How Olympus Tricked Me, and why I let it go.

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 67,152
Re: How Olympus Tricked Me, and why I let it go.

Jan Chelminski wrote:

Olympus created 4/3 and debut the E-1 and new ‘telecentric’ lenses, 50mm f/2 and some others.

Olympus explained the reduced sensor allowed faster, technically superior optics, while maintaining similar or small lens size compared to corresponding 35mm equipment.

I think 'spun' would be a better word than 'explained'. No Olympus camera lens has been remotely 'telecentric', within the accepted meaning of the term, and the claim that the smaller aperture lens is 'faster' is somewhat specious, as is the claim that they can or are 'technically superier' by dint of the smaller senser.

The ‘telecentric’ labeled (relatively highly corrected esp. the ‘SHG’ models) optics for the time) lenses are larger, as they (partly) use more optical area, relative to sensor size to achieve the typical 4/3-m4/3 edge/corner brightness, sharpness and correction.

Which is what the claim is about. If you have a smaller sensor and maintain the same overall size envelope, the lenses can be relatively larger for the same angle of view and aperture. Nonetheless, FT and mFT never managed to offer the same apertures, mainly because the lower the f-number you go, the more complex a lens design comes for the same degree of correction.

The best m4/3 lenses even sharpen at the edges, well past 50MP at peak settings. So it’s quite excellent output for the sensor size, partly helped by (presumably) excellent telecentricity.

There is no 'telecentricity'. The established meaning of 'telecentric' in optics is that the entrance pupil is placed at infinity, with respect to the image plane. Nor Olympus camera lens is even close to 'telecentric' in the at the exit pupil is always behind the point of closest focus. Olympus' engineers would have been aware of the correct meaning, since telecentric lenses are used in microscopy, industrial and scientific imaging, markets in which Olympus corporation is active. Their marketing people picked the word up somewhere, corrupted its meaning and used it as a piece of marketing spin.

But its really beyond what most need, so I think the compact ‘flawed’ lenses and maybe a better grade M5 class camera would have been appreciated and done very well, but I could be wrong.

In the end system design is a matter of balancing compromises. The choice of sensor size is one of those compromises. Each choice brings with it advantages and disadvantages and different balances suit different peoples' needs. Thinking that one choice brings only advantages is naive. As it is, Four Thirds failed to ever demonstrate that its similarly-sized and priced cameras could produce better photographs than Canon and Nikon's offerings, 'flawed' though they might have been, and the market made its decision accordingly. mFT brought an opportunity to exploit the advantages of the smaller sensor, in terms of building a much more convenient, portable and available system, ideal for all kinds of locations and uses where other systems are not as good. Unfortunately for the future of the system, Olympus (and to an extent, Panasonic, following behind) had drunk deep of their own Kool-Aid, and really failed to systematically exploit the USP or the really excellent system that they had designed. Once again, the market made its decision, and the end result is Olympus packing it in and Panasonic betting its future on a larger sensor. It's a shame.

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