Olympus Micro Four Thirds Camera

September 22, 2008 | Mark Goldstein | Digital Compact Cameras | 26 Comments | |

Olympus Micro Four Thirds SystemOlympus has announced that it has begun development of a Micro Four Thirds System camera. Olympus are giving away few details about their new camera, other than the dimensions, which at 4.7 x 2.5 x 1.2” (119 x 64 x 31mm) makes it much smaller than the Panasonic G1. It will also use the same Four Thirds sensor as their E-System models. Product name, launch date and retail price are to be confirmed.

Today at Photokina Olympus showed us a completely new type of camera built around the recently announced Micro FourThirds standard. The concept is that of a compact camera with electronic viewfinder and small interchangeable lenses (the Micro FourThirds mount is some 6mm smaller in diameter than the ‘regular’ FourThirds mount, making it possible for the lenses to be even smaller). This second ‘design model’ looks quite different to Panasonic’s recently announced G1 and Lumix HD offerings, both of which have the same Micro FourThirds mount, being considerably smaller at 119x62x31mm and more Point&Shoot-like in its design. Olympus say they are planning to release this model in the course of 2009, but declined to comment on what lenses are being developed to go with it. It also seems likely that the new camera could be outfitted with interchangeable external viewfinders, possibly both optical and electronic, although this is again something that remains to be confirmed.

We have a gallery of product shots of the new camera - hit the continue link below to see them…

Olympus Press Release

“Olympus E-System” Micro Four Thirds System-compliant New Interchangeable Lens Type Digital Camera Under Development

Olympus Imaging Corporation (President: Masaharu Okubo) today announced that it has begun development of an interchangeable lens type digital camera based on the “Micro Four Thirds System.”
Development of the camera will bring dramatic reductions in size and weight to the Olympus E-System, and will comply with the new Micro Four Thirds System standard jointly announced with Matsushita Industrial Co., Ltd.(Panasonic) on August 5. From September 23 through 28, a concept mock-up of the camera will be exhibited at “Photokina 2008”, the world’s biggest trade fair for the photographic and imaging industries held at Köln Messe, Cologne, Germany.

The global market for interchangeable lens type digital cameras is growing steadily, but still only accounts for a 7% share of the total digital camera market. Considering the much larger share held by interchangeable lens type digital cameras when film was the dominant imaging medium, it seems that there is still ample room for sales growth in this category. Market surveys, however, indicate that more than a few customers choose compact models because they find digital SLR cameras to be “big, heavy, and difficult to operate.”

The Micro Four Thirds System standard was established to meet this need by enabling the development of radically more compact and lightweight interchangeable lens type digital camera systems. The camera currently under development will be the first Olympus camera to comply with the Micro Four Thirds System standard, and interchangeable lenses that comply with the standard are also moving ahead. In addition, users will be able to mount existing Four Thirds System wide-angle, telephoto, and macro lenses on Micro Four Thirds System bodies via an adapter.

Product name, launch date and retail price of an interchangeable lens type digital camera based on the “Micro Four Thirds System” are not determined now.

Olympus Imaging is also committed to the Four Thirds System, and will continue to expand its line-up of digital SLR cameras to satisfy a broad spectrum of customer needs. This includes the professional photographer, aspiring artist, hobbyist, and everyday consumer.

Outline of the Micro Four Thirds standard
The Micro Four Thirds standard was designed and developed to maximize the performance potential of digital imaging technology, and to extend the benefits of the Four Thirds System standard for digital camera systems.

When compared to the Four Thirds System standard, the primary distinguishing features of the Micro Four Thirds standard are:

  1. Approximately 50% shorter flangeback distance (mount-to-sensor distance)
  2. Lens mount outer diameter approximately 6mm smaller
  3. Electrical contacts in mount increased from 9 to 11

* Image sensor diagonal dimensions are the same for both Four Thirds System and Micro Four Thirds System standards.

The Micro Four Thirds System enables users to enjoy the same high image quality of the Four Thirds System’s 4/3-type image sensor in a much more compact body, and also take advantage of significantly more compact lenses, particularly in the wide-angle and high-power zoom range. The Four Thirds System offers the benefits of compact, lightweight performance, and the new Micro Four Thirds System takes this still further to enable development of ultra-compact interchangeable lens type digital camera systems unlike anything seen before. The new Micro Four Thirds System also incorporates a greater number of lens-mount electrical contacts for the support of new features and expanded system functionality in the future.

Olympus Micro Four Thirds System Olympus Micro Four Thirds System
The retro-looking Olympus Micro Four Thirds in all its glory. The prototype has a very simple user interface layout, which will probably change before launch in 2009.
Olympus Micro Four Thirds System Olympus Micro Four Thirds System
The top of the camera has a flash hotshoe that could take a detachable electronic or optical viewfinder. The design is a little boxy, reminding us of the Sigma DP1.
Olympus Micro Four Thirds System Olympus Micro Four Thirds System
It’s quite a slim camera considering all the internal mechanics. The rear has a very compact-camera look and feel.
Olympus Micro Four Thirds System Olympus Micro Four Thirds System
The grand unveiling! Olympus’s Mr. Ogawa shows off the new camera.
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Your Comments

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#1 JH

The body really is small, quite close to the size of a Panasonic LX3. With a pancake lens, this camera will be quite pocketable indeed.

