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Thread: State of mFT today

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    Senior Member peterb's Avatar
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    State of mFT today

    In the last few months I've been following musings of a U.K.-based photographer in a blog he calls Sound Image Plus (here's his website: The SOUNDIMAGEPLUS blog).

    Today he had a rather interesting post on the state of mFT (which he's quite a fan of by the way). He spoke of where things are right now among the so-called "professional" cameras and the viability of mFT in that universe. While on the one hand he said larger formats still had some advantages in terms of high ISO performance those differences were much smaller than they were a few years ago. But he said to get that advantage you paid a price in terms of weight and bulk. And among one of the two audiences he described (professionals looking for less back breaking equipment to lug around) that mFT was offering a more viable alternative with the latest sensors, optics and bodies that give you a lot in a much smaller and lighter package than you have with a DSLR. Even the two svelte-r offerings from Nikon and Canon. He even likened mFT to film cameras (like the Nikon FM2 and others) in the sense that in their day they offered viable alternatives to much heavier and bulkier film cameras. (Interestingly enough he also pointed out that, while the images from FX cameras have their advantages, the results from mFT are vastly superior to ANYTHING you could have gotten from 35mm film in the old days.)

    Anyway that got me thinking. I've now owned a Lumix G1 almost since it was first introduced. And I've enjoyed using it ever since (although I'm now looking to upgrade to the new GH3). I've found the format almost Golidlocks-esque: not to big and not too small but somehow just right (for me anyway). With the latest iterations able to produce pleasing (and pixel-peepable) prints as large as 20 x 30 (which with a little extra room a sizable border around the image area is certainly large enough for galleries.)

    But I'd love to hear some of your thoughts about the state of mFT today.

    Thanks!

    Peter
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    My job is to capture them.
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Peter, I've been thinking about the state of mFT recently as well, and in fact they've reached a very good place right now. However, for size since the introduction of Sony's RX1 which isn't an ILC, image quality has retained all the FF goodness, shrunk to almost GX1 size. Naturally it doesn't compete with versatility of swapping diffent focal lengths, but the IQ of the GX1 was just okay and size being the comparable aspect is where it ends.

    Nikon and Canon both introduced this year more entry level FF HD DSLRs, with the D600 and 6D, just recently saw deals here in the US at $2k price point to include lens, camera and memory card, monopod and camera bag packages, certainly very tempting, and just a little bigger than the GH series from Panasonic.

    MFTs are still serious enthusiast cameras for small home brew or whatever the politically correct name is for those movies makers. It offers great frame rates and plenty of lens options, both native or third party and adapters have paved the way for other format lenses to work as well. The OMD EM5 for myself is what brought me onto the camp (my GX1 was a taster), the IBIS is truly exceptional, and something other manufacturers should really take note and stop making excuses for their own system implementations. Smaller lenses, rather than camera, is the highlight for me.

    The recent mFT sensor offerings have really improved with better high ISO performance, and certain lens offerings help the DOF dilemma. However, with newer offerings in the lens department, the pricing is where I feel stuck! I suffer from GAS, like some others do, but feel certain areas are converging where quality lenses simply costs, and size/weight benefits are subjective and ultimately have a sweet spot, where small is too small, and light is too light.

    I can still envision mFT sensors improving, but the fundamental limitations of its sensor size will remain. The FF compacts are coming, but still many years before they get it right, and pricing will still stand in the way of many. Overall, I'd say mFT has reached system maturity, and that's its selling point, but when more overlap happens, it'll be an open playing field separated by price.

    Okay, sorry longer than expected reply, but my son fell asleep on top of me while I was typing
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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    A medium sized belt/shoulder bag easily rooms 3 OM-D bodies with 7-14/4.0, 12-35/2.8 and 35-100/2.8 lenses mounted. The cameras with lenses weigh in at 2,250 grams. A D600 with a 70-200/2.8 weighs around the same as the total of the three but won't fit in a belt bag, not even close. Add another body or two and the 14-24/2.8 and a 24-70/2.8 and it's more bulk and weight than I care to carry for a day of photography, although that's what many photographers still do.

    Will the D600 offer better low light performance? Yes, particularly over ISO 1600, but there's no VR on the 14-24 and 24-70mm lenses. Will the D600 offer shallower DOF? Yes, absolutely, if that is what is needed. Will I go back to use conventional DSLR cameras for other assignments than sports? No, never ever!

    Currently, my setup is 2 x GH1 and 1 x GH2 bodies with Pana 7-14, Pana 14-45 and Zuiko 75mm lenses mounted. Being able to approach almost any shooting situation without changing lenses and without moving like a camel on its way across Sahara is such a liberating experience. Does the chances of "getting the shot" increase? Yes, yes and yes again!

    The RX1 seems to be a nice camera, but it's not particularly small for what it does, it's limited with only one lens, lacks a built-in viewfinder and costs almost as much as 3 OM-D bodies. There may or may not be more semi-compact 35mm cameras available in the future, but the larger sensor will always mean larger, heavier lenses. Great for enthusiast photographers but not relevant competition for smaller formats other than as a supplement. A wide aperture portrait version would be nice, but probably also bulky.

    Sensor quality improves every year and there's a limit to how high ISO numbers are interesting for most kinds of photography. Most digital photography has been done with smaller than 35mm sensors from the outset. Although less expensive full frame cameras are becoming available, I don't think that will change much other than among enthusiasts. For Nikon and Canon, it's more or less the only weapon they have, and lack of IBIS doesn't help them much either.

    Only 5 years ago, those who predicted small sensor cameras with electronic viewfinders for professional use within 10 years were mostly ridiculed out of internet fora. Now, we are already there. The world is changing... fast.
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    Re: State of mFT today

    For me the size of the cams have to come down significantly with a built in EVF. That would entice me to start using the many tiny lenses i have for the m43rds.

