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Nikon’s new system development started before the first m43 camera (+ Olympus interview).


Techradar (Click here) had a small chat with Mark Thackara (national marketing manager, consumer products for Olympus UK). They talked about the new Nikon mirrorless system: “There will be the usual debates about the various performance pros and cons relating to image quality, flexibility and so on, but my view is that it will be the overall system that is vital to success and battle lines are drawn“. And “It is not size however that Thackara believes will be paramount to compact system success, but the quality of the system as a whole“.

The probably most interesting news is coming via Imaging Resource (Click here). They interviewed MR. Masahiro Suzuki (General Manager R&D, Nikon). He said the Nikon 1 system development started four years ago; just before the Micro Four Thirds announcement. They worked quite a long time on it!


  • Quite a lot is made of being in Amazon’s UK top 40 of camera sales but to be honest Amazon UK isn’t one of the top sellers for cameras online in the United Kingdom, they have more much established and stronger competition here.
    Olympus really needs to ramp up it’s distribution and marketing in UK bricks and mortar stores especially amongst the multiples (Panny is doing a good job here).
    Also they need stronger marketing of their current accessories and quick well thought out new accessories as well as the introduction of 2-3 Pro Pen models (but I’m assuming they are in the works)…

    #Once this is done they can market on families/households sharing lenses and accessories between the micro four thirds owners#

    • “The big challenge is to try and explain, without resorting to a slanging match, why there are now so many sensor sizes and pixel counts,” he said.”
      I think Olympus should ignore this and focus on the creative aspects of the PEN and also it’s social connectivity (maybe start throwing the blue tooth module into bundles/packages)

      • The Bluetooth module should be a Wifi module. Or both. And cheaper, or bundled. And you should be able to save straight to the PenPal instead of to memory then having to transfer. And while I’m on, you should be able to send full res pics from it. And FURTHERMORE, next time, just build it into the damn camera.


  • NockOn

    Nonsense! I remember Olympus talking about foreseeing Micro Four Thirds when they started work on Four Thirds years before arrogant Nikon could contemplate.

    • mikep

      yes, I believe small mirrorless bodies were olys goal from the beginning.

      • lorenzino

        Well, this is what everybody was expecting from 43, at first, but Oly never delivered.
        Hence the failure of 43, despite the good cameras and excellent lenses. But voices about small cameras with large sensor (with a decent non Leica price) existed well before m43, and even before Sigma Dp1

  • Ganec

    “four years ago before the Micro Four Thirds announcement”
    “four years ago; just before the Micro Four Thirds announcement”

    • admin


  • Joe

    “So much time for nothing?”

    Really annoying that you judge a camera before it is released and are able to see what really matters — the final photographs.

    You claim not to be a fanboy, but your writing shows that you are. Try to stay open-minded and not sh*t on someone’s hard work before even seeing the results.

    Disclaimer: I own an LX3 and PEN

    • admin

      I am extremely open minded! And when I don’t like a camera I say it. That’s it. Should I lie to you? I use Nikon fullframe cameras since years and I am perfectly happy with it. And there are also cameras from Panasonic and Olympus absolutely do NOT like. So just accept my opinion :)

      • lorenzino

        Admin (Andrea!),
        I think I share the idea that, after the initial bad impression, we should wait and see how the camera performs, and how the IQ (sensor + lenses) actually is

    • mikep

      I agree Joe. I’m sure these Nikons will find their niche. The iPad was a joke when Apple first released it’s name and marketing photos – “oh look it’s a giant iphone how lame! and that name, horrible!” but it has done pretty well.

      • dumbo

        a bit of nikon mirrorless bashing is good. if a newbie wants to buy one, and googles it for information, if he/she sees that everyone hates it, then hopefully he wont make a serious mistake buying it.

        with so much choice out there, it would be a shame for someone without much knowledge getting a camera that isn´t very good compared to everything else.

        • Vlad


  • Peter

    I realize older is in quotes (“older”), but nevertheless is should be considered that perhaps m43 is actually older, not nikon, because Oly may have started their system development 4 years before it was announced, too.

    • admin

      I update the post. Youw ere right, text was not clear enough.

