Posts Tagged ‘four thirds’


12 July 2011

Dear J-

If we read between the lines that Olympus keeps putting out I think I see the micro-4/3rds (u4/3) professional line taking shape. According to my magic crystal ball I see these likely features:

1. Built-in Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
2. Weathersealing, rugged build
3. Vertical grip
4. Phase-Detection AF (PDAF) with regular 4/3rds lenses
5. Lineup of u4/3 High-Grade (HG) primes

The first three are just to keep parity with the current 4/3rds flagship E-5 (and the VF-2 accessory already provides a view roughly as large as the optical system on the E-5). If you’re going to move pros out of their current dSLR bodies you’re going to need at least those features. And yes, Olympus will be pilloried by the enthusiast press for the size and bulk (“small is the whole point of u4/3rds”) but there’s a minimum amount of that needed to support weathersealing and you’re not going to get rugged with an add-on EVF; a built-in eye-level finder is critical).

The last one will come in time (supplemented by the enhanced compatibility with 4/3rds lenses) but it’s the fourth point I want to spend the bulk of time covering. Watanabe has stated that they’re not going to wring much more performance out of the dSLR PDAF-based lens lineup with a contrast-detect (CDAF) scheme already in place with the existing u4/3rds bodies. The newer lenses that have been released lately all have been designed to take advantage of the CDAF sensors. I take that and extrapolate that they must be working on an adapter that provides PDAF for regular 4/3rds.

It’s a big leap and a wild stab but it makes sense of those rumors stating that Olympus have been working on a modular design. In this case think Visoflex, which adapted long lenses to the Leica rangefinder line and included a mirror box to convert the camera into a SLR. In the recent past Sony have started selling the SLT line which includes a pellicle mirror and EVF. The logical conclusion is that the u4/3rds camera to induce pros to switch will be bundled with a Visoflex-like adapter including pellicle mirror and PDAF sensor. The mirror will be set at a shallower angle than 45 degrees to throw the image to the PDAF sensor buried just behind the regular 4/3rds lensmount. At that point I’m not sure if the u4/3rds lensmount supports the communication protocol to the body of focus lock, confirmation, focus point, etc and additional contacts may be necessary which would preclude complete compatibility of the new adapter with older u4/3rds bodies.

Anyhow, it’s fun to speculate.



Step Into Wide

11 October 2008

Dear J-

The nice thing — and the curse — with SLRs is that you’re always fiddling to get precisely the right sort of framing.  I’ve been trying different focal lengths, as I’ve found a few reasonably priced Leica R primes and the cheap Nikon-mount glass keeps a fair number of telephoto and tele zooms on the camera when I’m at the zoo or taking pictures of jet fighters overhead.

But when it comes down to people pictures, I’m finding that wider is better, and even the 35mm Elmarit-R (70mm equivalent field of view on a 35mm film SLR) has me backing up a little further than I’d like.  It’s time to get a real wide-angle; it’s time to invest a little more into the Olympus system, and that means getting back two exposure modes and a lot more automation (autofocus?  what?).  I’m therefore punting some gear that hasn’t seen daylight for a couple of months and looking forward to getting an actual meant-for-the-camera lens, finally.  You know, getting up to the current day in the real world is tricky.