Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise

Started Jan 8, 2013 | Discussions
amvrvd
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Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
Jan 8, 2013

I'm sure many of you have been checking the news about CES and the many announcements made recently by competitors. As you may know, by now almost every other mirrorless system has sensor based phase detection AF, yes, not only Nikon, but Fuji, Sony and Canon, all have implemented this technology, not only allowing them to shorten the distance to M4/3 AF but also giving them access to their existing lens catalog. This means that this technology has been acknowledged as the industry standard by pretty much everyone.

The questions is (as always), why are Olympus and Panasonic so stubborn and continue to reject this feature ?

It's true, AF couldn't be any faster , the GH3 and OMD are complete AF beasts already, making it any faster wouldn't be that noticeable IRL, but continuous tracking AF, FULL compatibility with 4/3 glass, all this could be achieved in one swift move: just include PD AF in the sensor. We already know Olympus is using Sony sensors so a deal could be made to include this feature (and focus peaking perhaps ?) in the next sensor update (E-M7 ? E-P5?), Pany has been promising sensor revolutions such as global shutter for years, yet we only get fairly mild sensor updates, this could be a nice middle step in that direction (towards some kind of leap).

I seem to remember some officials from (perhaps) Oly that completely dismissed the option of PD AF when asked about some type of merging of 4/3 and M4/3, I wonder if they still think that way and they'll continue to ignore the industry and user demands, much like they still ignore how the top selling competitors all have seen huge success with their RF-looking models in their line-up.

I love Panasonic and Olympus to death, they changed the whole game but gosh is it hard to cheer for them...We're getting kicked on the ground in terms of features and gimmicks, I mean, art filters just don't cut it anymore, where's our version of sweep Pano, HDR modes, one button BKT, focus peaking, etc...You're right, these are just gimmicks, but they do make a difference when trying to convince the consumer at a shop, so far the only gimmick that M4/3 has in it favor is multi-exposure (although pentax and fuji also have it ).

Competition's lenses are getting smaller, brighter, faster, cheaper and more diverse, soon that advantage will be a moot point and competitors will feast on the sensor size issue like hyenas on a paraplegic zebra, M4/3 needs to stay competitive, weather sealing was a nice start with the OMD and GH3 but you can't weather-seal every camera and lens, you need more that that, as bare minimum you need to offer the same as Sony and Fuji do, and then more, much much MORE. We cannot rely just on primes, the common user knows nothing about lenses let alone primes and those who do are a niche, M4/3 cannot corner itself into a niche (like 4/3 did), users care about bodies, they wanna hear about features, no DXO rankings and MTF charts.
It's a long wait until CP+, that's for sure!

What are your thoughts ? Should PanOly concentrate on features too or is M4/3 competitive as it is ?

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Willgo
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

Oh woe! All is doom and gloom.

My camera is suddenly rubbish because something else has come out that does something it doesn't do.

Not only that, but Panasonic and Olympus are refusing to implement these features out of spite. I can't even rush out to upgrade.

Woe, woe and more woe.

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amvrvd
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to Willgo, Jan 8, 2013

Willgo wrote:

Oh woe! All is doom and gloom.

My camera is suddenly rubbish because something else has come out that does something it doesn't do.

Not only that, but Panasonic and Olympus are refusing to implement these features out of spite. I can't even rush out to upgrade.

Woe, woe and more woe.

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Paul

Sure, playing the Irony card is fun, I've been there, but it looks dumb and childish...Life is not made of extremes, don't be so radical.

No need to get so defensive either, I'm in this team for the long run, but truth has to be said out loud. No one is attacking you choice man, I myself have an E-PL1 since day one so you don't need to give the whole ¨My camera is suddenly rubbish because something else has come out¨ speech , my camera has been rubbish for a LOOONG time and I have no problem with it, I love it to bits and have been faithful to its shortcomings for more than 2 years.

I want to hear what people think about this issue, I'm not degrading your choice of gear, I made the same choice for goodness's sake, I'm still using a PL1, I'm all for living with compromises if anything, but that doesn't mean PanOly should feed the competition more arguments against this system.

Built in Sensor PD AF is now a reality , it's doable, it's a feasible solution to one of this system's most aggravating shortcomings: backwards compatibility. Besides, having one less feature than the competition can only make matters worse, there's no way around that. Even if you think it's not a useful feature (I myself couldn't care less, I don't have 4/3 glass) but having one less counterargument against Sony or Fuji means taking unnecessary hits.

