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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Comments

Hm,a very brave analysis and interesting conclusion. I totally agree with you, Mike.

Nice, well reasoned, and fair to what Nikon seems to be doing. No, they at this point have ceded "serious" to M4/3; the Nex 7 being even more of a "rant" in terms of price.

But somebody moving from a cellphone/compact, family photographer not wanting a DSLR, this may be huge ... or a Nikon Pronea, Canon Elph failure.

The technology however, good grief, Nikon is claiming the V1 is faster than the D3X ... oh, my!

DP review has some previews and an interview with somebody from Nikon about the marketing and thoughts behind the camera.

Bron

I've been reading (feels like watch) the negative comments form everyone re the Nikon 1. Amazing - without any real reviews to go on.

I use their pro cameras for business and find them excellent. Not sure how much I'm going to upgrade now though - I think we've definitely reached beyond good enough.

I use m4/3rds for pleasure and my system is pretty much complete. I've enough lenses and really don't want/need to change my system. I would have loved a m4/3rds Nikon body though - just love the output form their cameras.

Andy

AS for the APS-C size imager "distorting" the size of the lenses, true enough--unless they'd get rid of the go--amned autofocus. Leica-M lenses are small, and they cover 24x36.

I can't disagree with anything on your post. Still, take note of the special features of the Nikon 1, for they represent the future of the mass market (including advanced amateur) camera.

According to DP Review, quoting a Nikon spokesman, the hybrid focus system is faster than that of the D3S. It is the fastest focusing camera ever made. Think of what that means for the reflex mirror.

If I understand the features correctly, Nikon has made "spray and pray" into "spray and harvest".

The J1 is the smallest mirrorless yet. And it won't even be Nikon's cheapest. Expect an all plastic body within a year going for $499 as a kit, $399 street. The P1?

What does this mean for photographers of the type that frequent this here blog? Diddly squat. But! Make no mistake - Panasonic, Samsung and Sony are at this very moment half-way through reverse engineering Nikon´s AF system and video capabilities. Nikon 1 will certainly make its mark on the camera industry. And it will outsell micro 4/3 on the way, because, "what does PASM stand for anyaway"?

There are even more lenses for m43 I really like which bear mentioning not mentioned here... the samyang 7.5mm fisheye is now trickling into eBay and looks fab, a dedicated m43 mount. The wanderlust 13mm pinwide is truly sweet. Then there is the fotodiox (multiple brand names) c-mount 25mm 1.4, with the swirly bokeh... great toy lens (I paid $40 for mine with m43 to c-mount adapter). Finally I also got the HOLGA OP 25mm dedicated plastic holga imitation lens... great again, for $25 and dedicated m43 mount.

Samples on my photostream, you should be able to see whats what from the EXIF...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/artistwithlight/

I have been a die hard NIKON user for over 35 years and I agree that NIKON has really missed the mark with this latest offering. My gosh just what we need another sensor size, new conversion factor, digital camera "system". I think this will be a major flop and the Marketing team needs to get the boot on this project. Micro 4/3 is here to stay, it is a great option this NIKON makes no sense, "You could have been a contender" but your corporate arrogance and deep pockets have clouded any creative vision you have might have had. The consumer can't and will not continually be able to abandon their camera system investments, NIKON's energy should be with a Micro 4/3 system and provide good glass and accesories for these cameras, repeat and loyal customers will always be purcahsing new and improved lenses. Please give the photographic consumer a camera that has a chance of still being available 6 months from now, the micro 4/3 if nothing else has proven that.

It's not clear to me why anyone would pay much attention to the X1. There's nothing unique about it, and it is overpriced. M9 carries on a proud history; S2 defines a niche; but nothing else Leica's doing seems interesting to me.

As a Nikon fan, I'm with you on this one, Mike. At best, the Nikon 1 system will not be a big seller; and at worst, it may be a mistake that sinks the whole Nikon ship. I don't know anyone who would buy it.

Mike I think you are right on the money.

I've been a Nikon user for 35 years now. I'm pretty sure I will always be one since they do produce a fine FX and DX product. Their styling fits my hand and their controls are second nature to me.

I kept wondering and hoping they would somehow up the ante and bring something amazing to the party. Something wonderful (As HAL might say). After all, I'm on their team and I want them to make winners.

And just like you I poured through the specs and even though there were many interesting cool things.... I just could not get away from that tiny sensor. Yep size isn't everything, but there is a sweet spot. I'm pretty sure that 4/3 is that sweet spot.

Weirdly I just feel disapointed that they probably got it wrong. The last thing the photography market needed was another sensor size targeted for the people that would purchase 35mm style/sized cameras.

I wish them luck with it, but I can not see it becoming anything of significance to the photographic community.

Next...

Brent Parkin
White City, SK

Thanks, Mike... If you were wondering, you have just proved that you are not crazy like the rest of the world.

I have an Olympus E-P1. The other day I took it to a picnic with the 17mm pancake mounted on it, and, needing both hands, put it in my jeans pocket. (Not a large coat pocket... a pants pocket.)

With the lens mounted.

Well, Mike, there are two more lenses not on the site. One is a 7.5/3.5 fisheye, here as Samyang at Samyang's European distributor, and here reviewed under its Rokinon label.

Then, there's Noktor 50/0.95.

Yeah, both lenses are manual, but both fit directly to m4/3 mount, while the fisheye was specifically created and manufactured for the mount.

Samyang apparently will go on to produce more m4/3 lenses.

And this 650-1300 ultra-super-tele-zoom by Samyang would be interesting on either 4/3 or m4/3. :)

I think it's more like fear—fear that if we jump too soon, the guys with the big boots will come through and leave footprints all over our equipment investment. They do that, when they can. Notice who brought the previous major innovation (autofocus) to the consumer market (Minolta), and who is no longer in business; they got stomped by Canon and Nikon.

The first thing that comes to mind is the apparent internal corporate struggle in Nikon HQ. The DSLR guys finally accepted that Nikon has to make a mirrorless system. However, they made damn sure it would fail.... The G3 and the EP3 really seems more and more to point the way forward. Small, multicapable systems that will do whatever a DLSR will do, at half the weight and volume.

Very nice essay, Mike. We jumped on the micro 4/3 bandwagon about 16 months ago, partly on the basis of your GF1 report. We have a pair of cameras, 5 or 6 lenses, plus an adapter that takes my old FD lenses. Instead of waiting for the mythical Canon mirrorless, we've been out shooting pictures. Love those little cameras.

