Why 2011 is the Year of Olympus (Zone-10). Weatherproof PRO M43 and Foveon camera coming?

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So, after reading Thom Hogans opinion about Olympus future you might want to read a second opinion from Khen Lim at Zone-10. He mixed up history and speculations to give us a positive vision about Olympus upcoming products. He expects a lot from the Olympus pro-m43 camera but this are a mix of hopes and speculations so take it with a grain of salt! In short he expects a super tank built weatherproof PEN camera:

What is particularly interesting with Yamaki’s (Sigma) announcement was his company’s intention to develop its own interpretation of the mirrorless camera around the Foveon sensor.
The generation after the 1’s (E-P1/E-PL1/E-PL1s) and the 2’s (E-P2/E-PL2) will unfold Olympus’ bigger picture but we’ve already seen some of the company’s ideas in the form of that accessory slot behind the Pen’s hotshoe. That slot is going to be big business in many ways for Olympus but that’s not all.
“The diminutive XZ-1 also holds plenty of clues too. This is not a camera from a company that is shrinking away from the business. It is a bold move from one that is, instead, confident of where it wants to head.”
“In separate closed-door meetings with the two Germany companies (Zeiss and Schneider), Olympus would have shed light on to its future development roadmap, talked more keenly about its next generation of Pen cameras and the lenses they have now lined up. In and amongst all of these, Olympus would have revealed to the Germans at least the specs if not the pro-grade Pen prototype in the flesh. The Japanese would have discussed not just the E-P3 but the P4 and P5 and the plans they have to take the lead in this new market.”
Despite accusations that Olympus doesn’t listen to its users, some of us actually believe they do. Like Panasonic, Olympus keeps track of several key websites and blogsites throughout the Internet world, establishing a global communiqué with its key subsidiaries, each of whom has site coverage to closely monitor and find out about the movements on the ground. However while Panasonic is quick to respond, Olympus appears more sluggish to the point where people actually believe they’re not listening. Rest be assured they are, they do and they have been.
Olympus introduce weatherproofing to Pen camera . Olympus’ next-generation pro-grade Pen cameras will be nothing less than tank-built in quality. You’d be able to feel that quality in the palm of your hand.

Let’s hope Zone-10 is right and Olympus will really bring some major innovation. And honestly I would love if Sigma would make a foveon m43 camera!

Links:
Current Sigma foveon cameras at Amazon
– The newest foveon model the SD1 at BHphoto.

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  • YeahYeah

    The foveon sensor doesn’t allow live view, end of the story.

    • What’s ironic is that when Foveon first introduced the technology, they were high on the video capabilities that were possible.

  • The Sigma DP series of compact cameras use foveon sensors and live view.

  • Andrea

    Eric, you win =D

  • Ulli

    sounds good!

  • After a year and a half with no new E-Px camera and only minor iterations, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • admin

      +1

      • It’s not only a question of that. Optimism is important to drive the market. This article by Khem Lim, whether it turns out to be correct or not, is important because of its power to counter the cynics. Worried consumers don’t buy, move to other formats and ultimately hurt Micro 43rds. Not that I’m advocating lying to people, but keeping a balance between the positive and negative feedback is necessary. So I’m glad the Zone-10 article was posted here, but disappointed it got far less attention that Mr. Hogan’s writeup. There is a lot more valuable information in the original article that could be summed up in this post.

        • twoomy

          Well I do believe Thom is intentionally stirring the pot, the way he does with Nikon and Sony as well. Sometimes these companies need a good kick in the pants to get things rolling again. Whether or not they actually listen to blog pundits or comments by a nobody by me is up for debate, but if they are listening, here’s my list…

          Pany: Make more GH2’s! This is your flagship M43 hybrid camera. It’s a great camera! Everybody wants it, but many cannot get it! Crank up production already!

          Oly: Get that pro M43 camera out there ASAP! It will restore faith that M43 isn’t a one-company system at this point! And start offering more quality glass! Olympus made so many wonderful high-end 43 lenses; we need to see that high-quality applied to M43.

          And somebody please give me a landscape zoom that starts at 12mm or 10mm! Pany’s 12-50 or an M43 version of Oly’s 11-22 would get landscapers pretty excited.

          • Just let me say this: it’s not that the Japanese engineering teams aren’t trying to come up with better and more advanced cameras. Nobody ever disputed that, and I’m sure that we’ll see Olympus continue to add/change/improve things about their m4/3 camera designs. But it’s about HOW you prioritize those additions, changes, and improvements, and how they appear to the ultimate customer. Every company makes mistakes at this, but it’s the degree and kind of mistake that is important. Apple, for instance, has long been on a run of design decisions that are tightly focused and produce products that are not only intuitively understood, but flexible and powerful. I can only contrast this to what I see out of the camera companies. For example, I’ve been playing with my new GH2 lately, and I have to ask what the hell Panasonic is doing with some of their decisions. Unlike MR at Luminous-Landscape, I think Panny’s menus are a mess. We’ve got a seven-page CUSTOM menu, for example, and the naming is problematic on many items, especially given that Panny doesn’t have a ? (help) button to describe what the heck they mean (and the manual isn’t ANY help at all–it’s Engineering Japlish at its worst). If you’re not careful, you can make the LCD a overwhelming horde of symbols and icons that keep you from seeing the image you’re trying to frame. I have to contrast that against the way Samsung did their LCD display: night and day clarity versus Panny’s clutter.

            And MR’s blog comments can be taken the wrong way by the manufacturer (“hey, we did everything right.”). I certainly don’t think so: there’s no clarity of vision, priority, and hierarchy to the display/menu system. And it’s getting worse with each passing model.

            So yes, we’ll get newer, better, improved cameras from Oly and the rest. The question at hand is whether those will be the right improvements. Because if they aren’t, or if they take away from the thing that were right in the previous product, you don’t get the customer response you need that grows the business faster than your rivals. That’s been exactly one of Olympus’ problems in the digital era: the 4/3 system never got traction that let them grow faster than market rates, so they continued to take a very small slice of a lucrative market. The m4/3 world isn’t going a lot better for them, as Panny seems to be outselling them, and now they have Sony/Samsung and soon Nikon/Pentax to contend with.

