(FT3) The Olympus E-3 successor will be the first Olympus modular camera


Easy folks! The rumor has still “FT3” value only (which means there is a 50% chance the rumor will become true). But according to one trusted and one new source the Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3Olympus E-3 successor will become Olympus first “modular” camera. The E-5 (or E-4 or something else?) will be truly a revolutionary camera. The goal behind this new camera is to provide an ultimate solution for both FourThirds and MicroFourThirds users.

The new source told me that I should “think the Olympus OM4tiOlympus OM4tiOlympus OM4tiOlympus OM4tiOlympus OM4tiOlympus OM4tiOlympus OM4tiOlympus OM4tiOlympus OM4tiOlympus OM4tiOlympus OM4ti with modular sensor box assembly“. The only modular (non-mediumformat) camera to date is the Ricoh GXR. But we believe Olympus will provide a slightly different solution.

One of my trusted sources confirmed that the next High-End camera will be modular but he didn’t specify exactly how it will work. Sounds like you will be able to change the mount and probably there will be EVF and OVF modules.

43rumors is working to provide you some reliable details as soon as possible. Send me your rumors at 43rumors@gmail.com

Which new accessory are you ging to buy?

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  • Jose
  • Seb

    Hey Jose

    Very very interesting concept there maybe your on to something.

    The E5 with re-configurable modules, Grip,EVF,OVF,Sensor and Mirror/Mount

  • Marty

    Now let’s hope it shuts up the detractors who kept spouting about sensor sizes (the abominable Joseph Wizhisname of dpreview comes to mind).

  • napalm

    im up for modular mounts and/or sensors as long as it does not package the sensor and lens like the ricoh gxr. though it still depends on the price

  • Ath

    Personally I don’t want a modular camera. I want a new, improved E-3. 12 Mega-pixels sensor, maybe a new one (oly has to get out of live mos -go with Kodak, like Leica?), better, faster AF system, definitely a better noise control so we can use higher ISOs. I would love a bigger, brighter OVF (not EVF), higher res. screen and better auto-white balance.

  • nug

    Sensor size can be only one– with the 21.63mm diagonal/image circle. Otherwise all the lenses micro4/3 or 4/3 would be for the waste.
    The exchangable module could be either m4/3 flange distance+EVF or 4/3 longer flange with mirror/OVF. Hence a double (two) AF systems are necessary: phase and contrast.
    Wouldn’t it be easier though to propose two professional bodies?

  • aaa

    Modular could mean that you can get the mirror box out and use m43 lenses then put it back and use 43 lenses with full AF speed.

  • achiinto

    Agreed with aaa. I think that is what it means as well. And they could add a mirror box wtih full-frame sensor to use OM lens.
    I think this is the way to go and might win a lot of new photographers from other camp to join 4/3. After all, this give lot of flexibility and might save use money from buying all those camera bodies repetitively, and save the real money to buy sensors, lens and accessories.

    This might just be an expanded version of what m43 is doing now. Look at how many accessories are added to m43 camera. The mic, the EVF…etc. I bet olympus makes money from accessories and they want to make a system full of flexible accessories interchanging. This will benefit us, the consumer, and them, Olympus.

  • Jón

    That would be interesting… I recall all the Nikon MX rumors, A 135 or bigger sensor inside a modular Nikon camera, it never saw the light, I don’t know if those were real rumors or just wishful thinking.

  • wageslave

    There has got to be trade offs and compromises. Just hope that lens telecentricity, along with in-body IS, articulated screen and weatherproofed body isn’t one of them, like what Oly did for Micro 4/3rds.

  • will

    Modular camera is beneficial to Olympus and the end users.
    If we can purchase the module we want to upgrade only, the cost of every upgrade can be cut down a lot and the camera can be made to better the users’ need. And from Olympus’s stand point, making a more flexible system that can be custom made to fit both 4/3 and m4/3 is a rational approach since the current production capacity of Olympus can’t fully support both product lines.

