So who was 4/3 originally aimed at?

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bobn2
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Re: So who was 4/3 originally aimed at? - Original press release
In reply to Big Ga, 8 months ago

Big Ga wrote:

rovingtim wrote:

bobn2 wrote:

iii) Related to (ii) they really failed to give options which took advantage of the size and weight advantage. The first several FT DSLRs were as large or larger than the competition, right up until the D400.

This may not have been so much of a problem if the bodies were competitive, but they were not.

Well, to be fair, they were competitive in a lot of ways. But also to be fair, the one or two bits that were behind were in key areas (and hence its easy to forget the good bits!)

The same with the lenses.

It didn't help that Olympus was misrepresenting the lenses -- ie. a 150mm f2 = 300mm f2 -- sparking the 'equivalency wars'.

Was it Olympus themselves that were doing this though? or was it the users?

I think it was Olympus. This is from the original blurb on this:

The diagonal size of the 4/3-type image sensor is about half that of a 35mm film sensor. This means that the focal distance required to obtain a given angle of view is half that needed for a 35mm film camera. As a result, the optical system can be made much smaller. Moreover, because the effective aperture can be reduced without reducing brightness, the Four Thirds system makes it possible to design much brighter lenses. Thanks to this compatibility between compact size and large aperture, the potential for evolution of lenses is virtually unlimited.In other words, the adoption of the 4/3-type image sensor has made it possible to develop lenses that not only offer performance that surpasses almost anything achieved with traditional lenses, but are also compact and highly mobile. For example, a Four Thirds telescopic lens equivalent to a 35mm 300mm lens can be implemented with a focal length of 150mm, and it can also offer wide aperture and high brightness corresponding to F2.0 while the maximum brightness available with a traditional lens was F2.8.

You can see why it is has been such a live topic here. Essentially, many people believed Olympus and Olympus was lying. Given the management of Olympus at the time, we probably wouldn't be surprised. They thought nothing of offering people a free lunch.

I recall some lenses like the 70-300 having stickers on them saying 140-600mm equivalent, but I'm not sure it they also kept the same aperture. Or are you saying that by omitting the 'equivalency' aperture, this was deception itself?

It was deception itself, looking at the above.

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Big Ga
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Re: So who was 4/3 originally aimed at?
In reply to redshifted, 8 months ago

redshifted wrote:

Hey Gareth,

I can't believe you're still dealing with Oly after all these years .

Funny isn't it Most of my DSLR bodies have gone now, but I hung on to a bunch of the lenses in the hope that there would be something new to use them on.

On the other hand, I'm a bit shocked that you, after having hung on for grim death after all these years, have finally switched (totally?).... but when at last there is now a fairly decent sensor available to stick your zuikos on !?!

(I will send you a PM shortly)

It was aimed squarely at editorial/commercial film shooters that were still sitting on the fence of digital photography circa 2003-2004. The CCD sensor output was tweaked for those of us used to shooting Fujichrome, Kodachrome and Ektachrome.

That's interesting. RovingTim is always raving about the E1 colours. Having shot (and I still own one) of the FF Kodak pro cams, I really do get the impression that they tuned the bayer filter to give very vivid Kodachrome like colours - possibly to the detriment of absolute ISO performance, as I wouldn't be surprised if the filters are stronger and thus less total photons get through. (I used to be a believer that shooting RAW you could fix colour imbalances in post to make any camera look exactly the same as any other. I don't believe this any more. You can get close, but the Kodak blues for example, very hard to reproduce exactly using other cameras. The E1 might be the same)

The lenses and body were designed to replicate film shooters' cameras and focal lengths. AF didn't have to be great for folks skilled at manually focusing their lenses. The tiff output choice and Firewire cable is evidence of Oly's intent. Tiff was most useful to photogs delivering their files to art directors/editors and firewire helped move those big files to your/their Apple computer.

That makes sense.

Although the weathersealing and 300/2.8 screams extreme nature/wildlife photography shooting!

They got me .

Sure did.

Got me too, but for probably different reasons at the time!

Cheers

G.