    At the moment it is difficult to pick up my Gs or GH-2s over my NEX'.
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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    I was quite surprised that the E-M5 + 20mm f1.7 is smaller than the X100. Fits more easily in my case / jacket pocket.

    I don't like to project any further than 5 years forward these days - you just don't know what disruptive technology can come along. I'm just making the most of what's available within my budget today, and getting on an improving track with my photography.

    Cheers

    Brian
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    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    I've owned a GF1 and currently have a OM-D. The small lenses are also what attract me to m43, added with their low cost/performance. Perhaps its easier to make a good lens for a smaller sensor. I have been studying the FF option the D6/D600 for one reason only... fixed superwide.

    I am going to use this post as an opportunity to bang my bandwagon again.. and that is the lack of fixed super wide's for m43. When the M8 was released it was a glaring lack of the ability to easily go superwide that stuck out for me. There was the VC alternative but Leica had no 9 or 10mm. The M system was often a "go wide" system more than for Tele use and the M8 lost this.

    Sure we have big zooms for m43 that start at 9mm or thereabouts but this is not what I want. I lose all this weight then have to have a single lens that is nearly big as the rest of the system I carry? I came from an OM4 with 21 f3.5/40 f2/100 f2.8 and it was very compact and covered most of what I needed. I can't do this quite yet with m43. Even the 18mm Zuiko and 21mm f2 Zuiko (which I had) were not large at all.

    We have a 14mm thats tiny but I can't see why there is three? fisheye options in m43 but no fixed superwides past 24mm. So Panasonic/Olympus/Zeiss.. anyone. Please make a 9mm or 10mm f2.8 or thereabouts fixed compact lens and we will have a more complete kit. Something that could even be used handheld inside without flash.

    PS: while you're at it, knock up a 6 or 7mm rectilinear fixed as well... just to wow the community.
    Last edited by Tim; 28th December 2012 at 16:58.
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    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Just for the heck of it I looked up some weights..

    OM-D Body (with batt) - 425g
    Panasonic 20mm - 100g
    Panasonic 14mm - 55g
    Olympus 45mm F1.8 - 116g

    Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH - 300g

    While I do think the 7-14mm is a lovely lens thats really not that big and I may even end up with one, I'd rather a fixed 9mm or 10mm.
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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    Just for the heck of it I looked up some weights..

    OM-D Body (with batt) - 425g
    Panasonic 20mm - 100g
    Panasonic 14mm - 55g
    Olympus 45mm F1.8 - 116g

    Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH - 300g

    While I do think the 7-14mm is a lovely lens thats really not that big and I may even end up with one, I'd rather a fixed 9mm or 10mm.
    Tim, while I agree that a 9 or 10mm f/2.8 would be nice, I can't see it happening soon. Although larger than the OM 21/3.5, the Pana 7-14 is only 120g heavier and an absolutely lovely lens. I've had mine for nearly 2 years and it's the lens I use the most on m4/3. Still, I'm buying a 12mm f/2.0, mostly for the 2 extra stops.
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    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    I'm buying a 12mm f/2.0, mostly for the 2 extra stops.
    thanks Jorgen, that in itself is a good reason for a 9 or 10mm f2.8. I do think its a popular FOV. Whenever used 20/21mm lenses came up in Zuiko's in film days they rarely lasted on the used market. The 18mm Zuiko was rare as hen's teeth - I did see one but not for sale.

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    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    An interesting thread topic and one I am glad to contribute to.

    I have reached a point where I am in a love-hate relationship with m43rds. In fact, I think it is worse than that, I am at a point where my disappointment with the system is greater than the enjoyment I get from it.

    Anyone who knows or follows my posts knows I have been an enthusiastic user, contributor and supporter of m43rds. I sold my entire Leica DRF system this year but I kept my m4rds system because of the 25/1.5 and 45/2.8 lenses. Used carefully they produce excellent results.

    I started with a GF-1 and was mightily pleased with the size/performance ratio. I was willing to accept that above base iso the results would be increasingly poor/unusable. Nonetheless I have actually sold two photographs taken with that camera, one to the Financial Times and the other reproduced in a book about the artist Banksy published this year. Not bad for a consumer camera!

    I upgraded to a GH-2 because looking at samples online I was convinced that there were real improvement in higher iso photographs and indeed with careful post processing and a willingness to limit yourself to web-sized images you can go up to iso3200 if necessary.

    However, the fact remains that image noise continues to be an issue even with the latest release of cameras according to the samples I've seen. And here is the needling seeds of discontent. Systems like Sony's newer NEX series do not seem to suffer from such poor IQ at high iso and now Nikon have introduced a full-frame camera, the D600, which is not far off the price of a new Panasonic GH-3. (In the UK the GH-3 body is GBP1199 and the D600 body is now down to GBP1450 - only GBP251 more for full frame and safe shooting up to iso3200!!!).

    My conundrum, like a lot of shooters is that I have invested heavily in glass. Even at second hand prices I have approximately GBP1500 worth of m43rds glass. So, it does make sense to invest in a better m43rds body, even if the benefits of the body in terms of IQ are only marginal.

    What would be my ideal m43rds camera? Something in the body size of the GX-1 with an EVF and a 10MP sensor which is downgraded to specifically deliver excellent high-iso results. Perhaps Panasonic will surprise is with the rumoured GX-2?

    On the other hand if someone can convince me that the high-iso (e.g. 1600-3200) performance of the GH-3 is a quantum improvement I may yet be seduced into buying one. I certainly like the idea of the 12-35/2.8 but together I'd say that my price point is closer to GBP1200 than the GBP2000 currently being asked here in the UK.

    I may ebay my entire m43rds kit and start again with a Sony NEX system, or I may just have to accept the limitations of IQ on m43rds cameras because of my investment in glass and be careful about how I use the system in low light situations.