8:58 am - Monday, September 22, 2008

#2 Cristian

If these are the dimensions it will be very small indeed and it would make it almost smaller than the G10:

Olympus m4/3: 119 x 64 x 31mm
Panasonic G1: 124 x 84 x 45 mm
Cannon G10: 109 x 78 x 46 mm
Panasonic LX3: 109 x 60 x 27 mm
Sigma DP1: 109 x 60 x 31 mm
Ricoh GX200: 112 x 58 x 25 mm

With a small lens it would not be bigger than some of the current compact cameras with their lenses extended. These would still have the advantage to be able to fully retract the lens though.

9:27 am - Monday, September 22, 2008


This sounds good, maybe what people were expecting from Micro 4/3s rather than the more conservative Panasonic G1, although that looks good also.

Hopefully the price won't be too high to put off most consumers (I guess it is they who these are aimed at rather than amateur photo enthusiasts) and can compete with entry DSLRs otherwise the new format might struggle to make an impact, however as with most new technology that comes out there is likely to be a high price premium to start with.

11:40 am - Monday, September 22, 2008

#4 Anders_HK

What designers do they have???? How can they possibly have comprehension to come up with something that on front looks like bottom of a can from supermarket?

Shocking lack of competence and indeed lack of creativity...

Else, the concept is good... if looked more like a rangefinder would be like a camera... :)... Yea... would have been nice if looked like a camera. Shocking...

1:24 pm - Monday, September 22, 2008

#5 Antony Shepherd


Ok, so it's only a prototype, they'll probably tidy up the design a bit before it goes into production, and it definitely needs a bit of a Maitani style touch to it, but I think that's my next camera.

2:25 pm - Monday, September 22, 2008

#6 George Brich

Where is the built-in Leica type of viewfinder?
Don't give me any attached viewfinders please.
We are trying to keep it pocketable aren't we?
So far the G10 is the only serious small camera with an optical viewfinder that has a diopter adjustment.
When are these jerk camera designers going to get off these candy-ass designs?
Most serious photographers already have a DSLR, but want a high performance alternative to shouldering a lot of machinery around.

7:26 pm - Monday, September 22, 2008

#7 Cristian

Exactly! We want to keep the camera small and have a good optical or electronical viewfinder unlike the G10 (which is bigger btw.) so we want an external one. People who can frame perfectly well with a LCD screen can have the camera in the most compact form and people who can't use a LCD or are traditionalists can attach a bright OVF or a high quality EVF. Ricoh solved this prefectly with the GRD and GX cameras and this is what I want to see here.
Don't give me a tiny built in hole with glass what people call OVFs and no EVF if it means the camera is bigger, rather give me a good and big LCD.

8:02 pm - Monday, September 22, 2008

#8 Paul

All they need to do is improve the style, have some good lenses and it will be a huge hit. Like the ipod.

12:56 am - Thursday, September 25, 2008

#9 Erik

I'm really buying this if they produce a good and fast 35mm lens. And if the camera can deliver good pictures with ISO 800.

7:55 pm - Saturday, September 27, 2008

#10 Wolfie

Just to note:
Sigma DP-1/2 body is 50mm deep with lens retracted. The Olympus M4/3 is 31mm, and by the proportions of even the 4/3 25mm pancake adds 25mm, so overall could be 56mm. But a m4/3 pancake should be even smaller, so the Olympus would be thinner, safer and faster to start up without a delicate extending lens. This is as close to a digital Leica CL as the mass market is likely to see.

1:29 am - Wednesday, October 1, 2008

#11 coconut lime

ya, this is what i have been looking for, if they make it looks like a lumix LC1 or L1. Can take pictures close to what a sigma DP1. I'll buy one.

8:48 pm - Monday, October 20, 2008

#12 MrKarisma

OMG! Finally! This is the future! Look abolutely fabulous!

I want I want I want!

So cute and retro-looking, makes me think of Olympus Pen halfframe-cameras..

If it looks like this when it comes out I´m so totally buying it!

A compact with interchangeble lenses and big sensor?! Is this perfection?

8:31 am - Wednesday, December 3, 2008

#13 PeterK

Stop the MegaPixel race! So, please, not more than 10Mpixels on the MOS (or CCD?) - which is more than enough for a very decent large format print.
Pocketable? Yes, but I should be able to have a good grip on the camera. A camera mustn't be as clumsilly small as a box of matches. In other words: We need at least something like a handgrip and a thumb rest.
And a high quality (attachable) EVf is essential - so that I can compose my picture in the traditional way: not at arm's length, but 'in touch' with the instrument that I'm working with. [A OVf that only gives me 80% of the image should be called 'view guesser' instead of 'viewfinder'.
Nijmegen, the Netherlands

1:29 pm - Tuesday, December 9, 2008

#14 George Masters

I actually don't like the looks of this camera. Doesn't look comfortable to use. Looks like one of the cheesy P&S;cameras from a couple years back...with a squat lens stuck to it. Certainly not beautiful. And that lens looks like it would be difficult to clean around its edges.

And I don't care how ground-breaking, beautiful, or otherwise well-designed a camera is. If I have to go into menus to change my ISO, aperture, or drive mode, forget it. I require these things in a camera and any machine that lacks these is sub-par. And I want lugs for straps on both sides. I want a battery door that isn't prone to being popped open by accident. And I agree with PeterK...a nice viewfinder is not a luxury. A nice viewfinder is necessary. It connects me to the subject. Otherwise, I am separated from the subject and my composition. I am uncomfortable.

Give me a digital camera with controls and interface like the Contax T3. Do not tease me with cameras that ALMOST all the controls you really need. I want ALL of the controls I really need and some that I don't. And I want them at hand.

7:57 pm - Thursday, December 11, 2008

#15 George Masters

Oh, and it better be able to take filters. I won't buy it if I can't protect my lenses from the nasty city air pollution with a good UV/IR filter. The lenses on my P&S;cameras degrade steadily thanks to all the particulate matter that attacks them every day.

8:01 pm - Thursday, December 11, 2008

#16 Roy Nagel

Please, Olympus and Panasonic, give us something like my beloved Panny LC1 . . . lighter and a bit smaller, built-in EVF with diopter correction, the neat LC1 bounce flash, and those wonderful zoom, focus, aperture and shutter speed controls on a lens barrel with 28-90mm fast glass. I need silent, fast operation and no more than 10 megapixels. I can live with some electronc controls, but ISO on its own dial would be nice. . .

10:01 am - Tuesday, December 16, 2008

#17 Bernard Dube

Viewfinder please! Viewfinder please!!Viewfinder please!!! For heaven's sake deliver us from the LCD tourist type framing - holding a camera at arms length to take a picture will make this camera a real waste - an amateurs camera - a gadget, a toy.

This camera has the potemntial to be an excellent street shooters camera - but it needs a real viewfinder. At the very least an external viewfinder could have several frame lines for say 14mm,18mm, 20mm, and 90mm. Hardly impossible.

The best solution in this case is to include a EVF like the one on the Panasonic G1 with live view. There is really no need for an optical viewfinder. A good EVF is all you need to compose and these days autofocus is more than accurate enough.

3:58 am - Sunday, December 28, 2008

#18 Bernard Dube

And, by the way - image stabilization. I wrote before of using a viewfinder with framelines if neccessary. One of the things that will hurt the upcoming Sigma DP2 is lack of image stabilization.

The upcoming Sigma DP3 could take a few hints on this. Apparently it is rumopred to have a zoom range. Image stabilization and a viewfinder and framelines if neccessary. If they do so they will be a threat, though its unlikely they will.

4:04 am - Sunday, December 28, 2008

#19 Bernard Dube

By the way - as it now looks, it seems designed by the same person who designed sardine cans.

4:05 am - Sunday, December 28, 2008

#20 Bernard Dube

And a final comment, how about the ability to shoot in square format as well as the usual formats. This is a capability that will be included on the upcoming Olympus E-30. It is a brilliant idea. Anybody who has shot in square format will tellyou it is a fabulous format for portraits. It is amazing actually that this capability has been omitted form digital cameras all this time. Congratulatiosn to Olympus for thinking of it.

4:12 am - Sunday, December 28, 2008

#21 Skanker08

Any news or rumors out there on when Olympus are going to release their Micro Four Thirds System camera<

11:01 am - Wednesday, January 28, 2009

#22 anthony

How does the lens/zoom system work in this camera? Will it have any optical zoom (like a regular compact camera) or in order to zoom you will have to add an interchangeable lens?


12:49 pm - Sunday, April 5, 2009

#23 ffa

Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Olympus Micro Four Thirds

3:01 am - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

#24 PeterK

Hi (Anthony),
Rumours claim that Olympus's first 4/3-camera will be released on the 16th of June, and that it can be fitted with both primes and zoom lenses [see: http://43rumors.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/olympus-micro_four-thirds.jpg].
A 12-48mm would be very useful, methinks (35mm equivalent = 24-96mm....).

8:32 am - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

#25 Bernard

I tried the square format option on the Olympus e-30. What an incredible disappointment. There are no framelines provided in the viewfinder when shooting in square format mode. Framelines could be provided if the viewfinder was electronic. As far as I am concerned, the electronic viewfinder I have on the Panasonic G1 is as good as anybody needs. Optical viewfinders are useful only in poor light. Otherwise there is no big reason why optical viewfinders in a camera like the upcoming Olympus 4/3 is more useful than or valuable than an electronic viewfinder like the one provided on the Panasonic G1. Olympus would pull off an incredible coup if it provided framelines in the viewfinder for shooting square format. Otherwise, what the heck is the use of including it. Do it or dont do it. But dont pretend that providing square format is a real option designed with users in mind.

4:13 pm - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

#26 Anders

This photographical piece of equipment is brutally beautiful!!! If it´s provided with a smashing wideangle lens, I´ll pop by my local dealer and buy it A.S.A.P.!!!

11:51 pm - Saturday, June 13, 2009