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Sunday, 28 December 2008

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This camera, or perhaps more appropriately, the Micro 4/3 mount, is starting to attract my attention. That attraction started with Reid's Review recent examination of the adapter for the Micro 4/3, that allows use (with metering apparently) of screw-mount rangefinder lenses.
Also, an M adapter is in the works, (by Cameraquest? i think).

This could open an interesting range of manual focus, aperture-set-lens-barrel rangefinder glass modern & "vintage" going back decades, from the likes of Leica, Zeiss, Nikon, Canon, Voightlander, among others.

(at a 2x crop factor, of course).

No doubt many will mention the appeal of mounting voigtlander/zeiss/leica lenses in either M or thread mount via adapters. With zeiss already selling ZK/ZF and now ZE SLR lenses, and Voigtlander selling SLII lenses in Pentax and Nikon mount, perhaps they will adapt their LTM and M mount lenses to M4/3.
Perhaps they could even integrate with the automatic view magnification when the manual focus ring is moved.

I guess that my only objection is the aspect ratio. I have really found myself liking the 3-2 aspect ratio and i am not clever enough to crop in the viewfinder. I suppose I could draw lines on the LCD with a sharpie.

dale

I've generally argued that the 4/3 is a waste of time, squeezed between the "C" and the FF offerings from Nikon, Canon and Sony with their extensive lines of bodies, lenses and accessories, and up-grade-ability. (You don't have to buy DX lenses for DX cameras, you can go ahead an buy regular FF glass. Then, when you upgrade to FF, you've already got the lenses.) So, 4/3 seemed to me to just a narrow-gauge railroad in an era of standardization.

With the arrival of an M adapter, among other developments, I'm starting to re-think. The "other developments" are the continuing refusal of the big camera makers to come up with a really handy, pro-level camera. The D700/5D are about as close as any of them have come, and though they're small compared to a D3 or a 1DsIII, they're still bricks. Not usually mentioned is the fact that even with the smaller D700/5D lines of cameras, the *lenses* are still quite large, so the whole apparatus is really huge. Leica tried to go small with the M8, but that's not a camera that will be widely adapted because of its focusing system and cost.

So maybe the micro 4/3 will work (as long as Nikon, Canon et al. don't wake up). The D3/D3x-quality sensor will be pretty standard within a couple of years, and if Olympus could put a sensor like that in a *very* small camera, and provide focus confirmation with M lenses...Hmmm.

JC

The G1 changes the viewfinder to match the aspect ratio. 4:3, 3:2 & 16:9 all display correctly. No sharpie needed.

I just got this camera a few days ago and am cautiously enthusiastic. The EVIL focus works wonderfully and I am really looking forward to the M adapter to start using my Voigtlander lenses. Now if the weather would just cooperate and let me get outdoors for a few hours.

Well said. I'm much looking forward to future M4/3 cameras.

And for that matter all future serious compacts. When I look back at all the cameras I ever owned, by far the majority were compact by their class, like the Rollei 35 and the Pentax ME Super.

I must not be a real photographer. By this time next year my cameras will be Sonys and Panasonics. Who would of thunk it?

I have just started shooting with the kit lens and really am impressed by the details this camera and lens picks up. I will be getting lens adapters and using some of my rangefinder and other lenses. My primary complaint is that DNG files from Raw are way to big.

latent_image,
There were many 6x9cm cameras, although many of them were "multi-format" by virtue of their ability to use different backs--the Koni-Omega, Mamiya Press, etc. The "Texas Leica" Fuji 6x9's were fixed-format cameras that had a 2x3 ratio. Many folders were 6x9, and finally there were a number of 2x3" view cameras made by Linhof, Graflex etc.

Mike J.

I'm going to differ from Dale. I LOVE the 3:4 aspect ratio, especially for vertical compositions. I've always felt confined by 2:3, though it's mainly what I shoot. It's as though 2:3 compositions don't have room to breathe. I cannot think of a single example of a medium format (i.e. pro) system camera--past or present--that employs 2:3. Surely, this signifies something.

Going from 3:2 to 4:3 is like cropping a tenth of the width off. Slightly less "cinematic".

Mike, the G1 looks like a brave choice - similar to the one I made a few weeks ago when I bought one.
Its compactness, versatility and relative quality is a joy and this little ground breaker could be the start of something very interesting.

Happy New Year to everyone!

JohnL

I've been using a G1 for almost a month. Along with the camera I purchased the FT->MFT lens adapter and M42 and Nikon mount adapters. Using those lenses stopped down and not having the viewfinder dim is wonderful--no need at all for an automatic aperture. It's a real treat to use a 50mm f/1.4 Super Takumar wide open on the G1--shallow depth of field is back!

All of my Nikon glass is heading to eBay. My D200 has gone to my daughter. After 40+ years using Nikon I've found its replacement. MFT is a game changer. I can't wait to see what follows after the G1.

Oh, but I do like the 4/3 ratio more than 3/2.

In fact, I don't quite understand why square isn't the standard, to get the most from round lenses, and remove the need for the portrait/landscape decision at shoot time, and remove the need for a 2nd grip on a single camera.

