Nikon D3 hints at a way "out" for Olympus

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by RichA, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. RichA

    RichA Guest

    Olympus needs a strategy to exit the confines of the 4/3rds sensor
    without losing too much face. Nikon's D3 is compatible with DX lenses
    via an aperture stop that uses only part of the sensor (5 megapixels)
    so people owning DX lenses won't necessarily have to dump them.
    Olympus needs to go the other way. The Olympus digital lenses produce
    an image circle just slightly smaller than an 35mm sensor. You can
    see for yourself if you put a digital lens on a Konica SLR, which
    shares a similar bayonette to the digital Olympus cameras. It
    vignettes the outer edge, but not the top and bottom, at least not too
    much. Olympus needs to go to a larger sensor (hey, why not a 4/3rds
    in the same physical area as an APS sensor? It make FAR more sense
    than continuing to support the ancient 3:2 format) to progress against
    increasingly sophisticated and strong competition. So, implementing
    an APS sized sensor with a 4/3rd configuration, at 14 megapixels with
    a built-in mask function (optionally able to be turned off when using
    current digital lenses, for those who want to live with Canon WA edge
    aberrations) to allow the use of their current digital lenses would
    help here. Since the image circle covered by the Olympus digitals just
    about supports an APS sensor size, there is NO downside.

    Reason I say this is simple: The DR issue is important, at least as
    much as noise. So why would someone, barring a heavy investment in
    Olympus glass, choose the upcoming E-3 over a (for e.g.) Nikon D300,
    from what we know at this point? Or even the Canon 40D which is likely
    $400 less? In other words, knowing that no matter how much you spent
    on glass, you'd never quite reach the image quality of a rival, why
    would you not BUY the rival? Isn't this in-part what cost Nikon the
    high end against Canon, having a $5000 camera that couldn't keep up
    with the competition's $5000 camera?

    We do not know what sensor the E-3 is going to use, but if it's the
    same one as in the entry-level E-410 and 510, someone dropping $4000
    (the cost of the E-3 plus it's new 12-60mm kit lens and the 50-200mm
    lens) might think it was time to consider alternate system paths.
    RichA, Sep 24, 2007
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  2. RichA

    Doug Jewell Guest

    The problem with doing that for Olympus though, is the small distance
    between the back of the lens, and the sensor in the 4/3 system. Increasing
    sensor size means a larger mirror, and a larger mirror won't fit in the
    distance they have available. They physically can't go to a bigger sensor
    system unless they...
    A) go to a complete new lens mount with greater sensor/flange distance
    B) dispense with the reflex system, and rely solely on liveview - basically
    a bigger-sensor, interchangeable lens version of most of today's big-zoom
    C) come up with a completely different reflex system, such as having the
    viewfinder in the film-plane, swinging it away and swinging the sensor into
    Option B is probably the only really viable one, but with screen resolutions
    still a long way short of viewfinder screens, I can't see it being a very
    popular one.
    Option A is the only option that completely addresses other issues like
    autofocus too, but it would see them having to support 2 different lens
    mounts. Of course if designed properly, it would be fairly elementary to
    create an adapter allowing the new lenses to be mounted to a 4/3 body.

    Canon are in a similar situation with 2 physically different lens mounts in
    EF and EF-S. The difference is that EF will fit onto an EF-S body, but not
    vice-versa. I guess this is kind of like the hypothetical olympus situation

    Interesting to note that Pentax/Samsung and Sony/Minolta could go to
    full-frame using the Nikon system if they wished. Both manufacturers have
    maintained 100% compatibility between their small-sensor and large-sensor
    lenses/bodies, with only the image circle changing.
    Doug Jewell, Sep 24, 2007
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  3. RichA

    cmyk Guest

    Not necessarily, see below.
    D: Put in the larger sensor, but stick with a mirror about the same size as at present and accept they'll have much less of the FoV
    showing in the viewfinder.

