What is the Micro Four Thirds system

Panasonic and Olympus are starting to produce cameras that offer the quality of an SLR with the compactness of a point-and-shoot.

Is smaller really better?

There are at least two companies that disagree with the Four Thirds "smaller is better" philosophy and are making cameras with larger than standard-size image sensors. One is Sigma, which is introducing a new point-and-shoot DP1 camera. Although most point-and-shoot cameras use image sensors that are absolutely tiny when compared to SLRs (think "balance on the end of your finger" sized). The DP1 uses a sensor roughly eight times larger than the norm.

The second, interestingly, is Leica, whose soon-to-be-released S2 SLR camera will sport a sensor more than three and a half times larger than a standard SLR APS-C sensor -- or six times larger than Leica's own Four Thirds sensor.

Why, when smaller sounds so attractive, would some companies and photographers be opting for bigger? Two reasons: noise and depth of field.

Much like a smaller negative will result in grainier pictures, smaller image sensors can result in noisier pictures. Smaller sensors mean each pixel has less area to gather light and that results in more image noise (unwanted variations in brightness and/or color) in the picture.

Depth of field describes how much of the image in front of and behind the subject is in focus. Imagine you are photographing someone standing in your living room. In one photo, the person is sharply in focus, as is the entire room. You can see everything in the foreground and the background clearly. In the second image, the person is in sharp focus, but the background and foreground are completely blurred. The first image exhibits a large depth of field while the second portrait demonstrates a short depth of field.

Depth of field is closely related to the length of the lens. The size of a camera's sensor will determine how long a lens you need to get the angle of view you want. All other variables being equal, a shorter lens will have more depth of field than a longer focal length lens -- and many photographers actually want less depth of field in order to draw attention to specific areas in a photo. As manufacturers move to smaller sensors, that professional short depth-of-field look becomes harder to achieve.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Walton

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?