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Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling

Release issued by Panasonic Lumix and Olympus:

Olympus Imaging and Panasonic announce new Micro Four Thirds System standard

5 August 2008, Olympus Imaging Corporation (Olympus Imaging) and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (Panasonic) today announced joint development of technologies and devices for the "Micro Four Thirds System standard," a new standard that extends the benefits of the Four Thirds System standard for interchangeable lens type digital camera systems by enabling dramatic reductions in size and weight. Under the terms of an agreement between the two companies, they will work jointly toward commercial production of significantly lighter and more compact interchangeable lens type digital camera systems.

Micro Four Thirds System logo

The global market for interchangeable lens type digital SLR cameras is growing steadily, but still only accounts for a 7 percent share of the total digital camera market. Considering the much larger share held by interchangeable lens type SLR camera systems when film was the dominant imaging medium, it seems that there is still ample room for sales growth in the category. But compact digital cameras continue to offer an expanding range of features and performance, and market surveys indicate that customers choose compact models because they find digital SLR cameras to be "big, heavy, and difficult to operate."

Recognizing this market trend, Olympus Imaging and Panasonic have introduced products based on the Four Thirds System standard, and have led the industry in bringing features such as Live View and contrast-detection autofocusing systems to interchangeable lens type digital camera systems.

Now, Olympus Imaging and Panasonic are expanding the potential of the Four Thirds System standard even further, enabling the development of radically more compact and lightweight interchangeable lens type digital camera systems based on the Micro Four Thirds System standard. Together with the existing range of Four Thirds System products, the new range of Micro Four Thirds System products will enable customers to enjoy true interchangeable lens type digital camera system performance.

When compared to the Four Thirds System standard, the primary distinguishing characteristics of the Micro Four Thirds System standard are:


1)Approximately 50% shorter flangeback distance (mount-to-sensor distance)

2) 6mm smaller lens mount outer diameter

3) Electrical contacts in mount increased from 9 to 11

* Image sensor diagonal dimensions are the same for both Four Thirds System and Micro Four Thirds System standards.

The Micro Four Thirds System enables users to enjoy the high image quality benefits of the Four Thirds System's 4/3-type image sensor in a much more compact camera body, and also take advantage of significantly more compact lenses, particularly in the wide-angle and high-power zoom range. The Four Thirds System offers compact, lightweight performance, and the new Micro Four Thirds System will take this even further by making it possible to develop ultra-compact interchangeable lens type digital camera systems unlike anything seen before. The new Micro Four Thirds System also incorporates a greater number of lens-mount electrical contacts, enabling support for new features and increased system functionality in the future.
In addition, users will be able to mount their existing Four Thirds System lenses on Micro Four Thirds System bodies via an adapter.

Moving forward, Olympus Imaging and Panasonic will jointly develop relevant technologies and devices for both Four Thirds System and Micro Four Thirds System standards, and will develop and introduce standards-compliant products in accordance with their respective business strategies.

While continuing to develop Four Thirds System interchangeable lens type digital camera system products, Olympus Imaging will also develop a range of Micro Four Thirds System lenses and accessories, and Micro Four Thirds System camera bodies that are even smaller and slimmer than the light, compact, and widely acclaimed Olympus E-410 and E420.

While continuing to develop Four Thirds System interchangeable lens type digital camera system products, Panasonic will also develop a new generation of compact, lightweight, interchangeable lens type digital camera system products, including ultra-portable camera bodies, interchangeable lenses, and related system accessories.

About the Four Thirds System Standard

The Four Thirds System standard defines design and development standards for interchangeable lens type digital camera systems that fully realize the performance potential of digital technology. Four Thirds System cameras utilize a 4/3-type image sensor that delivers the high image quality expected of interchangeable lens type digital camera systems in a form factor that assures outstanding mobility. The Four Thirds System standard is an open standard that enables bodies and lenses produced by participating manufacturers to exchange information and be used interchangeably with one another.

