(FT5) No Olympus announcement on June 3. Digicam info rumor was wrong (and that’s good news!)


Exactly one week ago the Japanese blog Digicam Info (Click here to read our post) said the new Olympus E-P3, E-PL3 and the Pen MINI would be announced in June the 3rd. Their source told them that all three cameras will feature the same 12 Megapixel sensor and will not have any built-in viewfinder.We rated the rumor with a very low FT2 (unreliable rumor from unkown source).

My trusted source didn’t say a lot in these days but they confirmed that there will be NO! announcement on June the 3rd. That’s not a big news, but it gives us hop that maybe the other info from Digicam were also wrong! So there is still hope for a PEN with built-in viewfinder!!! Come on you digital Olympus SP :)

Reminder -> Rumors classification explained (FT= FourThirds):
FT1=1-20% chance the rumor is correct
FT2=21-40% chance the rumor is correct
FT3=41-60% chance the rumor is correct
FT4=61-80% chance the rumor is correct
FT5=81-99% chance the rumor is correct

  • sderdiarian

    Wow, way to spin some very disappointing news, Admin!

    I’m actually fine with waiting longer if, and this is one huge if, they actually come out with an E-620 mFT replacement with flip hi-res LCD (or better yet the XZ-1’s OLED), hi-res built-in EVF, IBIS, updated Truepic processor, and Sony quality noise-free 16 MP sensor for low light.

    Don’t need weatherproofing that just drives up price, just give us the goods: a G3 Olympus equivalent at an affordable price.

    I’d rate the odds on this as very long given their stubborn fixation on the E-P/E-PL bricks.

    • LOL!
      this is a good news thou, a non-evf pro body would mean the end of imaging devision

    • sderdiarian – If you’re suggesting that Oly ought to start marketing their enthusiast level cameras in the faux-DSLR form factor, all I can say is watch out for the howls, hair pulling and gnashing of teeth from the majority of current PEN users who are desperately hoping that Oly doesn’t give up on the compact rangefinder-esque form factor. And I’m one of them. From day one when the G1 was introduced, it was just dumb in the viewpoint of many many serious enthusiasts to go the trouble to make these revolutionary mirrorless ILC’s look like something that they were not – a DSLR! You can call them bricks but in reality, they’re a proven design that’s much more desirable to those of us who value the compactness and portability of the rangefinders from the past along with many of the highend P&S models of the present like the LX5 & G12 for example.

      • +1

      • Boooo!

        So how are you going to use that 35-100 or a 90-250 on a tiny PEN?

        Oh, that’s right, you won’t. You’ll be using a 14-42 kit zoom or a pancake and you’ll never be shooting anything that requires fast autofocus, because you’re a Street Shooter, and those people who shoot birds and sports can all go straight to hell and throw their expensive SHG glass in the trash.

        • Boooo! – “and those people who shoot birds and sports can all go to hell and throw their expensive SHG glass in the trash”

          You won’t likely ever get fast enough AF from those std. 4/3’s lenses on any m4/3 body to shoot sports or any wildlife that isn’t stationary so rather than go to hell you might consider the E5? Or if you just have to put those large lenses on a m4/3 body with an adapter, there’s always the G & GH series Pannys available don’t you know. Sigh. . . . :(

          • Boooo!

            I know that, but those micro fanboys keep stating that PEN cameras with pancake primes are the greatest thing ever and perfect for everyone.

            Well, they’re not.

            • I’m one of those micro fanboys and I use a lot more than just pancakes on my PEN but I’ve never thought that what I like is perfect for everyone else. Try again?

              • Agrivar

                Think you are missing the big picture. I agree with Boooo!. Oly has said pubilcly that the 4/3 and PEN series will converge and going forward its the PEN and PEN pro that will be the future. So how do you use the huge heavy SHG and HG glass on a small PEN rangefinder style body? YOU cant ! so down the line, there will be a PEN faux DSLR design that will appear. It has to.

                • Yes I understand that a more substantial m4/3 camera body that can AF the std. 4/3 lenses properly is a long range goal for Olympus. Some here are complaining that it’s not here yet or even speculating that it may or ought to be one of these new models that are coming in the next month. Realistically though, the E5 is going to be all they’ve got for the foreseeable future, like it or not. No one knows how far off this mythical pro model is but it’s a safe bet that it’s not right around the corner. I’d be surprised if it appears within the next year or two – just my opinion.

                  • Boooo!

                    As long as the mirrorless model is big and heavy, and can PDAF existing lenses, nobody would mind. However, if Olympus keeps insisting on tiny cameras, and if five years from now your only choice is a used E-5 or selling your (S)HG lenses for pocket change, then everyone is screwed.

                    Laying off people is not a good sign and I still think it was the final nail in the coffin for Olympus. They’ll be a walking zombie, and their mirrorless efforts in Asia will be destroyed by Sony, Panasonic and Samsung. We might see the same thing as on the DSLR market – they’ll be on the bottom, with less than 10% share.

      • Mr. Reeee


        The SLR actually superseded the rangefinder, but BOTH SLR and rangefinder are proven and long standing form factors. (I’ve owned and used both using film) To say that the rangefinder style is in some way superior to an SLR is ridiculous. Each are valid styles with pros and cons.

        It seems like there’s a retro hipster-esque mindset at work that love older, funkier analogue styles. That’s cool. I like manual lenses. But I don’t try to force my likes or dislikes on anyone.

