Panasonic and Olympus shrink the SLR

The new Micro Four Thirds System standard will open the door for compact SLRs
The new Micro Four Thirds System standard will open the door for compact SLRs

The Four Thirds System was revolutionary in camera circles when it was first created by Olympus and Kodak, bringing the SLR into the digital age. Now Olympus has teamed up with Panasonic to deliver a brand-new standard – the Micro Four Thirds System.

This new technology delivers all the imaging power that you would want from a normal DSLR but can be used on a more compact level.

The smaller the better

TechRadar spoke to Mark Sparrow, the deputy editor of Digital Camera, about this announcement, and this is what he had to say: "The announcement by Panasonic and Olympus of the Micro Four Thirds system has breathed new life back into one of the most interesting camera systems of the digital age.

"A reduced lens size and redesigned mount will result in much smaller SLR cameras and possibly some Leica-style compact bodies with removable lenses. It would seem the Four Thirds philosophy still has life left in it despite comments to the contrary by some of its detractors."

These compact cameras could be in the shops sooner rather than later, as Panasonic has announced that it is to "develop a new generation of compact, lightweight, interchangeable lens type digital camera system products, including ultra-portable camera bodies, interchangeable lenses, and related system accessories."

Smaller, slimmer bodies for Olympus

Olympus has also announced it is to release a range of camera bodies that are: "even smaller and slimmer than the light, compact, and widely acclaimed Olympus E410 and E420."

Those who like the idea of smaller bodies, but want to keep their existing lenses, shouldn't fret as all new bodies will be compatible with older lenses, via an adaptor.

Both Olympus and Panasonic are hoping that the new Micro Four Thirds System will help build on the seven per cent share DSLRs currently hold in the camera market.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.