size goes up, the lens mount gets bigger and the lens multiplier goes down.

    4/3 was designed to bring serious quality to much more compact cameras. Micro 4/3 has been designed to be a useful PACKAGE.

    Of course they noticed that the 4/3 sensor is smaller than an APS-C. That was part of the deal. It was never suggested that 4/3 it would equal DSLRs.

    Pixel peepers and chart checkers may be missing the point. So what is the point?

    I carry my GF1 with me every day because I can — and it produces consistently outstanding results.

    (I’d trade mt GF1 for an M9, but a NEX-5? No, thanks.)

    Bill

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