    cmyk, Sep 24, 2007
  4. RichA

    RichA Guest

    The distance between the lens and sensor in digitals makes the cameras
    much "thicker" than most of the old film cameras, which is unfortunate
    in some ways.
    But, the lens mount doesn't determine the lens-sensor gap, and I think
    the Olympus lens mount will support a larger sensor format. The
    bodies will definitely need a re-design.
    I doubt they'd do that but you never know.
    Problem is that Olympus never really got into the AF game in a big way
    until they switched to digital sensors. Their AF stuff from the 1990s
    won't work with anything except film cameras of that era. A poor
    strategy on their part I as far as consumers go, I guess, but then it
    does sell more lenses now because of it. The old OM lenses (manual)
    will work with an adapter to the digital bodies.
    RichA, Sep 24, 2007
  5. RichA

    HankB Guest

    Doesn't the lens determine the lens/sensor gap? Isn't the lens closest
    to the sensor when focused at infinity? (*) So it cannot be moved
    further from the sensor without giving up focus at infinity, no?

    (*) That's oversimplified, ignoring modern lens design where groups
    move independently of each other. But in general, don't they tend to
    be closest to the sensor when focussed at infinity?

    HankB, Sep 24, 2007
  6. RichA

    Paul Furman Guest

    Moving the lens away from the sensor does cause the loss of infinity
    focus, at least that much holds true. The distance from sensor to lens
    is generally equal to the diagonal of the sensor which for 24x36 is
    about 43mm and that's also the 'normal' lens focal length. APS DSLRs
    could come closer but they are designed to accomodate the old lenses.
    It's easier to design fast wide angle lenses if you can get them closer
    to the sensor so there is some disadvantage to that compromise. I
    believe the Canon 'digital' lenses do mount closer to the sensor and
    that's why those lenses won't mount on their full frame cameras where
    Nikons will... but Nikon doesn't have a 10-22mm lens either. Olympus has
    an 11-22mm f/2.8-3.5 which is faster than the Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5
    which is faster & better than the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 that fits the
    Nikon mount. There is a Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye but not rectalinear.
    Paul Furman, Sep 24, 2007
  7. There is no easy way out of the box Olympus is in. However they have
    been innovative in the past, so perhaps they will be again. If they
    have to make a change, and I believe they will eventually, what limits
    them to a particular sensor size or format?

    I see the Canon/Nikon/Pentax/Sony industry slowly arriving at the full
    frame sensor for consumer DSLRs. When they get there, what will they do

    Olympus could be the leader of the pack if they would go with a still
    larger sensor. Perhaps 645 format? There must be a format that will
    allow a reasonably small body plus lens, with more pixels with less
    density than currently available. There have been compact full-frame
    35mm cameras for years, and it is no longer necessary to provide extra
    space for two spools of film!

    Fred McKenzie, Sep 24, 2007
  8. RichA

    Tony Polson Guest

    I think the fact that Olympus has invested heavily in Four Thirds, but
    hasn't achieved anything like the rate of return hoped for, means that
    Olympus are not in a any position to invest in another format.

    I have been a little starled by some of the ideas that have been
    suggested about larger sensor sizes. For the avoidance of doubt, all
    the Olympus Four Thirds lenses have an image cicle that is just big
    enough for the Four Thirds sensors, and no more. There is no question
    of using any of the Olympus Four Thirds lenses with a larger sensor.
    Tony Polson, Sep 24, 2007
  9. RichA

    Doug Jewell Guest

    Not quite. The sensor/lens distance has stayed the same for all digitals
    except Olympus. It is not this that makes digitals thicker than film
    cameras. It is the stuff that has to go behind the sensor that makes
    digitals thicker. The sensor & screen, both have supporting circuitry that
    needs to go behind them and that increases the distance between the sensor
    and the rear of the camera. A film camera only needed a back door and a
    pressure plate to push on the quite thin film.
    While it would be possible to make a lens using the existing bayonet but
    with a greater distance to the sensor, you have to consider that all current
    lenses are designed to have the sensor plane a certain distance from the
    flange. If you move the sensor plane further back, you lose infinity focus.
    This is why you can't have a simple adaptor to allow Canon FD lenses to be
    used on EOS bodies. The other consideration is not just the distance from
    the flange to the sensor, but the distance from the rear of the lens to the
    sensor. It is this for example that stops Canon EF-S lenses mounting to
    film/full-frame bodies. The rear of the lens protrudes further into the
    body, so a full-frame mirror hits it.
    Considering they were the first to introduce live-view, it wouldn't surprise
    me. It would be the easiest way out for them.
    Doug Jewell, Sep 24, 2007
  10. RichA

