Interview with Yasuo Funakoshi (chief designer Olympus) – excerpts from an interview conducted in-house by Olympus’ own Pursuit magazine publisher

There are many factors that go into choosing a new camera – chief among them user friendliness and performance. But there is also something to be said for aesthetic elements such as good design and the use of color in making a choice.

At Olympus, our Design Centre is in charge of product design. The design of our new OLYMPUS PEN , an interchangeable lens system digital camera, is one more result of their efforts. Olympus Pursuit went to talk with Yasuo Funakoshi, the man who was in charge of designing the OLYMPUS PEN E-P1.

PURSUIT: So, I hear you’ve always thought about how great it would be if the PEN went digital.

Funakoshi: Back when I was in elementary school, the first camera I ever used was a PEN. I still can’t forget how happy I was at that moment and how the camera’s cold metal felt when I took it in my hands. I thought I’d love to create a camera like that if I ever had the chance.

As you know, the PEN is a high-profile camera that sparked the half-frame size boom and has sold over 17 million units. So, I thought that I could grab the attention of a host of camera lovers if I could go a step further and give them a digital SLR camera that was even smaller.
Neptan interviews Mr. Funakoshi, the OLYMPUS PEN E-P1 designer
Neptan interviews Mr. Funakoshi, the OLYMPUS PEN E-P1 designer
I wanted the countless Olympus fans out there to roar with delight at how the new camera felt in their hands and how the sensation when pressing the shutter button was just like the PEN they fondly remembered. I really wanted to stick faithfully to my design all the way, so that they would have something to get excited about beyond the product’s price.

PURSUIT: What were you particularly picky about in terms of design?

Funakoshi: I really focused on the mode dial. I gave it a slightly recessed placement in the body, but in doing so, I think it makes it look like it’s made out of a solid piece of metal, rather than a single sheet that was cut into a round shape.
I wanted to produce a sharp look, as if it had been carved out with a chisel.“I wanted to produce a sharp look, as if it had been carved out with a chisel.”
And then there’s the indicator groove of the mode dial. I had it scored with a cutting machine because I wanted to produce a sharp look, as if it had been carved out with a chisel. This produced the quality feel of a metal plate with substance, rather than a plate so thin that a hole could be made in it with just a little cutting.

Needless to say, this sort of detailed craftsmanship is difficult and takes a lot of time. But our manufacturing division responded to my demand, “Make it look good without any compromises!”

The user friendliness of the mode dial has also dramatically improved. You might feel that the dial would be easier to turn if it were made to protrude a bit more, but when you actually try it, it’s by no means difficult to turn with a finger. And you won’t find that the mode has accidently changed while carrying it in a bag. I think we’ve come up with a design that at first glance seems to put aesthetics first, but actually is user friendly.
I can't believe how cool it looks every time I see it.“I can’t believe how cool it looks every time I see it.”

PURSUIT: How did you feel now that you see how the E-P1 turned out?
Funakoshi: I can’t believe how cool it looks every time I see it. I was in charge of the design, but it takes more than a designer to make a camera. Our development and manufacturing divisions really did a great job. I really do appreciate the high level of perfection they achieved.

I truly hope people that think digital SLR cameras are too big give the E-P1 a try. I was shooting for a camera that would give users a little joy during their day, simply by having it there in their bag. I want them to carry it around and enjoy it everyday.

Rumor classification explained

As you have noticed I always try to classify our rumors. Some people still have not understood the classification and they are surprised when a rumor doesn’t come true. Time has come to explain you in detail how it works:

FT1  rumors (FT= FourThirds):
I rarely post FT1 rumors and only when they are funny. A FT1 rumor will never come true!

FT2 rumor:
These are new unknown sources. Most rumors I receive are from this kind of sources. I only post it when I have the feeling that the person who writes me is honest. You never know, he could know the truth.

FT3 rumor:
Mostly from unknown sources. In this case he tells me something I’ve already heard from trusted or other non trusted sources

FT4 rumor:
From trusted sources only.  Most of the FT4 rumors are doublechecked, that means another second source confirms the rumor.

FT5 rumor:
When many of my trusted sources do confirm a rumor.

Very important! These are all rumors and not official Olympus or Panasonic news. They can always be wrong! Trusted sources are the ones who where right with some of the rumors they gave me before.


Quesabesde interviews Michiharu Uematsu from Panasonic!

Read the article in spanish or very bad (and sometimes funny) english google translation.

The most intesting points are:

The budget and resources are limited, so you have to prioritize, and now is the time to focus on the Micro Four Thirds” -> No more FourThirds products?

Removed the mirror, it seems logical that the next victim will be the mechanical shutter…” -> Cameras with electronical shutter in 2011?

UPDATED -> 43rumors is on Facebook!

Oh yeah we did it! We definitely socialized on Facebook ;)

You can join the “43rumors” fan group!
Or/And send a friend request to our personal account “Fourthreerumors Olympus Panasonic”.
See you there!

Olympus product managers interview (via forum-olympus-france)

Olympus-Forum-France met with two officials of Olympus France, Thierry Bourque and Arnaud Gaucher (both Olympus Product Manager).

