There are four Micro Four Thirds cameras on the market right now. That's it. But with Panasonic's GF1, investing in the mini genre makes more sense than ever—if you know what you're getting into.
What the &*^@ is Micro Four Thirds?
Olympus and Panasonic co-developed what's called the Micro Four Thirds standard just last year. The biggest difference to the eye is the smaller-than-SLR lens mount that incompatible with SLRs unless you deploy an adapter. Internally, the standard ditches the mirrors used in SLRs and uses a four thirds CMOS (not micro four thirds chip!) to capture the image straight from the lens (just like a point and shoot). That sensor is roughly 30% smaller than that found in your average dSLR but 9 times bigger than what's in your average point and shoot. The result is a camera ever so slightly smaller than a dSLR that should give you a similar end image quality.
The end camera is just a tad smaller than a baseline dSLR:
But it's still way bigger than your average point and shoot:
The big not-so-secret
There are only four products on the market at this point (Panasonic G1, its video-centric brother, the GH1, Olympus E-P1 and, of course, the Panasonic GF1), and they all have the exact same 13MP Panasonic sensor. But only the latest two, the GF1 and the E-P1, have taken advantage of the smaller technology to create design-forward cameras.