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Olympus and Sony to sign an agreement soon?


Our reader Mistral (Thanks!) found the following news via NHK and translated it for us:

Sony and Olympus announced yesterday September 14th that they have entered into exclusive negotiations to conclude a capitalistic partnership.

–    Olympus discussed with several potential partners but eventually chose Sony
–    Sony will invest ¥50bn (i.e. €485m or $640m) in Olympus
–    Olympus and Sony will set up a joint-venture to develop medical devices of the next generation, such as high definition endoscopes with video and 3D technology
–    in order to leverage Olympus’s business of digital cameras, which is in a slump (literally: 不振), Olympus and Sony will promote cooperation and jointly develop some components

Both parties expect to sign a definitive agreement within a month.

If that news is true than I guess there will be more Sony technology in future Olympus cameras. Not just sensor (see Olympus E-M5) but also OLED viewfinder technology, video knowledge and so on…

  • furb


  • deniz

    well sony is not the worst lap to sit on.

  • Dugo

    Well, Olympus was GOING UNDER financially for quite some time now, that was no secret.

    Sony probably gave them more money than they should have, just to keep big bad wolf Panasonic away from Olympus.

    This is clearly the end of Olympus as we know it. Couple of years, the name brand will be dropped entirely by Sony. A case of the little fish getting swallowed by the big one.

  • tomas

    Maybe Sony gets some help alleviating their supposed inadequate lens lineup.

    • Cpt

      Zuiko lenses for Sony….

      • Miroslav

        “Zuiko lenses for Sony”

        Seems very probable to me, primes especially. It may kill m4/3 though.

  • I think Admin’s prediction is too optimistic. Why would Sony want to assist Olympus to compete against Sony? I think Sony just wants a piece of the medical imaging business. In the camera business, their logical interest would be to make Olympus weaker, not stronger… for example, they may try to use the Olympus brand as a dumping ground for weaker business segments (such as low-end P&S cameras) and cherry-pick the more desirable premium segments for the Sony brand.

    • MichaelKJ

      Your are forgetting that Sony’s investment gives them only about a 20% share of Olympus. Thus, while they will be working with Oly to benefit from their investment they won’t be calling the shots.

    • caver3d

      The Sony sensor is in the E-M5. And this is just the beginning for the successful OM-D line of cameras. Get it? When Oly is successful with the OM-D, Sony wins too as a key supplier.

    • BCK

      The same could be said of Sony and Nikon. Why would they provide them with class-leading sensors that they also use?
      Sony provides MANY manufacturers with sensors. This is nothing new for them to be sharing tech.

      • MichaelKJ

        “Sony provides MANY manufacturers with sensors. This is nothing new for them to be sharing tech.”

        I think there is a difference between selling your product to a competitor and
        “promoting cooperation and joint development of parts” with a company in which you have an investment.

        Samsung makes some of the components in Apple’s products, but I don’t think anyone would claim they are “sharing tech.”

        • a

          sure, it’s technically different, but it’s similar enough for the purpose of the point he was making

    • “Olympus and Sony will promote cooperation and jointly develop some components”

      Olympus got sensor tech from Sony, and Sony may get some lens help. Who know, Olympus could have helped Sony with the collapsible 16-50mm E. Anyway, if this helps Olympus, then Sony’s investment will pay off.

  • marilyn

    i dont mind the new the good thing is imaging division will grow stronger
    i’m now thinking that the legacy lens like 14-35 will be faster

  • peevee

    Too bad it is not Panasonic. The combined technology would be awesome.

    • blackghost

      Considering the scraps Olympus received from Panasonic in terms of sensors, not exactly a mutually successful relationship.

    • Panasonic toasters are okay – their bicycles not so much. ;-)

  • Jevfp

    So I guess it’s time for us to make a pact with the NEX user instead of bashing each other,.. Lol

  • Paul Alexander

    Are they designing Micro43 endoscopic cameras? No? Then why is this news for us????

    • caver3d

      Wake up! Anything that makes Olympus a stronger company overall, is IMPORTANT to us.

