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4/3 and the E-5/E-M1 - dead, reborn or...

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by dhazeghi, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    As of this month, B&H, Adorama, and most other sizable photo stores in the US no longer list the Olympus E-5 or show it as discontinued. There are a few who continue to hold out hope for an E-7 later this year, but that's looking increasingly unlikely. Since the E-5 has been the only 4/3 camera in production for several years, that means we're seeing the end of 4/3 mount cameras.

    At the same time, it looks as if with the release of the higher-end OM-D and its support for phase-detect AF, we will finally see a m4/3 camera capable of taking full advantage of existing 4/3 lenses.

    And really, I think the lenses were always what made 4/3 interesting. If you wanted compact, high-quality zoom lenses at a reasonable price, there wasn't anything else like it. The 14-54/50-200 pair is a case in point - 2 high quality lenses weighing just 1.4 kg that got you from 28 to 400mm equivalent with a max apertures <= f/3.5.

    Unfortunately, Olympus never made any bodies that took full advantage of these lenses. If you wanted weather-sealing, a good viewfinder or decent S-AF, your only choice was their high-end E-3 or E-5. If you wanted a camera smaller and lighter than a full-frame DSLR, you were limited to the E-4x0, E-5x0 or E-6x0 cameras. If you wanted competitive dynamic range and resolution, you were just plain out of luck.

    I think the E-M1, assuming the S-AF lives up to the hype, will change all that. It won't just be the first small, well-built Olympus body to offer competitive image quality, weather-sealing and a reasonably-priced line-up of high-quality zoom lenses - it will be the first camera from any manufacturer to do that. Even ignoring the weather-sealed aspect, nobody - not Canon, not Nikon, not Pentax and not Sony - offer zooms with a comparable combination of quality, speed, range and price that Olympus 4/3 does.

    Clearly, a lot of folks here think 4/3 lenses are too large and clunky to make sense for m4/3 cameras. That said, I think there are a good many folks like me for whom the size is a reasonable tradeoff for quality, convenience and speed. For us, the replacement of the E-5 with the E-M1 actually will mean that 4/3 is a lot more alive than it has been.

    (To be clear, I'm talking about Olympus's 'HG' lenses - like the 11-22/2.8-3.5 and 50-200/2.8-3.5. Their 'SHG' lenses - the 14-35/2, 300/2.8 and so forth are a different story. I don't think they make sense for m4/3 even on an E-M1. But I don't think they ever made sense for 4/3 either. Their 'SG' lenses - basically consumer zooms - have been ably replaced with native m4/3 variants).
     
  2. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Fred
    I don't think it's actually been "in production". The last production run hasn't been exhausted. Now Olympus has officially pulled it. We might be seeing "refurbs" dumped on the market soon.

    Fred
     
  3. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    I'm thinking you are probably opening a can of worms Dara, based on the mentality I've seen from some FT diehards (sic!). :biggrin:

    I can't be polite about this: It will never cease to amaze me, how delusional people can become.

    FT was dead 1 1/2 year ago, when the OM-D was first announced. It's very simple: Olympus could easily introduce an "equivalent" FT body based on the E-5, with the sensor, processor, etc improvements of the E-M5. This was the perfect timing. E-M5 sales would not be hurt in any way, IMO.

    They didn't make it. Game over for FT in my book.

    I'm not trying to defend Olympus in any way; I know it sucks for FT users and it certainly wasn't the best way to handle this. But we have to be realistic at some point. A E-7 would cost $1500 or more, body only, back then. Perhaps their market research indicated it would be a failure. I can't say. The fact is it didn't happen. From that point onwards, it was certain in my opinion that FT would not see a new body.


    :thumbup:

    In fact I believe the 14-54, 50-200 and 12-60 have no competition in ANY system, always comparing similar pricerange lenses. Take the 50-200 for instance and compare it to the Canon 100-400L.

    Again, :thumbup:.

    I can easily see a number of pros going for a combination of :43: and FT lenses at this point. I'm considering the 50-200 myself since I don't believe there will be a :43: with comparable performace/price anytime soon. And even if it will be, the weight and size advantage would be rather small.


    Precisely. Any camera system is a matter of tradeoffs. Having the opportunity to utilize both :43: and FT lenses, where applicable to the needs, is a great advantage. And looking at the performance of FT lenses on the E-P5 I should say that, within limitations, the E-M1 isn't even needed if AF speed is a concern.
     
  4. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    It's dead Dave!

    4/3 died some to ago and if it weren't for u43 and the E-M5, Oly's camera business would perhaps have died too. I don't think 4/3 was ever very compelling. Why put such a small sensor into such a large body? Sure the Oly lenses are great, but they're still pretty big and heavy compared to the best of u43.
     
  5. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Essex
    John
    Rather than look upon this as the death of 4/3 I prefer to regard it as a successful integration with an updated system, which enhances both systems. It's a win/win situation and something which Canon was unable to achieve when they ditched their FD mount for the EOS system.
     
  6. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    You can say that again! I see a lot of people arguing about Olympus while Canon actually left its loyal customers dead in the water, virtually I.e. what Olympus did was somewhat similar to the Nikon paradigm.

    But let's not forget that, in the same era, Olympus practically went out of business in the higher-end SLR department, when they couldn't make the OM line work with AF. At least in the case of FT and :43:, one could use FT lenses from the very begining of the new system, albeit with limitations.
     
  7. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    I think you're right. Volume was very low on the E-5 compared to the E-3, and they've always done their cameras in batches previously, so I suspect the last batch was probably at least 3 months ago.


    Well, what else are you going to do on a Saturday morning when you're laid up and go out shooting? :smile: Seriously though, I've had enough debates on DPR and whatnot to know that some people feel *ahem* very strongly about the matter. Fortunately, we're a much more civilized place over here.

    Precisely. They should have either delayed the E-5, or released an E-3mk2 in late 2009 to tide people over. The E-5 could have had the new 16MP sensor and as you say come out either slightly before or at the same time as the E-M5.

    Definitely. For my part, I've tried a number of 24-xx zooms - Nikon's 24-120/4, Canon's 24-105/4, Nikon's 16-85/3.5-5.6 - and I can say honestly that none of them have matched the 12-60. Not that the 12-60 is perfect (he says, looking at the bill for the latest AF motor failure with that lens), but its equal does not yet exist.

    I completely agree with you about the pro bodies. I do think there was a time when a decent number of serious amateurs went for Olympus's smaller DSLRs (the E-4x0 and E-5x0 lines) because they were compelling in certain respects. Unfortunately, sensor technology, AF performance and weather-sealing never made it into that equation. As to the lenses, m4/3 has been very good to folks who shoot primes or small aperture zooms. But it's hard to know if e.g. the 14-54/2.8-3.5 can be fairly considered big and heavy when there's no comparable native alternative.

    Agreed. Canon really didn't serve their customers well. The one significant different though was that they ripped the band-aid of quickly and cleanly. It was a mess, but people at least knew what was happening. Where I think a lot of the ill will toward Olympus comes from is their unwillingness to share a roadmap of where they're going. You can't simply be silent for years in this industry and expect customers, especially those heavily invested, to be happy about it, as they before and after the E-5 launch.
     
  8. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    there were small bodies for the 4/3 system... thats what I bought into 7 years ago... the E-510 is not much bigger than the OMD with a grip... and probably about the size canon and nikon have just shrunk the DSLRs to now

    I happily shot the 12-60 and the 50-200 on that body... I am guessing that the new OMD will be in the same ball park size wise

    I still have the 4/3 lenses...and yes they seem to be bigger ... the only size comparison I can do is the 25/1.4... which I have in both flavours... but i know that the 12-60 is way smaller... and faster than my canon 24-105.

    yes 4/3 is dead... as it was a format based on the idea of the pentaprism....

    however the underlying concept of 4/3 which is that is a sweet spot where sensor and lens can offer both quality and size still stands.

    I am looking forward to the new OM.. i gotta lot of lenses I want to see shine like Olympus dreamed

    K
     
  9. Danny_SWE

    Danny_SWE Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 30, 2013
    Sweden (Gothenburg)
    m4/3 is what 4/3 claimed to be. I hope they will make m4/3 even better now and market the system!
     
