Friday, June 25, 2010

The Rise of the EVIL Camera

By Chip Lenkiewicz, Penn Camera Tysons Corner
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This sort of sounds like a bad Summer B movie; but this really is something that we in the photographic industry are struggling with as we see a new market developing for a class of camera that is not point and shoot (P&S) or Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR). For years the digital P&S camera has given us portability and good results. But the DSLR with it larger sensor size over it smaller siblings, gave better results and offers more lens options over the P&S. But it comes at a price of larger size and increased weight because of the size of the mirror chamber and prism housing needed to view what you are taking a picture of through a single lens.

So what happens when we remove the mirror chamber and prism housing and rely on the LCD screen or an electronic viewfinder? We end up with a smaller camera, while still having a larger sized sensor for better picture quality. That is what Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung, and Sony (in that order) did. Panasonic and Olympus calls theirs the Micro 4/3's (m4/3) system. Samsung calls theirs a hybrid camera. And Sony calls theirs a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

So what do we call this new class of camera? My teaser of a title for this blog post came from what some on the internet are calling this new class of camera. EVIL=Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens camera. Because of Olympus and Panasonic's big success in this new format, I have had customers coming in asking about the new Sony m4/3's camera or when Canon or Nikon will come out with a m4/3's camera. On the technical side of things, no other companies at this point are in the m4/3's camp other than Olympus and Panasonic. I’ll explain that in another post. The other choice is what Sony has gone to - the MILC=Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Compact camera.

I personally like the sound of that. Need to trademark "Got MILC?". Some photographic industry analysts are projecting that by 2016 that MILC sales will be about half of the interchangeable lens market. Whatever we end up calling this new breed of camera, I am excited by it. It offers the responsiveness of the DSLR, the lens options of a DSLR, but in a small, lightweight package.

Hoping that I won't bore you all as I bring folks up to speed on the MILC systems; in particular the m4/3's. Full disclosure is that I wear a couple of fanboy badges at work here in the Tyson's shop. The first is as Apple fanboy. I have an iPod, an iPhone 1, an iMac, MBP, and an iPad. And no I did not take 6/24 off to stand in line to get the iPhone 4. The other fanboy badge I wear is that as the #1 Olympus m4/3's fanboy. More on why later.

But tickles me pink to share that on July 1st Penn Camera and Olympus are having a photo contest for July. And the prize will be the new Olympus E-PL1 m4/3's camera! (More info on this is coming soon!)