I'm ready to sell most of my personal Canon gear (40D bodies, a couple of zooms), and use my work gear (the pro Canons) and the micro-4/3 for everything. Then update the Pannys with a G3 and some more lenses. Looking forward to your report on that camera.

(As an aside, I've now photographed two funerals with the GF1 and the 20/1.7. At the behest of the families, I hasten to add. The photographs are quite wonderful -- a very small and quiet camera allows photography in all sorts of situations, and no one even notices what I am doing. I would never have been able to do this with my Canon gear. And the files are excellent, even at 1600. I wish I could link to a gallery, but of course the photos are private.)

Yes, Nikon disappointed us big time.
It sounds bitter.
Anyway lets be positive and hope for Canon to create something worth waiting soon enough.

You get my vote on this one Mike. I'm still scratching my head over the N1. What is it - really? I've been thinking about an NEX as a walk around/take it anywhere camera, but can't see the point of the super slim compact body with honkin big lenses attached. Save a few ounces on the body but the lens kit (what there is of it) takes up as much space and almost as much weight as the APS-DSLR. What's the point of the expense of a new system that does that?

So, I've been steadily ogling M4/3. I liked the feel of the E-PL2 and the E-P3 is just that much better. And all those slick little lenses. Getting closer .....

Wonderful post Mike. I couldn't have expressed it all any better than you. Over a period of about 6 months in 2009/2010 I found myself shelving my Nikon gear and adopting first Panasonic, then Olympus, micro four thirds gear. I ended up selling all the Nikon stuff. Is micro four thirds perfect? Of course not (high ISO mainly) but I find the system to be the perfectly sweet middle ground between size and quality. Because of the small size I now carry a camera with me everywhere where I never did that before with the DSLR because of size/weight. In addition, the lens situation for m4/3 is absolutely wonderful. Almost too many lenses coming out of great quality. It is hitting my wallet pretty hard:o)

I too wondered what Nikon would come out with and worried that it might damage the m4/3 world. After their announcement I no longer worry about that happening. The NEX line is nice but the large lenses keeps me out of that niche. Now if Olympus would just make a E-P3 with a build in EVF like the NEX7 I would be in heaven and would never have to buy another camera again.

Except.....

Try to find a m4:3 to hold and look through.

I can if I burn up $25 in gas and parking.
But, Nikon and Canon will be in every big box retailer in the country.

When I go for my daily walks I spot 8 to 10 dSLR's in about an hour. Every one is a Nikon or Canon. In the past year I have seen exactly one Olympus EP2 and one Panasonic G1.(the Oly had the kit zoom and the guy with the G1 had a bag full of Canon FD mount lenses used with an adapter)

I agree with your logic but sales wise it may not matter.

Personally I'd rather have a native 3:2 aspect ratio to 4:3, which narrows it down to Sony, Samsung, Sigma, and the Ricoh GXR M-mount module, right? I think I'll wait to see what Pentax and Canon come up with before making a decision.

The TOP prophet speaks the truth ;-)

Could not agree with you more. The new Sony 7 is mouth watering, but as you said where is the beef (lenses)?

Although, one could argue after 2 years the Panny GF1 is still the best m4/3 body, but I think the new Pen3 & G3 are catching up.

Bottom line is with a 3-lens kit (12/2, 20/1.7, 45/1.8) ANY of the m4/3 bodies could produce fantastic images. And if you get the new X-Pancake-zoom, even the wife and the kids could easily operate them ;-)

Then again, my GF1/20 kit works like a charm, and I can wait it out for the GF1 replacement and all the hype of these new bodies settle.

When others and myself commented on your Sony test yesterday and we got chastised for making some obvious suggestions I am a little reluctant to tell you there are some great 4/3 websites out there, but to answer your question from a backwater Parish. No, there's not much out there, you need to dig for it. I'm lugging around a Nikon D200 or a D700 and that is a lot of carry around camera. I have a small Leica D-lux and sometimes it seems like not enough so i'm intrigued by this 4/3 format.AND the thought of buying ANOTHER camera....Ay Carumba when will it end.

Great column. Almost made me want to go out and buy one. Ah, if Panasonic only had in-camera IS....

I fully agree with these comments. All Olympus needs to do is release a weather sealed body. All Panasonic needs to do is release a NEX7 like body, more compact version of the G3 with manual controls.

Then release the missing 90mm f2 from the prime list, and there is a full system. Currently 12mm f2 (24), 14mm f2.5 (28), 17mm 2.8(34), 20mm f1.7 (40), 25mm f1.4 (50), 45mm f1.8 (90). Sigma even seems to want to make lenses for it, specifically. So it will grow. And the manual lenses market is growing, the samyang 7.5mm f3.5 fisheye is reported to be the smallest and better quality than the Panasonic.

I agree looks like M43rds walked out the winner.

It looks to me as if Nikon is deliberately trying to avoid having this camera take sales away from their lower-end DSLRs. Trying too hard? Time will tell.

You wrote,

On the other hand, Micro 4/3 really does seem to have it right: the sensor is big enough, but not too big; small enough, but not too small. The cameras are right-sized, the lenses are right-sized. Everything's in balance. Everything fits.

Since you've posted a photograph of the Panasonic G3, I'll apply your comments to it. It's certainly one of the nicest cameras I've ever used. The lenses are superb. I've downsized from a DSLR with macro and UWA lenses.

The Panasonic-Leica 45mm f/2.8 macro shown on the four-thirds.org site you link to is lighter, faster and has more accurate focussing than my DSLR macro lens, and captures colors beautifully. The G3's Manual Focus Assist, Manual Focus Guide, 4x and 5x and 10x magnification, make macro shooting so much easier for me than with the DSLR. It's four custom modes permit specific configurations for different uses, so macro and MF settings can be quickly accessed with a turn of the Mode dial.

image


The Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 is superb in all aspects, and lets me get into tight quarters:


image


Whether or not m4/3 is the "Big Kahuna," between the two main brands, m4/3 certainly has a selection of camera bodies for each person's needs.

The G3 feels like a small DSLR, which appealed to me greatly. Its grip is ideal for my hand, and the articulated screen, EVF, hotshoe, all being necessary features for me in the field, just added to its appeal.

Regards,

Richard

A very interesting, profound and well thought out analysis! I am not so sure about Sony, but I certainly share the dissatisfaction with the Nikon solution.