        • Who’s forcing what on who? If you like DSLR-like m4/3 bodies, there’s already the G & GH series Pannys. If you like the more compact rangefinder style body but also want a built-in EVF, m4/3 offers nothing right now. If Oly or Panny can give us that, why wouldn’t we all then be happy?

          • Agrivar

            Some of us dont want rangefinder style bodies. Stop forcing your views on everyone else! I love the faux DSLR designs BTW. Waiting for Oly to release a mirrorless one in the E-620 style.. but smaller!

            • You already have the Panny G & GH faux-DSLR designs. There is no full-featured rangefinder style body with a built-in EVF by either Oly or Panny. So once again, who’s forcing what on who?

      • mahler

        Rangerfinders can be fine, if the manufacturer knows how to design them. The latest control layout of Olympus PEN cameras (EPL-2) is a prime example of how not to design a camera – no matter how nice the camera is looking. The four-wheel controller with this flimsy ring around is close to unusable.

        So any “proven design” talk is mute, if camera construction goes like this.

        While Panasonic did not get the taste of some photographers with their DSLR designs (but they have a lot of fans of that as well), what they certainly get is ergonomics. To me much more important than this boring pseudo-rangefinder or not discussion.

        And don’t worry. Olympus will never give up their PEN concept. The question is, if they will release alternatives to this concept. It is time for it. Buyers waited too long, and the PEN concept did not rescue the imaging division at all.

        • Mr. Reeee


  • MJ

    So what you’re saying is there is a 81-99% chance that the previously 21-40% probable rumor is WRONG. Hehe. Duh. :P

  • sderdiarian

    It strikes me, if Panasonic has in fact improved G3 color to approximate that of Olympus and were they to release a new model that actually included IBIS for alternate use, you could then simply stick a fork in Olympus, they’d be cooked.

    Wonder if this thought has crossed Panasonic’s mind.

    • rik

      Would this imaginary Panasonic camera also include support for the great remote flash capabilities of the FL-36R and FL-50R (and Metz equivalents) that the Oly camera have?

    • spam

      Panasonic is too much into video to go with IBIS, and they probably think they had pretty good JPG colors all the time.

    • WT21

      Oly has a patent on their IBIS. Sony likely too. Where’s Panny’s technology for IBIS. Sony doesn’t have IBIS in NEX to keep the bodies small. Given that Panny is chasing NEX size, there’s no room for IBIS there either.

      This simply isn’t going to happen.

      • Mr. Reeee

        From what I’ve read, both Nikon and Canon build stabilization into their lenses.. They must have some reason to include it in some lenses vs. building it into the cameras themselves.

        I’d be curious to find out what the pros and cons for IBIS and Lens stabilization are. I have no opinion as to which is better or not.

        The 14-140mm is the first time I’ve had stabilization of any sort in/on a camera. I learned to hold a camera steadily, or use my body, lean against things, use the viewfinder or rest cameras on things for stabilization. Or even use a tripod or monopod. Y’know, stabilization the old fashioned way. ;-)

        • Nathan

          The advantage of optical stabilization in the lens is slightly better stabilization, and view through the viewfinder is also stabilized.
          The primary disadvantage is cost- the stabilizer has to be purchased over and over again on each lens. Also, the faster the lens, the larger the movable lens element has to be, and the more battery is drained. It also makes fast stabilized lenses very expensive.

          • Michael Devitt

            Just my add: IBIS combined with EVF technology stabilizes viewfinder too (unlike the OVF on E-5 for example), so it works even better here (more suitable for manual focusing).

          • spam

            If you look up prices on lenses with stabilisation and compare with equivalent lenses from Sony or Olympus you’ll see that there isn’t any general “IS-tax” added. Of course IS add something to the cost, at least in development, but the cost don’t seem to be reflected in the price so consumers don’t pay for it, at least not directly on the particular lens.

            Anyway, it’s interesting to see that only Olympus went with IBIS on mirrorless cameras. Sony switched from IBIS to lens stabilisation on NEX and Samsung did the same with NX, maybe because Pentax wouldn’t license it, but my guess is that manufacturers dont want a vibrating part in the body, which means extremely close to the built in mics.

            Another problem with IBIS is heat. Sony has problems on A33/A55 and almost all compact cameras with sensorbased stabilisation turn it off in video mode. Olympus used to have some models that came with overheating warnings.

            So, given an option most manufacturers seem to choose lens stabilsiation when they get another chance to choose. I don’t know why Olympus didn’t, maybe they didn’t see the importance of video mode when they made the decision, maybe they thought they would get better interoperability with FT lenses and maybe they wanted to be able to make the lenses a bit smaller.

            It will be interesting to see what Canon, Nikon and particulray Pentax do.

            • sderdiarian

              Very good explanation. As to why Oly went with IBIS, it’s part of their tradition and a prime selling point of their IL cameras. And as you said, “maybe they thought they would get better interoperability with FT lenses and maybe they wanted to be able to make the lenses a bit smaller.” The latter is the most important part to me, just compare the Oly mFT zooms to Panasonic’s. Smaller, lighter and less expensive typically.

              I still think IBIS is the way to go, but I’m beginning to soften on my position as Panasonic continues to deliver the goods (I eagerly await soem comprehensive tests of the G3 and upcoming GF3) while Oly just languishes, re-introducing the same basic camera with same sensor 4 times in two years.

              Word of their layoffs is hardly surprising given this, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Imaging division was either sold (to Panasonic? hmmmm…) or shut down to cut their losses. The new president is not a camera guy, so why would he continue to endure profits of the overall company dragged down as they have been?

