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Where is M4/3rds going?

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  • Where is M4/3rds going?

    I am the owner of an E-M5 which I use a lot and I have some concerns about where I am going. Rather rashly I sold an E5 to purchase the E-M5 and realised too late that I should have planned my move into M4/3 more wisely. Leaving aside the problems I have had using some of my 4/3 lenses with the E-M5 I am still hoping that I am going to be able to assemble a complete system using M4/3. However development seems to have slowed down a little which concerns me somewhat. So here are a few questions that someone, especially the manufacturers, may be able to answer:

    Is there any likelihood, in the foreseeable future, of seeing same brand extension tubes on the market, or same brand teleconverters, or same brand super-telephoto primes, or underwater housings? Is Olympus ever going to produce an E-Mx with a built-in flash?

    Bearing in mind the superb sensors in the latest offerings, when will photography of FAST-moving objects ever be a possibility? When will low-light AF be as reliable as it was with my E5?

    A lot of questions I know, but for me to see a way forward to stay with M4/3rds they are all fairly crucial.

    Thanks for reading this far!

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  • #2
    Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

    Hi David,

    I think many of your issues are tied to the when/if scenario regarding the availability of an MFT body with full focusing capability of 4/3 lenses. News on this front has gone quiet lately, but I believe Olympus are working on a solution and I think I've heard it said (may be just a rumour, of course) that there should be a body towards the end of the year. How effective it is and how well it will suit your particular requirements, only time will tell.

    "A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity." ~ Robert Doisneau


    • #3
      Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

      I'm waiting for that as well. I thought the latest competition prize was going to be it but it looks like a new pen instead. Got to be patient if you stick with Oly.


      • #4
        Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

        Given the state of the global economy (not to mention Olympus' financial debacle) I would expect that all camera manufacturers plans for new product introductions will be slowing down.
        To put this in perspective there is a report today on the Amateur Photographer website that UK sales of compact system cameras and fixed-lens cameras were 23% and 24% down respectively in March compared with last March. Overall UK photography sector sales dropped 21% in each of the first three months of this year compared to the same quarter last year.


        she looked at me and said "It's official. I hate your camera. It's just so amazing and perfect I want one!"

        E-M10 MK II, E-M5, E-PL1, E-PM2, mZ 12-50, mZ 14-42mm EZ, mZ 17mm f 1.8, mZ 25mm f1.8, mZ 45mm f1.8, mZ 75-300mm II.
        OM1n, OM 50mm f1.8.
        Oly Viewer3, Dxo Pro 11. FastStone.


        • #5
          Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

          Happily the Olympus photography is a division of a larger company.

          If Nikon was in trouble, the whole company could be bought up and rebadged by, say, Panasonic as an easy way into full frame. Sure Nikon users would appreciate the gesture.
          "Don't blame me..."


          • #6
            Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

            As far as low light focus reliability goes, my E30 (which is the same as E3 & E5 focussing) & ZD14-54 II lens fiddles & f*rts around trying to find focus in low light while the E-M5 & M.ZD12-50 lens locks on real quick for the same low light subject. I dare say the ZD12-60 lens on the E30 (& E3 & E5) would be much better & fast moving subjects being much easier to snap, but it is a pleasure using the E-M5 at night with more reliably focussed shots now & not missing (as much) opportunities like I was before (that's using Auto ISO from 200 to 6400).
            I fiddle with violins (when I'm not fiddling with a camera).
            Cameras: OM-D E-M1 & Mk II, Olympus Stylus 1, OM-D E-M5.
            Lenses: M.ZD7-14mm f2.8 PRO Lens, M.ZD12-40mm f2.8 PRO Lens, M.ZD40-150mm f2.8 PRO Lens, MC-14, MC-20, M.ZD45mm f1.8, M.ZD12-50, M.ZD60 Macro, M.ZD75-300 Mk II, MMF-3, ZD14-54 II, Sigma 150mm F2.8 APO Macro DG HSM.
            Flashes: FL36R X2, FL50R, FL50.
            Software: Capture One Pro 10 (& Olympus Viewer 3).