    RichA Guest

    This depends entirely on what you mean by "just big enough." Olympus
    users have become used to getting near perfect corner performance
    because unlike the APS and FF cameras, their lenses more than cover
    the 4/3rds format.
    While Canon FF users put up with terrible edge aberrations in their
    FFs, and Olympus user would be shocked by it. This would seem to
    suggest that the Olympus digital lenses cover a large frame area
    relative to their design than do the DX and the FF film lenses now
    used on Nikons and Canons. But, if anyone is curious, I can take a
    shot through a film camera with an Olympus digital lens attached and
    show you the coverage.
    RichA, Sep 24, 2007
  11. RichA

    Doug Jewell Guest

    The question I have is, Is the poor corner performance of Canon FF caused
    because the image circle is _just_ big enough, or is it because of the angle
    the light hits the digital sensor?
    Bear in mind, light fall off isn't as bad on 35mm film as it is in FF
    Doug Jewell, Sep 24, 2007
  12. RichA

    RichA Guest

    Well, Canon until recently made ZERO effort to address the differences
    between lenses and how they work with film and sensors, so it could
    very well be the angle. The fact some Canon users seem to be getting
    reasonable performance from higher-end old film lenses with different
    designs seems to indicate this could be the case. Until Canon gets
    off their a-- and makes reasonably telecentric wide angle lenses for
    FF, then you'd have to examine the designs of other lenses, try them
    on the FF Canon or Nikon and see how they perform. I'm not sure how
    angle of incidence effects vignetting with a sensor, but some of the
    Canon WAs have terrible vignetting issues.
    RichA, Sep 25, 2007
  13. RichA

    frederick Guest

    They offset microlenses to compensate to some degree, but
    biased to a particular lens.
    There's some hint that Nikon's D3 (and D300?) take a
    different approach, using a gapless dual layer of
    microlenses, with the second layer refocusing light from the
    edges back down to the sensor diode. Don't ask me for a
    link - I read and saw some diagrams from Nikon, but didn't
    save the URL.
    Too early to say if it works, but the samples from D3 look
    very good.
    frederick, Sep 25, 2007
  14. RichA

    Tony Polson Guest

    Absolute nonsense, Rich. You cannot fit a Four Thirds lens to a film
    camera with the correct lens flange to film plane distance. All 35mm
    film cameras/lenses have a greater lens flange to film plane distance
    than Four Thirds, which will of course make the lens appear to offer
    greater coverage than it really has. So it would prove nothing.

    The angle of incidence is to blame. The light fall-off is worse with
    some lenses than others.
    Tony Polson, Sep 25, 2007
  15. RichA

    RichA Guest

    We aren't talking about a huge difference in lens-flange distances.
    Besides, this is just a side-issue, a curiosity. My main point is
    that Olympus does not need a new bayonette mount to create a larger
    sensored camera, which would at least put it on an equal footing with
    Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Sony.
    RichA, Sep 25, 2007
  16. RichA

    Doug Jewell Guest

    I guess the shape of the bayonet doesn't need to change, but other specs
    about the lens mount do need to change. For example the position, size and
    location of the electronic pickups, the position of the rear of the lens
    etc. These all interfere with it's ability to be used on larger sensors.
    Yes it would indeed be possible for them to make a camera with a 35mm or APS
    sized sensor and use the same bayonet. But it would be necessary to relocate
    these other items which would stop the lens from working.

    It would be better for them to create a new mount, and then provide an
    adaptor back to 4/3 for the owners of 4/3 cameras, and use 4/3 as an
    in-between system. Perhaps 4/3 could be likened to the 110 format SLR film
    cameras - good enough quality for many, smaller than 35mm, but always
    playing 2nd fiddle to the larger formats for the people who demand quality.

    There is no reason whatsoever, that the things they have learnt in doing 4/3
    can't be adapted to larger formats - eg telecentric lenses, so in that sense
    the technology wouldn't be wasted.

