The Micro Four Thirds juggernaut rolls on… some exciting cameras and lenses on the way.. will the GH3 be the best hybrid camera for video?

Written by Gary on September 4th, 2012

Micro Four Thirds is on a roll with its momentum increasing each year thanks to the demonstration that, for most people it will deliver the image quality they need, and give the most compact and extensive lens system available at a price that is reasonably affordable.

The autofocus and image stabilisation are world class beaters (except for AF on fast moving subjects – but this may be fixed in the next year or two), while low light performance is excellent with the new cameras, in particular, the brilliant Olympus OM-D E-M5.

For instance, the E-M5 autofocus is faster and more accurate for most situations and covers more of the image frame than top of the range cropped sensor dSLRs such as the Nikon D7000, not to mention the fast touch screen AF mode, the image stabilised magnified view mode for manual focus and the sheer joy of using a smaller camera system.

Their new FL-600R flash finally adds RC commander capability (previously only available from the camera’s built-in flash), video light and a flash sync of 1/250th sec when used with the E-M5.

Meanwhile they do not seem to have any significant competition from Nikon or Canon in the mirrorless market – the Nikon 1 system sensor is too small for enthusiasts wanting shallow DOF, while the Canon EOS-M camera appears to have very slow AF, and of course neither system has the range of dedicated lenses that is available to Micro Four Thirds.

New Micro Four Thirds lenses:

The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens is finally reaching the market place as I type and all reviews of this brilliant lens indicate it is one of the best short telephoto lenses ever made in that price range, and combined with the E-M5’s image stabilisation and eye-detect AF, it will make a fantastic portrait and fashion photography lens.

This will soon be followed by the weatherproof Olympus 60mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens and adapter for the Olympus macro flash system – I hope they make adapters for filter threads as well so it can be attached to the 45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8 lenses and the ring flash used as a fill-in flash for portraiture. There is also a rumour of an Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens on the drawing board.

Panasonic have not been lazing around either, their high end 12-35mm f/2.8 lens is becoming more readily available at a hefty price, and they will be releasing a 35-100mm f/2.8 high end lens – perhaps by the end of this year or early in 2013. They are rumoured to be ready to announce details of at least 2 more lenses before end of 2012, although these will not be available until 2013.

The rumour mill suggests Olympus also have a super slim 15mm f/8 almost fixed focus lens which I discussed in my last post, while Panasonic and Olympus both appear to be working on more wide aperture telephoto prime lenses – hopefully a weathersealed 150mm f/2.5 macro or similar.

The NANOHAx5(M) is a 4-5x super macro lens with 11mm working distance and macro light system for when you really want to get close up.

Zeiss will be offering very expensive cine lenses in Micro Four Thirds mount such as the Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 135mm/T2.1.

Finally, the options for very wide aperture manual focus lenses for even shallower DOF and low light performance is increasing all the time with offerings such as:

New Micro Four Thirds cameras:

Panasonic have already announced 2 new Micro Four Thirds cameras – the Panasonic G5 and the GF5, but perhaps the really exciting news for video fanatics is the rumoured Panasonic GH-3 which is said to have the following features:

  • weatherproofed pro-styled body
  • new wide dynamic range 16mp sensor – presumably as with the GH-2 it will be oversized for native uncropped 16:9 aspect ratio images
  • incredible 50Mbps 1080 30p/25p HD video quality with ALL-I 72Mbit/s video recording (most cameras have less than 30Mb/s image quality) with Timecode which is likely to make it the best video camera of the hybrid cameras – will it also have 60p as with the G5?
  • interval shooting and slow motion. Slow Movie extension (40%, 50%, 80%) Fast 160/ 200 / 300%
  • fast AF
  • electronic shutter
  • 6fps
  • 1740k OLED EVF, Touch Monitor OLED 610k screen
  • manual focus peaking
  • physical (including XLR accessory) and wireless connection for pro videographers, including WiFi control via iOS and Android
  • optional vertical grip
  • price – perhaps $1200 body only

Meanwhile Olympus are likely to upgrade its PEN system cameras with the very nice 16mp Sony sensor which is in the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

It is thought that there may not be a successor to the Pen E-3 but that only 2 PEN models will continue derived from the E-PL3 and the E-PM1.

I would imagine we will see a E-PM2 with the super slim 15mm f/8 lens for a super compact kit.

Olympus has already indicated that they are working on a pro version of the OM-D E-M5, and are also likely to update their pro Four Thirds dSLR, the E-5, with some of the capabilities of the E-M5 – perhaps this will be called the E-7.

In addition there are rumours of a new, improved external viewfinder VF-3 for the PEN and potentially OM-D cameras.

I would expect that we will see an update of the high end flash (the FL-50R) so it also supports RC commander mode, and flash sync of 1/250th sec.

I would also hope they revamp their macro flash system to better suit Micro Four Thirds, and it would be brilliant if they follow Canon’s example and add radio remote TTL flash capability to their new flashes, but I am not holding much hope for this in the next 2 years at least. However, it may be that Phottix, which has released radio TTL systems for Canon, Nikon and soon, Sony, will also do the same for Micro Four Thirds.

Further news:

Blackmagic have announced they will make a Micro Four Thirds version of their Cinema Camera but with manual focus and manual aperture only. For $2995 for body only you get 13 stops dynamic range 2.5K sensor, 12-bit RAW, ProRes and DNxHD Formats, 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30p Frame Rates, LCD Touchscreen with Metadata Entry, SDI Video Output and Thunderbolt Port, recording to removable SSD Drives, full version of DaVinci Resolve, its premier color correcting software for Mac and Windows – now that is amazing video quality and specs which will suit the pro videographers out there.

 

 

 

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