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Significantly lighter and more compact DSLR cameras and lenses are on the way from Olympus and Matsushita, thanks to the development of new lens technology. MFTS_drawing_02 The MFTS promises smaller and lighter cameras The two firms have pledged to work together to produce lighter and more compact interchangeable lens type …

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EVIL

So is this finally the EVIL technology certain people in the tech forums have been craving for years? Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens.

I'm guessing there will be an electronic viewfinder rather than just the big screen, the dpreview silhouette seems to include one anyway.

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no no no no no!

Please god no! The whole point of D-SLR's is that they offer a bigger platform on which to place function controls without cramming like compacts, feel more substantial in the hand and have more bulk to grab hold of and man handle (no sexual references there I promise!). I've used both compacts and SLR's for 20 years (digital and film) and love them both for their distinct differences. I don't want a compact sized DSLR or SLR!

(Or am I just a complete ludite?!)

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Re: Or am I just a complete ludite?!

No, but it is a horses for courses, one man's meat, etc thing.

The 4/3rds format took off as much as it did (which isn't hugely, admittedly) precisely because there are people who want a smaller camera for whatever reason. The Olympus E410 and its siblings carry this aspect off very well, yet they are still bulky enough beasts to allow room for further improvement.

I guess there are many reasons to like or dislike a format of camera, but to me the ultimate appeal of a DSLR is the big sensor. In the end it doesn't matter how clever a camera is if the picture quality is crap. If this is a way to get a DSLR-class sensor into more manageable cameras, then I'm all for it. It's not as if true DSLRs are going to suffer for it.

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Coat

return of rangefinders, anyone?

Just a reminder that, although DSLRs might be perceived as ultimate technology in photography, there are many who managed to take great pictures without one. Just for example, late Henri Cartier-Bresson.

BTW, I know of Leica M8. Even though it is a digital rangefinder, its price sets it far beyond popular market (place that was occupied by Yashica rangefinders and likes).

Mine is the one with bulge.

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Aaah the rangefinder

... My 35 year old beat up Russian Leica knock off with the Zeis lens is one of my most cherished pieces of equipment.

Dave- it's okay, I just answered my own question there!

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definitely a rangefinder

These are not SLR cameras - the R stands for reflex, meaning the mirror which flips up when the photo is taken, which is the part of the SLR that's been taken out for this range.

It sounds really interesting: large sensor, interchangeable lenses, and probably a large enough body for a fistful of controls still.

But you lose the SLR viewfinder, which will be an issue for some folks.

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wsm

So?

The whole point of a mirror within the camera is for the photographer to see what is coming through the lens. Without it, 4/3 cameras are just another point-and-shoot toy with bigger lenses. So, the professional still needs something to see through and the digital Instamatics will continue to be sold to the truly amateur.

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Yes but

Love the idea, just hope its not a solution in search of a problem. The potential inroads into the SLR market may be limited as DSLR's are only 7% of the total camera sales (it was higher in film days).

If they want to chew into the big compact camera market then the level of image quality they can or cannot deliver at specific price points will be crucial.

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Old lag

One of the main advantages of the digital SLR is that you see the action when it happens. Display lag is very significant and loses any chance of getting a good portrait or action shot. Optical viewfinders would be the answer but are impractical for long focal length lenses.

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Heart

just an oversize bridge camera with changeable lens and large sensor

It's just an oversize bridge camera with changeable lens and large sensor.

I would, personally, be very happy to own one of these if price is good, as I can only justify having one camera, rather than a little compact one and a big dSLR.

Although there have been some bridge cameras of late with larger sensors (canon, nikon), many have teeny sensors which let down an otherwise great camera (panasonic, I'm particularly looking at you with your crappy quarter-inch sensors!).

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Mostly, it looks twatty

It looks dumb and unprofessional holding a camera out from your face to look at a viewfinder. Not to mention camera shake.

I think most people buying a high-end camera will want one that at least looks a bit like a professional one.

Although if the electronic viewfinder is in an eyecup configuration and sufficiently speed, it might be ok. Or, you could have a lookdown viewfinder like on a medium format camera?

