The future of Four Thirds…

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Some reader is complaining why I don’t post Four Thirds rumors. The truth is that in three years on 43rumors there was only one Four Thirds product announcement (the Olympus E-5). So there wasn’t really a lot to work on that front. Of course I talk with my sources about the future of Four Thirds and I want to give you my modest view on the future of the Four Thirds system. Like it or not, ALL sources I have are telling me the same things:

1) The future is Micro Four Thirds, not Four Thirds. Olympus itself is promoting their m43 system when getting in touch with big stores and retailers. There is almost no effort to promote and sell the Four Thirds stuff.

2) Olympus new Four Thirds lens release keeps getting postponed without to set a precise time table. An example is the long announced and never released 100mm Zuiko lens. P.S.: The last three years only Samyang (Click here) released some nice lenses for the Four Thirds system.

3) Olympus goal is to merge the Four Thirds system within the Micro Four Thirds system. That means Olympus is trying to bring full support of Four Thirds lenses on Micro Four Thirds cameras. In concrete they are working to have super fast AF when using 43 lenses on m43 cameras. A solution could come by the use of a special adapter with built-in mirror and prism system (with phase detection AF). P.S.: Something similar (with the translucent mirror) has been done by Sony with the LAEA2 adapter.

In Summary, you shouldn’t be worried for your Four Thirds lenses. I know from top sources Olympus is working on making them fully compatible with the m43 system. But the release of a new E-7 camera now depends from how fast Olympus engineers can realize a professional m43 camera. If all works fine, we can may expect a sort of E-M7 professional camera at Photokina. But that’s just a speculation for now…

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  • Atle

    Not suprising, and as far as I can see, a wise choice, I think its better for olumpyus to met on mFT. Its a better platform to build on, and has had pretty decent sucsess

    • Olympus will keep on with four thirds and develop an E-7 because it means they can carrying on or restart production of their old lenses like the 7-14mm etc and their are some types of photography where a bigger and more durable body is preferred.

      Many professional Canon and Nikon owners have purchased micro four thirds cameras for their personal or smaller project use and have been pleasantly surprised so I think many of them would give more serious consideration if Olympus (or Panasonic restarted their development where they left off) developed and marketed their professional E- system with the same and better technologies from their micro four thirds systems…

      • spam

        Olympus has made some comments recently about another FT-body, maybe even another lens. IMO that most likely mean three things:
        1. Olympus has given up on making mFT bodies focus fast enough with FT lenses, at least for the next couple of years.
        2. Olympus understand that mFT isn’t ready to go Pro in the near future so they want to keep the E-3/E-5 customers happy with a new body.
        3. Olympus still haven’t understood that the E-system never appealed to a lot of Pros and are wasting their resources (again).

        Btw, I agree with YouDidntDidYou that given that they want to keep/get top of the line customers they need to put some new effort into FT. I just don’t think that group is big enough to justify the resources.

        • @spam
          you are not suppose to agree with me ;-)

          • spam

            It’s your fault. If you write something sensible then things like this are bound to happen.

      • Raist

        Olympus will only do 4/3rds if it’s profitable for them. Financial history shows it was starting to become an ever increasing money pit for them.

        As for Canikon users that bought 4/3rds there has been a far bigger exodus towards other system from 4/3rds.

  • Kleijn

    I love my e420 and à om is expensieve so i wait till is is broke
    About à 80000 clicks to go

    • DonTom

      @Kleijn I like that positive attitude!

    • Cedric L

      And the good thing is, you can get a 2nd hand 12-60mm for $500. Keep shooting!!

      • I hope I will find a 50-200 SWD for a price like this someday… ;-)

    • Tom

      My E-410 is getting more and more use at the moment thanks to its diminutive size! Handled a very soggy F1 GP of Spa with aplomb and best of all… when I get photos printed I absolutely love its output – it cures any upgrade itch I may have.
      The E-M5 is very tempting though with the upcoming f/1.8 75mm.

    • “80000 clicks to go” :-)

    • ulli

      the e420 shutter is tested for less then 80000 clicks, but prob can hold longer

      • Rumor has that it’s good for 50000 clicks.

        What luck!

        Kleijn, you now only have 30000 clicks to go (assuming you were basing your count on 100000 clicks)! :-)

        • suddenly i had to think about the Nikon service centers who claimed they got Nikon F5 bodies back with the shuttercounter near 1 million clicks

          • kleijn

            i make about 10000 photo’s a year that is 5 year of fun.
            then i buy a Om-E8?

  • Yun

    How about Pana ?
    Four third cameras is not longer relevant , should pass the tasks to M4/3 , that is the future . I agree with admin , it’ll be a great success for a M4/3 cameras to mount all the 4/3 lenses with autofocus one day . By the way , I’ll skip the OM5 & wait for news about the very high end cameras from Pana , this might be it .

  • fedeskier

    I was reading the live chat on Get Olympus on facebook. As usual a fair amount of questions were about the 4/3s support and the Get Olympus mentioned this, and I quote

    “We know as much as you do at this point, Olympus has recently stated that they are studying a successor camera to the E-5 and another lens”

    Sounds good?

  • Ok, good we few know if E-7 will come, if not, we need most to hoard E-5. ;-)

  • twoomy

    Well a new m4343 lens adapter couldn’t come soon enough. 43 has much better glass with corner-to-corner sharpness, but if too much time goes by, everyone will forget and that good old glass will go to waste.

    I’m a bit of a frustrated m43 user because most of the m43 offerings (standard zooms, wide-angle zooms) have been made small at the expense of corner sharpness. We desperately need an m43 12-60 and 9-18 equivalent or the ability to use those classics on m43 with good AF.