  • Chris

    Cool. Maybe there’ll be a film back?

  • Ath


    Yes but the rest of the body will be the same and that is a problem. m43 supposed to be compact-size dSLR alternatives, so they have a small body (on a bigger body, m43 lenses are looking a little bit ridiculous). A 43 dSLR, may have smaller body than other companies’ dSLR models, but you still need a big one for better lens balancing, especially for tele-photo zooms or SWD lenses. U can’t “crop” a body at will, so you will make it small, you can however add extra wrist grip, battery grip, etc. If you have to add all these, then buying a new body as an upgrade may come close in terms of cost. For m43 and 43, we have adapters for them already. Another problem that may rise is dust. Adding a module (with a sensor), then adding a lens on it and then adding this and that, will leave your camera more exposed to dust and weather. OVF vs EVF, Oly made a good, solid EVF for ep-2, but still can’t compete against an OVF.

    I agree, Oly has problems supporting both lines, but it can do it I think. Flagships models, are produced in such quantities as entry-level dSLR cams.

  • Duarte Bruno

    I’d like to see a modular approach but on the Software level. As for the Hardware, I find it interesting but since I have 0 interest in the “R” on DLSR (I don’t have any 4/3 lnses except for kit) so I guess there will little in it for me…

  • YeahYeah

    If only this could be true…

  • Agent00soul

    While I think a modular camera might be technically interesting, it will never be a low cost or ultra-compact solution. You will have to pay for the modularity, which will make sense only if a good selection of modules become available for it.

  • Chris

    @Agent00soul: Yes, cost and portability would be an issue here, but the E-5 will be Olympus’s flagship model. If gigantic flagship models from Canon, Nikon, and even Pentax (645D) are typical if it adds to usability at the pro level, why should Olympus hold back?

    If anything, they can release an E-5 as a modular model and release a more compact, traditional model as the successor to the E-30. This would mirror the stance that Nikon and Canon have with their D3x/D700 and the 1D/5D. The only difference would be that, somewhat like the Pentax 645D, the top-tier model would give features that studio and pro shooters need that wouldn’t be possible with the traditional DSLR body style.

  • matteo

    only 2 words
    “Interchangeable sensor”

    for example

    1) a sensor for still life at high resolution 18MP without AA Filter and ISO range from 50 – 400 ISO
    2) a high ISO/speed sensor for sport use 10/12 MP usable at6400 ISO, hi AA filter
    3) an Hi dynamic range sensor at 14/16bit

    P.S. Mirror Mount, tilt and shift m4/3 mount …… etc etc

  • Fascinating! But are you sure we should give this FT3? Sounds a little more like FT2 to me – right now “modular” is still so ill-defined. Still, I’m burning with curiosity for what this might mean…Photokina cannot come soon enough.

    • admin

      Hi Monty!
      It is always difficoult to give a rumor rating. But in that case I have a trusted source which do confirm the rumor so I thought FT3 would be more appropriate.

  • JNMPhoto

    A modular aproach to a weathersealed hi-end DSLR? I don’t think it will work, to many joints to seal.
    I am hoping the E-5 will be a traditional DSLR style, wethersealed & robust body with a 12 to 18MP sensor, with a dial with PASM modes, good white balance, focus assist light, C-S&M focus options and 2 control wheels.
    What I don’t want, or need, are scene modes, video, art filters, built in flash, a screen on the back big enough to watch a movie or for the E-5 to be an m43 body.


  • Go check out the may 17th Comments “What is Modular?” on bythom.com
    He speaks about a new modular camera coming out but still not understanding that a modular sensor is what is needed.
    I think most of your hope is misplaced and we will end up to see a cool E-5 with a removable pro m43 camera built in. still a cool idea but not needed in my mind.

  • spam

    Modular sounds great, but modualr always mean bigger. What Olympus need is fairly small and excellent, not fairly big and good.

