Where is u43 heading?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by pdk42, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    With the launch of the GX8 and the recent and planned lens releases From both Oly and Panasonic, I've been reflecting on where the format is heading.

    a) We're seeing lots of high-end lenses - 42/1.2 Nocticron, 12-40 Pro, 40-150 Pro, 7-14 Pro, 100-400, 300 Pro etc. In all cases, the size and weight has gone up dramatically and in many cases they are approaching APSC and even FF equivalents.

    b) The E-M1, GH4 and now the GX8 are all pretty big cameras. The GX8 in particular is a bit of a surprise.

    These two trends point towards a move up-market; an aspiration for best IQ rather than where u43 started - a size/IQ trade off. This is confusing me since no matter how big you make the lenses and cameras, the sensor size isn't going to change; and sensor size of course is a big determinant of the final IQ. So, we need the sensor IQ to improve too. This brings me to the last observation:

    c) The new sensor in the GX8 has gone for more Mp over improved noise and DR. Based on early reviews and sample images, the noise is no better than the current 16Mp sensors.

    This seems absolutely crazy to me since if there's one area where u43 IQ suffers compared to its current competitors it's noise, not resolution. I've never, ever thought "I need more Mp", but I've very often found, even at base ISO, that noise creeps in when doing PP (e.g. shadow fill, sharpening, clarity etc). Doing any serious PP to images at ISO 1600 or 3200 is not a serious proposition. This is the first real sensor upgrade in over 3 years and I'm just amazed that we're not getting BSI or such like to improve noise.

    So, where is u43 heading? It seems it's losing its roots as a small size/great IQ compromise system - but going big isn't likely to convince anyone that the IQ is up to a Sony A7. Personally, I'd just like to see cameras at the E-M5 size with an upgraded sensor that delivers lower lower noise (plus improved CAF of course!).
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
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  2. Johbremat

    Johbremat Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 5, 2013
    Always been curious with this line of thinking.

    I always believed that the Four Thirds ethos translated to an open format focused around the mount, allowing more than a single manufacturer to build the business end of a system (versus lens manufacturers supporting the Canons, Nikons and Minolta-cum-Sonys of the world).
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  3. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    All modern camera bodies are computers. Sensor size is not as dominant a contributor to size as heat dissipation caused by that bigger sensor. Mu43 lenses will always be smaller and that's a plus. If you want top notch video that's going to make a lot of heat compared to stills. I didn't mind video on my cameras when it was just there on the chip so we might as well use it. Now I'm really starting to see design decisions made to accommodate 4K and such. I understand many want high end video and I completely understand that. I would prefer cameras built for stills with whatever video it can handle. I would really like an increased emphasis on a split between stills dominant cameras and video dominant cameras, not a trend toward trying to combine the two.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
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  4. sootyvrs

    sootyvrs Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 6, 2015
    Real Name:
    If you think about it, Panasonic and Olympus have already plenty of cameras and lenses in their range to satisfy most photographers needs/wants...

    If we talk about bodies, then they come in all shapes and sizes from the GM1 to the GH4 or EM1

    Same goes for lenses.. std. zooms for e.g. 12-32 to 12-40 Pro

    So it's just a case of picking your poison to your preference.. Panny and Oly already have covered the small/medium size & low/medium priced market with their products so the fact they are now trying to capture the higher end market comes as no surprise... like with everything there are compromises... more features usually means bigger camera... faster glass usually means bigger lenses... more also means premium prices too..

    I guess we all want everything but there is no such thing as perfect e.g. f1.2 lens that weighs 120g and is tiny at is cheap etc..

    Most of us have moved to M43 as we enjoy the relative small size (compared to D-SLR or APS-C/FF mirrorless) but on average M43 system (camera and lens) is much smaller.. the fact the largest M43 bodies are over lapping the smallest mirrorless FF bodies (A7 mark1) is perhaps not that relevent as non of us have to choose the larger bodies when smaller ones exist if that is of importance to you.

    I am just thankful that there is a great choice and there is a camera/lens for everyone to suit all budgets/criterias
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  5. sootyvrs

    sootyvrs Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 6, 2015
    Real Name:
  6. Zee

    Zee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I've never understood the folk stressing about weight and high end options.

    Take note of the term used. "Options".

