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Author Topic: Michael Reichmann current stance regarding 4/3?  (Read 12390 times)
Prognathous
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« on: February 28, 2006, 08:33:31 AM »
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"I predict that Four Thirds will be as big a dud as its name."
http://luminous-landscape.com/new/pma-2003.shtml

"Olympus was the champion of the failed but elegant little half-frame format of the 1960's, and now appears to be heading down the same path."
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/...lympus-e1.shtml

In the meanwhile, Olympus released three new bodies (E300, E500 and E-330) and quite a few lenses; Sigma released 8 new lenses for the format; Panasonic and Leica announced their support with new products due to be released this year. Have those changes brought any doubts to Four-Thirds-nay-sayers? Michael?

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David Mantripp
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2006, 08:52:03 AM »
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"I predict that Four Thirds will be as big a dud as its name."
http://luminous-landscape.com/new/pma-2003.shtml

"Olympus was the champion of the failed but elegant little half-frame format of the 1960's, and now appears to be heading down the same path."
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/...lympus-e1.shtml

In the meanwhile, Olympus released three new bodies (E300, E500 and E-330) and quite a few lenses; Sigma released 8 new lenses for the format; Panasonic and Leica announced their support with new products due to be released this year. Have those changes brought any doubts to Four-Thirds-nay-sayers? Michael?

Prog.
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Selective quoting is always entertaining.  I suppose you might not have seen Michael's video journal review of the E-1, but it was extensive, fair, and ended up with a clear recommendation.

I don't want to put words in his mouth, but just because it doesn't work for him, as far as I'm aware he doesn't rule out that it might well work for somebody else.

I would not disagree with his well known "evolutionary dead-end" quote that many people are fond of repeating either, but just because it is ultimately a dead end doesn't mean that it isn't at this point in time the best solution for some people.  It is for me. And it isn't perfect.
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David Mantripp
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Prognathous
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2006, 09:42:18 AM »
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Selective quoting is always entertaining.

What quotes do you think are missing to show his general stance on FourThirds?

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I suppose you might not have seen Michael's video journal review of the E-1, but it was extensive, fair, and ended up with a clear recommendation.

I haven't seen it, no, but I don't need anything more than his written review of the camera to understand that he liked it. But that's besides my point.

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I don't want to put words in his mouth, but just because it doesn't work for him, as far as I'm aware he doesn't rule out that it might well work for somebody else.

Of course, but I'm curious if his perception of the format has changed in view of recent advancements. This has nothing to do really with whether a specific camera "works" or not.

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I would not disagree with his well known "evolutionary dead-end" quote that many people are fond of repeating either,

Ok, so please explain why it is an "evolutionary dead-end". I'd like to hear more.

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but just because it is ultimately a dead end doesn't mean that it isn't at this point in time the best solution for some people.

I never claimed that it is or not.

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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2006, 09:54:33 AM »
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*chomp*
Ok, so please explain why it is an "evolutionary dead-end". I'd like to hear more.
*chomp*

Depends on where the megapixel wars end.  Smaller sensor and all.  If canon is calling it quits at 8.2 then it has a really good chance.  But if it has to do 10 or 12 mp it could get interesting.

Of course how often (outside of landscape photography) is more than 8 (or even 6) mp really required?
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Prognathous
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2006, 10:17:03 AM »
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FourThirds easily outperform 35mm film in image quality, so if film wasn't in an "evolutionary dead-end" for so several decades (and was good enough so that most people didnít see the need to switch to medium format), why should FourThirds be insufficient? More MP is not the only possible goal in camera development.

Just as much as FourThirds has theoretical image quality disadvantage over APS and FF, it also enjoys a theoretical advantage in terms of portability (size and weight) as well as manufacturing cost. Larger formats are just as much at an "evolutionary dead-end" - it all depends on what you're looking for. Personally, I like FourThirds image quality very well and would be very happy to see R&D budgets invested in other parameters - such as in-camera anti-shake, better portability and usability, better live-view LCD (than what the E330 seems to offer) and yes, god forbid, a movie mode.

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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2006, 10:47:38 AM »
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Printing big has become cheap and easy.  So what was enough for film is not necesarily enough for digital.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2006, 10:58:44 AM »
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...it also enjoys a theoretical advantage in terms of portability (size and weight) as well as manufacturing cost.
And there's the problem IMHO. The one thing that could really push that format forward is just theoretical at this point.

I think the future in 4/3ds depends on camera makers ability to take advantage in the size reduction possible with the smaller sensor. So far, that hasn't happened with cameras and lenses (with exception of long focal-lengths) that aren't much smaller than current APS-C/35mm DSLR systems.

If they get the cameras smaller or at the least the lenses smaller, add some decent wide primes, then focus on features a street shooter would utilize, then I think 4/3ds could have a future. They are showing some promise with innovative things such as the live LCD but they need to do more to distinguish themselves from the standard 35mm format crowd.
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Prognathous
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2006, 11:37:42 AM »
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Printing big has become cheap and easy.  So what was enough for film is not necesarily enough for digital.