  • Chris

    From the NY Times’ Gadgetwise blogpost on the new Nikons:

    “I didn’t have much success with [the smart spray ‘n’ pray] feature in a brief test, but I may not have set the camera up properly (despite the help of a photography instructor).

    Which brings me to the camera’s conundrum: It is easy to use and highly automated, but only after you have gone through some deep menus and configured the camera to behave as you want.

    Even the devoted photographer will have to spend some time with the manual, because the camera has features you haven’t seen before (at least by these names), so no matter how familiar you are with photography, you will have some new tricks to learn.

    So it’s not exactly a camera for a beginner, nor a camera for a serious hobbyist, but it may be a high-quality camera for beginner who has a serious hobbyist to set it up.”

    Ouch! If the Nikon menus were a map, they’d have ‘here be dragons’ scrawled on them, it seems.

    • This, of course, is one reason why a camera should be programmable ;~). I could just hand you a configuration that works for X type of photography.

      • Jim


        Oh how I wait for a programable camera, not just save settings and pass them on but so you can define all aspects of the operation… not be limmeted to the arbitary limits imposed by manufatures settings (e.g. max shutter duration, number of brackets and step size, etc etc) :)

  • Alexander

    I just need some new parts from Olympus (dont like the fat lenses from Pana):
    -Remote Control
    -Sweep Panorama
    -little bit smaler 14-150mm Lens (if possible)
    -(Build in EVF)

    By the way: the size of the EP3 is ok in my Opinion, I don’t need smaler cameras- this is not what makes the system more portable. Also the IQ is already very well, especially I watch 99.9% of the pictures on my pc monitor without croping.

    • Michael Meissner

      If by remote control you mean just firing the shutter button at a distance, but not doing anything about the LCD or EVF, the Olympus RM-UC1 shutter release cable is what you want and it will support all Pens except the E-PL1 (which does not support the shutter release). In addition, there are various clones of the RM-UC1 out there, that are either cheaper, have wireless support, or can do intervalometer (count down timer) support.

      If you want to get fancier and have various triggers fire off the camera, there is the Mumford Time machine ( that you can buy and it has triggers for vibration, sound, motion, crossing laser beams, etc.

      Hopefully by the end of the year, the device will ship, and this provides triggers for sound or crossing a laser beam as well as intervalometer support. It uses an Ardinou controller, and you can reprogram it if desired.

      If by remote control you meaning seeing the pictures remotely and being able to fire the shutter there are already gadgets that support this today for all Pens except the E-PL1. Now, if you meant full tethered support, yes that doesn’t exist today.

      Off the top of my head, there is the Yongnuo wired device that has a 2.8″ lcd screen and a shutter button, and is connected to the camera via a cable. I just got this from ebay for $70 (US). It uses Nokia 5C batteries which are quite easy to come by. I posted initial reviews of the Yongnuo on (in the reviews section) and (in the Olympus forum).

      For a little bit more (about $150), you can get the Gigtube Apature wired device that has better mount options, but it uses a proprietary battery.

      If you are willing to pay more (about $300), you can get the Gigtube Apature wireless device and see your images at a distance over radio waves.

      There is also another wired and wireless device from a company called that doesn’t seem to be available on ebay. Hahnel also has a device, but they haven’t deigned to come out with an Olympus cable.

      • Jim

        Good info as always Michael.

        N.B. has anyone heard any roumours about an oly SDK for the pens?

        • Michael Meissner

          Jim: I suspect that is just an area Olympus has closed and apparently has no interest in. Their previous tethering was pretty weak in the first place.

          I get the feeling that like most of the camera vendors, they are concentrating on trying to come up with a giant solution to hit it out of the park. It is a shame that they often times pass up small niche plays that could keep customers coming back.

          Having a fully programmable SDK and tethering might be one area. Sure it isn’t a massive market, but realistically, they will never be a Nikon or Canon. Even Sony is trying, and failing at that.

          It is better if the smaller companies had spaces that they could do well in. In the 10 years I’ve had Olympus cameras, they seem to zigzag all over the place, stopping in niches for a time, and then moving on. For example, they had the weather sealed niche to themselves with the E-1 for quite some time, moved away to consumer DSLRs, came back with the E-3, moved to more consumer DSLRs, dropped consumer DSLRs and moved to Pens, came back with a last hurruh with the E-5, and then went back to the Pens, where in the latest incarnation, they have split some of the desirable features between two bodies, and added some weird designs (the removable flash, the 16:9 lcd screen in the E-PL3).