I'd like a square camera more than any other sensor shape.

But then, I don't shoot landscapes.

I bought a G1 as soon as it it became available in Germany and I'm really, really happy with it (actually I sold my Alpha 350 and a bunch of lenses). If you like, take a look at my weblog at brobo.blogspot.com to see a lot of G1 pictures (from Nov, 15 on). I'm especially surprised about the speed and handling of the camera, its life view experience, the quality of the kit lens and the usability of the ISO 800 pictures.

Crop to 1:1.45 a nice compromise .......... life between the worlds. Maybe its worth while waiting for what Oly has to offer
My other new old site http://www.etrouko.com.au/

For this to be the new "Barnack" it's going to need a 17 or 18mm F/2 prime lens. I picked up a Lumix LX3 a few weeks back and it feels closer to that philosophy in snapshot terms. I like the LX3's ability to shoot in 16:9, 4:3 or 3:2.

The lack of video on the G1 is a deal breaker for me. It's the new standard, and another thing the LX3 does pretty well.

Wake me up when a µ4/3 can focus as fast and has a battery last as long as the very cheapest DSLR.

I've had the G1 since Dec. 1. Click on my handle to see what a working stiff can do with this camera in his spare time. (Caution: before Dec. 1, you'll be in E1 territory.)

I bought the thing for its size and its potential, resigning myself to its somewhat clumsy presentation and its curious design choices. This is the only camera in its class and its a class we need.

Three things Panasonic nailed: the sensor, the autofocus and a kickbutt kit lens. The G1 will give you great images even if you aren't enamored of its electronic viewfinder, its flip-anywhere-except-straight-up screen or its arrangement of tiny buttons.

As to the various adaptors coming to market, I'm going to wait and see what Olympus comes up with in 2009. A micro version of the 12-60 Zuiko with the same quality as its non-micro big brother would by far be optics enough for the picture-taking I practise.

"For this to be the new 'Barnack' it's going to need a 17 or 18mm F/2 prime lens."

jim,
How about a 20mm f/1.7? Coming, according to the rumors anyway.

Mike J.

Mike, the first mirrorless camera wirh an APS-C sized sensor was the Sony DSC-R1, not the Sigma DP1, surely?

Mike,

That might do the trick!

I will be curious to get one of these in my hands. How much less of a pain in the butt will a G1 with the 20/1.7 be to carry compared to my 5D with a 35/2?

The LX3 is small enough to be pocket-able, making it more likely I will take it *everywhere.* As we all know any camera sitting at home is worthless when a picture opportunity arises. The aforementioned 5D combo weighs about the same as a Leica M with a 35/2 ASPH and is as portable.

That leads me to wonder where is the niche for the G1?

"I'd like a square camera more than any other sensor shape.

But then, I don't shoot landscapes."

I used to do alot of 6x7, and some 4x5, so an aspect ratio of 4/3 might appeal to me.

About the square aspect. Interesting. I still do a little film, and that is mostly for B&W landscape, with TLR's. Love the square, and do not change the aspect during PP.

"How about a 20mm f/1.7? "

Um, Mike, it's gonna be a 40mm equivalent. As close to a "normal" on 4/3 as nevermind.

OTOH, there is a 7-14/4 coming, too. (14-28 eq.) If it's anything like its Olympus cousin, it will be a terrific lens.

What I'd like to see on a MFT camera is the Voigtlaender 40/1.4.

Mike, about 6x9 medium format SYSTEM cameras, you're correct to mention the Mamiya Press and its variations. However, the Koni-Omega and its variations did not have a 6x9 capability. (I don't think the Mamiya Press was ever adopted by pros in numbers that in any way approached the Koni-Omega. Even less so the Fuji G690 series.) The system cameras that got heavy use--Mamiya RB/RZ67, the Hasselblad 500 series, the Mamiya 645 series, etc,--were all 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, or even 6x8. Except for fixed lens cameras and view cameras, 6x9 has been an oddity. Were there pros begging for a medium-format 2:3 aspect ratio for their workhorse cameras? I don't recall hearing any....In any event, micro 4/3's has really caught my attention.

Another vote for the 4:3 aspect ratio. When I first started using my LX3 I switched back and forth between ratios, but quickly settled on 4:3, and just leave it there. I crop just about every shot in p.p. and the 4:3 gives me a more "neutral" starting point.

"Um, Mike, it's gonna be a 40mm equivalent. As close to a 'normal' on 4/3 as nevermind."

Of course, and that's exactly what's needed. Jim said it was going to need a 17mm or 18mm, which would be 34mm or 36mm equivalents. 40mm is close enough.

Oskar Barnack's Ur-Leica had a 40mm lens, as was determined when the English repairman Malcolm Taylor took it apart for servicing.

Mike J.

What I like about the 4/3 format is that it is directly between an 8x10 and 5x7 crop--just like the venerable 645 format. I sell a ton more 8x10s than 8x12s. I hate doing group portraits and discovering later that I can't get everybody into a standard 8x10 print. Oops.