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Marxz

So... not a DSLR

It's digital? check,

it's got a single lens? check

Reflex mirror? no.....

So it's no DSLR 'cause it's got no reflex (that's the mirror... it doesn't have to flip the mirror to be a reflex camera. TLS's - twin lens reflex - camera's don't flip their mirrors ('cause they don't need to) nor do EOS RT film SLR's ('cause they use a "two way mirror" reflex mirror)

so it's an oversized (probably over priced) Point & Shoot with swappable lenses

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Stop

See what you are getting

I've always had compact or high zoom digital cameras with electronic viewfinders, and it wasn't until I borrowed a friends DSLR recently did I realise what I'd been missing out on - actually seeing what I was taking a picture of.

It was a shock to see a full clear representation of what will be in the photo through the viewfinder, rather than a fuzzy, laggy, almost impossible to see in sunlight, square of LCD pixels. I'll definitely be going for a proper digital SLR for my next camera.

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just a camera for Photards

Woopdedooo - it's a point and shoot camera with interchangeable lenses. Serious photographers will still want to actually see what they are taking a photo of, not a digital rendition of what they are taking a photo of through a crappy LCD display.

One assumes that although the sensor size stays the same, the increased magnification from the smaller lense elements increases the risk of visible distortion?

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Re: So?

>the digital Instamatics will continue to be sold to the truly amateur

And only an amateur would think that. Photography has to be one of the rare cases where it really is true that it's not your equipment that counts but what you do with it. I always carry a Canon A560 with me and reserve the big DSLR for specific shoots. Many a time I see people with huge DSLRs taking snapshots of buildings or street scenes when a compact would be more suitable, very suspicious, they should be arrested.

@Paul

If you've gone to the expense of a 1000+ pounds DSLR then an extra 100-150 GBP for a decent compact is not much more. If your dilemma is the other way around then maybe you don't really need the big DSLR.

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stu
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@drunk@Kieron

Hmm. I have an FZ30. I used to shoot B/W with SLRs many years ago.

To me, the bridge camera is exactly what I need. I admit the sensor is an issue, and focus is not as quick, but I take most of my shots in good daylight and not of fast moving objects.

People seem to forget that the SLRs main purpose was to see what you were taking the picture of.. well the very first LCD viewfinder digital camera did that.

I prefer to see a 'digital rendition' of what I am taking a photo of, because... guess what... I am taking a digital rendition of that I am taking a photo of....

My friend has a DSLR, and playing around with it has made me even more sure I made the right decision (for me).

Plenty people use bridge cameras not because they can't aford DSLRs, but because they are the right tool for the job.

stu

http://powerlord.smugmug.com

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The bigger picture

What this really means is that they will be able to sell more of their largely excellent digital Zuiko lenses on more camera body platforms. By eliminating the fiddly expensive mechanicals of reflex mirror and focal-plane shutter they can makes these cameras cheap, perhaps grabbing the market segment between good compacts and cheap DSLR's.

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Stu
Boffin

Letting go of legacy naming.

Well all this technology progression is beginning to show that all the olde terms need dropping in favour of whole new names.

These new designs simply mean that the SLR form factor no longer applies to this new design.

Indeed if in the past we had professional film based Single Lens Reflex cameras, and then dSLRs, this new tech points to a whole new range name, as the 'single lens' bit of the name - not sure what that really applied to given that modern SLR lenses are made up of many glass 'lensing' elements, and now it seems the 'reflex' name doesn't apply here, perhaps they should simply be called 'professional compacts', or 'professional interchangeable lens compacts' (PILC sounds kinda cool) if thats the case.

Lets face it in modern culture, the term SLR, has been blurred and altered to mean only 'professional camera'.

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A question -

I thought it was a bit of a universal truth that if you shrink the sensor size, you 'worsten' the final image quality. Thats why your typical EOS 1d has a full sized 35mm sensor for maximum effectiveness. Are they not shrinking the sensor size with this new micro four-thirds design?