    LouisB
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  11. #11
    Simon Hickie
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Hi All. I'm new to the forum and have just committed to mFT after about 15 years of Nikon SLRs & DSLRs (& Pentax and Minolta before that). The weather here in the UK has been too awful to try much other than basic test shots. However, I have no doubt that an mFT setup is right for me. My OM-D E-M5 arrived yesterday, along with a Panasonic 20mm. A used GH1 and 14-140mm arrived a couple of weeks ago. I'm sufficiently impressed with the usability of the system to be selling off my two Nikon DX bodies and half dozen lenses.

    It seems to me that the OM-D in particular offers better image quality than all but the best DX dSLRs (e.g. better than my D300). The 14-140mm is sharper than my 18-200mm. My 20mm is much smaller than my 35mm DX lens with better IQ wide open. You give up a stop's DoF control (two stops against FX), but gain at least a stop of 'wideopenability'. IBIS in the OM-D makes fast primes even more useful.

    In summary, I see DX format cameras being squeezed between ever improving mFT cameras and lenses on the one hand and 'full frame' on the other. If I was starting over - which in a sense I am - I see no significant advantage in going the traditional DX DSLR route for my style of photography (people, architecture, landscape, family & pets). For action, sport, birds in flight etc. there may be a case for DX though.
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    Re: State of mFT today

    M4/3's handles practically all my needs with aplomb. It is strong enough that I sold my M9 as it's advantages were minimal and is drawbacks many.

    I would love a m4/3's camera with a real buffer though. Give me 50 or more shots please.

    I do keep a FF system for really low light and really fast action. My D4 just does things no other camera can do.

    I will disagree with the poster that said the Sony RX1 is not that small for what it does. It has the best 35mm lens I have ever used (better than my 35mm Summilux), a state of the art sensor and fits easily in my coat pocket. It also comes complete with a steep learning curve and a frustrating UI. I am still not sure if I can shoot action with it or not. The MF mode needs to implement a more user friendly version of focus peaking.

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    Senior Member peterb's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Hi Bill,

    Just saw your website. Terrific images! Well done!

    Peter
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    My job is to capture them.
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    Senior Member JohnW's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    i recently sold all my m4/3 gear (GF1/GX1) and switched to a Nex 7 system. I was attracted by the larger sensor and more pixels. Very glad to have made the change.

    Honestly, it's hard for me to see much future for m4/3. I can't speak to sensor techhhnology, but it seems that APSC advancements have significantly out-paced m4/3 progress, even given their respective sizes. APSC seems to be leaping forward, while m4/3 sees incremental evolution.

    The compelling feature of m4/3 was its size and the open standard. Today, however, mirrorless and adapters has equalized things in that area. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but the m4/3 format seems inherently limited to me.

    John

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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post
    a state of the art sensor
    and 7 bit raw files

    oh, well... 1 out of 8 sensels is indeed encoded using 11 bit, but 7 out of 8 are 7 bit encoding...

    Sony Imaging almost always was able to screw Sony Semi sensors

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    Senior Member Tesselator's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Interesting thread topic, thanks Peter.

    I'm one of those guys who just doesn't care about size and weight - like, at all. If the system that fit my style was an 8x10 box camera with massive heavy bellows all which required one of those uber-bulky wooden tripods then I would find a way to strap it comfortably on my person, bike and into my car. It's not hard IMO.

    Last summer I was mostly to be seen carrying around a Linhof tripod, a gimbal head, the GH1, and the Canon FD 300/2.8L with me just about everywhere I went. I learned to arrange it comfortably and it wasn't a problem ever after. Here's a pic of me next to just the Linhof without even the gimbal head:


    For me I find most of the µ4/3 lens offerings to be lacking wither in character or in IQ as well as overpriced. That's just me and you don't have to accept my views as your own - lucky you. So for me I don't really benefit from the weight reduction realized when carrying a whole bunch of lenses around - because I'm almost always using alt MF glass. I'm also usually a one lens kinda guy and almost never have the desire to carry more than one - so that works out.

    I think any decent digital camera of about 8 ot 10 megapixels can print to any size with no restrictions at all. The way our printers work we're good to any size we can print on printers which will fit into our homes. And larger than that printed commercially, is also doable because of the way viewing distances correlate with the human imaging system. If it looks good at 8 x 10 it will look good the size of the empire state building.



    Contax 35mm film camera - FujiFilm 400




    Nikon D700 (12 megapixels)




    Nikon D700 (12 megapixels)


    Closeup from the above shot.

    -= Sorry to have to blur out some of the details for (C) agreements =-


    So for me resolution is mostly only about being able to crop into an image more or less as the megapixels increase or decrease. Maybe some of you have noticed that at web-sized scales the D800 with it's 36mpx sensor doesn't look all that different from the D700 or the 5D's 12mpx ones given all other things being equal?

    But I guess at the same time everyone notices quite a lot of difference between the D700 12mpx images and those of the 12mpx µ4/3 cameras? I do anyway. The OM-D closes that gap somewhat (over something like the GH1) with the amazing job Olympus did of synthesizing some of the missing dynamic range back in to the images but it's still not all the way there. There is just something about FF images that look more "professional" (if I can use that term in this way) and I think it has to do with a combination of factors not limited to just sensor size - although that's probably the biggest factor.

    The way I see things mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras have really filled a niche being true to the concept of a "Bridge Camera". PJs may become brave enough to venture out alone with them as they are now and as they get better but for weddings, professional portraiture, and such I don't think they have what it takes. And even though I'm quite surprised by what Olympus did with the OM-D I don't see µ4/3 seriously entering those areas in the future. If all other conditions are perfect they can come close but how often does a professional photographer find him or her self in a situation where that's guaranteed to be the case? Even in a studio environment using µ4/3 in place of a FF or MFDB means that a lot of extra setup time is needed in order to compensate. This is likely true of post processing as well.