    • jazzcrab

      I think the 9-18 for MFT is not worse than that for FT. BTW: I own both lenses.

  • Miroslav

    Now that they have a competitive sensor, PDAF adapter and focus peaking should be no.1 and no.2 on Olympus to-do list. Many of the best 4/3 lenses can be remade for m4/3, but can’t be made much smaller. By making a simple adapter, they’d be adding some 30-40 native lenses to the system, which would make it pretty much complete lens wise. Add focus peaking, and you’ll instantly have easy focusing on hundreds of MF lenses.

    The rest is easy: make E-7 with OVF and E-M7 pro m4/3 which can use 4/3 lenses with PDAF adapter. Two similar bodies, one with OVF, the other with EVF, like Sony did a year ago.

    A win win situation for 4/3 users, m4/3 users and m4/3 manufacturers.

    • Geoff

      I can go with the idea of a PDAF adaptor, though prefer built in PD.. As regard focus peaking, not to sure of it, having looked at it in store I am not convinced of it’s accuracy, preferring the selection and accuracy of my eye.

      As regards your request for a simple adaptor (surely we have this with MMF1, 2 or 3), which function very well with older lenses but not the newer SWF’s (where the need for PD lies). Back to the focus peaking question I use a number of legacy Zuiko lenses with an E-P2 with little or no problem with focusing (difficulty with long glass due to camera not resting against my face).

      The rest I’ll agree with, an E-7 & E-M7 essentially the same camera covering both systems, catering to both groups of users, though I cannot see that happening, the same camera in two bodies!!!!! Bring both or either on I say.

      Still using an E-1, E-620 and E-P2; supported with the wonderful C5060WZ.

      • Miroslav

        “I can go with the idea of a PDAF adaptor, though prefer built in PD”

        The problem is that PDAF adapter can be made by Olympus only, while for PDAF on sensor ( built in ) Olympus has to cooperate with the sensor manufacturer, which complicates the process and eliminates all current m4/3 cameras from using 4/3 lenses properly.

        “As regards your request for a simple adaptor…”

        I regard Sony PDAF adapter “simple”. Olympus has already used in some way almost all the technology in it. If that semi transparent mirror is patented by Sony, I suppose they’d be more than willing to sell it to others, just like they sell their sensors.

        • Riley

          not really true, there are numerous ways to phase autofocus, even at the sensor, it just isnt ‘that’ hard.

    • HifiNut

      @twoomy

      Agreed. Looking forward to Olympus to come out with the 12-60mm and 7-14 HG Lens for m43. Olympus is shooting themselves in the foot if they killing off 43 system and dont convert the excellent 43 lens to m43 format. I will not buy any 43 lens until a PDAF adapter has excellent focus speed or they have in camera hybrid focus system (CDAF and PDAF).

      • I don’t think they will made an in camera hybrid focus system, because this will cost money (and I don’t think that would be a cheap solution) but not everybody will need it. How many % of the mFT customers have Pro or Top Pro Zuiko lenses at home? Why should customers spend money for something that they don’t need? People that have only FT 14-42 or 40-150 or 9-18 (and that are really good lenses if you compare to kit lenses from other companies) are also happy with the mFT versions of this lenses. So I think there will be a solution with an adapter.

        • Esa Tuunanen

          Hybrid AF would benefit also m4/3 by improving moving target focus tracking because it would eliminate lots of trial and error of plain CDAF.
          I’m sure you want m4/3 to be able to fully challenge DSLR in every aspect… Or don’t you want that?

          http://www.sansmirror.com/newsviews/galapagos-focus-testing.html

          • Cool and eye-opening article. Thanks. Sounds like Oly may want PDAF in the body (not just the adapter) since it could help generally with AF issues (not just FT PDAF glass). Perhaps that explains the delay of “one beautiful system” though, at this point, the stopgap (mirrored lens adapter) would be welcome even if Oly provides a more elegant and general purpose in-body solution down the road.

            • ha

              Or build focus unit in adapter. Aperture handled in lens, MSC focus unit in adapter, fully CDAF compatible. Downside: Could be quite expensive, but compared to SHG/HG lens prices this should be ok.

          • Brod1er

            Esa,
            That is a good point and why I was disappointed that Oly recently said they would not be pursuing on sensor PDAF. There is a definite need for better focus tracking (it seems the EM5 is still poor in this regard) and the Nikon 1 proves on sensor PDAF can solve this.

            • “Oly recently said they would not be pursuing on sensor PDAF”

              I missed that wrinkle. I only read Oly was looking at (presumably all) options. Could you provide a link to this tidbit?

              Thx.

            • slomo

              It is Ichiro Kitao, director of Panasonic’s digital stills camera who said that, not Olympus.

              ‘We are investigating phase-detection systems all the time… but while phase-detection can be faster there are too many errors and the AF sensor alignment is not always accurate, even when the sensors are built into the imaging sensor itself.’

              http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/news/panasonic_plans_highend_csc_to_fend_off_canon_threat_news_311439.html

              What he said is debatable,though, I don’t see a lot of complains about PDAF accuracy from Nikon’s 1 System users.

              As far as I know, in a recent interview Olympus is still not sure whether the PDAF in m43 will be through adapter like Sony or sensor based like Nikon.

              • Ahhh, thank you @slomo.

        • twoomy

          @Matthias: I’m NOT happy with the quality of the M43 9-18mm or the plethora of crappy 14-xx kit zooms. They’re convenient and they’re small, but image quality (especially in the corners) is not on par. If they only made the image circle a wee bit bigger!

          I honestly don’t care what solution comes about… an adapter to use the high-end 43 glass, a dual-focus system, or new m43 versions of these great lenses that favor image quality over petiteness of the current offerings, etc.

