So who was 4/3 originally aimed at?

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
CharlesB58
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Re: So who was 4/3 originally aimed at?
In reply to Big Ga, 8 months ago

Big Ga wrote:

The recent article on 4/3 lenses by Michael Reichmann (well ... I'm assuming its him) over on LL is an interesting one. he kicks off with saying "Four Thirds was conceived by Olympus as a new Pro format". I tend to agree.

I often see people like RovingTim over here saying that Olympus lost their way with the bigger camera gear, and the whole point of fourthirds was to create a smaller, more portable system, the promise of which only MFT seems to have now finally fulfilled.

I've never really agreed with this. My opinion was that from the outset, Olympus had the goal of competing at the highest level in the pro market. Look at the first camera, the E1. Awesome build. Bristling with 'pro' features like weathersealing, locking mode dial, PC sync socket, USB2, a Firewire port for gods sake!, a £500 grip with a REALLY substantial high capacity battery. That all says pro, especially considering the year of release.

They even brought out one of, of not THE best HV packs for a shoe mounted flash. Only pros use HV packs!

And the lenses. Stuff like the 300/2.8 isn't aimed at consumers! ALL of the first batch of lenses were quality, weathersealed offerings.

They even tried to set up a global pro support network which did seem to work in some countries for a while.

So what do you think? what was the target market that 4/3 was originally gunning for?

It was also a matter that, at the time, 4/3 allowed higher quality lenses to be made for digital than APS-C or FF (advances in microlenses on sensors has balanced the need for telecentric designs somewhat). It wasn't that the lenses were going to be smaller (though in some cases they are) so much that they would offer better optical performance at a given size.

Another aspect is, well, the aspect ratio's impact on composition and aesthetics. 4:3 is considered the "ideal aspect ratio" for portraits and many other genres. Any student of painting will know much more about aspect ratio and the impact it has on the aesthetics of an image than it seems a lot of photographers know. I often have people telling me that there is something about my images that set them apart from others they see. I believe that in many cases it's a contributing factor is the subtle aesthetic of 4:3 as opposed to the 2:3 ratio of APS-C or FF sensors.

For sure, people crop those formats, but often they are left in the 2:3 format. There are of course times when that format works well for a subject. But a lot of inexperienced people tend only to crop in the same aspect ratio, cropping simply to remove extraneous details but not to improve composition and aesthetics.

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