    • Fish

      Weird. The other commenters have had no problem coming up with some of the possible ramifications of this news for m4/3. You act like you’d rather hear nothing than hear a new idea.

    • Paul Alexander

      The site owner has deliberately parsed his news items by logical category. If the 43rumors starts getting muddled up I’m out. It would be best to have a ‘miscellaneous’ news tab as I do not see the relevance of a partnership in scientific domain to a Micro43 camera forum. I’m missing something perhaps.

      • Jack

        Does anyone here even care if a whiner in this forum leave, it’s not like you are paying a dime to read this site

        • Peter

          “Does anyone here even care if a whiner in this forum leave, it’s not like you are paying a dime to read this site”

          He is self important enought to think that we would care. I for one would be thankful to have one less tool posting drivel in the comments :)

  • ru

    maybe this can help to improve Sony’s JPG processing

  • furb

    I think SONY is probably not worried about helping OLYMPUS since SONY has full size sensors, APS-C sensors, etc. and Oly has a unique 4/3 (micro) sensor. So in a sense, they’ve got a lot of bases covered. If a lot of people buy Olympus high end cameras, SONY benefits some, whereas if Oly put some other sensor SONY doesn’t get anything out of it.

  • st3v4nt

    To those who think this news don’t concern the 4/3 please read: in order to leverage Olympus’s business of digital cameras, which is in a slump (literally: 不振), Olympus and Sony will promote cooperation and jointly develop some components

    Apparently the OM-D and PEN sensor is just the beginning. I hope the cooperation will bring mutual benefit.

    • caver3d

      Exactly. Finally, a sensible comment on this forum.

  • Redeye37

    If this news is true it could mean hybrid contrast/phase detect sensors in future Olympus m43 cameras. It would be the answer to fast acurate 43 lens focus on m43 cameras!

    • I hope so, and sooner than later. Fingers crossed.

  • nisero

    It is NHK anounced, SONY and OLYMPUS is not anounced.

  • lorenzinonkatu


    considering how good the little sensor inside the RX100 is, I really hope all future oly sensors come from Sony, and not from Panasonic. The most important thing is that all these camera brands make better and improved cameras, tomorrow or in 20 years. Who made this or that component of those cameras, I could not care less…

  • nicwalmsley

    If NEX had decent lenses, m43 would die.

    Olympus needs better managers.

    • QBNY

      I don’t think Panasonic would allow that. Besides, not everybody wants to roll with Sony and its NEX cameras.

      Not to mention, the ridiculous prices from them as well.

      • stickytape

        Not everybody, but enough to give Sony a large portion of the market. Apart from the new RX1, what exactly is overpriced? The 5N was very popular because of its price, and from what can be seen, the RX100 will be too, thanks to Sony being willing to do what others are not forward-thinking enough to do.

    • Maybe Oly managers are overworked. I suggest bonus vacations in a sunny place – like in the Cayman Islands.

    • Peter

      “If NEX had decent lenses, m43 would die”

      Highly doubtful, i doubt the current ecosystem would suddenly vanish in the event that sony scored a few decent lenses.

      • stickytape

        Where did the “suddenly” come from? Noone mentioned anything about sudden death. There are plenty of people who are invested in the m43 system who may continue to purchase m43 products. However, lens quality and selection was one area where m43 had a distinct advantage. If, hypothetically, Sony began to put out quality lenses on par with those of m43, they would be able to more easily entice new users to their system.

        • Agent00soul

          If Sony put out quality lenses, they would still be larger than m4/3 lenses.

      • nicwalmsley

        Maybe atrophy is a better word, than die. Like how Four Thirds is not dead. Not technically.

        My grumble about Olympus is that they do a few core things brilliantly, but they also do a lot of mediocre things. So the new PEN will have a top class sensor and processing engine and top class glass, but also three year old screens, no peaking, no connectivity, average video, no orientation sensor, no gps, etc.

        It’s almost like all the corporate scandals last year occupied the managers so much that it gave the engineers space to build the camera they wanted to (E-M5), but now the managers are back, telling them a three year old screen is good enough. If the rumors are correct, of course.