          I was having a discussion with a colleague of mine and we came to the question: if m43’s zoom offerings are mostly mediocre and don’t have corner-to-corner knock-your-socks-off sharpness, how can this system be relevant to serious photographers? If you try too hard to be small at the expensive of image quality, why should choose M43 over a one-piece like the Canon G1X. (Before anybody shoots me, I know M43 has some marvelous primes, but even the expensive high-end 12mm f/2 has problems in the corners. If they only made the image circle of the glass slightly larger…)

          • Brod1er

            Oddly, Mft does work by making the image circle larger and then cropping it to correct distortion. Some people don’t like this but it can work well – the Panny mft 7-14 is the match of the Oly 4/3 7-14 whilst being MUCH smaller (see DPreview test). I suspect the new Panny 12-35 and 35-100 will follow this pattern.

            • twoomy

              Agreed! The Pany 7-14 is one of the few stellar zooms and is one of my favorite lenses. Wish they could make some sort of updated 12-60. The new Oly 12-50 suffers poor corners as well as being a darker lens. I’ve been holding my breath for the new 12-35 and 35-100 Pany lenses. Hope they come out this century.

            • Esa Tuunanen

              > Oddly, Mft does work by making the image circle larger and and then cropping it to correct distortion.
              If anything m4/3 lenses have smaller size of good quality image circle and that software cheating in distortion correction is the final quarantee for sharpness dropping towards image borders.
              You just can’t stretch image and reinterpolate it without loss in sharpness and amount of sharpness loss depends on amount of image stretching which increases towards corners.

              7-14mm appears to have otherwise high enough corner performance that those stay still decent with distortion correction but if corner sharpness is anything else than very high to start with then software distortion cheating drops corners to mediocre.

      • ihateidiots

        Sorry to tell you, Olympus seems to have surrendered some of the premium lenses to Panasonic. There will be no Olympus MFT 7-14 when Panasonic already makes one.

        • @ihateidiots
          I wouldn’t be too sure, Olympus might produce one with better features, same goes for the 8mm…

          • ihateidiots

            And what would you base our optimism on? I see no logic or basis for any of it, judging from a company that has been bumbling nearly aimlessly about for the last few years.

            • @ihateidiots
              the 7-14mm and 8mm mft are not weather sealed or particularly robust nor have they a nano-coating….

              With the launch of the 0-MD system I would say that it is now far more likely that will add their own improved versions, the 7-14mm might have a zoom rocker and/or function button and maybe a threading system built into the hoods………

              So there is a potential market there

  • Riley

    Olympus future may be with mFT, but in transiting to this format they have alienated owners of Exxx, Exx, cameras, instructing they should buy micro bodies, but not ‘adequately’ solving the issue of Autofocus. Yet Olympus have continually suggested that they haven’t dropped four thirds leaving users of above cameras in hope and in limbo, it has become a matter of ‘faith’.

    Olympus need to hear that this is not acceptable.

    • Mauro

      They (Olympus) know this all too well. The rumors had that they tried, and tried, but then at the end they gave up on the “One beautiful system” (AFAIR that’s how they hinted at it). So they tried, and invested resources in it, and they FAILED. The next question is would that be enough?

      • Riley

        This is BS, all they are required to do is phase CDAF, since others have been able to do this they can either license that technology or think of some unique resource like I did. I think I can describe 6 different methods of phasing CDAF, I cant see why they cant do this.

    • Raist

      This is pretty much what I said over a year ago but I was called a troll for it :-) Of course I said other things like backing it up with some finances and things like that.

      • Riley

        you are called a troll because that is exactly what you are. Now take your cup of STFU and move on troll.

        • Raist

          “you are called a troll because I say so” Hmm okay. Pretty convincing case. You sidestepped the question- I said the same thing over a year ago and now seems like you have had a turn around of opinion even, while trying at many steps to discredit me. How hypocritical of you to do so.

          • Riley

            it really doesnt matter what you say about what you think you said, there wouldnt be half a dozen genuine users of Olympus gear in 1022 that would be remotely interested in listening to you.

            • Raist

              It’s not what I think I said. It’s what I said. I guess you are wrong on the amount, but that’s ok. Not the only thing you are wrong in :-)

              But the point is, I said that, and partly because of that, those who don’t like to hear what I write made their judgement. You are writing exactly some of the same I wrote over a year ago. That’s the point.

              • Riley

                ‘those who don’t like to hear what I write made their judgement’

                actually I think it far worse than that, there are people there Im sure hate your guts for your habit of chainposting the same crap on a daily basis. The majority no longer trust you (at the very least) they see that you have configured with the existing troll base, ‘walks like a duck’ you are henceforth like with like. All that is your own choice, and your own doing. Whatever you write is an irrelevance be it true or not. So what is there for you to bitch about to me? why attach to my post? simply a matter for your own attitude and beholding to the usual causal relationship.

  • Miroslav@ Admin say Olympus read us. ;-)

    • Miroslav

      I hope, but somehow doubt it – we’ve been repeating this 4/3 lens compatibility request for couple of years now :( …

  • Fan

    I think they should release one final E-7 body as a full Four Thirds machine with updated sensor and updated Live View and video recording, but not many other changes in hardware. Mainly just a new sensor and new processor and new software.

    Then they can take 2 more years to make Micro 43 bodies fully compatible with the big lenses.

    • Ross

      It might be a good possiblity. I wouldn’t mind if they brought out an E30 replacement with the sensor used in the E-M5 with either the same touch OLED screen, but fully articulaing or the same 920K display of the E5. I guess it might just remain a wish though.