In practice, the opposite has happened. People tend to print a lot less since viewing pictures on-screen is now so easy and immediate.

Nevertheless, FourThirds quality does allow getting superb prints, so there's no problem even if you do print a lot. Did you actually encounter any inadequate prints that would have been adequate with an APS-sensor camera?

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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2006, 11:59:52 AM »
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In practice, the opposite has happened. People tend to print a lot less since viewing pictures on-screen is now so easy and immediate.

Nevertheless, FourThirds quality does allow getting superb prints, so there's no problem even if you do print a lot. Did you actually encounter any inadequate prints that would have been adequate with an APS-sensor camera?

Prog.
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Printing small is done less but printing big is done far more.  You can hang your dell on your wall but it isn't practical.

I use an APS sensor camera.  And at 13x19 things can get dicey.  Depends on the small detail level.
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michael
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2006, 02:24:00 PM »
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People seem to get so much pleasure out of it when I'm wrong.

If that's the case then I must give a lot of pleasure, because I'm frequently wrong. Who isn't sometimes?

If I was wrong all the time my opinions as a critique wouldn't be worth much. But, fortunately for me, I'm right more often that I'm wrong, so as long as my battting average remains above 500 I'll keep doing what I do.

As for 4/3rds. Yup, looks like it'll survive. What's happened is we've come to a point where about 8MP is sufficient for most amateur needs, and Olympus et al have been able to get decent image quality from small sensors with this high pixel density.

The problem that Olympus had initially, in my opinion, is that they aimed the E1 at the pro market. A few pros adapted it early on, but as the competition produced cameras with larger and higher quality sensors Olympus had problems with their marketing approach. Since they've segued over to the consumer side they've done much better.

Pros need files, much of the time, which are larger than 4/3rd cameras can provide, even at 8MP. The big stock agencies demand minimum 11MP files, and some like Getty 16MP minimum. Ad agencies need to be able to handle double page spreads and still allow for cropping. Most find that anything less than about 11-12MP starts to hurts when this is done.

This says nothing negative about 4/3rd cameras other than the fact that they aren't suiatable for some pro applications because they will always suffer from a smaller sensor. Anything that improves image quality on a 2X sensor will be even better on a 1.3X or 1.5X or 1.6X, (let alone full frame). In the hands of amatuers, and even some pros like wedding and event  photographers they do a fine job though.

My concern is that the weight and size savings that were promised have failed to materialize. One look at the new Panasonic L1 makes that clear. And Olympus' lenses, though very high quality, are also high priced, which is problematic for the amateur market that they are now going after. The new Leica 4/3rd lenses aren't going to be inexpensive either.

So in the end 4/3rds isn't going away, and neither will 1.5x and .6X APS C sized sensors, nor will full frame. There's room for all.

So, yes I was wrong.

Feel better?