            My point has been and remains: you have to execute better than your competition when you’re not the #1 or #2 player. It’s not yet clear that Oly is doing that.

          • Archer

            Thom: Word. Trout and Ries are right, but for somem reason the folks in charge don’t seem to have gotten the memo, or at least not to have read it.

          • wife

            Apparently Thom thinks money grows on tree and marketing is cheap. Or cameras are even any close to the #1 priority with Olympus.

          • Apparently Wife thinks that Olympus doesn’t have enough money to spend on marketing and can’t comprehend that they’re wasting it. Let’s hope he doesn’t become an elected official trying to figure out government budgets.

        • Vlad

          So this article is optimistic and the other is cynic. Not pessimistic? This article is excused for its flaws, because it is positive. Thom’s article provides ideas on how to deal with things and that is negative feedback?

          Thom’s article provides much less speculation than this one.

          “3. Olympus appeared slow on the take by comparison
          (…) So far they haven’t done a very good job with that, admittedly. But that’s always been the plan.”
          Clearly he knows it, so, what’s the plan?

          “4. Micro FourThirds has gained substantial traction in sales”
          Same as
          “6. Micro FourThirds appear to have a stronger following
          …than FourThirds.”
          The mirrorless cameras are much more targeted to the consumer market than any DLSR, be it even an entry-level one. What’s the surprise of m43 selling more than 43? THe consumer market is huge!

          “7. Olympus is quietly up to something”
          What follow in that paragraph has some valid points, but clearly doesn’t point to Olympus being up to something.

          The only points that I find agreeable is that Panasonic is not sitting on its ass and that all those 3rd parties joining the m43 probably means something. Although that something can as well be related only to Panasonic.

          • > This article is excused for its flaws, because it is positive.

            Well, at the core we have the definition of fandom. One wants the best from a company whose products you’re committed to. You can be optimistic or pessimistic about that. But I don’t think I’m pessimistic, I’m trying to be pragmatic. The simple fact of the matter is that Minolta, Pentax, and Olympus were marginalized at the end of the film SLR reign. For different reasons to be sure, but as film SLR sales peaked, then flattened, then dropped, when you made mistakes the market was not your friend. Towards the end of the film SLR era only Canon and Nikon had the volume necessary to have healthy, profitable businesses, and even Nikon struggled a few times (the F5 was not particularly well received).

            So where are we in the digital era? Unfortunately, we’re at or near peak and have a flat market already. The number of people who need a 24mp APS DSLR when they already have a 12mp APS DSLR that can do more than they actually use is low. Yes, you can market your way to sales, which is what Canon and Nikon try to do. But even for them they have to see that the days of rampant growth in the market are gone.

            Simply put, to grow faster than the market, you need to produce products that resonate with the market and are executed at a higher level than your competition. Sony’s fighting very hard to regain the old Minolta position: aggressive disruptive technology. The question is how hard Olympus and Pentax are fighting. Because if they aren’t AHEAD of the competition and executing better, then we’re just going to have a repeat of the marginalization that happened at the end of the film era.

            Some people see my remarks as overly pessimistic. Not at all. I’m pointing out the things that need to be dealt with to have a better future, not saying that there won’t be a better future. A pragmatic optimist needs to be rooted in reality. The reality is that here we are deep into the digital era and Olympus is still trying to get traction. 4/3 decided upon in 1999. Announced in 2002. First product in 2003.

            So here we are 12 years after the fateful sensor and product decisions were first made and Olympus has still not proven it can get double-digit market share from those efforts. Something is wrong. That’s what I’m trying to point out. I’m not saying that Olympus CAN’T figure out what to do, I’m saying it hasn’t YET figured it out. Unfortunately, the clock ticks.

          • Vlad

            Hmmm. That “This article is excused for its flaws, because it is positive.” was supposed to end with a question mark in my comment.

          • Vlad

            @Thom
            +1 I hardly find your writing to be negative or pessimistic.
            On Pentax – I think they are doing a good job to an extent – the K-x/K-r being extremely well-featured for the price cameras, the K-7/K-5 being the cheapest and smallest WR cameras on the market. The problem is how easily they can be dethroned.

        • Ahem

          Glad it was posted here? While Mr Hogan’s article was well-reasoned, this pro-Olympus article is pure conjecture and offers nothing to support its vague claims.

          • wife

            Talking about conjecture, did you read Hogan’s simplistic solution?

          • Wife: and YOUR solution is? Oh, yes, wait for Olympus to figure out that they have a problem and fix it. Or not. Whichever comes first ;~)

  • CML

    Perhaps he has his own contacts within Olympus…?

    • CRB

      its the same site that predicted a revolutionaty E5….so its marketing bogus…i remember the article about the E-5…i was very impressed and then….

  • Stavros

    oh what a disappointment, from the title I thought a foveon camera is coming from Olympus…

  • > Olympus appears more sluggish to the point where people actually believe they’re not listening.

    “Listening to users” is not the same as “listening and trying to make a product for the users.”

    If that were true, we would have at least heard announcement of E-650 or E-50 with TruPicV+/etc already – just to assure the users of the continued support. (Marketing should have announced it regardless – it might have been a hoax, just to give people something while waiting for m43 to mature.)

    “Listening” is not the same as “hearing.” Having a process inside the company to act upon the feedback is a must.

    I have seen so many great ideas – coming originally from the user feedback – being sandbagged, twisted on pretty much every level – sales, marketing, product strategy and management – to satisfy their own career agendas. (And that a rare idea which makes that far.) And when finally the butchered idea reaches the R&D, often no traces of common sense or usefulness remain and best R&D could do is to reject it completely.

    • Vlad

      “Listening” is not the same as “hearing.” Precisely.