    • Miroslav

      “they can take 2 more years to make Micro 43 bodies fully compatible with the big lenses”

      It’s already been done by Sony and Nikon. Maybe it would take two years if they hired me ( from completely unrelated industry ) to do it :). I guess it’s just a question of will of their management to redirect R&D department to work on PDAF solution. But if you people can wait two more years, I’ll take the job ;).

      • Sony’s solution is, at best, a kludge. Nikon’s is (I think!) covered by patent, and likely not available for license.

    • 43photo

      Olympus cannot buy me more time with the release of another 1700 euro E-7. E-5 is less than 2 years old and a huge disappointment from the beginning. Improvements above E-3 were to minor to justify the 1700 euro’s/dollars) price tag.

      I have over 10000 euro’s of zuiko’s on the shelf with louzy E-5 AF and compromised DR and mediocre IQ on iso 200 with less than perfect light. Iso 1600 is worth nothing in low light. C-Af on E-5 cannot be taken seriously on fast moving subjects.

      Promises are worth nothing. Olympus needs to release the solution that keeps their best glass working with the best bodies/tech. If they do so a bunch of outstanding zuiko glass comes available for people who want the most of resolution from their E-M5. And people who already own the glass can use their lenses with the best tech available.

      What distracts me from Olympus: you buy their best camera now, you know it will be obsolete next year when a lower grade camera has improved so much it outperforms your 1700 euro camera. This is crazy.

      If Olympus cannot make that state of the art pro camera this year I will migrate as well to a brand which delivers and is more reliable. (at a huge expense)

      • Ru Elpser

        I m sorry for you i was on the same boat but jumped ship right on time before all my lenses became worthless abandonware

  • Ross

    Olympus hasn’t given up on 4/3’s as they have brought another firmware update for the ZD70-300 lens a few days ago (for improvement to MF). It was a nice surprise to see another update for that good value lens.

    • The only “product” in the last 3 years other than E5. Great.

    • Riley

      kind of interesting that they did that, but it isnt what we need.

  • Ru Elpser

    There was an e5 in the local classifieds for 600 eur last week, i guess that says it all

    • Good price the, anyway. :-P

  • st3v4nt

    That’s way I hate the mixed signal given by Olympus marketing the other day on biofos….
    If they want to kill 4/3, just kill it without much complication…if they want to prolonged then provide us with clear planning…..I hate it when they say OM-D is not professional camera and we will have the intended product just around the corner or there will be E-7 for 4/3….
    I still suspect it’s not that hard to create hybrid AF that makes 4/3 lens as fast as m4/3 lens in m4/3 body if they want to use other patented technology, they just insist that we should bear the pain with them…give false signal that E-7 is just around the corner and few months later, wham an adapter or new body with that capability come true…..

  • IMO Olympus really missed out by not coming up with a focusing adapter early in the m4/3 series. That would have done a lot to keep dedicated 4/3 users loyal and likely increased the sales of m4/3 at the same time. The transparent mirror solution seems so obvious it’s hard to believe Sony was the only company to consider it. Olympus even used a beam-splitter prism in the optical finder of the E-10/E-20.

    I am also surprised and disappointed that neither Olympus nor Panasonic has come up with a high-grade standard zoom — something equivalent to the Canon 24-105 or Nikon 24-120 for FF. Which is to say a 12-60 or thereabouts.

    For now I’m using a 14-54 MkII as my primary lens, but Sony has a new standard zoom on their roadmap and NEX is looking better and better.

    • twoomy

      @Gato +100. m43 desperately needs a high-quality 24-120mm (FF-equivalent) zoom. I simply can’t believe that we’re going on iteration after iteration of mediocre 14-xx zooms. (The new 12-50mm is a step in the right direction, but its corner sharpness is not impressive.)

      If only they would release a m43 version of the legendary 12-60 or solve the AF problem with old 43 glass.

  • Good news about the 70-300 update. I own the lens, had hopes but was not able to use it successfully. Too big or awkward on my 620 bodies maybe update will change the nature of the beast.

  • Speaking of future, and a bit off topic.
    Admin, any news, hints or rumors of the Panasonic 2012 lens road map beyond the two mocked up bright zooms?

    • admin

      I only know of more new X lenses (actually a prime lens) ocming after the two zooms. I am surprised why Panasonic is waiting that long to release the lenses.

      • Grunge

        I think they may launch a new Pro/GH3 camera for the Olympics and are holding back the new lenses till then.

      • Miroslav

        They’re making the aperture bigger than F2.8, I hope :).

        • Fan

          No, it takes them so long to make it 2.8.

        • jazzcrab

          I definitely hope not! Such a lens would be by far too heavy and clumsy.

          • Miroslav

            I don’t think they will make those lenses any larger than the mockups.

      • Admittedly, year 2011 did not go according to plan. For everyone, that is. They probably are still a bit delayed ;)

        A X prime, ļoti interesting! Any rumors about the FoV or we start a poll?

      • Hopefully a PanaLeica 17.5/1.4.
        Please, Panasonic…!

        • jazzcrab

          I hope for a longer fast prime, something netween 100 and 200mm.

          • @Miklos : Admin mentioned that it would be a X lenses. Therefore, not a PanaLeica. But such PanaLeica would be explicitely cool lens, there is no doupts.

            @jazzcrab: +1. including the terrific announcement by Olympus, there is a nice coverage between 12mm and 75mm already. A 133mm would fill a bigger void.

  • OOO

    I like my first digital Oly E-10. This camera its very silent, bicause doznt have moving mirror. Its perfect for photography in teatre end spy street photography. Its good way for E-7. I bay one!:-)

  • Bob

    For now, I have an E-5 with a substantial number of Zuiko lenses, so I’m a happy camper. I do like what I have read so far about the OM-D cameras, but I need to see a pro model that will use my current glass, plus more weather-sealed mFT lenses before I make the investment. Otherwise, when the E-5’s days are done, I’ll be shopping around for a new system.

