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Micro Four Thirds and APS-C? Whither the Future? Wither the Future?

As always, general observations are not a commentary on the best choice for individual needs or preferences. Standing back from the perspective of having many camera systems, and applying an high-altitude eye to what is evolving in the camera marketplace—

I’ve observed a pronounced fall-off of interest in Micro Four Thirds in the past year (e.g. Olympus E-M1, ditto for the new entry level E-M10), accelerating “downward” in the past few months in spite of the EM1, in stark contrast to the intense interest in the Sony A7 and Sony A7R.

The Fujifilm X platform is now refreshed with the Fujifilm X-T1; it straddles the gap with some nifty new improvements and a 56mm f/1.2 lens, but it’s dubious that it will change anything in the value equation that market pressures are inexorably bringing to bear: it remains a 16MP resolution APS-C sensor with oddball sensor artifacts and with a lens line in which some are very good and some not so good and some have focus creep. Moreover, image quality from the 35/2.8 and 55/1.8 Sony/Zeiss primes for the A7 series is spectacular in contrast and sharpness terms.

The cost difference between Sony full frame and Fujifilm X is there to some degree, but at $999 the new Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 is equivalent in speed and depth of field to the Sony/Zeiss 55/1.8—same price. As I see it, lenses are a long term investment (I choose mine very carefully), so investing in a small sensor 'kit' does not offer good value with the market moving aggressively to full frame. To suggest that market pressure towards full frame will abate is not a bet I would place. Of course, selling and re-buying is always an option.

DSLRs are another breed whose territory is shrinking: as yet they are stalwart and irreplaceable performers for many jobs, but I hope that an EVF-based solution will evolve in 2014 from at least one one of the CaNikon hegemony, both being long overdue. My primary interest there is in restoring the ability to manually focus accurately (the traditional optical viewfinder is laughable for critical work and the magnified rear EVF inconvenient). A DSLR in the 50-60 megapixel range will be an abject failure if the autofocus and manual focus capabilities are not also upgraded to match.

A sampler of past writing on this topic:

Sony A7, A7R: Breakthrough in Image Quality in a Compact Package with Killer EVF and LCD Too

Micro Four Thirds: Withering on the Vine

Micro Four Thirds vs APS-C: Lens Size

Micro Four Thirds vs APS-C: Summary

Reader Asks: Fujifilm X Viability

Why an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) is Not Optional, and Not Sufficient Either

Old Geezers Need an EVF: the Rear LCD and Presbyopia are a Bad Combination For Aging Eyes

DSLRs Still Have no EVF Option

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