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SLR outdated in digital times

The sensor lets you see straight through the lens (which you couldn't with a film camera) so why keep an expensive complicated and unnecessary piece of machinery?

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Electronic viewfinders... no no no!

One of the major attractions of DSLR over digital compacts is the optical viewfinder. Composing with the LCD on the back of a compact is a nightmare, and although those with electronic viewfinders you can stick your eye too make composition easier, the quality is terrible. Even with a high quality LCD in them, they're no match for the resolution, detail and colour of the real optical world.

@Stu ...

"I thought it was a bit of a universal truth that if you shrink the sensor size, you 'worsten' the final image quality. Thats why your typical EOS 1d has a full sized 35mm sensor for maximum effectiveness. Are they not shrinking the sensor size with this new micro four-thirds design?"

Theoretically the image quality should be the same given the same amount of photo cells regardless of size (assuming they read the same detail), however the smaller the sensor size the more noise you introduce due to interference on the sensor between cells due to higher density. Although it may be technical advances can counter this.

As for the micro four-thirds, the article mentions it having the same size sensor as four-thirds. Although this usually is still 1.5 or 1.6x smaller than 35mm "full-frame".

In general though the noise introduced by the size of the sensor only becomes a factor when blowing up to large poster sizes. For your average Flickr user or 6x4, 8x10 print, even a compact with an even smaller sensor is perfectly fine (if it's a good quality sensor and camera).

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Re: Are they not shrinking the sensor size with this new micro four-thirds design?

No, the sensor's the same size as normal four-thirds. That's a bit smaller than some of the competitors, but doesn't make a great deal of difference. Full-frame DSLRs are far from typical, by the way!

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EVF and detail

Yes, their resolution is (usually) intrinsically poor, at best the same as that of an average back-panel LCD. However good implementations have a pixel-accurate "zoom" option on them, which is arguably superior to optical for adjusting the fine focus. So long as they can make them responsive and work well in all reasonable lighting conditions, there shouldn't be a problem and they may even be better.

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sensor

So long as the sensor is up to the standards of a digital SLR then the pictures should be ok, and come out with minimal noise. However if they put in one of those cheap and nasty sensors (i'm looking at YOU, Sony!) then the images will look like poo, especially in low light conditions...

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Stu

Thanks for the answers guys, but....

...as for full frame sensors, ie 35mm, they're found in all of the 'flagship' Canons and Nikons are they not?

Only 'far from typical' by virtue of the fact that there are a whole lot of amateur and semi-pro dSLR models for sale.

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Also -

http://www.dpreview.com/learn/?/Glossary/Camera_System/sensor_sizes_01.htm

When it comes to smaller sensor sizes, these people say not only is image noise a concern, but also dynamic range. Makes you think there are subtle disadvantages all round.

But I'm sure that such shortcomings are being improved upon all the time with new models.

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Re: Electronic viewfinders... no no no!

"Theoretically the image quality should be the same given the same amount of photo cells regardless of size (assuming they read the same detail), however the smaller the sensor size the more noise you introduce due to interference on the sensor between cells due to higher density."

Probably a more important factor is photosite area. Tiny sensor+big pixel count=tiny photosites. Bigger sensors have bigger photosites. Bigger photosites have more light falling on them, which means that the signal they produce needs less amplification to become a usable one. A tiny area collecting photons will suffer more shot noise than a larger one, since the fluctuations between the high and low numbers of photons collected for a given light level from each photosite will be larger. A tiny signal also needs more amplification to produce a usable one, introducing yet more noise and nonsense to the unprocessed recording of your lovely sunset scene. Lots of noise means lots of guesswork and heavy-handed noise reduction is needed in processing, leading to images that look more like a tramp's bottom than a sunset.

Tiny sensors are pants. I long for a fast, affordable compact (so the pitifully slow Sigma DP1 and stratospherically priced Leica M8 don't count) with interchangable lenses and a proper sized sensor so I can finally eBay my heavy, bulky, showy, intrusive DSLR. If the EVF has a high enough pixel count this might be what I'm looking for.

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Meh. The big upset for me is the research they could have done instead...

