Once again a camera company announcement is shaking the world of photography: Ricoh's GXR is the first modular small-size camera in the market. It follows three G-series Panasonic and two EP-series Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras. I just bought myself a Micro 4/3 Panasonic GF1. It sports a good 12 mpixel sensor supported by outstandingly good lenses (with digital in-camera corrections), allowing a satisfactory ISO setting range of 100/800: all I need to get my usual 24x36 inch. (60x90 cm.) exhibition-quality prints.
When I bought my Canon G10 (an excellent camera) in October 2008 I stopped using my Nikon D300, a heavy and bulky camera with a good 12 mpixel sensor supported by not-so-outstandigly good lenses, which I just sold, before the trick of adding an "s" to its name dumped its trade-in value to almost zero.
I'm not a gear geek, I'm just a real-world camera user, expecting camera companies to be as creative and earn their money as anybody else in the business. And I wonder why Nikon, Canon and Leica just keep on putting a digital sensor into film-camera bodies they designed in the Fifties. And why at Leica (a company run for too many years by an eau de toilette maker) can not try and invent something like they did in 1925 when the 2.0 film camera was introduced, the Model A.
IMHO Micro 4/3 can really be considered as the Third-Millennium Leica (whereas M8 and M9 can not). Image quality is there, along with lighter and smaller bodies, easier to build lenses (thanks to their reduced size), and all the possibilities of an almost open source system, which will help keeping the prices low. I made a rule of always carrying a camera with me. It was a Leica M until I shot film. Then it was a Nikon D1. Then the unforgettable Epson RD1. Then more DSRL. Until the GF1 came, for the relief of my neck and shoulders, and helping me being more unconspicuous when I'm out taking pictures.
I know, many pro have their customers attend their shootings, and they need to "wear" a big and expensive camera to impress them and prevent them from thinking that taking a good photograph is an easy task. And I'm aware that too many photographers have already had their customers stolen by the current point-and-shoot camera technology (which is, on the other hand, really outstanding!).
But I'm also sure that next generation cameras will be ergonomically re-shaped from scratch, and more and more relying on electronic viewing devices and digitally corrected optics. We are just at the very beginning of an exciting evolution. Only the 19th century photography pioneers had the same luck.
By the way, I use a point-and-shoot pocket-size ten mpixel Panasonic TZ65 every now and then. In my next exhibition there will be at least one photograph made with that camera. I promise I will make a gift of that photograph to the first visitor who will guess which one it is.