I am inclined to agree with you with regard to M4/3 being the sweet spot in mirrorless. One of the reasons it appeals is because I can pack a kit that covers the range from 28 - 600mm (equivalent) but weighs less than my 5D and a single lens. Great for traveling or forays into the backcountry. From a weight standpoint, the NEX with lenses, doesn't have much of an advantage over an SLR. On the other side, the Nikon and Pentax mirrorless offerings, don't have the glass to be taken seriously. And honestly, to lure me away from M4/3 they would need to offer both "pocketability" and appreciably better image quality that a decent P&S like Canon s95 or panasonic LX5.

Amen, brother, amen. The whole point of 4/3 and its derivative, m4/3, is that it really, really, really is the sweet spot for digital photography for the most of us. Sure, I'd love to have FF, but I'm not a commercial photographer any more. I can put my E30, the GF2 and the EP1 in a small messenger-style camera bag, put the 12-60 on the E30, the 50 f2 with adapter on the EP1 and the 14 on the GF2, toss in the 70-300 underneath the GF2, and I am set.

If I really need huge files for extremely high quality landscapes, I have a gigapan pro head and use that to generate gigabyte-sized tiffs.

The only thing really lacking is the 12-60 in m4/3, as well as some long high-speed glass. But you know what? I have a 180 f2.8 that fits via adapter, a 400 f6.3 that fits via adapter, and I can put anything out there, even silly little Pentax 110 lenses and c-mount lenses, on my camera if I want to.

It's the future. The greatest part of it: it just plain works.

The ironic thing is that the original IBM PC keyboard was magic. A perfect mesh of touch, feel, and sound. So one would think that they would leverage their keyboard expertise. But Noooooooooo. They asked us to type on checklet keys. I wonder why we didn't.

Michael Tapes

Sorry Mike but you're wrong. People who think Sony's lens size was dictated by the APS-C sensor aren't familiar with the numbers 707, 717, 828.

Nikon engineers are amazing ;-)

They have built much desired "Spray-and-Pray" photography technique into their new camera. They've even gone one step farther, the camera starts the "Spray" BEFORE you "Pray" (pressing the shutter button!) Genius ;-)

Digital photography has proven to be very disruptive technology for incumbent companies to adopt while protecting their current markets. A trend which appears to continue to this day. Kodak could not make the transition and maintain its volume of sales, while smaller companies such as Leica and Hasselblad nearly went to the wall. Those companies such as Canon and Nikon which did succeed early on are now coming under threat from newcomers which are not tied to existing systems.

As many have already noted, Nikon’s announcement appears to be an attempt to protect its DSLr sales of by creating a new market segment. I am reminded of BMW’s doomed efforts to achieve something similar by positioning cars made by its Rover subsidiary above the top end models from marques such as Ford, but below its own cars. There simply was not enough demand to make such a strategy viable and BMW eventually disposed of Rover for a nominal price of one UK pound.

Don't forget that CV has also made at least one lens, and now also Rokinon (and a few toys, like Holga and Rokkor)

Great Read!

I wonder if Olympus used an EP3 to shoot the product shot of the EP3?

Canon ... a little like a guy who has been following another guy across a minefield—right after the first guy got blown up. Hmm, what's the next step now?

That's an easy one. You step down into the crater where your unfortunate colleague met his end. No more mines there!

To put it another way: you don't need to be able to run faster than the bear. You just need to run a little faster, than the other guy who's with you, can run away from the bear.

The mirrorless system that wins, will IMHO probably do so for entirely commercial reasons - and may well not be the most sophisticated, desirable, flexible or well designed one... in anyone's opinion. It just needs to look like the smartest buy, to enough people.

I cannot speak for the pink-camera-weilding Asian female "what does 'megapixel' mean anyway?" crowd.

Oh, Mike. You "cannot speak for" them but you will anyway. And manage to squeeze in a couple stereotypes. Surely you must be aware how paternalistic and patronizing you sound?

"Canon, for its part, must be a little like a guy who has been following another guy across a minefield—right after the first guy got blown up."

Only if their main concern is online "photo dawgs". I suspect that they stand to make a lot more money from people who realize how much they like doing photography with their phone and how cool it would be to change lenses without carting around one of those huge black cameras.

Either way, Canon is probably well committed already to whatever mirrorless path they have decided to take. I doubt they will sweep in and rule, because they are behind in this race, have reasons to stay committed to DSLRs, and probably lack the expertise of Panasonic and Sony when it comes to certain technologies like EVFs.

As much as I hate to say it, I think Olympus should perhaps take a lesson here. Canon and Nikon can't go all in because they are tied to their very successful DSLRs. Olympus isn't quite going all in because they are partially tied to regular (non-Micro) 4/3. Doesn't really make sense. Is it time for them to take their lumps and just kill off regular 4/3? At worst, it's diverting valuable resources. At best, it's confusing potential buyers who are considering Micro 4/3 and keep stumbling across that other system.

Despite being a NEX owner, I think Samsun NX has shown that small, APS-C lens designs are possible.

Sony's lens sizes aren't so much a product of the format as they are a product of the lens specs that they've chosen. Since Sony's chip is both larger and has better noise handling than m4/3, Sony could be making nice, small f2.8 primes and still have similar noise handling and equivalent dof as m4/3 primes on their equivalent system.

Do you know this feeling when your team is leading 4-1 against the world champions and it's ten minutes to full time? (I'm sorry for the British-football terms). You still can't believe your team is going to win. Well, this is exactly what it feels like being a m4/3 user right now.
No doubt m4/3 will lose in the long run, but it's such a sweet victory for the club record.

I love my GH2, but where oh where is a fast 100ish mm prime? I used to love Canon's 200/2.8 and sorely miss something similar for micro 4/3rds. There are some zooms which cover this range, but they're slow...

I looked at the Panasonic G3 before a trip to the US in August as an alternative to lugging my big Canon kit and a point and shoot. But decided against it as it was the same price as a smaller SLR (a G3 and two decent lenses was well over 1000 GBP), and whilst small it wasn't that small - so I bought an LX5 which I am v happy with. It'll be interesting to see how small the Nikon system is and how good its image quality is - it might be a smart commercial move if most micro 4/3 users are buying them as alternatives to SLRs.