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Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling

Four Thirds User editorial team Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
A second-generation and backwards compatible 'Micro' Four Thirds interchangeable lens system has bee... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Here's the big news of the day! It's also what I spent a week in Japan during June being briefed ... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Wow, didn't see this coming at all and going by some of the comments on previous threads, nor did an... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Without a mirror box and with the mount to sensor distance halved, body sizes will be much smalle... (more)

vicb981 Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Second para of news release is interesting; that DSLRs only account for 7% of camera sales, whereas ... (more)

Stuttaton Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I wonder if we will get decently fast high quality primes, like a 17/2.0, or just more crappy con... (more)

Graham Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I hope Olympus tune in to these forums to pick up on users ideas, even if they are only seeds of ide... (more)

rogerioi Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Is this the possible new pana/leica MF digital "rangefinder"?... Like a sub M8?... (more)

joachim Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Don't think so. Rangefinder lenses require precise barrels (focus accuracy relies on mechanical ... (more)

rogerioi Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Do you remember the contax G system? And I'm sayng this as a possible "replacement" for Leica's digi... (more)

fluffy Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Nice concept, but given the speed with which Oly and panasonic have been turning things out, I wonde... (more)

joachim Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I am really wondering here. They have products to sell into this market (e.g E-420). Why anno... (more)

joachim Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I have one of these, it is presently my most used system. The mechanics of the G-lenses is compl... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Always happens Steve, we had great cameras in the past too ! You have to eat your own lunch before s... (more)

fluffy Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I know. And for me, it's not the biggest deal. But as f22 as pointed out in another thread, what if... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Basically, I don't see why the two systems can't co-exist. They are very different products for a... (more)

joeletx Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
This worry me a little bit. Olympus left people hanging in the past with the OM systems. OM-1's were... (more)

fluffy Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Is 4/3 micro literally a separate division or sub-company? That'd be great, as long as they don't st... (more)

RichardSibley Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
It seems like an interesting concept, but I think it's success will depend on how well the contrast ... (more)

fluffy Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Ah, but the inevitable;) How will AP treat the new 4/3? Steve, who actually has an electronic su... (more)

RichardSibley Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I was waiting for that comment ;) We've been talking about it today and are all very interested in... (more)

fluffy Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
And I'm sure you'll treat the new system fairly. I only wish that some of you used Olympus as your ... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I agree totally, if I was a pro with a lot invested in ZD glass it might concern me, in fact I'm pre... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Steve Apologies for being off topic, but how does the Zinion sub work for you. I have been thinki... (more)

RichardSibley Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
We all have a number of different cameras and backgrounds in photography that and is part of what ma... (more)

hschnee Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I have mixed feelings about this announcement. On the one hand, the new standard sounds exciting, an... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I'm a little disappointed with the news if I'm honest. I already find the E4x0 cameras too small for... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Olympus suffered from indecision when autofocus SLRs arrived in the 1980s. They tried to modify t... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Well, hang on - you have the choice, surely? The E-4xx is small, and that's just what a lot of pe... (more)

f22 Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I hope this is the case, but as I said before all companies have limited resources, and this may ... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Oddly enough, the studio environment would suite a Micro FT camera well. There is no need for fas... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Yes, but the choice was always slightly lower performance, seemingly, but for greater features an... (more)

f22 Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Thanks for the reply - to be honest on the two E-3s I seldom use the LiveView...occasionally for ... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
No doubt it is a logical progression. However, equally logical is that Micro Four Thirds will draw m... (more)

RichardSibley Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I think Bear's scenario is the most likely - and with more sensors being produced it could help push... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I rarely use live view on the E3 but I am always impressed when I do. I don't do any studio work but... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I'd love that, I hope its right!... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Hi Richard - bumped into Angela today, surprised only to see one AP staffer at the event :D Oo... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Yep me too - hope it's my head not my heart talking.... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
30 fps refresh? Exposure Simulation? I hope Olympus brings out its first as the flag-ship of t... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I'd rather loose the LCD and get a reticulating viewfinder (like the videocams); out in daylight ... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I think we can expect E-3 equivalent image quality--if my understanding is correct, getting the l... (more)

zts Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
xactly. And not just that they "won't abandon the existing Four Thirds user base", but they need to ... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Mmmmm - this is a great un-answered question. On the one hand I understand that it could be helpf... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Are you referring to existing glass or m4/3rds designed glass?... (more)

joachim Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Ian, the position of the last lens vertex (where the last lens element sits) and of the exit p... (more)

Wickster Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I was hoping they were developing a system that would compete with the super expensive Mark IIIs and... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
You are of course right :) Above all, the reduction in physical size of Micro FT lenses facili... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
After speaking to a senior figure at Olympus UK this evening, Photokina next month should reveal ... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
The new lenses. Existing lenses should perform optically the same as with existing Four Thirds... (more)

joachim Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
The adapter is to fit present 4-3rd lenses to Micro-4/3rd bodies. The other way round is not so ... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
IMHO, the optical viewfinder still has plenty of life.... (more)

timg Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Did anyone else notice that the Star Letter in this month's Digital Camera magazine (UK) was someone... (more)

joeletx Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I agree about the border line of being small. Look at the number of E-4XX reviews that cited the E-4... (more)

timg Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
but this is one of the things I like about Olympus, they're on their own road and not following t... (more)

carder21 Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Im not sure if I trust what is going on. I truly beleive and love the four thirds standard, the effo... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Just saw this, so sorry for going off topic. Its funny though, when the E3 came people wanted to ... (more)