  • Jedd

    The company has to make profit.
    How many _new_ 4/3 lenses they could sell is the question, which stands in their way.

    • Fan

      Yes. They should not release any new 4/3 lenses. Just a new body so they can sell their stock of existing lenses.

  • Gary

    Something similar (with the translucent mirror) has been done by Sony with the LAEA2 adapter.

    You guys were probably not born when Leitz was selling the Visoflex, or even when they stopped sellin it. ;-)

    http://www.summilux.net/visoflex/

    • Now that’s a camera! I hope Oly comes out with that accessory for the E-M5. (PDAF glass, here I come!)
      :-)

  • I believe Olympus when they say they intend to enable the use of 4/3 lenses on m4/3 bodies. A mirrored adapter is perhaps less elegant than on-chip PDAF, but it’s much more feasible. I’m fully expecting one to appear before the end of the year. The weather sealing of the E-M5 only emphasizes the need for compatible glass. All those grips may be a hint too.

  • If Oly could rescue all the 4/3 glass by developing a phaze-detect auto focus converter (maybe using translucent mirror technology, it would go a long way in helping them restore their somewhat tarnished image—regardless of any sales.

    • BLI

      They probably can, but I don’t think a converter is needed. Suppose they want the lens to focus in 0.1 s. CDAF works by juggling the lens motor back and forth a number of times and measuring the contrast changes — just to find out in which direction to go to get closer to focus. With PDAF the direction is measured directly, so in that case, no juggling back and forth is necessary.

      43 lenses are built for PDAF, and their motors are not fast — they are basically built to continuously go towards (a directly measured) focus. Thus, when mounted on a mirrorless camera based on CDAF, the slowness of the motors in the back and forth juggling slows down the focusing.

      m43 lenses are built for CDAF with very fast motors that enables this back/forth juggling (say, 20-100 times pr s??) and can thus find which direction to go for focusing much faster than 43 lenses. Obviously, the stroke of this back/forth movement is tiny — they cannot move the lens elements much in, say, 0.05-0.01 s.

      Instead of moving the lens back/forth rapidly, why not just move the sensor back/forth rapidly? This should give the same effect wrt contrast detection. And it must be cheaper (wrt energy consumption) to move a light sensor back/forth than moving lens elements. They probably might need to add the possibility of a 6th degree of freedom in the movement of the sensor (back/forth).

      • Ditto. Oly (unfortunately) left out the 1 degree of movement which (in theory) could solve the “one beautiful system” problem. Doh!-)

        OTOH, I am sure they already know this and are considering all options. So I suspect the reality is a bit more complex in the lab than it is here in the peanut gallery! :-)

        • BLI

          :-). In theory, it is simple. In theory, they could even do it with a system that includes pitch (E-5M, PEN E-P3, etc.) by checking the contrast difference at the top of the sensor wrt the bottom of the sensor, etc. The two possible problems are:
          * is the stroke sufficiently large to detect the contrast difference?
          * how fiddly is it to mount the sensor in this 6 degree-of-freedom system?

          • There could also be CPU horsepower processing issues. The Oly E-M5 is already doing more than your average camera (AFAICT), so they may need another CPU core (or higher clock) to handle additional lens focus+control chores.

          • Riley

            I discussed that here
            http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=40362450
            the difference in contrast is dependent on the nature of the lens, it maximum aperture and focal length. It is hard to say what stroke lenght would be required without experiment, but a few mm ought to be plenty. However there are 2 circumstances where it is less effective (not the same as not effective)
            1) worst case scenario is the 8mm fisheye, where the max aperture at wide FL sees the lens ‘in focus’ no matter where the lens is positioned. We can assist this by disconnecting the lens electrical connection and gain an additional stop, therefore the DoF is shallower.
            2) where the AF sensor is overcome by strong light, there is no present fix for this other than to a mechanical fix where an ND filter can be moved over the af elements, or the ISO be so reduced to reduce gain to a negative value.

      • Next generastion IBIS is not five axis but six axis. :-P

        • Crossing fingers! :-)

          In the meantime, I’ll just shoot stationary objects with my E-M5 and FT glass. ;-P

      • Riley

        wobble!

        it is pretty simple, after all it was my idea :)
        I called it wobble, and it could use the same actuators that IS uses

      • Contax made a film camera with AF in the body – film plane moved. Seemed to work, but they did not sell well enough.

  • Trevor

    I remain skeptical simply due to how long it has taken so far without any noticeable movement toward an adapter for 43 glass. If you’re going to build a new system, you should really already have that worked out, if not ready to release day 1. There will come a point when enough m43 glass exists that it just doesn’t make sense to worry about legacy lenses.

    Hell, if every user of 43 glass is hooked on m43, they could just release a whole bunch of series II 43 lenses that focus with CDAF. Yeah, it would piss some people off, but in 2 years when every e5 user also has an e-m5, who will bail out because of a 12-60 series II?

    No, I suspect Only is just stringing everyone along until it’s too late for most.

    • @ admin, please hire Trevor to interview Olympus manager Toshiyuki Terada! :-) Let’s get the inside scoop.

    • Robbie

      Sounds reasonable to me actually

    • @Trevor
      I’m sure Olympus is focusing on profit and where it can gain quickest market share at the moment while keep long objectives in mind…

  • Krogen

    I am still dreaming about an OM adapter with an integrated 0,5 converter so I can use my old legacy lenses without the crop effect. It is not much fun to use a 24 (2,8) mm wide angle lens as 48 mm normal lens.

