Is this as good as micro four thirds gets? Where does it go from here?

Panasonic GH2 20mm f/1.7
Panasonic GH2 20mm f/1.7

The question "Is this as good as micro four thirds gets?" is not meant in a negative way. The combination of the GH2 sensor and the 20mm and 45mm Panasonic lenses would be most peoples choices for the best quality in both camera and lenses.

Indeed I've certainly found this to be the case. By using top quality m-mount lenses, the Voigtlander 25mm and the Leica D 4/3 lenses, I have been able to get slightly sharper results from the GH2, but in terms of the system itself these two prime lenses give very satisfactory results.

Panasonic GH2 45mm f/2.8
Panasonic GH2 45mm f/2.8

There is however the question of where does it go from here? The GH2 has managed to combined more pixels with better high ISO performance, and I believe its the case that this ratio of MP's to noise will continue to improve. However there is always the question as to whether the choice of the smaller sensor is going ultimately to "loose out" in the long run to the APS-C size used by other manufacturers.

Panasonic GH2 20mm f/1.7
Panasonic GH2 20mm f/1.7  

In terms of what I've used, I see two different comparisons. Neither the Sony NEX or Samsung NX systems have so far proved to me that they are superior to m4/3. I've tried a NEX-5, an NX-10 and NX-100 and none of those cameras have persuaded me to give up my m4/3 cameras and lenses. However the Fuji X100 is a different proposition. The APS-C sensor in this camera produces stunning results. Quite simply, for me, the best non-full frame sensor I've ever used, both in terms of sharpness of results and high ISO performance. 

So while Panasonic and Olympus, look to me to be holding their own against Samsung and Sony (Though the rumoured 24MP sensor for the NEX, may change this significantly) the Fuji has indicated just how good the slightly bigger sensor can be.

Panasonic GH2 45mm f/2.8
Panasonic GH2 45mm f/2.8

So can m4/3 compete with this? Or should they even be trying? There are already indications that Panasonic and Olympus and indeed Sony are competing now in what might be called the "miniturisation market". Ever smaller cameras, trying to attract the lucrative "point and shoot" compact market. Again, only rumours but it seems both Panasonic and Olympus have smaller m4/3 cameras on the verge of being announced. 

However, they face a lot of competition and it could be argued that the particular uniqueness of the system is being lost.

Panasonic GH2 20mm f/1.7
Panasonic GH2 20mm f/1.7  

So have these companies finally decided that the best chance for profit is going down the small camera > upgrade path rather than the DSLR > high quality smaller lighter alternative one?

Personally I hope not. I hope that the E-P2 and GF1 don't become extinct lines. The fuss over the X100 (and it shows no signs of stopping) has indicated a tremendous interest and demand for a camera of this type. 

Though Fuji have obviously been affected by the recent disasters in terms of supply, they also admitted that they vastly underestimated the demand for their camera and hadn't made enough to fulfill pre-orders. Add in to this the fact that Voigtlander also underestimated how many people would want their 25mm f/0.95, and that is constantly in short supply, and the difficulties Leica had in their first year of making enough M9's to satisfy demand.

There is, I believe, a huge market for quality equipment. Smaller than the market for compacts certainly, but how big I guess nobody knows. Its certainly a market that tends to buy more gear and probably spends more money on it. 

I hope that m4/3 doesn't ignore this, to a large extent obviously because I'm part of it!, but also because I believe its an important part of the market. Not just because of its spending power but because its the most vocal, and the most likely to try new things (or in the case of some of the equipment I've mentioned - old things!) Panasonic and Olympus are in a prime position to take advantage of this. 

Its certainly going to be interesting to see what Olympus particularly come up with next. That will, I think, give us a very good idea as to where m4/3 is headed. We can then decide if its for us or not.

Panasonic GH2 45mm f/2.8
Panasonic GH2 45mm f/2.8