I almost never use any of the art filters, yet I recognize it's one of those features that attracts new consumers. This systems needs to stay healthy and being competitive is  the best way to achieve that. As I said, primes (m4/3 best weapon) is not enough, and will certainly not be enough in the future. The wi fi card compatibility was a nice touch (it would be nicer if there was live tethering though), hopefully they go further in other areas.

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Thorgrem
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

My thoughts?

I think m4/3 (Olympus and Panasonic) are doing just fine. It are the body's but even more the lenses that counts for the consumer who will spend serious money and make a profit for the company.

I don't give a thing for applications, panorama mode or other things that are funny for a week or so. I just want to choose a body that I like and put some decent glass on it. M4/3 delivers that as the best mirror-less system on the market.

Yes other company's are getting more lenses, but are and will stay way behind m4/3. Panasonic and Olympus are now developing and releasing high grade lenses as the competition is still in the standard grade development. Except Fuji, but that's not a competitor in market share.

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assaft
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

There seem to be progress regarding the focus issue you mention -

link1

line2

I'm more concerned with the lack of firmware updates for old models - even the EM-5 hasn't been updated with the new features introduced in the E-PL5 (e.g. smaller focus point, option to assign my-sets to the mode dial). Not to mention focus peaking and other long waited features.

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bryanbrun
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

amvrvd wrote:

Competition's lenses are getting smaller, brighter, faster, cheaper and more diverse, soon that advantage will be a moot point

I agree.  Sony, Samsung, Nikon all have drastically cheaper quality lenses on their mirrorless lines.

Nikon 18.5mm 1.8: $190.00.
Sony 50mm 1.8: $300.00.

Olympus and Panasonic are milking the position of market leader with their lens pricing.

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papillon_65
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

amvrvd wrote:

I'm sure many of you have been checking the news about CES and the many announcements made recently by competitors. As you may know, by now almost every other mirrorless system has sensor based phase detection AF, yes, not only Nikon, but Fuji, Sony and Canon, all have implemented this technology, not only allowing them to shorten the distance to M4/3 AF but also giving them access to their existing lens catalog. This means that this technology has been acknowledged as the industry standard by pretty much everyone.

The questions is (as always), why are Olympus and Panasonic so stubborn and continue to reject this feature ?

It's true, AF couldn't be any faster , the GH3 and OMD are complete AF beasts already, making it any faster wouldn't be that noticeable IRL, but continuous tracking AF, FULL compatibility with 4/3 glass, all this could be achieved in one swift move: just include PD AF in the sensor. We already know Olympus is using Sony sensors so a deal could be made to include this feature (and focus peaking perhaps ?) in the next sensor update (E-M7 ? E-P5?), Pany has been promising sensor revolutions such as global shutter for years, yet we only get fairly mild sensor updates, this could be a nice middle step in that direction (towards some kind of leap).

I seem to remember some officials from (perhaps) Oly that completely dismissed the option of PD AF when asked about some type of merging of 4/3 and M4/3, I wonder if they still think that way and they'll continue to ignore the industry and user demands, much like they still ignore how the top selling competitors all have seen huge success with their RF-looking models in their line-up.

PDAF on the sensor is a kludge. It all sounds great but when you mount large non-native lenses on these smaller cameras it soon becomes tiresome, I know, I've tried it. Panasonic and Olympus are doing exactly the right thing and producing great native lenses on a regular basis. M4/3's has by far the most native lens choices and that's why many people are now buying into it (as well as the better Sony sensor). People like these cameras because they are smaller and lighter. When you start mounting big DSLR lenses on them the advantage has gone, in fact it's worse than using these lenses on the cameras they were designed for IMHO.

I love Panasonic and Olympus to death, they changed the whole game but gosh is it hard to cheer for them...We're getting kicked on the ground in terms of features and gimmicks, I mean, art filters just don't cut it anymore, where's our version of sweep Pano, HDR modes, one button BKT, focus peaking, etc...You're right, these are just gimmicks, but they do make a difference when trying to convince the consumer at a shop, so far the only gimmick that M4/3 has in it favor is multi-exposure (although pentax and fuji also have it ).

I'll take 5 axis IBIS over all of them.