    Modular sensor don’t make sense at all. If you switch sensor then you have to replace most electronics too as old electonics can’t handle the processing needs of a new sensor.

  • El Aura

    Cameras are already modular, you can keep the battery and the camera strap when you exchange your AF-sensor-display-electronics module.

  • Spiny Norman

    Give me an E-620 with two control dials, weatherproofing, a great VF, and an artificial horizon and I will be a happy camper. Higher ISO, deeper buffer, video, are all negotiable. In other words, I want to be able to mount Zuiko pro and top pro glass on something built like a Pentax K-7.

    Modularity is a very stupid goal. It will inevitably provide a more expensive, heavier, bulkier, and less well-sealed device. Stupid, stupid, and stupid.

    Fortunately, I do not think that Olympus is that stupid.

  • Elliot

    Thom Hogan has contacts in the cameramaking world (mostly in the Nikon area) and he seems to think he knows something about this modular Olympus:


    “May 17 (commentary)–Within the next few months I’m pretty sure we’ll get the second “modular” camera to be announced (the Ricoh GXR being the first), and no, it’s not coming from Nikon. But given the design of this upcoming camera, I have to wonder if the camera makers are thinking clearly. The reason people buy new serious cameras is mostly because of the sensor and digital logic. That’s the part that needs to be modularized….”

    There’s a bit more on his site. But the point is that he’s implying that the modularity is NOT in the sensor.

    If that’s right, what could Olympus be modularizing? Surely they’re not going to follow the stupid path that Ricoh is blazing (with low sales) with their GXR system…. so what is being modularized?

  • Ben

    Would maybe work if some of the interchangeable systems were just sensors with a lens mount….m4/3 for example.

  • Mark Chan

    Realistically, I don’t think the sensor will be changeable; they don’t need that for this to work; I am sure the patent earlier showing full frame capability will be a strong possibility, as will be the possibility to use m4/3 and 4/3 lens.

    Now I will have to saaaaaave money to get the whole shenanigaan of modular items….


  • Martin

    OK, my guess.
    The interchangeable module will exist in two variants: The fist one will consist of the 4/3 mount, a mirror chamber and an OVF. The second version would include the micro4/3 mount and an EVF. The sensor would stay in the camera body. Thus we would have a choice: either a DSLR or an “EVIL” camera, accordingly to our taste and needs, all in one package.
    Simple :-)

  • MIroslav

    I don’t like Ricoh’s idea of modularity. Changeable sensors do not make sense to me. Large sensors can always be put to good use. When can a small one do an equally good job? On a partly cloudy day outside?

    I hope that aaa’s right, that the modularity means that you can use the camera as a regular DSLR with the mirror module and OVF and as an m4/3 without mirror and with EVF. A right side (hand) grip and flash ( similar to Sony’s ) could also be detachable, maybe there could be a choice between fixed/rotating/touch/non touch LCD and that’s all. Leave the sensor intact!

    But I don’t believe in modularity in digital camera world. The technology is moving too fast and manufacturers are abandoning their mounts/connectors/slots too often. If Olympus could make this thing compatible with their products in the next decade or two, then it would make sense. But I doubt that is possible, some better technology that cannot be used with these will always come along, so the manufacturer is going to start “from a clean sheet of paper”. Users are better off with cameras that can only be slightly upgraded. We have more than one in our homes anyway and will buy another if it suites our needs, so there’s no need for this kind of thinking from the manufacturers. No module is going to make this camera take pictures underwater, so I’ll have to buy a separate one ( but, I’d like to be proven wrong :) ).

  • CR102

    I agree that there is no need for an interchangeable sensor in such a camera.
    Some questions pop to mind:
    1. Doesn’t the modularity hider weather sealing? It seems much easier to seal a complete “box”.
    2. If I understand the physical structure of those modules, where is the on-board flash going to fit? Perhaps on the left side of the top panel? (Actually an on-board flash is not that important to me.)
    3. Is there still no easy way to perform PDAF without a mirror?

