New system to sit alongside existing Four Thirds model, and dispenses with traditional reflex mirror

Panasonic and Olympus have jointly announced a new camera format that will sit alongside the existing Four Thirds system. Neither company has announced any models within which the new format will be implemented, but its design and accompanying promise of smaller bodies and lenses has nevertheless caused much excitement within the photographic world.

Dubbed ?Micro Four Thirds?, the new system uses the same sized sensor as existing Four Thirds models, but does away with the traditional reflex mirror. This allows for the distance from the mount to the sensor (flange distance) to be approximately halved, ?enabling the development of radically more compact and lightweight interchangeable lens type digital camera systems based on the format?. With no mirror, the system promises an improved live view system that will provide support for both movie and still image shooting.

The lens mount itself has been made 6mm smaller in diameter and features 11 electrical contacts ? two more than existing Four Thirds bodies. These are said to facilitate smoother live view shooting and faster communication speeds between the lens and the camera. Furthermore, Four Thirds users will be able to mount their existing lenses on bodies adhering to the new standard, with the aid of an adaptor.

Both companies have stated that the system is in no way a replacement for the existing Four Thirds standard, but also that its development will allow for smaller and slimmer bodies than Olympus?s existing E-410 and E-420 models.

?The Micro Four Thirds System is a new standard based on combining Live View shooting with the Four Thirds System, freeing users from the viewfinder and moving closer to an optimum balance between picture quality and compact size,? states the official Four Thirds website. ?With the Micro Four Thirds System, more people will be able to enjoy the excitement of interchangeable lenses and system extension capabilities that only SLR photography can offer, while still benefiting from the convenience and high portability of ordinary fixed-lens compact cameras.?

For further information visit