Competition's lenses are getting smaller, brighter, faster, cheaper and more diverse, soon that advantage will be a moot point and competitors will feast on the sensor size issue like hyenas on a paraplegic zebra, M4/3 needs to stay competitive, weather sealing was a nice start with the OMD and GH3 but you can't weather-seal every camera and lens, you need more that that, as bare minimum you need to offer the same as Sony and Fuji do, and then more, much much MORE. We cannot rely just on primes, the common user knows nothing about lenses let alone primes and those who do are a niche, M4/3 cannot corner itself into a niche (like 4/3 did), users care about bodies, they wanna hear about features, no DXO rankings and MTF charts.
It's a long wait until CP+, that's for sure!

What are your thoughts ? Should PanOly concentrate on features too or is M4/3 competitive as it is ?

Competition is good, no need to panic, Oly and Panasonic are doing some great stuff and the competition will drive them to do even more, the difference being is that they have all their eggs in this particular basket and intend to make it work.

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mferencz
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

Less than two weeks ago Olympus was voted camera of the year here.  So let's not pretend poor old m4/3 is first not keeping up with the competition or 'in some ways more importantly' being recognized for it.   I guess I don't understand the panic on the 8th of Jan.

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sgoldswo
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

amvrvd wrote:

I'm sure many of you have been checking the news about CES and the many announcements made recently by competitors. As you may know, by now almost every other mirrorless system has sensor based phase detection AF, yes, not only Nikon, but Fuji, Sony and Canon, all have implemented this technology, not only allowing them to shorten the distance to M4/3 AF but also giving them access to their existing lens catalog. This means that this technology has been acknowledged as the industry standard by pretty much everyone.

The questions is (as always), why are Olympus and Panasonic so stubborn and continue to reject this feature ?

I seem to remember some officials from (perhaps) Oly that completely dismissed the option of PD AF when asked about some type of merging of 4/3 and M4/3, I wonder if they still think that way and they'll continue to ignore the industry and user demands, much like they still ignore how the top selling competitors all have seen huge success with their RF-looking models in their line-up.

PDAF on sensor doesn't improve AF speed on the NEX series (it does improve accuracy but that was a rectification of a failing of the NEX rather than pushing it beyond the competition). There are a lot of overexcited people on the Fuji X forum who need to calm down re AF performance of the X100S. I own a X100 and I wouldn't "upgrade" to the X100S based on PDAF on sensor.

I don't get why anyone would want it on M43s. I suggest popping into a camera store to try out an EOS-M to anyone who thinks it is the next big thing in AF performance.

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jcharding
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

This is one feature, which (if it helps at all) largely only helps with moving objects.

Otherwise m43 isn't falling behind at all.  IMHO it continues to lead the market.  It has the most native lenses, with a large number of high quality lenses.  It offers a large number of features, such as anti shake and weather sealing, and a large number of bodies which should offer something for anyone - video or still.  I don't see any reason whatsoever to be concerned.  This is not to say that other manufacturers aren't doing interesting things - Fuji in particular.  But left behind?  No.

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jimoyer
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

Dunno.  I'll be out taking pictures with a camera that produces fantastic images instead of worrying about what the Jones's are getting.   

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Willgo
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

Sorry, overwrought hyperbole always has that effect on me. I must try harder.

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amvrvd
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to sgoldswo, Jan 8, 2013

Sure, as I said, I personally couldn't care less, I don't have 4/3 glass which would be one of the two main reasons for PDAF, and I'm not a sports or wildlife photographer either, so AF tracking and backwards compatibility wouldn't make a difference, for me. But acknowledging the fact that very other mayor player has this feature on, it wouldn't hurt at all to implement it in m4/3 cameras, specially having Sony sensors already.

In terms of gimmicks, I concur, they're useless most of the time and pretty much take away from the photographic experience BUT it cannot be denied that such things DO make a difference when selling these cameras, if not, companies simply wouldn't bother with the R&D. Gimmicks attract consumers and make profits, period. People here are just too used to the notion that they're the only ones buying this stuff, we gotta get down from our high horses and look at reality, enthusiasts are just but a minority of the market, it's really a blessing that PanOly are even bothering to release primes, let alone excellent ones. M4/3 is at a nice place where it serves as a bridge between the common consumer and enthusiast (and to some degree, Pros), it's versatile enough to accommodate for the necessities of every user, but in that front Sony and other companies are pushing objectively harder.

It's not that we need these features, it more like the system needs them, at least in order to stay relevant and competitive.