  • Thyl Engelhardt

    Considering the size of airy disks when stopping down lenses, I believe that at 12 MP we are pretty close to the maximum sensor resolution for 4/3. I did some calcs which I can’t find right now, but e.g. a 14 mp sensor would already be diffraction limited at iirc 5.6-8. I therefore do not expect significant mp increases, unless Olympus found a way to compute “superresolution images”. Therefore, I would assume that the modulatity will not be in the sensor, even though other aspects of the current sensors also still need improvement.

  • Spiny Norman

    @Thyl — that’s about right, but there’s nothing wrong with oversampling a bit — especially when you take into account the limitations imposed by the Beyer pattern. Noise and dynamic range considerations aside, the real limit is probably ~20 Mpix for 4/3, and ~25 for APS-C, assuming diffraction-limited optics used at reasonable apertures.

  • That would be interesting. I have questions:

    1. Support for both Micro and 4/3rds lens mounts? How would that work?
    2. What are the logical units? Would it be like the GXR only with a 4/3rds or Micro4/3rds lens mount?
    3. Would the 4/3rds lens mount have an integrated optical viewfinder or would optical VF or EVF be a separate unit?

    It could be done right and it would be amazing. The thing that sucks about the GXR is that sensors age so much more quickly than lenses, that it’s like starting camp fires with $20 bills.

    I think it has potential because:

    A. Olympus could bring Micro4/3rds and 4/3rds together in a meaningful way offering true cross compatibility.
    B. Various modules at different price ranges could satisfy more peoples’ priorities within the same system. Mount/Sensor units could be Standard Grade/High Grade/ and Super High Grade, just like the lenses.
    D. Oly could make a 4/3rds sensor unit for high speed. (AF + FPS + ISO + 10mp) and a high rez. unit (14mp + lower ISO) and market both for the same camera body/control structure.
    E. A Micro4/3rds mount sensor unit with port for current EVF (cross compatible with current Micro line) would carve down the weight, thickness, and size, while still offering native Micro lens support, and a more pro oriented body.\

    Basically, if done right… brilliant innovation. This would rock the photography world (imo) the way Ricoh never could. First of all, Ricoh made a horrible blunder by mating lens with sensor (imo). They didn’t take it far enough. Second, Ricoh doesn’t have the lenses for different formats already in place to satisfy a versatile system with a wide range of users. Olympus does.

    Cheers, Seth

  • Russ

    Aside from the interchangeable mount, this reminds of the Canon F-1.

  • Agent00soul

    A few thoughts:
    1. Oversampling is very good, as it makes the anti-alias filter redundant.
    2. A modular camera with fixed sensor is good. When you want a new sensor, you replace the camera base and keep the OVF/mirror module, which is mostly mechanical and as such expensive to manufacture. And in addition, sees limited development (it was perfected 30 years ago).

  • I just doubt that the “modularity”, whatever it consists of, will be quite as shocking as some people seem to be considering. To take just one speculation, that the E-5 will be able to take either 4/3 or m4/3 lenses – the two systems have different flange focal distances! To take both kinds of lenses would require two different sensor boxes with their own mounts; the 4/3 box would have to have its own mirror. The frame would have to have a pentaprism and optical viewfinder, which would be useless when you were using a m4/3 sensor box…I’m just not seeing the point of a system like that.

    I also really doubt that they’re going to release a full-frame sensor box so you can use your OM lenses without an adapter. What would Olympus gain from that? Increased sales of lenses they stopped making 20 years ago?

    I could maybe see modular sensors, although like everybody else, I have my doubts about how that would work with Olympus’ formerly excellent weather-sealing.

