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The original Four Thirds System was introduced in 2003 based around a 17.3×13.0mm image sensor that was smaller than the 23.6×15.6mm APS-C sensors used in most DSLRs of the time. The idea was that by designing a system around a smaller sensor, the camera and lenses could be considerably smaller and lighter than the APS-C cameras and lenses, while producing excellent image quality through lenses designed specifically for that sensor.
That first Four Thirds camera, the Olympus E-1 pro DSLR, wasn’t all that much smaller than contemporary APS-C cameras. More than a dozen Four Thirds models followed, compact, but not so much more so that they dented the APS-C market share. So, in 2008, the Four Thirds consortium introduced Micro Four Thirds. Based around the same 17.3×13.0mm sensor, the MFT cameras did away with the SLR’s bulky (and costly) mirror, mirror box, focusing screen and pentaprism or pentamirror finder, replacing them with electronic viewfinders or just the external LCD monitor. This cut down camera size noticeably. Two MFT body styles were available: “mini-DSLR,” which looked like a DSLR, only much smaller; and “flat compact,” which resembled a typical compact digital camera.
Back to the present, Olympus has announced the successor to the E-5, the last of the MFT DSLRs. And its replacement, the new OM-D E-M1, is also the flagship model in Olympus’ MFT line: a “mini-DSLR” with a rugged freeze-, dust- and splashproof body, a state-of-the-art, 16.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor and powerful new TruePic VII processor, and a feature set that goes well beyond that of the E-5.
Specs: 5.1×3.7×2.5 inches; 15.6 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $1,399 (body only)
Contact: Olympus, www.getolympus.com