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alexisgreat
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Re: 4:3 is the best aspect ratio
In reply to Messier Object, 8 months ago

Having owned 3:2 format cameras in the past and having resold all of them, I cant stand that aspect ratio, it is a relic from the old days of film and not built to last in the digital age, and will end when old time film users are all finally gone.

I also love Olympus pixel mapping and direct live histograms- it makes manual exposure mode easy. I wont buy a camera without these features.

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alexisgreat
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Re: 4:3 FF sensor
In reply to rovingtim, 8 months ago

honestly none of this really matters as much as the fact that we finally had a decently sized sensor in the 4:3 ratio....... now if someone would produce a larger sensor with this ratio, that would also be good..... why not a 4:3 FF sensor, 36x27mm?

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rovingtim
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Olympus edited this blurb from the original
In reply to bobn2, 8 months ago

bobn2 wrote:

This blurb has been re-written to a certain extent. Olympus' more extravagant claims have been edited out, such as a 35mm lens needing to be 4 times the size of an equivalent 4/3rds lens.

You can see why it is has been such a live topic here. Essentially, many people believed Olympus and Olympus was lying. Given the management of Olympus at the time, we probably wouldn't be surprised. They thought nothing of offering people a free lunch.

I bet the marketing department would say 'brightness' meant light 'intensity'. So I would suggest 'deception' rather than 'lie'.

A bit pedantic, I know.

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rovingtim
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Much more interesting ...
In reply to alexisgreat, 8 months ago

alexisgreat wrote:

honestly none of this really matters as much as the fact that we finally had a decently sized sensor in the 4:3 ratio....... now if someone would produce a larger sensor with this ratio, that would also be good..... why not a 4:3 FF sensor, 36x27mm?

What Ga and Bob are pointing out is that the size of the sensor does not matter in noise or resolution of the final image if the lenses are kept to equivalence. Perhaps Olympus engineers, realising this, decided to create an entirely new standard to compete with all size sensors.

Bob's point is that if this is the case, Olympus got the sensor too small -- not because of IQ issues, but because it made common equivalent lenses impossible to manufacture ... meaning an f 1.4 35mm lens would have to be an f 0.7 4/3rds lens. If the sensor was a bit bigger, the equiv lenses could be f1.0 which is much easier to engineer.

Here is Bob's post on the matter.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52539298

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rovingtim
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Re: So who was 4/3 originally aimed at? - Original press release
In reply to Big Ga, 8 months ago

Big Ga wrote:

rovingtim wrote:

bobn2 wrote:

iii) Related to (ii) they really failed to give options which took advantage of the size and weight advantage. The first several FT DSLRs were as large or larger than the competition, right up until the D400.

This may not have been so much of a problem if the bodies were competitive, but they were not.

Well, to be fair, they were competitive in a lot of ways. But also to be fair, the one or two bits that were behind were in key areas (and hence its easy to forget the good bits!)

The E1 was competitive at the time. More importantly, it was lovable :-).

The E3 was not. The sensor tech and AF was so far behind it became a joke.

Olympus started its comedy career by purchasing a double page spread in a national US professional photography magazine so they could use an obviously over-sharpened front-focused image to demonstrate its 'gottaway proof' autofocus capabilities.

Professionals immediately responded ... clambered to buy the E3 ... to use in their own standup comedy acts.

It was a riot!

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Marty4650
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There is absolutely no doubt about it
In reply to Big Ga, 8 months ago

Initially, at least, the 4/3 system was aiming at the very high end of the market.

Serious camera, at a serious price.....

This is easy to see if you just look at their initial offerings in 2003, all announced on the same day:

  • E1, weather sealed pro grade camera, $1,900
  • 300mm f/2.8 - fast weather sealed pro grade long lens, $8,000
  • 14-54mm lens - weather sealed semi-pro normal zoom lens, $600
  • 11-22mm lens - weather sealed semi-pro wide angle zoom lens, $700

That's $11,200 worth of gear, in 2003. This was clearly not aimed at amateur shooters. There were NO standard grade lenses until their seventh lens release, the 40-150mm I lens. That's right... all six of the initial lens offerings were high end premium lenses.