  • Martin

    Re: Monty Leman
    You have to pick the “right” speculation ;-) – see my comment above or the following one (by Miroslav ), basically saying the same thing. These have also probably inspired the admin to re-phrase his original post…

  • Miroslav

    @ Martin In fact, I opened the comment page long before I started writing, the last post being by Mark Chan. But when I finally posted mine, I noticed yours with the similar view. I guess that’s the wish of majority of people here.

    It would be interesting if Olympus could make a line of small m4/3 cameras, that could be turned into DSLRs with various addons, but that’s such a design challenge that Oly could easily end up with a Frankenstein cam that nobody would buy.

  • Chris

    The more I think about this, the more I think it’s just going to be a micro 4/3 body with a mirror box add-on. The body will house the sensor and all the imaging electronics, the mirror box and pentaprism would be one unit that will attach to the body, much like the Leica Visoflex.

  • Miroslav

    IMO we need different kind of modularity: lens modularity. Why don’t Panasonic and Olympus make a line of quality wide and tele converters for all the lenses? Reading the posts on m4/3 forums lately, I see people are trying more and more to overcome small lens choice with converters. Pan/Oly designed the lenses and know how to make a converters that would not diminish their optical qualities. So, we could easily get a 40 mm F1.7 and 10 mm F1.7 with two converters for Panasonic’s 20 mm F1.7. Portrait and indoor shooters satisfied and lens development costs slashed in one go! In the same manner, a 2x converter for Olympus’s 14-150 could give 96-600 mm range in 35 mm terms! It would popularize system more in the same manner as adapters for other lens mounts did.

  • Martin

    @ Chris: There would be no space for the mirror if it was a proper micro4/3 body with the regular micro4/3 mount.
    @ Miroslav: It’s not that straightforward with the converters. Using a 2xTC, you would get 40mm f/3.4 from the original lens, with overall worse optical performance. The use of wide converters is quite problematic. A good wide converter should be also placed between the lens and the sensor, but the use of such a converter is blocked by a Kodak patent. You can find more information on this on the DPR discussions (look up Joseph S Wisniewski)

  • Miroslav

    @ Martin Thanks for the explanation concerning converters. Regarding their optical quality, I suppose that those who made the lens in the first place, could make a good ( enough ) converter for it. Sony made two for their 16 mm F2.8 NEX prime, so I thought Panasonic and Olympus could do something similar …

  • This is silly. Olympus’ new top-of-the-line professional DSLR is not going to be m4/3. I don’t pretend to be privy to Olympus corporate planning, but I am damn sure they are not going to “decapitate” their existing 4/3 line; that just makes no sense with their strategy so far. I’m sufficiently certain of that that I’ll actually bet anyone a new E-5 on it.

  • Csaba

    Regrets of the last year? Selling an Oly E-3 and OM4Ti.
    So you bet I am interested. Both are fantastic photog tools, and an amalgamation sounds more than exciting.

  • Why not a good, sturdy PRO level unit with great (50+) AF sites, low-light performance, weather sealing and controls there we can use them (instead of a menu)? I shoot with the E-3 professionally along with the 1Ds MkIII, and something right between them would be wonderful for us working pros. Yes, the art filters on our E-PL1’s are a lot of fun (that’s why we bought a few of them for the studio), but it would be nice to have a great foundation that covers all bases for weddings, portraits and motorsports / commercial work. At 10 mpeg, the E-3 produces beautiful 30×40 prints, and the optics are amazing. Just wish we could get Oly to step up to the next level…… and some f1.2-1.4 primes from them as well!

  • Rich

    Don’t think the illustrated drawing looks like Bronica ETRSi SLR camera on my desk?!

    Here is want I really want:

    The next great thing is full frame digital film cassette to put into vintage cameras. I would be willing to pay $500 for such a digital item for my Leica M6 M3 R8 and Contax RTS III/RX and Canon F-1 New models. Basically it is a digital sensor in the creidt card like case. The rest electronics and battery items can be housed in the winder case attached under the vintage 35mm SLR.


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