Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Neither here nor there

but somewhere in between.

Quite a bit of buzz on the new micro 4/3 format. RAWsumer thinks it may mark the death of digicams offering RAW, Michael Reichmann thinks it's a dead end. In a "let's weight up the evidence, fair hearing" kind of way, my thoughts (for what they're worth):

It's an interchangeable lens format. Will that really mark the doom of fixed lens cameras? I don't think so. I don't think micro 4/3 will really be small cameras, in the shirt pocket category. Look at the bigger brother: supposedly a smaller DLSR format yet the cameras aren't much smaller than their bigger sensor rivals. No one ever accuse RFs of being pocket cameras, and they're the smallest interchangeable lens cameras available (AFAIK).

I think it might offer an interesting platform for a digital rangefinder. OK, so it's got a 2x crop factor. Plus it uses what seems to be a larger mount than Leica thread mount or M. But the deal with the format is to get around all those nasty edge of sensor problems that The M8 has hit hard. I don't agree with Reichmann that the M8 has proven the way for large sensor RF, quite the opposite. I think it's so beset with inherent problems that different solutions may be needed (many of which may be software, rather than hardware). Still, I think there is potential here.

Will it rival DSLRs? I don't think so, at least not the larger ones. Optical viewfinding is still superior to electronic and this new format removes the possibility of reflex viewing (hence my thought on RF). Might make an interesting alternative to the entry level DLSRs, but I bet it'll never compete on price (which is almost the number one differentiator in brands for real buyers).

That mount is still large, as I've mentioned. Smaller it may be, but only that the big 4/3. Compared to RF mounts, I pretty sure it's jolly large. which starts to preclude really small lenses. For me, a small lens needs to have a small diameter for comfortable holding, not just be pancake flat. I don't think this large mount, aimed at motor driven lenses, will give that small diameter I'm looking for (as a point of comparison with SLRs, I think only the smallest, cheapest, non-IS lenses come close to being small diameter, and optically they're pretty rubbish).

So where do I think it fits: in that medium size, carry all day slot currently held by RF cameras. Give me a small package with a good optical VF and small, fast primes and I think it would be useful. With a decent range zoom as well, it would make a strong travel companion, that might convince me to leave the SLRs at home on trips, especially with the bike. I still want a high quality compact with RAW, for the shirt-pocket option.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I like comments, especially constructive ones.
Comments get emailed directly to me before publishing , so if you want to get in touch drop a comment.
All comments moderated by me before being published, keeps the spam at bay.