    There are plenty of good, small lenses out there, quality ones. Oly 17 1.8, 25 1.8, 45 1.8... Pany has it's options too in similar focal lengths, along with a nice 35-100 F2.8 and 12-35...

    What is so wrong with releasing some goodies for those of us that appreciate some higher end stuff, are happy to carry some extra weight, and yet, STILL carry way less than if I had a similar kit in a FF system.

    Remember - that Oly 40-150 F2.8, or that 300 F4, or that Pany 100-400... The framing of the shot is the equivalent of an 80-300, or a 600, or a 200-800.

    Go check out what a Canon 600mm F4 prime goes for, along with, say, a 6D, and add up the weights...

    Oh look! It's still much lighter, and much cheaper...

    Where is M43 going?


    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
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  7. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Camera makers are for profit companies. Camera sales are in decline. Camera companies shift cameras up scale so they make a greater profit per unit sale. This will work for some brands (Leica), but not others and they will stop making cameras. If people want companies to make moderately priced, high value cameras, then they have to buy them when they are still relatively new models. If they only buy new cameras when they are being dumped, then cameras become a commodity item where low price drives sales and profit margins are very small.
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  8. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Actually, that's a good point. I'd appreciate a still-only focus too since video isn't at all my bag.
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  9. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    Real Name:
    I think it makes sense that Oly/pana have focused on high-end/Pro lenses lately, there was a hole in the lense line-up.

    However what I do not get is why we are not seeing any more pancake lenses. The Pany 20mm is a fantastic lense and for me a major attraction of the system with the unique combination of IQ and size. Why not put out more pancakes? We have the 14mm so perhaps a 17mm? I realize it is sort of in between, but it is a very popular focal length and the oly 17s both have their challenges judging by what I have read.

    I guess there are physical limitations but I would love if Pana and oly would spend some of their research budget to look at more pancake options.
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  10. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    (a) - Yes the size and weight have gone up, but "dramatically" is subjective. My whole career in photography has always included DSLRs and those relatively big/heavy lenses. For me, the quality that I get from m43 given the size trade off is the more dramatic feature for me.

    (b) - There is a bit of a diminishing return for some of us. The smallest camera bodies that I enjoy using or would even consider using for professional use - and again - FOR ME - is an Oly Em5 Mk II or a Fuji X-T10. Any smaller and it's just not going to do it for me. It has to be comfortable and I have to be able to reach the controls.

    (c) - Even if there is no more DR and the noise characteristics are no better - increases in the sensor with no change is better than increases in the MP count and having worse DR/noise characteristics. An improvement is an improvement and I'll take whatever we can get at this point.
    Unfortunately, m43 makers still have to deal with marketing. Sony is pushing forward with 135 size sensors, Canikon are still going strong with the DSLRs with 135...and the buying public still has the idea in their head that APS-C is so much bigger and better than m43. The 135 and APS-C sensors are all working with 24mp + in the majority of their new cameras (still there are some exceptions and those who know better know why...but that is not the majority market).

    I don't feel that m43 is diverting from it's roots, if anything it is trying to increase its user base by giving PROs more options. The other lenses are not going anywhere.
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  11. Listener

    Listener Mu-43 Regular

    A lot of jumping to conclusions in your post.

    a) The m43 system has lots of small, light lenses that are well designed and produce great looking pictures. Buy those and don't complain about the others.

    b) So why don't you have a smaller, lighter m43 camera like the Panasonic GM1 or GM5? Or a G7? Or an Oly EM10?

    c) Why not wait for some detailed tests and some real-world experience before pronouncing judgement?

    I looked at several pages of your Flickr stream and 5 photos on your 500px site. I saw lots of ISO 200 and some ISO 400 images. Do you actually take photos at ISO 1600 or 3200? Do they need "serious PP"? To me, the best looking pictures on your sites are those with the least obvious PP.

    I recently compared images of the same subject at ISO 800, 1600 and 3200. OOC Jpegs from a Panasonic G6 and Olympus 60mm macro on a tripod. Other settings were the same in all shots. The images were very little different. All those photos looked fine and were equivalent for my use. I get Jpeg+Raw from the camera but the Raw files were not needed.