What I'm expecting to see with this m4/3 format is people discovering just how good the entire 4/3 format actually is. The m4/3 could be a means to get people to migrate up to the full-tilt 4/3 products.

Micro 4/3 is promising, but this camera body is only marginally smaller (about 10mm shorter and 5-10mm less wide) than the smallest APS-C DSLRs (Olympus E-520, Canon 450D, Pentax K200D, etc). I love the idea of a small, high-quality camera with interchangeable lenses, but I don't think the Panasonic G1 is it. However, I'll definitely take a close look at future (smaller?) Micro 4/3 cameras.

Although I will probably never going buy micro4/3 camera, I can understand the choice for this camera as the runner up. It is a bolt choice to position a camera with this price into one of the toughest spots of the market. Why not buy a cheap Canon of Nikon with possibilities to grow into their systems? Or buy a Canon G10? Of a Panaleica LX3? I'm not sure if these camera's will make it, although I wish them good luck.

While the mirrorless technology may lead to the ultimate compact digital camera (I think you have referred to it as the DMD), I'm not that intrigued by the G1 - it's too large to be pocketable, and if you are going to carry around something large enough that you need to hang it around your neck or in a camera bag, well, there are lots of options in small crop sensor DSLRs that will likely far outperform this camera. For me, a lot of people photography comes down to the interaction of the subject with the photographer - and the size of the equipment you are hauling along makes a big impact on that. A photographer friend pointed out that about half of the people out there like to have their picture taken, and half do not. When you are even near someone who doesn't like to have their picture taken (which includes most photographers funnily enough) with a large DSLR rig with an external flash - it causes a lot of people to be uncomfortable. A discreet camera that takes good pictures is much more versatile in this situation as it will allow you to get the camera out of sight for the periods when you are not shooting, thus putting those people who don't like to have their pic taken at ease and leading to much more natural photos overall when you do bring it out for a photo. As such, I'm much more excited by Olympus's first swing at this micro 4/3 technology - a compact, pocketable, discreet camera with a larger sensor (assuming they put some kind of onboard minimal flash on it). Sigma's newest compact camera with the larger sensor also looks promising in this regard.

I'm really interested in this camera, possibly because I've been spoiled by miniaturisation. My Pantax K100D is not a big SLR by any means, but I just don't find myself carrying it. I also have an older Panasonic superzoom, the FZ5, and while it is eminently carryable I just can't forgive its tiny little sensor (or the fact that its lens will always be slow, since it's built-in). The G1 seems to fit somewhere between the two, and may be a great compromise for my tastes.

I can't really afford it right now, though -- maybe the improved-in-every-way G2 will exist when I can consider a new camera purchase?

Forget video, though. If I wanted to shoot video, I'd get a purpose-built video camera. I love that the G1 doesn't bother with it.

Happy New year Mike and thank you for the past year of interesting reads.

I used an early Nikon coolpix with an electronic viewfinder in 2002 or there abouts and I was horrified and surprised that anyone could use it to compose, it was truly was a horrible way to make photographs.

By the time I purchased my first digital P&S a Canon S70, it occurred to me while working with it that it had the potential to see more and better than I could under low light conditions. This was mentioned in reviewing the Sony A900 (I think) recently.

If the G1's electronic viewfinder has improved the state of the EV art even more than the current crop of new digicams it will have a huge impact. I have not handled a G1 yet. The best I have seen thus far in a dark corner of the last Photokina expo was effectively like a powerful night sight. This is way beyond what Oskar Barnack could ever have dreamed of. Literally photographing a black cat in a coal cellar. Years ago Ilford used this analogy to promote the first generation of high ISO films but they also used flash!

This combined with the promised vast array of adaptors for past lenses makes this G1 and its successors almost a universal camera mount. To good to believe?

To date I have read of the following adaptors, Leica screw, M and R,Contax/Yashica,Pentax,Olympus, Nikon and Minolta MD. Doubtless other manufactures will follow with the same standard. I for one will watch this with great interest...

I have already put a CV 12mm Helier and 28 f/1.9 as well as a 50 f/1.5 Leica Summarit and 85 f/1.5 Summarex on my G1. They are all easy to focus and shoot.
The G1 is just fun to use and I am thrilled with the size. The two kit lenses are better than most kit lenses.
You can throw the G1 with the two kit lenses and a few M lenses into a small bag and you are good to go.

Don't agree that the 5D MkII is camera of the year 2008, that title should have gone to the Panny G1. Having said that though, if the Panny is to lose out on that title then really there is no other camera to consider but the 5D MkII (and maybe the Sony Alpha 900).

Pretty much agree with everything else said thus far.

Before I sign off, would just like to point out an error in the main write up. It states: "There's nothing magic about the the Micro 4/3 standard, because there's nothing stopping other companies from making mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors (indeed, Sigma was the first to this particular bar with its DP1, soon to be joined by a follow-up)"

Well, that is actually incorrect, and incorrect by a very large margin, because the first camera with an APS-C/DSLR sized sensor was the Sony DSC-R1 which came out long before the Sigma thing.

Regards,

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