Olympus talks about current m43 cameras, future of compact cameras and future Application support (Techradar)


Today I want to catch up with some stuff I never managed to post before on 43urmors. In that case if you want to know a bit about Olympus future strategy look at Techradar that had a chat with Olympus about three themes:

1) Olympus: We’ve got the edge over competitors (Click here)
Thackara from Olympus affirms that Olympus has the edge compared to other mirrorless systems: “Some of the other compact system cameras have a very limited range of dedicated lenses, whereas we have now offer a choice of around 20, it’s a very good range of options and some of them are pretty serious“.
2) Olympus: Phones will never replace compacts (Click here)
Mark Thackara, Olympus UK marketing manager said: “The concern for us is that we have to keep giving people a reason why they should have a camera as well as a phone.
3) Olympus: apps on cameras are coming (Click here)
In that case Mr. Thackara said: “It’s something that has been discussed, but because the emphasis is on image quality, they’re [Olympus] a little wary of opening up the OS. I think it’ll happen eventually, but things are not as easy as we think. The appeal of people being able to add to their cameras is big though. It’s on the list.

Overall I think one of the crucial aspects will be the software. Sooner or later companies will have to allow the development and installation of third party application. Very likely Samsung will be the first company to release a camera based on the Android system.


  • Ernest.orf

    First !!

    • Cpt

      Think the ‘first’ poster is obliged to relate the topic somehow to some combination of aperture / focal length or sensor size… Just to get the equivalence conversation started…

      • dstroud

        Haha! The classic “icebreaker”.

        • fan_guo_lai_xiang_xiang

          Straight to the point. That’s somewhat like using a kick to the crotch as an icebreaker for a nice and relaxed conversation. :)

          Regarding the topic: I’m sceptical about apps on cameras… only if they manage to not overload the user interface and stuff. A camera should be really easy to use, so that you can frame a really nice shot even in the middle of a sand storm with one hand while fending off a pack of hyenas with the second hand (and possibly dodging bullets)…
          From my experience with smart phones, apps are not up to the task.

          • > I’m sceptical about apps on cameras… only if they manage to not overload the user interface and stuff.

            Actually, I have seen practical examples of just that: apps off-loading the UI.

            The standard UI implements bare basics. And the gaps are filled with apps, often provided by the manufacturer itself, tailored for different modes of operations.

            > From my experience with smart phones, apps are not up to the task.

            Yes, it can and does go wrong. Unfortunately. But you would also have to agree that with apps you often can come to a workable compromise. But if the phone has tried to integrate all the functions into a singular monolithic app, few users would have been happy or even satisfied with the provided UI or the level of functionality.

            My reading of E-M5 reviews is precisely that: E-M5 has so many (interconnected) options that Oly even failed to document all them properly. And despite the feature overload, some trivial things are still missing (e.g. timelapse).

            Now imagine that you have several dedicated apps which create specialized UI overlays: for macro, for long exposures, for portraiture, for street photography, for shooting concerts, and so on. Now that sounds familiar. Yes. Scene modes. But good and useful and downloadable scene modes – not the hard-coded Auto thingy we have right now.

            • all these people who are anti-apps for cameras are the same people who would of been against live view, in camera metering, auto focus, having more than one white balance/aspect ratio etc etc

              Olympus and Panny won’t introduce apps until they have nailed it and built in various safeguards, they will probably launch a joint micro four thirds app store and that will be the only place you’ll be able to download from….

              • Miroslav

                This whole discussion of ours is out of place. Manufacturers must give us a choice between cameras with and cameras without apps. So, one can buy what one wants… Just like there are smart phones and feature phones. Imagine people on a mobile phone forum arguing about whether there should be apps in phones.

              • John

                Uhmm, love liveview hate the idea of apps on camera especially Android based. Batteries don’t last long enough as it is and who needs crapware and trojans on your phone! Could say the same for the other features my demographic is supposed to hate :)

        • Charlie

          Icebreaker blew it on this one,

          Totally ruined the topic.

          Don’t sit in the emergency exit row if you can’t perform the duties!

          • caver3d

            I think the tray table hit him in the head.

  • mahler

    Before talking about Apps for cameras, Olympus and other manufacturers should concentrate their efforts to design and develop better firmware.

    The EM-5 menu system isn’t stellar in terms of usability. The configurability, though manifold, is crippled by unnecessary limitations (can’t set a button to this and that, one buttons has other limitations than the other). Important functions such as bracketing or Mysets are too complicated to activate (more than 6 “clicks” in the menu system). Intelligence is mostly missing – i.e. turning off the eye sensor, when the LCD screen is tilted.

    It is weird that management already thinks about apps in cameras, when they even fail to do their own homework.

    • @mahler
      that’s a bit harsh

      • mahler

        Why? Camera industry had 10 years time to learn by user feedback to do things properly. I think they had enough feedback. To bury access to bracketing and custom configurations (Mysets) deeply in menus, isn’t best practice since the Panasonic G1 or the G2 came out respectively. No one can tell me that the configurability limitations are technically necessary.

