Panasonic alters policy on Four Thirds to Micro Four Thirds adapters and converters

Later G-series Micro Four Thirds models to allow use of Four Thirds converters and extension tubes

Panasonic Lumix went by the book when they launched the first Micro Four Thirds camera, the Lumix DMC-G1. If you want to use a Four Thirds lens with your Micro Four Thirds G1, you needed to use a DMW-MA1 mount adapter. No problem with that, but if you wanted to use a teleconverter (e.g. Olympus EC-14 or EC-20) or an extension tube (e.g. Olympus EX-25), you get the error message asking you to check that the lens is mounted correctly.

The strict letter of the law in Four Thirds land is that you can't have more than two components attached to the lens mount. You can have one converter or one extension tube between the lens and the camera's lens mount, but no more; so a converter and an extension tube, for example, can't be used together. At least, not if you want to retain data communications and focus control to the lens.

Because a mount adapter is required to fit a Four Thirds lens to a Micro Four Thirds camera body, Panasonic has regarded the adapter as a lens component. As you are only allowed one plus the lens itself, Panasonic didn't support the use of other components, like a converter or extension tube, as well as the adapter. But when Olympus introduced the Micro Four Thirds Pen E-P1 last summer, to our surprise, we found that you could indeed use a converter or extension tube with the mounte adapter. Naturally, I queried this difference with Panasonic at the time and they were a bit surprised by Olympus' policy. Even earlier, before the E-P1 was launched, we put the Panasonic policy to Olympus. They declined to comment on Panasonic specifically, but clearly implied that they expected a mount adapter to be compatible with the use of a converter or extension tube.

To cut a long story short, I've just received news that Panasonic has now changed its strategy, at least for models since the DMC-GH1, so by our reckoning you should be able to use a mount adapter and converter or extension tube with a four thirds lens from the DMC-GF1 and onwards, including the new G10 and G2 models expected later this year. There is no mention of a firmware update for the G1 and GH1, which could mean that there is an electrical limitation.

G1 and GH1 users can switch their camera to 'operate without lens' mode, although this means there is no aperture or focus control, which is pretty much useless.

Another Four Thirds to Micro Four Thirds lens facility that Olympus brought to the party with the E-P1 was autofocus for Four Thirds Lenses, and it looks like Panasonic will implement this in the G2 and G10 for the first time, although Panasonic's Uematsu san says the decision to go with this change is not yet 100% finalised.

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