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The New 4/3 Digital SLRs — What Does It Mean?

The esteemed Dave Etchells at has an analysis up on the new Micro 4/3 System we reported on yesterday by Panasonic and Olympus that’s worth a read.

He calls out two important new developments: First, the new cameras won’t have viewfinders (SLR purists everywhere have just fainted) and instead will only preview the scene through a live-view LCD.

Second, they won’t use the traditional phase-detection autofocus that makes d-SLRs so fast. Instead, they’ll use a potentially slower contrast-detection system. As Etchells writes, “This isn’t necessarily a kiss of death on the system: We’ve seen impressive improvements in digicam shutter response figures over the last couple of years, with the best of them approaching the lag times of entry-level SLRs.”

So it sounds like there may be some real breakthroughs and some potential trade-offs to the new cameras. We’ll have to wait and see.