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  #1  
Old 10th December 2012
rutwij rutwij is offline
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Future of the 4/3 system

Recently I have been reading a lot about the 4/3 system, particularly how the sensor and the lenses compare with rival systems who offer full format sensors.
A few people suggested that manufacturers like Panasonic/Leica and Sigma have stopped or are about to stop manufacturing bodies based on and lenses made for the 4/3 format and Olympus might too. They suggest that the M4/3 format is what Olympus and others are investing in. Even so, the M4/3 format will never be considered even in the same league as full format, not even close.
This makes me a bit nervous to invest big money in some of the SHG lenses which I was saving up for and drooling over. It's a shame really, because I have always believed that Olympus make the most beautiful glass in the world!
What do all you folks feel about the future of the system... is it as some people consider, an "evolutionary dead end"?
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Old 10th December 2012
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Probably, yes, 4/3 has reached its zenith. Which is a shame. Olympus could have retired the line by merely bringing everything up to the e-5 level. And personally, I find the notion of the much-anticipated e-7 to be equally absurd: who needs another "pro" camera when so many are in the "enthusiast" category? If you invest in 4/3s, buy used gear only. That's my two cents. There's still a lot of excellent equipment to take pictures with.
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Old 10th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

OK here is my two pennies worth.
I have in the past used Nikon D3/D3/x bodies and quite a few of their top range lenses.
Due to a terrible attitude from Nikon over several months about the repetitive and rapid
failure of their very expensive kit I migrated to 4/3rds.
I have now migrated to m 4/3rds and I do not regret it one little bit.
My wife and I run our own business of which 'fine art' prints are an integral and very important part. I regularly produce prints taken on both 4/3rds and m4/3rds at A2 size.
With no problems at all over IQ. Many of our customers do know what they are talking about and looking at and we have never had any adverse criticism over IQ.
I did have some issues over IQ with my E5 but thst was down to operator error not the kit.
Although the images in my gallery may not please you aesthetically there is nothing wrong with their IQ. One of the Sea Eagle images is about a 70-80% crop from the original and in the last 8 days I have sold 9 framed A2 prints from a limited edition of 25.
Many people are very quick to deride 'kit' lenses but I find my 12-50mm lens continues to astound me every time I use it. The 45mm f1.8 is virtually beyond criticism and I can't wait to hire the 75mm lens before I purchase one.
At the end of the day what do you intend doing with your images?
If you are only going to view them on screen and/or print them up to A3 then you don't have an issue. I know a lady who recently got her ARPS using a Lumix so how bad can they be?
I also have quite healthy sales through an agency and have had images published in
The Sunday Times, The Sunday Times Colour Supplement, The Observer, The Saturday Telegraph Colour Supplement, The Glasgow Herald, Scottish Wildlife Magazine and have
had commercial work accepted and used quite extensively by Diageo, and Seat Car Co.
The above are all 'paid' assignments and not speculative submissions.
I recently submitted over 500 images to my publisher who is considering publishing a
hardback book in A3 format of my images. The images were accepted without exception.
My final comment would be to praise the service I have received from Olympus when things have gone wrong. Although Olympus do not run a 'Professional Service Scheme'
a quick e-mail or phone call have been all that was needed to sort things out.
I am as you've probably guessed a huge Olympus fan and fully intend to invest upwards of five figures in more equipment within the forseeable future.
Don't hold back in doubt Rutwij your Oly kit will do all you ask of it and more.
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Old 10th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stewart G View Post
Probably, yes, 4/3 has reached its zenith. Which is a shame. Olympus could have retired the line by merely bringing everything up to the e-5 level. And personally, I find the notion of the much-anticipated e-7 to be equally absurd: who needs another "pro" camera when so many are in the "enthusiast" category? If you invest in 4/3s, buy used gear only. That's my two cents. There's still a lot of excellent equipment to take pictures with.
Thanks Stewart. I have always been a bit hesitant to buy used gear... reliability is always a big concern, as is genuineness. Especially when there's $/000s involved... I somehow can't help feeling that new is best. Maybe I should trust people more
In all the years I have been looking, I haven't come across many of the high-end SHG lenses (300mm, 90-250mm, 35-100mm, 150mm, 14-35mm) in the used market for a price that would help me get over my fear of second hand lenses.