Michael
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2006, 03:12:50 PM »
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FTR, I don't think Michael was or is wrong...  It's just that his prediction has not come true yet  

~~~

But let's consider something new, like say an 18MP camera with a 4:3 aspect ratio sensor that uses legacy (35mm) lenses with 44mm image circles, all in a relatively conventional DSLR body package...  Now THAT might be something Pros would adopt!

 
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Stephen Best
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2006, 05:30:42 PM »
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Pros need files, much of the time, which are larger than 4/3rd cameras can provide, even at 8MP. The big stock agencies demand minimum 11MP files, and some like Getty 16MP minimum. Ad agencies need to be able to handle double page spreads and still allow for cropping. Most find that anything less than about 11-12MP starts to hurts when this is done.

Depending on how they price the DMC-L1 with Leica glass, I can see myself going for one of these. The 7.5MP initially concerned me but I think this is likely an interim step and later bodies/sensors will reach a sweet spot with the lenses within the coming years. Full-frame 35mm seems to be max-ing out already as we're reaching the inherent limitations of the format. For those without legacy glass (I got out of 35mm SLRs long ago) 4/3 is very attractive.
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David Mantripp
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2006, 05:31:03 PM »
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FourThirds easily outperform 35mm film in image quality, [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=59207\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That is highly debatable. In my opinion, 35mm film exposed in my Hasselblad Xpan and scanned at 4800dpi is considerably more detailed than E-1 RAW.

But for printing up to A3+, and in pretty much any book or magazine format, it makes no practical difference.....except if I want to crop.  One could say that the E-1 encourages you to get the framing right at capture time  
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David Mantripp
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Prognathous
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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2006, 05:47:57 PM »
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People seem to get so much pleasure out of it when I'm wrong.

Michael, my intent wasn't to prove you wrong. Far from it. I was really interested to learn about your current stance on the platform, as you had very little belief in it in the past (and you did provide logical and quite convincing reasoning as to why). The fact that even critics like you now consider FourThirds to be a fine alternative means that the longevity of the platform is much less of an unknown as it used to be. It has become a valid option and is likely to remain so.

This is a change of status that I don't think needs to be understated. In fact, I would be very interested to read a more detailed analysis of the DSLR market and I really hope you'll publish such an article soon. Things have changed and are constantly changing.

By the way, I don't personally use FourThirds (I use Minolta 35mm film, Oly 1/1.8" and soon KM APS), but I very much appreciate what's going on with this platform. They seem to be on the right track. Just thought that needs to be clear

drm, if you factor in film grain, then FourThirds does easily outperform 35mm film in image quality. Detail in film is good, but the grain is unbearable in today's standards. You have to go to medium format to get anywhere near the complete silkiness of low-ISO digital.

Prog.
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BJL
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2006, 05:49:11 PM »
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FourThirds easily outperform 35mm film in image quality,

That is highly debatable. In my opinion, 35mm film exposed in my Hasselblad Xpan and scanned at 4800dpi is considerably more detailed than E-1 RAW.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=59244\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Weren't people just complaining about quoting out of context?
I am fairly sure that Prognathous was referring to 35mm film used in the standard 24x36mm frame size, not the far larger Xpan panoramic frame size. What's more, 4/3 now has 8MP options, of noticeably higher resolution than the aging E-1's that you and I both stuck with! (Apart from my guess that the E-1 will be replaced this summer by something of about 11MP.)
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situgrrl
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« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2006, 07:53:05 PM »
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The Olympus lenses are cheaper than Canon L, often faster and of comparible quality.  

The problem is, there isn't a body for them at the moment.  The E1 is good but dated and needs more MP and decent high ISO.  If you are one of the pros polled by Sean Reid who said it was okay, please tell me your post processing technique

I was hoping that PMA would see them release a new pro body, however, the release of that IS Leica lens is exciting, lets hope for some telephoto ones soon, the 50-200 is heavy and often superfluous.
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David Mantripp
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2006, 12:45:35 AM »
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drm, if you factor in film grain, then FourThirds does easily outperform 35mm film in image quality. Detail in film is good, but the grain is unbearable in today's standards. You have to go to medium format to get anywhere near the complete silkiness of low-ISO digital.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=59247\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Prog, you're certainly correct that to some extent grain is an issue, but I would put it like this: the smoothness of an 100 ISO E-1 file viewed at 100% (actual pixels) is roughly "equivalent" to a well-exposed slide viewed at 50%, although of course it depends on the film and the scanner. And tools like Noise Ninja are just as applicable to film as to digital.  We get into subjective territory here, but I certainly feel I can print larger from 35mm than I can from the E-1.  On the other hand, upsizing an E-1 file is far more realistic than upsizing a scan.  I'm not arguing against the E-1 or 4/3rds - far from it - but I don't honestly agree with your "easily outperform" statement. Don't underestimate film, especially when it is behind a high quality lens....
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« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2006, 02:04:25 AM »
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I think quite a few of us are/were sceptical of Olympus and the 4/3 movement. There has been a tendency to think bigger sensors and more pixels is the way to go.

Regarding size, I do think that Olympus have achieved the aim, but not quite for the reason sometimes given. The bodies are small - compared to Nikon ones anyway - and at least one is weather sealed and seems built well. But normal lenses are not so compact. Where it scores is on long lenses. A 300mm F4 on the Oly equates to a 600mm F4 on a FF sensor. Now, the difference in size, weight and cost is significant. So in that sense, yes they have significantly reduced the size and weight. But whether or not that is significant, well we will see.

Leif
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Scott_H
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2006, 06:12:21 AM »
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A 300mm F4 on the Oly equates to a 600mm F4 on a FF sensor. Now, the difference in size, weight and cost is significant.

Size yes, currently cost no.  Oly glass is expensive, $6k for a 300 mm f2.8 lens is a little steep for me.  When I am backpacking and already have 35 lbs in gear to carry, I am much happier carrying a 200 mm lens than a 400 mm lens.  I think that gets overlooked when the issue of size comes up.

If someone would release a reasonably price 300 f4 for 4/3rds, I would be happy.
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R Scott Adams
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« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2006, 12:01:35 PM »
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People seem to get so much pleasure out of it when I'm wrong.

So, yes I was wrong.

Feel better?

Michael
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Well, actually I do!    Thanks Michael!  You really are a good analyst of things, and a good sport on top of it all.  All I have to say now, is stand by to be wrong again when Olympus and Panasonic come out with 12-16 MP cameras with those great lenses attached.  I'm sure Oly / Panasonic 4/3 will never take over a significant share of the pro market, but the equipment itself will quite certainly become truly pro level, and have certain niches where its advantages will secure it a small but important place in the professional community.

Thanks for continuing such a great place for us to be!

Scott Adams
Northern CA
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