M4/3 moves ahead so fast. For ages I wanted in body stabilization and an eye level finder in my carry-around camera and then along comes the GX7 with both. You had both 4/3 and M4/3 lenses and you wanted to get decent focus speed with both formats? Along comes the Olympus E-M1 and you can. You wanted an M4/3 camera that would genuinely fit in your pocket. Welcome the Panasonic GF1.
It all moves so fast in the M4/3 world compared to DSLRs which are still not a million miles in concept from their film counterparts. The DSLR is a mature product with certain limitations built in. That flapping mirror limits how small it can be. The larger sensor size means longer focus lenses for a given angle of view and the laws of optics dictate the lens must thus be bigger. Pentax with their range of pancake lenses like the 15mm f4 and 70mm f2.5 have gone as far as anyone can with miniaturizing DSLR lenses. I have wide experience of Pentax pancakes and I doubt that anyone could do it better. But, the lenses are relatively slow and even Pentax have found no way to similarly miniaturize a zoom.
Now look at M4/3. I have a Panasonic Vario X 14-42 zoom. It has no focusing or zoom ring, instead 2 sliders on the side. Thus, the lens can fold itself inwards when not in use bringing the size down to a pancake lens. Truly original thinking. A 28-84mm equivalent zoom with inbuilt stabilization, weighing 95g. Now we have a really, really tiny 12-32mm that weighs 70g, less than 3oz.
We now have built in wi-fi with full control of still and video functions on your phone or pad. High bit rate movies. Built in stop motion. Panorama, high dynamic range, to go. Silent electronic shutters. Focus peaking and manual focus assist. Electronic viewfinders that amplify dark scenes.
I’m currently looking for MFP format cameras with DPOF 2. It’s an extension to DPOF, the digital printing order format, called digital pizza order format -rather than prints it orders pizza.
Seriously, it is becoming harder to think of things, new tricks for MFT cameras. I have a couple of sensible ideas.
1.A curtain which encloses the sensor area when a lens is removed to prevent the deposit of dust and pollen on the imaging. Maybe the shutter curtain could be used for this?
2. An inbuilt bokeh function. An area in which the DSLR out-gun the MFT standard is in the ability to limit depth of field. It’s for technical reasons, of course and nothing can be done about it optically.
But would this fly? The camera by dint of focusing, knows the distance of the main subject from the camera. So, I set my Bokeh Blender to say, ‘Portrait 1’. It now knows that focus will be on the eye area because I have told it ‘Portrait’. It knows that a human head has a fairly standard depth from tip of nose to back of head. It assumes that anything outside of that range should be out of focus and applies lens blur to it. You could have Portrait 1, 2 and 3 for levels of blur. Or you could set a level. Say you shoot at f5.6 on a 25mm lens. Set to ‘Full Frame 105mm f2.8’ and your Bokeh Control will adjust the blur level to match the FF model set.
At a stroke you have solved one of the major criticisms levelled at M4/3 cameras. Could it be done? I don’t see why not. The objections would come from the more traditional photographers who used to consider software correction of lens distortion and chromatic aberration ‘cheating’. I can see their point but from mine, if it produces the results I want, that’ll do.
Anyway, I’ve told you my big ideas. Any clever functions you’d like to see added? Let me know.