New “Four Thirds” System On the Way

Industry Perspective

New "Four Thirds" System On the Way

by Ron Leach

The 2008 Photokina World of Imaging exposition is rapidly approaching, and we can expect some interesting technological developments between now and when the event opens in Cologne, Germany on September 23. One such announcement coming out of Japan is that Olympus and Panasonic are collaborating on a new "Micro Four Thirds System" that will result in lighter and more compact interchangeable lens cameras.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies are working toward the joint development and commercial production of cameras that will extend the benefit of the existing Four Thirds System with "dramatic reductions in size and weight." Preliminary indications are that the sensor size will remain unchanged (18x13.5mm) but the reflex mirror will be eliminated; hence these cameras will not be true SLRs. The cameras will either require an EVF or will not include a viewfinder.

The lens mount will be reduced from 50mm on the existing system to 44mm on the Micro Four thirds cameras; meaning lenses of comparable focal length and maximum aperture will be significantly smaller. The good news for owners of original Four Thirds cameras is that current lenses will be compatible with the new "Micro" cameras through the use of an adapter.