        • Esa Tuunanen

          Canikon builts stabilization into lens because that’s for what they own patents.
          They might have to pay license to someone else for being able to build stabilization into body, and then there’s NIH syndrome.

          And Sony wanted NEX to be small P&S toy with as small flange back distance as possible and as they use bigger sensor leaving stabilization out is easy way to save some space.

          As for efficiency differences you have to remember that lens based stabilizations have been under tweaking for many decades so for their young age body based stabilizations are doing darn good job.

          And for possible heating problems during video long video takes are rare if stills are primary style and taking long clips with only hand support isn’t very comfortable so for long takes tripod or other good support is always preferable and that makes stabilization rather moot point.
          Besides body based stabilization doesn’t prevent use of lenses with own stabilization. You can simply select better working stabilization. (at least when lens maker didn’t penny pinch and lens has own IS switch)

  • Nat

    they better put the EVF?

  • Inge-M

    I hope, Oly come up E-P3 and E-xx so use G3 sensor soon this year. ;-)

  • furb

    hmmm…i wonder about any new olympus lenses that might be coming out?

  • Rich

    This is so funny. A (FT5)rumor of a (FT2)rumor. Come on, let’s get down to the business and dig out some real gold. If you already know something about the new cameras and such, please just shoot us straight.

    • admin

      Hi Rich! I really have no FT5 rumor yet. It’s not that easy as you imagine.

      • anon

        admin, you tagged THIS rumor as FT5. I think that’s what Rich was referring to.

  • Henrik

    I’m not interested in a view finder. I want to photograph with vari-angle touch screen monitor and stabilization – from ultrawide to ultra-tele, and with bright midrange lenses in between. But M43 refuses to give me that, instead there are multiple kit zooms and things like fisheyes.

    • Duarte Bruno

      + 10000000000!

      • 43RC


  • NativeFloridian

    I’m surprised there are so many people demanding an EVF. I can better understand demanding an OVF, but the quality of any EVF would almost certainly be inferior to the XZ-1’s OLED. I think the best compromise was Olympus’s first idea… include a good EVF as an optional attachment for those who prefer to compose with the EVF.

    For the PRO camera… I’d prefer a modular solution so that it could suit many different tastes: include options for a flash, EVF, and an enlarged battery handgrip. My 2 cents.

  • They still haven’t released a decent E-620 replacement. And that one wasn’t even Pro.

    But that depends on definition of “Pro” – to some first of all this is IQ, to others – it is build or lens selection.

    Lens selection and IQ are known weak spots of m43 which I do not expect Oly to be able to address in short term. That leaves for Oly only the build to work on.

    And, well, as a E-620 user, I’m not so interested in a camera with exceptionally good build: I’m more into lenses and IQ.

    • Michael Meissner

      In terms of a viewfinder, the desire on many users is so you can hold the camera up to your eye and stabilize it like generations of SLR users are used to, and not holding it out out at arms length like point & shoot users do, which tends to be hard to see in bright sunlight, and doesn’t allow the user to brace the camera.

      For most things, I actually prefer an electronic viewfinder over an optical viewfinder, since with an electronic viewfinder, you get things like live histogram before you are shooting, ability to see the review of the shots without moving the camera from your eye. The two points where an optical viewfinder is better is in extreme lowlight, and with some EVF’s at fast moving images.

      However, a mirrorless camera is just not going to have an optical viewfinder, so the question is electronic viewfinder or not.

      In terms of the Pens, I don’t like having to choose between using an EVF, a flash, and an external microphone. I recently got a clearviewer for my E-P2, to use when I’m using the flash hot-shoe, and while it works and gives me sort of the viewfinder experience, I would prefer to be able to use both at the same time. If Olympus had actually thought about it, and provided alternatives, such as an extension cable for the accessory port or hot-shoe, it would be acceptable.

      • RangeFinder

        Preference to hold the camera up to your eye is fine. There are plenty of cameras that allow that.
        If you have problems steadying an arm’s length camera or using larger lenses on a smaller body, it’s your fault, not the cameras.
        If the EP-3 has articulated screen AND EVF then everyone will be happy :)

  • WT21

    Oly has to be close with some kind of announcement, if the EP2 is no longer offered (as per other rumors posted).

  • BS Artiste

    Compactness is not a benefit but a detriment to some of us. I have my cell phone for randomly taking photos when I am doing something else. When I go out to take photos, I take a camera bag with equipment, and maybe even a backpack of gear. Count me as the crazy American that lugged a backpack of camera equipment and a netbook laptop around London last summer in the heat. The current Pen form factor does not work for long zoom lenses, and Oly sold those as a benefit of 43 just a few years ago.

    I have no problems with some users wanting the current Pen rangefinder form factor. However, many photographers don’t. They like their E-30s or E-620s for the ergonomics. The GH2 is a little bit too small, and the body build quality is not on the level of the E-30 or E-620. However, if the GH2 had IBIS, then many Oly users would switch.

  • BS Artiste

    Plus, when not using flash, I use the hotshoe for a GPS geotagger. Oly does not have other ways to match photos and coordinates precisely with a GPS interface. Using the hot shoe for an EVF is not acceptable in a higher end camera. Except for odd shots that I have to reach with the E-30’s twilt-swivel LCD, I take all photos through the viewfinder. When not using a monopod, tripod, or leaning against a wall, holding the camera close to the face with elbows pinned against the chest is much steadier. Using the LCD at arms length to compose shots is not as steady. Steadying the camera without a tripod or monopod makes an OVF or EVF manadatory, and the viewfinder can’t use up the camera’s only hot shoe interface.

