Olympus' Toshi Terada discusses the future of Four Thirds and compacts

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
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boggis the cat Veteran Member • Posts: 6,324
Re: Four Thirds upgrade cycles

Great Bustard wrote:

boggis the cat wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

boggis the cat wrote:

Canon only fairly recently produced a 70-200 mm f/2.8 that was comparable to the SHG 35-100 f/2 (and it is still a stop down).

You know, I never did see a shootoff between a 70-200 / 2.8 IS on a 5D2 against a 35-100 / 2 on an E5 just to see how "uncomparable" the Canon was. It reminds me of this post:


but that was with the non-IS version of the lens on a 5D, rather than a 5D2. Sure would be nice to see a comparison of the same scene with the same framing and DOF, though.

DOF is not a lens parameter usually tested. I leave that to you to consider why that may be.

DOF was not in question, except to say to compare sharpness between systems only for the portions of the photo within the DOF.

Typical lens test use a flat target.

The fact is that Canon did produce an updated lens that 'caught up' with Olympus' equivalent (or near equivalent, since it is f/2 rather than f/2.8). This means that Canon can build lenses as good as Olympus -- and presumably anyone can do so.

But "caught up" in what way? "Near equivalent" in what way? The way I see it, you cannot make a photo with just a lens, or just a camera -- you need both. Thus, we cannot consider the lens in a vacuum -- we must consider it's performance on the camera on which it is used.

But then we are moving from a lens test to a system test.  This means revising the test for each improved sensor.

It also means that Olympus cannot rest on the SHG line in perpetuity, and it is likely that they will eventually build f/2 monster zooms for Micro FT or simply drop down to f/2.8.*

It seems to me that Olympus has decided to leave speed for the primes, and compactness combined with "fast enough" and "good enough" for the zooms, which, in my opinion, is the sensible thing to do.

For "Micro" FourThirds, yes.
The problem is whether people will accept the compromises to get smaller lenses, and be willing to pay as though those lenses were not compromised.  Olympus has pulled the price of the m.ZD 75-300 mark II down to $550 from $900, so I would think that they have determined that few people will pay top dollar for relatively poor lenses.  The 50-200 f/2.8-3.5 is $1200, so a 'Micro' variant that was 50-200 f/4-5.6 (for example) should cost a fair bit less than $1200 -- or it should also be f/2.8-3.5, which would necessarily make it effectively the same lens.
Note that there are few standard FT primes to compare the Micro FT primes against, so the 'value proposition' is not skewed by the excellent 'bang per buck' standard FT system.

I don't see Olympus supporting standard FourThirds any longer than necessary. If they do have a PDAF capable high-end Micro FT body then I'm sure that would be the 'E-7' (assuming that the latest Epson EVF is a 'good enough' replacement for an OVF). That is not a problem provided it meets the requirements of present E-x customers.

From what I've read, Olympus, if anything, is looking for a way to make 4/3 lenses work on mirrorless bodies, rather than investing in one more 4/3 DSLR before that technological hurdle is overcome. In my opinion, that was a mistake.

They did mention that it has turned out to be far more difficult to achieve the "One Beautiful System".  No company has been able to predict exactly what will or will not work.  Nikon and Canon put a lot of effort and money into marketing and support for professional users, partly to ensure that they can sell what they produce regardless of any deficiencies.

(* Closing down the maximum aperture would, as you allude to, cause shallow DOF to be less comparable to the 135 format. But it has always been questioned whether Olympus FourThirds was a direct competitor in any case, and they were and are a competitor to APS-C variant systems.)

When 4/3 first came out, it was, indeed, marketed as a direct competitor to FF.

No, it was marketed as competitive with 135 film.
Or in other words, Olympus' claim was that shifting to the smaller format of FourThirds was more sensible that sticking with the 135 format.

This was unfortunate. Instead, it should have been marketed, and developed, in accordance to the strengths of the format, which, ironically, is what they are doing with mFT.

They did exactly that.  The 'bigger sensors are better' argument won out over 'designed for digital' (eventually).  Now the market seems to be splitting more distinctly between 'large sensors' (135 and up) and 'small sensors' (around the 1" to APS-C range).  Cheaper 135 bodies are forcing people to think through the compromises.
We still see some people claiming that 135 systems are the only viable format, and others claiming that Micro FT and other small formats will erode 135.  APS-C may end up in the same predicament as standard FT in that it becomes a nuisance to the smaller and more profitable ILC range.  (This may be why Nikon went with a very small sensor in their "1" system, while Canon went with the "M" system being semi-compatible -- different approaches to protecting APS-C.)

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