  10. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    claimed/aimed.... marketing/engineering

    definitely have more faith in Olympus engineering than their marketing

    but at the end of the day its just a camera and a lens... its not what makes a photograph

    K
     
  11. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Judging from the major 4/3 hangouts, reactions to the leaked E-M1 by those with significant investments in 4/3 lenses are, ahem, mixed. Some are quite pleased, others are quite unhappy about the size of the camera and the lack of the OVF.

    One school of thought is even that because the video mentions the E-M1 as the flagship of the OM-D line, there's another flagship for the E-series waiting in the wings...!
     
  12. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    I really hate to repeat myself, but....

     
  13. JohnF

    JohnF Mu-43 Regular

    183
    Apr 1, 2010
    Oberursel, Germany
    I've been using my 4/3 lenses on my EPM-1 and EPL-1 for over a year now and while the combo tends to hunt more than it did on my E30/E510, they are eminently useable. 12-60, 50, 75-300, as well as both kit lenses. I have dedicated the E30 for large-scale panorama and airshow use because it has the more robust shutter and better auto focus, with the E510 as backup. I'm waiting on the new flagship before making the complete transition...
     
  14. burdickjp

    burdickjp Mu-43 Veteran

    235
    Feb 25, 2013
    maybe PDAF lenses will continue to be 4/3 while CDAF will be u4/3?
    In this way they can choose which focusing system, and therefore mount, best fits the lenses purpose until on-sensor PDAF is more ubiquitous in the ecosystem.
     
  15. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Possible, but I'd suspect that for CDAF-optimized lenses, PDAF will still offer a number of advantages, so a hybrid approach using PDAF to achieve initial focus and relying on CDAF to fine tune is more likely.
     
  16. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Having seen user reactions over the past few months, and having tried the E-M1 myself, I'm going to have to revise my opinion. While PDAF with 4/3 lenses mostly works, the announcement of the 12-40/2.8, and the pre-announcements of several other 'pro' lenses suggests to me that Olympus is moving away from 4/3 as quickly as they can. One only has to look at the price that 4/3 lenses sell for (secondhand) to see that a lot of people are following suit.

    In a way, I'm kind of sad. There's no doubt in my mind that 4/3 had (and has) some of the best and most interesting lenses out there. But without a commitment by Olympus to at least maintain their 4/3 lenses (and realistically, they never had much reason to give one) and some confidence that the current PDAF glitches will be resolved, I certainly can't justify keeping them around. Native means faster, smaller, and very likely better, and that's a hard argument to make.
     
  17. Abula

    Abula Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Nov 12, 2013
    Guatemala
    Care to explain why the devolopment of a higher pro series lens is bad for 4/3? i would think they are trying to make 4/3 more competitive with DSLR, personally i doubt ill move to DSLR ever, found what i like and if Olympus decides not to suports 4/3 (i personally dont see it like that), then i'll stick with panasonic.
     
  18. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    They're letting their customers know that there are m4/3 replacements for a number of their 4/3 lenses coming down the line. That's the opposite of promoting their existing 4/3 lineup. To cite just one example, there are a fair number of people who want a good telephoto for the m4/3 camera. With the E-M1, the 4/3 50-200/2.8-3.5 SWD might just fit the bill. But they preannounced the 40-150/2.8, so most of those who might otherwise have considered the 50-200 will be waiting for the native solution.

    Again, I don't blame them. It's clear that getting fast, accurate AF with 4/3 lenses is a problem they weren't fully able to solve, and native lenses have many advantages, not least of which is not having to compete with a dirt-cheap secondhand market. But I don't see any sort of surge in interest or sales of 4/3 lenses - on the contrary, people are selling them off at an even quicker rate than before.
     
  19. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    Perhaps you are confusing Dhazeghi's point : 4/3rds is not the same as micro-4/3rds.
    Your reply sounds like you think Dhazeghi is talking about m4/3rds ...
     
  20. Abula

    Abula Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Nov 12, 2013
    Guatemala
    Thanks for the clarification to both @dhazeghi and Ulfric. I see the point, and i also agree, its sad if they dont develop other micro 4/3 lens and move on to the bigger 4/3 like the Pro line only. Personally i do think at some point ill move into M1, probably not short term as im having too much fun with my EPL-5, but in time i can see me moving to it with the PRO lenses. Thanks again for the more detail explanation, appreciate the time you did into explaining to newbie like me.