The Edsel was actually a pretty great car that suffered from the perfect storm of bad timing, stupid marketing, and Robert McNamara. Trying to sell the most powerful car in the US explicitly marketed to people who can't afford a Lincoln (works in the UK to sell Bentleys , but the UK is different)

IBM realized that they had made a terrible near company killing mistake with the PC and tried to fix it, first with the Peanut (PC jr) and then the PS2 and PS1

If IBM had named the Jr anything else , even peanut it might have done better. Instead the name reminded everyone that it was just like a generic PC only crippled.

"Notice who brought the previous major innovation (autofocus) to the consumer market (Minolta), and who is no longer in business; they got stomped by Canon and Nikon."

I'd argue they got stomped by the Honeywell lawsuit. But whatever.

Mike

It's too bad that yet another camera company released a proprietary mount.

Micro 4/3 is arguably not really an open standard (an NDA is required to use it).

If it weren't for that, who knows, there might be a DIY Arduino-based camera for it by now, and homemade lenses made by 3D printers. And pretty soon, a right-sized photographer's tool with no extraneous functionality might just evolve.

I'm going to go ahead and say that I haven't been excited about any camera announcements since the new batch of Olympus and Panaleica lenses were announced. My EP1 is the only digital camera I own now, and it's just about perfect; the size-to-performance ratio is very high, AND it looks the part. Even more now, since all these fast primes are out - it's going to be an expensive holiday season.

Having Nikon and Canon join the Micro 4/3 standard would have been huge, but alas they don't want to share. You'd think that with their apparent business acumen they'd realize that joining a 'cluster' like the M4/3 standard would only help them grab a lot of that market, and of that potential market. It certianly would of helped a lowly M4/3 user like me. Maybe I'm just being selfish.

I'm confused. If Micro 4/3 is the "Big Kahuna", why are you getting an A900?

Couldn't agree more that from a "serious" photographers perspective, Nikon (and Canon) don't seem to be taking mirrorless serious ... yet. Then again, Nikon don't just take DSLRs seriously, they're also serious about compacts(*). I think there are pretty good chances that someone looking for a high-end CoolPix might choose a Nikon 1. After all, it is a step up.

I recall reading somewhere that a huge proportion of DSLR-purchasers never purchase a lens, keeping the kit lens on the camera until they replace both. Most DSLRs sold are entry-level, so I would say this is at least plausible, if not probable. For these people, the available lens line-up is irrelevant, they are simply looking for a superzoom kit lens.

So while I am 100% with you that the appeal of m4/3 to "serious" shooters is the availability of lenses (and bodies) from many manufacturers, the number of different lenses may not be the most important factor in the game of selling lots of cameras into the mass market.

A lot of the angry reaction to the Nikon 1 seems to be because Nikon chose not to cater to the "serious" photographer crowd, but rather to "regular" consumers. Whether or not snubbing that particular crowd was smart is another matter entirely ...

(*) Note that I said "serious about", not "successful with". :)

A lot of choice is good, but if Sony has the lens(es) I need (the SEL24F18Z is looking good) and I like how the camera/lens combo feels in my hand, the NEX-7 seems to be superior to all the others.

I honestly think those who have micro four thirds looking down on the Nikon new system are making arguments of mental convenience to think "we have the right system."

The whole lens system for example- how was it when micro four thirds launched? It wasn't that full. I don't see why the Nikon system can't grow that way. Most importantly: for the intended market I don't see what exactly is very deficient in the lens-jump start Nikon did.

As for sensor sizes, the image quality of the Nikon system wouldn't surprise me if it matched the current entire Olympus Pen line up with a sensor that performs a bit like 3 years ago. So not sure the whole image quality difference is that big of a differentiator.

Truth is, Nikon is aiming for the average consumer. This is one of the markets of micro four thirds too, though not all of it. And I think Nikon with its simplified system is hitting it right. They also (it seems) got the AF problem solved. And for everyone crying about the camera size they should realize that the Nikon V1 has a built in view finder and it's still a notch smaller than a Panasonic GF1.

The real problem I see is price. Once Nikon solves that, I think they are off to a great success while many wonder and scratch their head how come their "not so right sensor sized" system of Nikon is selling very well, even outselling micro four thirds in one of the intended markets.

Fantastic piece, Mike. One point I'd like to make though...

"...many have pointed out that the over-large sensor is distorting the size of the lenses, preventing them from being miniaturized in proportion to the cameras."

But Pentax has shown that the small lenses *can* be made for an APS sized sensor. Sony merely seems to lack the will. But those DA-Limiteds cover the same sensor size, and with a longer flange depth. Given the shorter flange depth, it seems to me the lenses could be made smaller or, better and in lieu of that, perhaps faster.

I know they're having troubles changing owners and whatnot, but I think Pentax is the one really dropping the ball in their mirrorless efforts. Even without purpose-made lenses, an NEX-sized body for those DA-Limiteds would be a real winner for plenty of photographers, and mirror less-specific DA-Limiteds would be even better.

In the meantime, I concur: Micro 4/3 is the Kahuna.

David Zivic,
Sorry!

Mike

"I'm confused. If Micro 4/3 is the "Big Kahuna", why are you getting an A900?"

Mirrorless, we're talking about the mirrorless segment here. I'm not remotely suggesting that mirrorless is taking over the whole digital market and obsoleting DSLRs.

Mike

Once they make a rangefinder-shaped micro 4/3 body with a built-in viewfinder as good as the Fuji X100 (or even the Canonet), I'm there. I'm so, so there.

I'm not remotely suggesting that mirrorless is taking over the whole digital market and obsoleting DSLRs.

Sony is.

I think you're overestimating micro 4/3. Part of their lead is from having chosen a workable standard, but most of it is just from having more time to iterate. The original E-P1 had a lot of drawbacks too, if you recall.

In terms of market success, it will boil down to price, cache, and looks. Sony seems to be doing nicely there, but Olympus is doing okay so far too.

In terms of producing a good system, it would boil down to who overcomes their faults first. Will NEX get good small lenses? Will Samsung or micro 4/3 get a good sensor? Nikon is probably out of the running, but even they, with a few really fast lenses, could come up with something interesting.

Ironically, after making a lot of disparaging comments about the new Nikons yesterday, I recommended them a coworker today.

She is an attorney who simply wants to take "better" photos of her two-year old son than she can with her present P&S camera. She doesn't want to be a "photographer" and in this range, at least, the price is a non-issue for her.