Do you know if Olympus have announced the sunset of the 4/3 E system and associated lenses? I suppose if they continue forward development to close the gap between the output of the 4/3 system and the FF systems, it would be a good enough indication that the expensive lenses bought today will be worth the investment in the future!
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Old 10th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

Rutwij,
A great source of used Oly kit is either here on the forum or try Ffordes of Beauly.
I get loads of stuff of of them and it has all been great. I've got an Olympus OM2sp
which I bought from them nearly thirty years ago. It still works.
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Old 10th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seonnaidh View Post
OK here is my two pennies worth.
I have in the past used Nikon D3/D3/x bodies and quite a few of their top range lenses.
Due to a terrible attitude from Nikon over several months about the repetitive and rapid
failure of their very expensive kit I migrated to 4/3rds.
I have now migrated to m 4/3rds and I do not regret it one little bit.
My wife and I run our own business of which 'fine art' prints are an integral and very important part. I regularly produce prints taken on both 4/3rds and m4/3rds at A2 size.
With no problems at all over IQ. Many of our customers do know what they are talking about and looking at and we have never had any adverse criticism over IQ.
I did have some issues over IQ with my E5 but thst was down to operator error not the kit.
Although the images in my gallery may not please you aesthetically there is nothing wrong with their IQ. One of the Sea Eagle images is about a 70-80% crop from the original and in the last 8 days I have sold 9 framed A2 prints from a limited edition of 25.
Many people are very quick to deride 'kit' lenses but I find my 12-50mm lens continues to astound me every time I use it. The 45mm f1.8 is virtually beyond criticism and I can't wait to hire the 75mm lens before I purchase one.
At the end of the day what do you intend doing with your images?
If you are only going to view them on screen and/or print them up to A3 then you don't have an issue. I know a lady who recently got her ARPS using a Lumix so how bad can they be?
I also have quite healthy sales through an agency and have had images published in
The Sunday Times, The Sunday Times Colour Supplement, The Observer, The Saturday Telegraph Colour Supplement, The Glasgow Herald, Scottish Wildlife Magazine and have
had commercial work accepted and used quite extensively by Diageo, and Seat Car Co.
The above are all 'paid' assignments and not speculative submissions.
I recently submitted over 500 images to my publisher who is considering publishing a
hardback book in A3 format of my images. The images were accepted without exception.
My final comment would be to praise the service I have received from Olympus when things have gone wrong. Although Olympus do not run a 'Professional Service Scheme'
a quick e-mail or phone call have been all that was needed to sort things out.
I am as you've probably guessed a huge Olympus fan and fully intend to invest upwards of five figures in more equipment within the forseeable future.
Don't hold back in doubt Rutwij your Oly kit will do all you ask of it and more.
Thanks Seonnaidh, for your insightful and thorough response. It does inspire a lot more confidence in me to learn that serious professionals find the Olympus system to be of unquestionably high quality!
As for Olympus support - I haven't had much occasion to make use of it, except once in the recent past.
My hardly-used fish eye lens evidenced a rattle the last time I picked it up. Something was obviously loose inside the lens, and getting rattling about. I hooked it to my E5 and tried a few snaps, the lens itself seems to work perfectly. Still, I figured I should get it investigated just in case something important had fallen off and could make things worse. My email to the UK Olympus support centre received a response in a couple of days. Between the cost of postage, the minimum administrative charge and an unquantified repair cost, I felt it was better to keep using the rattling lens without getting it fixed. If it finally broke down, the repair cost might actually be justified. I would feel so much more comfortable if Oly had more service centres, and something local where I could have the damage assessed without paying anything for it and be able to decide if it was cheaper to repair or buy a used replacement
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Old 10th December 2012
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Yes, either buy from sellers you know, as can be found on this forum, or from commercial companies with good return policies. All you risk is return postage if a shipped lens doesn't meet your expectations. You can even buy used direct from Olympus at times (i.e., refurbished).
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Old 10th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stewart G View Post
Yes, either buy from sellers you know, as can be found on this forum, or from commercial companies with good return policies. All you risk is return postage if a shipped lens doesn't meet your expectations. You can even buy used direct from Olympus at times (i.e., refurbished).
Thanks Stewart. I'll definitely be more open to used lenses in the future and look for a bargain on a SG or HG lens to get me started.

