Diving Into Micro Four Thirds

Olympus introduced their Four Thirds system not too long ago. Then they dropped it and ran with the Micro Four Thirds system and it looks like they are going to run pretty far with it. As far as I know there are only two companies currently using the M4/3 system; Olympus and Panasonic. Olympus is utilizing it in their smaller interchangeable lens cameras which are pretty cool if you ask me. I purchased a Olympus PEN as a M4/3 test mule recently and I love it. And then there is Panasonic with a similar line-up of small cameras. However, Panasonic took it one step further with their new AG AF-100.

I expect great things from this new capture device. I think it will bring a little more professionalism to the HDSLR market and provide the current crop of shooters with a tool that is just a tad more professional than their SLRs that shoot 1080p. I can see the AF-100 overtaking shoots such as music videos, documentary interviews, indie projects, etc. HDSLRs will still have their place and I don’t see them going anywhere anytime soon but this new Panasonic will fill a large void that HDSLRs failed to. The biggest concern for the new M4/3 system is lenses. What works, what looks good, and so on. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the crop factor of the M4/3 system is 2x. Which means that a 50mm will give a field of view similar to that of a 100mm. It WILL NOT change the focal length… Anyway, this will leave a lot of shooters looking to fill the now missing wide angle end of the lens spectrum. Of course, there are lenses that will work just fine for this such as the Tokina 11-16mm or even better, the Duclos 11-16mm ;). Let me take a step back and explain why there are so many good lens options. The flange depth of the M4/3 system is so short that most lenses (still and cine) will have plenty of room to add a mount adaptor in between the lens and the camera. For example, The flange depth of the M4/3 system is approximately 20mm where as PL mount flange depth is 52mm. That means that you have a HUGE space of 32mm to add a mount adaptor. This has already been done by the wonderful Hot Rod Camera’s Ilya Freedman which you can see in almost all of the Panasonic ads showcasing PL mount lenses on the camera. There are a slew of other options for using other lenses including but not limited to Eos, FD, Nikon F, Leica R, Leica M, M42, PL, PV, etc. etc… Pretty much anything with a flange depth greater than 20mm which is just about anything except for C-mount lenses. My usual rants still apply. Some lenses just aren’t suitable for motion picture. Regardless, there are tons and tons of options for lenses with this new system which makes me very happy. I’ve had the opportunity to try all sorts of lenses on my Olympus PEN. Check the photos below and let me know what you think.

Olympus PEN with Nikon mount Duclos 11-16mm. Nikon to M4/3 adaptor. Perfect wide angle lens for the 2x crop factor!

Shot with the above 11-16mm on M4/3 sensor Olympus PEN. Still wide :)

A lens I've wanted to shoot with for a long time, FINALLY usable thanks to the M4/3 system. This is an on Angenieux 90mm f/2 with an M42 screw mount. A simple M42 to Micro 4/3 adaptor made it possible to simply adapt this great piece of glass.

I think I’ll start a Flickr set of just photos I take with this awesome new camera. As I said before, I expect the Micro 4/3 system to make a lot of little waves in the industry. Now go out and play with some glass!



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2 replies

  1. I can appreciate your enthusiasm for this great new camera system. I own a Panasonic GF1 and have been experimenting with vintage glass for a few months now. It’s a pleasure to use and the ability to interchange lenses opens a world of possibilities for the photo enthusiast. I’ve mostly used Panasonic’s 20mm and 7-14mm lenses but have been going through several of the Rokkor lenses from Minolta. These are very underrated lenses in my opinion and most local pawnshops are happy to get rid of them at ridiculously low prices. Ebay is easier to find the better lenses though, I highly recommend either the 50mm or 58mm in the F1.2 flavor if you can find one. I snagged a 50mm F1.2 MD Rokkor from Ebay and it hasn’t left my camera bag. An excellent lens with great bokeh. I’ll look into the lenses you’ve mentioned here and look forward to reading your future posts on the M43 system.

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