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What’s the future for the E-system? (Biofos interviews Terada)


Biofos published a very interesting interview with Mr. Terada from Olympus! De facto Olympus confirms that the classic Four Thirds system will continue and every customer will be supported for a very long time.

This are the most interesting parts of the interview (but please read the complete interview because there is really a  lot of information!):
– Asked if Olympus is contractually tied to Panasonic MR. Tarada answered that “We always look for all possibility to have better product” and “We will choose whatever we think is best for our products. We are free and have selected current sensors as the best ones for our products.
– “We said pixel race was becoming less significant than before, and thought 12MP would be able to satisfy most of the customers. But we are not sticking to any specific MP.
– “Although there are no Four Thirds lenses currently under development, it does not mean that there will be no future lenses based on this technology.
– He gave a “positive answer” when asked if there could be a Pro-level, weather-proof m4/3rds body and lens(es) at some point.
– “Having a large magnification optical finder with small body is a difficult to design. One of the benefit to have a EVF is to overcome this difficulty.
– About the high price of the new Olympus E-5: “The price reflects both the performance we believe the camera delivers and the cost of producing it. To meet the professional level of robustness, we pay some costs on it.
– When asked about the modular camera concept he said that “We can’t say concrete product plan.”

Thanks Biofos!

More E-5 news:
Zone-10 published new articles
Photographyreview has new image smaples
– At Pixiq: Digital Infrared Photography and the Olympus E-5

Olympus E-5 preorders at Amazon US, BHphoto, Adorama

  • Boris

    “a Pro-level, weather-proof m4/3rds body”

    Bring it on!

    • Greg

      Yeah… the GH2 seems to have great performances but it looks a bit toyish… :P

      • kesztió

        Not much more toyish han Canon 500D, Pentax K-m or even Oly 620. LOL.

      • KJS

        This is a post about the e-system, not panasonic.

    • Yes but weatherproof body with what weatherproof lens? :)

    • Duarte Bruno

      Too late for me! GH2 it is.

  • four thirds photo

    this interview is another statement from olympus that 4/3rds will continue. That there are no new lenses under development will not say there wil be no new 4/3rds lenses in future.

    If they succeed in perfectly merging the technologies it becomes even a better system. M4/3 for lightweight and small and 4/3 for optimum optical performance and one type of camerabody that can use (no compromise in functionality) all the lenses.

  • Dummy00001

    Well, Oly understands little of a damage control. They should have sent this guy to Photokina.

    > Compact users are demanding better IQ than their current tiny sensors can deliver.

    OMG. This is such a HUGE misconception. Every single person I know who moved from PnS/compact to DSLR did so mainly for the one reasons: slow unreliable AF. Second is the long shot to shot time. IQ (as well as the finer camera control) are quite far below in the list of problems.

    • Inge – M.

      Correct Dummy00001

      • Arkersaint

        ABSOLUTELY TRUE as far as I am concerned

        There is obviously a segment of users who ask for :
        – Fast AF and short shutter lag
        – Strong body, weather sealed would be better
        – Slim body with built in EVF
        – Decent IQ, which does not mean in par with best DSLRs

        Those who seek to deliver :
        – Either the smallest body (NEX for instance)
        – Either terrific IQ
        do not address thar segment

        Unfortunately, there are other segments within the m43 consumers including :
        – Those professionals who have 43 stuff
        – Those who need best DR
        – Those who practice videos

    • Miroslav

      Every upgrader from P&S I know wanted better image quality first – lower noise and better color representation, especially in difficult lightning conditions, at night and indoors especially. Some wanted more detail, but non complained of slow focus …

      I think more photos are missed because of slow human reaction than slow focus – I’m talking about amateurs here.

      • Duarte Bruno

        You are absolutely right!
        The other arguments I’ve read here are completely secondary. But I might add another one: thinner DOF!

    • NativeFloridian

      “Out of focus” on a compact camera is usually the result of the long shutter times which result in motion blur and hand shake. Truthfully, compact cameras only excel in taking outdoor pictures in direct sunlight. Whether new dSLR owners know it or not, it is usually the greater light gathering ability and therefore shorter shutter times that allow for “better” pictures in more demanding environments.