    For any kind of professional action photography all mirrorless cameras fail the test. Their AF tracking abilities are just way WAY too weak. And while their AF is now pretty dang fast it's really not very accurate! Good enough for us hobby and street guys probably tho. Even some of the second tire DLSR models have difficulties in these areas. Professionals pay the bucks for models like the D4 and the 1Dx for a good reason. Here again I don't see µ4/3 approaching a professional's requirements or expectations anytime soon. In fulfilling the desires and requirements of a bridge camera user I sure do though!

    So in looking at both the current state today as well as the future of, µ4/3 I think it's useful to define or have some idea of what a bridge camera's purpose is. Besides of course being "good enough" to allow users to enjoy the experience of photography, I think bridge cameras are true to their label in several ways but mainly training and progression.

    Training is accomplished via the camera's feature set and the offered options that accompany the system. This is all encompassing from the basics such as aperture, shutter, and file handling to the more bell-and-whistle-ish features like intervalometers, off-camera flash control, and wireless connectivity. The more we're trained to incorporate such features in our fun and learning experiences the more we will want to upgrade to systems more robust in those abilities and also the more creative we can be slash fun we can have - hooking us into it so to speak. And there it goes... The more hooked we are the more time we spend doing it the more we want to maybe get it to pay for itself by going pro and/or the more we can justify spending more for more robust more convenient systems and system options.

    Right? Check it. The more one uses an on-camera built-in flash as just one example, the better they get with it and the more ways they can find to both justify upgrading to and increasing the desire for, high grade flash guns and later maybe even studio strobes, soft boxes, reflectors and so on. I see these basic underlying principles in just about every aspect of µ4/3 cameras. John W's comments just above exemplify this "progression" perfectly IMO and I see it all the time here, at other sites, and in my conversations with other photographers in person.

    So that's mostly what I see the state of µ4/3 as being today. A currently well fleshed system which bridges users from smaller systems, phones, or even no camera at all over to higher dollar more capable and robust systems as they become ready and/or wanting to do so. Like all of you I of course also see people using µ4/3 as a secondary and complimentary system to their larger DSLRs as well as those who have realized that they're not really into it enough to want or need to carry around a larger DSLR - though mostly the later are people who previously owned 3rd tire systems or APS-C DSLRs.

    What I expect to see in the future from µ4/3 is in direct line with this model as well. More fun slash convenience features that make us get into it more and when we do then upgrade to systems that do those things better or faster enough to justify the purchase. Personally I'm among the ambitionless sorts who aren't going anywhere with it and don't really want to either. For us µ4/3 cameras and their feature roadmaps are very well suited.
    Last edited by Tesselator; 30th December 2012 at 01:21.
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    Contributing Editor ustein's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Interesting thread. Here is what I think:

    1. m43 lenses and zooms allow a great choice
    2. The new Panasonic zooms are great but also (too?) expensive
    3. The E-M5 pushed the image quality
    4. I got the GH3 for video and like it for that

    I will complement the GH3 with my Fuji X-Pro1 for low light and shallow depth of field photos. The X-Pro1 is not great with AF though.

    NEX-7 is a great camera if you use MF 3rd party lenses but otherwise the lenses are lacking.

    Nikon D800 / Canon 5D III systems are just too big and don't allow the video flexibility like the GH3 (e.g. no EVF).

    Our main system right now is based on m43. No regrets.
    Last edited by ustein; 29th December 2012 at 16:33.
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    Senior Member Amin's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    I've been thinking quite a bit about this as well...

    The comprehensiveness of AF lens options relative to NEX, NX, Fuji, etc, is IMO what has a lot of people using our system as either a primary or secondary system. Seems like every week there is a photographer or writer I know of who I find out is a Micro 4/3 user. Mike Johnston has been a big proponent. Same with Thom Hogan. Recently I learned that Roger Cicala uses MFTs, and just today I saw a post by Scott Bourne about how he was retiring from pro work and therefore selling his big Nikon kit to work with MFTs. Quite a few people seem to use MFTs for their enjoyment kit even if they are using Nikon, Canon, or medium format for their pro kit.

    In terms of the more distant future, the RX1 is certainly a sign that other formats have the potential to get very small, but we didn't need the RX1 to tell us that. Ultimately our digital cameras will be able to go as small as (and thanks to software correction even smaller than) our film cameras.

    If and when the day comes that there is a larger format system that can match the size and lens system maturity of our current MFT system, then what will be left for MFTs? Size. If some day there can be a Sony NEX full frame camera with a 90mm f/2 lens the size of a current Oly 45/1.8, then there's no reason the Oly lens can't be made even smaller. For me the bottom line is that today's MFTs system meets my image quality and versatility threshold, and the more they can shrink the lenses while continuing to meet that standard, the better.
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    Re: State of mFT today

    M4/3's absolutely produces pro results. I have used my OMD and D4 on the same fashion shoot to great effect. My clients can't tell the difference, they just want beautiful images. I recently sold a pile of 4/3's landscape prints to fill an office.

    The DR of the OMD is so good that it is not a serious consideration at low to moderate ISO. The final image quality will depend on so many other factors that any difference in DR between the OMD and a D800 or D700 will be a non- issue.

    As for the poster above that disparaged the IQ off the RX-1 by commenting on bit depth ... My response is, really? Have you even seen the superb files the RX-1 produces? I am getting scrumptious, deep, robust files that are turning into great prints. If anyone shooting with an RX-1 can't turn out super high quality prints with it and then blames bit depth then I will categorically state they are lacking in basic photo skills.

