Four Thirds System

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Grant Ashby, May 16, 2005.

  1. Grant Ashby

    Grant Ashby Guest

    Hi, all,

    I'm just trying to work out whether I should be waiting for more to happen
    on the four-thirds front or whether the format is dead. I know Olympus have
    released cameras and that there are some lenses, but I can't find anything
    on the Panasonic, FujiFilm or Kodak internet sites that gives me real hope.
    Four thirds sounds like a good idea, but so did Beta video once (and 8-track
    audio cartridges for those who can remember the '60s and '70s). What are
    everyone's feelings about the future of this format camera / lens?

    Grant Ashby, May 16, 2005
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  2. Grant Ashby

    Basic Wedge Guest

    Hi Grant.

    I can't predict the future, or know what decisions are being made in faraway
    Tokyo boardrooms, but I can tell you I had enough confidence in the 4/3rds
    system to buy an Olympus E-1 and lenses a couple of months ago. I'm quite
    pleased with the system's performance.

    Basic Wedge, May 16, 2005
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  3. Grant Ashby

    Grant Ashby Guest

    Thanks, Rob. That's encouraging. I had a further search through this group
    after downloading another 4000 or so headers and found one that said the
    Panasonic Z20K and others are 4/3, but their specs don't mention this
    system, so I'm still confused. Panasonic's spec page says that their sensor
    is a 1/2.5" CCD, which I would have thought was different from 4/3.
    :-( Olympus certainly seem to be driving the standard.

    Grant Ashby, May 16, 2005
  4. Grant Ashby

    Basic Wedge Guest


    I'll tell you why I think the 4/3 system is destined to stick around. Many
    companies make point and shoot style digital cameras, and would love to get
    into the DSLR game (Panasonic and Sony come to mind). What's stopping them
    is they'd have to, from the very onset, offer several lenses and other
    accessories along with whatever camera bodies they introduce. That's a bit
    much for an SLR maker just starting out, no matter how big their company is.
    It makes better sense for them to join an existing standard, where they
    could offer their new camera, a handful of their own lenses, and users could
    fill in the gaps with equipment from other system partners. I believe this
    is what Olympus (and a few other companies) were banking on when they set
    out the 4/3 standard.

    Basic Wedge, May 16, 2005
  5. Grant Ashby

    Grant Ashby Guest

    A very good point and even more reassuring. Thanks for your insight, Rob.

    Grant Ashby, May 16, 2005
  6. Grant Ashby

    Paul Furman Guest

    I think we are in a transitional period and people who are looking at
    DSLRs are looking for super performance but it costs quite a bit and
    will continue to. You didn't used to have to spend $1000 on a decent
    camera. Anyways, once it settles down & people understand the new
    paradigm, the 4/3 will make more sense. Now it just looks like a crap
    version of a DSLR but it's actually a very reasonable compromise middle
    Paul Furman, May 16, 2005
  7. Grant Ashby

    RichA Guest

    The one tantalizing possibility is that they may be able to release
    hyper-fast long lenses because of the sensor size.
    RichA, May 16, 2005
  8. Grant Ashby

    Paul Mitchum Guest

    If you want the stuff that's unique to the camera, and the accessories
    exist to accomplish what you want to do, then get it. You can sell it
    later if you need to.

    Beta tapes are still watchable (I have a small collection of LaserDiscs,
    myself), and the camera you choose won't lose any functionality, either.
    Kind of like my old Pentax lenses that were a big part of why I got the
    *ist DS. :)
    Paul Mitchum, May 16, 2005
  9. I was very hopeful when I heard of the concept initially. But I
    notice that, right now, situation is that I can buy lenses from at
    least 4 manufacturers and bodies from at least 3 for my "Nikon"
    system, but so far as I can tell only one of each for the "open" 4/3
    system. This is not too encouraging.
    David Dyer-Bennet, May 16, 2005
  10. Grant,

    The Panasonic FZ20 is not a camera with interchangeable lenses, nor is it
    a 4/3 system camera. It does have an f/2.8 Leica image-stabilised zoom
    lens covering 36 - 432mm focal length, and would make an excellent
    addition as a standaby camera for a DSLR outfit. Or get the FZ5 with very
    similar capabilities and only weighing 12oz.

