Panasonic has 30% of the mirrorless market share in Japan (and confirms the new lenses by late 2011)

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CNET Asia was at the Asia Pacific Lumix G Seminar 2011 in Thailand. Panasonic told them that they are holding the 30 percent mirrorless market share in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong and 25 percent market share in Singapore: “According to Panasonic, the company aims to increase its market share in the total ILC category by 10 percent (which roughly translates to 120,000 ILC units) by 2012. To achieve this, they shared some strategies which include targeting shutterbugs looking to upgrade to dSLRs and expanding its current lineup of Lumix G Micro System cameras, lenses and accessories. Panasonic also announced plans to allocate US$20 million in advertising dollars to promote the compact design of the Lumix G series cameras and focus on their touchscreen capabilities and iA mode settings.

Panasonic’s group general manager of AV in Asia Pacific, Motoki Nakahara, confirmed that there will be Micro Four Thirds lenses are slated for the later part of this year. As you might remember after the GF3 launch Panasonic confirmed that they are working on a professional GF camera, a new GH3 camera and that two new lenses would be announced by end of the year.

Reminder: Panasonic launched two cameras and one lens in 2011:
The G3 should be in Stock in most countries within the next days. Check those links: Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.
The GF3 should be in Stock by late July/early April. Check those links: Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay (It’s difficult to find preorder options in Europe).
The Leica 25mm f/1.4 will be in Stock in late July. Check those links: Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay (Almost impossible to find it for preorder. And don’t confuse that lens with the Four Thirds version!).

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  • “The GF3 should be in Stock by late July/early April.”
    Early August maybe…

  • Brod1er

    I have a good feeling about the new GF “pro” and GH3. Global/ electronic shutter this time?. the feeling gets better with the prospect of the fast standard zoom. Dribble. This plus the Pen mini……..ooooooh!

  • It’s nice to see competition is heating up. However, all we hear from marketing officials is blurb about touchscreens and iAuto. I would like to hear some more from the responsible adults at Panasonic (and Olympus), but they don’t seem to talk much.

    • Sorry, But I think that iAuto and touchscreen are both very exciting features.

      iAuto: May happens sometimes that you forget to put back some parameters to their standard values (e.g. you leave sensitivity accidentally on ISO 3200, wrong white balance, etc.). In this case you have no time to fix the values and you simply cannot immortalize the moment. Better a picture taken by iAuto than not taken at all, am I right?

      Touchscreen: setting the focus point and area from touchscreen is a professional feature. Useless to have turbo speed AF when recomposing may take seconds.

      • Inge-M

        I also think touchscreen and iAuto is a good if we not lost buttons and rings.
        Dont, responsible adults for Pana and Oly have be away in all noise so marketing birds have twitter from own head.

  • So that leaves us with what, sony has about 50% share with only 2 cameras and lenses? How embarrassing

    • Duarte Bruno

      You’re forgetting Olympus and Samsung. And Fuji and Leica.

      • Anonymous

        And Ricoh.

      • Chez Wimpy

        Japan is forgetting Samsung. Good luck finding a Korean camera for sale here.

      • I took all those companies into account, still the sony would be at least 35-45% market share, that wiht 2 cameras and lens’s compared to 20 MFT lens and countless cameras

    • Sören

      Exactly my thought. If you are first one (G1) and have the best suited lens for these systems (20mm 1.7), 30% marketshare is no reason to celebrate.

      • Mr. Reeee

        30% of a market (and shooting for 40%) with essentially 4 players in the market is not bad at all.

        When one of them is Sony, with their massive name recognition, marketing and manufacturing prowess, not to mention their absorption of Minolta/Konica and all their associated photographic history and DNA, not too bad at all.

        Panasonic is not particularly noted for stll photography either, that’s where their lens partnership with Leica has paid off tremendously. Leica is arguably the Holy Grail of cameras. An association with them is a big deal as far as mindshare goes.

        What happens when Pentax and juggernaut Nikon offer mirror less systems is anyone’s bet.

        • Rachnaroch

          Panasonic have released 9 cameras so far and about 12 lenses, and they also have available lenses from Olympus what should make their system more attractive… yet Sony with 3 cameras and 3 lenses (4 if you count the marketed and designed for NEX video cameras 18-200) are outselling them.

