Samsung wants to partner with Olympus


As you know Olympus officially stated that they are seeking for a “friendly investor to make a minority investment and help revive its business after a $1.7 billion accounting scandal erupted in October“. And according to sources from Reuters: “South Korea’s Samsung Electronics is open to forging an alliance with Japan’s troubled Olympus CorpSouth Korea’s Samsung Electronics is open to forging an alliance with Japan’s troubled Olympus Corp“. Also the “Private equity firm TPG Capital is willing to invest about $1 billion in Japan’s” (Source: Reuters).

Samsung expressly said that they don’t want to acquire Olympus but build a partnership with it. This to me sounds not bad at all. It would allow Olympus to remain independent and to gain potentially terrific partner. Samsung can deliver OLED and Viewfinder technology, sensor fabrication and more. And Samsung is desperately in need to revive their camera business! NX sales are terrible bad and they even had to delay the NX20 (there was price drop) launch to avoid another flop. Samsung could join the m43 coalition with Olympus, and probably develop new (fullframe?) systems for the future. What do you think?

P.S.: I think Samsung cameras are not that bad and the lins lineup is quite good. See the full NX stuff here: Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.


  • new Olympus business partner likely to be medical equipment company Terumo who they already have a capital relationship in place with.

    • They might increase their investment, but Terumo is too small to provide the amount of capital Olympus needs.

      • @Thom Hogan
        Terumo have rising sales and assets, a good equity ratio, reasonable gross margin (52%) and cash flow…

        • Non responsive to my comment, as usual. None of those things speak to Terumo’s overall size and the total amount of money they could invest. I have rising sales and assets, a tremendous equity ratio, a better gross margin, and good cash flow, but I couldn’t make the investment Olympus needs, either. As I noted, they might increase their investment, but I don’t see them being the only investor for the size of cash infusion Olympus is asking for.

          • @Thom Hogan
            have i used the word “only”????
            like you didn’t use the phrase “total amount of capital”

  • BLI

    Samsung is a good company in many respects. They could also provide some communication tools, e.g Android based etc. (Personally, I’d like to see a more open system, which also supports iOS and Windows).

  • Seems like a great idea to me.

    Samsung is a great company, but there is no way they will make it on their own. With Oly the get the name brand recognition they need in the photography market.

    And, yes I think they would have the potential to create great m4/3 cameras with Olympus. I don’t know how this would work practically, but seems very interesting.

    Think also think this could be very good for the M4/3 system as a whole.

  • What do I think?

  • This is probably the best situation that Olympus could hope for at the present since other partners have vested interests that might run counter to those of the company. Samsung does have some technologies that that Olympus could use and having access to some of the technology from Olympus would benefit Samsung.

  • Miroslav

    IMO Samsung sensors are worst APS-C sensors at the moment, so I wouldn’t like to see their 4/3 sensors in Olympus bodies. But if they could give up NX for m4/3, redesign their lenses for smaller sensor and contribute some other technologies, then why not let them join? But can two electronic giants like Samsung and Panasonic be in one system? Are NX20 delay and their rumored move to IBIS a possible sign of Samsung’s move to m4/3? Whatever happens, I wouldn’t rely solely on them for system cameras, because their partnership with Pentax was short lived and they subsequently killed their system.

    • twoomy

      +1. The last thing Olympus needs is an even worse sensor.

    • OlyFan

      While I agree with your sensor point, I think if Samsung and Panasonic are in one system, that would just increase competition in a very good way. Samsung as we know are very aggressive. This would atleast push Panasonic to bring more innovations and bring it out quick. As I see it, we consumers would win with this move.

    • Parci

      That was true with the last generation, however, the NX200 sensor seems very good actually.

      • Reto

        Parci is right, look at NX200 samples and you’ll see that it’s very close to the Nex 7.

      • Stupig

        Still the worst APSc if I saw it right.

    • Fan

      Folks, this is all about finance, not sensors or camera systems. Cameras don’t play a role at all.

      • twoomy

        @Fan–Agreed to a point. But whenever big money flows between two companies that make competing or complimentary products, there is going to be some sharing of ideas or other things…

  • Mike

    Would be great – Samsung is making great Devices
    They could use their existing APS Sensors as multiformat on mFT…

  • Another brand joining a mirrorless standard like m 4/3 is always welcome!

  • mahler

    At least, Samsung understands how to make ergonomic and user friendly bodies, which fit very well in one’s hands, something Olympus never understood. Also, Samsung is not stubbornly stuck to only one camera form factor, so that it is plausible that with the aid of Samsung, Olympus can find a way out of it’s dead end PEN only and nostalgia strategy (the PEN and OM myths, about which only a minority really cares).

    • Ben Y

      So tired of people regurgitating their own preferences and making it sound as if they know exactly what everyone wants.

      The fact that Olympus is making an OM like camera tells us that there is a market for these “nostalgic” cameras. Don’t you think Olympus would have spent time and money in market research before deciding to spend millions into creating a new system?? And the fact that they keep making these pen cameras tells us people buy them. Or would you like to undermine all the millions worth of market research they have under their belt because your sole opinion of what the market is like is somehow more accurate??

      • achiinto

        +1 to Ben Y. My gf will only use a white pen anytime.

        • Anonymous

          Is it really a fact that Olympus is making an OM digital? Even if Olympus spends millions on market research, they still not sure what customers want – they should know that most customers want a better sensor in their cameras many years ago.

          According to Steve Jobs, most customers do not know what they want in a product.

          • spam

            Of course it’s not a fact, it’s a rumor. And it wont be a digital OM. If it exists it’s still going to be a mFT model, maybe with a retro look.

        • Michael

          “The fact that Olympus is making an OM like camera tells us that there is a market for these “nostalgic” cameras.”

          While I agree with your basic sentiment, this sentence is ridiculous. Companies make all sorts of products for which there is no market.

          Now had you said, “Olympus’s Pen (and Fuji’s) success tells us that there is a market for these ‘nostalgic’ cameras,” you’d be correct.

      • WT21

        “So tired of people regurgitating their own preferences and making it sound as if they know exactly what everyone wants.”


    • Rchard

      There is nothing wrong with the ergonomics with E-3/5 and E-30 or even the smaller E-4XX, E5XX or E-6XX.

      • hlbt

        Agreed — I want an m43 camera with an E-420 or E-620 body, which I really nails it in terms of balancing ergonomics and portability.

    • Agrees! The NX has very nice usability, better than m4/3 Oly and Pana (incl GH2).

    • Steve

      The PEN fits well in my hands, as does my E-3. What are you on about?

      • WT21

        They’re on to the personal preference. My personal preference is for the Pens, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a universal good. Only a personal preference.

  • bilgy_no1

    What I think is that you are making the jump from an investment in Olympus Corp. to camera technology and standards way too easily.

    And you know this yourself, but it will make for some nice silly posts… Which is totally fine of course.

  • The real benefit for Olympus could be for their compact cameras – Samsung is one of the biggest mobile phone manufacturers. This is going to eat up the compact market share in coming years, however a partnership with Samsung here could produce some very interesting products.

  • OlyFan

    While the prospect of this partnership sounds great (especially since the Oly sensor needs a desperate reboot), I don’t quite think Oly may be ready for this considering that Samsung is not a Japanese company.

    • Yes.

      From all what I have seen before, they want to avoid attracting foreign investors.


      P.S. As per financial analysis, right now Olympus doesn’t even have any urgent need for the capital. Yet, they have decided to print more stock, as if they are paying off somebody, and chances are that those somebodies are other Japanese companies.

  • I have a fried in South Korea and those are friendly people.
    I think Samsung and Oly can be successful together.
    But i hope they stay with what they know: Somewhere in the range between 4/3 and APS ( perhaps somehow a middle thing beween Oly m4/3 and Samsung NX ) and I hope they do not try to compete in the FF area.
    If I would have wantet Fllframe then I would be away from Oly.
    I think Fullframe is a marketing term, and not really necessary with today’s technology. More important is lens quality and AF quality.

  • DingieM

    Sounds interesting and has very high potential.

    …Samsung Galaxy S4 with improved m43 sensor and high quality optics…oh yes!

    • Miroslav

      Or Samsung Galaxy PEN :).

  • OlyFan

    I wonder if anyone paid attention to this statement in the Reuters article linked above –

    “Samsung has ruled out any interest in Olympus’ loss-making camera business, but a company source said on Thursday that it might consider an alliance with Olympus in other areas.”

    So all this ado for nothing?

    • Miroslav

      Olympus is looking for a minority shareholder. There are no medical division or imaging division shares. On the other hand, Samsung camera business is not rosy either, they haven’t been able to match the success of mobile phone branch. Don’t know about Samsung camera division profitability though.

      • > Don’t know about Samsung camera division profitability though.

        Samsung Electronics Annual Report 2010

        Probably the most fancied up annual report I have ever seen.

        No split info about the NX line performance is given. They only say that the “Digital Imaging” business grew (sales of camcoders shrunk, but sales of digital cameras grew). Market share of “premium digital cameras” (whatever it is) is at 34%. And that’s only what I could find.

  • JY

    Please no! Samsung doesn’t know how to make cameras at all. In the Asian market, their brand name is associated with cheap and mediocrity. What they’re good at is stealing other companies’ ideas, making cheap copycat products and marketing them through misleading advertising. Why they got such ‘good’ reputation in the west is beyond me. Probably because their products are cheaper than the Japanese.

    • Steve

      Samsung has a good reputation in Asia, I can assure you. Phones are even popular in Japan now, and phones/TVs/etc are always popular sellers in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore…

      • rootkit

        “Phones are even popular in Japan now” – erm, no. They’re TVs have been gaining in popularity in Japan, however. Still, I agree with JY – cheap ripoffs. They’re also a scummy company.

  • What do I think? I think a Samsung/Olympus camera partnership is pure wishful thinking.

    When a company says it’s looking for a “friendly investor,” that means “someone who won’t change the way we do business or ask any awkward questions.”

    And when a supplier says it’s open to “forging an alliance,” it probably means, “We’d like to sell them stuff, if they can pay their bills.”

    • Mr. Reeee


      Exactly. Apple made an “investment” in Samsung of over a billion dollars at one point to assure deliveries of RAM and displays for iOS devices.

      Samsung went ahead and pirated a bunch of Apple technology for their phones and crappy tablets. Now it’s the old dueling lawyer thing. Meanwhile Samsung still sells components to Apple.

    • Carl

      Brand perception doesn’t always reflect reality. Samsung has some very good cameras (crappy ones as well).

      Copying technology and making it better or more competitive is not a bad practice. That’s what the japanese did with american/european products before their companies became creators of new technology. Chinese are doing it as well…

      • Din

        “Apple supported Samsung with investment.” yeah, right…
        Apple is a “put-all-together” company.
        Samsung has years with investment and research for new chip technology and not because Apple investment Samsung has what they have right now.
        Samsung has more than 3 times Apple tech patents per year in chip designs.
        “Samsung has what its has thanks to Apple” is just a urban legend.

        I really doubt Samsung join to M4/3, they have an APS-C system and even if they can make M4/3 sensors for Olympus, is very different
        to use themselves.
        Samsung could get benefit from image image processor software and maybe optical patents that they can use in APS-C lenses.
        Olympus could get another sensor provide, more AMOLED screens tech, flash memories, integrated circuits and image processors.
        Also, Samsung has 2 new 1/2.3″ CMOS BSI sensors and they are in the 3rd position globally in P&S market.

        Now, the real Samsung interest is the medical division more than camera one.

    • > And when a supplier says it’s open to “forging an alliance,” it probably means, “We’d like to sell them stuff, if they can pay their bills.”

      Quite far from the truth.

      It was previously reported already that Samsung wants a piece of Oly’s medical business.

  • Dinko

    Somehow I don’t see Samsung and Olympus working together on cameras. Exchanging technology, that I can see. In cameras, Samsung needs Olympus more than the reverse. Nevermind the academic sensor tests and lens measurements. In real life, I bring my EP3 almost daily with me. I usually keep my NX10 in a drawer. The reason for that is the autofocus speed and shutter lag. On Olympus, autofocus is amazing. On the Samsung, focus speed is ok, but all Samsung cameras i’ve played with suffer from shutter lag. By the time the pic is captured, all you get are blurry disfigured objects.

    That said, despite the criticism its taking for sensor quality, my best landscape pictures were taken with the NX10. Its pure magic at dawn or dusk when you photograph still landscapes. But I still wouldn’t invest any money in the NX system. Having a whole system for landscape photography is retarded, when Olympus does a pretty good job, I just need to spend a little more time in post processing.

    • MichaelKJ

      This is a quote from the Reuter’s article. Samsung has no interest in Oly’s camera business.

      “Samsung has ruled out any interest in Olympus’ loss-making camera business, but a company source said on Thursday that it might consider an alliance with Olympus in other areas.”

      • Scott

        You wouldnt give a company 1billion to partner up on a loosing camera business.

  • Read

    Can people read the article before posting comments?? Any alliance with Samsung (if any, as the article makes it sound extremely speculative) will be structured as a non-equity investment with a focus on the NON-CAMERA aspects of Oly. Learn to READ before going on wild goose chases about sensors and other crap.

  • MP Burke

    Brand image may be a factor behind the modest take up of the NX system. These cameras are widely avialable in the UK but I think that Samsung are seen as less well established than Sony or Panasonic, perhaps a bit down-market, (in the minds of those who are more familiar with the makers of their TV sets than the established camera makers).
    An investment from Samsung would probably be more desirable than that from an investment fund, who are often after buying into a company with a view to making a profitable exit within two to three years. There are potential technological synergies between the two companies.

  • Duarte Bruno

    @Admin: Repeated text.
    “South Korea’s Samsung Electronics is open to forging an alliance with Japan’s troubled Olympus CorpSouth Korea’s Samsung Electronics“

  • Admin, your site is broken, at least in Chrome.

    The first post shows up ok but the ones after that are in the narrow right hand side pane so they are and unreadable.

    • Mysterious, now it suddenly works!

      • That happens in other browsers too, occasionally. I think some ads have broken layout or something.

  • This sounds one more foot forward to Olympus becoming obscure. I have known this company for a very long time and have watched them stumble through the film era and the digital era. They have a bad habit of making something way advanced and desirable and then dropping the ball. I think most of us are not so concerned about their medical, etc. business. More the case is the camera business. Unfortunately any folks thinking about helping them out are looking at the profitable side of the business. That is the part that has continued to move forward in market.

    It is a shame because they really make great cameras and lenses and always have.

    I hope they hang in.


    maybe samsung can design a global-shutter for 43 yet it should be possibell

  • Samsung is the world’s #1 consumer electronics manufacturer, they passed sony a couple of years ago.

  • AMVR

    I know this all nonsense and the camera business will remain untouched but it would certainly be nice to have samsung lens roadmap incorporated into m43. I’ve always wondered why samsung never made a tl500 with lens mount instead of their NX design. Having a TL500 with m43 mount would be nice.

    Dreaming aside, it’s less than a month until Oly official announcemnt i would’ve guess we would see some leaks by now. Admin ?

  • Steve-O

    Stories of Olympus suitors change by the day: TPG Capital, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Samsung, even Sony. Samsung remains very vague, not surprising since all parties are likely doing the dance behind the scenes right now:

    Some more detailed accounts:


    Some excerpts:
    “Olympus remains a thorny takeover target for potential bidders because the multinational remains under investigation by police, prosecutors and regulators at home as well as by law-enforcement agencies in the United States and Britain.

    Its disgraced senior management and board is also in disarray, with shareholders not expected to vote in a new board, including chairman and chief executive, until March or April when Olympus has said it will convene an extraordinary meeting.”


    “Olympus’ listing status is also under a cloud, though risks of it being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange appear to be fading with public broadcaster NHK reporting on Friday that the exchange was set to decide to keep Olympus on its boards.

    The exchange is likely to hold an extraordinary executive meeting to decide Olympus’ fate as early as January 20, NHK added. The exchange said in a statement that nothing had been decided.”

  • Bob B.

    Samsung…hmmmm….do they make CAMERAS ????? :-)

  • jim

    Fuck yeh – this would give oly acsess to stuff they need – also it might mean another m4/3 system – maybe sam will move to the oly way!!!

  • I think that full frame is the past I just don’t see any company willing to invest in a new full frame mount system – it doesn’t make any sense business wise.

  • Hope this is a rumor or won’t come true.
    Otherwise, it will be a sad and slow bye for Oly.

  • casualobserver

    I’m afraid this Olympus 4/3 partnership is about getting something for nothing.

    Pentax was smart to pull out of their partnership with Samsung.

    Look Samsung, you have cash flow, hire smart engineers, innovators and designers. Invest in your factories/QA. Invest in yourself. Stop cutting corners!

  • Berbu

    Terrible idea. Samsung is one greedy company that has lot of ethical issue. They had marketed their products as made in Japan, in South America and Africa, and many people still believes that Samson is a Japanese company in those countries. Samson stole many things from Apple while Samson supplied the parts to Apple, and then they released a bad copy of iPhone. Apple sued them in many countries. Then…

    • Great Dane

      I will not argue that they have some dodgy moves, but the Apple thing is plain apple-fanboi stupid talk.

      So apple argues that by making a flat screen surface as a tablet, you break their patents… They are not only suing Samsung here, but everyone, even a health food restaurant in Luxemburg called “An apple a day”… Apple is plain crazy and we are well to be off with that lunatic Steve Jobs… If only he had taken his company with him into the grave, though that can hopefully still happen.

      • Din

        The same stupid urban legend.
        I would like see at least 1 prove that Samsung steal from Apple tech or patents and if Apple sued Samsung for tablets, they really need sue HP for the TouchPad with the same screen format almost squared from the iPad.
        All of those are BS, the Samsung chips is one of the most advanced and successful right now and they are the 2nd maker and seller of CMOS technology globally (just behind Omnivision)… and not thanks to Apple.

        • casualobserver

          It’s probably why HP got rid of the Touchpad in a hurry. Pressure from Apple. HP just can’t afford legal battles with Apple. They’ve had a rough decade. Shame, because the Touchpad was something very right for WebOS/Palm/HP.

  • Great Dane

    “Samsung camaras are not that bad” that is the correct formulation, they are actually not bad. The sensors are decent (Not brilliant, but decent) the bodies are ok, though bigger than anything else in the mirrorless world. The viewfinder is fine, it is fast, precise, bright and detailed. All in all a decent camera, but it does not have an edge over any of the competitors, so Samsung have to sell them at a discount to sell anything, and for this market (amateurs) we don’t buy stuff at a discount because it is decent, when we can get something good at a little extra…

    The only good thing about the Samsumg NX lineup is the iFunction thing, which works really well (At least at a stand for 5mins) and is something I would love to see on other systems (Ours included) (And I have no idea why Apple have not sued Samsung already. Don’t Appple think they own the small letter i now?)

  • camerman

    How could Samsung gain recognition if they partnered up with Oly? Provided the cameras they build would have Olympus Samsung nameplate on the front.Sides, there’s enough micro 43 makers out there, we don;t need another.With more and more people crying for larger than m43 sensors all the time, going from aps-c to m43 would be silly for Samsung.They can make better sensors with time, but what they should do is worry about making better cameras in the meantime..instead of putting out cameras like the nx200 with missing key features. I guess they didn’t learn from Panasonics gf2 gf3 mistakes. Samsung may have to come out with an NX 1x like the g x1 to rectify it. when are CSC makers going to learn, most women like small buttonless cameras for their purses, while most men like larger button filled cameras. There isn’t a camera that will fill both needs. Samsung’s CSC next move better be good..cause it may be there last one if they continue to annoy their own customers.

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