  • safaridon

    I don’t necessarily see how this is good news as postphonments of announcements seems to be common these days but the specs of a rumor maybe less likely to change? I thought the original rumor said that they didn’t know where or not there would be an inbody EVF but now we are informed rather that FT2 rumor said NO inbody EVF on any of the models? That is not good news. Which one was it?

    Still possible that Oly is sticking with their very good optional VF to keep the models compact while Pany not pursuing a high resolution optional VF rather going for none or inbody VF as the G3 and new rangefinder might have. I still hope to see an upgraded EP3 with inbody EVF. However I doubt the Oly mini will contain IBIS.

  • Len

    The electronic viewfindter in my opinion is the best thing since sliced bread. The only time I dont use it is on the tripod. I have never taken mine off my camera since I bought it. So a built in evf is my main request. Second one for me is weather sealing and pro lenses. E-5 image quality would be enough for me. My pro pen will be used for long walks into the wilderness, shooting landscapes, or on portrait shoots. Specifically in the rain. I do miss my E-3, but am happy to wait patiently as I am not going to invest in four thirds glass, and have strarted my collection of micro four thirds lenses.

    The weight saving with the lenses alone is huge, and a bigger body wouldnt be a problem. Smaller bodies for the prosumer models, and a minature one for the light weight fanatics. They are already going down that line.

    As a fan of square, I would still love a square sensor, so I can erk out more detail from more pixels… But that idea is perhaps a pipe dream.

    • Nathan

      I love square format too. You’re not alone.

  • BS Artiste

    The EVF could be modular, but photographers trying to get steady shots without a tripod or monopod are going to use the viewfinder nearly 100% of the time. A modular EVF is fine, but it can’t eliminate interfaces to other photographic peripherals such as flash and GPS. Perhaps flash and GPS could be triggered by other wired or wireless interfaces such as USB, Bluetooth, or WiFi.

    In some ways a modular EVF is better because the EVF can be upgraded later to a newer model EVF with better resolution, brightness, or features. There is an issue of weather sealing any interface to an EVF. However, the modular EVF cannot eliminate simultaneous use of an external flash or access to accurate GPS synchronization for geotagging.

    • Michael Meissner

      Well in terms of the E-PL1 and E-PL2, the camera can already use both the EVF and remote flash, since the remote TTL flash is controlled by the pop-up flash. In the case of bright sunshine or with the flashes mounted in a bracket where they might not see the pop-up flash, you could use fiber optic cables between the pop-up flash and the Olympus or Metz flash like they use in the underwater gear. It is just the E-P2 users (like me) that can’t do this because their camera doesn’t have a pop-up flash.

      It would have been nice if Olympus used a standard cable like mini-HDMI for the accessory port, so that you could put the EVF on a bracket and still use the flash, but alas they did not.

  • One could get a built in EVF as a celebration of the past RF. However it makes a camera expensive, if you had bought it separately before.

    Also, in the end I guess that the ‘Connected Camera’ will need at least two external plugs, like a computer. I remember that some of the first laptops had a printer that could be attached, which would look ridiculous today.

    Once you go mirrorless it is more difficult to find a definite design, thus the temptation of a retro shape. However the camera tends to become modular. Bits and pieces that a user connects at will: EVF, PenPal, and GPS come to my mind.

    The X100 however shows how many in the upper tier are emotionally connected to a self enclosed camera. Will it be just a trend, will it last?
    The rationale of m4/3 seems to be to have a smaller camera with plugs. Better or multiple processing chips in camera allowing some preset PP, like the Art filters. Uploading without the need of a separate computer seems a good bet too.
    I wonder if anybody has the right answer yet.

    • Michael Meissner

      Well you can always use the A/V out port of the camera as a EVF. I just got a remote viewer that takes VGA output that will allow me to do that. Olympus did put the accessory cord in the wrong location (where you grip the camera with your right hand). Compared to the VF-2, you only get QVGA output (320×240) instead of 800×600, but the E-P1, E-P2, and E-PL1’s LCDs were only QVGA any way.

      • Mr. Reeee

        All the different ports and connections that Panasonic and Olympus cameras have really don’t help, do they.

        I wish there were a universal accessory port, so that any camera, from any manufacturer could use any accessory. The situation now is that we’re stuck with limited connectivity.

        The current state is nearly as fragmented as the Android OS and the myriad devices with scattershot specs.

        Too bad for M4/3.

  • BS Artiste

    If the Pen Pro really is a year or two out, then Oly likely will lose another segment of their customers. I want to stay with Oly because I have used and liked their digital cameras for over 10 years. However, the current lineup is not a good fit for some photographers. If that customer segment leaves and starts investing in a lens system for another mount, winning them back to Oly will be more difficult. I don’t think I am stating anything that isn’t quite obvious. I hope Oly comes through, but Oly’s actions in the last 2 years have been almost totally away from photographers that prefer a larger camera with more features. Maybe that is Oly’s plan, but it has not worked for sales volumes nor for profit margins. It may already be too late, but waiting another 2 years for a Pro Pen to use existing regular 4/3 lenses will surely amputate Oly’s remaining larger-size camera users.

    Oly would have to continue on with a smaller market share, lower margins, and likely a smaller development group. That is what the market results show for the last couple of years. Oly has to decide whether to go full-tilt after the strategy of the last two years, which has not been very profitable, or build on their product lines to offer customers more body-style choices and features and performance closer to what Oly users were getting in their Oly DSLRs and with video capabilities approaching competitors.

