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09-28-2018, 08:58 AM   #1
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Micro Four Thirds and Panasonic FF

Just discussion, no drama nor DOOOOM.

I have a Panasonic GX-85 for those times when my main K-1 system is too bulky. Panasonic just announced a new FF alliance (with Sigma and Leica).

Will Panasonic continue to be committed to M4/3? If they quit, will Olympus go it alone? IMO it will take around 6 months to know, after we see or don't see more announcements from both companies.

Will the M4/3 format be squeezed out by smartphone improvements and the shrinking size of FF bodies? I think not. Some FF bodies are impressively small, but the lens trend is for enormous, optically perfect, heavy lenses.

Discuss...

09-28-2018, 10:41 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Just discussion, no drama nor DOOOOM.
Will Panasonic continue to be committed to M4/3?
They will not quit m43, but will certainly put more resources on developing their FF line.


QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Will the M4/3 format be squeezed out by smartphone improvements and the shrinking size of FF bodies? I think not. Some FF bodies are impressively small, but the lens trend is for enormous, optically perfect, heavy lenses.
m43 is in a really bad position. It's squeezed from the low end by smartphones for people wanting "small but good enough" and on the other end by mirrorless APS-C (like the EOS-M line, Sony A6xxx...), which are about the same size but offer better sensors for those who want "better than smartphone but not to bulky". Notwithanstanding the fact that some of the latest m43 are now just as large as DSLR! Between these two, the niche for m43 is getting tighter with each new generation of smartphone and mirrorless APS-C.The question is then, for how long will this niche will continue to have enough customers to justify developing the m43 format ? Supposing it didn't already have crossed that line.

Last edited by CarlJF; 09-28-2018 at 11:14 AM.
09-28-2018, 11:13 AM   #3
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I think we'll have to see how the 'Good Enough" factor plays out. For me APS-C is good enough, I see no reason to get that FF. My m4/3 does the job also. I find it has a few limitations vs APS-C and it's used accordingly.
For the FF folks it'll be a harder decision. Image quality isn't going to jump leaps and bounds just because you took out a mirror. Pro's may see the advantage to put out that $2000 to $4000 for the new gear, enthusiasts...ehhhhhh.....don't know.
09-28-2018, 11:15 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by CarlJF Quote
Between these two, the niche for m43 is getting tighter with each new generation of smartphone and mirrorless APS-C.The question is then, for how long will this niche will continue to have enough customers to justify developing the m43 format ? Supposing it didn't already have crossed that line.
I think we can definitely say new generations of mirrorless cameras are only coming in FF format and larger. All of the camera users who will be tempted to use only smartphones have already abandoned their standalone cameras and camera manufacturers have abandoned camera formats smaller than m43. We can also say that new developments in FF format or smaller cameras will not be related to new developments in the sensors. So the market for APS-C and m43 cameras will be focused on existing users of those formats and on incremental improvements in features that aren't dependent on the image sensor. The key differences between m43 and APS-C are the size of lenses and low-light performance and there is nothing manufacturers of these two camera formats can do about those differences.

The end result is that we should not expect any significant product changes in either m43 or APS-C formats. Competition is not going to increase for either format and current users will only move to larger format cameras (or stay put), so I expect that the market for these two formats isn't going to change much, either. None of the m43 or APS-C manufacturers are dependent on this market growing in order to stay in business, so the future is very little news, good or bad.

09-28-2018, 11:56 AM   #5
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There is no way they will quit M4/3. The GH-5 is a big hit and they are doing pretty well overall with M4/3. The system is mature at this point and they can afford to work on a FF system.
09-28-2018, 01:01 PM   #6
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M43 and APS-C might suit various consumers, but I don't think the companies can charge enough on them because they then run into FF and MF territory.

Premium's where the companies are heading, Pentax already knew that with the K-1, GR III and 645Z.

09-28-2018, 01:50 PM   #7
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They will stay with M43 for their video-centric cameras at the very least.


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09-28-2018, 01:58 PM   #8
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m43 is a huge ecosystem with more than just Olympus and Panasonic supporting it. YI and a few others are on board but the main thrust is certainly Panny and Oly - particularly in AF systems. Micro Four Thirds Lens Compendium and Roadmap There are over 70 autofocus lenses available for this mount btw.

As for size, well 1" sensor enthusiast systems still exist, albeit in fixed lens designs since Nikon shut down their interchangeable lens 1" system. So m43 isn't the smallest used but the smallest ILC. The size comparison to APSC is interesting. The crop from m43 to APSC is smaller than the crop from APSC to FF. Some of the lenses are similar in size but typically there is a pretty large size advantage as long as you aren't trying to get equivalent aperture for DOF at the same angle of view. As an example look at the DA* 50-135 vs. the Panasonic 35-100 or the DA* 16-50 vs. the Panasonic 12-35. But the real savings occur when you look at the slower lenses. The Panasonic 12-32 or 35-100 f/4-5.6 are downright tiny - and sharp. The smartphone set is satisfied without ILC flexibility so the markets are quite different. The smartphone is for the traveler with limited lens needs and a desire to have the camera always on them and connected. Personally I don't see the FF Panny announcement any different than Pentax going FF. Yes it diverts resources - but like Pentax's APSC world the Panny m43 world is pretty mature. Where things break down size wise is when they go for much wider apertures or long fast lenses.

09-28-2018, 02:55 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
m43 is a huge ecosystem with more than just Olympus and Panasonic supporting it.
Yeah, I tend to think they're in no-man's land as far as sensor size and pricing goes.

I have shot with the Panny GH5 and f2.8 zoom, it's big and expensive, it had great video specs but the stills were ordinary. AF wasn't great, either, even with on-sensor PDAF.

Canon and Nikon have announced FF mirrorless this year, they're ignoring anything smaller, Fuji have gone for MF.

Pentax have seemingly stopped Q development, Nikon the 1" MILC series.

Last edited by clackers; 09-28-2018 at 03:07 PM.
09-28-2018, 03:05 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Will Panasonic continue to be committed to M4/3? If they quit, will Olympus go it alone? IMO it will take around 6 months to know, after we see or don't see more announcements from both companies.
They have said they are committed to M43,so i cant see why they wont continue.

The g90/5 is coming soonish i hear.

A corporation their size can have 2 mounts,they are bigger than CANON!
09-29-2018, 02:19 AM   #11
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They won't get out of m4/3 so soon.
They have a fan base for their GH cameras for video AFAIK.
Furthermore, there is a 'known' track record for their m4/3 market share and financial performance, while the FF is new and unknown.
There are inventories, factories, overheads that at the least need to be reduced over time.

What I think Panasonic sees is that m4/3 is a 'completed' system and for growth, they either have to go to apsc or FF.

Of course if the FF becomes highly successful, I am sure they will redo the maths on keeping m4/3 (or not)
09-29-2018, 08:06 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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Micro Four Thirds will be around a long time. The format has a major advantage in terms of LENS size (and lens choice). There are many terrific yet TINY lenses for the format. In some of these discussions there's too much emphasis on body size. Mirrorless FF bodies may be of modest size, but it's a challenge to design a lens that can provide sharp corners when combining a large sensor with a short register distance. The angles are extreme. The resulting lenses are huge, eliminating most of the weight advantage of a smallish body. When dealing with a short register distance it's much easier to get sharp corners when the sensor is relatively small. There are some superb MFT lenses that are almost unbelievably tiny, even by APS-C standards. You can put together a really compact kit. It's all about the lenses!

In addition, recent improvements in sensor technology and noise handling have reduced the drawbacks to the smaller MFT sensors. To see this, look at the output from the new 20-megapixel sensors in the Panasonic G9 and GX9. The image quality is as good as (or better than) what you could get from APS-C not that long ago. Of course the newer APS-C sensors are better still, but the difference is not large enough to matter for many applications.

The MFT format will continue to serve a couple of important niches. First, some people prefer a small and lightweight system, and don't need the very best output. MFT offers the smallest overall kit with a decent sensor size. Second, some FF (and MF) shooters who do have a need for the very best output also have a MFT system because sometimes they want to travel light, and in some cases MFT output is good enough. This second group doesn't view MFT as a substitute for FF, but rather as a very useful complement. Because of these two markets, and because of the terrific lens selection, MFT isn't going away anytime soon.

Dan

Last edited by Dan; 09-29-2018 at 08:14 AM.
09-29-2018, 08:38 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dan Quote
Micro Four Thirds will be around a long time. The format has a major advantage in terms of LENS size (and lens choice). There are many terrific yet TINY lenses for the format. In some of these discussions there's too much emphasis on body size. Mirrorless FF bodies may be of modest size, but it's a challenge to design a lens that can provide sharp corners when combining a large sensor with a short register distance. The angles are extreme. The resulting lenses are huge, eliminating most of the weight advantage of a smallish body. When dealing with a short register distance it's much easier to get sharp corners when the sensor is relatively small. There are some superb MFT lenses that are almost unbelievably tiny, even by APS-C standards. You can put together a really compact kit. It's all about the lenses!

In addition, recent improvements in sensor technology and noise handling have reduced the drawbacks to the smaller MFT sensors. To see this, look at the output from the new 20-megapixel sensors in the Panasonic G9 and GX9. The image quality is as good as (or better than) what you could get from APS-C not that long ago. Of course the newer APS-C sensors are better still, but the difference is not large enough to matter for many applications.

The MFT format will continue to serve a couple of important niches. First, some people prefer a small and lightweight system, and don't need the very best output. MFT offers the smallest overall kit with a decent sensor size. Second, some FF (and MF) shooters who do have a need for the very best output also have a MFT system because sometimes they want to travel light, and in some cases MFT output is good enough. This second group doesn't view MFT as a substitute for FF, but rather as a very useful complement. Because of these two markets, and because of the terrific lens selection, MFT isn't going away anytime soon.

Dan
Well said. That’s my view too. M43 has also been pretty good at adopting new ideas so their better cameras have remarkably full feature sets. Compact but powerful so long as it is understood they are not about ultra high res or low light shooting. And Olympus make lenses as good as anyone’s. Probably Panasonic do too but I have only used Olympus so far.

Last edited by mecrox; 09-29-2018 at 08:45 AM.
09-29-2018, 10:45 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dan Quote
...There are many terrific yet TINY lenses for the format...
That's the main reason I picked my Panasonic GX-85. The kit 12-32 lens is so compact yet good sharpness and contrast. B&H had a deal with a bundled 45-150; it's a small lens, mediocre sharpness, but it's good enough when I'm traveling and need some reach. I went into M43 knowing that I would avoid buying large lenses for it.
09-30-2018, 06:01 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
That's the main reason I picked my Panasonic GX-85. The kit 12-32 lens is so compact yet good sharpness and contrast. B&H had a deal with a bundled 45-150; it's a small lens, mediocre sharpness, but it's good enough when I'm traveling and need some reach. I went into M43 knowing that I would avoid buying large lenses for it.
As I understand it the 45-150 outta similar to the Olympus 40-150 which I owned for a brief time. It was ok, nothing special. The Panasonic 45-175 on the other hand is a very nice compact telephoto. Highly recommended.
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