Upon reflection, I realized she is exactly the target demographic that Nikon had in mind when it designed these cameras, so perhaps there is a method to their madness after all?

In spite of all the negativity....this camera is going to be a winner!

Mike,

Perhaps I am navel-gazing but that is one of the finest pieces of prose I have read about photographic (and other) hardware in many a long day's march. Isn't it always best when there is a modicum of heart-felt passion.

W.

Since I work with large screen and print sizes the APS-c is a compromise already..and yes..it is a compromise..there is inevitable interpolation issues that are in fact visible if one works 24 by 36 or so as a sort of standard print size. For most of the world this is really huge but I find myself considered to be working now at a modest size at that dimension. Many printmakers work double triple or ten times my choice standard. I use primarily a full frame Canon and look forward not to a little toy camera like a 4/3 or APS-c but another full frame higher pixel count and quieter sensor camera. The big deal with mirrorless cameras is just size and for my hands those little cameras are shakey and awful ergonomically but to each his own...The more kinds and types of image making kit, the better. It has nothing to do with bigness of the corporation for me. The author talks about the companies that make the 4/3 stuff as if they are little brave people against the giants. Panasonic and Sony are giant high tech companies and only Olympus is a small one. Samsung is another giant and I suggest that in fact,Nikon is a small company in comparison and Canon surely is not the size of Sony. Their camera divisions might be small but the money behind these 4/3 systems is no doubt huge and bottomless. Does Canon have to compete on all types and formats? I myself cannot say..and do not care. The Dslr in one form or another has a future with or without a mirror.. A single lens reflex need not after all have a mirrorbox and I suggest the very real possibility that Canon could arrive with a fully electronic full frame or APS-c camera any time now..or not. I myself could care less if there is a mirrorbox or not. I have used this venerable system for 50 years and it works with its clatter and size..not a big deal to me. For those that have been holding up a camera in that stupid way to see a dim LCD on the back...no doubt the EVF is an improvement. Not so much for those wtih a sharp and bright optical mirror box focussing screen. I would find an EVF interesting however and would consider it but not a small format camera toher than for just carrying around for minor usage. It is simply a matter of physics and small does not have the S/N of a larger format sensor for my needs anyway.

I am not too bothered by the snsor size, as pocketable cameras have a place of their own. But the lenses on Nikon1 seem just too big anyway. What if Nikon just made a line of lenses withfolded optic? That could keep the size down considerably and then Nikon 1 would be a great pockatable Point & Shoot.

While I agree that Nikon's choices leave many scratching their heads, and I wonder if its go-it-alone attitude will survive against the 4/3's consortium, it was not too long ago that many voices claimed similar things against the 4/3 concept. Thom's most recent comments consider post hype/angst shifts in interests once a real product hits the streets. Personally, I would prefer a something like the Fuji X100 with better performance, but we shall see how the J1 pans out.

Oh, one other thing. The "Asian women who like pink cameras" has a derogatory ring, but from the stand point of camera companies trying to make a profit now and in the future, young women with disposable income in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and India constitute a huge potential market. The middle-age male (the "photo-dawg" if you will) from North America, Europe and elsewhere is still an important demographic for certain kinds of cameras, but many of that group live in countries with tanking economies and aging populations. Globalization has created other markets and other regions, and any company that ignores that fact does so at its own peril. ( Japan does suffer from many of the problems that afflict European/North American economies, but everyday living in Japan I see the economic clout of younger Asian women.)

This is a great post: insightful and articulate.

As both a Nikon and Pana m4/3 user, I'm intrigued as to how this will play out. Certainly the Nikon brand is not enough to get me to switch over to their new system. I need add nothing to your resounding approval of the m4/3 system, which indeed has such a wide range of bodies and lenses it's a truly impressive, versatile beast.

What worries me is the cost of Nikon's development of this system: Yen and time that could have been spent on where they are strongest: fantastic traditional DSLRs and lenses. I can't help but wonder what improvement or new release has been delayed or abandoned as engineers were moved to the new mirrorless project. Perhaps explains the lack of D700 replacement? (Not that it's at all obsolete yet.)

For me, the successful outcome of the Nikon 1 is for them to break even, and drag some customers away from m4/3. The risk is they will have poor sales and throw more and more R&D and marketing cash at it, whilst neglecting their core business and giving Canon a competitive advantage. If they can steal some m4/3 customers, who would be more likely to upgrade to Nikon DSLRs later on, that's something of a win for them. It all looks very risky to me. Why they didn't go APS-C and F-mount I've no idea. Developing parallel lens lines is a big headache. Not to mention the price - m4/3 has always been cheap - GF2/14mm for under £300 is a bargain, and is tempting plenty of non-photographers that I know who would otherwise be buying premium P&Ss to unconsciously buy into a very advanced interchangeable lens system, and thusly creating more and more photography enthusiasts. Which can only be healthy for the industry and hobby alike.

So for me it's still D700 for "work", G1/GF1/20mm for high days and holidays. We really are spoiled these days.

"Surely you must be aware how paternalistic and patronizing you sound?"

Good thing you were here to protect them from me.

Mike

"APS-c is a compromise already..and yes..it is a compromise..there is inevitable interpolation issues that are in fact visible if one works 24 by 36 or so as a sort of standard print size. For most of the world this is really huge but I find myself considered to be working now at a modest size at that dimension. Many printmakers work double triple or ten times my choice standard. I use primarily a full frame Canon and look forward not to a little toy camera like a 4/3 or APS-c but another full frame higher pixel count and quieter sensor camera."

Neil,
Then you're a customer for a different kind of camera, no? Surely you recall that just a couple of weeks ago I did a brief profile of Jack McDonough, who sells large prints to the corporate decor market and recently moved from a (barely adequate, for him) full-frame Canon to a Leica S2. He needed it.

Approving of Micro 4/3 in its own segment is not the same thing as saying it's the best for every possible usage. Horses for courses, horses for courses.

Mike

So many interesting things happening, and great cameras coming out of late. I can see some big changes coming further upstream, following on from those new Nikons. We really are spoilt for choice.

Despite being a Nikon shooter, I've succumbed to temptation and just ordered a mint secondhand Ricoh GXR, with 28mm module. Think this will mean I'll finally have to part with the humble Nikon D40, sigh... (not parting with the others!)

Kahuna often mistaken for cojones over here. You will frequently hear people say, "He doesn't have the Kahunas..."