    As an engineer and patent attorney I love technology and engineering accomplishments. However, as a camera user I don’t care about mirror vs. mirrorless, EVF vs. OVF, or any other implementation details. I just care about the functionality for taking pictures.

    I didn’t need or want a smaller camera than my E-30. I don’t want to go backwards in functionality and performance or even to stay stagnant for 4 or 5 years, which is an eternity of 2 whole camera generations in the present market.

    • Nathan

      I’m an E-30 user as well, love it and don’t object to the size or weight. Pen is intriguing but not tempting because the good glass just doesn’t exist yet.
      I don’t care how small it gets, image quality is all that matters to me because I’ve gotten used to carrying a camera bag.

    • sderdiarian

      BS Artiste said:
      “If the Pen Pro really is a year or two out, then Oly likely will lose another segment of their customers. I want to stay with Oly because I have used and liked their digital cameras for over 10 years. However, the current lineup is not a good fit for some photographers. If that customer segment leaves and starts investing in a lens system for another mount, winning them back to Oly will be more difficult.”

      My sense based on their plummeting sales, this has already largely happened. They made a disastrous and illogical decision severing their DSLR users from an upgrade path while also failing to deliver a full-featured mFT that truly improves upon the E-620 featureset/performance/afforability. Now it’s only the diehards who remain, and based on this new “non-announcement”, we’re shuffling our feet as well.

      “Oly would have to continue on with a smaller market share, lower margins, and likely a smaller development group. That is what the market results show for the last couple of years.”

      That’s precisely where they are today with a continually eroding ability to compete.

      “as a camera user I don’t care about mirror vs. mirrorless, EVF vs. OVF, or any other implementation details. I just care about the functionality for taking pictures.”

      “I don’t want to go backwards in functionality and performance or even to stay stagnant for 4 or 5 years, which is an eternity of 2 whole camera generations in the present market.”

      Exactly. Gimmicks and gadgets are fun, but it’s substance that drives buying decisions in this price range. I can only accept mFT’s shortcomings in exchange for light weight/small size if their used to compliment my instantly focusing DSLR, not to replace it. This is what I originally expected when they were introduced, but how wrong I was!

      Given our decisions are based on products actually available, not wish lists, my hat is off to Panasonic for coming closest to matching my E-620’s featureset and AF speed with the G3. As for IBIS, I’m beginning to think I can live without it; not happy about it, but this is the choice we’re now given.

      But there are other viewpoints, read the mFT evangelists belwo. This fella has certainly drunk the Oly brand of mFT koolaid.

  • Old Oly dSLR users don’t understand m4/3,and would like to persuade us that they are the better ones. I was in the same camp, but then I had to realise that there was no room for development left by C&N.

    This happened in 2009, and now we are il 2011, come! They should consider themselves luck if they still have the E-5. Panny didn’t leave anything behind.

    Pens were developed by Oly’s P&S department, not by the dSLR one. Retrospectively it’s not the Retro aspect that strikes me but the futuristic one, especially with the accessories for the hotshoe/plug.

    Macro lights really make the PL2 look like some Steampunk device.
    I hope that being innovators Oly designers will never be hampered by the dSLR style, buy keep designing according to the rule of maximum enjoyment for a camera that will be a connected computer. A bit the way Apple devices already are.

    Those wanting *real* retro cameras will look elsewhere – the X100 or keep buying traditional dSLR, and eventually use m4/3 as second cameras.

    An alternative design of course is the NEX one. So O&P must fence on multiple fronts – getting smaller is a consequence. If they ever succeed in becoming the standard for mirrorless there will be plenty of time for varying size and shapes.

    That is why I believed Oly managers that a Pro m4/3 is still 2 years away. Trying to establish market share with expensive cameras is dangerous. They really have to keep at bay Sony and Samsung that have lower prices.

    They can fight them with a more extended range of products . more lenses and possibly one or two semipros, but I don’t delude myself that they will be the functional equivalent of dSLR. They will simply be different and respond to a different market. dSLR and P&S are already saturated ones.

    I remember an analyst predicting some years ago global market saturation for cameras by 2011. Well it has happened, so Oly is opening new emerging markets in China and India, totally different markets from the West, presumably appreciating futuristic products, but not necessarily wanting to build whole dSLR systems.

    Our consolidated tastes are therefore less relevant. Expect surprises. If they won’t be overly expensive, the ride will be interesting for everyone.

  • BS Artiste

    No camera user is “better” than another. To Oly all dollars are green. The only issue is sales volumes and per unit profit margins. Sadly for Oly those numbers have been going in the wrong direction for a few years.

    I am fine with Oly moving in a different direction and surrendering another market. The next few product announcements should tell the story, and the next several quarters or few years will tell the customer response.

    Oly has the capability to make a camera to my tastes with a m43 mount and size and features similar to my E-30, but with 1080p video. Such a model would be close to a Pen Pro. I am predisposed to buy Oly over Canon or Nikon based on my past positive experiences with Oly products over 10 years. Trying to get an existing Canon or Nikon user to switch to Oly is harder and more costly than keeping existing Oly customers. Maybe Oly’s focus is sales to first time camera buyers in emerging markets such as China and India. However, Canon and Nikon are in those markets too.

    The last year of Oly announcements froze my spending when I was ready to buy $5K to $6K USD in Oly products. For me at least, the next few Oly product releases before the 5Diii will determine whether I start to migrate to a new lens mount. Time will tell.