    • Riley

      0.5 can be done for FL, but you wont get your 2 stops of aperture

  • @Trevor I am not sure what you mean by stringing. Do you mean that they are delaying the adaptation till people have no use for it anymore?

    Beyond the similarities m4/3 and 4/3 are different systems. When the former started it was a consumer system. Now they are at a watershed and decide how pro they must go.

    So this might be the moment to provide an adapter. As a user said to provide a hybrid body might be expensive, and not many users there.

    Other obstacle:4/3 CDAF enabled lenses work passably. It is the behemoths that have problems. But what would be their use on small bodies?
    The Sony adapter is an ugly thing. How many people do you think are buying it?

    For now the competitive advantage of m4/3 is Small. What sense does it have to mix and match big lenses and small bodies. I bet that demand is after better native m4/3 glass.

    So cost considerations might have delayed the adapter until it is too late. The marginal demand for 4/3 glass can be more easily satisfied with an E-7. And after that?

    In digital times no glass can be considered eternal, except old MF lenses.

    Canon and Nikon might have exactly the same problem in the coming years. Oly has it because it is the first to go mirrorless, with a previous system for the mirror.

    Sony did provide a mirrored adapter but it didn’t really solve anything: Users are clamouring for new native lenses.

    Going completely digital has so many advantages (see the OM-D) that to sacrifice a line of lenses might be the lesser evil. Do you have any idea of how different are the lenses needed for m4/3. Even between the first gen and the last gen lenses CDAF has increased dramatically.

    PDAF lenses might be beyond salvation, not only for the evolution of technology, but for cost consideration too. You need a big kludgy adapter and a big kludgy body.

    There is really no elegant solution. Not only for Oly but for no one.

    Besides those who hold tight to 4/3 lenses would pretend an OVF too. More money more expense.
    Native users of m4/3 instead are not really interested either in an OVF or in the huge SHG glass.

    That shrinks even more the need for a true hybrid body

    • First of all, the E-M5 is a versatile camera, especially with the hand-grip. So small body is not necessarily a constraint to glass on MFT anymore (or as of April 2012).

      Second, access to FT glass complements native glass nicely for the pro and serious enthusiast markets, and those lenses don’t get any smaller just by being rebadged for MFT. The sensor is the same size after all. So taking advantage of existing FT glass is practical and economical for existing owners (and Oly, to avoid make-work MFT revisions).

      I think the interesting question now is about the E-7. How many users want/need a mirror? Presumably there will be an E-M7 as well, so why build two cameras — just to add a mirror, or add other wrinkles too? I personally am interested in the E-M7 (or whatever Oly provides to finally bridge the MFT/FT “one beautiful system” gap), so I hope Oly doesn’t try to “differentiate” too much the E-M7 from any E-7.

      I hope we shall see soon… but not too soon, as I’m buying an E-M5 and don’t want it to be obsolete immediately! :-) I guess it’ll also be interesting to see how rapid the E-M* product cycle is too (1-year, 1.5 years, 2+ years?).

      • Riley

        If they wanted to provide a four thirds native mount camera I would suggest modifying an OMD. It would be cheaper to execute, and all the R&D they would put into the next Ex could go to phased CDAF which is the the problem anyway. If they retained the SLR phased AF as a stopgap they can do this in the space gained in an extended barrel in front of the sensor needed for the 4/3rds mount.

        You dont need a full size 17.3×13 moving mirror as it only has to reflect to the eleven AF points, and moving this half mirror part requires less space, indeed it needent articulate in the same way an SLR mirror does as it doesnt have to block off the OVF, it could simply slide in and out via an actuator. The mirror would actually be clear glass and only semi silvered where the AF points are. The only part that has reduced light to the sensor is where the location of the AF points. In this way you get 100% full time liveview (as it has an EVF), and you have the benefit of phasing to a separate AF sensor.

        they can do this with the technology in their hands right now, it is simply a rejigging of parts they have for a pseudo SLT design without the optical and light energy compromises Sony have.

  • Riley

    “The Sony adapter is an ugly thing. How many people do you think are buying it?”
    well Im not
    true I dont have any Sony cameras but hey ..

  • @ Riley

    I’ll make just a plain example: Let’s assume that the diehards’ last trench are the 12-60 and the 50-200.

    Let’s assume that an Oly hybrid, complicated camera can be issued for 2000 $.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to sell those two lenses and buy an OM-D and a couple of fast m4/3 lenses?

    I bet that 99% of m4/3 users real and virtual would be in favour of the 2nd solution.

    That explains why a hybrid camera has been put on the backburner, perhaps for ever. Oly will make more money in selling new m4/3 lenses.

    • Riley

      it doesnt require a new camera, a hybrid camera, or anything like that.

      They can phase CDAF right off the sensor. So it shouldn’t be unnecessary to sell any 4/3rds lens, phasing will cure it 100% and all these speed issues will simply go away, not only that but mFT will operate better and faster too. Double upside ?

      So what is it about phasing CDAF? Fuji have it, Nikon use their patent (so it seems), and there are other solutions.

      Really they MUST have, or SHOULD have thought this out before moving EXxx and Ex users off the island into mFT.

      They have a responsibility on their honour to accomplish this.

    • slomo

      >I’ll make just a plain example: Let’s assume that the diehards’ last trench are the 12-60 and the 50-200. Let’s assume that an Oly hybrid, complicated camera can be issued for 2000 $. Wouldn’t it be easier to sell those two lenses and buy an OM-D and a couple of fast m4/3 lenses?

      Well no, not really, because you have no two lenses covering 24-400 mm equivalent with max aperture of f/4 in m4/3.

