The Maitani modular system


Yesterday (read here) we told you that 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 could become Olympus first “modular” camera.

With the help of our readers we discovered that our Olympus guru Maitani had already developed such a prototype long time ago (for film cameras).

You can find more about it here:
The MDN prototype was the first Olympus SLR designed to be a full-featured, multi-functional system that could be used for a wide range of purposes by assembling different units, each with a single function. It was developed before the OM-1.
For example, the film is in a single film pack, and the shutter provides just the focal plane shutter function. The mirror is a mirror and has just one function. The user can combine the desired functions to create a single camera.
In designing a system that can be put together in any configuration, it is extremely difficult to design the mounts used to connect the items.
There is also a cheap, mass-market camera as one of the units in the system. Three units are combined together to create a camera. This is the MDS. This camera is made first and later becomes the M-1 or OM-1.
M=Maitani, D=dark box, N= normal, S=simple

43rumors wants to thanks the Maitani Fans for mantaining such an important website about our legendary inventor!

  • If true (I highly doubt it) this would be great, if fuji and sigma did join and allow for their respective sensors to be used.
    This would be my dream camera, all the four thirds or any adapted lens, The main camera body (Weather sealed) and replaceable weather sealed sensor units (A. forveon 3color, B. fuji High DR, and C. Live view capable 12Mp Panasonic sensor). These three sensors in one camera would be perfect.

    But I bet this is only a dream and will never come true.

  • Isn’t this modular system called a Hasselblad? The thinking, design and production has already been done.

  • To echo Richard, sure looks a lot like my Mamiya m645…


  • Jose

    The story can be already found at the Olympus site:

  • Bu

    Great idea, now if only they provided us with some super fast lenses to give us some interesting modules :)

  • Gabriel

    Super fast lenses, i don’t think so, there is always a constant in lenses : a 28~80 and a 80~200 slow zoom kit, a cute pancake, a super-mega zoom and maybe a portrait/macro lense ;)

  • Mumbly

    Reminds me of the Rolleiflex SL2000(F) which actually entered production and was a 35mm-SLR with interchangeable backs and viewfinders…

  • achiinto

    I think the E-P2 with the EVF, 43 lens adapter …etc is already half-way there. I think it make sense that they will release a modular system. Also, they always mentioned that m43 is a transition for beginner to more advanced photographer, so there must be a way for advanced camera body to use the m43 lens to complete this transition. If 43 and m43 are to be merged into one modular system, this will then be making sense. It also provided the possibility to have file back and Full frame digital back to use OM lens. I think this is amazing!

  • Guy Jordan

    I own a Rollei 3003 (successor to the 2000F), which is a 35mm modular camera. It looks amazingly similar to the Oly prototype, right down to the optional grip. It does have a dual (rear and top) viewfinder system.

    I could change lenses and backs, allowing me to shoot different ISOs and change between color and black & white, even before the advent of digital cameras.

    It handled great, especially for portraits, as if it were a miniature Hassy/Mamiya.Rolliei medium format.

  • Seb

    Well I find this whole idea of a modular system great but if I had the choice (which I do) to which camera I choose to succeed my E3 I would want a traditional form SLR.

    An E3 with a nice new sensor and improved AF is all I want.

  • dMS

    I think I still prefer the more traditional solution although the idea does not displease me at all I’m afraid that the joints become unstable and noisy giving the system a sense of fragility.
    Another important thing, and that’s one thing that nobody really talk, I’m not sure about the final product appearance. Eyes also eat, is a national expression, a high end model must have a robust feeling and a pleasent look.

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