Seonnaidh - Ffordes seem to have a good range. I'll keep an eye on their stock to see when a used SHG lens becomes available.
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Old 10th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

I've often used the following camera repairers is Glasgow.
Often I've dropped in and the repair has been done same day. Lets 'er indoors do some serious shopping.
Very competent and very reasonable.
www.ajjohnstone.co.uk
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  #10  
Old 11th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

From a slightly different viewpoint . . . that of a passionate amateur . . . I'd only ask myself one question:

"Have I consistently exceeded the capabilities of my current gear to the point I need capability "a)", capability "b)", and/or capability "c" to be found in a different system?"

I presently own my original E-1, an E-500 (which my wife appropriated as better than her Nikon gear!), and two E-30's. And a small stable of lenses built up over the years. I am an outdoor shooter, in all weathers, in often roadless countryside. The cameras have been used in Arabian Peninsula dust storms @ 48 degrees C and high in the Cascade mountains of the Pacific Northwest @ -12 degrees C. They have seen a lot of mud, dust, rain, saltwater, wind and snow.
But they are wonderfully, wonderfully operational to this day. Despite my care of them, they show the patina of this sort of use. However - as the judging standards of the British Kennel Club state -

“Honorable Scars
And Fair Wear and Tear
Shall Not Count Against”

They are good tools. The ergonomics are right for me, the glass is spectacular, and they are extremely well-built.

Like anyone else, I suppose, I occasionally go through a bout of gargantuan techno-lust when the latest and greatest iteration of digital camera gear hits the market. I get specifications-happy. I cross-index all the features and metrics.

Then I ask myself The Question; "Have I consistently exceeded . . .?

And the honest answer to date has always been "No, I haven't."

As a result, I stay with the gear I have and focus instead on raising my levels of knowledge and skill.

So, to give you my answer to your question, I think that 4/3rds remains a perfectly viable system whose glass is recognized as non-pareil. If you purchase used equipment in good condition, you'll have an easy five years or more of day-in, day-out shooting. As for the future, I do not think that anyone, anywhere can tell you where the evolutionary state of digital photographic equipment will be in five years. For all I know, digital may be as dead as vinyl L.P. records, superseded by an imaging technology we can't even imagine at this point.

A last point: I continue to "put my money where my mouth is", having just purchased a used 7-14mm, a lens I have needed for several years for landscape work, but had to patiently save for. What you might find amusing is that the first body I intend to put it on is my E-1 @ a mere 5mp, as the color rendition of the old Kodak sensor is to my eye subtly but significantly more suited to the colors of the Irish landscape. I'll soon find out.

After all, it is the image that is intended to entrance to viewer's eye, and not the gear that recorded it.

Good luck with your quest!


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Old 11th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

Agree wholeheartedly with John1
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Old 11th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

JohnI, A breath of fresh air, thanks. Don't be too quick to write of 4/3rds.
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Old 11th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

I fully support all comments so far.

As far as the purchase of used lenses is concerned, virtually my entire kit consists of lenses that I have bought used - either from this forum, dealers such as Ffordes, or occasionally ebay. This range includes 300mm f2.8, 12-60mm, 8mm fisheye etc etc. and I have never had a problem - the build quality and iq of these lenses is generally excellent.

I suspect there will continue to be many available through these routes, so keep your eyes open and you will find fantastic lenses which will provide terrific value for money compared to other brands.

Martin
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Old 11th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

I sincerely hope Olympus also feel the same way about the 4/3s system and continue to innovate and create better sensors and help deliver even better output from Zuiko glass!
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Old 11th December 2012
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Re: Future of the 4/3 system

"What do all you folks feel about the future of the system... is it as some people consider, an "evolutionary dead end"?"

Above is the Question you were asking..... I agree with everything people have been saying about the quality and IQ of the 4/3 system. But i think putting lots of money into a system that is at an "evolutionary dead end" may not be the way to go. If you want to stay with Olympus then at some point you will have to go M4/3 to keep up with advances in tecnology.

Steve
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