the four thirds system

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  • 05-25-2004, 10:04 PM
    deekay
    the four thirds system
    Hi All
    Just when I thought I had my move from analogue SLR to Digital all worked out, hand poised to sign the visa card, I came across the concept of 4/3 and the alliance between Kodak, Olympus etc on the web. It all sounds plausible, even sensible. (see http://www.four-thirds.org/en/index.html). However, I have been caught before on the problems with standardisation (just look at the hi fi world, CD, HDCD, and SACD etc etc), not to mention the format wars with DVD currently in progress.

    I would like to know what people out there closer to the cutting (sometime bleeding in this digital day and age) think. With only one example of the new system (I think), the Olympus E1, and a rumoured E2 or E3 on the way, what is the consensus? Is the E1 Oly series likely to be a serious competitor to Canon 300D and the D-70, or even the Fujufilm series (also a member of the 4/3 partnership)?

    What do the professionals and serious amatures think? The reviews of the E1 are not as glowing as one might expect for image quality, although the thought of carrying less weight is very appealing, and my needs are not at a professional level. Maybe it is just the initial problems with a new format, but who wants to be the beta tester?

    Specific questions.
    Is the 4/3 system likely to be competitive, in as much as one can crystal ball gaze?
    Is the E1 overpriced for the feature set etc?

    Thanks in anticipation to some help or even discussion on this issue.

    David
  • 05-26-2004, 05:48 AM
    another view
    The E-1 is the only 4/3 camera made, currently. Also, the only lenses you can get for it are the five or six that they make - do they have everything you need (no fast primes)? I would imagine that there will be more lenses at some point, maybe from 3rd party manufacturers too. From the ad, the 35mm equivalent is double the focal length - a 50mm on the E1 is a 100mm on a 35mm.

    The 4/3 system seems to make sense with common print sizes (8x10, 16x20) because there would be less cropping. But think about this - it's the first DSLR from Olympus and it's a whole new format. I already had lenses, flashes and accessories (plus bought a DSLR before this was announced). With an investment like that I wouldn't have considered it anyway.
  • 05-26-2004, 08:06 AM
    deekay
    Thanks, and issues of image quality
    Thanks for the response.

    The lens question is one I have no problem with, I don't have any existing system - that went some time ago so I am in the situation of being able to start again.

    It is the very point you make about this being the first model that is of concern. The image quality and the value for money aspects seem to be the key issues. The consensus that Nikon and Canon have the pro market tied up, for the very reasons you outline means that the four thirds system may stay marginalised, which will slow development and adoption rates.

    Does anyone know of one of the other manufacturers who have a similar camera in the pipeline? There is a rumour of an Olympus E-3, but I cannot find any details about it. Kodak in particular seems to want it both ways, with CCDs the size of 35mm, but costing the earth.

    David



    Quote:

    Originally Posted by another view
    The E-1 is the only 4/3 camera made, currently. Also, the only lenses you can get for it are the five or six that they make - do they have everything you need (no fast primes)? I would imagine that there will be more lenses at some point, maybe from 3rd party manufacturers too. From the ad, the 35mm equivalent is double the focal length - a 50mm on the E1 is a 100mm on a 35mm.

    The 4/3 system seems to make sense with common print sizes (8x10, 16x20) because there would be less cropping. But think about this - it's the first DSLR from Olympus and it's a whole new format. I already had lenses, flashes and accessories (plus bought a DSLR before this was announced). With an investment like that I wouldn't have considered it anyway.

  • 06-12-2004, 07:39 AM
    deekay
    Thanks out there. In general, the observation of no comments means either people are not interested or there IS too much commitment for Nikon and Canon SLRs. Clearly nobody is really interested in the 4 thirds format given the big financial commitment in film-based lenses and equipment.

    May the format wars continue.

    regards to all
    David
  • 06-13-2004, 09:29 AM
    Michael Fanelli
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by deekay
    Thanks out there. In general, the observation of no comments means either people are not interested or there IS too much commitment for Nikon and Canon SLRs. Clearly nobody is really interested in the 4 thirds format given the big financial commitment in film-based lenses and equipment.

    The lack of interest in the 4/3 system is due to it's limitations. They formulated the spec long before the first camera came out. During that time, senor technology improved. The 4/3 system is smaller and noiser than existing APS sensors right now. Just as in film, any improvements in 4/3 sensors can also be applied to the larger sensors. Larger always wins.

    As for pros, what would be the point regardless of lens ownership? Canon and Nikon have extensive in-depth resources for their pros that just can't be matched by a new pro startup. The lack of new 35mm film cameras for decades means that any existing pros for the system are long gone.

    I just don't see where 4/3 can go. Look at the E1 reviews on Luminous Landscape and DP Review. They both have 4/3 nailed.
  • 06-13-2004, 04:06 PM
    deekay
    The definitive reply
    Many thanks Michael
    Size matters, clearly. I read that the Kodak CCD is now the size of 35mm film and if that is the case then it should be able to do what we have come to expect from film - or close enough for me. This technology will no doubt trickle down to the prosumer cameras (my price range) so we can look forward to better posibilities. With my iPod, even storage when travelling is not a problem now.

    Many thanks for your insights.

    Regards
    David




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Michael Fanelli
    The lack of interest in the 4/3 system is due to it's limitations. They formulated the spec long before the first camera came out. During that time, senor technology improved. The 4/3 system is smaller and noiser than existing APS sensors right now. Just as in film, any improvements in 4/3 sensors can also be applied to the larger sensors. Larger always wins.

    As for pros, what would be the point regardless of lens ownership? Canon and Nikon have extensive in-depth resources for their pros that just can't be matched by a new pro startup. The lack of new 35mm film cameras for decades means that any existing pros for the system are long gone.

    I just don't see where 4/3 can go. Look at the E1 reviews on Luminous Landscape and DP Review. They both have 4/3 nailed.

  • 06-16-2004, 12:14 PM
    sbaros
    re:four thirds system
    It all depends on what kind of photography you plan doing and how each system can grow with your needs. Do you like wide angle photography? then canon may not be your choice because they have no realistic choices beyond 25mm (35mm equiv.).If you need or want IS/VR lenses than either nikon or canon. olympus might not have alot of megapixels (5) but it is not everything.Image processing has alot more to do with it. Olympus has commited to releasing new lenses for their system and they so far have lived up to their commitment.They seem to have the best performance/speed /size ratio out of all the companies.As far as image quality goes noise was a problem in the first samples but it seems that up to iso 800 the images look good.As far as the size of the image sensor can you afford a full frame camera? Can you wait a few years for the prices to come down?Can your photography wait for the wide angle limitations to change?Is the sigma 12-24 a good enough choice? do you even care about wide angle photography? If you need more opinions, see the dpreview.com /olympus slr forum they consistanty post images and give their opinions about the camera.It is good get opinions from people who have actually used the camera instead of listening to people that have their own agenda. Some web reviews have not given this camera a great review because of the price (which has come down from$1999to$1499) and they were comparing it to the nikon d2 or canon 1d all more expensive now. But most magazine reviews are real good.Myself I am still looking and haven't decided which one yet, even though I have canon eos film equiptment.I know one thing I like my 20mm 2.8 and my 24mm2.8 and use those alot, your needs may be different. DO RESEARCH, HANDLE THE DIFFEENT CHOICES AND MAKE YOUR OWN CHOICE
  • 06-16-2004, 01:46 PM
    Michael Fanelli
    Almost everything you have said is true except... The quality will always be poorer. Yes, noise has gotten better but compare the Olympus at 800 ISO to the cheaper Rebel at 800 ISO: the difference is easily visible to the naked eye.

    The 4/3 format is maxed out. Those 4/3 lenses can never be used on anything bigger. Using 35mm lenses is good for current APS sensors as well as full frame when they get cheaper. The investment is almost all in the lenses, NOT the bodies.
  • 06-16-2004, 07:20 PM
    sbaros
    re:4/3 poor quality
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Michael Fanelli
    Almost everything you have said is true except... The quality will always be poorer. Yes, noise has gotten better but compare the Olympus at 800 ISO to the cheaper Rebel at 800 ISO: the difference is easily visible to the naked eye.