Hans Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Oh, no, not evil... Here come the consumers. :\ Guess they could call it D-pens! *LOL... (more)

Kuifje Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Don't see why it would perform less then E-3 or E-420 as the sensor remains the same size.. I... (more)

zts Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
A very good analysis from the Imaging Resource by Dave Etchells: ... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Its actually kind of interesting seeing people talk about this after the dust has settled a little. ... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Dave was one of the journalists I was with on the trip to be briefed on Micro FT back in June. ... (more)

joachim Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Excellent and interesting article. Unfortunately some paragraphs suffer from factual errors in ... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Is it simply being too optimistic for both the DSLR and Micro businesses to be successful at the ... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Myself, as an investor in the 4/3rds, want Olympus and Panasonic to make lots of money! I hope... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
This announcement means that the 4/3rds standard, at least for the foreseeable future, will not die.... (more)

Kuifje Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Oly Marketing, there you go .. Must be fascinating times for these guys. Releasing the new m4/3 A... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
My guess is that the m4/3rds story will steal the show and that there will be no other news of any c... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I reckon canon might pull off a bit of a shock with the price of the 5D follow up, especially if th... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
With something like 75% of the parts cost being the sensor for a full frame camera, I think that'... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I agree with Ian. We have heard recently that DSLR's account for as little as 7% of the digital came... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Perhaps though, working in the semi/superconductor physics/chemistry world I'd be suprised if its... (more)

Iloca Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I agree, Canon users expected a response in light of the D3, with the launch of the D700 they demand... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Or perhaps both?... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
5D sales are a tiny proportion of Canon's overall DSLR numbers. It may be selling well now becaus... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Yes, thats all quite self explanitory but, its essentially less important than perception of the ... (more)

alanb Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I was hoping to buy the new 9-18 if it was available before my next holiday in September, but now I'... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I don't believe for a minute that Canon or Nikon are not making a profit by making 5D and D700 fu... (more)

mikefellh Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
You mean because you're afraid that Olympus will no longer support FT, or that you intend to swit... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I'm not allowed to talk specifically about forthcoming models, but I can say that your assumption (... (more)

Bob Ross Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Hi Ian, I like the way thay you started this thread with the list of "not yet frequently to be aske... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Alan i intended to purchase a secondhand E410 + pancake lens as a walkaround camera, on the day the... (more)

Geldieii Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Pretty much the same for me, I was the 4 digits of my pin away from upgrading to an E3 last week. Th... (more)

Ian Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
The NDA precludes me from talking about actual products previewed to us, as well as roadmaps. I c... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I have an E510 ans was not planning to upgrade this. My main camera is an E3 and this suits me perfe... (more)

John Perriment Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I've missed all this excitement, having just returned from a (wet!) camping holiday today. It doesn'... (more)

JMK Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
There's an 'AP' poll online ([url]www.amateurphotographer.co.uk[/url]): "What are your first impres... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
This is an interesting poll. We can assume that the majority of AP readers are not Olympus users so,... (more)

Bob Ross Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Hi John, I'd say that you did a good job of prediction and it may be a good place to start guessin... (more)

Bazco101 Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Hi everyone! This is my first post on this forum, so be kind ;) So with regards to the future... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Panasonic L10 repackaged.... (more)

Bob Ross Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I'd be more inclined to say that it might be the LC-1 or L-1 repackaged. This is what I would call ... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I think that the first camera out of the gate in the new format should have a reticulating screen. ... (more)

Bob Ross Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
We'll have to see how the two (maybe three) MFRs. decide to portray "compactness" to the marketpl... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
The rebadged strategy won't earn Leica new business--and they need to go after new business. So l... (more)

Bob Ross Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Actually, over the last decades the rebadged cameras that Leica sold kept the company afloat whil... (more)

JMK Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
CNET Asia have an interesting take on MFT, suggesting a Panasonic model at Photokina, and how Olympu... (more)

Atlasman Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
Good find. "The Japanese firm (Olympus) also said that the target audiences for the Micro Four Th... (more)

Iloca Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
They're also quoted as saying, "the reason for the conception of this format is because previo... (more)

Bear Re: Four Thirds to get smaller and lighter system sibling
I read this as positive insofar as m4/3rds, doesn't appear to be aimed at DSLR users (or younger men... (more)

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