Some comments are right, m4/3 is certainly in a good position, maybe even at an advantage, but that's only in regards to native lenses, but (IMO) m4/3 is more than just that. As wonderful as this system is you just cannot discard the fact that brand recognition goes a loooong way in this market, I would venture to say that the system itself is more recognizable than the companies behind it at this point (most people still don't recognize the cross compatibility of Oly and Pany lenses), in this regard Sony, Canon and Nikon, albeit less attractive alternatives (to me at least), are FAR more recognizable in stores than PanOly, we're not surfing the top of a wave, we're rushing against the current like a ferocious trout. We have the lens advantage but we need to at least stay comparable technology-wise:

We don't have :

- Brand recognition/Store presence

- In Sensor PDAF

- Compacts with EVF

- Focus peaking

- One button BKT

- Automatic Pano

-Decent non-vomit inducing in camera HDR

- Decent AF tracking

- DOF control (nothing that can be done here, I personally prefer m4/3 DOF though)

- Wide(ish) angle legacy lens adaptability (1.5x vs 2x crop factor)

- Solid Exclusive Third party support (always APS-C hand me downs)

- etc...

We do have:

- Superb Native Lenses

- Fast static AF

- weather sealing

- 5 axis IBIS

- Video supremacy

- Size (to some extent)

I myself could argue about every one of these points, that's true, BUT, the thing is, why should any of these points be neglected ? they're easy to implement, the technology is there, has been there, for a long time. It's only a lack of will IMO. Please remember: I'ts not that WE need these features, it's more about the system needing them. Just like I don't touch the Art filters and they don't interfere in any way of my camera set up, these features would not deteriorate your photographic experience either, but just having them in there makes a world of difference in terms of marketing and system growth and thus system consolidation.

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moscos
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

Up until the E-M5 came out I was getting worried that M4/3 was being left behind, the improvements between olympus and panasonic seemed very minor. But the E-M5 definitely put this to rest for me, it's an amazing camera and I feel my investment in the M4/3 system is paying off now.

That said it would be great to get good continuous AF at one point in a future M4/3 model. I think it's the only major weakness on the OM-D (other than the annoying power button!)

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YouDidntDidYou
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise....Nope.
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

Olympus and Panasonic have started they are working on new technologies, I'm sure we'll see some of them this year cdaf can be more intelligent than pdaf with processing power that's why Oly  and Panny have said that's why they are sticking with that path.

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BingoCharlie
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise....Nope.
In reply to YouDidntDidYou, Jan 8, 2013

Olympus should implement decent auto-bracketing on their cameras via a firmware upgrade.  This would be the easiest thing in the world to do.  HDR can and does improve certain types of pictures.  It is not a gimmick like "art filters" are.  At a minimum, we should have 5-frame auto bracketing in 1/3- to 2-stop increments and be able to use it with the timer function.  All it would take is a simple software tweak.

As for the rest of the ways M43 is "lagging behind," I don't buy it.

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amvrvd
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to moscos, Jan 8, 2013

moscos wrote:

Up until the E-M5 came out I was getting worried that M4/3 was being left behind, the improvements between olympus and panasonic seemed very minor. But the E-M5 definitely put this to rest for me, it's an amazing camera and I feel my investment in the M4/3 system is paying off now.

That said it would be great to get good continuous AF at one point in a future M4/3 model. I think it's the only major weakness on the OM-D (other than the annoying power button!)

I agree, the OMD was a huge leap with very good timing for Oly and M4/3s as a whole. But competition has caught up by now, for sure. The only exclusive features (although HUGE advantages) that the OMD has over competition are the 5 axis IBIS and weathersealing and lenses. Other than that the EVF is a standard feature in its segment, image quality is at least comparable, controls are subjective but also could be comparable, that said, in regards to every other feature (gimmick) the OMD falls behind (even to the new PENs):

- Wi Fi compatibility

- In Sensor PDAF

- Focus peaking

- Automatic Pano

- Decent in camera HDR

- AF tracking

- Video out put

Mind you, most of these features can be solved with a mayor firmware update, they're not fixed on stone. And that's my main complain, Oly (and Pany) are more than capable of rectifying this, yet they don't want to follow Sony or Fuji, at least not immediately. Out of pride ? I don't know, Japanese business strategy is a science on itself, but one thing is clear, success it's there for the taking.

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rpm40
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to jimoyer, Jan 8, 2013

To me it sounds like an overgeneralization. Oly especially has been an innovator with things like live view, live exposure, 5 axis IBIS, supersonic wave filter, etc. Panasonic is taking a progressive approach to offering true hybrid, and sticking it to the big boys in that regard. Sure, there are some features that would be nice to have that seem logical for m4/3 to offere, like focus peaking, or maybe better panorama implimentation like Sony, but in general, I think they are ahead of the curve in innovation.

YOur main main point- that they aren't working hard enough at pdaf- is a bit of a stretch. From news and rumors it seems they have been working on it, and their partnership with Sony is still new, so maybe they can take advantage of some of Sony's tech to get working phase detect into their cameras faster.

Who knows though- maybe Sony doesn't want to share? They are still competitors in the mirrorless market, after all, and m4/3 is already doing fairly well. Allowing m4/3 users to suddenly have all those extra, beautiful 4/3 lenses might just be a scary thought to Sony right now.

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moscos
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Re: Is M4/3 being left behind ? Features-wise
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

Well it depends entirely what features are important to you of course. But with the OM-D and the very nice range of lenses available I feel the M4/3 system has been a good investment. AF tracking, and PDAF + Focus peaking would be nice, but I'm able to cope without for now.

Why aren't they updating to add these feature if it's possible via firmware, I would guess (hope) probably to add them in a future newer model.

Also I'm not sure since I don't follow the competition that closely, but I think the M4/3's range of lenses are what sets it apart from the competition of similar interchangeable lens compact systems.

That said if I wasn't yet invested in the M4/3 system right now I would be taking a serious look at the Sony NEX range, and maybe others. But the OM-D killer features for me are the sensor quality and the UI, I love the controls and dual dials on the OM-D... well and the camera's look

amvrvd wrote:

moscos wrote:

Up until the E-M5 came out I was getting worried that M4/3 was being left behind, the improvements between olympus and panasonic seemed very minor. But the E-M5 definitely put this to rest for me, it's an amazing camera and I feel my investment in the M4/3 system is paying off now.

That said it would be great to get good continuous AF at one point in a future M4/3 model. I think it's the only major weakness on the OM-D (other than the annoying power button!)

I agree, the OMD was a huge leap with very good timing for Oly and M4/3s as a whole. But competition has caught up by now, for sure. The only exclusive features (although HUGE advantages) that the OMD has over competition are the 5 axis IBIS and weathersealing and lenses. Other than that the EVF is a standard feature in its segment, image quality is at least comparable, controls are subjective but also could be comparable, that said, in regards to every other feature (gimmick) the OMD falls behind (even to the new PENs):

- Wi Fi compatibility

- In Sensor PDAF

- Focus peaking

- Automatic Pano

- Decent in camera HDR

- AF tracking

- Video out put

Mind you, most of these features can be solved with a mayor firmware update, they're not fixed on stone. And that's my main complain, Oly (and Pany) are more than capable of rectifying this, yet they don't want to follow Sony or Fuji, at least not immediately. Out of pride ? I don't know, Japanese business strategy is a science on itself, but one thing is clear, success it's there for the taking.

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bcalkins
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No, unless PDAF is a critical feature for you...
In reply to amvrvd, Jan 8, 2013

amvrvd wrote:

It's true, AF couldn't be any faster , the GH3 and OMD are complete AF beasts already, making it any faster wouldn't be that noticeable IRL, but continuous tracking AF, FULL compatibility with 4/3 glass, all this could be achieved in one swift move: just include PD AF in the sensor.

Tough to be a manufacturer these days - AF that "couldn't be any faster" and they still need to improve it

Seriously, though, the lack of pro sports caliber AF tracking doesn't have any impact on my images. The tracking and single shot AF it does have is 'good enough' to get shots like this:



Is it really so far behind that you are ready to dismiss it? How many of your shots would actually benefit from phase detect AF (assuming it is faster!). I do expect that Oly will have a camera with phase detect on chip at some point, and the key advantages of Micro Four Thirds will still be:

Smallest system around

Benefits of having two manufacturers working in a common format

One single sensor size (from smallest body to largest) - no trade off between smaller size and compatibility with all bodies (EF, EF-S, EF-M, FX/DX/1, Sony A/E, etc.).

Lenses designed for CDAF (adding PDAF to the middle of the chip does not help with the fact that PDAF lenses have heavier/larger elements when using CDAF for things like face detection or corner to corner AF)

5 axis IBIS

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