Friday, August 8, 2008

Micro Four Thirds: Change we can believe in?

Micro Four Thirds (MFT or M43 or mFT or m43) was surprise-announced a few days ago, going in the opposite direction of "35mm full frame", or as a few like to call it, "35mm fool's frame".

It is interesting to note that just about all the forums are talking about Micro Four Thirds, and they have at least one "busy" thread talking about it. It has certainly managed to generate a lot of buzz, with people having a wide variety of opinions.

In fact, MFT interest has eclipsed Nikon D90 discussions in the non-Nikon forums. Typically other brands compare and contrast, but we have seen very few 40D-vs-D90 or A350-vs-D90, or D90-vs-K20D type of discussions. Instead it's Micro Four Thirds and then some more MFTs!

The dpreview News forum is MFT Debate HQ
Just the non-denominational but heavily opinionated dpreview News forum has at least two to three dozen M43s threads up and running. Already there's a few blockbuster threads (over 100 posts), with titles such as "Has Oly Lost it?", and "Is this the EVIL?", and "commotion".

Or is perhaps M43s a yawner?. But this quickly turned into a discussion on mirrors and EVFs. Here are ten EVF advantages.

And what about dust and everyone's not-so-favorite dust bunnies on the sensor?

Four Thirds is a closed standard says one forum user, and he has the evidence to prove it!

One forum user claims Nostradamus powers as he predicted MFTs about two years ago. Someone should get him on Lou Dobbs Tonight ;-)

And now put on your conspiracy theory hats on, what was the real reason behind Four Thirds?

And while the MFers won't give us any official details, forum users are busy speculatinb on what type of a shape MFT cameras would have.

And what will the competition do? Will we see APS-C/DX fixed-lens cameras from the "SLR Traditionalists"? Will they revive their rangefinder lines? Will they just make smaller form factor DSLRs and "digital only" lenses? So many questions, and very few answers!

And what about the rag tag fleet of companies attached to the Four Thirds press release? Will they be involved? They/we are talking of course about Kodak, Sigma, Fuji and Sanyo. Speaking of Fuji, be sure to check what Thom Hogan had to say in a different discussion.

This is already a full size post, and we only covered one forum at one website. Oh dear, this is going to last longer than the Olympics Marathon, but at least the air is clean here :-)

Reactions in the Olympus forum
This is effectively the home forum of the debate, so expect a lot of action!

We start with the Bears, the doubters, the Unbelievers. Doubt it's a good idea says one thread. And will Olympus forget about the pros? And what about the original 4/3rds? Drop it altogether say some. Not a bed of roses says another user. Is this the end asks another user.

Go away bears scream the bulls! The E-series is not shutting down! It's not the end of 4/3rds and I feel fine say some other forum users.

Others are trying a more fair and balanced approach, trying to figure out the realistic expectations. It's hard to do that when all we have is a press release. Kinda feels like 2002 all over again!

Lens design, and the mockup are discussed in this thread. How do you zoom and focus with just one ring? Is it The One ring that does it all? Or do you zoom like a digicam? Or focus like a digicam? Or is it just a dummy mockup to denote the size, and we are all just reading too much into it?

And what about all the extra contacts on the mount? What are they there for? Remote ordering from the Starbucks menu? What bonus functions will they get us?

French magazine Chasseur d^Images is le subject of cette thread. Is something coming in the next few days and what exactly are "bridge" cameras now? And of course we get the obligatory "surrender" and "frog comments.

If you missed it from earlier, there's a full thread (150 posts) talking about Thom Hogan's predictions that video will kill the radio star. Oops, that "micro APS" will kill "micro Four Thirds" - to paraphrase the paraphrasers.

And what about us sing the Four Thirds users? What have you done for us lately Olympus? Well, they did release two back to back DSLRs earlier this year (E420/E520).

You can't possibly ask for more than $400 speculates another. And speculate we will, until the combined 4/3rds of the Oly-Panasonic braintrust tell us more!

Will M43s be a photojournalist's dream camera system, or nightmare+chimera?

Git them nano-toy-fake-SLRs outta here scream some purists.

And this is only a sampling! For a lot more, be sure to visit the dpreview Olympus forum.

Reactions in the Panasonic forum
Is M43s a bridge for brigde-camera owners? We do not like the term bridge since it indicates some sort of a transition and non-permanence, and it really doesn't make sense. But people use it and people sort of understand what it means, so we go along.

And how would we manual-focus with EVFs under M43s? Will this feel like a manual focus EVF guess-venture like the 1/1.8" fixed-lens digital cameras?

Is that why we haven't seen a FZ50 replacement? Well, we hadn't seen an LX2 replacement either, until a couple of weeks ago when the LX3 was announced.

Part II coming up in the next 100 hours
This post has already grown too long, we doubt anyone can read all of the above and still want more. So we will continue coverage of the reactions in other forums and websites with an upcoming separate post. Be sure to read everything above, because it will be included in the final exam ;-) [permalink]

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