    To summarize, I would not trade my m4/3's gear for my old D700. I will, however, keep my D4 as it really does offer something unique.

    -Bill

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post
    M4/3's absolutely produces pro results. I have used my OMD and D4 on the same fashion shoot to great effect. My clients can't tell the difference, they just want beautiful images. I recently sold a pile of 4/3's landscape prints to fill an office.

    The DR of the OMD is so good that it is not a serious consideration at low to moderate ISO. The final image quality will depend on so many other factors that any difference in DR between the OMD and a D800 or D700 will be a non- issue.

    As for the poster above that disparaged the IQ off the RX-1 by commenting on bit depth ... My response is, really? Have you even seen the superb files the RX-1 produces? I am getting scrumptious, deep, robust files that are turning into great prints. If anyone shooting with an RX-1 can't turn out super high quality prints with it and then blames bit depth then I will categorically state they are lacking in basic photo skills.

    To summarize, I would not trade my m4/3's gear for my old D700. I will, however, keep my D4 as it really does offer something unique.

    -Bill

    Fashion Meets Fighting

    April 2012 – Bill Fulcher | HatakeyamaGallery.com
    Well spoken. What it boils down to is that, even if m4/3 can be used for an increasing number of photographic tasks, there will always be something that other cameras are better at, like the D4 in your case. In my case, it's a D2Xs and a D300 for sports and a GX680 for those really special photos. There's probably a D600 or a 6D in my future as well, but for 80-90% of my photography, m4/3 is doing a great job. The Zuiko 75/1.8 has been a real eye opener with regards to the potential of this system. "It's the lenses, stupid "
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    Re: State of mFT today

    One of the fascinating sides of m4/3 is that I can take an E-PL5, with the same excellent sensor as the OM-D and a tilting LCD as well, add the 12mm f/2.0, the 20mm f/1.7 and the 45mm f/1.8, all excellent lenses and the whole packaging weighing less than 700g and costing less than $2,500 (Yes, that's less than the RX-1, both figures). Already at this stage, the image quality is good enough for almost any use I can think of, but in a pocketable package. At the same time, I can use the same lenses on cameras like the OM-D or the GH3, giving me the ergonomics and solidity needed for professional work.

    This make m4/3 such an amazingly versatile system, and at the moment, there are no other systems that come even close to this.
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post

    As for the poster above that disparaged the IQ off the RX-1 by commenting on bit depth ... My response is, really? Have you even seen the superb files the RX-1 produces? I am getting scrumptious, deep, robust files that are turning into great prints. If anyone shooting with an RX-1 can't turn out super high quality prints with it and then blames bit depth then I will categorically state they are lacking in basic photo skills.

    April 2012 – Bill Fulcher | HatakeyamaGallery.com
    Without robbing this thread of honoring mFT in delight, I have to agree that the Sony RX1 is a sensational camera. If the focal length isn't your cup of tea, or its out of you price range, or if Sony robbed you in the past, then fine, but bickering about bit depth without working with or looking at the images... I agree, really?
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post

    As for the poster above that disparaged the IQ off the RX-1 by commenting on bit depth ... My response is, really? Have you even seen the superb files the RX-1 produces? I am getting scrumptious, deep, robust files that are turning into great prints.
    and so do people w/ P&S , so what is your point ?

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    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    ... you guys are talking me back into loving my m43rds system... it is definitely a love/hate thing with me...

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    Senior Member Tesselator's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by deejjjaaaa View Post
    and so do people w/ P&S , so what is your point ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post
    As for the poster above that disparaged the IQ off the RX-1 by commenting on bit depth ... My response is, really? Have you even seen the superb files the RX-1 produces? I am getting scrumptious, deep, robust files that are turning into great prints. If anyone shooting with an RX-1 can't turn out super high quality prints with it and then blames bit depth then I will categorically state they are lacking in basic photo skills.
    Ummm, I think this line of back and forth is almost completely out of place. Not because of any social or political reasons but because of the technical fact that bit depth has absolutely nothing to do with "depth", richness, dynamic range, or anything like that. It has to do with the resolution of the dynamic range and not the range itself - which is still almost always 24bits in 8,8,8 RGB by the time we get it onto our computers. Rather the extra bits between 12 and 14 (or 15 in some rare cases) provide for greater precision which each photosite value turns into a recorded number in the raw linear gamma, file.

    The difference in practice between 12 and 14bit camera raw files? None really - file-size maybe! It's not until we radically stretch things in post that we'll notice any differences. And who does that? Well in the past 3 or 4 years of looking at images on-line I've only seen a very small number that could have benefited from higher gamma precision. Mostly in deep shadow detail or in blue sky areas. And if you're doing such radical adjustments in post anyway then fixing a banded sky area is an easily added step to include. So we're back to "None really" with that again. For observing the difference in shadow/highlight detail not only does one need a really expensive and well calibrated monitor to see it but ya also need to be up around the 100% zoom ratio. Scale to even around 75% and all that is gone - and again we're back to "None really". Again, it's very rare indeed that either of the mentioned examples ever even happen in the first place. Then add to this the fact that some cameras just record shadow or highlight detail better than others even at the same bit precision and pretty much that entire spec can be thrown out never to be considered again. Looks good on paper maybe but it's just too meaningless to bring up as a point pro or con, in camera performance or ultimate IQ.

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    Re: State of mFT today

    This thread has turned out much better than I expected. The thoughtful views have been most enjoyable reading.

    Here's what I like about mFT (Mind you, I'll be speaking mostly about the Lumix side of the equation as I have very little experience with Olympus).

