This is just a think piece - ignore it or comment on it as you please.
Those of you who have commented on my m43rds posts will know I have been an enthusiastic supporter of the format for nearly 4 years. Not only that but several of my (limited) commercial sales have actually been from m43rds stock demonstrating that for print and web it is more than sufficient.
But here is my problem. I think time and technology have caught up with the format. When a new Panasonic GH-3 and OMD-E5 are close to the same price (or in the case of the GH-3 exactly the same price) as APS-C offerings from Nikon and Canon, I have to question the future of these cameras.
My main enthusiasm for m43rds has been portability and lens quality. I have been willing to sacrifice some IQ in order to be able to lug the camera and three lenses in less room and with less weight than a single Nikon offering with one lens. But even there, weight is finally being addressed by both Nikon and Canon and the Fuji X-Pro is so light each time I pick one up my brain overcompensates and my arm nearly throws it over my shoulder.
So, on price the format is not as cheap as it was. On weight the format is being encroached on by lower end DSLRs and mirrorless cameras (don't even get me started on how much I love my DP2M), and in IQ I do not feel confident that high-iso noise control has ever, or will ever be addressed.
Another concern is just how much further the sensors can be developed. There is (of course) a physical limit - just as with any other sensor - but as the size is already 'cut down' I do not believe they can improve IQ much further. I do wish Panasonic or Olympus would do us a favour and go back to a 10mpx sensor with larger photosites and better noise control.
I face the problem that many users face when they build a system. My glass investment is actually about 4 times the price I paid for my GH-2. However, that shrinks with the pricing of the GH-3 and OMD-E5 to about half. Even if I can recover a couple of hundred UK pounds for the sale of my GH-2 I am still making a sizeable re-investment in the system.
Alternatively, the residual value of all my m43rds kit gets me a long way with both Nikon (D7100) or Fuji (X-Pro 1) - sorry, but I have never got on with Canon but it's my problem and I'll have to deal with it.
Decisions, decisions, eh? I want a decent enough digital kit to allow me to do the odd bit of event work and editorial work but I am concerned that if I buy into either the OMD-E5 or the GH-3 I am buying into a system with a very limited future.
One consideration which is keeping me thinking of m43rds is the extent to which film will continue to be important in my life. I am having a ball using film with MF cameras and recently invested a tidy sum in the Fujifilm GF670w. Digital is only in my life for convenience (my nephew's engagement party is coming up and I'll almost certainly be called on to take some pictures - clearly this is not going to be on film!). Likewise, in my day job I contribute pictures to our monthly newsletter of various happenings where I work. So, I could stop fussing, just buy a GH-3 and forget about digital until such time as I tire of film (or it becomes too difficult to continue) and then invest in a state of the art digital system at that time.
I am genuinely impressed with Panasonic as a company. They invented a whole new format, they have never compromised on lens quality (well, ok the 14/2.8 was a bit naff) and I keep hoping they will finally bring out a PanaLeica 17/2 to round out their offering. So, I do have quite a lot of loyalty to Panasonic but I'm not sure that is the best reason for sticking with a system.
Your opinions will be gratefully received and as I said at the top of the post I am not trolling, just genuinely confused about where to go next (if at all) with m43rds.