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Long ago, in the dark ages of my life… in college actually… I was a photography minor. I loved everything about it, but mostly the delicious precision devices that you used and the unexpected way unremarkable things became remarkable in a picture.

Off and on through my life I’ve gotten back to it and played but I’ve avoided anything really serious since digital photography became the norm. I find that didn’t feel like hauling around full size DSLR with me, yet the smaller point and shoot cameras always disappointed me in quality and control.

At some point I discovered that Leica made a compact camera and decided to try it out and bought the Leica D-LUX 3 and found a camera that started to approach what I was looking for. Small enough to have with you all the time, but with optics that could produce exceptionally high quality images. Sadly the D-LUX 3 suffered from image quality issues in low light situations like most small sensor cameras, but was still my favorite compact camera.

In August of 2008, Panasonic and Olympus announced a new interchangeable lens camera system called Micro Four Thirds. This system provided compact camera bodies with DSLR like sensor size but smaller because they are rangefinder style, omitting the mirrors and prisms that provide through-the-lens viewfinders. The system is an open standard that allows lenses from different manufacturers to be used with full functionality on bodies from

For a lot of us interested in portability and quality this was very exciting and the first three cameras from this system are the Panasonic GF-1, Olympus E-P1, and Olympus E-P2.

One of the cool things about this system is that with a small adapter, you can use Leica M lenses in manual mode on these camera bodies.

Speaking of Leica, they released a full-frame sensor (meaning the sensor is the same size as the exposed area of 35mm film) version of their iconic rangefinder cameras. The Leica M9. This thing is freaking beautiful and small and quiet and and…. $7,000.00 for the body alone. Leica lenses are also terrifyingly expensive, but considered by many to be the finest camera glass you can get for general use.

Scott is on a quest to find an affordable combination of superior optics and portable camera bodies and has in his grubby paws both a GF-1 and an E-P2 camera body with various lenses from the Micro Four Thirds system and Leica M and I’ll be posting my impressions and experiences with both.