          If Sony had released say 3 more cameras and 5 more lenses by now what market share could they have? 80%?

          I don’t think is being a success for Panasonic considering the head start they had. And their initial advantage will vanish once others systems mature and new ones come (Pentax, Nikon or Canon) so it may get worse.

        • Canon and Nikon will have a hard time keeping up with the recent improvements made by Panasonic and Olympus. I’m leaving out Sony of the equation since the only thing they have is a big sensor which Canon and Nikon will bring to the market as well. However, as Olympus has demonstrated sadly, a sensor from a DSLR system not tuned for contrast auto-focus is a poor component for mirrorless cameras, Canon and Nikon will have the same problem as they cannot just use the existing sensors they have, they need to design one for contrast based auto-focus as well. Also, Olympus and Panasonic (not Sony) have very good electronic viewfinders, something neither Sony, Nikon nor Canon have experience with.

          If I was Olympus/Panasonic, I wouldn’t worry too much about Canon and Nikon. The hurdle to enter the market will become much higher with the next generation of Olympus and Panasonic cameras and we don’t even have any real indication about Canon and Nikon planning something too. In fact, if Olympus really managed to make auto-focus in their new PENs as fast as the E-5’s, I think Canon and Nikon should be more worried about their entry level DSLR market.

          • Sony has achieved about 50% market share with anti-photographic engineering (no viewfinder, awful interface, unbalanced ergonomics and a greedily short flange distance for the sensor format).
            This reveals three trends:
            1. The vast majority of the users of EVIL systems have little idea about good photographic practice. For most users it’s nothing more than a fancy P&S.
            2. The general market values easily measurable features (such as megapixels and sensor dimensions) more than useful features (such as balanced ergonomics, JPEG colours and inherent sharpness).
            3. Lens lineup doesn’t really matter. Most users don’t understand the point of lens interchangeability, not to mention “expert” terms like aperture.

            It seems that Sony has understood the market better than its competitors.

            • Bob B.

              +1

              Although… the reality of the “market” sucks for anyone with photographic skills and passion waiting on the edge of their seat for an autofocusing (non-iAuto, non-touch screen) poor-man’s Leica. At this point …the only camera I am waiting to see is the Pany GF pro model…..but I am tryin not to get too excited because the average consumer will not understand the camera I want…and certainly would not put out the cash to by it….so I am not expecting anything exceptional to be coming.

        • Al

          Keep an eye on Fujifilm, x200 is in talk.

        • Anonymous

          It’s not good either. Sony brought up their NEX only last year and frankly non-pro users don’t know anything about Minolta legacy.

        • Vlad

          Mirrorless are currently targeted at consumers. Most of the people buying them have no clue about Minolta legacy. Also, Sony brought their NEX only last year. And Panasonic also have a massive name recognition.

    • Kesztio: You don’t really need to use iAuto for that. Working in a custom mode (C1, C2, etc.) gives you a lot more control than intelligent auto. If you make any changes to a particular custom mode, they will revert to the original settings that you saved every time you turn the camera off and back on again. So you will never be shooting at the wrong ISO once you turn the camera back on again.

      I agree with the usefulness of the touchscreen for positioning the spot focus. But a touchscreen is not faster than conventional dials for exposure settings. With a touch screen you need to move a hand away from where it would be in the shooting position. With dials you can keep both hands where they are – for example under the lens barrel and on the grip/shutter button.

      • Mr. Reeee

        IAuto is for when you’re in a social situation, or when there’s no time to make a lot of exposure adjustments. Pop on the 20mm or other auto-focus lens, switch from M to iAuto, then hand off your camera to someone. It works really well and the photos will at least be passable exposure-wise. 😉

        Using the EVF and the Control Wheel is even faster. Even with manual focus, I’m surprised how much!

      • Don’t forget that activating iA is just 1 (one) button press and it’s suitable for almost all (but very special) situations. Even the time of rotating the mode dial (especially when you are not sure about its initial position) may count when immediate shooting is required. So I’m happy that my G3 will have an iA button as well.

    • Robbie

      30% is not bad, considering Olympus is part of the coalition.
      I think some m43 people are just too pessimistic, every news is bad news.

  • Mr. Reeee

    30%. Not bad at all. Panasonic’s strategy of selling an array of cameras and body styles has started to pay off.

    I get the feeling that the G3 will hit a real sweet spot for a lot of current and potential users. The combo of built-in EVF, articulated LCD, fast focus, decent touchscreen interface and the excellent iAuto system all in a fairly small size will be extremely compelling and very hard to beat. Style alone isn’t enough to sell a lot of cameras. A built-in EVF alone is a huge draw for many graduating from the P&S world. I’d say it’s a defining feature.

    It would be nice if Panasonic said WHICH lenses they plan to release. I guess that would cut down on all the blind speculation and fantasy wishing that goes on… AND give the competition something to work on.

    The fact that they’re confirming a pro-level GF-series camera and GH3 is great news!

    Let the wild speculation begin… 😉

  • Well thats interesting.. BUT I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE OLYMPUS PEN MINI!

  • Leo

    how about the revenue?
    Sony r.i.p

  • che

    give us some more PEN images. not really intersted in Finance 🙂

  • Not overly impressed. I believe Panasonic is defining this market as interchangeable lens cameras without a mirror (to coincide with CIPA and other reporting). If so, holding a 30% share means they are second. Note that they don’t claim to be first in market share. The likelihood is that Sony is first, Olympus third, and between the three of these they hold virtually all of the market at the moment. Samsung doesn’t sell much in Japan, Ricoh is a very small player, and there aren’t any other mirrorless ILC makers at the moment.

    If Sony is indeed #1 in this market, they did it with two cameras and three lenses. This implies that the market is well lower than entry DSLR, and explains the GF3 and E-PM1 heading well down market. The fact that the low-end Canon and Nikon DSLRs still outsell the top ILC most of the time (in Japan; in the US and Europe they far outsell the ILCs) is another clue.

    I still think Panasonic’s strategy is confused and scattergun. There’s a lot of spaghetti being thrown at the wall. But such news isn’t exactly good for us serious shooters: Panasonic sees the bulk of the market below our needs.

    Finally, note the number: 120k units = 10%. That’s 1.2m units overall market. If ILCs sold as well in the rest of the world as they do in Japan (they don’t), it still only tracks to less than half of all DSLR sales (actually a bit more than one-third using current forecasts).

    With Panasonic headed down market and Nikon/Pentax coming in soon down market, basically we’re just seeing a giant overall push down. High-end consumer DSLRs are becoming pro-like, entry-level DSLRs are becoming high-end DSLR-like, ILCs are taking over high-end compact territory, high-end compacts are chewing down on low-end compacts as prices come down, and low-end compacts are going away as camera phones get more sophisticated.

    • “This implies that the market is well lower than entry DSLR” – perhaps not nesseraly, a friend of mine just came back from a trip in prague – he met there a fellow traveler which hade 3 leica lens attached to 3 bodies of NEX-5…

      I belive that enthusiasts that looking into CSC systems/and or looking for smaller alternatives DSLR are prefering the bigger sensor…and the latter are looking at nex as a “long term” investment and are willing to wait for further lens…

      Either way..it looks like samsung is more or less getting it right – they have excellent bodies, good pancake selection, a consumer zooms, and a pro grade lenses such fast zooms and 85 f1.4 which comes out soon…
      Thom, you wouldnt have by chance any info on the upcoming nx20?

    • Olympius

      Mirrorless cameras have been on the market for what, over two years now? During the past two years I’ve seen a grand total of THREE mirrorless cameras out in the wild: one E-PL1, and a couple of NEXies. That’s it.

      Here in the Great Lakes area of the USA, I visit a lot of the popular tourist spots were DSLR’s are as common as dirt, and you know what I see? A whole bunch of Nikon users, a few Canon users, and almost no Pentax, Sony or Olympus, let alone Pansonic, which is almost impossible to buy anywhere outisde the big online retailers.

      I also see camera phones and point & shoots by the ton, especially Nikon super zooms and Apple iPhones.

      People I know who are really into photography go right from their Kodak point & shoot they got at Wal-Mart, to a Nikon D3000 or better from Best Buy. No stop at the Mirroless System Camera station for them.

      These micro 4/3 cameras are a very nice niche product, espeically if you like a camera that can double as a camcorder, but at best they will only be most people’s second system. And even if folks do get a Pen or G series camera, they will most likely just get one or two lenses from Oly or Panny, and then get adapters to mount their old favorite lenses from their 35mm film days.

      I think Panasonic is doing OK with the GH, G, GF strategy. If they can make just a couple more of those Leica branded little primes at good price, like a 17mm f.1.4 and 12mm f.1.4, they’ll be fine. It is shocking that a company with almost no camera history can make such nice photographer friendly little cameras as they do. If they can resurrct the GF1 they’ll be more than fine.

      It’s Olympus I’m concerned about. There are not enough Japanese school girls or second system users her in the USA to make serious money on. At least Pansonic has found some very willing buyers amongst the wannabe film makers and video hobbiests, a market segment Olympus doesn’t have a clue about. But those who would entertain a compact second system are looking like they want to be in the Fuji X100 camp, now that it’s available.

      As for American school girls, they all want Canon 5D Mk II’s with an 85mm f.1.4 lens attached. Bokeh, bokeh, bokeh… (I’m not kidding either, those girls who know a little about photogrpahy really do want that camera.)

      Maybe Olympus needs to come out with an endocscope attachment for these new Pens, then they can corner the medical profession demographic. 🙂

      Olympius

      • How many times do I have to repeat the statistics talk? You can’t go by anecdotal evidence of how many cameras you see. Canon and Nikon at this point have sold well more than 30 million DLSRs between them. Panasonic has sold less than 500,000 m4/3 cameras in the last year, probably no more than 750,000 lifetime. Installed base always looks like it supports the historic leader until a tipping point happens and suddenly things look different. We haven’t hit that point with mirrorless yet and won’t for some time yet. But it’s happening visibly in Japan, where you do see a fair number of mirrorless cameras now.

        • Olympius

          Yes, I know that mirrorless is making headway in Japan, and the UK, and that’s about it. Maybe Asia in general, haven’t seen any numbers for that big, broad market.

          But in Europe and North America, there really doesn’t seem to be much interest, except amongst “special interests” i.e., pro’s looking for a nice, fun travel camera; video hobbiests looking for a cheap way to make HD video, etc. The one exception, was the Panasonic GF1, a camera which Panasonic stupidly dumbed down into the GF2 and GF3. Great for the Japanese, but sucks for everyone else.

          That camera, the GF1, was the one mirrorless camera that really captured people’s attention for some odd reason, even more so than any of the Olympus efforts.

          Panasonic should have done the same thing as Olympus, and created a naming scheme and seperate product line for their mini GF’s, and allowed the GF1 to iterate along the lines of the LX series.

          Right now, I don’t see any mirrorless camera, save the GH2, getting much traction outside the island nations, nor do I see any evidence that would lead me to believe that will change anytime soon. But if there’s one company who I would count on in regards to making mirrorless more mainstream in the USA and Europe, it would by Sony.

          Olympius

        • cL

          Thom, though I don’t agree with Olympius’s assessment completely either, but his “generalization” is also true here in SF Bay Area. I can hardly see anybody using anything other than Nikon or Canon in the realm of DSLR.

          I do have different theory why that is. It’s distribution channel. Like in Great Lake area Olympius is in, you can buy virtually every single model of Nikon and Canon cameras in brick and mortar stores here in SF Bay Area, and to a less degree, Sony cameras. You’re lucky to find an Olympus or Panasonic cameras. The largest electronic local chain is Fry’s here (kind of like B&H is for New York), and you can only find Olympus Pen that’s one generation behind the current one, same for Panasonic cameras. The distribution channel is just really really bad!

          Didn’t I mention like a few months ago that Olympus, if they have any ambition, should have their own kiosks, with their own sales force reside in big electronic chains instead of let the chain store’s sales people who would only biased even more toward Nikon/Canon, and sometimes Sony because Sony paid incentives to sales. Let’s face it, Olympus USA doesn’t know marketing. Campaign is unexciting. What it needs is some iconic launch event. Most people who buy into m4/3 cameras aren’t aspiring photographers…, but more interested in having a convenient camera that fits into their lifestyle. You market your product based on your target audience…, so just submit to it, IF it’s money that’s the most important issue.

          Do you seriously think NEX’s quick rise to market share is because NEX is such a capable photographic tool? The ergonomic is questionable, and I bet the user base has no plan to buy additional lens, which is just HUGE and unbalanced to the disproportional body….

          Lots of people are buying stuff they don’t understand. It’s a reflection of modern society. But what they want is something they can identify themselves with. Why people buy SUV? Why people one day want smallest possible phone and another day suddenly want a monster size iPhone? Come on, you’re in the industry long enough know how trend goes. People want to buy an identity for themselves, so give them one. That’s the modern marketing.

          • No doubt distribution (and acceptance) in the US is part of the issue you don’t see much mirrorless here. But that’s just another variant of the installed base versus current sales game. The installed base of Nikon and Canon DSLRs is very high in the US. Sony has been gaining on DSLR sales in the US, but you still don’t see them at the level their sales might imply, and that’s because of installed base. Same thing happens with phones, cars, all sorts of things. I still see lots of Blackberrys in use, but their sales have been trending down for some time now.

            When I studied new technology economics in my PhD program, we had to factor a number of things in trying to use observed use to guess market trends. The two big factors are Installed Base and Replacement Cycle Length. Let’s see if I can give a simple example:

            100 widgets observed, 90 X and 10 Y
            widget replacement cycle is 10 years
            installed base is 1 million widgets
            10% growth in installed base
            current sales is 100k widgets
            current widget sales is 50% X and 50% Y

            So if you observed again in one year you would expect that ~90k widgets have been replaced, and 45k of those are are Y. The new installed base would be 10% new users (50/50 X/Y) and 100% old users. So we’d expect to observe something like 85+ X and 20 Y. Note that the number of X we see didn’t change much! We do see twice as many Y now, but compared to what we see in X that was only a modest increase, despite equal sales. (It’s early in the morning, hope I got the math right without building a spreadsheet, but regardless, the point is the same ;~).

            • cL

              That’s okay Thom. I think I’ve done something similar in school and I had trouble understanding it. It’s one of those things I hate…. LOL! But I do understand what you’re trying to say (just don’t ask me to calculate it. Stats isn’t my thing. Neither is calculus, but I am glad I studied it, so I can understand the concept, just not the actual calculation).

              Anyways, there are other things I observed (I know, not scientific, but I hope it’s useful to you when making decisions). Never underestimate the effect of trickle down/trickle up. Also, some brands are more popular in other countries, and in a culturally more diverse area like SF Bay Area, it does give some sort of bias/boost effect to a brand.

              Your X/Y widget analysis seems to me (I could be wrong) is flawed in one way…, it seems to assume X’s producer doesn’t do anything to combat the rise of Y’s market share, which is rarely the case in real world. That’s why I imagine Nikon and Canon will continue to enjoy their overwhelming dominance for a long time. Especially Nikon I would imagine, because Nikon’s camera actually has the quality to support its dominance and I would assume most Canon users, after more experienced with photography, would slowly migrate to Nikon, if their existing lens collection isn’t tying them down. Though initially, I didn’t buy a Nikon because it looked so big and bulky. I think that’s probably Canon’s users thought at first. But once your skill level moves up, that bulky thing is actually not as big of a deal anymore. Especially now Nikon gives us D5100…, which further confuses people. LOL!

              Sony’s quick rise is an exceptional story. Sony has the marketing prowess. It also makes sensor for Nikon, so people are aware of their good technology via an indirect way. Sony also owns Minolta engineers, so Minolta people are inherited and a quick boost to Sony’s credential. Honestly, I do like Sony’s offering, and almost bought an A900 because it was on sale for a price I couldn’t pass up, but its lack of LiveView and replacement cost for my current lenses (that match the grade of my Zuiko lenses) pretty much killed my plan. I am a value buyer, so I know good value when I see one. Sony’s aggressive stance to gain market share means they’ll sell things at much better value than established players. Same thing for Olympus. People usually don’t see things in term of value, but as absolute price tag…, sadly.

    • tmrgrs

      Quote from Thom – “entry-level DSLRs are becoming high-end DSLR-like”

      Canon’s Rebel XS with kit lens is only $479 at Adorama. Looks to me like entry level DSLR’s are moving both up and down market. It’s amazing to me that my original DRebel seven years ago was almost $1000!

      • No. A Rebel XS is what, two or three generations old. You’re seeing excess inventory being remaindered, much like we’ve see E-PL1’s going for US$399 lately. This, too, is a factor in mirrorless getting much traction, though. As long as a DSLR is perceived as “being better,” those fire sales on older models still look better than the new m4/3 models. But my point was that current and future generations of DSLR models have moved upscale, and this is likely a pre-emptive move by Nikon and Canon.

        • cL

          May I suggest to rephrase your assessment that “entry-level DSLR are ‘perceived’ as high-end DSLR like”? I don’t think it’s a move made by Nikon and Canon, but due to creation of m4/3 which occupies a space that didn’t exist before (between entry DSLR and advance P&S). So relatively, entry-level DSLRs look higher scale… though price points are lowered. No one did this intentionally. Nikon and Canon are merely playing along, which favors them in an unexpected way. Business plans are flexible (if companies are smart).

  • Technology adoption nearly always follows an S-curve, with early adopters fueling initial growth as the product is introduced. When first introduced, new technology is usually interesting but usually performs worse and at a higher cost than existing mature technologies. As the new technology matures, it begins to match the existing technology’s price/performance while introducing advantages unique to it. That is the tipping point, and the adoption curve sweeps upward quickly.

    Up to now we’ve more or less been at the early adopter phase, but we are approaching that tipping point with mirrorless. The Panny G3 by most accounts stands toe to toe with entry level dSLRs, while the Sony NEX-C3 is introducing interesting features (i.e., focus peaking) that existing dSLRs can’t offer in a package that’s svelte and hard to ignore. And as importantly as the technology, the price is competitive and they have the distribution channels in place. With these two behemoths leading the charge, and not likely to give up, it’s just a matter of time, and when the dust settles on the entry-level/low-end market, attention can be focused higher up the food chain.

    So whether Panasonic is first or second or whether or not Sony has stolen some thunder with NEX, it’s no matter. Salad days are coming.

  • pdc

    Both Panasonic and Sony need to build brand recognition over those names the consumer generally first associates with better Japanese cameras – Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus (and forgetting those that are now history). While they have substantial presence in the compact point-and-shoot market, even the least discerning consumer understands that the IQ is generally lacking in this genre. Saturating the market with very affordable mirrorless interchangeable lens system cameras (MILCs) will build brand presence in the consumer market for better cameras, and provide the solid revenue stream to fund R&D, and bring a deeper product mix to market. Frustrating for the enthusiast who has seen a dummying down of the lower-priced MILC bodies, but we will see a greater range of upper end bodies appear – these lend credence to the notion that the electronics giants can match or best the traditional enthusiast and professional manufacturers (Canon and Nikon, in particular). I thought the G1 was a wonderful way to start the process of introducing Panasonic’s MILC technologies, and I see the strategic thinking behind the G3 and now GF3, while continuing to expand the lens line-up that will appeal across the broad spectrum of user interests. I am more than pleased with the performance of the GH2, and while the build is not at the professional level, I can live with it until the next release, which will probably come next spring. In the meantime, we need to continue to advocate for higher end bodies from these manufacturers. We will also likely be pleasantly surprised by the announcement of higher function rangefinder style bodies sooner rather than later (GR?). For most enthusiasts, I think that EVF is mandatory and the message has been getting across, but we have to accept that while enthusiast features help sell the brand, they don’t directly translate into the volume of sales needed to keep the brand competitive – the entry level models do that.

  • Alan

    Unfortunately you can take market share percentages and prove different things from them. It is undoubtedly true that Panasonic have made great strides in the last couple of years.

    Consider this – in 43 Olympus was the major player, Panasonic a fringe associate, but since m43 was introduced Panasonic has clearly become the major player. Why?

    Perhaps in some ways Pany have made better decisions than Olympus. Decisions and planning are vital (although controlling the sensor is also important!). Pany recognised the appeal of the SLR format (shape, VF, grip) as well as the desire of some for a more compact format. So we have had the G1/2 for enthusiasts, the higher end GH1/2, compact quality in the GF1 (with VF option), hopefully with a successor to come, an invitation for p & s upgraders in the ultra compact GF2/3, and the G3 seeming to appeal to upgraders and enthusiasts. They are seriously working at broadening the appeal of m43.

    In comparison, what have Olympus offered us? To begin with the EP1 – priced at the upper end enthusiast level, the EP2 upgrade that gave us the viewfinder option that seemed forgotten 1st time around, and also the very similar variants pitched a little lower. Nowhere near the range of options from Panasonic, just 4/5 very similar variations on a theme. They have already lost the momentum of an exciting new format, with serious consequences to sales and profits.

    A number of posters on this site therefore lament that Olympus is dying (on reflection lament is the wrong word as some posters seem quite pleased or vindictive!!). Perhaps they do have a few health issues, but even with these they seem to build better cameras and lenses! The new lenses coming show that Oly are aware of increasing the format’s appeal to serious users, and 3 new cameras seem to show more interest in widening the appeal further.

    The decision to develop m43 was outstanding. What an opportunity to maximize the advantages of the sensor size!! The m43 concept clearly implied the presence of EVFs on at least some cameras – so why nothing yet from Olympus? I hope we don’t have to wait for the vague references to developing high end m43 (m43 Pro) cameras 2 years hence. Why so long? (The EVF techology is already here, and Olympus seem to be about to up the AF technology with the imminent releases.) What about the last 2 years? Have they only just seen the need to go in this direction? Who is making the decisions that steer the company, and is no one regularly reviewing strategy and sales?
    It saddens me that such an exciting format has not developed as well as it could. Although I would love to move into m43 in a big way, no way is it anywhere near ready to replace an SLR system. At present I have just dipped my toes in the water, but coming releases will allow me to expand to a small compact outfit (a sort of digital Leica CL type outfit). So even though I will probably buy a couple of lenses from Olympus, they are missing the chance to sell me a more suitable compact body with EVF, or even a bigger system.

    Minolta blew a great opportunity to build on the successful introduction of AF SLRs, they went on to squander the massive commercial advantage this gave them and eventually sink into oblivion. I truly hope Olympus don’t continue to squander the opportunities of m43 and suffer a similar fate!

    • cL

      Panasonic makes better business position alright. It’s undeniable truth. Panasonic’s long term alliance with Sony in itself is a smart decision. Olympus’s business model is decades old, which basically believes if you made a good product, people would beat their path to purchase it (same should be said about Toshiba). Modern consumers are more self-conscious and buying habits are more compulsive, so to cater this market, you need to create a brand that people will identify themselves with.

      Olympus is conservatively very Japanese. Which probably will give them an advantage at home market, but not abroad. Olympus products are made in Japan (like how Made in USA will give American market a big boost because of good “American value”). Japanese people also value “action speaks louder than words” so the product’s quality speaks for themselves. That doesn’t work in American market where advertising campaign has very strong dominance in term of selling force. I still don’t understand how Korean cellphones can garner such big market share in the U.S., when their user interface stinks…. People just prefer flashy looking phones I guess (and we are notoriously good at throwing things away every 1-2 years so quality isn’t very important).

      Minolta didn’t blow good opportunity nor drift into oblivion. They just got bought by Sony, that’s all. Sony needs Minolta’s credential to break into professional photographic world. Sony could have bought Olympus to do the same job, but Olympus is a much bigger company and financially less shaky than Minolta so Olympus has a chance to fight back. Sony could buy Fuji also, but Fuji has film business that Sony probably doesn’t want. Minolta is just a prime candidate, which brings Sony a lot of patents during its Leica partnership and now allied with Zeiss…. Sony is big not without reasons.

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