    David J Taylor, May 16, 2005
  11. Grant Ashby

    DonB Guest

    I took my wife's FZ15 (4mp version) out with my Olympus E-1 for an
    early morning photoshoot around the coast last saturday. Now I love the
    FZ15, but the E-1 was light years ahead in every way except for
    compactness. In spite of it's size however, it was far easier to handle
    than the FZ. In the bright low light I could barely find the subject to
    compose a photo with the FZ, and the viewfinder is next to useless. The
    E-1 has beautiful balance and a nice bright viewfinder, and after a
    couple of years using consumer digitals, I wish I had gone the DSLR way
    earlier. The pictures I did manage with the Panasonic cam out really
    well, but the E-1 in raw also produced superb images.
    It seems Panasonic are collaborating with Olympus to produce DSLR's
    soon, and this will be 4/3rds and something to look forward to.
    Grant, go to the DP Review site and look in on the Olympus DSLR Forum.
    You will find all you want there,
    DonB, May 16, 2005
  12. Grant Ashby

    Grant Ashby Guest

    Thanks for the responses, everyone. I thought I might get flamed for my
    naivety or by those who feel contempt for the four thirds concept, but all
    of the responses (to date, anyway) have carried sound ideas for further
    thought. I appreciate it. (It's a bit embarrassing that I got the
    Panasonic model name wrong, and that I didn't notice it didn't have
    interchangeable lenses - I did think it was strange that they didn't talk
    about lenses).

    Perhaps the upside is that four thirds probably will have a lot to offer the
    low-end enthusiast amateur into the future, and that the standard probably
    means that investment in equipment now should continue to be useable with
    new cameras and bodies into the future, even if the current ones lack
    features that are still to be developed.

    Grant Ashby, May 16, 2005
  13. Grant Ashby

    Larry Guest

    I wouldn't (didn't)wait.

    I fooled around with buying an OLY Evolt because of the self cleaning feature
    (I tend to shoot in a terribly dusty/dirty environment).

    I got to use an Evolt for a week, then a Drebel, and a '20.

    The results spoke for themselves.

    The images even from the lowly, out of date Rebel were cleaner, and sharper
    out of camera than the Evolt. (when using a good "L" series lens).

    Since the Evolt is prety much the Flagship of the 4/3 system, I took a pass.
    I need to be out taking pictures, not waiting around to see if they come up
    with a useable camera.

    Also, there is a plethora of available lenses for Canon, Nikon, et al, but
    the lens choice for 4/3 is limited and VERY expensive (for a lens you can
    only use on ONE camera.
    Larry, May 16, 2005
  14. Grant Ashby

    Alan Browne Guest

    I don't know "everyone's" feeling, but Stacey will reply with all of the
    virtues of it while possible taking a kick at the 35mm mount compliant

    My opinion is that it is indeed a good system with the risk of long term
    limitation due to the smaller sensor size. It's a limitation in the
    signal/noise ratio as pixel densities increase. Further, the promise of
    cheaper lenses for given effective FL has so far not borne out.

    Another poster recently stated, that in the digital world, full sized
    sensors (36 x 24mm) are the digital "medium format", and that cropped
    sensors (1.5x ish) are the digital "35mm". A good analogy that might
    prove to be the reality as time marches on. Certainly cameras like the
    Canon 1Ds II are encroaching on some MF work.

    The 4/3 system, being the smallest, and locked to that size, raises the
    long term question on noise as pixel counts go up (whether or not that
    is reasonable, that is the cheapest marketing gimick the OEM's have).

    Alan Browne, May 16, 2005
  15. Grant Ashby

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    Also, it uses the 4:3 aspect ratio, which is enough to lose any interest
    from me right off the bat; that's definitely my least favorite shape for a
    Jeremy Nixon, May 16, 2005
  16. Grant Ashby

    Alan Browne Guest

    The ISO 216 "A" proportions would have been ideal for cropless shot to
    print photography (as I've said a few times). The proportion has an
    aspect ratio roughly between 4/3 and 35mm's 3:2. (SQRT(2):1).

    Probably "innefficient" from a digital design POV, hence not used.

    Alan Browne, May 16, 2005
  17. Grant Ashby

    Bubbabob Guest

    You didn't used to have to pay $2.25 for a gallon of gas, either.<g>. The
    dollar has depreciated horribly under the Shrub's grubby hand.
    Bubbabob, May 16, 2005
  18. IMO, it's an interesting idea whose benefits haven't been realized in
    actual products.

    I see no advantage over a Canon 300D/350D or an Nikon D70, and
    significant disadvantages. I think it's a safe bet you'll be able to
    buy Nikon or Canon lenses and accessories in the forseeable future.
    Albert Nurick, May 16, 2005
  19. Well, I just bought an E-300 w/two lens kit. Based on my past record of
    picking systems though, that probably means it's doomed. :)

    Just for example, the last camera I bought was a Minolta Vectis S-1,

    However, I've got it now, I'll be buying a couple more lenses and
    flash(es). Works for me, gets acceptable results.
    Brion K. Lienhart, May 16, 2005
  20. Grant Ashby

    Basic Wedge Guest


    I'm surprised at that comment Jeremy. I find the 4/3rds aspect ratio quite
    comfortable - the same as many medium format cameras, and close to the
    8"x10" print size people are so familiar with. If I'm not mistaken, it's
    also the same ratio most digital point and shoot cameras, of all brands,
    use. This is simply a matter of personal tastes, but I think you may be,
    somewhat, unique in your objection.

    Basic Wedge, May 17, 2005
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