Olympus and Kodak Agree to Implement Four Thirds System Digital SLR Camera StandardSeptember 24, 2002 - Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. of Japan and Eastman Kodak Company of the United States today announced that they have agreed to implement the Four Thirds System (4/3 System), a new standard for next-generation digital SLR camera systems that will ensure interchangeable lens mount compatibility. The two companies have resolved to aggressively implement this new standard in their respective product lines, and to establish the Universal Digital Interchangeable Lens System Forum, an industry forum that will promote acceptance of the Four Thirds System by other camera manufacturers. Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. has already agreed to participate in the new standard.
About Four Thirds System
The Four Thirds System is not based on existing standards for 35mm film SLR camera system lenses, but instead establishes a new common standard for the interchange of lenses developed exclusively to meet the optical design requirements of digital SLR cameras.
4/3-Inch (Type) Image Sensor Size
The Four Thirds System uses a 4/3-type CCD, CMOS or other image sensor, and will facilitate the development of dedicated digital camera lens systems that maximize image sensor performance and ensure outstanding image quality while also being smaller and easier to handle than 35mm film SLR camera lens systems.
Lens Mount Standardization
By establishing an open standard for camera body and lens mounts, the new system will make it possible to standardize lens mounting systems, something that has been impossible to achieve with digital SLR cameras that are based on existing 35mm film SLR lens systems. In addition, the new system defines standards for image circle size (the diameter of the area in which the subject is resolved) and back focus distance (the distance from the lens mount to the image sensor).
Current digital SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses are basically based on conventional 35mm camera systems. As a result, they must be equipped with image sensors that are comparable in size to 35mm and APS film. However, because the imaging characteristics of these large CCD's are fundamentally different from those of film, a number of issues can prevent them from achieving their full performance potential. These include: (1) Although film is capable of responding to light striking the surface at a high angle of incidence, a high angle of incidence can prevent sufficient light from reaching sensor elements at the periphery of a CCD and result in reduced color definition, particularly when shooting with wide-angle lenses. (2) To achieve the resolutions required by the micron pitch of today's CCD's, the demands of optical design tend to result in the use of larger and heavier lenses. Moreover, manufacturers of digital SLR camera systems have until now adopted the mounting systems used in their own respective 35mm film SLR cameras, making bodies and lenses produced by different manufacturers incompatible with one another.
In light of these circumstances, the new Four Thirds System standard was conceived to facilitate the design and development of digital SLR cameras and lenses that maximize the performance potential of digital imaging sensors, and provide users with product advantages such as compact size, handling ease, and enhanced functionality.
The major benefit of Four Thirds System is that it allows the design of dedicated, high-performance digital camera lens systems that are more compact than 35mm film SLR camera lens systems. The impact of the more compact lens size will be especially marked on telephoto lenses, making it possible to produce a Four Thirds System 300mm telephoto lens, for example, that offers performance equivalent to an approximately 600mm lens on a 35mm film SLR camera. In other words, it will be possible to offer the same angle of view in a lens that is only about one-half as long. The 4/3-type image sensor size will also allow the development of bright, high-performance zoom lenses that are more compact than those needed for use with image sensors the size of APS or 35mm film. By taking advantage of the more compact lens size, it will therefore be possible to develop lens systems that are much easier to handle than conventional 35mm film SLR camera lens systems. Furthermore, standardization of the lens mounting system will make it possible for consumers to photograph combining with bodies and lenses produced by different manufacturers, and enjoy a wider range of product selection.