...on getting a larger sensor into a 'normal' DSLR body. DSLRs are not too big or heavy (in fact when using a tripod, bigger and heavier would be better) but a bigger sensor would be nice.

This development seems a bit pointless to me.

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@ martyn, stu

You may be taking a digital representation of what you see, but in no way other than basic composition does what you see on your LCD represent the final image.

I'm not saying there aren't advantages to LCD viewfinding, as anyone who's ever put their joints out wrapping themselves round a tripod trying to get to that tiny aperture at the back of their camera for a tricky macro shot will testify. But there are gizmos out there already to help with that.

Until LCD can match the response time, colour gamut and resolution of at the very least the camera's own sensor, never mind what I can see with my own eyes through the lens, I'll be sticking with my nice lo-tech, hi-quality viewfinder thank you very much.

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@martyn

>> The sensor lets you see straight through the lens (which you couldn't

>> with a film camera) so why keep an expensive complicated and

>> unnecessary piece of machinery?

I don't own an SLR, I own a bridge-camera. I can tell you that its EVF is its weakest feature (although the fold-out 2" display is probably its best). Why? Because a good EVF will have a resolution of about 0.2 MP and refresh at 60 Hz - where as the resolution and refresh rate on an optical view finder will probably outperform the human eye.

Another point is that most CMOS sensors used on dSLR cameras are not suitable for constant exposure, so it would require a different type of sensor. Chance are it wouldn't perform as well as a regular sensor.

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crapaculous EVF

<i> martyn • Wednesday 6th August 2008 10:54 GMT

The sensor lets you see straight through the lens (which you couldn't with a film camera) so why keep an expensive complicated and unnecessary piece of machinery? </i>

errr.... do you even know what a SLR is to have posted that comment? indeed that is the single biggest advantage of an SLR is that you DO look straight down the capture lens.

so we replace the mostly excellent pentamirror/pentaprism and reflex mirror with a totally craptacular electronic viewfinder...

don't get me wrong live view on the new DSLR's is a far far better feature than I had it pegged to be, really useful for macro focussing and for landscape composition... but you'd never want to actually shoot anything that's not static (ie 95% of real world shooting) with that nor would you with an EVF

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Re: crapaculous EVF

My goodness, I do I believe we may have hit on a problem. Or perhaps the manufacturers have thought of this already, and are innovating with a new generation EVF: higher resolution and more responsive. Been done before, no reason why it couldn't be done again. Unfortunately, because typical sensors and LCDs do not have equivalent dot layouts, there is inevitably a bit of real-time processing that has to be done to get from one to the other, but nothing a bit of extra grunt can't obviate. Bear in mind that semi-pro and better cameras (i.e. primarily DLSRs) have traditionally had more grunt than consumer compacts anyway (witness writing speeds etc), so we really don't know what kind of EVF performance they could already be capable of if effort was put into making it usable, as it surely will be.

I say give them a chance; it won't be to everyone's tastes, but I agree with the dpreview analysis that this is "without doubt the most exciting digital photography announcement this year".

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Coat

Horses ... courses ... hmmm

I used to shoot with a Finepix S5000 - the digital viewfinder was great in that I saw 100% of the frame I was getting, against the 95% of the frame I'm seeing on the K20d's optical viewfinder ... but there are situations where the Finepix just couldn't get enough light to see what I was shooting in darker conditions, whereas with the optical, my eyes would adjust to the low light level.

The ability to frame consistently does away with a bit of the post production work, editing out what ended up on the edge of an image but you couldn't see it ... but the optics certainly perform in areas where the sensors "live view" don't/can't.

As for the sensor size, everyone just got hung up on it and the manufacturers responded. Even Pentax, with their quite impressive APSC nearly fifteen megapixel sensor have bowed to the "trend" and are working on a full frame. What is possible with sensors is improving so that size doesn't really count any more and cross talk is being eliminated ... Fuji's newer HDR sensors pack twice the sensors in the same area (two sensors for every image pixel to achieve the HDR image) so ... size doesn't matter ... or, I don't care any more as to what bloke tells me that this <------> is six inches.

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