    The 4/3 format is maxed out. Those 4/3 lenses can never be used on anything bigger. Using 35mm lenses is good for current APS sensors as well as full frame when they get cheaper. The investment is almost all in the lenses, NOT the bodies.

    I disagree I have seen both side by side and their is a slight noise difference but the quality of the image right out of the camera seems to better and more film like with the e-1. But I have not made a decision yet. But as you can tell I am leaning towards the e system. Just take a look at the posts on the olympus and 4/3 forums.According to olympus the sensor is not maxed out and they intend on increasing the pixels. we are talking about a completely new format.Just like they had when 35mm was supposed to be a horrible option compared to larger formats when it came out. IT makes more sense to design a digital camera from the ground up then try to adopt an old format to digital.The way digital sensors need light to strike them and other lens design considerations are different between 35mm and digital. hopefully we will see more improvement this fall and next spring to help make this all more clear.
  • 06-16-2004, 07:47 PM
    Michael Fanelli
    Quote:

    Just take a look at the posts on the olympus and 4/3 forums.According to olympus the sensor is not maxed out and they intend on increasing the pixels. we are talking about a completely new format.
    The size of the sensor is fixed, both in concept as well as the lens circle. Add more pixels and the pixels must be even smaller and noisier. Let's assume someone figures out how to minimize the growing amount of noise on the 4/3 sensor. Great! But that same technology can be used on the larger sensors keeping them well ahead.

    Quote:

    IT makes more sense to design a digital camera from the ground up then try to adopt an old format to digital.
    Built from the ground up just for digital? The Olympus isn't really any different than those based on 35mm!

    Quote:

    Just like they had when 35mm was supposed to be a horrible option compared to larger formats when it came out.
    It was and still is. The difference between 35mm and 6x7 is immense. In both film and sensors, size matters.
  • 06-16-2004, 08:27 PM
    sbaros
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Michael Fanelli
    The size of the sensor is fixed, both in concept as well as the lens circle. Add more pixels and the pixels must be even smaller and noisier. Let's assume someone figures out how to minimize the growing amount of noise on the 4/3 sensor. Great! But that same technology can be used on the larger sensors keeping them well ahead.

    yes, but more expensive



    Built from the ground up just for digital? The Olympus isn't really any different than those based on 35mm!

    yes, it is different see the olympus and four thirds web sites for all the pixel peeping details.


    It was and still is. The difference between 35mm and 6x7 is immense. In both film and sensors, size matters.

    but, 35mm is more popular and in most cases less expensive with a wider lens range beacause it is less expensive to cover a 35mm frame than 6x7 or 645. lenses can be smaller also.the same can be said about 4/3 vs aps-c or 35mm
  • 07-11-2004, 08:29 AM
    deekay
    The debate moves on
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sbaros
    but, 35mm is more popular and in most cases less expensive with a wider lens range beacause it is less expensive to cover a 35mm frame than 6x7 or 645. lenses can be smaller also.the same can be said about 4/3 vs aps-c or 35mm

    Look what happens, you go away for a few weeks and the discussion resurfaces. I have one further question. Having now had a 'play' with the E1, if the format is smaller and the lens is smaller than the 35mm equivalent, why is the E1 such a large camera - comparing it to the Canon 300D, for example?
    I was expecting to hold a relatively light, and very good camera for travelling with - instead I found a body larger than the Nikon D70.

    thanks
    Deekay
  • 07-11-2004, 10:03 AM
    Michael Fanelli
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by deekay
    Look what happens, you go away for a few weeks and the discussion resurfaces. I have one further question. Having now had a 'play' with the E1, if the format is smaller and the lens is smaller than the 35mm equivalent, why is the E1 such a large camera - comparing it to the Canon 300D, for example?
    I was expecting to hold a relatively light, and very good camera for travelling with - instead I found a body larger than the Nikon D70.

    The body size is not directly related to the sensor size. If you want small and light, look at the Pentax digital. It's smaller than the E1 even with 35mm lenses.
  • 07-12-2004, 05:55 PM
    deekay
    Thanks
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Michael Fanelli
    The body size is not directly related to the sensor size. If you want small and light, look at the Pentax digital. It's smaller than the E1 even with 35mm lenses.

    thanks for the advice, I will have a look at the Pentax.
    Regards
    Deekay