      If aperture is not an issue, perhaps a super zoom like SP-620 UZ is a much better solution than an m43.

    • Boooo!

      “Wouldn’t it be easier to sell those two lenses and buy an OM-D and a couple of fast m4/3 lenses?”

      Like, which ones?

      Selling the 12-60 and 50-200 will net you around 1000€.

      What can you buy for that amount of money? Something like a 12 and a 45 and basically nothing else. When the Panasonic zooms come out, they will probably each cost 1000€, and are extremely unlikely to beat the IQ of the Oly HG glass.

      So, for the 12-60 and the 50-200, you get two fast primes or one vaporware fast zoom covering a fraction of what you had before.

      You still have no body to use those primes on, you don’t have weather sealing and build quality of the HG glass, you don’t have telephoto, and you don’t have the optical quality either.

      What about people with SHG glass? The teleconverters? The extension tube? The Bigma or the Bugma? The flashes? The battery grips? The batteries themselves? The CPLs, NDs and ND grads?

      You’ve never seen anything apart from entry-level Olympus DSLRs and kit lenses, have you? I can easily tell. Let me guess, you had an E-4xx with the two kit zooms, and now you have an E-PL1 with the 14-42.

      • achiinto3

        +1

  • A PDAF adapter will work, be a bridge for 43 lens owners. I doubt any other will buy as many of the best lenses are quite big, The adapter will be big too, like the Sony.
    Oly need to/should do something for their 43 customers. There is not much profit in doing that as the only income will be adapter to current ownership.
    Building a hybrid camera? Why would m43 customers want to pay extra? There are plenty m43 lenses and more coming. OK some 43 lenses can be of interest to some, but not to a large group.
    A solution from Oly will be more “godwill” than profitable.

  • That’s exactly my point. Honour matters have been met with the E-5. I bet that there is no new money to be made out of it.

    As for PDAF on sensor it is largely an illusion BECAUSE Oly doesn’t make its own sensors, it probably doesn’t have enough volume to command one.

    So the only way out is a kludge adapter, and 4/3 people will be angry as before, perhaps because they don’t get an OVF.

    So more than anything it’s a cultural gap that has been created by a disruptive technology. But the younger part of the market takes it very well, so it’s becoming an age bracket thing – I am old, so not being selfish :)

    But again can’t the old geezers in a last gasp of energy sell their 12-60 and 50-200 and buy something more modern?

    Or do they want to do a Leica, and pay more and more not to change their habits?
    Do they have money enough to keep 4/3 alive till reciprocal exctintion? :)

  • Riley

    “But again can’t the old geezers in a last gasp of energy sell their 12-60 and 50-200 and buy something more modern?”

    there are people who have every SHG lens and some HG as well. Considering mFT offers no lenses of this calibre, if they sold their kit why would they stay with mFT ?

    • slomo

      > there are people who have every SHG lens and some HG as well. Considering mFT offers no lenses of this calibre, if they sold their kit why would they stay with mFT ?

      No, they will go with CaNikon, simply because they have to buy both lens and body, and a DSLR body have the most similar features, e.g OVF and the DSLR lenses have the most similar feature and performance levels to FT lenses.

      Here is where an adapter or a PDAF solution ‘could’ string those with FT to mFT. By offering them a more acceptable AF performance, they would have more reason to stay with mFT because they don’t have to spend as much as they would if they have to buy CaNikon DSLR systems and they don’t have to have the hassle and loss of selling the FT lenses.

      I said ‘could’ because there is no guarantee that the performance is acceptable for all.

      • slomo

        > Here is where an adapter or a PDAF solution ‘could’ string those with FT to mFT. By offering them a more acceptable AF performance, they would have more reason to stay with mFT because they don’t have to spend as much as they would if they have to buy CaNikon DSLR systems and they don’t have to have the hassle and loss of selling the FT lenses.

        Additionally, it is for this same reason that Sony and Nikon have a PDAF solution for their existing PDAF lens owners, it is so that they are more likely to upgrade or add a Nex body (for Alpha lens owner) or a V1/J1 body (for F mount lens owner) rather than an m43 both body and lens.

        Simple reason: it is because it will not be as expensive for them, because they do not have to spend as much money to try or test the waters with small mirrorless system. Later on, if they find they like the mirrorless, they can buy lens designed for it, if they need it to be more portable. Again, if they already own a body, they more likely buy a ‘1’ or E-mount lens than an m43 body + lens, because again: it is less expensive to do so.

        To summarize: it is their strategy to prevent existing Alpha and F mount lens owners to migrate to m43.

        I expect Canon to have the same approach for the mirrorless system, not sure how they do it though, sensor based PDAF or adapter.

  • Riley

    “As for PDAF on sensor it is largely an illusion BECAUSE Oly doesn’t make its own sensors, it probably doesn’t have enough volume to command one.’

    they dont need to, the only alterations are to the circuitry, which Panasonic can do to existing designs anyway. Indeed Olympus already put this to effect firstly video on the 12Mp sensor, now 120/240 fps for the OMD EVF.

    “So the only way out is a kludge adapter, and 4/3 people will be angry as before, perhaps because they don’t get an OVF.”

    I dont buy that at all
    firstly: they could bargain with fuji over their phased CADF, which is the sensor topping and wiring not the sensor itself, hence could be effected on a 16Mp sensor.

    secondly: there are other ways to effect PDAF without the mirrorbox (as we know it), as I described above with the hybrid mirror SLT. Whats wrong with using a part mirror in a 4/3rds body?

    thirdly: Also as I described in DPR with sensor wobble.

    fourthly: And there are other ways such as the pendant optic, which dangles a corrective lens in front of the sensor to accomplish phasing, I think (but cant recall) one of the Leicas metered like this.