      • True. But in Olympus’ defense, you can’t just hear what SOME users are saying. There’s a point in design decision making where you have to go beyond that and get to the core of something that even the users might not understand. It’s a tough thing to do, and very few companies get it completely right.

        The real chore is listening BEYOND what the users are saying and try to understand the core problems they’re trying to solve and not being able to with the current iterations. It’s not about adding features. It’s about making more usable cameras that produce better results with less user confusion and work.

        So when you listen to a user say something like “I keep finding that the controls accidentally set new things when they’re bumped against, can you add a LOCK feature?”, instead of adding a lock feature, perhaps you really need to develop a design criteria that says “controls shouldn’t change unless the user acts upon them.” That might lead you to a stiffer Mode dial, or it might lead you to Canon’s lockable Mode dial, or it might lead you elsewhere. But it doesn’t necessarily lead you to a LOCK EVERYTHING button.

        • Vlad

          Interesting. Agreed.

        • wife

          Thom, do you know the statistics behind this? How many users complained v. how many who didn’t and liked it that way?

          Unless you’re a psychic who knows the actual statistics, you’re guessing as much as Zone-10.

          • Do you actually pay any attention to who you’re arguing with? Apparently not. I run regularly surveys of camera users, some visible on my site, some not. I follow the camera company’s own surveys, too. (And by the way, I have PhD minor in statistics, what do you have?)

            Olympus is currently running a survey of m4/3 users. It doesn’t actually ask any direct questions about specific features. They do ask you to rank the top five out of the following: price, image quality, camera design, ease-of-use, new technology, size/portability, expanded features (manual controls), interchangeable lenses, HD video, and fun to use. Problem is, they’ll see whatever score that “camera design” receives as validation (or not) of ALL the camera features. Some people will interpret that as “how pretty the camera looks” while some will consider it on a broader level. It won’t give them the kind of information they need to understand their audience better.

            Up above I said Olympus is wasting marketing money. This is an example.

  • Miroslav

    I’m with michel v.

    Haven’t read the zone10 article yet, only this post, but as much as I’d like Olympus to do well and all these predictions to come true, I’m still under the impression of previous 12 disappointing months. It’s been a year now since we got something completely new in m43 – E-PL1. PL2 is just a minor upgrade, although in a right way, but essentially a mix of PL1 and P2. E-5 would be justified only if they made mirrorles body as well that could focus quickly with 4/3 lenses. Also, there is a great need for adding features that competitors already have to Olympus m4/3 cameras. They’ve been discussed many times here, I won’t name any. P2 and PL2 just seem stuck in 2009.

    We’ve read numerous rumors about modular camera, various PDAF adapters, pro body, E-P3, but none have materialized yet and there won’t be any another three months at least. So no new model to buy for this summer, more customers for others.

    The lens side was better, above average. Five new zoom lenses from 2010 have not had bad reviews, but are all slow(ish) for a sensor that needs as much light as possible. And since fast zooms are big, large apertures in m43 should be reserved for primes, and there is none from Olympus. Just a slowish 17mm F2.8 and a prototype lens of unknown specifications.

    So, after a year of hoping, I can only repeat that I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Ahem

      A whole year without a brand new revolutionary camera? The horror.

      • Miroslav

        Without ANY camera. E-PL1 ~ E-PL2 ~ E-P2
        Don’t get me wrong I’m speaking as someone who wants to buy that camera we’re waiting for.

  • Brod1er

    “The Japanese would have discussed not just the E-P3 but the P4 and P5 and the plans they have to take the lead in this new market.”

    Hmmmm zone10 seems generous- I am sure Zeiss &co will have spoken to ” the Japanese” but it may have only been Panasonic’s plans that gave them the courage to join!?

    I think there is a strong tendency on these forums to expect radical new product to be delivered more frequently than is realistic. However after the 2009 launch of mft, it is now not unrealistic to expect significant advances in 2011 – global shutter , fast lenses and a more upmarket cam will do nicely.

    • Inge-M

      The so i understand, is Kodak have the decisive patent by global shutter, so Panasonic is lock to 2012!
      But maybe Panaconic bye Kodak before the, so problem by patent is ready.

    • > The Japanese would have discussed not just the E-P3 but the P4 and P5 and the plans they have to take the lead in this new market

      Maybe. I have several “future” design documents from some of the companies in question. Each generation outward gets more vague and uses “may” more ;~). Moreover, most of them seem over optimistic in terms of engineering. What I’ve seen is that every camera that gets produced left some features/ideas on the drawing board because when it came down to Critical Path, they just couldn’t get it done without pushing back a launch schedule. Thus, it’s more likely that a camera company would give vague specifics about features, but fairly accurate specifics about timeline.

      > I think there is a strong tendency on these forums to expect radical new product to be delivered more frequently than is realistic

      Yes, quite true. However, one of my pet peeves about the way cameras are designed these days is that everything stands on the shoulders of what came before. So, if your menu system was cluttered before, adding features just adds clutter. Good product designers go back and REDESIGN the old while coming up with the new. Once it becomes clear what the problems with a design were, you need to fix them before building new things on top.

      > it is now not unrealistic to expect significant advances in 2011

      Yes, that’s about right. However, what worries me is that Olympus clearly had two camera lines in mind from the beginning (E-1 versus E-PL1) but they weren’t well differentiated. And the updates to those were minimal at best. What worries me is that Olympus didn’t really see the full breadth of where mirrorless could go.

      • +1

      • wife

        And of course a new redesign would completely pissed off though who are used to the old design.

        You don’t live in the real world much, do you Thom? You know, the real world of product creation where you have to pick and choose whom you pissed off when making design decisions.

        • groom

          Madam, judging by your diatribes I assume you are Thom’s wife. Would you please solve your family problems at home?
          Thanks ;-)

        • Wife still hasn’t looked at my resume, has he? I spend 25 years being the head honcho doing exactly what you say I don’t know how to do, and have a track record of products that resonated with users. You have an anonymous Internet identity and probably should spend more time studying for your classes.