          I must admit, I no longer have the fire for a new body like when the E-3 came out. I may eventually pick up a E-PL2 when the refrub kits go on sale, but I don’t really feel I need to get an E-P3 or E-PL3.

          • Jim

            Such a pitty :(

            I agree with your assessment – oly has been in some good corners but seems to stagger around!

            One thing I do like on the EP3 is the touch screen focus point! apart from that its the same as my EP1… (near as makes any diffrence)…

            And agree they make some odd design moves as you noted – the other being non tilt screen on the top model!

            Lets hope an EP4 consolidates all that is good on all the pens and brings in a new sensor an SDK, weather sealing and some way of using the old 43 lenses properly.. then they might have a fair stab at the bigger boys :)

    • jake

      Exactly, I always thought so too.

  • WT21

    More Nikon garbage? If that’s all 43rumors has, I think I’ll take a break from the site for a while.

    • Ryan

      I agree, it seems most news posts as of lately seem to just “stir the pot”…

      • jake

        it is actually not so bad if you think about it as an experimental camera for the sensor based PDAF.

        I think the trancelucent mirror of Sony is actually real garbege.

        This Nikon’s new AF will also be used in next generation D4 or later generation DX series pro body , so it is not a waste but some future-telling tech.

    • EASY

      Get over it.

    • admin

      WT21. So you don’t think Olympus talking about Nikon is worth to post a news?

      • twoomy

        Man, don’t let them get to you. On the flip side, I appreciate these articles, especially when there’s not much to announce with Pany and Oly this month. Can’t wait to hear about that 12-35 (or whatever) X lens though!

        • Yeah, just ignore those douchebags.

          • jake

            you sound very narrow minded.

      • EASY

        Admin: It is worth it, but with more neutral tone.
        It may took for Nikon 4 years to develop electronic shutter and PDAF on sensor, but Pana and Olympus do not have those features yet.
        And how long it will take to get there, it remains to be seen.
        I would imagine they should have such technologies in their pockets after 3 years, especially considering sorry state of Olympus 4/3.

      • dumbo

        admin, dont worry about it. keep posting what you want. it´s your site, remember!

        besides the nikon posts have been interesting so far, it is good to see what the brand thinks mirrorless is about.

        • bobw


  • bilgy_no1

    “The probably most interesting news is coming via Imaging Resource (Click here). They interviewed MR. Masahiro Suzuki (General Manager R&D, Nikon). He said the NIkon 1 system development began four years ago before the Micro Four Thirds announcement! So much time for nothing?”

    How is this news interesting. Panasonic and Olympus were probably developing m4/3 for some years before the first announcement as well. A bit of a silly comment by Nikon IMO. Something that a good interviewer should put his/her finger on.

    • admin

      For me it’s very interesting to know they had 4 years of time to develop an appropriate system.

      • Bob B.

        …and in the name of their, (Nikon’s) business and sales needs…they developed a system that does not compete with there existing DSLR complements it…….only problem is …they got “one-upped”. :-)

  • Bob B.

    here is the thing….NIkon and Canon have had the monopoly on DSLR as they did with 35mm film cameras because they developed digital photography with the same basic camera model…which they have a very broad system for, (lenses, accessories, etc) and a ready-made market..their own customers.
    The landscape has changed for them… When my friend recently wanted to buy a DSLR and was looking at some more “boutiquesque” models…I steered him toward one of the “big two” because of the depth of their overall “systems” offering many more choices that would allow his interest and abilities to grow…not to mention the plethora of 3rd party and used products available. Also the resale would be high on item he purchases if he changes his mind or upgrades. Did I like some of the product attributes and innovations with some boutique models..definitely..but my experience taught me to buy into the bigger system…in the long run giving me many more advantages and options even though it made me part of the mainstream (I hate that! LOL).
    With the Nikon entry into mirrorless….they find themselves competing with a system (MFT) that has depth, third party support and even the ability (with all of the adapters) to utilize a wealth of manufactures older lenses not even designed for the system. (It is amazing the MFT has so much in so little time).
    I know I wouldn’t send anybody in the direction of the Nikon mirrorless (especially at that price point) if they asked me about purchasing a camera that would give them more than their point and shoot or their cell phone.
    Actually if someone wanted one system camera and didn’t want to mortgage the farm…I would suggest MFT… It has a great and growing system.
    Can’t wait to see what CAnon does! :-)

  • Frederic Hew

    No, that’s 4 years prior to the System 1 announcement and 1 year prior to the G1 announcement. Rest assured, the G1 was in the pipe some time before.