    As predicted, the EVF is the least of our problems, take a look here.
    http://travelphotographyreview.com/olympus-om-d-e-m5-hands-impressions
    its AF thats the issue, I think 95% of people can adjust to a good EVF, me included

  • Again Riley I have respect for you because I am sure that you use your 4/3 lenses for your job, but I have none for those who had money enough to COLLECT beautiful glass for a hobby,male jewellry as it has been called.

    Pro don’t use many lenses, many use just a couple for their chosen task.
    In you case fast AF is not even a requirement for ultrawide. I know I have kept my old 9-18 amd prefer more resolution to faster AF.

    And don’t do the innocent on me. I am sure that Oly has factored in how many would get out to different systems, and how new many users it would get by changing systems.

    Success has been so huge that it can now confidently address the demand for a pro system. The 12/2 and the coming 75mm tells me that they are doing it. And then Panny 12-35 and 35-100 is a good hint too.

    Adapting is really there for the honour as you said, there is no real money at the end of the day.

  • Ab

    Al,
    You keep looking at this wrong. They will not bridge the systems for the existing 43rds users, although they are suggesting this is there motivation. No. They are bridging it to bring m43rds users UP the food chain.

    Why do you think Nikon has very few viable DX lenses in its stable. They WANT you to get the FX lenses, they then want you to buy an FX body. If you dont buy the FX lenses, well, you are most likely using a 55-200 :)

    Now look at the lens lineups for m43rds, they compliment 43rds not contrast it. The few lenses released that overlap come from Panasonic, not from Olympus. And as well all know, Panasonic moves very slowly.

    So with a growing userbase of photographers, many who would probably enjoy using a fast zoom or two, Olympus will work to draw up and increase the buy-in from those new users.

    Do you want to hear my bet as to why this is taking so long? They are developing new PDAF software and hardware to address the shortfalls of the PDAF in their current 43rds bodies.

    This takes time, they know they have it. Heavily invested 43rds users have bought into the E-5, even a number of E-30 users. These are your die hards, they will use these bodies for at least another year or two. But I like many others expact some form of a solution before this year is out.

    Just as I suspected a new sensor design and IBIS combined… as there was no need to just use another Panasonic duplicate and have to rework everything. Even if it is still built by Panasonic, is is revolutionary, it is paid for and it is waiting to be sold to E-X and E-XX customers.

    Now I feel they will change the E-X body style to validate the new offerings.

    Ab

    • Raist

      The one thing to remember is this: Was Olympus making a profit on the 4/3rds system. The answer is no, they were losing more and more money. Having a viable 4/3rds system is a matter of “can we make a profit in that system”- if the answer is no- and it was no for several consecutive years- then we are not seeing it come back.

      • Boooo!

        Nobody except the Japanese knows how profitable 4/3 really was.

        For all we know, the losses in the camera division could have happened because Olympus had 5 or 6 distinct lines of compact cameras, plus ultrazooms. At one point, I counted over 30 different models of shitty compacts that I could buy in my country.

  • I am kind of disappointed. I hope I don’t have to give all my Zuiko 4/3 lenses to museum. But if I need to, then shouldn’t I invest on some more stable platform (full farme mainly) instead on m4/3?

    • slomo

      Yes, I think even FF and certainly APS Nikon/Canon/Sony would have more support.

      Curiously, how would the m43 lens owners feel if 5 to 10 years down the road Olympus and Panasonic develop another mount called Nano Four Thirds? Going by Olympus & Panasonic track record, do they feel comfortable holding on to expensive m43 glasses?

  • DR

    It’s DEAD, Jim.

    Get over it. 4/3 is DEAD, DEAD, DEAD.

    Just like the demise of OM, Olympus started putting out other products and ignored their previous line regardless of the quality or the success of it.

    4/3 had quality, but really, it was not successful. If it was it would be still screaming off the shelves. You can still buy them today, but I bet they are not current production…

  • I hope that Olympus comes out with a range of E system cameras to counter the higher end Nikon and Canon cameras. That is what is needed. I have an E-5 and love it. The only thing I wish for is for it to have better high ISO performance, a full frame sensor, and specs similar to the new Nikon D800. I don’t ask for much. :-) Seriously….that is what is needed. The m4/3 system can fill in for the hobbyist and casual shooter. The E System 4/3 cameras need to be top notch professional gear. The lenses are already amazing, the camera bodies ought to be amazing as well.

  • It shouldn’t come as a surprise if people expected smaller cameras from a smaller sensor. Instead Oly got caught into the hubris of ever increasing lenses and bodies, until it could not compete with C&N, which had bigger sensors.

    So what is there to complain? With m4/3 the balance is re-established.

    Even more, because digital mirrorless is starting to show advantages of its own, possibly overcoming the strictures od mirror systems.

    So 4/3, R.I.P.

  • achiinto3

    What to do with my 10+ 43 lens. Hard to part them as they deliver quality mug better than any m43 lens. Sad and confused.

  • Riley
    • achiinto4

      MMF-3 the splash proof version of the MMf-1/2 which allow CDAF of 43 lens on m43 body. However, 43 lens are optimized for PDAF, so that this adapter is a very bad solution. It might work well for SG lens, but not for HG or SHG lens.

    • DR

      Splashproof Micro4/3 to 4/3 adapter?

    • flash

      It is this http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/imageBank/o/OLY-adapter-III.jpg

      I think it is just the MM-3 Four Thirds Lens to Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount Adapter; shot form the other side then usual. You can see the built in tripod mount is on the other side as well as the screws and peg.

      • Riley

        thank you folks

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