I love new technology, but I haven’t been able to get very excited about the new Micro Four Thirds format for digital cameras.
Basically, the incredibly-catchily named Micro Four Thirds system (and that was an example of sarcasm, BTW. Is any industry worse than the digiphoto one when it comes to product names?) is a methodology for making smaller SLR-like cameras with interchangeable lenses.
However, David Pogue’s review of the first Micro Four Third (I just can’t stop using that fantastic term!) camera, the Panasonic DMC-G1 (another great moniker that really sings, don’t you think?) makes the technology sound pretty compelling.
As Pogue explains, these MFT cameras aren’t exactly SLRs, since you can’t fit a through-the-lens visioning system into such a small body. Instead, you view your image through an electronic viewfinder or on the back LCD.
All the previous electronic viewfinders I’ve tried have been so terrible that I considered them unusable, but Pogue says the DMC-G1’s has a higher resolution and better refresh rate, so here’s hoping it doesn’t suck too bad.
Pogue says the G1 has excellent image quality and takes much better pictures than a typical compact. But he advises not to buy it. He says that the assortment of compatible dedicated lenses is still too measly (there are, uh, two), and that the camera isn’t really all that small (Olympus’s 420 full DSLR is actually lighter than the G1).
Still, the idea of a lighter, smaller (although, at $800 list, not much cheaper) DSLR-like camera is appealing. But, even as I write this, I’m thinking, really? Appealing to whom? Because the enthusiasts are always going to want a full DSLR. Maybe a compact equivalent like this would make sense as a second camera, but would you really want to invest in two sets of lenses? That seems extreme, even for a neophilliac like me. I’d be happy with a Canon G10, that takes great pictures, has some DSLR-like controls, and lists for $499.
Likewise, is this overkill for the anyone who’s less than an enthusiast? Is the average person who just wants to photography family and friends really going to spend this much and learn the ins-and-outs of what lenses to use and why?
The jury’s still out as far as I’m concerned. Pogue has me a little more interested, but far from sold. What do you think?