    On one hand, you seem to want to prevent the development of high-end lenses. Then you complain about the sensor not having enough dynamic range. And you say that you want a still-only camera. Do you feel that Olympus and Panasonic should make just what you want and nothing more?
  12. mannukiddo

    mannukiddo Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 28, 2013
    Choice is good. The option to buy small cameras and lenses is still there so it does not matter if some new pro targeted stuff is slightly bulkier. The real concern will be only when everything gets big and the small form factor equipment is totally neglected which I don't see just as yet.
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  13. QualityBuiltIn

    QualityBuiltIn Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 1, 2011
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    I'd buy that. The only time I use video on my E-PL5 is when I hit the far-too-easy-to-reach red button by accident.
    I bought into M4/3 entirely because the image quality was better than anything else THIS SMALL and I'd love to see technological advances take the beaten path; more performance in ever smaller devices.

    To be Devil's Advocate, perhaps the reason Olympus and Panasonic are heading more Pro, bigger and heavier (relatively) is that there are compacts now well capable of giving any M4/3 a good run for its money, albeit without the advantage of interchangeable lenses.
  14. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    I think the size complaints can sometimes miss the point. Human hands don't scale, and there is a trade off between ergonomics and usability and size. It wasn't that long ago when people were buying accessory grips to make their m43 cameras larger and easier to handle. Now they complain about size. It is possible to make a small camera with good ergonomics (Ricoh GR), but in my experience its pretty rare. Kudos to any manufacturer who successfully pulls it off.

    Besides, I think the takeaway is that m43 has the IQ to be a professional system. Giving the cameras bodies that can be comfortable to hold for long periods and have ergonomics that create a fast and easy shooting experience makes sense from that standpoint. It doesn't matter how good the IQ in the next EPL is, most pros likely feel the camera is too small to have the control needed for serious or extensive professional work. The EM-1 was the first Olympus with really good ergonomics and I'm pretty sure that was a big factor in its success with pros. The IQ was unchanged from previous models.

    I guess its the best of both worlds. You can have your Nocticron mounted on your GH, GX or EM when best IQ and ergonomics are important, and you can put a small prime or pancake zoom on your GM or EPL when size is important, all while staying with one system.
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  15. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    Real Name:
    I get the impression that the larger size of recent MFT cameras is to satisfy ergonomic demands of users, and perhaps to make the cameras look serious enough to justify their high prices. When I want portable, my E-PM2 and 17mm/2.8 pancake work great.

    The four-thirds sensor size has a couple natural advantages over larger sensors, besides the possibility of smaller/lighter bodies and lenses:
    • Depth of field is scorned by bokeh fetishists, but sharp focus is generally what photographers want, and it's easier to achieve on a smaller sensor.
    • A smaller sensor is easier to move for image stabilization or the kind of over-sampling that Olympus uses in the 40MP mode of the E-M5 II.
    I'll be happy to see sensors evolve, but Olympus and Panasonic are still innovating in other areas and making good use of their format's natural advantages.
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  16. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    I think Panasonic has done a reasonable job of going in both the scaled up and scaled down directions over the past couple of years. While the GH4 and new GX8 are larger than many m4/3 bodies, 7 of the last 10 lenses they have announced or produced are size for the GM1/5. Shifting a bit back the the pro/semi pro area seems only natural.
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  17. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I don't seem to remember because I wasn't around when the first 35mm film cameras were released in the 1920s, but 3 of the things that seemed to happen with the 35mm system were that cameras got bigger and lenses got better and the whole 35mm system went up market. Frankly, if it hadn't done those things, it wouldn't have become the standard system choice for the majority of working photographers and if it hadn't become the standard system choice for working photographers it wouldn't have developed its much larger user base amongst hobbyists. Somebody would have developed some other format which would have stolen the hearts and minds of the masses. I think M43 is trying to emulate the success of the 35mm format and to do that it has to develop in ways that grow its market base.

    As for M43 camera bodies becoming big cameras, my feeling is that the top range of FF cameras have also been getting bigger, and M43 bodies are still smaller than them. It's hard to keep making bodies the same size or smaller when people are also asking for more physical controls and/or better ergonomics, and body size and mass also play a part in the balance and handling of the total body/lens combination. Bigger lenses tend to work better with bigger bodies when it comes to handling. They're simply better balanced.