Very informative. Mirror less digital camera market became hot. It is interesting that Nikon stepped in.

I ordered a Panasonic G3 in micro four thirds, because I absolutely wanted an eyelevel finder. Also ordered three lenses.

Was disappointed when I received them all- mainly because I didn't think the camera was THAT much smaller and lighter than the Sony A55 I've been using, nor did I think the lenses were THAT much smaller. And the package was certainly much larger than the Nikon 7000 or Panasonic LX-3 I carry around.


That's when I tumbled on the value of the mike43. It's that this is a great compromise if you want neither a larger camera system nor a smaller walkaround compact camera. If you have neither, this is your sweet spot.

The problem is, I have and use both a larger SLR and a smaller compact. The mike43, right in the middle, was neither here nor there for me- either too big or too little. More importantly, it wasn't exactly cheap.

Sadly, I sent it all back.

Would strongly recommend it for those who don't have or want the larger + smaller alternatives.

I use m4/3 in some situations and it is something of a Goldilocks. A G2 with 90-400mm-e is 800g (1.75lb) and nice to hold. However, the sensor is noisy and, while the G3 is far better in that regard, Panasonic butchered the ergonomics. Does anyone want to swap a GH2 for a G2?

One problem with m4/3 is that the primes are awfully expensive so I'm stuck with a pair of zooms.

If you want a set of three or four primes the Samsung system has a lot going for it, but the IQ still lags behind. However, APS-C gives no advantage in lens size, while m4/3 gives a major advantage.

The internet crowd - including myself - have largely treated the new Nikons as if they were a pair of pigs who walked into a synagogue. However, the people who make noise on the 'net are the ones who actually care about camera design and they're not the target market, so perhaps the V1 won't be like its namesake and bomb.

Note to Canon: there is room for an EVF on the G13. Look at the V1 and NEX-7.

Alex Vesey,
I tried to acknowledge all that, while also acknowledging that I can only speak from the perspective of the photo enthusiast. I can't specify every point with infinite fineness in every short article....

Mike

When you look closely you will see that the lenses for aps-c ILC's aren't that much bigger than micro 4/3. I.e. the sony 16/2.8 or the 30/3.5. The 24/1.8 is not too bad either, a bit bigger, but the 1.8 is nice to have.

I have tried micro 4/3 and while it's not too bad, the difference with my 5D2 is too big. In image quality I mean. An ap-s c sensor would be acceptable, it's still somewhere near full frame when you look at the image quality.

Right now viable options for me would be the Sony Nex 7 with 24/1.8, but it's too expensive, and the Fuji X100, but that's not a good enough camera yet, I would have to wait for the X200.

So really, there's no small camera with good sensor out there that rings my bells.

I also have an S95 as my 'to go' camera, and it's not too bad, as long as you shoot in low contrast and enough light. The lens is surprisingly good, but the dynamic range just isn't there, just like high iso's. I guess I'm getting pretty critical, because my old S30 used to be fine back in the days.

Maybe I'll just get a 35/f2 when I don't want to carry all that crap. The 5D2 + 35 isn't lightweight perse, but compared to the 24-70/2.8 it is.

I enjoyed using a GF1 w. 20mm and optical VF on top for about a year and a half but I've been waiting for a digital camera which came close to my old Hexar AF. Finally I have the Fuji X100. Yes the camera is quirky in some ways but I easily work around that. The hybrid EVF/OVF is great. I use the OVF as much as possible. And the outstanding high ISO performance is what I have always wanted. With my Leica M film cameras probably 90% of my images were with a 35 Summicron so having a fixed prime lens is fine. The X100 also has a 3:2 ratio which I am so used to using. I almost always set the GF1 to that ratio. The X100 also has a depth of field scales so I can preset the DOF. Perfect for street photography. which is great for

I would like to have IS but I can live without it. You should seriously consider the X100.

Richard: Nice illustrative pictures. I find it interesting that T.O.P. (the premier photo blog) does not really make it very easy for commenters to post, you know, pictures.

I like the micro four thirds cameras pretty well. Not for everything. Just for most things...

"Horace, wake up Horace..."

"What was that loud noise next door in the Best Buy?"

Horace replied, "I don't care and I am going back to sleep. Probably was the boxes of old Nikon mirrorless cameras implodng.
After all they've been in there for what, three or four years and nobody has yet bought 1"

I found Nikon's announcement very disappointing. Mainly because the system introduction is typical of what we see these days. A handful of slow, boring lenses, with the promise of more slow and boring lenses to follow.

When Canon introduced the EF mount, it launched with 14 lenses (including the 50/1.8, 50/2.5 Macro, 85/1.2, 300/2.8, and 70-210/4.0) and they introduced 13 more lenses in the next two years (including the 200/1.8, 600/4.0, 50/1.0, and 100/2.8 Macro). I had been hoping that Nikon would do something like that...but they haven't. And somehow I doubt Canon will.

So that page shows a seemingly impressive lens lineup ... but:
14-42
14-42
14-42
14-42
14-42
14-45 ...

When you lump the "I'd buy this or that" together, there aren't that many types of lenses. Still, it's the only mirrorless system many people (who want AF lenses) would consider in lieu of their DSLR kit. And probably will be for a while. (Though it took 3 years to get there; until the 45/1.8 came along, there was a dearth of fast primes, and there's still little in the way of fast lenses of any type).

So I think m43 wins the "I want to replace my DSLR kit with something small & light" race. Nikon "1" plays in the "I want to upgrade to a serious point & shoot" race. Sony unfortunately doesn't have a clear vision of what they want to be. I think they started out wanting to be what Nikon 1 is trying to be, but the lenses are a bit big. They were surprised (and it's kind of sad commentary that they were surprised) by the appeal of NEX to enthusiasts and pros and especially owners of legacy lenses. So they'll sell a smattering of cameras all across the board. Some "only" systems; some 2-lens kits, quite a few second systems, a number to manual focus fans, many to videographers.

On the one hand, I ignore the reaction of the "I hate the '1' because it isn't what I wanted it to be" crowd and try to imagine how this product will appeal to the target market. But your observations on the failures of other big guns illustrates that this could be a giant flop. People look at a $699 DSLR kit and sure, it's expensive, but it's a DSLR like the pros use. How will they react to a $650 point & shoot (LCD only) or a $900 version with a viewfinder ?