They used professional photographers and Olympus Visionaries to promote their new system.

In their E1 announcement press release, Olympus said...

Four Thirds is the first professional standard for digital SLR photography. By setting standards on three levels - mechanical, optical and communication - it maximises the performance of camera body, image sensor and lenses. The Olympus E-1 is the first and currently the only camera to make use of the advantages of this new standard.

Now, contrast this to Olympus' introduction of M4/3, six years later in 2009:

  • EP1, enthusiast grade camera, with 14-42mm lens, and 17mm lens. All three bundled together cost around $1,000. If you bought them separately then it would cost you around $1,100.

They used Kevin Spacey and some soccer mom to promote their new system.

"Don't be the camera guy"

When 4/3 failed to gain much traction among professional photographers, Olympus took the product line down, to consumer level while still offering some excellent high end bodies and lenses.

Within a few short years you could buy an E510 or E520 two lens kit for under $500. But even at bargain prices, the Olympus market share only reached around 7% of DSLR sales.

The concept of a smaller sensor being used for a pro-grade system just wasn't ready for prime time in 2003. Eventually, sensor technology improved, and the EM5 and EM1 because a real possibility for professional photographers as travel cameras, street shooters, and light weight cameras for less critical use.

But, to answer your question.... while a size and weight advantage was mentioned when 4/3 was first launched, it was primarily sold as a pro system. Which in retrospect, was probably a mistake. The E1 system just wasn't able to compete at the high end, and wasn't small enough or light enough to really be that portable.

M4/3 seems to have fixed all of that.

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bobn2
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Re: 4:3 is the best aspect ratio
In reply to alexisgreat, 8 months ago

alexisgreat wrote:

Having owned 3:2 format cameras in the past and having resold all of them, I cant stand that aspect ratio, it is a relic from the old days of film and not built to last in the digital age, and will end when old time film users are all finally gone.

Yes, for the digital age you really need 16:9

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bobn2
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Re: Olympus edited this blurb from the original
In reply to rovingtim, 8 months ago

rovingtim wrote:

bobn2 wrote:

This blurb has been re-written to a certain extent. Olympus' more extravagant claims have been edited out, such as a 35mm lens needing to be 4 times the size of an equivalent 4/3rds lens.

You can see why it is has been such a live topic here. Essentially, many people believed Olympus and Olympus was lying. Given the management of Olympus at the time, we probably wouldn't be surprised. They thought nothing of offering people a free lunch.

I bet the marketing department would say 'brightness' meant light 'intensity'. So I would suggest 'deception' rather than 'lie'.

A bit pedantic, I know.

OK, let's go with 'deception'.

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bobn2
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Re: 4:3 FF sensor
In reply to alexisgreat, 8 months ago

alexisgreat wrote:

honestly none of this really matters as much as the fact that we finally had a decently sized sensor in the 4:3 ratio....... now if someone would produce a larger sensor with this ratio, that would also be good..... why not a 4:3 FF sensor, 36x27mm?

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The 4:3 ratio is a bit of a pain for anyone, save those who do a lot of compact camera work and want their image from the DSLR to conform to the same aspect ratio. Otherwise, it tends to be a bit wasteful. If you're working for digital media, mostly nowadays you'll want 16:9 output. For paper outside the US the ratio will be 1.414:1 (international A sizes). US letter size is close to 4:3, but that's about all.

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HarjTT
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Re: So who was 4/3 originally aimed at?
In reply to Big Ga, 8 months ago

there was also this Advideo of the E1 .. the ending says it all "The Professional choice"

Olympus E1 Ad

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Ross
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Re: So who was 4/3 originally aimed at?
In reply to Big Ga, 8 months ago

It has always been my opinion that the system was aimed at where the most photographs could be found on any day of the week. Go find one of those mega magazine stands in your area. Stand in front of it and guess at how many photos are printed in those publications (each month). I got an early on idea from some of Oly's comments that the "published picture maker" was the marketing target. Kodak would have known the market and the publishing needs for images. Their sensor and the JPEG engine were probably aimed at putting pretty pictures on magazine pages. I also saw it being used at a department store to record children sitting on Santa's knee ..... snap to print ....no fuss .... just collect the money 

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Silverback46
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Re: 4:3 FF sensor
In reply to bobn2, 8 months ago

...you know what they say about hindsight Bob. Concept technology is always a gamble because the future is dynamic :). Could have,would have and should have! Do you think the errors they made were obvious then and someone forced it through or were they working within specs that existed at that point in time?

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MichaelKJ
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Re: 4:3 is the best aspect ratio
In reply to bobn2, 8 months ago

bobn2 wrote:

alexisgreat wrote:

Having owned 3:2 format cameras in the past and having resold all of them, I cant stand that aspect ratio, it is a relic from the old days of film and not built to last in the digital age, and will end when old time film users are all finally gone.

Yes, for the digital age you really need 16:9

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Bob

Tell that to the folks making the iPad.

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Silverback46
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Re: I'm starting to see your point
In reply to rovingtim, 8 months ago

Tim

I still think the OP's title is a bit misleading. I totally agree the E-1 was aimed at pros but I don't think the 4/3rd sensor was. I think the sensor was a result of Olympus predicting what would provide the comsumer with a logical size platform to achieve good results... at that time. If professonals bought into it it would reinforce the platform so the E-1 was introduced as the flagship. The two are mutually inclusive. You build a platform you think will sell to the masses and to reinforce that you need to attract pros to verify the platform is viable...therefore you introduce it with the E-1.

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bobn2
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Re: 4:3 FF sensor
In reply to Silverback46, 8 months ago

Silverback46 wrote:

...you know what they say about hindsight Bob. Concept technology is always a gamble because the future is dynamic :). Could have,would have and should have! Do you think the errors they made were obvious then and someone forced it through or were they working within specs that existed at that point in time?

I think some were very good choices, others were pretty obvious blunders. The 35mm f/1.4 norm for fast lenses is pretty obvious for anyone who has looked across different size image formats, from 8x10 down to 35mm, and had been in place for a long time. With the exception of the odd gimmick, such as the Canon f/0.95, f/1.4 had been the standard fast normal for about 50 years, with the equivalence in other formats, despite that over those 50 years film emulsions had become much faster. So, the need for an equivalent to f/1.4 wasn't a hard one to pick. Similar with the lens register. The FT mount was closely based on the Canon EF mount, but they missed one of the things that made the EF so good, the short register which increased the flexibility afforded to lens designers. So, my theory would be simply just that they got a few things wrong, maybe as a result of not being close enough to the professional markets that they were chasing. So, for instance, when Nikon went with DX, they always knew that would move to FX at some point (they always said when it offered a better price/quality balance) so they didn't put anything in the system which stopped that move to a larger sensor size.

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bobn2
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Re: 4:3 is the best aspect ratio
In reply to MichaelKJ, 8 months ago

MichaelKJ wrote:

bobn2 wrote:

alexisgreat wrote:

Having owned 3:2 format cameras in the past and having resold all of them, I cant stand that aspect ratio, it is a relic from the old days of film and not built to last in the digital age, and will end when old time film users are all finally gone.

Yes, for the digital age you really need 16:9

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Bob

Tell that to the folks making the iPad.

The folks working for Foxconn had no say at all in the spec of the iPad.

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Silverback46
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Re: 4:3 FF sensor
In reply to bobn2, 8 months ago

"So, my theory would be simply just that they got a few things wrong, maybe as a result of not being close enough to the professional markets that they were chasing."

Thanks Bob. That makes sense especially when you consider the players that opted out and the players that opted in. There are probably still members of the original 'concept' group that are saying, 'see I told you so'.

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Re: There is absolutely no doubt about it
In reply to Marty4650, 8 months ago

Good summation, Marty. I remember E system being promoted to professionals with professional endorsers. On paper, digital designed from the ground up sounds good.  But it's hard to catch a moving target as APS-C sensors, lenses, processing keep getting better. I do respect Olympus. It always seems to be a quality effort.  Even P&S cameras like the SP320/SP350 aspired to "something better."

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