    But, I can't see any of these scenarios happening. Olympus have committed to
    the 4/3 system, and so as all the other manufacturers move to larger
    formats, olympus will stay megapixel/noise limited. Probably their best
    course of action is their current one - cameras like the E410 that take
    advantage of the smaller size, so they become a bridge between P&S and
    larger SLR.

    What I would like to see however is the 4/3 sensors being used in compact
    cameras. While we complain about their noise, lack of DR etc, they are still
    a lot better than the ultra-mini sensors in P&S. 4/3 is a good in-between
    size that delivers good results, but with smaller lenses than APS/35mm.
    Doug Jewell, Sep 25, 2007
  17. RichA

    RichA Guest

    Just as my original point, the Nikon D3 does just that. All they need
    to do is keep people from ending up with useless lenses.
    So far, the only on announced (will it ever be released?) is the Sigma
    Olympus could offer a pocketable P&S with a fixed focal length pancake
    or very short zoom.
    They had the 2/3rds sensor, they didn't even keep that. P&S is aimed
    straight at the DSLR-ignorant, those who have some need for 400mm
    equivalent zooms and lots of noise.
    I think what happened was that they got sick of the higher-end P&S's
    being money-losers (can't charge $900 for one now like some used to
    cost) and they decided to cost-cut and the first place was the sensor
    and the lenses.
    RichA, Sep 26, 2007
  18. RichA

    Doug Jewell Guest

    Nope not the same. Because Nikon, Pentax, Sony/Minolta, and to a lesser
    extent Canon, started with a 35mm system, and kept the dimensions of that,
    except with an APS sensor, the APS lenses use the same flange-sensor
    distance, same electronic linkages etc as the 35mm system. Therefore you can
    put an APS lens on a 35mm camera, and it will work as per normal except with
    the smaller image circle. On the D3, Nikon simply crop away the black bits.
    I actually use my 18-55 Pentax lens with a 35mm body - vignetting is
    terrible at 18mm, but by 24mm is completely gone.

    If Olympus created an APS or 35mm camera, they wouldn't be able to use the
    existing lens mount because of flange-sensor distance, position of
    electronic linkages etc. If done right, they would be able to use an adaptor
    to put the larger-format lenses onto a 4/3 body, but wouldn't be able to go
    back the other way.

    A real-world example of this type of scenario would be the Pentax SLR
    family. You could mount 67/645 lenses on a 35mm body with an adapter but you
    couldn't mount 35mm lenses on 67/645 bodies. Likewise you could mount 35mm
    lenses on a 110 body with an adaptor, but you couldn't mount 110 lenses on
    35mm. Not being able to mount smaller-format lenses on larger-format bodies
    had nothing to do with image circle, but had more to do with flange-film
    distances, size of the opening, etc.\>
    Doug Jewell, Sep 26, 2007
  19. RichA wrote:
    P&S has its place alongside the DSLR. Most people don't want or need the
    size weight and complexity of a DSLR, it's not a case that they are
    ignorant, simply that they want a lightweight and compact camera for their
    photos. Even some DSLR owners take along a compact camera for just those

    It would certainly be interesting to see what could be done with the 4/3
    sensor in a compact camera. The Sony "APS-C" camera failed perhaps
    because of its bulk - would a 4/3 camera fare any better? A "low-light"
    or even "party" camera?

    I suspect not.

    David J Taylor, Sep 26, 2007
  20. Because that is physically impossible - like fitting a quart into a pint
    4/3 format is NOT the aspect ratio of the sensor!

    The 4/3 consortium DEFINES a 22mm image diagonal for the image. The
    consortium name is derived from that fundamental definition. It comes
    from the usual sensor naming conventions of 1/3", 2/3" etc. 1/3"
    sensors have image diagonals of 5.5mm, 2/3" sensors have image diagonals
    of 11mm and 4/3" sensors have image diagonals of 22mm. You can, and the
    original 4/3 consortium announcement made this clear, have 4/3 sensors
    with 4:3, 3:2 and even 1:1 aspect ratios, even circular formats, and ALL
    4/3 system lenses must be compatible with all possible formats - ie.
    they must produce an image which can be inscribed by a 22mm diagonal

    Please explain how you intend to fit a sensor of approximately 22.5mm x
    15mm into a 22mm diagonal.
    Kennedy McEwen, Sep 26, 2007
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