I can say that I was looking toward the announcement wondering if I was going to regret buying a NEX ... and now that its here, I've breathed a sigh of relief ... there's no temptation whatsoever. Well, except for the temptation to upgrade from my NEX-5 to the 5n or 7. Sigh.

Fuji used to work with Nikon? why don't they get the focus system thats in the Nikon 1 in their X100.....I'am waiting

"...so perhaps the V1 won't be like its namesake and bomb."

Good one!

Give me an Olympus body with a next-gen built-in EVF and it's game on, especially as sensor technology improves. Maybe improve the autofocus (the AF spot on my X100 is mighty large).

Mike, few points mostly in random order though Freud adepts may find it wasn't so random after all.

1. You appear to have not mentioned Samsung NX and most recent Ricoh GXR A12 M-mount module. Both are compact cameras (in case of Ricoh - module, of course) with APS-C (read - bigger than m43) sensor and interchangeable lenses. Though may be not as big as Sony, Samsung is still pretty darn huge. And it seems their partnership with Pentax seeded them with some serious quality... As for Ricoh module - LeicaSonic is fine, but "native" Leica may be finer :-).

2. As for m43 being the system. It certainly is a very well developed and rounded system. But the page you provide shows gazillion basic kit lenses and another gazillion of tele kit lenses... Once you collapse those, it suddenly looks a bit smaller.

3. I am still waiting for Adobe to come out with LR that will natively support Pana G3 RAW files. I have shot a few courtesy of my co-worker who bought this camera.

4. Finally, I went to DPReview and pixel peeped some. It seems Ricoh A12 (50 mm macro) module still beats even most resent offerings from Olympus and Sony with respect to high ISO (as in 3200) noise.

I certainly would like to see a Ricoh GXR module for K-mount. Then I'd certainly buy one as it will nicely complement my Pentax kit.

I certainly would like to see Canon produce a camera with bigger sensor than Nikon 1 and they could - after all, they have their own sensor R&D and manufacture, don't they?

Wouldn't it be interesting if Canon introduced a m4:3 range? They would immediately benefit from a full system, and could focus their marketing on winning a majority share of the m4:3 market due to their brand and, as you say, "bigness". NEX would survive but the Nikon 1 might look the kid who wasn;t invited to the party.

I don't agree Mike. I think Nikon's marketing is correct- Joe Public will only care that it is a Nikon (okay CanNik) - that can change lenses and is much smaller than a DSLR. No one will care if my sensor is bigger than yours, or that there are third party system components for 4/3 cameras. They won't even know what a sensor is beyond marketing hype. Nor will they care about the evf - everyone is used to holding up their phone. But they will care that it is a Nikon. And they will care that when they point and shoot a lovely bright image is recorded. Just like a box brownie really.


Edsel's were made in South Bend Indiana (near Gary), and they were American cars with a twist....sort of the Citroen of the American car industry. I like the Edsel a lot and have even had the honner of driving one, a breathtaking experience. By the way I like micro 4/3 too, is that a coincidence?

Greetings, Ed

BTW Mike have you notices a new compact 14-42 and the neat 45-175 that are on Pana's website?

http://www.panasonic.nl/html/nl_NL/Panasonic+producten/H-PS14042/overview/237913/index.html

and

http://www.panasonic.nl/html/nl_NL/Panasonic+producten/H-PS45175/overview/237777/index.html

So much unhapiness.

What if Nikon's D3100 replacement is mirrorless DX. With faster autofocus than the D3S. You'll all be wanting that won't you?

A compact that takes legacy Nikon glass and maintains the autofocus etc. All it needs is a fast wide, and fast pancake normal for those times you need the compactness, then put your mid range DX lenses on the front for when you need a bit of reach (that cheap 35 1.8 that you already have will make a decent portrait lens I'd have thought)

Doesn't sound like a bad proposition to me.

That autofocus is a game changer in the compact market if they've got it right!

I was in the market for a top of the line point`n`shoot camera last year (I lokked at the Canon S95 for a long time) since my Ixus was stolen on a trip in Ecuador...
I stumbled across a Samsung point˙`n`shoot - the WD200 ( http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/camera-camcorder/compact-cameras/performance/EC-WB2000BPBGB-features ) which had the same "new" Nikon 1 feature. Basically when one half presses the shutter button the camera goes in "precapture mode" and takes picteres at high speed untill one depresses the shutter. Then You can choose the right moment from the bunch of pictures.
This feature alone seemed revolutionary for me at the time but no one was paying attention then (it seemed). Samsung is one good company, I think they can and do think out of the box regarding cameras.
Oh BTW I then bought a Pentax i10 camera that was on special at a supermarket in my town, but pssst don`t tell anybody :)

I have no idea whether it will sell, but I can't help wondering a bit what they were thinking. They've got a sensor that can do some neat tricks, like phase-detect AF. Sony and Samsung have shown that a mirrorless APS-C body can still be made very small, and Sony's 16mm and much of Samsung's lineup have shown that the lenses can be pretty small too.

If Nikon had done the same thing as they did except based around an APS-C sensor, I think the reaction would have been 100% the other way. Every enthusiast Nikon DX owner would have been falling all over themselves to pre-order one. You'd have the new smaller lenses, plus you could use all your existing glass (with the adapter) just like on your current DSLR. And with that sensor, those lenses would even gain new tricks, like phase-detect AF in video. People wouldn't worry about holes in the lens lineup, because there'd already be options for things like ultrawides. The Nikon name would of course carry huge marketing weight. And they could still look down on the "puny" micro-4/3 sensor and it's "lack of depth-of-field control".

I think Nikon (and Olympus and Panasonic and Samsung, and maybe even Sony) better hope that Canon doesn't quickly follow Nikon but with an APS-C sensor. Right now it seems to me that there are multiple potential winners:

Sony makes more small lenses: they win
Panasonic/Olympus/Samsung get an excellent sensor: they win
Canon does an APS-C version of the Nikon 1 system: they win
Nikon does ???? ...

I keep hearing about people who want to upgrade from compacts to interchangeable lens cameras without DSLR bulk but I have never actually met one. They must exist, in focus groups at least, though whether their stated desires translate to real world purchases I do wonder.

I know several people with m4/3 cameras and a couple of people with Sony NEX cameras but all of them have DSLRs (except one who sold his DSLR to get a NEX). All of them are photography enthusiasts who wanted something smaller for when they didn't feel like carrying a DSLR with them.