Original text in french:

And here the google translated english text:

1. 2009 is an important year for Olympus with the release of its first Micro case 4 / 3, E-P1, and marketing of E-620. These models have they achieved their goals despite the crisis and a highly competitive marketplace?
The EP-1 experienced a very good start so Olympus France encounter supply problems … There is indeed a strong demand in all countries, implying an optimal distribution of production.
Olympus has actually been a bit overwhelmed by the success of the has found an audience beyond the usual customer Olympus: from owners of SLR (Olympus or otherwise) as additional housing and to owners wishing to compact better image quality but pass reflex.

The E620 was also well received despite a very difficult competition. We also note the very positive feedback on E-30.

2. Competition precisely generalizes the video in its SLR, Olympus will he implement this feature in future SLR?
Olympus priority is to design for SLR photography. Olympus has yet to listen to consumers and what its competitors can offer. It is for this reason that we have incorporated HD video in the Olympus E-P1 PEN. The question of the next video in our reflex is to study without that one can say anything to date.

3. filters artists are expected to grow?
Olympus believes rightly that these filters are part of a photographic approach. The B & N filters and pinhole also meet a real success. So yes, it is quite possible to imagine an increasing number of artistic filters. New filters have already appeared in the compact: fisheye and pencil in the μ7010.

4. A E-600 was announced on sites rather seriously (it is even possible to order it on CDR!) And is absent from the official websites Olympus. Many members questioned the place of this case: replacement does the E-520?
Replaces Does the E-450 and E-520? Replaces Does the E-620 to lower the price?

The E-600 exists. However, this model does not include the Olympus; The model was developed to provide a model for certain distribution channels.

5. The Marketing Canon 7D and Sony Alpha 850 is problematic to many members of the Forum Olympus France on the strategy and opportunities for Olympus segment expert / pro. What is the strategy of Olympus on this segment?
The proposed replacement does one or several innovations never before seen on SLR etc.. as was the case in their time for example the E-1 (anti dust particular), the E-330 (LiveView), etc.. ? This replacement benefit he synergy with μ4 / 3 (the image of the E-620 with its stabilization system)?
Ultimately, Olympus could it develop a system or 24×36 Olympus believes he limited to a small sensor?

Olympus believes have a place on the segment expert / pro. We will continue to provide housing in this segment, with a sensor 4 / 3. The idea is to offer an innovative package, just like what we did in the past, and we also work to improve aspects such as dynamics or noise.
The sensor size is not discriminating at this point and we have other tracks that simply increasing the number of pixels. Technological advances in this field show that these sensors will soon be able to deliver phenomenal performance both in terms of noise reduction that improve the dynamic range.

6. The tender for optical 4 / 3 is very broad but very many members of the Forum Olympus France would like to have fixed focus optics with very large aperture, f/2.0 higher (around f/1.4 or even f / 1.2) including the portrait and / or benefit from a depth of field is shorter, the leaves lose télécentricité. Why Olympus does not offer this kind of lenses?
Can we expect a shift from Olympus?

In five years, Olympus has developed and marketed more than twenty goals, a unique performance on the market. Our approach is now offering greatly expanded and quality.
We do not have information on an upcoming marketing of optical fixed open. We listen to users and SLRs Olympus will of course back your claims.

7. The Forum Olympus France are likely to practice macro and waiting with great impatience 100mm announced it is now many years and often delayed. Can you confirm that this objective will be available well in 2010?
Can you clarify whether it will be more available in the first or second semester? Do you have information about the characteristics of it (opening, powered SWD, etc..)?

Olympus France has no information on this goal.

8. The Micro 4 / 3, whose concept mirrorless aroused great interest, appears as a future standard for which virtually everything is finally invent / make. How do you envision the development of the Olympus PEN? How fast / rhythm?
The development of the Olympus PEN is a priority and new boxes and optical will happen very soon. Olympus intends to take his lead.
It should be understood that the E-P1 is the first Olympus PEN. As such, it lays the groundwork for the next range. Other cases will follow to provide a whole range of enclosures Micro 4 / 3 with products geared towards the general public and others more oriented towards the high end professional.

9. system μ4 / 3 includes the correction of defects targets directly in the case (communication between the lens and body). This means he updates the case for new goals or to improve the quality of corrections?
The information contained in the objectives but the correction is made by the cabinet. It is therefore possible to improve the corrections via updates of the housing and / or objectives.
However, developing an update needs to be careful because a one point increase (eg chromatic aberration) can cause “adverse” reactions that generate other problems, perhaps more important .

10. Finally, we let you discover the suggestions of members but there is still a claim on which we would like to linger. Olympus offers rings adaptation for climbing on goals OM SLR 4 / 3 boxes or μ4 / 3.
Users complain that the ring not have an AF confirm and even, in the case of the ring μ4 / 3 sufficiently large, a mechanism to power the OM.

In fact, it is unnecessary to incorporate a mechanism of motorization in the ring for the simple reason that the OM goals are themselves not motorized. There is therefore no transmission “mechanical” as possible between the ring and the lens.
To confirm the AF, Olympus has shifted to another solution: the magnifying glass mode is indeed fully activated even with manuals and objectives for portraits, the function of face detection also works with optical manual.
We will still of course go back requests from forum members.

Original text in france: