Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Micro Four Thirds announced by Olympus and Panasonic! (updated)

What has been wished for for many years by hardcore small-cam photographers, may have come true tonight! Jeff Keller at DC Resource has the press release of the Micro Four Thirds announcement. Be sure to check the just added diagrams at DC Resource, including the one that shows the disappearance of the mirror box.

Press release and analysis at dpreview.com. Check for the text with green color for a short analysis by dpreview founder Phil Askey.

Press release at the Olympus Global website!

More at Four Thirds User.

[NEW!] Tam's blog has a mock-up side-by-side picture of a Micro Four Thirds lens. This is courtesy of their friends at the Prince of Darkness blog.

Measurable Promises in the Press Release

  1. dramatic reductions in size and weight
  2. 6mm smaller lens mount outer diameter
  3. Electrical contacts in mount increased from 9 to 11 (new features and increased system functionality in the future)
  4. Approximately 50% shorter flangeback distance (mount-to-sensor distance)
  5. radically more compact and lightweight interchangeable lens type digital camera systems
  6. much more compact camera body
  7. significantly more compact lenses
  8. mount their existing Four Thirds System lenses on Micro Four Thirds System bodies via an adapter (how about OM? :-))
  9. camera bodies that are even smaller and slimmer than the light, compact, and widely acclaimed Olympus E-410 and E420


Reactions to Micro Four Thirds
In the Olympus dpreview forum, discussion #1 and discussion #2.

But not everyone is drinking the Micro Kool Aid. One forum user in the News forum started a discussion with the premise: Has Oly lost it?

More detailed discussions at four thirds photo forums.

Another discussion in the fourthirds-user forum.

The Micro 4/3rds are coming out as well: Is this the end of DSLRs?

Is this is a mainframe (medium/large format) vs microcomputer (SLR) vs PC (smaller formats) all over again? :-)

At this risk of sounding dramatic,


Now who remembers the Olympus financial results of today? :)

Also, the rumors that Panasonic was exiting Four Thirds are now proven completely unfounded, since Panasonic is involved in Micro Four Thirds even!

PS> Our "digital lenses" marathon post for tomorrow has been postponed because of the breaking news tonight!

Reactions the morning after (Tuesday)

ThinkCamera thinks through the announcement and says Huh?

Serious Compacts covers the announcement as well. The new Micro Four Thirds falls squarely within the realm of Serious Compacts!

These dpreview forum users are ecstatic: "The EVIL has arrived". "EVIL" has been proposed in the dpreview forums for a number of years, and just about when some people lost hope, the EVIL did indeed arrive!

Put on your lens designer hats, and think, how small can they make the lenses?

One veteran internet user calls it smart move. Also in the same thread, a veteran lens expert talks about telemetric (where's the coffee?) telecentric lenses and Four Thirds.

Already someone found a way to make fun of the MicroFourThirds name. Joke is included in this link. If you are allergic to jokes, please don't read it!

An interesting discussion is going on at Engadget. One reader there points out the possibility of ...cellphone interchangeable lens cameras, which is interesting to ponder. Another one brings up the holy grail of 35mm SLR photography (full-frame), and an FF debate ensues. 50+ comments and growing.

You can read the original Micro4/3rds press release at the Imaging InsideR.

Do note that the press release states that both companies will develop bodies and lenses, which quite possible means, LEICA (or the Leica name) will be involved as well??? And what would that do to its own rangefinder line?

Blogger Jens Haas discusses the potential of Micro Four Thirds, and how it may affect the DSLR landscape.

Will Micro Four Thirds kill the RAWsumers? Is the RAWsumer sky falling? The paranoid divas at the RAWsumer blog opine.

As an homage to Blogs 1.0, we'll pick a theme song for this and dedicate it to all the "EVIL camera" fans out there who have been waiting for many years for this. It is *drum roll*, Pink Floyd, from the "Division Bell" album, "A great day for freedom".

Digital Camera Review recaps the Micro Four Thirds launch and asks what to expect next?

The future has been announced exclaims this thread at the Serious Compacts flickr forum!

One dpreview forum user suggests that Olympus might as well do 35mm full frame! Some of the "chatter" in the forums was more of that. While many people hoped for Micro Four Thirds, I don't think (m)any expected it.

And Larry King says... (well he is the only one who hasn't commented on Four Thirds yet) :)

The unanswered questions

  1. WHEN will we learn about actual products?
  2. When will we learn about actual products? :-)
  3. How many camera bodies are they planning?
  4. Will they intentionally cripple them to "protect" Four Thirds DSLRs?
  5. What type of lenses will we see? Primes? Zooms? SuperZooms?
  6. Will Leica be involved with lenses via Panasonic just like Four Thirds?
  7. Will Leica adopt Micro Four Thirds as their own "affordable" mini-mount?
  8. What type of prices?
  9. Will they learn from the mistakes Olympus and friends made in 2002 with the original 4/3rds?
  10. Will other manufacturers join with camera bodies, lenses or rebrandos?
  11. Any other questions???

Reactions to Micro Four Thirds

After three days, we have taken a snapshot of the reactions to Micro Four Thirds in the forums. There are a lot of discussions and debates going on!


mrsfixit said...


Finally some REAL innovation going on in the camera world.

I want one NOW!

I wonder if they need beta testers? Oh please please please I'll be one!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, this is great news.

Some over on the forum at dpreview are poo-pooing the 4/3 sensor size as being too small...


How much larger is 4/3 compared to 1/1.7 in the G9...? 4/3 is enough for me.

This is a major step in the right direction. Man, I can't wait for Photokina.

You're going, right? To give us live, up to the minute updates and reports? Can you take me with you? LOL ;-)

1001 noisy cameras said...

Great points! This certainly caught me by surprise, but a very pleasant surprise!

Assuming and considering a continuous improvement in the Four Thirds sensors, I think this has great potential, especially since the lenses will presumably be custom-designed for this specific mount, so you don't have to worry about "legacy" issues.

It looks like they really kept it a secret, they didn't even send releases to many websites as usual.

If I were to go to Photokina, I would be running from booth to booth and trying to sneak behind the curtains and the closed door meetings to see what they are planning ahead :-)

Remote coverage of Photokina is my 2008 staycation :-) I'll get some German music CDs and German landscape photos for some ambiance :-)

Richard Alan Fox said...

This is only the first shoe to drop, but it is a big one, my guess is either Canon or Nikon to follow.
The problem facing us now is the impossibility of making an informed decision on any equipment purchase.

1001 noisy cameras said...

Indeed! Micro Four Thirds opens things up, and makes people stop and think!

The potential of APS-C/DX "compacts" is another alternative temptation that may have similar effects!

The camera review sites are going to be busy this summer/fall! Hopefully the manufacturers can get them review units in a timely fashion!

dot-borg said...

I have a question: When will we learn about actual products?


1001 noisy cameras said...

There was a question about actual products, which I can't find right now. That seems to be the biggest question everyone wants answered. Olympus, please tell us, if nothing else, when you are going to tell us about actual products!

Give us something concrete please :)

1001 noisy cameras said...

testing testing