Super Micro 4/3rds?

Above: Could Micro 4/3rds be shrunk even further, to catch the ultra slim NEX series from Sony?

Those with a keen eye for rumours which usually turn out right, will have noticed Panasonic’s mid-term management report on recently.

In it, they say their aim for the interchangeable lens camera division is to make a super thin, super high image quality camera.

“In the digital interchangeable lens system camera business, the company strives to achieve the world’s smallest and lightest camera… Panasonic will advance its black-box technologies in lenses and optical image stabilizer to build a super-thin, super-light and super-high picture quality camera.”

But Micro 4/3rd’s mount presents a problem. Currently, the GF1 is the slimmest a Micro 4/3rds mount camera can get, because of the fixed flange back distance from lens mount to sensor. This takes up approximately 80% of the space occupied from front to back of the camera body. Lenses and in fact the whole camera are designed around it’s depth.

Look also at the GH1’s depth from lens mount to behind the flip out LCD screen. It’s the same as the GF1’s.

Sony’s NEX5 shows how thin a mirrorless SLD camera can be if the distance between lens mount and sensor is absolutely minimised.

To achieve this level of slimness, Panasonic will have to introduce a new mount.

Panasonic would need to introduce a new set of lenses too, because of the different flange back depth and mount, locking customers into yet another range of lenses.

Also, there wouldn’t be a benefit for customers in upgrading to another Panasonic model within the Micro 4/3rds range, rather than a similar model from a competitor like Sony, because you’d have to replace your lens collection regardless when moving to the different mount. Not ideal, so this presents Panasonic with a challenge.

I am not 100% sure if this is a problem or a blessing in disguise for Panasonic, but the aim they state in the official mid-term management report just isn’t compatible with the Micro 4/3rds mount design.

So I am certain they will introduce a new mount, to achieve their aim of a super slim SLD. How else would they do it, and why would they put a statement like that in the mid term management report? Maybe, a new mount might even increase profits, not hurt.

I have a few marketing sources in Taiwan, but they’re not aware of anything. I have no name to go off, no proposed camera models have yet been mentioned.

But Super Micro 4/3rds makes sense and I am sure it’s coming.

AF100 pro video camera with M4/3rds mount
GH2 pro body with M4/3rds mount
GF2 ultra-slim Super Micro 4/3rds mount

That’s what I think we’ll see at Photokina.