About professionalism and 4/3

Started Aug 27, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Ravalls
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About professionalism and 4/3
Aug 27, 2011

There seems to be lots of talk about the alleged "professionalism" of the new Pana X lenses and by extension, the entire 4/3 genre.

Let me chime in. I think comparing the X lenses to Canon L-series is the wrong question to ask. It is pretty clear that 4/3 will never compete technologically with the full frame 1-series bodies and L-lenses.

A better question is: what will the professionals need in the future?

When it comes to journalism, the 1-bodies and L-lenses were built for a world of paper and highly profitable media business. Both elements are on their way out, so there will be less market for the image quality and also for the sheer mass of the current pro gear.

"Mass" doesn't sound like a relevant topic, but I think it will be. As all pro shooters know, there are less and less full time staff photographers being hired every day. More still pictures are being taken by writers and even more important - more young journalists don't even identify in the old categories of either writer, newscaster or photographer. People just produce content, with any tools necessary.

When people cannot concentrate on hauling gear, the mass of the DSLR-kit will become an issue.

Technically there is also less use for stellar image quality, because more of the content will be published online.

Ergo, there will be less need for the strengths of the old kit and more need for the strengths of the 4/3 kit: portability and video.

My own situation might be symbolic of the overall situation. I have been a writer/photographer for a quarter of a century, so I'm a pioneer for this change. However, the 4/3 has so far not been good enough even for my needs.

Most of my opening shots for magazine articles have been made with the Canon 10-22 lens (yes, I use amateur bodies and lenses for portability) and the 70-200/4. I also often need fast focus tracking.

All of these things could be found in the current 4/3 offerings, but all of them are pretty icky in quality. A shot with ISO 800 200 mm f/4 is sparkling when done with the Canons, but dull and lifeless with the Pana GH2. Yes, I tried.

However, if the coming Pana X lenses and the GH3/GF bodies get just a little better, I shall probably change over. I might still lose some image quality, but I gain a lot of video capabilities and lots of portability.

So my take on this question is: Panasonic 4/3 is currently not on a professional level, but both of the elements are moving. Panasonic will brake the barrier probably next year with the new X lenses and bodies, and at the same time professional photojournalism will move ever faster towards online publishing and a new kind of all-round workers.

As Wayne Gretzky said: you shouldn't skate to where the puck is now, but where the puck will be next.

I predict that when it comes to professional gear, the DSLR technology will develop towards studio work and dedicated shooting like weddings, nature and advertising. 4/3 will develop towards journalism and media.

Sports, you ask? I don't think that sports photography will develop much more. Not as a business and thus not as technology. The still pic market will diminish under the weight of tv and online video, and at the same time photo agencies can already easily cover all the needs of any publishing outlet.

I am afraid that the era of the enormous forests of 500/4L-lenses at the Olympics is coming to an end. There is no economical sense to continue the tradition of sending a full time staff member to sit next to the Reuters team and to shoot the same frames that will reach the office half an hour later than the Reuters shots.

If I could afford it, I would buy Panasonic stock.

Regards,

Ravalls

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