  • BS Artiste

    And you’re right, I don’t completely understand Oly’s m43 strategy. Why would I want to sacrifice camera capabilities for a marginally smaller camera?

    If I want a smaller camera, I can use my cell phone or a fixed lens point and shoot. If I leave the house to take the highest quality pictures, then I am going to carry a camera and associated equipment with top end capabilities. At most something like the current Oly Pen lineup is a secondary camera carried along with my E-30.

    Maybe my camera use is just strange, but I doubt it. I suspect some of Oly’s sales downturn can be attributed to reduced appeal to camera users like me.

    Obviously some photographers like smaller Pens as a primary camera with small lenses and without a large camera bag. That is fine. To each his own.

    The issue for Oly is whether the sales volumes and profit margins of the various customer segments justify continuing to stay in the camera business at the current human resource, R&D, and manufacturing investment levels.

  • According to the 2011 Oly’s Financial Report, Sales in NA and Europe plunged by 28-25%. Oly lost minimally in Japan where Pens were among the first in BCN camera rankings.

    So this tells us the story. Western dSLR centric markets are becoming irrelevant to Oly’s strategies. That is why it recently opened Olympus China and Olympus India. Mr. Terada predicted a 40% market share for mirrorless there and growing.

    Therefore, at least to O&P dSLR owners opinions are becoming largely irrelevant, unless as second camera owners. Panny has ceased dSLR production, and Oly has kept an oxygen line which will likely be terminated three years from now, after the lifecycle of the E-5 is finished.

    By comparison O&P are churning out models after models of mirrorless. That should tell diehards which way the wind is blowing. There’s really no right to claim anything: that’s how reality turned out to be – sorry.

    • mahler

      The O part isn’t really churning out models after models. They churned out the same old thing (PEN), with increasingly worsening user interfaces. O has one current model (EPL-2), whereas P has 4 (GF2, G3, GH2, AG-AF100). This former isn’t a good sign for a manufacturer of a new camera system.

      I don’t think that the DSLR owner market is irrelevant for Olympus. They simply have the wrong strategy and not the R&D power to create acceptable replacements for their E-xxx and E-xx product lines. The E-5 remains as the last dinosaur.

      If you look to the other markets, most system camera owners, which are more ambititious with photography, still have DSLRs. The point and shooters don’t need interchangeable lenses. It would be a huge mistake to count on those.

      • Mr. Reeee

        Right again!
        Sorry, but 2 models, with 1 minor revision each and a handful of middling lenses (yeah, they’re small), does NOT a line of cameras make. I wish Pentax had joined the M4/3 consortium instead of going for an even SMALLER sensor.

        A tiny percentage of P&S snappers will switch to Interchangeable lens cameras. Unless they’re somehow brand committed to Panasonic or Olympus, Nikon and Canon will get the lions share of their money.

        I was walking around Central Park yesterday afternoon: LOTS of DSLRs, nearly EVERY one N or C, with a few from Sony, Pentax and Oympus tossed in. There was even a smattering of M4/3s, a good sign.

    • Yes, that’s a brilliant strategy. “Let’s see, we’ll bet on two emerging markets where the average price they’ll pay for a camera is lower than what we charge now, and we’ll assume that Canon, Nikon, and Sony aren’t interested in competing there. So we’ll be just fine.”

      Dream on. Running to new markets trying to outrace your competitors at best delays the inevitable, at worst, increases the cash bleed. It also shows a remarkable lack of confidence in your ability to engineer and market a competitive product.

      If you can’t compete in the two markets that form two-thirds of all camera sales, you can’t compete in the rest.

      There’s no doubt that the Asian markets do prefer a different style and size camera than the Western ones. But there’s also no doubt that the other camera companies know the same thing.

  • BS Artiste

    What you are saying is that Oly has surrendered in North America and western Europe. Maybe it has. I wonder if Oly will continue to be a major sponsor of the US Open tennis tournament in New York under such conditions.

    It will be interesting to see whether the loss of high margin sales and lack of upsale opportunities from Pens to a more capable camera has an impact on Oly sales even in emerging markets.

    As I mentioned in the above post, I am already considering the 5Diii and dropping $10K to $15K on a new system. As the 5Diii is not out yet, I can wait a little while longer on Oly.

    What you mention may be true with Oly completely surrendering on top of line cameras and moving down the food chain to lower end and lower margin products with appeal in emerging markets. If Oly does not get to the market shares you suggest for them in emerging markets, or if emerging market sales are somehow linked to higher end sales in North America and western Europe, then Oly’s goose is cooked in the camera business. That will be a sad day for all of us that have loved our Oly cameras over the years.

    • mahler

      Olympus once upon a time was the player of the digital camera market (the Camedia series). This market position declined rapidly, because they did not have enough capabilities to counter the rapid development and offerings of the competition. I don’t believe that Olympus can have any major breakthrough in this former target groups, even in India or Southeast Asia.

      Olympus should concentrate on creating high-end products (not only PENs) for their former clients and ambititious ex-P&S photographers.

      The current state of affairs in Europe and North America is more a result of a too narrow product line and self-contradicting announcements than targeting the wrong market.

  • TR

    Re. the built in EVF. One thing that I have noticed is that the black vf-2 is almost impossible to buy here in Australia. I checked on BHphoto in the US and it is unavailable there. Amazon has three through third part sellers. Black is the fastest selling colour I imagine.

    I do not think that they will discontinue it as it is part of the line-up for e-plx and now xz. However I wonder if they have slowed production of the vf-2 so that the vf team can work on the e-p3.