        The engineers design short sighted and apparently never use their products thoroughly or are constrained by clueless marketing managers.

    • Mr. Reeee

      ALL camera manufacturers are guilty of the same thing as far as interfaces go. Ugly, confusing, illogical, cluttered, limited and downright stupid!

      It’s as if they kept the doddering fools who “designed” the wonderful programming interfaces for VCRs and kept them busy in some dark room doing the same for cameras. I have Panasonic, Olympus, Nikon, Canon and Sony cameras. ALL guilty as charged… In different ways and for different reasons.

      • Klaus

        I couldn’t agree more. Camera interfaces today are still like mobile phone interfaces before the iPhone. Opening the camera OS would indeed make cameras much more interesting.

      • c.d.embrey

        I have both Canon and Sony digital cameras. Not only are their menus bad, but they also are bad in very different ways.

        What’s needed is a Universal Interface. Back in the days of film, a Canon user could pick up a Nikon, Olympus or Pentax and start shooting immediately ’cause they all worked the same — No Steep Learning Curve!!!

    • Atle

      Why should they concentrate on that first? Apps can change the menu-system to your liking. It could change the button functions to your like. Why does it make sense to first “perfect” that system (which will never suit everyone), before making it flexible so everyone can tailor it to their own needs?

      • Miroslav


        Completely agree.

        Apps are not only games or filters, customization apps would be one of the most important.

        Since there are so many shooting styles there is no camera interface that can satisfy everyone. That’s why we need applications that can remap buttons for instance.

      • Mr. Reeee

        You can put a pretty skin on Windows, but underneath it’s still Windows.

        Or maybe more in line with camera interfaces and more appropriately…
        You can attempt to hide DOS behind Windows, but underneath it’s still DOS.

        • Atle

          Are you trying to say that it will be impossible to make custom menues or custom functions to buttons, if not, what exactly are you trying to say with your windows analogy?

          • Mr. Reeee

            You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

            @Pim Agreed. It would be much better for companies to partner with software companies and offer discounts for good software tools. PhaseOne or Adobe for instance.

            • Atle

              Please be concrete and to the point, instead of just reapeting analogies its impossible wo understand what is supposed to mean.

              • Charlie

                Putting lipstick on a pig — you still have a pig.

                • Atle

                  An beeing unable to make a point, instead writing a analogy with no substance, still makes you unable to make a point. As said, be concrete, instead of pretending to make a point with all the worlds mottos, anaogies and citations.

      • Ant

        It would be a popularity contest between brands before that happened.
        Besides, there’s still group of vocal camera users who seems to insist that engineer shouldn’t be allowed to mess with camera because only real photographers, real artists, know how to make good working and functional camera. Add that with the myth that more features = worse art quality (tool of Art should provide only the bare minimum).

        Now, how much of those Artists do programming.

        Besides, if we’re talking about low level things (not just processing the JPG afterward), each brands should have hundreds of proprietary commands they wont open. Even if they do, it will be too different between brands to abstract it to a common standard.

      • mahler

        Apps aren’t meant to ber another firmware. What you describe should be responsibility of the manufacturers software.

        Apps are aimed that a user can download applications from third party companies to had functionality to the camera’s interface. That is completely different and opens the door to misbehaving Apps, if the camera vendors does not control the app development result thoroughly.

        No, first homework, then playground.

    • > It is weird that management already thinks about apps in cameras, when they even fail to do their own homework.

      The point is that management can’t know that function important to you is buried 6 clicks away in the FW.

      And that the whole point of downloadable, user created apps: somebody could create an app for you to skip the 6 clicks and do it with 1-2 instead.

      Basically, the apps are the way to make the firmware more customizable and better suited for the user’s needs – by the users themselves.

      • mahler

        If mamagement (or lead engineers) would bother to read what is discussed in tzhe forums, they would know pretty well that a custom configuration is meant to be accessed easily and quick. Again, they had 10 years time to learn that.

        Apps are not meant to make firmware more customizable. And in general, if only for warranty reasons I don’t want anybody else than the original manufacturer to fool around with the core of my camera.

        Cameras aren’t smart phone devices. Camera companies should concentrate on photography related functions, instead of trying to establish an “app market” for their cameras, something which they certainly have no clue of, and which would probably end in total desaster and confusion. Even smartphone companies can’t get it right (see Android based phones). Currently, only Apple has the right and consequent concept.

    • Gabriel

      Why they don’t simply open the firmware ? on my phone, i have a custom rom, made by passionate developer, on my pc, i have one of the many linux flavour, i can install anything i want, and my old canon is powered by CHDK, a quick and nice alternate firmware, better than the canon one.

  • seamus


  • Pim

    Really?? Oly wants to make apps for phones??
    When are they gonne make good software for the camera’s?
    Olympus Viewer 2 is sloooowwwww. First make this much better!!!!

    And don’t loose the edge over the competitors.. When you think you are in a confortable position, you will loose!

    Please keep by what you are good at.. make nice lenses and camera’s!!

  • Mr. Reeee

    I can’t WAIT to play Angry Birds on my PEN!

    Camera apps, the perfect ploy to boost battery sales.

    How about making a decent, simple, logical user interface first!

    I’m all for camera apps, as long as they can be completely removed if you choose. NO “art”filters, NO scene modes, NO in-camera editing and other drivel and nonsense. If I want to do that sort of thing, I have Photoshop!

    “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away” … Exupery

    • @Mr. Reeee
      you are not using your imagination…

      eg apps could be used to auto identify and tag what you are shooting which would be useful for wildlife shooters, as well as sports photographers by identifying and tagging certain players for example

      eg you could also store your wedding list of shots on your camera and mark them off

      • Mr. Reeee

        I prefer to concentrate on taking good photographs when I’m out “in the field”, not doing clerical work. That sort of office work thing I can do better sitting comfortably at my Mac working with Lightroom.

        • Bart

          If you do news photography of any kind, quick turnaround times for posting images to the publisher are all that counts. You do not have time to go home for editing your pictures in lightroom, as a matter of fact, to be competitive, you barely have time to transfer them to a tablet or laptop and do some quick corrections.

          In-camera editing for quick fixes, and ways to directly post from the camera would be extremely helpful for those uses.

          Your lightroom workflow is not suitable for all applications, rather, it is totally unsuitable for some (professional) applications.

          This is why a very good jpeg engine, in-camera editing and raw reprocessing and many such things make perfect sense, they are requirements for a specific set of (professional) applications, and useful way beyond those applications. While you personally may not need those, it only shows lack of imagination on your side when claiming that those are pointless features or “drivel and nonsense” as you called them earlier.

          There are a number of arguments against running ‘apps’ on cameras, but what you are saying here isn’t one of them.

          • Mr. Reeee

            Point taken as far as photojournalism goes. I’m more on the arty side of things. ;-)

            I was at a gallery opening in New York a few months, a photographer was taking shots of people and would ask them speak their names into the camera as voice annotations.

            • Bart

              Your story about the guy at the gallery reminds me of a situation I encounter every so often

              I’m doing event work every so often, and a very nice (and classic) way of making some money from those is to allow people to leave with a print of the picture(s).

              A portable, battery powered photo-printer, a camera that can do basic editing and pict-bridge allow me to carry everything for this in a small backpack. Sure, the consumables for those printers are expensive, but, the price you can get for ‘on-the-spot’ printing more then make up for this.

              This used to be the market for Polaroid, and the standard set by that is pretty easy to beat with todays camera and portable printing equipment.

              But anyway, I agree with the comment made earlier that such features are very nice, but as soon as they might get in the way of taking pictures, it should be possible to disable them.

              If we look at the E-M5, it actually does a bit of this. If you happen to use ‘art filters’, you can configure the camera to actually spend time on a full preview of the filter, or only show the filter results in preview for as far as that doesn’t slow down the frame-rate.

              The problem with such configurability is quite evident in the Olympius user interface. The more configurable things you get, the more complex the menu structure becomes. That doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement (rather the opposite actually), but, it does mean that if we want such things configurable, the result will always be a somewhat complex user interface.

              With regards to this, one of the initial very strong selling points of iPhones was Apple’s ability to reduce configurability without causing serious limitations for the intended user-base. This helped a lot in making those devices accessible to many non technical users.

              With regards to apps on cameras… I can quite see why people may want them, but, I don’t think it is a very good idea regardless.

              As mentioned, more configurable functionality inherently results in additional complexity, both for the developers and users alike.

              It introduces more potential stability issues, not to mention malware.

              It also makes for more power-hungry cameras

              Last but not least, anything in cameras that generates heat is bad for image noise. Needing cpu cycles for things not directly related to taking pictures inevitably hurts image quality as a consequence.

              Having a functionally good and well documented (and standarized) way of controlling a camera from tablets, laptops, smartphones etc, does seem like a better approach to me, even if that means having to use a 2nd device. Let my camera be good at taking pictures, and doing basic stuff with pictures, and push the rest to a more suitable device with its own power, OS, internet connection, larger screen, more processing power etc.

              Ah well, I think we quite agree actually, tho may have a slightly different take on which functions are part of ‘taking pictures’ and should be in a camera.

      • Esa Tuunanen

        And you’re living too high in that virtual reality of imagination.
        Do you have any idea how power hungry cameras would fast become if you added all those?

        Then there’s the problem of reliability and stability when you have full blown operating system and all software.
        Wildlife and sport shooting are areas where you want camera function reliably and to react instantly to your commands instead of working unreliably or reacting slowly because processor was occupied.

        And especially if cameras get that overhyped wireless connectivity on top of full OS cameras start attracting attention of malware makers and soon you’ll need also anti-virus program.

        Really only way to keep good reliability and stability (+ reasonable battery life) would be to force applications need certification which involves code being inspected and tested by camera maker before being approved.

        • Ant

          Should the applications come to the cameras that are directed to professional in need of the most reliable tools ?

