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Olympus develops Micro Four Thirds camera

By dpreview staff on Sep 22, 2008 at 11:12 GMT

Pre-Photokina 2008: Olympus has announced the development of its first Micro Four Thirds digital camera that will be compatible with the Four Thirds standard, and which will 'bring dramatic reductions in size and weight to the E-system'. A mock-up of the new camera will be shown at Photokina in Cologne, Germany today. See here for pictures of the prototype.

We have a couple more snippets of information from Olympus's presentation at Photokina - the new camera will be a petite 120 x 65 x 32mm (4.7 x 2.6 x 1.3") in size, and all of their Micro Four Thirds lenses will maintain the telecentric design philosophy inherited from the Four Thirds system.

Press Release:

"Olympus E-System" Micro Four Thirds System-compliant New Interchangeable Lens Type Digital Camera Under Development

September 22, 2008: Olympus Imaging Corporation (President: Masaharu Okubo) today announced that it has begun development of an interchangeable lens type digital camera based on the "Micro Four Thirds System."

Development of the camera will bring dramatic reductions in size and weight to the Olympus E-System, and will comply with the new Micro Four Thirds System standard jointly announced with Matsushita Industrial Co., Ltd.(Panasonic) on August 5.

From September 23 through 28, a concept mock-up of the camera will be exhibited at "Photokina 2008", the world's biggest trade fair for the photographic and imaging industries held at Köln Messe, Cologne, Germany.

The global market for interchangeable lens type digital cameras is growing steadily, but still only accounts for a 7% share of the total digital camera market. Considering the much larger share held by interchangeable lens type digital cameras when film was the dominant imaging medium, it seems that there is still ample room for sales growth in this category. Market surveys, however, indicate that more than a few customers choose compact models because they find digital SLR cameras to be "big, heavy, and difficult to operate."

The Micro Four Thirds System standard was established to meet this need by enabling the development of radically more compact and lightweight interchangeable lens type digital camera systems. The camera currently under development will be the first Olympus camera to comply with the Micro Four Thirds System standard, and interchangeable lenses that comply with the standard are also moving ahead. In addition, users will be able to mount existing Four Thirds System wide-angle, telephoto, and macro lenses on Micro Four Thirds System bodies via an adapter.

Product name, launch date and retail price of an interchangeable lens type digital camera based on the "Micro Four Thirds System" are not determined now.

Olympus Imaging is also committed to the Four Thirds System, and will continue to expand its line-up of digital SLR cameras to satisfy a broad spectrum of customer needs. This includes the professional photographer, aspiring artist, hobbyist, and everyday consumer.

Outline of the Micro Four Thirds standard
The Micro Four Thirds standard was designed and developed to maximize the performance potential of digital imaging technology, and to extend the benefits of the Four Thirds System standard for digital camera systems.

When compared to the Four Thirds System standard, the primary distinguishing features of the Micro Four Thirds standard are:

  1. Approximately 50% shorter flangeback distance (mount-to-sensor distance)
  2. Lens mount outer diameter approximately 6mm smaller
  3. Electrical contacts in mount increased from 9 to 11

Image sensor diagonal dimensions are the same for both Four Thirds System and Micro Four Thirds System standards.

The Micro Four Thirds System enables users to enjoy the same high image quality of the Four Thirds System's 4/3-type image sensor in a much more compact body, and also take advantage of significantly more compact lenses, particularly in the wide-angle and high-power zoom range.

The Four Thirds System offers the benefits of compact, lightweight performance, and the new Micro Four Thirds System takes this still further to enable development of ultra-compact interchangeable lens type digital camera systems unlike anything seen before.

The new Micro Four Thirds System also incorporates a greater number of lens-mount electrical contacts for the support of new features and expanded system functionality in the future.

Additional images

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