  • Miroslav

    Olympus ( and/or Panasonic ) just need to make an m4/3 adapter that enables PDAF on 4/3 lenses and all these complaints and speculation will stop. Sony has shown them the way with semi transparent mirror that does away with OVF. It’s now just the question of putting their heads down and enough R&D money on that side.

    • kesztió


      Better keep developing faster and faster CDAF (0.09 sec is already more than excellent) and making as much m43 lenses as it’s possible.

      The only (let me admit that really big, though) advantage is the high range and quality of current Zuiko lenses. But further investments in 4/3 simply still doesn’t worth.

      • Miroslav

        Couple of reasons I can think of:

        1. You already said – many high quality 4/3 lenses. With PDAF enabled on m4/3 bodies, no one could say m4/3 has a small lens range. It would be almost on par with what other established systems have to offer.

        2. 4/3 lenses are mostly of better quality than m4/3 counterparts, so for those willing to sacrifice size for image quality would be the preferred choice.

        3. Such adapter is a relatively simple part to design and manufacture. A low cost part that would give so much to the system.

        4. Current 4/3 lens owners wouldn’t be left out in the cold and would have an easy upgrade -> many new m4/3 users. That would also show m4/3 users won’t be let down once Olympus and Panasonic come up with something new.

        5. PDAF is still better for faster moving subjects, that was what Panasonic people were saying in Photokina when talking about GH2.

        6. Continuous PDAF in video. Samples from Sony SLT cameras are impressive.

        • david

          > 3. Such adapter is a relatively simple part to design and manufacture. A low cost part that would give so much to the system.

          If such an adapter could be made easily and cheaply, they would definitely have done it. If it could be made easily but non-cheaply, Olympus probably still would have done it to avoid the constant worries that regular 4/3 lenses will be orphaned. That they haven’t made such an adapter should suggest that it’s not at all easy.

          • Miroslav

            Relative to the price and complexity of a camera body or a lens it should be easy to design and cheap to manufacture. I suppose they were onto some other things since they started m4/3, but now Sony has put semi transparent mirror concept into practice, they should buy an A55, take it apart and see how it works :). In fact, they’ve taken it apart few weeks ago, I’m sure of that.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      Just why would you want to waste one third of the light with mirror?
      Weaker noise performance of “small” 4/3 sensor has always been one of the favorite argument of its disparagers so if anything Olympus should try to minimize that difference…
      With 12MP pixel size is actually bigger than in latest Canons so that more conservative aproach to MP race should be used as leverage for achieving that.

      While surely complicating demosaicing Fuji’s “integrated” PDAF is lot less prodigal. And Panasonic has proven that even that is unnecessary for achieving good performance for situations without fast moving targets (birds/sport) because contrast AF benefits hugely from fast advance of semiconductors. (faster read speed of sensor and faster processors)

      • Miroslav

        Two reasons for semi transparent mirror instead of the “usual” DSLR setup:
        -less complicated. No OVF means the adapter can be cylindrical, similar to current 4/3 to m4/3 adapters. Whether it is physically possible to put a large enough mirror in such a short space is another question.
        -video, AF in video. When E-5 came out one of the biggest grudges against it was “only 720p video”. So, there’s a need for video capability amongst current 4/3 lens owners.

        Light loss? The owners of smaller cameras would have to live with it. Those who have a problem with it should buy E-5, E-7 or whatever “proper” 4/3 DSLR Olympus makes.

        I’d like Fuji’s PDAF to work, but we have yet to see it in action. Of course it would be “more elegant” solution. Sony’s has some limitations, but has given good results.

        Concerning CDAF, I’m all for it, and think it’s the future, but it’s impossible to implement in some 4/3 lenses, while in others is slow. It’s just a great shame to waste so much quality glass.

  • jeff

    like i said on dpreiveiw

    Olympus is waiting for the E5 to sell for a bit before they drop the bomb that they have a huge lineup for M43

    • four thirds photo

      I think this is correct.
      E5 will approx. be available at november 1 in most countries. I expect the new m4/3rds high end body just before or after summer (may/ june or sept/oct) 2011

  • Visitor

    Awesome interview.
    GJ Biofos.

