Posts Tagged ‘4/3rds’


19 June 2009

Dear J-

There’s a lot of different things I could talk about; the Olympus E-P1 they announced on Monday, although a surprise to no one (given the officially leaked pictures and rumors), still managed to drive a ton of people nuts for what it was not: blessed with a wide selection of fast primes, “stuck” with a 4/3rds sensor, fitted with optical view finder — for me, as long as it is sufficiently responsive, it’s likely to find its way into my bag at some point, as the prime (f=17mm f/2.8) is smaller, lighter, and faster than the 11~22 I just wrote a paean to; how ignoring the “check engine” light meant that I failed smog this afternoon; the remarkable calm that’s blessed us since watching Departures yesterday. Instead I’ll talk about finding out that Detroit Metal City (Kiminori Wakasugi) has been licensed.

Although the actual mechanics of how the lead singer of the world’s most hardcore death metal band came to be, given his proclivities for easy-listening pop (think of it this way — what if Gene Simmons took off the makeup and you found Andy Williams underneath?), Negishi’s double-identity lends itself to madcap situations. If you make your way through the first book without chuckling at least once or twice, you’re a stronger person than I am — check out Nishida’s stream-of-filthy-consciousness in “Track 5” or the destruction wreaked on poor Negishi’s apartment throughout “Track 6” for instance. Funny thing is that both identities become important to him over time; without the outlet that the Krauser II persona provides, all the frustrations of Negishi’s failures would boil over and overwhelm him — he’s really angry underneath it all.

This is actually the first manga I’ve started reading as an unofficial scanlation prior to getting an official green light; without the efforts of the scum-scans team, I probably would have passed the title over when it showed up in the store. I appreciate the investment and effort that publishing houses put into getting a title on the shelf — and manga’s mainstream enough to command a fair number of shelf-feet in all but the smallest bookstores — but it makes me think that digital distribution can’t come soon enough. If a loosely connected set of internet friends can, in their spare time, scan, translate, edit, and distribute a product with comparable or better polish (lacking only the physical reality, really) to the professionals, and both faster and with better title selection (everything I’ve read from mangascreener is at least as thought-provoking than most of the physical titles I’ve picked up from the traditional publishers — Viz and Tokyopop), then all that’s really needed is to increase the acceptability of digital reading devices — I’m thinking Kindle DX, here.



Micro 4/3rds

14 September 2008

Dear J-

Panasonic have announced the G1, which has a Four-Thirds-sized sensor and no opto-mechanical path filled with prisms, screen, and flappy mirror directing light from the lens up to your eye.  If you’ve been following the micro 4/3rds initiative at all, they’ve taken the next logical step following the implementation of Live View — using a direct read from the imaging sensor for framing and shot setup prior to taking the image.

If you accept the camera evolutionary tree as being one where it “evolves” towards the SLR — a single lens being used for both viewing and shooting — through such branches as folding pocket cameras (separate optical viewfinders), range/viewfinders (again, the separate yet now focus-coupled view), and TLRs (one lens for shooting, one lens for viewing) — this could be viewed as the next rung up.  With a SLR, you need a large prism and mirror to provide full-frame coverage at an acceptable magnification.  The reduction in weight from taking that large chunk of glass off the top of the body is one thing, but now Panasonic have said that the electronic viewfinder that replaces the optical path actually has superior magnification, if not resolution, to a typical SLR viewfinder.

The proof is in the eye of the beholder, though, and since I haven’t had much experience with EVFs (aside from the poor one in the LC1), I’ll reserve judgement until I get my eye up to one, but I will say it does sound promising.  It uses a variant of digital projector technology — liquid crystal on silicon — that’s been proven to have a high fill rate (e.g. you won’t get much, if any, of a “screen door effect” looking at the border between individual pixels).  Aside from the resolution (1.4 million dots — assuming that all are being used for each color, as it’s a sequential-color technology, that makes it 1366 x 1024, or roughly the same resolution captured by my first digital camera, a Sony DSC-D770), there’s interesting tricks you can play — estimating the effect of shutter blur by integrating a view over time is something flat-out impossible with optical viewfinders.  It’s why I believe that it’s another evolutionary step up.

One thing that hasn’t been addressed yet, though, is how they’ll deal with lens design.  The two zooms that have been announced with the body are still bulkier than I’d like, and they’ve dropped any connection with Leica.  With no mirror box to design around you’d expect to see some kind of return to small, symmetric designs, but there’s been no word on whether or not those designs, which lend themselves to oblique rays, will be suited for digital sensors.  Leica’s own M8 used off-set microlenses to compensate.  Plus, as what seems to be a camera system to entice folks into their first step up the imaging chain, they’ll be necessarily zoom-heavy, and I’m not sure that the system of small primes I envision will be implemented soon.  Perhaps we’ll be blessed with mechanical adaptors before long for the Contax G and Leica M lenses, though.


Glassy Eyes

19 June 2008

Dear J-

The more I shoot with my current setup (Olympus E-1 with vintage lenses) the more I’m tempted to acquire more glass, even though I swore off more acquisitions only a month ago, and this even despite already owning multiple lenses in those same focal lengths.  What I’d be smart to do is set money aside for some actual Olympus lenses instead of making do with the motley crew of lenses I currently rotate.

For example, Olympus makes a 50 f/2 macro lens for the 4/3rds system; that lens is fast, compact, autofocus, and a 1:2 macro lens to boot, so why would I even consider instead spending a fraction of its purchase price on something like a Summicron-R 50 f/2?  I will say that there’s something seductive in the way the Leitz lenses feel:  well-damped, solid, and with an impressively long focus throw.  Here’s where my limitations come into play, though; anything less than 50mm or so of actual focal length and I can’t honestly say that I’m focussing accurately.  Besides, giving up on manual focus and aperture rings would mean that one-handed operation would be a bit more feasible; considering that for most photographic opportunities I find myself juggling baby, dogs, and camera, a free hand would be greatly appreciated.

I’d also like to be able to regain wide-angle photography without having to resort to pulling out some of my exotic lenses; the full-frame 16mm Fisheye-Nikkor works surprisingly well with minimal distortion, but what I’ll probably save my pennies for is either the 11~22 zoom or the 8mm fisheye, along with the 50mm macro.  The 14~54 has had great reviews, but considering my recent usage of that focal length range (on the LC1, I’d usually rack the zoom out to full-wide or full-tele, 28 or 90, and be perfectly happy with those results).  I don’t generally find myself limited when shooting with single focal lengths, although that may be a by-product of the lenses I’ve owned.  Now if Olympus would just lower the price on that 7~14 …