So who was 4/3 originally aimed at?

Started Nov 16, 2013 | Discussions thread
windsprite Senior Member • Posts: 2,620
Everybody ... and nobody.

I think you're right about the E-1 being aimed squarely at the pros, but the consumer-type E-300 and then E-500 came out soon enough afterward that they must have been part of the grand design from the very beginning. Olympus had to introduce the pro body and lenses first, in order to establish their "brand," but clearly they intended to capture a much broader cross section of the market than that.

Too broad, perhaps, because they never really developed the particular segments that would have capitalized on their strengths and set them apart from other brands. They had high-quality 600mm and 180-500mm equivalent lenses that weighed less than the similar-quality Canikons, which might have appealed to many high-end sports and wildlife shooters, but they never delivered on the autofocus, frame rate, low-light performance, DR, etc. that make life easier for these people. They probably also underestimated the importance sports photographers place on subject isolation. Look at Donald Chin, who used to shoot sports with four thirds. Now he's doing it with FF and lenses like the 400/2.8, 200/2, and 85/1.4 wide open, even when he has more than enough light to stop down.

Event photography is another area where the low-light performance, AF, subject isolation, flash system, and lens variety were not on par with the competition.

Portrait photography? Where are the dreamy, creamy primes?

Deep DOF is trumpeted as being an advantage of the format. OK, so why only two fairly short macro lenses?

The 11-22 and 7-14 are terrific architecture lenses, but the people who shoot that genre often also want tilt/shift.

Some of the bodies were fairly compact. Why didn't they take it a step farther and made more primes, especially pancakes?

All this is not to say that there aren't a lot of nice things about the four thirds system, or that one "can't" do this or that genre with it. I'm talking about market perception. It seems like they tried to do too many things all at once and wound up being a sort of jack of all trades (you fill in the rest).

That's why they are finally enjoying some success with micro four thirds. It's a system that at least seems to know what it's all about. It's even summarized in the name!


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