    • jake

      I think Canon never go mirroless because it is a greedy company.

      But seriously Canon’s mirroless cam will have to be a 4kvideo camera with EF mount or PL mount.

  • Andyoz

    Hi Admin

    Any Olympus rumors at all about a model with built-in EVF?
    Its been a long time since we have heard anything.

    • admin

      Not yet. Next PEN is coming in 2012 only :(

  • Brod1er

    The Nikon seems to have 2 dubious advantages:
    1. On sensor PDAF sounds great and adresses a key limitation of mirrorless. However, unless it is tightly patented, I assume this will appear elsewhere soon (compacts and ILCs). Fuji already have something similar.

    2. AF compatibility with Nikon lenses. This makes some sense for existing Nikon owners. However this is significantly limited because the lenses will be large and not designed for the precise requirements of the 4-8x smaller sensor of the N1. Ultimately users will want format specific lenses – in which case MFT is way ahead.

    I await full Nikon reviews with interest to see if there is anything of real substance. PS I don’t mind some Nikon coverage on this site and can’t wait the arrival of Nikon’s very own Pablo character.

    • Bob B.

      (Pablo Character) +1

      • jake

        1. On sensor PDAF sounds great and adresses a key limitation of mirrorless. However, unless it is tightly patented, I assume this will appear elsewhere soon (compacts and ILCs). Fuji already have something similar.

        actually , Fuji failed it and it gave up trying it futher.

        But this Nikon type of Sesor based PDAF tech is really promissing because it does not deteriorate base ISO IQ of the camera.

        and this will be re-used in a pro Nikon body later.

        IMO, this is just an experimental camera to test Sensor based PDAF in real life use for next gen pro bodies.

        However, as many others pointed out this camera itself is a fail and wont sell well in any market segment we can possibly think of.
        I personally do not get interested in this Nikon One myself but I am very much interested in its AF and 1200f/s video mode.

        But any way, I refuse to be a betetester myself.

    • Nonsense!!!! I have a d90 its a damn good camara, the rest new camaras are so simple, the fact to put nikon lenses in the nikon mirrorless are damn useless for the multiplication factor , is a put a simPle 18-55mm, totally loss the 28mm angular , so , too much zoom and non angular Means 0 for me, plus everybody in the photographic world knows that nikon as a lot of electronic issues , and poor electronic construction,canon in other way has a good equilibrated system, but my 5DMII is so damn big, and my new ep3 is so easy to use in manual, i can put my 15-85mm canon supersonic lenses with an adaptador and is so great the funtionality , stabilization , colors etc . And with the supersonic motor wave 12-60mm 2.8 ( and 1 adaptador)from olympus are the best portable camara for all kind of situations .
      the thing is nikon are losing matket really fast , like they did in the compact camaras !!!!!
      And brands like olympus i pana are ignovating all the time^^

    • #1 : Nikon got PDAF. cool. But the latest CDAF by Panasonic and Olympus (GH2, EP-3, etc) have grinded away lots of “key limitation” already and at this rate, AF-tracking will be good enough too.

      #2 Thats cool for tele angle. Less so for wider angle. Given the crop factor, this is not a killer feature if you ask me.

      This is not to say that the new Nikon mirrorless mount is death on birth. It may be a cooler camera than we think it is and we just fail to see it right away. Admittedly, I do.
      We will see…

  • Bob

    I find this article interesting and certainly news worthy yes. It is interesting to me that Nikon had 4 years development time to produce this. I find that disgraceful that they took so long to develop such an inferior product. Even if it were true that they only found out about MFT AFTER they started development of the Nikon 1 system, they should have looked at MFT and realized how much more potential it had and pulled out from the 1 system. They then could have made something that could atleast compete perhaps.

    Everybody has been talking of the Nikon mirrorless system as if it has been built as quickly as possible to meet current demand for it in the last year or so. 4 years development for these cameras is definitely news. It shows us how deluded and arrogant Nikon are that their system will sell. It will not.

    The only serious competitor for MILC now is going to be for Canon to bring something new to the table. They might not even bother. They might have also been developing something for years. We will have to wait and see. If I had to put money on it, I would say Canon will wait as long as possible to see how the market pans out, maybe not entering MILC for another year or two. Perhaps they will try to get it right from the off with a better product that is also ready to ship with a good and portable lens lineup. Maybe they will miss the boat though…

  • rUY

    Within these 4 years, Pannasonic and Olympus already developed a quite complete system on lens for M43. which the second step is to improve the camera sensor and …..Price…..

    I will suggest M43 act quicker on pricing strategy, as it will help them to penetrate their position. especially, for those only got one or 2 lens with their M43 system, or else, they will take over by other brands.

  • ArKersaint

    Quite interestig ! I have noticed :
    – 4 years including 2 for design… which means m43 already launched when decision to go live came
    – Precise target : the low end users willing to upgrade and looking for getting rid of P&S limitations
    – Therfore simplicity of use as major constraint

    I do believe that their target was either too ambitious or suffering from existing lines constraints :
    – too much time (4 years) for development from scratch
    – too narrow niche very difficult to adress : low end user has to understand backgroud set-up before shooting

    And by this time tactile screens have appeared which make this nice little camera look somewhat outdated !

  • Anybody could say anything.


    • sparedog

      I AM | FAILURE

  • “He said the Nikon 1 system development started four years ago; just before the Micro Four Thirds announcement. They worked quite a long time on it!”

    If I were Nikon, I wouldn’t advertise that information… given what came out of that R&D.

    • taran


      In Japan, corporations are averse to admitting copying someone else’s good idea even though they know it’s true. Nikon can claim it has been doing research since 1917 if it had to, in order to save face. Fact is, they have delivered a stillborn product.

      What we have here is a company trying to sound innovative, despite being 4-5 years behind the times. What a sad day for Nikon… that R&D department would have to commit seppuku in order for me to believe anything Nikon says ever again.

      • dumbo

        Yup, Nikon R&D definately has lost face on this product. It´s failed before it´s even launched.

        • Esa Tuunanen

          Or more probably their marketroids didn’t let them develop anything which could compete their DSLRs.
          In the end R&D department has very little power to say about what’s beind done but it’s all those bean counters and marketroids who decide what’s done and not done.

          Similar to situation with Olympus in which all we’ve gotten from mirrorless future is plain reiterating of Pens which are far cry from ergonomy of even their lowest end DSLRs… With the difference that unlike Olympus Nikon isn’t going to pretend that products made for P&S upgraders are enough for enthusiasts.

        • jake

          I think that meant that Nikon has been developing next gen AF for pro Dx series for quite some time and that was first used in the experimental body in the form of V1.
          I think we will soon see this new AF tech in Nikon D3s successor or
          later gen Nikon DXseries pro FX body.

  • Anonymous

    The nikon representative that said nikon was developing before m4/3 announcement is a flawed statement. How does he know that m4/3 was not being developed before the announcement? Like he said himself they develop first then waited until now to announce, same can go for pana and olyp.

    • sparedog

      who cares when it´s crap! nikon could have been developing it since the 60´s but it´s terrible, so it doesnt matter.
      what a load of junk!

    • Brian

      He didn’t say m4/3 wasn’t being developed before the announcement.

  • Daemonius

    Not funny.. not at all. I expected a lot from mirrorless Nikon, and they failed in everything. Sure it wont harm their dSLRs and they will probably sell quite a bit of those “1”s, but for me, they failed.

  • Rutrem

    ha,ha,ha,ha :) Nikon was first, Nikon was first :)
    if we take a look on their “innovative” dSLR, we can notice that Nikons only inovative thing in last 3-4 years was movie mode on D90 if i recall exactlly.

  • gravityloss

    Hey, the Nikon system might not suck if they brought out small lenses with large aperture. Now they only have physically large lenses with small aperture. How could it have taken so long to develop them? Don’t they have digital correction?