          You’re becoming more troll like with each post. That doesn’t reflect on me; it reflects on you. You’re just not yet sble to realize that.

        • bob

          Wife–why are you so lame? Please use a brain, any brain–pick one up off the floor from the floor, off a dead rat, something. Your inane remarks and attempts at wit are witless and listless. Please, just stop. You add nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I repeat–nothing.

      • Mr. Reeee

        I hate to keep bringing up Apple, but seriously, they’re the only tech company that rarely releases a dud.

        Their biggest failure was the Newton. They promised the moon and stars, but not everything worked on launch. By the time they got it right in the third generation, the history of poor implementation had already done too much damage.

        This is why with the iPhone and iOS devices they upgrade incrementally and ONLY release new features when they actually work. There’s nothing worse than pre-announcing the moon and stars, then releasing an asteroid (Vista, Windows 7).

        Simplifying is hard work and requires discipline. As Thom mentioned before about the GH2 menu structure… It’s overly complex and illogical. Although I find the Oly menus worse.

        There’s a real danger in announcing products, raising your customers’ expectations, then pulling the plug, crippling the ‘promises’, delaying or not shipping in quantity.

        Perfect cases: Panasonic’s GH2 and 12-50mm M4/3 lens. And the mythical “pro” Olympus M4/3 camera and lenses.

        Apple prepares to actually sell real products on the day of an announcement or gives a pretty firm date of the actual release. Customers are happy and expectant, not an angry, frustrated mob. You would think that both Olympus and Panasonic would follow this sort of design and production philosophy to the letter. Especially releasing an entirely ne camera format. Why not?

        As Steve Jobs once said: Real artists ship.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      Micro Four Thirds concept was announced in 2008 and another half year more makes it three years from announcement.
      It shouldn’t be too much to ask for at least something above entry level in that time.

  • Nathan

    All they need is weatherproofing and rugged construction, faster AF, enough size to pair with telephoto lenses (perhaps a battery grip that adds a significant grip, surrounding the camera), built-in EVF, sync port, white balance sensor, shutter to 1/8000th s, some fast lenses, excellent battery life, DOF preview button, top LCD, buttons for everything, two control wheels, and a few minor features, and they’ll have a PRO camera capable of at least doing the job of an E-3 for still life and landscapes where fast autofocus isn’t critical.
    I sure hope they don’t just make a magnesium E-PL2.

  • CRB

    Same BS they talked before the E-5 launch….then….

  • Brod1er

    Maybe Olympus are diverting all their development on a top secret new range of f22 3D zoom lenses…………… Oooooooh, wouldn’t that be fantastic?! Just what we all need.

  • Dirk

    I have an E-620 and I like that camera very much. However, what I am looking for is less noise in low ISO (even ISO200 is sometimes too grainy) and I would love a 3D lens and built-in GPS (for instance via accessory port). This may seem like gimmicks to some but these points would be what would make me buy a new Olympus m4/3 camera.
    In the long run, they also need many more lenses. I am missing something like the great 12-60 for m4/3 – especially the 42mm maximum of the kit lens is of no use to me since it does not even cover portrait range.

    • Nathan

      ISO 200 is too grainy? Take gradation off of AUTO. Put it on Normal. I think you’ll be surprised to find that printed output from the E-620 and E-30 are usable to ISO 3200. I do it all the time, and it’s great. Pixel peeping isn’t so useful as you might think.
      What happens a lot of the time is that people forget Olympus has this horrible Shadow Adjustment Technology. Turn that crap off and noise in the dark areas drops DRAMATICALLY.
      And remember that looking at 100% or 150% pixel scaling on a monitor is going to exaggerate the size of the noise and the contrast of the noise. Printed on good paper, you’ll notice that images you thought were very noisy are actually quite usable even at 8X10.
      I try to keep ISO between 200 and 1600, but sometimes I need 3200, and I find with my E-30 it’s still quite usable, considering that I could not get the shot at all at 400 ISO if there are things moving in the scene.

  • Bob Jones

    I think his business analysis skills are very poor.

    “What is striking about Sony’s response of late is that it took only hours after Zeiss and Schneider had announced plans to introduce lenses for Micro FourThirds for them to state that they were now opening up the E-mount specification for anyone to make lenses for without any licensing fee involved.”

    Seriously? He thinks Sony just decided to do it because Zeiss and Schneider did a few hours ago? Sony obviously planned this months in advance. dpreview.com has pictures of Sigma mockup lenses in the Sony E-mount. You don’t mockup a lens that quickly.

    Sony has got Sigma and Tamron making lenses. Both of them make autofocus lenses with electronic aperture controls. The companies like Cosina, Zeiss, and Schneider certainly have the ability to make AF lenses but will they? In the last 5 years Cosina and Zeiss have been making higher end manual focus lenses. Making an all manual f0.95 lens is awesome but if M4/3 is going to be mainstream then it needs modern AF/electronic lenses and I haven’t heard anything from the German companies that implies they will make them.

  • I’m not saying this is what I want, but here’s a good article about Apple and Ikea and why both of them pretty much ignore customer feedback:

    http://www.fastcodesign.com/1663220/user-led-innovation-cant-create-breakthroughs-just-ask-apple-and-ikea

    The conclusion of those two companies is that user-led innovation can’t create breakthroughs. It’s hard to argue with the results of Apple.

    However, I think the key to that is to have innovative and knowledgeable personal. I sometimes question if some of these photography companies have any actual photographers working for them.

    • Vlad

      Apple doesn’t ignore user feedback. It just doesn’t rely on it that heavily.

      • > Apple doesn’t ignore user feedback. It just doesn’t rely on it that heavily.

        No, that’s not quite right, either. Users rarely get the specifics of what they want right. But their complaints/suggestions/etc. can point to things that should be addressed in design. At Apple and any good design company, you always consider user feedback as one of the inputs into design. But you don’t actually let users DESIGN. They’re terrible designers, but do recognize better design when they see it.

        Design is about clarity of purpose and requires strong leadership. One of the reasons why I write so much about the economic side of things is that I saw firsthand in Silicon Valley what happens when you get into bean counting mode and the economic issues in a company start to impact design. You start making poor design decisions, for the most part. You hear things like “we need to move up the schedule on Project X so that we can book revenue in the Y quarter.” When that happens, the first thing that goes is every item that is even close to the Critical Path. You throw away features and more. Couple that with “we need to drive costs out of manufacturing because our margins are falling” and you get decisions like removing the orientation sensor from the camera.

        • Vlad

          Thom, how is that different from what I stated?

          Yes, I know about your writing, I quite enjoy it, in fact. The economic side of things interests me a lot too.

        • Vlad
        • wife

          Of course if Thom really knows anything about economics, he’d realize that companies put bean counters in charge mostly because they have to, not because they want to.

          Does Apple want Steve in charge? Sure. But when Steve has health problems, they have to put some bean counter in charge while figuring out what to do.

          And sometimes, bean counters might be the correct choice for the given situation.

          To discount that is completely ignorant.

          • And if Wife knew anything about anything, he’d realize that the key words in the statement are “in charge.” It’s fine to have bean counters in the company, you need to have financial discipline. But bean counters have NO connection to customers, so when they’re in charge of the whole operation they tend to make decisions that are only economically based. Large companies that put bean counters in charge tend to look good on paper for a few quarters, but in the end lose all momentum and energy in terms of driving new products to new customers. The “news” in that previous sentence is very important, because without either you do not have growth.

    • One of the comments to that article’s mentions Henry Ford’s famous quote that if he’d asked his customers what they wanted, they’d have told him “a faster horse.” :D Steve Jobs himself mentioned that quote recently.

      While there’s a lot of truth to being cautious about giving your customers what they *think* they want, I’m not terribly confident anyone at Olympus has the vision of Ford or Jobs.

      Part of the success of Apple (and historically, Ford) has been not overwhelming your customer with choices. Judging from the Pen line-up, Olympus is all about offering their customers confusion under the illusion of choice.

      (For example, the E-PL2 does not replace the E-PL1, it sits between it and the E-P2. But since they stagger the release dates of their different tiers, the lower-end E-PL2 offers features not found in the higher-end E-P2. Not good.)

      • > While there’s a lot of truth to being cautious about giving your customers what they *think* they want, I’m not terribly confident anyone at Olympus has the vision of Ford or Jobs.

        Well that’s one of the issues, isn’t it? It’s unclear if ANY of the camera companies have the clarity of leadership and design principal that we see in Apple.

      • canard

        Ford was also famous for saying something like “the customer can have any color car he wants, as long as he wants black.” Customer expectations have shifted enough that this sort of paternalism won’t fly, but it’s should be remembered that very often the “choices” offered by successful companies aren’t big differences in the product but small things allowing the buyer to FEEL like what he’s getting is unique and special to him.

        • Actually, I see no evidence that paternalism is dead in products. Apple is often a clear example of Ford’s “the product is what it is, take it or leave it.” Ditto Bose. There’s actually quite a few very successful companies that exhibit that tendency.

          The alternative is “fad” or “fashion.” I don’t think we want our cameras to head that direction, but that’s a bit of what we see in terms of the E-P1, E-P2, E-PL1, E-PL2 series: the core of the camera hasn’t changed, but the style, looks, and curves have changed and we’ve gotten new colors.

  • George

    Some people really don’t get it. If you own E5 you think lots of people buying E5… N O O O O !!!

    Releasing a weatherproof m4/3 is the answer to Oly’s problems ??? Sorry but you are a joke, a big one. What i am going to say is a thoufht not a statistic but i heard E5 sold less then 5000 units. $1600 body and look at the IQ :))))
    With so called m4/3 pro weatherproof body (will at least cost around $2500)
    this will just make things worse of Oly. If you don’t have degree on BA or Economics stop talking about bulls**t like you know a damn thing.

    I really love this site, but please stop posting this kind of totally useless articles/opinions.

    Admin, if you are going to post an article, at least don’t let that article telling people Oly’s salvation is on niche markets. This is moronic.

    • tgutgu

      The terrible thing is that even with the pro and weathersealed body, they still talk about a PEN! There is need for a pro body with a large build-in VF, a good grip for better handling, but certainly not another iteration of PEN, which now has weather sealing but is otherwise the same old stuff again.

    • the other Rob

      Exactly

  • Per

    What if Olympus really has à strategi and à roadmap? À “PRO” Pen! Do you really helige tyst can be à cheap camera? D you really think there Will be HQ lenses for à few 100dollars each. It need to be expensive, lenses must be bitter and more expensive. Quality costs.. Think of à camera at 1800 dollar and lenses at 1000 – 2000 dollar. tjat could do very close to what à Leica M9 sors, especially in the journalism department – at the fraction of what Leica costs. I believe Panasonic is gliser to tjat than Olympus.

  • I have read the Khen Lim’s write up twice now, and it sounds more like (using Admin’s rating system) FT1, at best FT2 material.

    At least Thom was relying on known facts: financial reports, interviews, etc.

    And Oly meeting with the German optics manufacturers… this is definitely FT1. Showing them their m43 road map?? Anybody remember their 43 road map?

    Also, IMO, the Schneider and Zeiss would be more interested in either video market or mass market. Something with either high margins or high volumes. But Oly failed to date to produce both: video capable camera (720p MJPEG? really??) and true mass market body (E-Px/PLx are too expensive).

  • Archer

    Zone-10, while they (he?) are (is) a nice Olympus cheerleader, has shown time and time again that they have no real knowledge of business, nor the internal workings of Olympus. I long ago stopped reading the site for that reason.

  • Jacky

    Guys, what’s wrong with a 2 year iteration actually?

    50D and 60D was a 2 year iteration. What’s the real development between Cannon 550D and 600D, a one year iteration but it’s not really moving ahead. D90 was more then a 2 year iteration.

    Ok, it’s an old sensor, and we are all hoping Olympus and Panasonic would do better, but it’s way better the film days already

    We want Olympus to improve, but at least we should be clear on what we need from our next Olympus camera. The smaller sensor would also be a compromise on image quality, face it. But we have so much more flexibility over the bigger APS-C camera.

    I am not half as great photographer as half of you guys, if we have 2 stop of ISO improvement, how many of us would actually take better photograph? With our prime lens, nobody would have problem in low light situation, and at some scenes you’d always need a tripod anyway.

    A built in EVF?? I actually prefer the flexibility to do without it so that I can have my E-P2 smaller as a walk-around camera. I love the EVF in some occasion but not another. Our E-P1, E-P2 has not changed since it is released. OM2 series lasted for 10 years. The Leica M6 lasted for 26 years before it is replaced by M7.

    Ok, I would love it if my E-P2 focus as fast as my GH2, but guess what, they are different camera for me now. I use my manual prime lens on my Pen, and the AF lens on GH2 for more action. It’s a great system and I can’t see how Nikon Cannon and Sony can replace that. Can any other camera system gives me as much flexibility.

    A small camera: E-P2 + one of the pancake / compact zooms
    if you foresee bright sunlight, have your EVF ready

    Indoor, evening walkabout need: E-P2 + 20mm 1.7 or 25mm 0.95 or Voiglander 35mm 1.4 or 7-14

    Everything above you can travel very light

    Travelling: GH2 + 14-140 + 7-14 + one prime
    For long focal length need, we have the 100-300 that beat everyone on the size.

    Serious portrait? GH2 + 50mm 1.1 / 45mm 2.8 / Legacy Pen F Lens

    The flexibility is endless. I am just a beginner in photography, and even as a gearhead I know that camera is more then just the sensor, and do we really need that many iteration when we have years and years of experience over camera design on their ergonomics and focus system.

    I am really looking forward to the pro lens from Olympus, that’s what matters for the system.

    • Inge-M

      I have proportion to, FT vs E-P1.
      FT system use im to nature art but, E-P1 only use to street photo.

    • +1
      …. insofar the article of “Nikon guy” Thom Hogans about the Future of Olympus could have been the “last CaNikons bastion of defense?” …

    • First, let me say I still shoot with my Oly m4/3 bodies. I mostly enjoy it.

      > Guys, what’s wrong with a 2 year iteration actually?

      They didn’t have that long. Disruptive courses in product design, and mirrorless is disruptive of low-end DSLRs, require the disruptor to act quickly, firmly, and thoroughly. Once it becomes clear that the disruption is indeed a tangible product deviation, the competitors all come running. In this case, Sony and Samsung were right there very close on Oly’s heels. I have to say, as much as I don’t like some things about the Sony NEX, it’s becoming my go-to mirrorless camera more and more, and mostly because of image quality. Oly has a large bar to get over now to stay in front of the race they started. By the actual 2-year mark of shipment, Oly will face Panasonic (obviously), Sony, Samsung, Nikon, and Pentax. And even Ricoh and a few others if you consider some of the deviations (the GXR is a very good mirrorless camera, IMHO).

      > 50D and 60D was a 2 year iteration. What’s the real development between Cannon 550D and 600D, a one year iteration but it’s not really moving ahead. D90 was more then a 2 year iteration.

      Olympus is the small player, not the #1 or #2 market leader. You have to move faster than the leaders, or else they simply keep beating you.

      > Ok, it’s an old sensor, and we are all hoping Olympus and Panasonic would do better, but it’s way better the film days already

      Yes, but that last statement doesn’t market very well against competitors. It’s a bit like saying “we’re mediocre, buy us.”

      > We want Olympus to improve, but at least we should be clear on what we need from our next Olympus camera.

      Absolutely agree.

      > I am not half as great photographer as half of you guys, if we have 2 stop of ISO improvement, how many of us would actually take better photograph?

      Good point. Simply put, ISO 800 isn’t enough, though. Not when a competitor is doing decent ISO 3200. You can fix this with faster lenses or better sensor. But more f/4-5.6 lenses won’t cut it.

  • MikeS

    Optimism is fine, but this article is based on nothing but speculation, and some of it misguided. For instance, I would expect that Zeiss and Schneider’s move to m4/3 has more to do with Panasonic’s video offerings than Olympus’ Pens, which are primarily for stills. No one (in their right mind) would buy a +$3K CP.2 lens for an E-PL2.

    • Inge-M

      +1

      • Beomagi

        Agreed.

        Some statement are way out there without reference, and there’s stuff like this

        http://zone-10.com/cmsm/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=584&Itemid=1&limit=1&limitstart=8

        WTH is the point of using a low res image and stating “1080p”?

        The image is 550×316 – it can’t even represent 480p properly – what the hell kind of comparison is it supposed to be stating the top portion was 1080p?

        From going to the site and looking at the full image – yes, it’s an obvious advantage!

        Mind you I don’t need 1080p and am comfortable with 720p – but this is just spin.

    • Another +1

  • Beomagi

    Zone 10’s articles are usually overly optimistic on any Olympus offerings – normally to the point at which I go get second opinions elsewhere.

    It’s just bad writing style to say a person said something without quoting them.
    “What is particularly interesting with Yamaki’s announcement was his company’s intention to develop its own interpretation of the mirrorless camera around the Foveon sensor.”
    – where exactly was this stated?

  • CKDexterHaven

    I still think divestment of the camera division is a very real possibility. At a certain point you just can’t keep making the business case for absorbing its heavy losses, if you’re a senior executive at Olympus.

  • kaine

    No chance. Panasonic are pulling all the strings now. Olympus are only able to produce the mediocre E-p cameras, lenses and lame accessorys. Panasonic wont dare let them tread on there toes and go near the medium-high end.

    “already seen some of the company’s ideas in the form of that accessory slot behind the Pen’s hotshoe. That slot is going to be big business in many ways for Olympus but that’s not all.”

