In this day and age of Photography becoming every other persons “new hobby,” comes the ever so expanding technology for the next “best” DSLR, Point and shoot, and now forging its way through a device saturated market is the Micro four thirds “DSLR-style” digital compact cameras.
Yes, Micro cameras have been around for a few years now, just not talked about (as much, due to the popularity in DSLR’s) until the past several months coming into 2010 -2011. “Why?” do you ask. It’s simple; they are turning E.V.I.L. No, I do not mean the Mu hu ha ha ha ( Dr. Evil laugh). Many use the acronym D.I.L. or Digital Interchangeable Lens camera and now a newer acronym has hit the Micro four thirds industry like remoras on a fish; Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens (EVIL). Yup, you’re probably like me in rolling my eyes and shaking my head in that “now what” reaction.
But alas, this is a good thing. Picture your point and shoot camera being able to have the ability to exchange lenses.
If you keep up with the Digital camera tech industry this is nothing new to you, but too many this is new, so I will brief you in on what is out and coming. For those shopping for a mid $$$ range DSLR this could be the camera for you. For those who have a DSLR, like myself ( especially one that ways over 2lbs), and are looking for something smaller with a entry to intermediate level specs, than these could be in your market. Ugh! just more $$$ to drop
As I stated earlier, Micros have been around for sometime. Olympus PEN, Samsung NX10, the Panasonic GF1– G2, and Leica are ones that come to mind. Sony now has the Nex-3 and Nex-5 ( both alpha series) to rival those that have been around. Nikon and Canon have a few concepts in the works ( early 2011?), but that is hush hush for now.
The EVIL / DiL models are designed to occupy the market between the small, inexpensive point and shoot cameras and top-line DSLRs. These cameras are smaller than your typical DSLR, but bigger than your average point and shoot. They also weigh much less than a majority of DSLRs. I know I know, the term “Micro” would make it seem that these cameras are small in size, smaller than even a point and shoot, but Micro Four Thirds system is that the cameras can be created with less material ( trust me when I say this is my basic explanation because it has a lot to do with lack of reflex mirror and other factors that is rather boring for an average guy like me to care for). Here is a illustration from Panasonic site:
For many of us that lug around a 2lb+ Nikon or Canon during our fishing trips or outings, this could be a great backup for a long trip. Many of these EVIL micros have the specs that would make earlier ( Like last year) Dslrs look weak. Many boasting high mega pixels, high ISO levels, fast shutter speed rates, most offering high res HD movie capabilities, different shooting modes, RAW shooting, HDR options, and a sexy feature like sweep Panorama shots in 3D! ( Sony), to name a few of the features offered.
Two BIG factors ( in my observation) is that because the Micro bodies are so small ( compared to DSLR), the sensor is too close to the lens mount to allow DSLR lenses to attach directly. An adapter may allow you to use your SLR lenses, but adapters generally involve some form of compromise ( such as losing F/stop and or mm length). 2nd is that they lack view finders as DSLRs. You get constant live view. Why is this? well it’s because point and shoots and micros lack reflex mirrors for view which keeps them compact. The advantage of those “mirror less” designs is that the cameras can theoretically become smaller and almost silent in their operation (no mirror slap). The disadvantages are the loss of phase detection auto focus (mirror less cameras use the same contrast detection auto focus as point and shoot cameras) and of the optical viewfinder (replaced either by the back LCD or electronic viewfinders) see illustration above.
I have to state that I have not even had my hands on any of them, but I can tell you from my research that the Micro Four Thirds system is most likely the next big thing and has the potential to be a quality investment. For users who have invested in DLSR systems, the Micro Four Thirds system is probably less appealing — it requires purchasing new lenses and possibly changing brand systems altogether if you are loyal to Nikon or Canon, all of which will not work with the DSLR equipment you already own. This is why I am holding my breathe to see what Nikon comes up with. You Canon users may want to wait too.
In all this could be a great investment for those not needing a bulky DSLR, but looking for a smaller sized camera with all the bells and whistles. Cost is pretty much compared to your entry level DSLRs, so do your research before you commit.