    And as for bigger lenses, those lenses are offering features that don't come on the smaller lenses we were used to. You simply can't make a 40-150mm f/2.8 fixed aperture zoom the same size as a 40-150mm f/4-f/6.3 zoom, especially if you also want to make a lens that's sharper and produces noticeably better image quality than the f/4-f/6.3 zoom. Yes, some of the lenses are bigger but is anyone seriously suggesting that those lenses could have been made smaller while keeping their speed and image quality? They're still smaller and lighter lenses than their FF equivalents.

    We've got choices. We've got smaller bodies and larger bodies available to us. We've got smaller and lighter lenses and larger and heavier lenses. Even the larger bodies and lenses are smaller than their equivalents in the larger format systems. You can choose your system based on what's important to you. The only thing that's certain is that if M43 doesn't offer this sort of range of choices it will start losing users because other systems and formats will, and users will migrate to them. If M43 wants to stick to "small and light" in absolute terms, then it will be replaced by mobile phone cameras and mobile phones seem to be getting bigger and their cameras are improving fast. You're complaining about the moves that M43 needs to make if it's going to stay a commercially viable format and if it can't do that then it will disappear from the market relatively quickly and you'll be complaining that the manufacturers have abandoned it. I somehow doubt that the choices about new camera and lens models being made by Olympus and Panasonic are designed to drive customers aways. I'd say they'd much rather be attracting more customers and that they have their eyes firmly on that goal as they make decisions on what they're going to release next, and they'll have their own marketing and research data which may well be suggesting that the direction they need to move in is a different direction than the one you'd prefer to see them move in.
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  18. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 2, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    Yeah, I don't know either. I missed it by years, but going back to the start of micro 4/3 (as distinct from 4/3) - here are the two opening entries:

    (all dpr)

    124 mm x 84 mm x 45 mm
    B/o no battery weight 380 g

    121mm x 70mm x 36mm (excluding protrusions) (edit -oops dropped the 1 from 121 :D)
    B/o no battery weight 335 g

    That seems to me to still be the basic two ideas of where to take things as far as the form factor and feature set goes. But where you take either of these lines when several others have jumped on mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and are offering the same form factors with larger sensors at all sorts of price points... it's more complicated to see a way to do it. It seems to me like it was more viable when the competition was Nikon and Canon actively trying not to step on their own business. Where you take the E-P camera when there's an NX500, or the G1 when there's an A7r ii, I don't know. Olympus's idea seems to be the air?
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
  19. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    Real Name:
    The Pro lenses serve 2 purposes; they increase profit margins for their manufacturers, and they provide a 'professional' cachet to boost system credibility and therefore sales of the entire product line. Think of all the Canikon buyers that buy a cheap APS-C DSLR and kit lens because their chosen brand is 'professional equipment' and never buy or use anything but the cheap kit zoom. Oly and Pana are chasing after a piece of that market.
    In fact, Olympus and Panasonic don't really care at all that professional photographers use their systems; they care that amateur photographers buy lots of their products.
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  20. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I wasn't complaining - I was just drawing attention to recent lens developments. My point is that Oly/Pany are chasing higher IQ at the expense of portability.

    I'm not saying that there aren't smaller cameras - just that the higher end models are getting bigger and bigger. Again, my point is that size is being sacrificed in an appeal to moving up-market.

    I did preface my comments by pointing out it was early days on the GX8 sensor, so we may all be surprised and find higher Mp and better noise and DR. However, Gordon Laing (Cameralabs) has reviewed the camera and says that noise is pretty much the same. I personally rate his reviews and I think he's probably right.

    Thanks for looking at my photos. Yes, I do take photos at higher ISOs (and BTW, why the sarcasm?).

    With respect, OOC JPEGs are not a reliable way to judge underlying noise and in any case, the final output medium will determine what's acceptable or not.

    Not at all. Posting views and opinions on a photo gear forum does not imply that other views and opinions don't exist or aren't valid does it! I don't want to stop lens development in the same way that I don't want to stop sensor developments - especially if it delivers better noise control and wider DR.

    Finally, maybe I'm being tetchy this evening, but it seems you want to ascribe me with views I didn't state, or interpret them beyond what I said.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015