            • #7
              Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

              Hi David. Compact System Cameras (mirrorless interchangeable lens digital cameras) have only been around since 2008, less than five years. Micro Four Thirds is the leading CSC platform with more bodies and variation in body type and many more lenses than any other CSC platform. CSC is growing and sales of DSLRs in many regions are flat or in decline. CSCs already equal unit sales of DSLRs in Japan, for example and will surpass DSLRs some time this year (if not already) according to the long term trend.

              It's true that CSCs do have some weaknesses, like autofocus tracking fast moving objects - birds in flight being a good example. And while it may be the case that development has slowed, it was originally at a furious pace that was always going to be difficult to sustain.

              But let's look at the specific points you raised:

              Same brand extension tubes? I would guess that Panasonic and Olympus will produce extension tubes at some time in the future; they have produced macro lenses, so extension tubes seems like a logical addition. But in any case Kenko already produces Micro Four Thirds extension tubes with full electronic pass-through. You can also use the Olympus EX-25 extension tube with a Micro Four Thirds/Four Thirds adapter when using Four Thirds lenses.

              Teleconverters. So far there has been little incentive to produce Micro Four Thirds teleconverters because there are relatively few long and fast Micro Four Thirds lenses. You can of course use Four Thirds converters with Four Thirds lenses. The question is whether or not we will ever see fast long lenses because these will be relatively large and heavy, something that contradicts the basic attraction of Micro Four Thirds in being relatively small and light. But I am optimistic that we will eventually see faster long lenses and last year's introduction by Panasonic of the 35-100 (70-200 equivalent) f/2.8 reinforces my optimism.

              Low light AF. Panasonic has already tackled low light AF with its new GF6 and G6 models. These strategically reduced the focus speed in low light, which is extremely fast in normal light (faster than DSLRs), to improve focus lock reliability and accuracy - and it does seem to work.

              Fast moving subject AF. This is the toughest challenge of all, I think. But I don't think it is insurmountable. Olympus has already (and repeatedly) promised a camera that will focus Four Thirds lenses properly - and by that I read that these lenses will work as well, maybe better, than a DSLR. All the signs are that Olympus will release this camera before the end of this year. The only question will be if it is a Four Thirds-only camera (maybe a conventional DSLR) or if it will be a more ambitious Micro Four Thirds camera that can be adapted elegantly to take Four Thirds lenses. None of this really answers whether or not Micro Four Thirds lenses will one day be able to autofocus on fast moving targets as well as DSLRs, but I think it is only a matter of time. Professional video cameras can do this; it's just a matter of engineering a solution for stills cameras.

              Built-in flash. There is always a big debate about this; should a camera with professional pretensions have built-in flash? You do of course get the equivalent of a built-in flash bundled with the camera and it can also be used as a wireless multi-channel remote flash commander. So I am not really sure how important this issue is.

              Underwater housings. Olympus already produces a PT-EP08 underwater housing for the E-M5 and has a track record of producing housings for most system camera models. Independents also make housings for the E-M5, like Nauticam, for example. In fact there is lots of support for underwater use of CSCs.

              Anyway, I hope that at least some of the above will be interesting!

              Founder and editor of:
              Olympus UK E-System User Group (
              Four Thirds User (
              Digital Photography Now (
              Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (

              NEW: My personal BLOG


              • #8
                Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

                A nice summary, Ian.
                Cameras: E-M5, E-PM2, OM40, OM4Ti
                Lenses (M.Zuiko Digital): 7-14mm/F2.8, 12-40mm/F2.8, 40-150mm/F2.8+TC1.4x, 12-50mm/F3.5-6.3, 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 EZ, M.ZD 40-150 F4-5.6 R, 75-300mm/F4.8-6.7 Mk1, 12mm/F2, 17mm/F1.8
                Lenses (OM Zuiko): 50mm/F1.2, 24mm/F2, 35mm/F2.8 shift
                Lenses (OM Fit): Vivitar Series II 28-105mm/F2.8-3.8, Sigma 21-35mm/F3.4-4.2, Sigma 35-70mm/F2.8-4, Sigma 75-200mm/F2.8-3.5, Vivitar Series II 100-500mm/F5.6-8.0, Centon 500mm/F8 Mirror
                Learn something new every day


                • #9
                  Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

                  Hi Ian,

                  Thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions posed, Very interesting for me as a relative new comer to Olympus. It was a real decision whether or not to stick with Olympus or go with Cannon Or Nikon, but I decided to go with Olympus even though I had some niggling doubts in my head about Olympus and their faithfulness to DSLRs.