  • Jfg

    It is really too bad.
    Sony is an unethical company that has no regard for its customers. They showed that very clearly when they installed root kits on their customers PCs, when they removed a key feature of the PS3, when they try to force their users to connect to them even to watch a Netflix movie, in their battles for stronger DRM, their fight to subvert the right of first sale, and their other attempts to maintain control over devices and content that you thought you had bought.
    Because of that I promised myself that I would not buy another Sony product, and, while I admit that sony has made the kind of cameras that I want, I was glad that Olympus offered me an alternative. Looks like am going to have to look elsewhere.
    What’s left? Canon and Nikon have still not figured out the EVF, I am selling my Leica lenses because I am afraid of carrying the value of a nice car in my camera bag and my eyesight no longer allows me to focus a rangefinder.
    Fuji, here I come, I suppose.

    • Uberzone

      Sony will show Olympus how to be corrupt the right way! Propriorty ports, cards, and formats here we come!

      • stickytape

        Are you sure you know the meaning of the word ‘corrupt’? Apple must be extremely corrupt too, I suppose

    • a

      apple, inc. does the same kind of thing. but because they are pushing technology forward more than any other company in their industry, i can forgive them for that (as opposed to say, Microsoft, who tries to make a lot of document formats, etc. proprietary AND their technology is stagnant). sony is doing the same with cameras, so even if they have a non-standard hotshoe or whatever, i still appreciate their contribution to the technological advancement of their industry. but yes, companies like google, who embody and encourage openness AND create great technology, are to be admired and (hopefully) emulated most of all. android is beginning to make its way onto cameras, though, so they will hopefully push the camera industry toward a similar kind of openness.

      • Esa Tuunanen

        Apple pushing technology?
        They’re pushing only stealing things invented by others and claiming those for themselves.

        For years iPhones lacked many features of competition.
        Always “reviewers” disregarded lack of those and disparaged those features in competitors and when Apple finally managed to copy that feature it suddenly became second coming of Jesus feature invented by Apple. Downsides of design/tech choises are always yelled out loud for competitors while downsides of Apple’s design/tech choises are downplayed or never mentioned.

        If energy used for double standards and hypocrisy would be harnessed mankind wouldn’t need any fossil fuels!

    • Boooo!

      Sony is an unethical company that has no regard for its customers.

      Meanwhile, Olympus is charging a premium for cameras without complicated mechanical parts, with sub-par screens, with sensors from 2008, and even without bloody lens hoods.

      • Bart

        Vote with your money and/or go complain at Olympus customer services, that is way more effective then whining on a forum thats only being read by people who already know what you are whining about anyway.

  • I’m not a fan of sony products too. Everything is proprietary. I hope they would not have any control in olympus camera or lens design/technology. Nikon can squeeze so much out of sony sensors and not at sony’s mercy of what sensor they can use in their cams. Would be history replay if sony force olympus to use older generation sensors just like panasonic did.

    • a

      sony has a bad record for trying to make things proprietary, but in the end they usually learn that doesn’t work. so i think they’re beginning to change their ways. at least they’re using sd cards. also, they used standard cd-rom for the original playstation when nintendo was still using cartridges. they’ve also encouraged third-party lenses on nex. so i hope they’re realizing the importance of openness. and regardless of their track record i think it’s good to reward them with business when they do the right thing. and so far i think they have with their nex cameras.

      • Rep96st

        They encouraged third party lenses because their lenses suck.

        Anyways, no problem with me. I only like some of Olympus’s lenses, I don’t have any interest in their bodies. The OM-D was close, yet too small and rubbery (buttons).

        I like what Panasonic is doing and as much as people whine about their “outdated” Sensors, the auto focus and low light capabilities are up there.

        Plus, I predict the price of everything Olympus will go up.

