So who was 4/3 originally aimed at?

Started Nov 16, 2013 | Discussions thread
rovingtim Veteran Member • Posts: 8,644
USP was size

Big Ga wrote:

I often see people like RovingTim over here saying that Olympus lost their way with the bigger camera gear, and the whole point of fourthirds was to create a smaller, more portable system, the promise of which only MFT seems to have now finally fulfilled.

I've never really agreed with this. My opinion was that from the outset, Olympus had the goal of competing at the highest level in the pro market.

If they are competing at the 'highest level', then they needed a competitive sensor. Especially with the technology in 2003, this wasn't going to happen with a sensor 1/4 to 1/2 the area of other popular cameras.

Also, Nikon already had a focusing monster in the form of the DH2. Shortly after the E1 release, Canon 1Ds married excellent focusing with an excellent sensor. The E1 was behind the best on the sensor and focusing from the start.

What Olympus stated at the time was 5 mp was 'good enough' to compete with 35mm film. Even after the most excellent 16mp Canon 1Ds sensor came out, Olympus still planned to compete with an 8 mp camera (the E1 successor they scrapped).

That is not evidence for attempting to compete against the best.

Their lenses were excellent. However, Olympus literature always omitted the DoF. To the uneducated, these lenses appeared much better than in reality (I see Olympus largely at fault here for triggering the equivalency wars). The reason they omitted DoF was to emphasis the size advantage (look how small our F2 lens is compared to the 35 mm F2!). This was reflected on their fourthirds website, where Olympus claimed that a 35mm equiv lens would have to be 4 times the size of the Olympus lens. Riiiggghhhht.

In the beginning, Olympus boldly stated they wanted to build a rugged professional system that was lighter and more compact than other huge professional systems coming out at that time.

Their initially advertised USP was compact size coupled with good quality. That is the promise I bought into. If you aren't going compact, what is the point of a 1/4 size sensor?

Look at the first camera, the E1. Awesome build. Bristling with 'pro' features like weathersealing, locking mode dial, PC sync socket, USB2, a Firewire port for gods sake!, a £500 grip with a REALLY substantial high capacity battery. That all says pro, especially considering the year of release.

They even brought out one of, of not THE best HV packs for a shoe mounted flash. Only pros use HV packs!

And the lenses. Stuff like the 300/2.8 isn't aimed at consumers! ALL of the first batch of lenses were quality, weathersealed offerings.

Good pro offerings. But as a whole, the 4/3rds system was never the best. Look at the E3. It's claim to fame was the 'world's fastest autofocus' ... something that no pro ever asked for. Impressive to nubies though.

They even tried to set up a global pro support network which did seem to work in some countries for a while.

So what do you think? what was the target market that 4/3 was originally gunning for?

I think they were trying to capture the pro market where people wanted to go smaller.

But they screwed up by going bigger. Where's the competitive advantage in offering a camera the same size as the 35mm competitors, combined with the same size and weight in (SHG) lenses, but with a sensor 1/4 the area?

What fool is going to think that is a good idea?

I would predict that if any manufacturer tried to do this, their system would ultimately fail for obvious reasons.

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