    No its not. Nobody wants this port. They want bluetooth, wifi, gps or evf device features built into the camera. These are becoming basic features. No wonder there going under if they think overpriced accessories are there answer. Build a half decent M43 camera for gods sake and a lens to go with it. Its tragic seeing a company go from the excellent 4/3 system to the arse end of the mirrorless market.

    • Chris

      Exactly. This was demonstrated by Panasonic’s statement a while back about why they won’t let Olympus use the GH2 sensor.

      Olympus needs a new sensor manufacturer, and they needed it a year ago.

      • Rob-L

        On top of that, the port on the E-P2 doesn’t have the same capability as the port on the E-PL2. The E-P2 can’t take the (yet to be seen) blue tooth device.

        Way to screw your early adopters Olympus! I hope their camera division folds. Oly constantly burns their customers with half thought out cameras only to introduce new cameras 6 months later that are cheaper and should have been what the original camera was supposed to be. (e.g. E-P1 – E-P2)

  • Kevin

    ok can someone plz tell me why olympus is being bashed on all the time in here and in dpreview while panasonic is getting all the credit? the only m4/3 cameras I see people walk around with are the pen and GF. people that buy into m4/3 are there for the size, NOT specs. there is nothing else attractive about this system period.

    • the other Rob

      For new buyers, I agree, which is probably why the NEX is so popular.

      I think the case may be that the people in this forum will want to use their 43 lenses on a m43 body (presuming that olympus doesn’t make another 43 body and focuses solely on m43).

      • Mr. Reeee

        I bought a GH2 because of size AND specs!
        The size is nearly identical to my Nikon FM2 and old Nikon prosumer cameras.
        The sensor, articulated screen and built-EVF were the kickers.

        I also find the Oly nostalgia aesthetic lacking (faux-chrome plastic parts on the EP2? gimme a break) as well as their ergonomics and interface… otherwise they’re just fine. ;-)

      • > I think the case may be that the people in this forum will want to use their 43 lenses on a m43 body

        But even skimming over the inability of m43 of using 43 lenses to their fullest, there is simply no m43 analogous lenses to replace the 43 ones.

        > (presuming that olympus doesn’t make another 43 body and focuses solely on m43).

        Not everybody can and want to cope with added bulk of the E-x bodies.

        There is a huge gap in Oly’s camera line up – enthusiasts and amateurs – and that is the problem (I’m whining about).

        It is about the people who prefer to use one body, as opposed to the majority of m43 users right now, who use them as a second body to go with their xD/xxD/Dxxx/Dxxxx.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      You think other companies are any better?

      Canikon is mountain of uninnovation only wanting to stick to old because of their market cartel meaning they didn’t want to do anything which could disturb stable markets. (at least Nikon woke up, now if they just don’t fall back to sleep)
      Sony is consumer electronics company who bought lots of experience and knowledge in Minolta’s camera division (who made best EVF prosumers beating entry level DSLRs in everything except sensor size/IQ and lens changing ability) but NEX is toy made for Playstation generation.
      Pentax looks like one capable to some thinking outside of the box but looks like they don’t want to risk competing their old design mirror system, and medium format body surely used lots of their R&D resources.
      Samsung is another plain consumer electronics company wanting to be photography company and me too copier with crap entry level controls, old uninnovative layout bad ergonomy product.
      Panasonic has quite a few of the things which would make great mirrorless high end product but there’s marketroid department wanting more Marketing Pixels, travel TVs and chasing after the lowest common denominator instead of pushing forward to products allowed by utilizing mirrorless design and EVF.

      • Vlad

        Esa, what is that supposed to be? It’s easy to say others are also wrong, but it certainly isn’t an excuse for one’s own faults.

      • I agree with a lot of this. When I saw the way Samsung classified their lenses in their leaked lens road map earlier it was clear to me the people there know nothing about photography:
        http://www.mirrorlessrumors.com/new-nx-roadmap-leaked/

        This part really cracked me up:

        “Movie Pro” = 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
        “Movie Home” = 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5

        I consider myself to be semi-pro, and I’d take the faster 16-80mm over an f/5.6 superzoom any day of the week. This was also funny:

        “16mm ultra-wide”

        Say what? 16mm is far from an ultra-wide on an APS-C camera. Good lord, how clueless can these people be? I swear I don’t think any of these people know how to use the products they make. Let’s just say I’m really pulling for Olympus, Pentax, Nikon, Fuji, and Leica in this new mirrorless war. I don’t want the same company that makes my TV and my toaster to also make my cameras.

        • kaine

          “16mm ultra-wide”

          I laughed at that too.

          I dont think theres a camera maker thats gonna start taking mirrorless seriously any time soon. A great shame since mirrorless and the merging of still / video into a compact solution is one of the biggest photographic revolutions since moving / still images began.

        • Samsung’s classifications of their lenses are coming from a slightly different angle than you and I are. The “movie pro” categorization, for example, has to do with the same thing Panasonic has been doing with faster follow focus and silent operation in optimizing lenses, not aperture. It’s a form of “build quality.”

          16mm is 24mm equivalent for APS. If you do some checking around, you’ll see the term “ultrawide” used a lot in association with 24mm, though again, that may not be what you and I think of it.

          What terminology in marketing usually reveals is who the company thinks their customer is. In the case of Samsung, it’s the compact camera user moving up, I think.

      • > You think other companies are any better?

        Not really. But that isn’t exactly relevant. Olympus’ current position is that it is an also-ran competitor in compacts and DSLRs and has strong competition in the one area of innovation they’ve led. There comes a time when you have to start betting the company (or in this case, division) and go for it. Because they’re competing against some mighty big, deep pocketed, efficient companies.

  • Medved

    I especially like the part about a company which know where it’s going…
    With “bold moves” like the xz-1…
    Almost fell from my chair…
    “Woaw LX-5 and S-90 are selling well let’s make one!”
    Yeap… a constructive planned ahead strategy…

    • Rob-L

      Not to mention Samsung’s EX-1/TL500. The XZ-1 isn’t a bold move, it’s a “us too” camera that came to the party too late.

  • Boooo!

    That is all nice, but there need to be an E-720, an E-70 and an E-7. Those need to look like DSLRs, even if they’re mirrorless and there’s magical fairy dust inside to make PDAF work somehow, because HG and SHG glass on m4/3 are a slow-focusing disaster.

    That, and better sensors. What Panasonic has simply does not cut it.

    • Medved

      About the SHG and HG glass depends what you used.
      But yeah about sensor and the ” hi guys, you know the glass you bought 5-6 years ago for some thousands ? Well you can use it on CDAF MFT bodies now…” yikes…

      • Boooo!

        Only the 14-54 MkII is CDAF-compatible when it comes to HG and SHG glass. The rest focus like sh*t, taking up to 2 seconds to acquire focus, if they do at all (with the bigger lenses).

  • I enjoyed reading the long article at Zone 10 a lot. It’s the kind of article that’s hard to find these days, exactly the opposite of Mr Hogan’s. And the reason isn’t the optimistic outlook.

    I enjoyed it because it’s an essay on photography and technology, not a market analyst’s personal opinion based on a few numbers (and being selective there, too). By technology, I’m talking about the fundamental technology of photography, not specs: the video resolution comparison is a perfect example. What really matters are things like build quality, viewfinder, lens compatibility or (to pick a recent example) the re-introduction of the aperture ring. The Zone-10 article had a historical perspective not focusing on quarterly sales numbers and blog feedback but on the philosophy and interaction of major photographic companies including their background.

    Last but not least, there is also the point of different markets. There is a reason mirrorless cameras sell so much better in Japan. In my opinion, m43 tries to do for cameras what the DS and the Wii did for gaming: bring in millions of new users who don’t care too much about specs but care about handling and ease of use. There is a reason all Olympus (and most Panasonic) ads in Japan have only women in them – behind the camera, as users and targets of the ad, not in front of the camera as objects. And despite much ado about high iso noise at sites like dpreview, most professional reviews agree that all cameras upward of m43 deliver image quality good enough for standard users.

    That’s why the topics mentioned in the Zone-10 article matter so much more than spec discussions about Full HD video and the like. Having a multitude of lenses, build quality, fast aperture and features like an aperture ring will bring the joy (and that’s what photography is about!) to a new generation of photographers.

    • Ismael

      Right, why let reality smash you when you can keep living in the world of fantasy… And you say that what Hogan’s wrote is a personal opinion? LOL! What is the usual wishful thinking of Zone-10 then?

      And that’s what photography is about…? it is about money for any company, money Olympu’s imaging division is losing year after year. That’s a fact (no a personal opinion). But maybe you think Olympus can survive thanks to fantasy…

  • Chris

    Found an interesting link last night. This comment was particularly reassuring, especially since he heard it from the horse’s mouth:

    “I was like you, on the fence ready to upgrade from my E-30 and was leaning toward the Canon 7D. I went so far as to write to Olympus and tell them how pissed I was they were dumping the system. You know what? They called me. They took the time to call me not only once but twice. And I am just some wanna be. Our conversation lasted at least an hour. In a nut shell the person I spoke with explained this to me. Most of the article and rumors being floated around were based on the writers drawing conclusions based more on what Olympus is not saying than what they are saying. Yes the E-5 is the ONLY body IN PRODUCTION. Does that mean it’s the last 4/3? There are no new lenses in the works ( people read into this saying there will NEVER be any new lenses) yet I wonder what range the current line up does not cover? They are currently focusing on micor 4/3’s. Yes they are convinced the next step in digital is to make them even smaller while not giving up quality. Anything wrong with that? “The E-5 MAY be the last traditional E system camera.” Does that say it is the LAST 4/3’s EVER? No but how many places did you read that the E-5 is the last 4/3s camera Olympus is going to make? It’s been everywhere except anywhere official from Olympus.”

    See the rest of the conversation here: http://www.modelmayhem.com/po.php?thread_id=727462

    • Chris, you are absolutely correct. Olympus has a way of saying things that contradict their intent. However, the proof is in the production. I personally have ceased believing ANYTHING that comes out of that company until I see it on the store shelves. They took Zone-10 for a ride and after the E-5 fiasco, which destroyed my own credibility, along with others, I’ve determined they can pack sand.

      There is plenty of behind the scenes information on the pro level E-Pen, which has been reported to be ready for production on no less than three occasions, but I suspect that it may never hit production. Remember, this is the same company that had an 8mp E-1 ready to go but they froze with indecision until the camera totally obsoleted and then they had to start over from scratch. (which happened at least twice before the E-3 was produced). They’ll do the same with both lines now and end up just producing low end consumer junk like they did when they shutdown OM development and sent the designers off building pocket cameras and the ZLR cameras.

      Maybe the new head of Olympus will redirect efforts, but I’m not counting on it. We’ve been here before.

      • Good points, and I don’t disagree with either of your assertions. But, this is just another example of the marketing message being wrong. One of Oly’s biggest problems is not the actual cameras–even their worst ones are competent–it’s that the marketing, sales, and distribution side is not right.

      • Inge-M

        Spec. on E-5 is look similar fiasko, but not kamera,
        the is very better, and E-3/E-30!

        Cause for Canon is alone in 10 year by EOS system,
        is the is Canon patent simple.
        Olympus IS-system is a SLR camera zoom in body by AF,
        produce only for amatur.

        The is only image department so, can be great size off market part?
        The others department is Olympus real big.

  • you know my name

    Olympus is repairable but it needs the will the cash the business savy and the technical direction to make it happen. The question is, is this a hatchet man who is going to end four thirds ahead of schedule or is he genuinely going to move the format forward knowing that without it western markets for Olympus just fell in a hole.

    One thing is for sure, it would fall apart without him so in a way there is nothing to lose.

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