I also know a few people with DSLRs who are not photography enthusiasts at all. They bought DSLRs as they associated them with professional photography and therefore expected to get better photographs than they did with their compacts or phones. I've asked them if they looked at mirrorless cameras but they didn't even think about it, they wanted something professional. They don't know about sensor sizes but they do think that when it comes to cameras a professional camera must get better pics than a consumer one. Until pros start shooting with mirrorless cameras at football games and catwalks this market will still buy DSLRs as an upgrade from their Coolpix.

Now, I accept the fact that my personal experience is limited and doesn't represent the entire market but I do wonder if the target market for the new Nikon cameras exists outside of the world of questionnaires and research. As I say, I think that there will always be family snappers buying DSLRs rather than Nikon 1s because that's what the pros use.

All that said, there maybe a market of fashion conscious wealthy snappers who would buy the Nikon because it's a Nikon and ...well that's enough of a reason. Maybe this time next year I'll be scratching my head wondering how these cameras became so successful but I kind of doubt it.

It was really misstep from Nikon. Who need expensive interchangeable system without any DOF ?

If camera and senor technology rocks your boat, this interview with Nikon R&D Big Kahuna at Imaging Resource is not to be missed:
http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1316730752.html

Highlights:
- Nikon 1 development started before micro 4/3 was announced.
- The new sensor is much faster than the D3 sensor.
- The new sensor has embedded DACs, while data coming off the D3 sensor is analog.
- The sensor was designed in-house and manufacturing is sub-contracted.

Seems to me Nikon has found technology based competitive advantage, at the sensor level no less. Some how I don't think Panasonic, Samsung and Canon are feeling so comfortable about the Nikon 1. If anything, the speed (frames per second) that Nikon is extracting from it should be making the competition a little scared.

It would be surprising, but not totally crazy, if the Nikon D4 was a mirrorless FX format camera. Of course I'm assuming this new embedded phase detect auto focus system is really very fast.

The Nikon D5 will certainly come without a reflex mirror, if they decide to call it that.

@Mike P: Have you seen this post: http://diglloyd.com/blog/2011/20110917_2-FujiX100-focusing.html digilloyd
about adjusting the focus area size on the x100? Perhaps that may be of help.

Note to Joseph:

No, that doesn't make up for the Pinto. :)

All of these small body cameras have the same problems for me. Either

1. The camera isn't small enough.

2. Or, if the camera is small enough, the lens makes it too big again.

If a camera is going to make me put it in a bag (like all the m4/3) then that bag might as well be my Domke 803. But if I have that bag I might as well cart along my D700+35/2 since that's what I wanted anyway. And really the whole thing is not *that* much bigger than the m4/3rds camera which does not quite have the right lens, so I'll end up taking two.

The Nikon 1 again tries and fails to make the lenses smaller... what I find myself wondering is: if their target market really is consumers, why do they think consumers want a lens system? Clearly consumers do not. Consumers want a camera with funky post-processing, or automatic panoramas, or that can upload to Facebook without needing to run any desktop software. But I really doubt any of them want a lens system.

It makes me wonder why the whole small camera market segment cares about interchangeable lenses at all. Why not make one body with a normal/wide pancake for "serious" guys and another with a fast standard zoom ala the LX-5 but with a bigger sensor for more consumery type guys and be done.

Or, maybe the chip size is really evolving into something that is mostly irrelevant. After all, no one talks about what size the chip is in the iPhone. They just take pictures with it.

Nice ironic use of 117% Mike, I guess the salary men at Nikon are probably "a hundred and ten percent" behind this product launch.
Thank you for your optimism, Robin

Mike,
You (intentionally?) ignored the same crappy league as Nikon 1, Pentax Q camera. Pentax is neither taking seriously this area of cameras. They are just making some cute products for asian girls who wants some wear accesories.

Now that I have had a couple of days to think about it, the question in my mind is: What swayed Nikon to reject the m43 platform? How many times do you hear "I stick with Nikon for the glass"? It would be interesting to know Nikon's rationale for a decision not to wade into a market where a proven strenth,i.e the capacity to generate high quality lenses at reasonable prices, could bring significant profit even if their cameras did not dominate the market.

To Mike's overall point about corporate self destruction: It seems that all great corporations become great through a superior capacity to recognize and respond to opportunity. The decay seems to start when upper management, usually many years after the founders are gone, begins to believe they can create opportunity/markets.

In today's world of "Corporate Risk Managment" MBAs are striving toward an ideal where folks can be accurately reduced to predictable "measurables" plotted on a spreadsheet. I'm guessing the Nikon 1 customer exists on such a spreadsheet at Nikon.........whether they are walking among us in great numbers remains to be seen.

About half a year ago I bought a 50 year old M3. I love it........probably about as much as the original purchaser loved it. I notice the x100 is out of stock everywhere. I would bet the genesis of the M3 and the x100 bear little resemblance to that of the Nikon 1.


Lenses, lenses and lenses...

That is what seems to be making the difference... We all want fantastic lens choice. We want primes, we want fast lenses, we want specialist lenses, we want fast zooms...

And slowly the bodies catch up... Look at the huge differences between the ep-1 & ep-3 in focusing speed... Dynamic range and high iso performance will come with time. As will the professional bodies (which is the one thing that I hanker for the most - weather sealing and lots of controls).

Mike, your article made my day, a small smile, that justified my digital choice of m4/3 as being a good decision. I hang my second exhibition on Monday taken with an EPL-1 and the Voitlander f0.95 25mm lens. I have been using that camera and lens exclusively for nearly a year now, and my work has grown, developed and improved beyond my own wildest expectations. I think it is time to expand the lens collection. I am even tempted to sell my Ebony 45SU and suite of lenses. This small kit changed my photography, it freed me up, and gave me the freedom to experiment and take risks.

Your attitude is still showing, Michael. I just did a snap poll last night (3000 responses in a couple of hours) to see what the real reaction has been to some of the recent mirrorless intros, including whether people will buy the Nikon 1. Simply put, there are surprises in those numbers. But it'll take me a bit to put that into something I can present.

But amongst the so called enthusiasts, m4/3 is not the big Kahuna, the NEX-7 is (or more correctly: will be).

One of the cameras will sell the other won't. The small one looks nice in it's coloured variants, the big one doesn't which is probably more important than the spec.

Evidence? Just look at the sensation the Fuji X100 caused; That was surely more to do with looks than spec.

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