Olympus Corporation and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.,
Ltd. (Panasonic) have been engaged in joint development of cameras that
comply with the FourThirds System standard for
interchangeable-lens-type digital SLR cameras.
Olympus will exhibit the E-330, a recently introduced product that
incorporates jointly-developed technologies, and Panasonic will
announce development of the DMC-L1, its first digital SLR camera. A
prototype of the DMC-L1 will also be exhibited.
The two cameras are the result of an agreement announced on January 13,
2005, under which Olympus and Panasonic agreed to jointly develop
underlying technologies and key components, and promote the
introduction of digital SLR camera products that take full advantage of
the significant user benefits offered by the FourThirds System standard.
The jointly-developed mirror box unit and Live MOS sensor used in the
two new cameras have significant implications for SLR performance, and
have made it possible to develop products with capabilities that go far
beyond digital SLR cameras of the past.
The mirror box unit integrates a quick-return mirror, viewfinder, and
AE sensor, and effectively functions as the heart of the SLR camera. It
was specifically designed and developed so that it could be used in
both Olympus and Panasonic products.
The Live MOS sensor is a new-generation sensor that offers the high
image quality of a CCD sensor and the low power consumption of a CMOS
sensor, thereby making it possible to display Live View images on a
digital SLR camera for an extended period of time. In addition, because
the sensor features simplified circuitry, the distance from the
microlenses to the photodiodes is short, ensuring improved response and
higher image quality when light strikes the sensor at an angle.
Utilising these advanced new devices, Olympus and Panasonic will
continue to develop products according to their respective product
Olympus has already utilised these jointly-developed components in the
recently introduced E-330, which is the first interchangeable-lens-type
digital SLR in the world to offer full-time Live View framing via a
rear-mounted LCD monitor a feat that until now was thought
to be difficult to achieve. With its Live View capability, the E-330 is
an epoch-making product that makes it possible for users to enjoy an
entirely new style of digital SLR shooting.
As its first digital SLR camera, Panasonic has developed the DMC-L1,
which combines the operating feel of an analogue camera with Live View
shooting and other ease-of-use features that are unique to digital
cameras. By using the Live MOS sensor and proprietary Venus Engine III
image-processing LSI, Panasonic has maximised the performance potential
of both devices and successfully achieved the high image quality and
high processing speeds that are critical to SLR camera performance.
Following additional development efforts, Panasonic plans to introduce
the DMC-L1 later this year.
By teaming Olympus' industry-leading SLR camera technology with
Panasonics advanced digital AV technology to offer
FourThirds System digital SLR cameras and a wide lens line-up, the two
companies plan to offer camera enthusiasts a level of creativity and
satisfaction they have never experienced before.
For reference, market size forecasts for digital SLR cameras are shown
below. (Source: CIPA; 2005 results and 2006~2008 forecasts for number
of units shipped by manufacturers)
About the FourThirds System Standard
||3.79 million units
||4.68 million units
||5.26 million units
||5.62 million units
The FourThirds System standard defines design and development standards
for digital SLR camera systems that fully realise the performance
potential of digital imaging technology. FourThirds System cameras use
a 4/3-type image sensor that makes it possible to achieve the high
image quality and high mobility demanded of SLR camera systems. In
addition, the FourThirds System defines an open standard for lenses and
lens mounts that assures compatibility between bodies and lenses
produced by various manufacturers participating in the standard.