Anyone who thought Panasonic had stolen a march on its co-developer should be impressed by the panache with which Olympus has pinched Panny's thunder right back. A gloriously retro concept camera based on the Micro Four Thirds system is wowing the crowds at Photokina, the photography trade show currently rocking Cologne.
With the working Panasonic Lumix G1 the first entry into the Micro Four Thirds system, Olympus is a tad behind with the early-warning E-A1 and this non-working mock-up. But just look at it: we think it looks like Roger Moore could suavely slide it from the pocket of his safari suit to take a snap of Miss World leaning on his Jag.
This concept is a sizeable downsizing for the E system of interchangeable lens cameras, which are currently all dSLRs. Even the smaller entry-level lightweight models in the range, such as the E-420, look like lumbering heifers next to this camera's diminutive 120 by 65 by 32mm proportions.
The advantage of Micro Four Thirds is that the distance between the sensor and lens mount, or the flangeback -- stop smirking, Roger -- is half the size without the mirror needed to work an optical viewfinder. The lens mount is itself 6mm smaller, and there are now 11 electrical contacts in the mount rather than nine. You can mount existing full-size Four Thirds glass on Micro Four Thirds System bodies with an adaptor.
No word yet on pricing or availability, or even whether the louchely retro styling will be draped over the models that hit the shelves. We can only hope. Right, who's for a Campari? -Rich Trenholm