                  It is a real commitment to go with a particular brand especially once you start putting money into higher-end lenses, so I do hope Olympus look after all the faithful followers, whether 4/3 or M4/3.

                  Many Thanks,

                  Many Thanks,



                  • #10
                    Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

                    Thanks Ian for that explanation in as far as you can tell what is coming down the line. I would go so far as to say that the DSLR is at the end of the road. True there will be some offerings for the loyal four thirds users but the CSC, MFT, mirror-less is the future and in a very short space of time (5yrs) it has all but arrived and surpassed the DSLR. I would think all the top brands are looking at sales trends and opinions from all over the world and none of them can afford be left behind especially now when sales are down and money being tight, buyers are very choosey.
                    Olympus at a guess will bring out an E7 with some upgrades from the current E5 flagship. Upgrades likely taken from the new M1. That will probably be the last DSLR Flagship.The success of the M1 for Olympus has sealed their resolve to plough that furrow,IMO. It's a dream camera for professionals and amateurs alike. Lightweight, superb handling and stunning images. Yes there are some niggles like fast moving AF and pop up flash etc just like all new offerings from all the main brands. No, it's not perfect but it's very close and niggles such as above will be addressed in the M2.
                    I see a great swell of DSLR users from all the big brands making the transition over the next year to M four thirds and very little demand for the big hefty DSLR bodies outside of the studio. A friend of mine who has recently made the switch said he had been thinking of changing over for some time as he likes to keep up with the latest technology on offer. He was at his grandchilds christening taking some shots with his E5 when his son-in-law said to him that the size of his camera and lens was very intimidating, it resembled a "Bazooka" pointing at his head!!. He said he made up his mind there and then, his son-in-law was right, a DSLR is intimidating and I dare say no fun to carry round for a day shooting. Now with his M1 he can be more inconspicuous and his subjects more relaxed and they will behave more natural. He said it's the single best thing he has done in photography in 40yrs. Just by the way, he has had the best of N---n and C----n over the years but he said there was always something missing from the images. Even though the images were perfect he maintained they lacked soul and only Olympus could provide that.
                    Ever wondered what happens the dark when the light is switched on?


                    • #11
                      Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

                      I can't see a E7 ever happening. Olympus is all about m43rds methinks from now on.

                      E-M1 Mk2, Pen F, HLD-9, 17, 25, 45, 60 macro, 12-40 Pro, 40-150 Pro, 12-50, 40-150, 75-300, MC-14, MMF-3 (all micro 4/3rds), 7-14 (4/3rds), 50, 135 (OM), GoPro Hero 3, Novo/Giottos/ Manfrotto supports. Lowepro, Tamrac, Manfrotto, and Billingham bags.

                      External Competition Secretary, Cwmbran PS & Welsh Photographic Federation Judge


                      • #12
                        Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

                        An E-1F would be nice, F for Farewell to 4/3. Cram in the E-3/5 viewfinder and the best 10 or 12 MP sensor they can source.
                        It's the image that's important, not the tools used to make it.

                        David M's Photoblog


                        • #13
                          Re: Where is M4/3rds going?

                          You could well be right Dave, no point in investing in a system thats shot its bolt. M4/3ds is the future for Olympus and what stides they have made since 2008. David's idea would be nice, take the best from the E1,3 & 5, bundle the bits into the E1 body with a 12MP sensor etc and set the DSLR sailing into the sunset, end of an era.
                          Last edited by banjukes; 27th October 2013, 06:43 PM. Reason: spelling
                          Ever wondered what happens the dark when the light is switched on?