    If Sony has any brains, it’s only a matter of time before they actually bring some smaller lenses with large apertures. Then M43 loses a lot of its advantages. Though, it’s very possible that Sony does not have any brains in this issue. That’s the strength of M43, it’s less likely that two companies both act totally braindead in some field.

    Brains. Olympus hasn’t brought out a single bright pancake, Panny has brought out one real and one so-so. What on Earth is so hard about it? One could imagine that designing and manufacturing a fixed focal length lens would be much easier than a superzoom. Why did Oly make the 45 mm so big? It’s much less useful that way. Is it because of the insistence on no or very little digital correction? Does the user actually benefit from that at all? Hell, there could be a market for even a 20 mm pancake F 1.7 competitor if it had faster and internal focusing, faster iris, smoother bokeh and less sound noise.

  • mahler

    For this development time, the results are rather underwhelming.

    I expected more from Nikon’s entry to the mirrorless arena. In the end, they were not brave enough for a stronger starting point, because that could cut their DSLR sales.

    • Mr. Reeee

      It seems the underlying electronics… the shutter, data pipelines, processors… are more interesting than the cameras themselves.

      @Bryan Brunton.. LOL! :-)

  • Bryan Brunton

    Give Nikon a break!

    It takes time to figure out how to remove the letters PASM from the mode dial on a $900 camera.

  • Hiplnsdrftr

    Ultimately what is interesting to me is that Nikon has made a pathetic camera that in no possible way interferes with it’s dSLR line, Olympus has made about six similar variations of the PEN none of which got it right and Panasonic quickly detuned the GF line as I guess it was too good. Canon is certainly sitting back continueing to observe the toils of all these other brands, quite content to sell Rebels to the masses. It will probably settle with sticking a slightly bigger sensor in the G line.

    Ultimately all of this is very frustrating. If only they all weren’t so afraid to make one decent useable camera.

  • calxn

    You all assume these cameras are the only one Nikon has been working on. You assume Canon is just sitting and waiting. For all we know, those two are very busy designing stuff in the mirrorless market. Consider the lead that Olympus had but yet seem to iterate the same camera every 6 months. In fact, they pretty much have 3 cameras that are basically the original digital pen from 3 years ago. The market battle in mirrorless will be a long one. It’s still very, very early in the game. You may think m43 has won, but if you look on the Amazon top 100 cameras, not a single m43 camera is on there as of today. The Nikon CX and Nex cameras are on the top 50. You never know, 10 years from now, we may all look back in amazement at how some Nikon FF mirrorless or Leica mirrorless came out and took the market by storm and became the defacto leader for the genre.

    For the money, I’m betting Sony will win this market, barring some sneaky Canon announcement in the next 2 years. I still think it’ll take 10 years for this genre to shake out. It’s funny, outside of internet fandom, I have hardly ever seen anyone in the real world use m43. I see lots of Nex and a few Samsungs, and of course the Canikon DSLRs. You guys are all living in your virtual wall garden where m43 is the king of all cameras. I agree m43 have some really nice advantages as of the last 3 months (lenses), but the disadvantages for me (and probably most people) are too great. Just as you guys look at the Nikon and say who would buy something with such small sensors.

    Most people I know who have looked at m43 turned around and said they didn’t want to compromised on IQ and bought a NEX. They’ve all said they’ve read or were told by store employees the small m43 sensors were not as good as the NEX. If m43 is the second horse in this race, it’s still not first. Quite frankly, I’m not sure m43 will remain the second horse in a few months. As soon as Canon, Fuji, and Leica come out with their mirrorless, I wonder if m43 will even be 4th, 5th, or 6th. You never know, your horse may end up racing with Samsung for 2nd to last when it’s all done with. You may end up holding the m43 bag as the 43 owners ended up. As I see it, m43 needs to innovate faster because it has the most to lose and the least name recognition other than Samsung. When Canon announces, you will realize how disadvantaged m43 has been all along.

    • calxn

      I think by the time Canon announces, m43 will be battling with Fuji for 3rd place with Sony and Nikon being the top 2.

      • Hiplnsdrftr

        Problem is Canon will announce some hobbled compromise.

  • Medder

    Load of Shxt

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