Translation of interview with Ogawa Haruo about M4/3 (part I)

Started Aug 12, 2008 | Discussions thread
OP Hokuto Veteran Member • Posts: 4,908
Re: Translation of interview with Ogawa Haruo about M4/3 (part II)

■ Liveview—a pivotal role in the standard

DCW: A lot of people, myself included, have said to Olympus that we’d like “another 4/3”—one that made greater use of the compact size of the sensor and allowed a shorter back-focus distance [note: “back focus” here means the distance from the rear-most lens surface to the imaging (sensor) surface; according to Wikipedia Japan, it’s often confused with “flange-back” distance, but they’re not the same] and utilized EVF or liveview, or a rangefinder. It’s likely that those kinds of opinions were heard within Olympus as well, so how long have you been working to cook up the M4/3 standard?

OGAWA: First of all, it was necessary for us to produce high-performance bodies that would satisfy 4/3 fans. In addition, we introduced bodies with IS and smaller bodies that made greater use of the compact sensor size, in that way producng a general lineup of models for the 4/3 system. Only then could we set our hand to the M4/3 system.

“But producing a concept and actually bringing it to market are two completely different things. Even with the issue of shortening retro focus, we made sure that the new standard would support the stock of previous 4/3 lenses. Then again, by shortening the back-focus distance, it was necessary to eliminate the mirror box, so it was important to consider the timing when substitute products with fully practical performance [I assume he means EVF, etc.] would be available.

DCW: This time the announcement was a joint announcement with Panasonic, but what new was produced in your joint talks?

OGAWA: M4/3 was something that was brought to fruition jointly with Panasonic. Panasonic has been in the 4/3 camp since 2003, but even back then this kind of talk was being banded about. Both of us were asking, “Will a real camera come out of this?” and “Can we make optimum use of 4/3?”—and from those talks the M4/3 was born.

To predicate a system on the removal of the mirror box is much easier to say than to accomplish in fact. First of all, things like liveview and EVF have to be able to function practically or the system is useless. And since it was necessary to make autofocus of the contrast detection type, it was necessary to proceed jointly on the development of the LiveMOS sensor. But 4/3 had implied that kind of development from the beginning. That’s why we already had it in our minds to support lenses for contrast AF by updating the firmware.

DCW: In your press release materials you use two different expressions, “digital single-lens system” and “digital single-lens reflex system,” but is this because with the flange-back of only 20mm it makes the “reflex” an impossiblity? Based on size calculations alone, it would seem that if you eliminated the dust removal device, it would be barely possible to introduce a swinging mechanism…..”

OGAWA: It’s probably impossible to put in a mirror under the present [M4/3] standards. I wouldn’t say “absolutely” but the dust reduction system (even though it’s not actually included as a part of the standard) is implictly understood to be there. Further, although the flange-back is said to be about 1/2 the previous value, thus around 20mm, the precise measurements differ. That’s because the mechanical dimensions are not made public to parties outside the 4/3 consortium.”

■ Shooting styles with high degree of freedom

DCW: I wonder how much more compact a system M4/3 can be compared to the current 4/3 standard. For example, in the conventional, standard zoom range?

OGAWA: The Four Thirds standard utilized a long back-focus distance in order to enhance the telecentricity in all focal lengths, from ultra-wide to ultra-telephoto. Also, an essential benefit of the FourThirds system is that it makes it possible to reduce the size of telephoto lenses. But wide-angle lenses unfortunately have to be made larger. However, there was the potential that advances in lens technology would make it possible to solve that issue.”

“In fact, the ZD ED 9-18mm f4-5.6 lens announced just recently would have been unthinkable before. It was only because it became possible to mass-produce an aspherical lens with enormous variable ratio that it was possible to make it a compact lens without sacrificing image quality.”

“The question of ‘how small’ just depends on the design—what kind of lens to make it. Compactness is important, of course, but after all, one chooses an interchangeable lens camera because one wants things like defocuisng characteristics (bokeh), the overall way the image comes together, depth of color, and so on. If the lens isn’t good, the image quality won’t be good. More than simply making the lens compact, it’s necessary to ensure that fundamental imaging quality is high on the optical level right out to the edges, and without compensation using digital technology.

DCW: Yes, that’s all very clear, but doesn’t the consumer also want to know, even roughly, what kind of lens system--and body system—it’s going to be?

OGAWA: Both body and lens will be smaller than the (current) FourThirds system. That goes without saying. Also, since the mirror box will be eliminated, the viewfinder can be freely positioned anywhere, so it should be possible to propose shooting styles offering a degree of freedom unattainable before. Of course, this means the potential to develop displays that show shooting information on the EVF and liveview.

 Hokuto's gear list:Hokuto's gear list
Olympus E-1 Olympus E-3 Olympus E-300 Olympus E-5 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50mm 1:2.0 Macro +15 more
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow