Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cameras to ðe people

I ƿas readiȝ ðe quite intereſtiȝ hiſtories of ðe Olympus Pen and OM lines, as ƿell as ðe intereſtiȝ remarks by ðeir deſigner at a ſite dedicated to him. Ðat has ſtarted me þinkiȝ.

Ðe Pen populariſed cameras at Japan for ƿomen and for poor people at a time ƿen cameras ƿere expenſive, Japan ƿas poor, and photography ƿas ‘for men’. Olympus only decided to produce it ƿhen, due to ſuperb optics, it proved its image quality ƿas more ðan good enouȝ.

Ðe OM ƿas made for ðe US market, ƿhich due to monopoliſtic Kodak refuſal to cooperate ƿas cloſed to ðe Pen’s half‐frame 35 mm format, but it ſtill aimed for compactneß and, ƿhile not up to profeßional ſpecs, ƿas ſtill extenſively uſed by pros due to its liȝtneß, quality and praticity.

Anoðer factor in ðe OM ƿas ðat, due to Olympus haviȝ foreſtalled competition in ðe SLR half-frame 35 mm format by holdiȝ too many patents on ðe Pen F, ðat particular market never reached critical maß.

I can ſee ðe 4/3 ſyſtem as ſuceßor to boþ, even beariȝ in mind ðat ðe OM eventually killed ðe Pen F 20 years before beiȝ killed by 4/3. Liȝter ðan full-frame 35 mm or APS digicams, ðe 4/3 is a true ſuceßor to ðe OM, but ðe E‐410 is almoſt a Pen F ſuceßor; I gueß ƿe could ſtill ſee a true one in ðe form of a ſtill ſmaller E‐3000 or ſomeþiȝ ðe like. Perhaps ðe Leica Digilux 3, ðe Panaſonic Lumix DMC-L1K and ðe Olympus E‐330 are exerciſes in ðat direction, juſt ƿaitiȝ for furðer miniaturiſation — ðey inherit quite ſome Pen F legacy, like the porror mirror finder.

I doubt ðere could be a return to ðe Pen F/OM mounts dicoðomy, unleß ðe 4/3 ſtandard reaches a ſtill unforeſeen market ſuceß on ðe loƿ end. In ðe end, technological progreß aßured ðat ðe OM ƿas not ðat bigger, and barely heavier, ðan ðe Pen F; noƿadays it ƿorks quite ſimilar, ðe E‐410 is already ſo liȝt and ſmall, and miniaturiſation has became ſuch a fact of life, ðat one can ſee even ſmaller 4/3 bodies ƿhere ðe ƿhole body iſn’t much larger ðan ðe mount footprint, even if it means goiȝ for an eletronic vieƿfinder.

Ðe fact ðat ðe 4/3 ƿas kinda opened to competitors by beiȝ made a (cloſed) ſtandard makes one þink Olympus learned from ðe Pen F miſtake, and ðus tried to enſure a future for a market it is ſiȝle‐handled definiȝ, I hope ƿiþ ſuceß. But it not beiȝ a true open ſystem, and not produciȝ ſtandard, documented DNG files (even if DNG is a cloſed ſtandard, it alloƿs for a fully‐documented, ſtandard output), it kinda makes it feel like a not‐fully‐hearted effort, if you underſtand me. So, to ſum it up:

Ðe 4/3 format iſn’t ſtill nearly as open as one could hope, but it ſtill could be a neƿ, digital 35 mm, ſpecially if eventually it is coupled ƿið truly open DNG output or ſomeþiȝ ðe like; and if ſomeone elſe beſides ðe current manufacturers adopt it, ƿhich doeſn’t ſeem likely noƿadays.

Ðere iſn’t ſtill a true ſucceßor to ðe Pen F, but it is doubtful if one is needed.