    1. (Like most people here) The size. In the digital age I was pretty much chagrined by the hefty offerings that seemed like people were hauling an albatross around their necks. I made the plunge into the realm with Leica's Digilux 2 feeling that digital at that time had achieved parity with film. That camera was bulky but not nearly as bulky as DSLRs. Then I saw the Lumix G1. A camera that was small but not too small. But with a thickness (the main part of the body not the grip that's often erroneously included in these measurements) that seemed no thicker than the Leica M6! I was sold. The GF1 and others also had a remarkable form (as well as the Olympus' digital homage to their 35mm Pens and now the OM).

    2. The EVF. While there's certainly a love-hate relationship amongst aficionados I am one who loved it IMMEDIATELY. Coming off the experience with the Digilux 2's very 'grainy' EVF (which I thought was pretty cool despite what others felt) the EVF of the G1 was a quantum leap. Did I miss an OVF? A little. But the EVF gave me the equivalent of an HUD that fighter pilots enjoyed with all sorts of information and grids that could be super imposed (or not) over the image providing what I felt was a complete command center while engaged in shooting. Today we're seeing EVF's with resolution and clarity that make the original one I saw in the G1 seem absolutely pre-historic.

    3. CDAF. At first the ugly step-sister to PDAF but now fully into it's own. It's blazingly fast. And deadly accurate. And, except in the most extreme low light circumstances is for the most part on a par with the best of PDAF in terms of speed and accuracy. (And for videographers a godsent as the preferred means of AF while filming.)

    4. A leftward fully articulating LCD. This addition alone has made shooting with Lumix for me so incredibly enjoyable. Low angles. High angles. Stealthy sideways candid angles. Even self portraits. No other camera approach does it better IMHO. (Curiously I never understood why Olympus had it on their regular 4/3 E series cameras and then ditched it with their mFT offerings.) And speaking of portraits swung out on a tripod, it's like using a Hasselblad or TLR. The live view on the LCD makes everything incredibly facile.

    5. A growing line of lenses and then some. Okay, the original lens I got, the ridiculously slow 14-45mm (28-90mm equiv.) zoom kinda sucked. But then Panasonic unleashed the 20mm f1.7. Then a Leica 45 Macro and a Leica 25mm f1.4. Then a 7-14mm f4 (nearly as good as the Oly FT version). And the 14-140 video monster. Then for big game hunters the 100-300mm f4. And now again copying Olympus FT optics offering two fixed f2.8's zooms: a 12-35mm and 35-100mm. Meanwhile Olympus has upped the ante with some nice jaw-dropping m-offerings of their own: the 12mm f2, 17mm f1.8 (which is a better focal length IMHO than Pany's middling 20mm f1.7), THEIR 45mm f1.8 Macro and their luscious 75mm f1.8 (a wow if ever there was one). And if that wasn't enough, mFT opened the floodgates for EVERYONE ELSES's optics from Nikon to Canon to Zeiss to Leica to Tamron to Samyang to Sigma to... And while these are mostly MF lenses the close-up patch borrowed from Digilux 2 days seems to work rather well as the overwhelming evidence on various threads in this section can attest. (Next step: Peaking.)

    6. IQ. Initially not too shabby but steadily improving ever since. Olympus and Panasonic seem to have realized that 16 MP is certainly plenty for a good 300 DPI image in a coffee table book or a magazine spread. And every gallery. And with each iteration the one weakness, high ISO noise, has been their focus (pun intended). The OM-D with (I think) Sony's (mostly likely EXMOR like) sensor has been performing impressively at ISO 3200. And there's no reason to think that the GH3 with it's waterproof, full metal MG++ jacket wouldn't be the same. I don't know about you but with Oly's new faster optics and the new sensors I see a grand slam for most situations besides sports and extreme low light PI work with spousal indiscretions. Video, which is not something I'm into, has similarly seen advances that, for the most part, put mFT first on most short lists.

    7. Body design. While I mentioned size initially there is a lot to be said for the thoughtful body designs of these creatures. Panasonic and Olympus seem to have struck a right balance of software driven features as well as good old mechanical layouts. A blend of good intuitive menus as well as a careful offering of essential (and apparently preferred by most) buttons and dials and their placement. Realizing that touch screen success in smartphones would have certain advantages (with the right software) in a camera and incorporating them is nothing short of genius. Finally a word or two about camera noise. From the very beginning I've really liked the low-pitched shluck of the G1 and everything after that has been just as non-attention grabbing. Initial reports of the totally silent shutter of the GH3 seem to be a mixed bag. But I'm certain that any issues will be worked out with a minor improvement in the firmware.

    Do I find anything to fault?

    Probably the two things that any camera with a larger sensor can offer: (1) shallow depth of field. This is simply a matter of physics. And there's nothing you can do about it although SLR Magic's 0.95 lenses can certainly bring you closer. But I've also experimented with the Brenizer method (as Tessalator has as well) which, if you don't mind the extra work of taking and stitching a number of smaller files together, allows you to achieve results that no larger frame sensor could give you (unless of course it's also being used in a Brenizer context) because the lens equivalents simply don't exist (a 28mm f0.8????). And (2) better low light performance. This clearly has come a long way (although I still tend to shoot at ISO 100-360 out of habit) but with others shooting quasars at ISO 12600 it's hard not to be a little envious. (Of course, if low light shooting is your raison d'ętre for image making you probably wouldn't be using this system anyway! )

    (Note there are others but these two are the most glaring.)

    So for my money, I really like how far mFT has come, where it's at and if past performance is any indication of future possibilities...where it's going.
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Tesselator View Post

    The difference in practice between 12 and 14bit camera raw files? None really
    if you are talking about Canon's w/ huge read noise at lower ISO's - yes, none really... if you are talking about Nikons w/ proper sensors at base ISOs - you can see that in shadows... certainly if you print you will not see that because printing is hiding most defects... printing like "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" is the last refuge of deficient camera's... in all cases where your beloved gear is lacking something you can always escape to that position, knowing that nobody can see your tiny prints


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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Tesselator View Post
    or ultimate IQ.
    you might want to define "IQ" and quantify "ultimate" before using that buzzword...