    • spam

      It’s not the same people developing and producing EVFs (or anything else).

  • BS Artiste

    Also, were the sales margins the same in Japan for the Pens and other products? The Pens have a lower price point, and normally lower price point items and sales in emerging markets have lower profit margins per unit sold. To make the same overall profit on lower profit margin products, Oly will need large increases in units sold. Maybe Oly can reach some production economies of scale with a large enough share in the mirrorless market.

    BTW – I do not care about mirrorless vs. DSLR. I only care about form factor and capabilities for taking quality photos. The same mirrorless technology in a larger form factor with AF speed, still frame rates, 1080p, and a view finder would be fine.

    According to your view Oly won’t even package their existing technology to fit the alleged needs of North American and western Europe users. Instead they are rushing headlong into a fight to gain market share in lower margin sales in emerging markets. To me that seems to be a strategy to get economies of scale with high volume, low margin and low cost production. I have my doubts on whether Oly can beat much larger camera makers on such a low cost commodity strategy.

    Henry Ford got the Model T production cost down very low and could produce great volumes in any color that customers wanted so long as it was black. GM came along and started offering cars in different colors and nearly ran Henry Ford out of business. I have doubts about Oly even being as capable as Henry Ford on such a low cost, mass volume strategy.

  • Lower profit margins? On Pens?

    There’s nothing inside, and lenses cost the double of ordinary dSLR lenses.

    You must be joking: killing the hen with the golden eggs :)

    • mahler

      Most m4/3 lenses cost about the same as their DSLR equivalents (except the most extreme low budget lenses, but low budget isn’t the target for m4/3). Where do you see the double prices?

  • Tom

    Olys strategy has to be, to differ from the competition.
    Where the heck would it differ if they realease only Pro-Body-dslrs?? (D3, 1D, 5D,…)
    They dont stand a chance against nikon and canon at THIS point.
    Oly and Pana managed to introduce a completely new system, the mirrorless system cameras. THAT is differing from competition. Well, now that SOny and Samsung have their systems as well, they need to differ a different way.

    So lets think about, what Sony, Samsung and Panasonic DONT have.
    a) exceptional build quality (including weather sealing)
    b) Retro Design
    c) primes

    And thats what Olympus has to produce.
    An Retro Design “Pro” Body, with exceptional Build Quality, Built-in EVF and together with that, at least 3 primes at high quality.
    The problem it: the body should not cost more than GH2, and the primes should not cost more then Panas Leica Primes (45, 25).

    Olympus has seen what freaking hype the X100 caused, and now its up to them, if they jump on it, or not.

    • Mr. Reeee

      Retro design is a Fashion Statement, NOT a feature.

      I’m not against fashionable cameras, but it’s low priority as far as photography and the health of the M4/3 platform is concerned. Truly committed hipsters shoot film! ;-)

      Important features need to be included…
      High Quality Lenses and certainly primes
      Build quality, absolutely.

      Sensors should be HIGH on the list, although the fixation with high ISO performance at the expense of lower ISO (100 and below and inching toward 200) is NOT a good thing. High ISO allows lens makers to skip producing better, brighter lenses and let sensors compensate in low light.

      • Esa Tuunanen

        Retro design is exactly about fashion and not about functionality.
        And really except for the viewfinder every mirrorless system has these more or less squarish, tiny boxes and NEX even doesn’t have anything else.
        So thinking that Olympus can differentiate from other bigger brands with just variations of that tiny squarish box is extremely bad strategy. Even if higher end products don’t make much of the sales those can sell other products, just like name Canon has sold lots of about worst ergonomy consumer bodies because Canon is what lots of pros and enthusiasts use.

        Like BS Artiste said these tiny squarish pocket cameras for casual carrying are entirely different thing from camera for active serious shooting whose job is to be tool which doesn’t get into way of getting work done.
        And that’s where M4/3 currently fails seriously as system.
        Small squarish boxes will never fit as well to hand as DSLR shape camera with proper size grip, direct controls and proper spacing for proper sized buttons. Neither do Panasonic G/GH fill that huge void because at most they’re at level with Canon’s the most unergonomic of class consumer DSLRs.
        In previous eight years with three cameras I did maybe something like dozen accidental button presses but now in two weeks with GH2 I did couple dozen of those and count just keep going up nearly every time when I handle it because it’s impossible to get comfortable and secure hold from it!
        So if that’s best what M4/3 will keep offering you can guess what I will start recommend others to choose when asked.

    • > Olys strategy has to be, to differ from the competition.

      True. At the moment they’re so far down the list of camera competitors that they need to “own” a segment, they can’t own the overall camera market. And if they have any hope whatsoever of owning the overall camera market, they’d best do that by owning some segments first. That’s how you do it.

      > Where the heck would it differ if they realease only Pro-Body-dslrs?? (D3, 1D, 5D,…)

      “Pro” DSLRs (or even “pro cameras”) come in a lot of different forms, because there are different groups of pros with differing needs. The D3s is so good for PJ and sports work, I can’t imagine even Canon easily knocking it off the pedestal at the moment, so PJ and sports in the traditional sense is not a target audience for Oly. But Adventure Sports, for instance, requires small, compact, sturdy cameras, something a lot like the OM-4. Hey, a lot of adventure sports photographers used to use OM-4s. So don’t write off “pro.” It’s too broad a category and has substantial sub categories.

      > They dont stand a chance against nikon and canon at THIS point.