  • the future of the e-system … what future … its now just a count down to olympus closing the door on their interchangeable lens cameras (maybe they will make some more compacts?). Oly have crapped out by stating that they are not developing any new lenses. This interview as an attempt to back-track is weak.

    Olympus killed the OM mount with the OM3ti pricing it like a Leica, and quadrupled their lens prices. It was just a few months from that idea to the end of the OM system. The E5 is the same idea, bring the spec of a Canon 60D for a little short of 2x the price.

    the future of (micro)FourThirds is with Panasonic (and anyone else who makes the effort to join in). Panasonic OWNS this format now.

    Oly’s latest events in m43 have been slow-f-stop-zooms (too big to sit with the m43 size idea!!).

    It’ll be interesting to see if any of the Oly (mis)management and engineers bothered to get out of bed and design a new camera. The BIG advantage they have is the in camera IS which Pan hasn’t done. But Oly are missing out on lens sales thanks to Pan’s 20/1.7 and the 45 macro, the fish.

    I loved the idea of the FourThirds system. Lenses that are not available in other fits, small size, great prices. E-30 & E-620 were the first decent spec camera to have such a good free angle LCD. The cameras still look and feel a lot better than the Panasonic bodies, but Pan have got the game won here and Oly just seem to want to pretend to be Leica in the pricing of the E-5 but at the same time no-new-lenses!

    yeah yeah, but we might design some new lenses in the future, whatever. Where will the fan base be on the day you get around to it? Wearing Panasonic or Nikon or Canon or Pentax around their neck.

    Goodbye Olympus. My E-30 + E-P1 + 3x Oly + 1x Pan + 2x Voigt are about to hit eBay … welcome back to Nikon

    • Jason

      Haha, the Olympus is no where near the price of a Leica….. Unless you are referring to the Leica equipped LX5 (which I have and is a lot of fun).

      I’m definitely getting an E-5, it’ll be able to shoot many pics without a flash, which to me is awesome. Plus the new dramatic tone filter is unmatched by any camera manufacture. The E-5 with the 50mm macro f2.0 will be incomparable in size and performance to any APS-C sensor, it even competes with some FF cameras.

      • Neville

        What lenses are you selling?

    • dCrap

      What an ignorant asshat.

  • PS – hats off to Panasonic for such a good set of cameras and lenses … good luck with your format, people will forget the Olympus name in a few months time. Then you can call it the Panasonic m43 system.

    • Jason

      PS- obviously you are ignorant, MFT represents 25% of the Japanese market, which is both Olympus and Panasonic. DUH………….

    • Esa Tuunanen

      Panasonic would just have to first learn to make cameras.
      While both Matsushita-Panasonic and Sony might be huge electronics giants they’ve never been any camera makers but consumer electronics makers driven by marketroids targeting Joe Average Vegetab… err Consumers who eat anything showeled down their throats by big enough marketing department.
      Lack of ergonomy and good controls is well justified in small pocket bodies but these claimed advanced EVF-cameras of both are just travel TV screens in fake-SLR body with horrible ergonomy and lacking direct controls.
      – “Thumb in the middle of butterfingers” with EVF way too far from left edge of body to look into it without nose hitting to body/LCD is inexcusable.
      – Basic consumer body level controls further worsened by…
      – Way oversized TV destroying any hope of comfortable grip and eating all space from controls unless body size would be increased hugely.

      Ironically it is Minolta bought by Sony which has the best/most experience from what design of EVF based advanced camera should be like:
      After that these hyped advanced EVF cameras feel exactly like bling bling consumer toys they are, lots of advertising but very little real features/innovation.

      While spewing out another “me too” consumer mirror body would be fashionable mirror camera markets are so strongly controlled by Canikon that bigger investments in there are unlikely to produce much anything in longer term so if Olympus wants actual growth then they should “hammer where iron is hot” and that means EVF cameras.
      “Pocket Pens” won’t satisfy any DSLR user and to consumer level bodies there’s already push from both consumer toy makers and that’s probably where Canikon will eventually target along with power of their religious advertisers so advanced hobbyer/semi-pro EVF body with good support for 4/3 lenses would be best shot to stand out above competition and give head start against Canikon.

    • Neville

      Well what lenses are you selling, please don’t look below at the Nikon D7000 comment.

  • Zaph

    Oly has released 3 m43 cameras in 12 months (to complaints that they were releasing them too fast), and has pretty much said now “Our lens division is now fully focused on m43, rather than 43”. It just takes some time.

    Putting Olympus and Leica in the same camp for pricing is ridiculous. Leica just released $15000 & $20000 titanium and leather cameras, 10 times the price of the RRP of the E-5. Seeing the output of the E-5, and considering they are marketing to the converted, and that it’s a professional weather-sealed camera – with seemingly EXCELLENT IQ – it actually seems to justify what the street price will end up being.

    Just because we are running on internet time doesn’t mean the products are.

    • Jason

      The E-5 is actually a great value. I do, however, that is drops ten or twenty percent in the first 6 months like many Oly products – then it will become a really good deal. I really like the price and features on the new D7000, but it isn’t quite as good as the E-5 I think….

  • If you think about the E-5 coupled with something like the 150f2, it’s an even better value.

    E-5 w/ 150f2 = $3500
    D7000 w/ 200f2 = $6000

    Both setups would give you the 35 equiv of 300, with the speed of f2. Granted, the Nikon setup would give a slightly shallower DOF, but is the difference worth almost double the money?

    • Voldenuit

      Or they could get the D7000 with a 180/2.8 for ~$2000. Which will have the same DOF as the 4/3 150/2 and probably the same or better low light performance due to the superior sensor on the D7000.

      You can cherry pick instances where an E5 may seem superior on paper, but for the vast majority of pro/semi-pro/enthusiast applications, the E-5 is creamed by APS-C and FF prosumer DSLRs, let alone the professional FF DSLRs.

      4/3 already has a severely limited high end lens lineup (10 years without a fast portrait prime people), and now that Olympus has pulled the life support and feeding tube, they’re trying to convince people that the coma patient will be dancing on a flagpole by the end of the month. Maybe from a noose.

      • D7000 with 180/2.8 sounds nice and tempting, for sure, but it is not image stabilized, nor weather proof.

      • Neville

        I was able to pick up a D7000 kit at Best Buy on Thursday.
        I have mixed feelings towards this camera. It has a lot going for it on paper but in the end it falls short of my needs.
        My camera produced sharp images.
        The camera has a nice compact solid feel. It doesn’t feel overly plasticky. It is a bit of a step up from a D90 in this regard but far short of a D300 feel.
        To get sharp pictures with this camera you need good technique, there are a lot of densely packed pixels on this sensor and it will show flaws much easier than a D700 for instance.
        Movie mode…. I’m not a professional videographer by any means but lets say I bought this camera for a trip and wanted to take some casual video with it and use autofocus. Well this is going to be a disaster. The autofocus comes through obnoxiously loud in the playback. You would have to buy a directional mic or manual focus. There is nothing casual about taking video with a honking directional mic on your camera
        Autofocus: I’m used to D300 and D3 performance. I took this camera and paired it with a 400mm 2.8 and shot eagles in flight this morning. It was D90ish performance in my opinion. Lets just say I didn’t get one acceptable image today with the D7000. The following link are the acceptable images I got with the D3 this morning after putting the D7000 back in the bag.
        Sensor: My camera had one really apparent dead pixel near the center. This is not acceptable especially when you are shooting video. It is pretty easy to get a dead pixel out of an image, but on a 5 minute video not so much. Someone else pointed out earlier that they found a couple other dead pixels in my images as well.
        Shutter: As someone else said it is very mushy, I don’t like the feel or the sound or any of it. It just doesn’t feel right.
        Buffer: Again I am a D300 D3 user. I was shooting Jpeg-Raw and getting about 10 images buffer. That doesn’t cut the mustard for my needs.
        AF-On button: This doesn’t have a dedicated AF-ON button but you can use the AE-L button instead. This is what I use. This button is too close to the viewfinder. I am a left eye shooting and it makes for a very uncomfortable experience with my knuckle and eye fighting for space.
        Noise: I shot some images early in the morning at 1600 ISO and got very noticeable noise in the feathers of the birds. This was a bit surprising to me. It may have been partially my fault due to exposure issues though.
        Conclusion: I returned it as a defective item due to the dead pixels to Best Buy for a full refund about an hour ago. I do not plan on buying another one. I was hopeful it would be able to replace a D300 for wildlife and bird photography. In my view it falls short. It is a very nice D90 upgrade though.

