Things m4/3 Still Needs

Date originally written: 10/10/2011 (I'm putting that here so that we can judge what happens against it)

The m4/3 mount is the oldest of the mirrorless cameras (notwithstanding the Leica M8/9, which are really rangefinder cameras). Thus, after more than a dozen cameras and two dozens lenses making it to market you'd think that we had everything we needed by now. 

Not true. The m4/3 user base is still waiting for:

  • A high-end body. Weathersealed, built-in EVF, no controls that get easily dislodged, all essential controls at button/dial level (without FN buttons), bigger buffer, faster frame rate. No m4/3 body to date quite fulfills the photo enthusiasts' "dream camera" status.
  • Faster zooms to match the above camera. Specifically, something like a 12-35mm f/2.8 and 35-100mm f/2.8 would be a good start (f/2 would be better, but size matters more than DOF equivalence and lens speed, I think). 
  • Peaking for manual focus. Accurate manual focus is still too difficult and slow to dial in, even with magnification. Sony and Ricoh did it, why can't Panasonic and Olympus? Just add it to the magnification options that are already there.
  • Better sensors. If we graph sensor performance, the m4/3 sensors to date tend to be at the bottom of the performance charts. Put another way, if Sony took it's 16mp sensor technology and put it in an m4/3 sensor, it would likely best the current m4/3 sensors, even as Sony reduced the photosite size to allow 12-16mp on the m4/3 crop size. Since all the m4/3 cameras use Panasonic sensors, this problem is squarely on the Panasonic engineering team. 
  • More active partners. Panasonic and Olympus are iterating away, but the other partners in the group are less active. Where are the Sigma lenses? 
  • Better battery life. I know it's a bit contradictory to keeping the size/weight down, but we need 2x the battery performance, especially with built-in and optional EVFs.
  • Better continuous autofocus performance. Still the Achilles heel to using the m4/3 cameras for fast moving subjects, as best case due to buffer, focus, frame rate is that we usually get one in focus picture where DSLRs will get multiples.
  • GPS support. Panasonic and Olympus don't seem to care where they are. Some m4/3 users do.  

Those that know me and my writing probably are expecting: add communicating, programmable, and modular. That's a complete rehash of camera design, though, and not something that we'd expect without a complete rethink of m4/3. That said, the PenPal accessory was a complete and utter disappointment from Olympus. Make PenPal the add-on equivalent of Eye-Fi and something magical starts to happen. But the current Bluetooth implementation is basically not worth anyone's investment (the engineers, the manufacturing resources, the marketing time, or the user's dollars).

The list is actually not particularly long. There must be some engineers with some free time somewhere in Japan, right?

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