      Olympus made a fateful decision: to use a smaller sensor. As I wrote back in 2003, if you pick a smaller engine, you put it in a smaller vehicle. They didn’t. They still aren’t quite there, eight years later. Which shows that they don’t fully understand their own starting decision. They can’t beat Nikon and Canon because they’ve already beaten themselves.

      > So lets think about, what Sony, Samsung and Panasonic DONT have.
      > a) exceptional build quality (including weather sealing)
      > b) Retro Design
      > c) primes
      > And thats what Olympus has to produce.

      Producing primes does little for Oly because they can just as easily be used on a Panasonic body. Primes are not a distinguishing trait by themselves.

      Retro design isn’t the answer, though photographer-centric design is. The reason why some people salivate over retro isn’t because they have a fetish for metal dials, it’s because they simply want simple direct control over the primary exposure decisions: aperture, shutter, ISO, and compensation. A lot of old film cameras got those four things right, so in the sense that we should return to designs that got things right, sure, let’s do retro. But it doesn’t have to look retro–that’s a style thing. Style certainly sells cameras when done right, but it’s not what I want from a camera, and it’s far easier to add style to a “right design” than it is to add a “right design” to style.

      > The problem it: the body should not cost more than GH2, and the primes should not cost more then Panas Leica Primes (45, 25).

      For Olympus’ top m4/3 products, price is not a consideration (within realistic levels, that is). They would sell more US$1499 bodies that were perfect than they would US$999 bodies that are more design-by-consensus-and-usable-by-no-one. People get caught up in all the wrong assessments. Fujifilm could have priced the X100 at US$1499 and sold as many as they currently are (assuming, of course, they fixed the bugs in the firmware).

  • Inge-M

    Point 1. Olympus need produce more E-5 store is empty over everything.
    Point 2. Olympus need come up by E-XX so use G3 sensor.
    Point 3. Olympus need come up by E-P3 so have same IQ so E-XX, and muvable screen.

  • One wonders if some come here to vent their anger as orphans of 4/3 dSLR.

    Well, rest in peace classic 4/3 is going away and you wont see it reappear in mirrorless.

    If you can’t live without a dSLR your best bet is to buy C&N, Micro 4/3 is not for you.

  • Inge-M

    Huffh ;-)

    Need E-X and E-XX mirror in future?
    I mean maybe not.

  • It’s not really a matter of mirrors. The Sony55 has one, and it’s a good hybrid but I believe it doesn’t solve the problem of having smaller lenses.

    The success of mirrorless was illustrated in an Oly ad where she took out the camera out of a purse. Another lady photographer commented: that’s when I decided to buy a Pen.

    So it’s a matter of choosing a different lifestyle: ‘the always with you camera’

    It’s not only a matter of fashion. Size must be kept small, lenses especially, in comparison to dSLR. The camera must also be easily connected online, to fend off Iphones. Video must be easy, and still photography too. Art filters and in camera PP work in the same direction.

    I don’t think that C&N can easily jump in the new market, because of their installled base of large lenses.

    If they ever decide to do it they’ll find themselves faced with a large number of smallish lenses already there, and with third parties having already jumped in the m4/3 corral.

    Another objection by T. Hogan I don’t share is that the Asian markets cannot sustain alone O&P. Well they do, but they are also the Troy Horse to reconquer the Western markets. These are lagging behind by an order of magnitude compared to Japan and Asia.
    However evenin the West penetration will be rising. In the UK it almost doubled in one year.

    it is difficult to break photographer’s habits, but there is definitelly a market for the new urban youths, a lifetstyle where you don’t need to carry a bag in the trunk of a car.

    BTW mine is not a defense of Oly, but of m4/3 and the mirrorless concept. I am not brand conscious anymore the way I was when having a dSLR. This is a much more open system, also because it allows me to put to good use numberless legacy lenses, and so to keep expense low.

    That is also a trend: keep the expense low, recycle things. Not the bottomless hole where to throw money for building a branded dSLR system. Different set of values.

    Very convenient for the poor Asian classes that could afford only P&S but now are seeing rising pay levels, and want to improve their photography without getting stuck in a dSLR system. Most it seems, will buy only one additional lens. Why would they need a biggish camera anyway?

  • Inge-M

    This can i be agreement in, myself buy a white E-P1 to street photography, there i use camera on trip to neighbour city, party and holyday.

    But i think use E-P1 on my ZD150mm F2 lens is not comfortable without tripod, but on E-P2 by EVF, believe i MZD75-300mm not is big problem.

    Olympus have produce ca. same number camera for years, from 2006 to now, and camera market grow, the is reason for low market part for Olympus.

    If Olympus vill increansè in market need them have camera in store global, 90% booking not camera, by camera buying.

  • BS Artiste

    Fair enough. You are calling for Oly to end cameras aimed at people willing to carry equipment and even peripheral lenses. Interestingly, Panasonic does not see it your way with the GH3 and G3.

    Most men will carry a camera case, but not a purse. If I want a completely small camera, there are cell phones and point & shoot models. I normally don’t even buy the point & shoot flat models but instead get a prosumer ultrazoom because of the capabilities and ergonomics. The small, flat models don’t fit my hands.

    I bought my mom a flat Oly point & shoot, which she wanted to fit in her purse. However, she wants everything automatic with just point at the subject and press the shutter release. That is a totally different type of photography from someone who wants more control and the ability to change lenses. Maybe younger women want a purse-fitable camera with more features and capabilities.

    For me, a small interchangeable lens camera has to complement a larger, fully functional camera with commonality and interchangability amongst the parts. Otherwise, I just don’t see the need for a “system” for the smaller camera.

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