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    Contributing Editor ustein's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    >you might want to define "IQ" and quantify "ultimate" before using that buzzword

    Hope you don't get what you asked for because that may end up to be a controversial book :-). But in general term like "ultimate", "optimal" are vague at best.
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    Re: State of mFT today

    For me (kind of advanced amateur having published a total of two images and participating in 1 (and a half) exhibition, all back in the film days) micro 4/3 answers all my needs when it comes to sheer image quality. Not too expensive, easy to carry and I can fit the important parts in a Domke satchel bag. All is well, right?
    I'm sure everything is fine for many users and uses but I don't know. I'm somehow a little tired of all the 4/3 images. Most of them look the same. They are sharp and nice and the Oly blue really is blue... and well, like nice postcards they are.
    I'm not sure about what I can afford in a few months time but I'm really tempted by a FF system again and now we have that alpha99 and a Sony/Zeiss ZA50/1.4 is coming some time during the spring. In the meantime I have no problems using the E-M5 and the great micro lenses, there is just something missing and some day I'll have to go back there.

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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonas View Post
    For me (kind of advanced amateur having published a total of two images and participating in 1 (and a half) exhibition, all back in the film days) micro 4/3 answers all my needs when it comes to sheer image quality. Not too expensive, easy to carry and I can fit the important parts in a Domke satchel bag. All is well, right?
    I'm sure everything is fine for many users and uses but I don't know. I'm somehow a little tired of all the 4/3 images. Most of them look the same. They are sharp and nice and the Oly blue really is blue... and well, like nice postcards they are.
    I'm not sure about what I can afford in a few months time but I'm really tempted by a FF system again and now we have that alpha99 and a Sony/Zeiss ZA50/1.4 is coming some time during the spring. In the meantime I have no problems using the E-M5 and the great micro lenses, there is just something missing and some day I'll have to go back there.
    Interesting point. I find that whenever I pick up a new piece of gear that it inspires me to try new things. I know it is "the photographer and not the camera" but I really do find that different gear leads to different images. And that is a good thing.

    -Bill

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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by deejjjaaaa View Post
    and so do people w/ P&S , so what is your point ?
    Please forgive my lack of clarity.

    My point is that you are wrong.

    -Bill

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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post
    Interesting point. I find that whenever I pick up a new piece of gear that it inspires me to try new things. I know it is "the photographer and not the camera" but I really do find that different gear leads to different images. And that is a good thing.
    Hi Bill

    Yes, that's also how it is. Micro 4/3 have served me well since November 2008 when I bought the original Panasonic G1 and I have done things with it I never did with my 5D cameras. The 5DMkII has a Live view function but it isn't close to what the micro cameras offer. So, maybe four years with these small sensor cameras, becoming better and better, by itself calls for a change? Or is going "back" to FF a step back as I have been there earlier?

    Maybe we are getting off-topic here. Cheers, /Jonas

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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonas View Post
    For me (kind of advanced amateur having published a total of two images and participating in 1 (and a half) exhibition, all back in the film days) micro 4/3 answers all my needs when it comes to sheer image quality. Not too expensive, easy to carry and I can fit the important parts in a Domke satchel bag. All is well, right?
    I'm sure everything is fine for many users and uses but I don't know. I'm somehow a little tired of all the 4/3 images. Most of them look the same. They are sharp and nice and the Oly blue really is blue... and well, like nice postcards they are.
    I'm not sure about what I can afford in a few months time but I'm really tempted by a FF system again and now we have that alpha99 and a Sony/Zeiss ZA50/1.4 is coming some time during the spring. In the meantime I have no problems using the E-M5 and the great micro lenses, there is just something missing and some day I'll have to go back there.
    Yup, same feeling sometimes, which is one of the reasons why I think there's a 35mm DSLR in my future too, and one of the reasons why I find using an Olympus OM "non-D" loaded with Tri-X very satisfying as well. Or even the F6, which is like using a DSLR without the D. More or less.

    But for general photography, there's no way back for me. At the moment no other system can replace the versatility of m4/3.

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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonas View Post
    Hi Bill

    Yes, that's also how it is. Micro 4/3 have served me well since November 2008 when I bought the original Panasonic G1 and I have done things with it I never did with my 5D cameras. The 5DMkII has a Live view function but it isn't close to what the micro cameras offer. So, maybe four years with these small sensor cameras, becoming better and better, by itself calls for a change? Or is going "back" to FF a step back as I have been there earlier?

    Maybe we are getting off-topic here. Cheers, /Jonas
    At least part of the reason I bought a RX-1 was just to shoot with something small and different. No doubt a FF sensor has an aesthetic that is at least a bit different from other size sensors.

    Still, the versatility of the m4/3's system is impressive. When I think about the early days with my Olympus E-1 and how I waited and waited for a real system to be built around it. Never happened.

    But now, when I read this thread I am so impressed that there seems to be something within the m4/3's universe for photographers of such diversity.

    My hope is that Olympus and Panasonic keep pushing into the as yet uncovered niches. I don't want them to sit on their accomplishments and slowly fossilize into Nikon or Canon.

    -Bill

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    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    I do have one possible answer to my dilemma for a 21/40/90 kit in the Fuji XE-1.

    The OM-D and XE-1 are both similar in that they offer an EVF but with the XE-1 I can get the XF14mmF2.8 R - FOV similar to 21mm... add the XF35mmF1.4 R and the XF60mmF2.4 and I'd have a 3x lens kit.

    The problem here is I tend to prefer closer to 40mm than 50mm and the XF35 is more like a 50mm in FOV.

    The other issue is the Fuji system would cost somewhat more I think also weight, bulk and filter sizes grow. It does not seem prudent to change systems just for one lens that I'd use maybe 20% of the time.