      • stickytape

        Making things proprietary does work, as in Apple’s case, but it is far more important to have fantastic products first, supported by proprietary products/standards that make usage seamless. I think that they’re doing quite well with with putting out quality products. It’s also great that they are leading in certain aspects of the mirrorless field, and willing to take chances where others are not. Then again, I think that Sony’s marketing department is more attuned to what the public wants. Their cameras “make sense” in that they don’t result in us questioning why a certain model has this or that while the higher model doesn’t.

        However, on the issue of third-party lenses, I agree with Rep96st – their lens selection is a weakness they have to consolidate, and they have chosen to do that by encouraging others to fill the gap.

        • Bart

          Proprietary can work extremely well on the short term, but this always comes with failure and a high price for that failure on the longer term. No, Apple won’t be able to escape that either, no-one ever managed to escape that on the longer term. Proprietary is also always more expensive on the long run for everyone, even for the provider of a proprietary system.

          But hey, if we can turn a profit today, who cares about tomorrow.

          • RMA

            No entity makes it out alive in the long term. (In the long term, we’re all dead.) Markets always change. But Apple has already escaped longer than anyone else has in the computer-making business.

  • flash

    Most important, Sony has cash. It also makes very good components for cameras.

  • Adriaantie

    Hopefully oly starts working with real sensors and leave that toy crap they now using for what it is. Lets bring on the em6 with apsc or FF.

    • I predict Sony entering the M43 consortium instead.

      • Miroslav

        “I predict Sony entering the M43 consortium instead.”

        I hope you’re right, but I just don’t see it happening. What may be possible is making an “official” m4/3 to NEX adapter, which would enable m4/3 lenses to work on NEX bodies in crop mode, similar to Sony/Nikon APS-C lenses working in crop mode on FF bodies. What would even be more interesting is making such adapter for that rumored FF NEX.

        • thats not a bad idea if you can use it as a multi aspect alternative for the GH-2 :-)

  • st3v4nt

    If you’re a company that spend the money for doing research and development surely you want to get as much profit you can get and total control, and one of the aspect doing it by creating proprietary technology. I’m not defending Sony but isn’t it almost all camera manufacture creating system with proprietary mount for lens? It’s amazing that Panasonic and Olympus could agree on compatible system and keep making it, but you can’t blame all other camera maker for not agreeing upon compatible lens, it’s just the way it is. Because if they do we all already living in heaven.

  • Theeky

    This is my way of see things, and I don’t agree with the majority of the comments.

    Olympus has a strong name (Olympus is old you know!) and a strong recent market in cameras, Panasonic and Olympus are continuously creating the next big thing in photography – the mirrorless.

    This market will evolve more than the SDLR market, the cameras in it are just not for rich people but for everyone and this cameras can archive good quality as you know!

    As Olympus wold be with sony or with pana or whatever the system will be developed, both companies will grow with it and will certainly make it better for consumers.

    Everyone receives something back, it’s all the same in every negotiation.
    That’s what I think..

    • domowy.karaluch

      Minolta was(I think still is) strong name/brand i photographic world…

  • Anonytrackball

    Emm. Sony.
    DRM (Sonys) applied to all shots taken with a Sony component in the camera. You may only lease your own photos, and you cannot copy them without Sony permission, which will not be withheld but the applicable payment rates are on the back of the application form.
    Prints cannot be made using Epson, Canon, Lexmark or any other printer not approved by Sony. SD cards will be replaced by Sony cards, only Sony software may be used to alter aforementioned Sony pictures.
    All product will be obsolete within 3 years of initial production and not be supported, serviced or repaired beyond this 3 years. Re-creation of expired photographs is encouraged under terms applicable at the time of re-creation.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      > All product will be obsolete within 3 years of initial production and not be supported, serviced or repaired beyond this 3 years.
      Exactly same thing what Apple is doing with their non-user replaceable batteries.
      So why aren’t you lynching also them?

      • Anonytrackball

        Next year it will be 2 years and then it will be 1 year, with a new product every 3 months.
        Then just make an annual donation and you are entitled to the latest product, at which time new products will arrive every 2 years, then 3 years then 5 years. Fail to make a payment and all Sony equipment you own will stop working and eat any Apple you have as well.

  • Minolta =====> Olympus..and of m43…

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