          Wouldn’t the point and shoot market be more open towards more features ?
          Besides, it will put the camera onto more equal footing against their competitor (phone camera).
          System camera is not that threatened by phone cameras with fancy applications, they’re a class of their own.

    • Atle

      If you want to play angry birds, be my guest, I would rather use apps for HDR, panoramas, filters, timelapse, or even a new simpler user-interface. But whatever floats your boat.

      • I vote to see ‘rack stare’ on an E-M5:)

      • Mr. Reeee

        I agree that having easy to access and use of panorama or time lapse, etc. would be useful, but unless there’s a serious, fundamental change and complete rebuilding of the software architecture that makes up a camera OS, piling on more stuff will not improve the usability situation. Or stability for that matter.

        Look at Apple’s iOS. They didn’t try to shoehorn Mac OS X into an iPod or phone (see Microsoft’s portable OS “strategy”), they built it from the ground up for portable computing. the same sort of thing needs to happen here.

        You need a solid foundation to build on. The roof shouldn’t leak either. ;-)

        The Angry Birds reference was a wisecrack, but really it would only be a matter time. “Art” filters are an equivalent… a cute distraction.

        • Atle

          Of course you need a solid foundation, but there is no way to “shoehorn” the existing camera-OSes for this usage, they are not made for running apps at all, something has to be build from the ground up. The existing manu-structure has absolutely nothing to do with how sold that foundation will be.

          • Mr. Reeee

            Definitely not, but you can see more and more software features being jammed into existing cameras and OSes making them far more complex than they need to be.

            The manual for the GH2 is 200 pages and still the information is sparse! That’s ridiculous!

            I don’t want to have to wait for my camera to boot up, or have it crash, get viruses or rip thru already underpowered batteries like they’re AAs.

            Keep it simple.

            • Atle

              Flexibility makes it easy for you to make a simple menu-system, do disable net-access if you are somehow scared of virueses (which won’t be a problem i “real life”)

      • Esa Tuunanen

        Time lapse/interval shooting was in Minolta’s prosumers already decade ago and if there’s reason for todays cameras lacking it along with basic HDR and panorama functions it’s because makers are obsessed with semi-useless fashion gimmicks like obscene amount of scene modes and art filters.

        • Mr. Reeee


  • 1.
    yes Olympus seem to have the edge not just in range of lenses, in pricing, balance of features, design and making their cameras aspirational as well as nailing down the demographics :D
    2. Mark Thackera again has hit the nail on the head, something that the big 2 could learn from with their recent new releases which don’t offer their existing customers a good enough reason to upgrade…
    3. Yes with apps there are many hurdles to overcome, hopefully if Samsung come out with apps first that will give Olympus the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and implement it right themselves :D hopefully late in 2013

    Apps will be the major feature that will allow Olympus and Panny to break the canikon stranglehold….

    • Matt

      Are you sure? Look at all the video “HACKpps” done by Vitaly on the Panasonic cameras…

    • mahler

      Nonsense, really.

      Apps means third party software development (controlled). It means an App store, it means stable version contolled programming interfaces for devices more diverse than Apple products. It took Apple billions of dollars to get these things right, and you think that a photographic/optical company like Olympus will do that right, even if they acquire help? Currently, they aren’t even able to push their accessory port interface further. Where is the GPS logger, which can connect cablefree at the accessory port? A sign that they have no clue, is the fact that within less than two years, they already changed the accessory port interface, so that newer devices cannot connect to older cameras.

      No, Olympus doing an app concept for cameras will likely lead to a complete mess. It is risky, unsecure when not done properly and bind R&D budget, which should be devoted to more important stuff, such as proper firmware development.

  • endika

    I’m not sure about what app I would want to have in my camera… Even current in-camera edition abilities are a nonsense for me: if you are a JPG shooter, you don’t need it, and if you’re a RAW shooter, you will PP in a PC, with a powerful application, not in camera for getting basically the same as in JPG (if lucky)…
    I also prefer that Olympus put their best efforts in improving firmware as much as possible, but you know, market trends are market trends: we will change the “how many megapixels” for the “how many apps” war ;o)

    • Miroslav

      What if you are a shooter with five spare hours a week that does not have time for PP? What if you want to apply your RAW profile instantly and have a camera that app can apply the desired profile to chosen images? What if the firmware settings that can now only be changed by Olympus could be changed by user via a certain app? Image editing mobile phone apps nowadays are pretty primitive, but that is only because mobile phone cameras are mostly of a very bad quality.

      • Esa Tuunanen

        > What if you are a shooter with five spare hours a week
        All the more reason for camera to work reliably without stability and responsivity issues along with sucking batteries empty.

        • Miroslav

          Buying another spare battery is not a big problem. Anyway, a good OS does not have to be power hungry. As for reliability, as long as the manufacturer does everything OK, it’s easy to uninstall the problem maker.

          • Esa Tuunanen

            Unless you’ll spend lots of time testing every possible variation of conditions there’s no way to be sure all that code works reliably when its time to take photos.
            And basically reality has proven many times that no matter how carefully programming has been done bugs can always get through and then right conditions caused shit hit the fan.
            That’s why KISS principle is applied always when reliability is of high importance.

            • Bart


              Just to prove the point, Nikon currently has firmware stability issues with their new D4 and D800 that in specific circumstances will hang the camera to such an extent that removing all power is needed (remove and reinstall battery) to recover.

              Those are pretty expensive cameras that focus on taking pictures, and without tons of gimmicky features. Despite this, they didn’t catch the situation in which the firmware simply crashes.

              Thats not to blame Nikon for bad quality, rather, it is to point out how difficult it is to get everything tested, even if you do not include 3rd party applets.

            • > That’s why KISS principle is applied always when reliability is of high importance.

              Esa, E-M5 is hardly KISS. [ Uhm… why photographers suddenly started speaking programmer’s jargon?… :) ]

              I also do not like apps in general. In some isolated cases I even deeply hate them.

              But Oly with the E-M5 reached the point where one simply contain all the desired features in single firmware.

              And unfortunately the apps (or plug-ins) is pretty much only way one can improve the situation: do not try to accommodate all shooting scenarios in the FW, but off-load some of the functionality to dedicated apps/plug-ins. That way, instead of always facing thousand configuration options, every photog could decide what extras to install with the camera firmware, what features to make available.

              I would agree, it is probably too early for user created apps/plug-ins, but IMO manufacturers should themselves start doing something about it. Oly is in the best position IMO because judging by level of customizations available, they really try hard to make camera friendly to the user.

              I personally would have loved to have specialized UI overlays for different shooting modes, which would come with sensible default options for the shooting modes and allow to configure the options – without need to dig through the whole FW every time. (Think Scene modes – but as plug-ins and targeted at enthusiasts/professionals.)

              • Miroslav

                “Esa, E-M5 is hardly KISS. [ Uhm… why photographers suddenly started speaking programmer’s jargon?… :) ]”

                He was talking about Canon’s EOS KISS series of cameras ;).

            • Miroslav

              There’s no absolute reliability, but manufacturers could make smart cameras with a kind of “Safe mode”, a stripped down interface with no apps – for those who fear their camera will crash in the middle of an important shoot. Maybe that could be achieved by some kind of dual boot.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/om-d_user/ nearly at 1,000 members and 5,000 photos :D

    • endika

      I see your point. Self made conversion parameters could be an interesting idea. In my case, PP is not a burden, but an important (and pleasant) part of the “photographic fact”, but I can understand that it is not the same for many, many people.
      And for the idea of tailored FW, I’m not sure. Current levels of customization are already a bit overwhelming for me, usually I set my camera to my needs and shooting style in the first days/weeks, and then I forget the question. I can’t imagine myself “screwing” the FW to get something different from I have…

  • awaler

    The camera maker opening his system first will have an advantage. Others will follow, so the advantage will diminish.
    More important, the makers of closed systems will have a big disadvantage. With the possible exception of the professional sector, even paramount IQ is not going to be able to compensate it.

    Olympus “wary”? Better not, i hope. It would be the biggest possible strategic mistake.

    Btw, processors and memories of todays cameras are fast enough to run even very demanding apps.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      > Btw, processors and memories of todays cameras are fast enough to run even very demanding apps.
      Except that hardware doesn’t improve fast enough to exceed bloating of software.

  • BLI

    They should make a clean interface between the camera options and OS:es. In my view, they should not use a general OS (e.g Android) as the OS of the cameras. I don’t want the camera to be hacked, and infested with dubious videos or pictures, and I do not want anyone to be able to steal my pictures through some Trojan horse.

    I’d like to see:
    * clean, safe interface between camera functionality/commands and OS:es
    * short range/high speed wireless communication (e.g to iPad, Androids, Windows tablets, etc — e.g working within a distance of, say, 3 feet)
    * then phone/tablet apps can control the camera and transfer images/video back and forth

    • Mr. Reeee


      Exactly. Let a powerful computing device drive the camera.

      Add a Thunderbolt interface which can replace USB and HDMI, can provide power and network capability all at high-speed with ONE thin cable!

      • You see… all these comments are… why I asked you about the half-cases in the last thread. (See my comment there :D)

        Oww and… Thunderbolt is really awesome!

    • Esa Tuunanen

      And in case of all that bloatware not working and/or sucking battery empty from separate device you would still have working camera to go with.

      Olympus compacts actually used to have very good tethered shooting interface but apparently that was sacked in favour of fashion gimmicks.

    • > They should make a clean interface between the camera options and OS:es.
      > I’d like to see:

      Not a bad idea. And long overdue IMO.

      > I don’t want the camera to be hacked, and infested with dubious videos or pictures, and I do not want anyone to be able to steal my pictures through some Trojan horse.

      But that’s what you get when you make a connected camera. For malicious software, it wouldn’t be a problem to infect a camera via phone. Or steal photos via phone. And the wireless connections consume power too.

      But it would be very useful to have that as an option.

      But that still wouldn’t address my gripe with the camera usability: it is hard to keep an eye on all options and very often one forgets to revert an option from previous shooting session. I have a ruined party session because I forgot to undo few options from my last macro shooting. My friend has butchered whole evening with his family worth of pictures because he forgot to reset AWB (and shot everything in JPEG) from when shooting his kid’s play in theater. That is to me an immediate usability problem – and one can’t address it with the remote control app. (Because you do not want to allow remote app change options, because that would be precisely what you want to avoid: remote hacking of the camera.)

  • nicwalmsley

    Take an Olympus tough and merge it with an iPhone. I’d buy it.

    • Miroslav

      Me too.

  • Miroslav

    1) “We’ve got the edge over competitors”

    Agree. But, there is still some work to be done to catch up with DSLR systems. And that is the ultimate goal, I suppose. A couple of more body shapes would do nicely for starters…

    2) “Phones will never replace compacts”

    Disagree. There isn’t anything a P&S can do a mobile cannot. It’s just a question of manufacturers’ will to put the phone radio into a camera. Look at Sony’s TX200V – it has 1/2.33 sensor with 5x zoom inside and is waterproof. It’s smaller than a typical 2012 phone, a bit thicker, but it only lacks connectivity features. Increase length by 15mm, put chips needed for making phone calls and receiving data in it and you’ve got a perfect phone/camera hybrid. Why hasn’t Sony done it yet? I don’t know.

    3) “apps on cameras are coming”

    Agree. And I don’t know what is Olympus waiting for. Why does someone else have to take the lead?

    • What do they want to catch up to on dslrs? Bigger? Heavier? For the vast majority of users they are already there.
      For the rest get a 135 sensor, and an annual subscription to a neck massage.

  • nicwalmsley

    Take an XZ-2 and merge it with an iPhone. I’d buy that too.

    • Mr. Reeee

      Take an LX5, an Olympus Tough and an iPhone and I’ll take two!

      • bli

        I’d have a simple camera with a clean smartphone/tablet/pc interface and take five, when all you “swiss army phone” guys try to reboot the camera os :-)

        • Mr. Reeee

          I think we mean take the best features of each and combine them…

          LX5 (or GX1?) for the IQ, and video quality.
          Olympus Tough for the go anywhere and especially underwater ability.
          iPhone for the interface.

  • nicwalmsley

    iCam. Olympus, just pick up the phone and call Apple. You know you want to.

  • Henrik

    I’d also love Android on my cam. Just to see Google Ads over freshly taken photos.

  • 2) The only compacts of interest (compared to phones) are the compact travel zooms. Compacts in general are a bore.

    3) I doubt manufacurers are willing to “open up” camera firmware as it would also mean giving away intellectual property in which they have invested a lot. Take the Oly jpg engine: Made even better in EM-5, they are far ahead of the competition. Why should they give away that?
    Samsung on the other hand don’t have much to loose on opening up their firmware as they are behind the rest.
    One example of manufacturer’s unwillingness to reveal intellectual property is Fuji: They have not given any information to RAW converter developers about programming of their new sensor pattern. As a result even Adobe is struggling to develop a good X-pro1 converter. It is not only delayed, it will have color smearing all over. This goes for all RAW converters, even Silkypix. It will prove counter-productive for Fuji as it means that all they win in resolution by removing the low-pass filter – is lost in the problems to demosaic the sensor pattern. X-pro1 RAW images will not be any better than its jpg’s. I have removed X-pro1 from my “considered cameras” list….

    • Esa Tuunanen

      Fuji’s new irregular CFA pattern actually has worser blue and read channel resolution than normal pattern.
      Advertising is all about not telling disadvantages of changes done.

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations, micro fanboys – in the future you’ll be able to play Angry Birds on your E-M7, and the E-M9 will include an actual phone. For the E-11, someone will realize that the buttons are too much, and the lens should be build-in and downsized, as well as the sensor.

    • Atle

      You know, some people actually do other things with appliacation than play angry birds. Maybe that is all you can envision an application doing, but if you look around you, you will se people doing useful stuff with them….

      • Mr. Reeee

        Download the Sense of Humor app. It might help. ;-)

        • Atle

          The angry birds “joke” isn’t funny, it’s just elitist babble from people who don’t understand what apps on a camera can do.

  • omg, please no Android…

  • Jesper

    Admin, didn’t polaroid release a camera with android already? android polaroid…. I see what you did there

  • Check this graph(ebay equivalent in Poland):
    Select: cam. comp. and cam. DSLR. Year to year there is lower amount of cameras sold. People do not need additional device when they have cellphone. Two things will erase compacts: connectivity of smartphones with social networks, and cellphone camera arms race started by Nokia 808(sensor size is between Nikon 1 and Canon G11: http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/02/27/Nokia-808-PureView-with-41MP-sensor). Even if manufacturers enable apps it will be too little, too late: you still have to be in WiFi range or enable it in your cellphone – too much hassle. Compacts die just like navigation for cars, why you need two devices, when one is enough. Even m43, and EL DSLRs are in danger. Maybe that is why Nikon uses 24MPix sensor in its EL camera, the same sensor was used in Sony prosumer A77 a year earlier. And plans to introduce relatively cheap FF(D600).

  • st3v4nt

    The thing is nobody really know how many are there Olympus Programming Engineer? Judging by the look and inefficiency of Olympus firmware camera, there must be not a lot of them. As much as we, as user want a real OS for Olympus (i.e Android) apparently it’s still not easy to make embedded OS or firmware, let alone the full OS for camera. There’s a lot to think of and this is not where most electronic company good at. Just look at how Sony with their Playstation do, that’s the great example of how hard it is to keep the device with OS to be reliable. The higher the function and customization the OS have to do, the harder it is to program it. Unless Olympus willing to open up their architecture then the OS will be a long way to go. It is better for Olympus to work together with company that have longer experience creating the software and also have a lot of money to spend (i.e Google, Microsoft, Apple).

  • Victor

    At least there is hope that programmers that use assembly language and thunderbolt will never meet. Apps will be too large to be use in camera imbebed memory.

  • bilgy_no1

    Phones will definitely replace compacts, except for a number of special categories: tough, superzoom, highend, travelzoom. The run of the mill 3x optical zooms, cigarette box style internal zooms, etc. are all doomed or only with very low margin for the manufacturers.

    Playing tourist now with HTC One S, and very pleased with the output. Not sure if the general purpose compacts would do better…

    • Miroslav


      There are already waterproof phones from Sony and Samsung.

      > highend

      Nokia N8 and 808 have sensors similar or larger than those in XZ-1 for example.

      > travelzoom

      Travel zooms ( up to 10x ) can be made less than 20mm thick, ie you could put the zoom mechanism in the phone.

      So, that leaves us with…

      > superzoom

      …cameras, which have lenses are too large to be integrated in a phone. But who really needs more than 10x zoom?

  • flash

    Apps on a camera would be a nightmare, for the camera company.

    More then one user interface would also be a bad, it is hard enough for camera companies to support one user interface on a camera.

    If a camera company put Android on all its cameras, it would be a financial success; well for the people who short sold the stock. There are some real problems in releasing apps for Android, as the devices are not standardize enough.

    What is needed is a fast wireless interface to the camera so one can uses apps on a iPhone, or even a Android. The vast majority of us will always have a smart phone with us, no need for redundant at the expense of a reliable easy to support camera. Why replicate what you already have in your pocket?

    As far as the user interface on m43 cameras, they are hard to use. I think all digital cameras that I have seen do not have a real good interface. The only ones likable are due to familiarity of it, from past cameras; this seems to effect the camera reviews. A clean interface design is not that difficult to do for some people; the camera companies need to hire them or their firms for a consultation.

    I would suggest Olympus a least fall back on an old engineering motto: KISS “Keep it Simple Stupid”.

  • Some unbelievably blinkered thinking as usual. Current menu systems are universally rubbish because they try to do too many things and please too many people. Thank you Mr.Reee, you’re right.

    But Apps allow you to simplify. You could supply a camera with nothing but very basic P,A,S,M modes (which a lot of people would love but can’t happen now because it’s commercial suicide) and then allow people to add extra functionality with Apps only if and when they need it.
    You could download Apps by the dozen, or not bother downloading any at all.

    Don’t need tracking focus? Don’t install it. Never use histogram? Don’T install it? Never use flash? Don’t install it. You could end up with a very simple interface if that’s what you chose.

    You could even have a camera with no jpeg engine at all for those hardcore types. Or a CHOICE of JPEG engines. Before you know it, somebody would write a Fuji engine which you could have on your Olympus. Or vice versa. You only install the one(s) you like. Or not.

    As soon as you have an Open Source system, functionality you never dreamed of occurs. Last week I bought TriggerTrap. So now my PHONE can do time-lapse with tremendous versatility. Why can’t my camera?

    This could be the route to simplicity AND creativity. Just depends how you view it.

    It WILL happen and it can’t happen soon enough, because phones are making cameras look stupid. And whoever gets there first, will make a killing.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      > You could even have a camera with no jpeg engine at all
      You want camera which doesn’t have any kind live view or showing of taken photos?
      but maybe you can call it as ultimate digital retro camera and charge extra for it.

      > But Apps allow you to simplify…
      That would be lipstick on a pig.
      Any kind OS/platform for allowing camera to run apps/extensions/plugins what ever you want call them would require lots of code and lot more complexity in camera’s firmware.
      Only way for it to be simpler than current includes kitchen sink fashion bloat would be selecting/adding features in firmware level just like Vitaliy has been doing in Panasonic firmware hacks or CHDK firmwares do for Canon compacts.

      > As soon as you have an Open Source system, functionality you never dreamed of occurs. Last week I bought TriggerTrap. So now my PHONE can do time-lapse with tremendous versatility. Why can’t my camera?
      Because average idiot users want that “easy” to use camera with fashion gimmicks instead of functionality.
      Minolta had interval/time-lapse functionality as built in feature of prosumers decade ago.

      > This could be the route to simplicity AND creativity.
      That creativity is marketing bullshit term used when R&D budget was spend to fashion design, art filters, scene modes and other garbage instead of functionality and good external controls which allow better use of camera.

      Making “easy and simple” cameras with decreased size, stripping external controls and putting oversize (now touch) screens for playing in menu hell is the reason for whole mess why controlling the most important camera settings can be so hard:
      I could take high end DSLR of any maker and figure out easily how to change important settings because those are accessible directly from external controls without going to menus.
      But give me that easy to use fashionable compact and I don’t even want to think about anything more complex controls than power on/off and shutter button because anything more that that involves on screen menus and tap dance with that four way controller.

      “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
      Albert Einstein

      • You’ve missed the point completely. Your version of this app camera wouldn’t have any “marketing bullshit” because you wouldn’t add it. It would be as close to naked as you want it.
        Perhaps you could improve everybody’s interfaces for them. And it would be exactly how YOU like it. And just as many people would dislike it. With Apps you would have a many features as you want. Or none.

        My phone has 50 Apps at least. It is no more complicated to use now than when I bought it.

        • Esa Tuunanen

          Software cannot correct deficiencies in hardware like lack of high end DSLR’s controls. That simply needs physically different bodies.

          And you’re grossly underestimating complexity of offering platform for running applications.
          Any kind platform which offers software interfaces for running easy to write apps becomes fast quite big. DOS might have fitted to few diskettes but any kind modern OS is basically hundreds of megabytes. iOS 5.0.1 download is ~810MB which is already even bigger than installation files of Windows XP.
          In comparison camera firmwares are commonly only few percents of that size.

          Another example of involved risks is Firefox browser which is probably familiar for most of you and commonly recommended because of its customizability.
          Also it can become memory hog and have responsivity/stability issues… Which are quite often caused by installed add-ons/extensions.
          And it’s just web browser and not full blown OS!

  • Cpt

    Expanding on similar ideas from others above (Bart, BLI, etc)
    Keep the ‘camera as a camera’, as simple and intuitive as possible.
    Keep the App on the ‘device’ (tablet, PC) for added, expanded functionality, with wireless REAL TIME connection and:
    – one ‘tab’ on the app for configuration, and setting the parameters for multiple saved preset configurations. How much more practical would it be to configure all those settings from a big screen?
    – one ‘tab’ for accessing photos that have been taken, applying PP (adjustments, ART
    filters, etc)
    – one ‘tab’ for ‘help’ / manuals / support forums, accessory shop, etc
    – one ‘tab’ for… You get the point…
    So keep the camera functionality and menus as simple as possible, rather than trying to shoe-horn everything onto a little screen, with the logistical and hardware overheads that imposes. Do the expansion through another device, for if / when people want it.
    My 2c ;-)

    • Esa Tuunanen

      > setting the parameters for multiple saved preset configurations
      User made configuration/settings presets aren’t any new thing and have been around for decade. It’s been possible to select them from PASM dial and IIRC even have them chosen instead of scene modes.
      But people have been such hurried in wanting easy to use unergonomically small cameras stripped from direct external controls and wanting that oversize touch screen and fashion gimmick on screen menus for even the simplest things.

      Like Memory Recall in this nine years old camera whose controls and ergonomy beat every single mirrorless body:

      • Atle

        Nobody is claiming the idea is new, but all camera how positive and less positive choices when it comes to menues and buttons, noone is perfect for everyone, thats the whole point, it increases the customisation, so people can have it the way they want it.

  • c.d.embrey

    Compact (P&S) cameras are already being replaced by camera phones. If you don’t see that, you have your head in the sand. The only thing that will save P&S cameras is to turn them into Smart Phones. What good is a P&S that won’t immediately up-load photos to SpaceFace ???

    The only app I’d be interested in, would be a Universal Menu/UI app. :) :)

  • uke

    Andriod apps on cameras? I hope they limit this to the novice/entry models.

    I am imagining people making calls on their EM7

  • Rob

    1 – I think Olympus are right about their range of lenses, but they are always going to be equal with Panasonic there. I hope they don’t get complacent though and realise this is why they are winning mirrorless and why Canikon are winning dSLRs

    2 – Disagree. Especially when liquid lenses become common, compacts are gone. Right now the only thing I see they offer over phones is optical zoom. Plenty of people take amazing photos on their iPhones.

    3 – Yes, said this for a while. Polaroid oddly enough are using Android now, I suspect Samsung and Sony will be the ones quick enough to move onto apps on cameras first due to their prior relationship with Google and their phones. Olympus need to get ahead with R&D now in this department as Samsung and Sony don’t have as much work to do. Even Panasonic make phones (In Japan) so they have a slight step up. This is also something that could knock Canikon a bit if they stand their ground, something Sony managed a bit in SLRs with their innovations but not 100% because of the lack of glass.

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