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    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    One other complaint I have about m43rds is that to date there is no decent 35mm fov lens for it.

    I keep hoping that Panasonic will persaude Leica to let them introduce one more PanaLeica lens, a 17.5mm f2 Summicron or f1.4 Summilux.

    Maybe the new Olymus 17/1.8 will suffice?

    LouisB

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    Re: State of mFT today

    I am loving my E-M5. With the great wide angle zooms (7-14 and 9-18), fast zooms (12-35 and 35-100), high quality primes (12mm, 25mm 45mm 75mm) and great macro lenses (45mm and 60mm), the system is getting to be rather complete. The one thing I would like to see in the lens category that would complete the system in my mind is a fast long telephoto lens. The upcoming Panasonic 150mm f2.8 looks to be really interesting. I would love to see an Olympus Tele in that range or longer, say 300mm, to make a 600mm equivalent. For now I will keep using my Canon FD 300mm, but autofocus would be nice.

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    Senior Member Tesselator's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by deejjjaaaa View Post
    you might want to define "IQ" and quantify "ultimate" before using that buzzword...
    Quote Originally Posted by ustein View Post
    >you might want to define "IQ" and quantify "ultimate" before using that buzzword

    Hope you don't get what you asked for because that may end up to be a controversial book :-). But in general term like "ultimate", "optimal" are vague at best.
    Yeah, I definitely don't wanna go there. Defining terms and getting all nit-picky can be fun sometimes but this was meant in a relative way. If one is familiar with the current states then the relativity is relevant - if not, oh well, too much work to explain. Indeed, a potential book as ustein points out.



    Quote Originally Posted by biglouis View Post
    One other complaint I have about m43rds is that to date there is no decent 35mm fov lens for it.

    I keep hoping that Panasonic will persaude Leica to let them introduce one more PanaLeica lens, a 17.5mm f2 Summicron or f1.4 Summilux.

    Maybe the new Olymus 17/1.8 will suffice?

    LouisB
    How about the Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 ???

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    Senior Member biglouis's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Tesselator View Post
    Yeah, I definitely don't wanna go there. Defining terms and getting all nit-picky can be fun sometimes but this was meant in a relative way. If one is familiar with the current states then the relativity is relevant - if not, oh well, too much work to explain. Indeed, a potential book as ustein points out.





    How about the Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 ???
    Like Microsoft, I don't support legacy technologies. Has to be AF or nothing when I'm using digital.

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    Senior Member Tesselator's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Ah, K. Thanks for the reply.

    That seems to imply that you use MF for film tho... No?

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    I don't like to project any further than 5 years forward these days - you just don't know what disruptive technology can come along.
    Here we go...

    From Luminous Landscape...

    "Also, as Sigma undoubtedly knows, within the next 18 months one of the major sensor and camera makers is going to release an advanced multi-layer sensor which bypasses the Foveon patents"

    Whichever body gets that sensor will get lots of attention.

    Cheers

    Brian
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    Re: State of mFT today

    I would think that would be a Nikon and in APS-C size (sensor).

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    I guess it's the technology we don't know about which will be most disruptive.

    Make the most of what you've got, it will be outclassed soon enough

    Cheers

    Brian

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    Senior Member dhsimmonds's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Sorry Vivek, LL definitely mentions a sensor and camera manufacturer. I thought that Nikon source their sensor's from Sony? That would be my guess but it could also be either Canon or Panasonic. We shall know when it happens but the patent lawyers will get rich first!!
    Cheers, Dave
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    I guess it's the technology we don't know about which will be most disruptive.

    Make the most of what you've got, it will be outclassed soon enough

    Cheers

    Brian
    We have been inundated with "ground breaking", "game changing", "7* (out of a possible 5 ) technologies every other month. So, pretty much this "unknown" technology does not elicit any excitement.

    Would it cost the same here as in Japan and the US or would it be $2k more? Nikon can do it. None other can.

    So, I hope it is Nikon.
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post
    Please forgive my lack of clarity.

    My point is that you are wrong.
    because you say so, that's a good argument...

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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by biglouis View Post
    ... you guys are talking me back into loving my m43rds system... it is definitely a love/hate thing with me...

    Honestly as far as native mirrorless systems there's Micro 4/3 and nothing else really. Sony has a lot of great bodies/ sensors but really not many great lenses. Fuji has great lenses and a great bodies (even if slightly quirky) but it's just a limited system still. Samsung is mostly non-existent. Canon EOS-M is in it's infancy. Nikon took a half hearted approach with the 1 line so not to cannibalize dSLR sales.

    I've personally looked at all the other mirrorless options and pretty much everything leads back to Micro 4/3. Yes you can adapt and that's what I do for my NEX stuff but as far as a complete mirror less system there's Micro 4/3 and nothing else... yet.

    I'm probably going to get rid of my Sony Alpha soon as I don't see much advantage anymore. Yes FF is better and I have my M for that but for zooms I want something on the small side so I will probably pick up an OM-D since I still have the G1.
    Sony Visible Light & IR Photographer
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by dhsimmonds View Post
    Sorry Vivek, LL definitely mentions a sensor and camera manufacturer. I thought that Nikon source their sensor's from Sony?
    (SR4) New Sony “foveon similar” sensor tecnology? | sonyalpharumors

  50. #50
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: State of mFT today

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    We have been inundated with "ground breaking", "game changing", "7* (out of a possible 5 ) technologies every other month. So, pretty much this "unknown" technology does not elicit any excitement.
    My point is, we're getting to the pace of change where, if you're prepared to change your system to get the next big feature, there will always be something along shortly.

    I had a think about that when I was considering the bleeding edge price of the RX-1 for the novel new technology.

    Cheers

    Brian

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