        • Neville

          Sorry that was a cut n paste from dpreview. When I was in Alaska, the number of Canikon players that were p’ed off by having to send them back was very high

        • Miroslav

          Does AF in video hunt much?

  • Hmm …

    All of you that keep on saying, Oly this is enough. I am leaving Oly now – I will abandon ship – Canon or Nikon here I come – and so on and on.

    All camera brands will stop producing mirrorbased DSLR cameras within the next couple of years. Where will you leave then? Realize that Oly is just early in the que of manufacturers that will be doing this transition.

    Mirror DSLR cameras will be history just like film cameras.

    • Miroslav

      Completely agree. Technology moves all the time. There are people who get stuck with some for various reasons ( money, lack of time to learn new things, lack of information, … ). For example, I really like the speed I can browse the channels on analogue TV, but there are numerous other advantages to digital TV that easily convinced me switch.

    • Michael

      Yes this happen in a time, but when big brands like C or N enter the mirror-less market (if they keep APS-C format), Olympus/Panasonic will struggle same as now with DSLRs. Only one way how to keep the position is showing that Olympus is entirely sure about m4/3 by introducing high-end camera body with high-end system lenses (but this time Olympus have to go below f2 for sure). That PDAF lens support will be appreciated by E-System users either. Conclusion: Olympus have to look back what they did with OM or original PEN system – compact heavy-duty body with high quality fast lenses, unmatched by others in same package.

  • Rafa

    As said, damage control for naives.

    • Rafa

      I mean, 50-70% of the questions were unanswered, and the answered ones are done with such a polite marketing correctness that scares a lot.

      “We can’t say”, “we believe”, “maybe” …

    • Jonathan


      Terada did not comment on ‘specific product development’ or technological developments, in fact he did not say much.

      Olympus may have had good reasons for choosing the same +2yo sensor for the E-5, but we know for a fact Panasonic chose not to offer the new GH2 sensor to Olympus. I wonder what having a choice means for him. I’m not convinced this was an honest answer.

      I don’t see how you can deduce from this interview that Olympus is working on a high end m43 or, specifically, an E-7. It is also worth considering that Olympus has announced it will not develop any new 43 lenses and that all their current m43 offering are produced in China and not in the Japanese factory responsible for producing the HG and HSG lenses. My guess is that Olympus will eventually shut this factory done.

  • Inge – M.

    If Terada mean wild no, wild he say no also!
    So the he say on Q23 and Q24; not we can`t say concrete product plan!
    Is not appoint now, but mabye later.

  • Strange

    Before the new E5 was presented every one was hoping for an E3 with 10-12 mpix, higher resolution lcd, lighter AA-filter, less noise and better high iso performance.

    That is exactly what Olympus did and now every one is whining – Oly how could you do this to us? You are not an easy crowd to please.

  • Stinde

    E5 would be my next camera, alas my finances do not currently stretch that far. OTOH, I am happy with my E3 still :)

    E5 looks really to have addressed most of the low (but not bad) points of E3 e.g. high ISO performance, micro sharpness.

  • SkyZ

    Okay, from the interview it sounds like there’s a big chance Oly will release a hybrid (PDAF+CDAF), EVF based (very likely to be mirrorless) camera in near future, it’s a good news for existing ZD 4/3 lenses owners, but for the rest of us, who still believe 4/3 form factor sensor is better than APS-C/FF in some way (compactness, lenses’ size… etc), why not go for Pana GH2 NOW?

  • Jozeph

    great interview. conclusion: potential E-5 buyers better wait till the super pro camera comes out.

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