Thom Hogan: What is the future for Olympus?

Share

Our latest article about the (bad) financial results from Olympus caused a very long discussion. Thom Hogan commented the results and I wanted to highlight his arguments.

Key points of the Olympus article:
– The imaging division is continually loosing money while the whole company is doing good (see medical division). Thom: “The problem in imaging is progressive: they’ve lost more money in each successive quarter during the past year. This, too, is not a good sign without anything in sight that would reverse that trend. Neither the E-PL2 nor XZ-1 are going to change that overall trend. I’ll get to the problem in a moment.
– Overseas digital imaging are down in the rest of the world (-30% in the US and Europe) but not so the japanese sales (only -1%)
– The new Olympsu chief will be a non japanese person which comes form the medical division.

Thom Hogan explains why Olympus is doing that bad:
Can’t say that any of this is unexpected. Olympus continues to lose market share in compact camera sales, and they don’t seem to be able to handle the sales price reductions as well as Nikon, Canon or Sony. They don’t market those cameras well, at all, and certainly nowhere near as well as NikonUSA is marketing Coolpix (with weekly Instant Savings advertisements in virtually all US markets). Couple this with mis-guessing the yen/dollar relationship and things get tough. Meanwhile, Olympus has basically continued the “we don’t really know what we’re doing” trend that started way back after the OM-4 in the film world. Olympus gets on these “this is the new standard” kick and produces something that doesn’t completely stick, then abandons it instead of fixing it. We went from “small SLR” to “ZSLR” to “4/3″ to “m4/3.” Where’s the continuity of direction? After putting a lot of energy into developing some great 4/3 lenses we now have only one 4/3 body being sold that uses them, and we’ve been told that might be the last 4/3 body. Great, so what did that do to 4/3 lens sales? Zonk. Meanwhile, it’s unclear where Olympus is going with m4/3. So far we seem to be back-pedaling to catering to the lowest end (E-P2 -> E-PL1 -> E-PL2, plus the lenses are catering more mass market, too). Meanwhile, the bluetooth widget is nowhere to be found, let alone apps on smartphones to take advantage of it. I see randomness in Olympus camera offerings, and have for quite some time. That’s not to say they can’t make a good camera–they do–but the potential customer doesn’t get a clear picture of where Olympus is or where they are headed. That’s a marketing problem.

To me the issue is that they seem to be pursuing random ideas trying to find the one that resonates and sticks. This, too, is a marketing failure. If you really knew your customer and related to them correctly, you’d know what would work in the marketplace. To me, this is one of the big failures of ALL the camera companies, but the smaller you are the more vulnerable you are to it, especially when you change course like Olympus has.

The whole E-P1/E-P2, E-PL1/E-PL2 thing was a big mistake in almost every respect. First we have the similar names, which has already been discussed. Next we have the “we’re iterating every six months (but not really)” factor. Unless Olympus is getting better manufacturing margins out all this iteration, they are pointless. An E-PL2 is not really all that different from the E-P1. We’ve got engineers moving buttons, changing shapes, altering minor components, but the user is getting the same performance while being confused over where Oly is headed. Panasonic at least managed to move a bar with the GH2 (though they made the same mistake with the GF2 as Oly is making with their 1/2 iterations).

But I’m going to be much more critical here: in the now 20 months we’ve had m4/3 bodies from Olympus, we’ve gotten four iterations of the same thing. This does not look like progress on a clear direction. It looks like “trying to figure out how to make it more cheaply.” That Panasonic is now doing the same thing is not a hugely reassuring thought. What we haven’t seen yet is PARALLEL development pushing m4/3 forward. Okay, I’ll stand slightly corrected, the GH2 does push forward from the GH1 in a number of clear ways. But Olympus isn’t there yet. The longer the time between the four look-alikes and something significantly new, the bigger the problem for Olympus.

Oh, one more thing. Olympus seems to think (along with Panny) that one of their key customers is the so-called Camera Girl (young Japanese woman). If so, they’ve failed to deliver (so far) the one thing that customer would want, which is no-brainer workflow to social sharing of images. The bluetooth module may be targeted at that, but it’s not here yet and I’m not convinced that they got the “no-brainer” part right, either.

The risks:
…”The other businesses are reasonably healthy, so the risk is that you let an unhealthy division pull down the entire company. Smart leaders don’t let that happen. The fix the problem, spin it out, or shut it down.

“Olympus is not going broke. Losing money in a division is not the same thing as going broke. However, Olympus’ financial position as a full company is not such that they’ll be able to sustain continued loses in the imaging division. The alternatives are pretty clear: (1) fix it, (2) sell it, or (3) close it. It being the imaging division. Given that Olympus is mostly a medical and instrument company these days, they won’t spend a lot of time on (1). If things don’t turn in the next year, they’ll have to look at (2) and (3).”

What they need to do:
“Olympus needs to prune lines, establish clear customer goals, build products that actually solve those customer’s needs, communicate what they’re doing better, and do it all faster. Sounds simple enough to me.”

Prediction:
“Panasonic will at some time in the future buy what’s left of the Olympus imaging division. For Panasonic, it would give them more engineering and better sales relationships in the US and Europe with camera dealers. They’d also get more lens designs to add to the lineup and tweak. But that’s about all they’d get, so it won’t be a large transaction.”

Dear readers feel free to add your comment. Please try to rationalize your arguments. No fanboy comments please.

P.S.: I vote for Thom Hogan becoming the new Olympus CEO! :)

Useful links: The popular OM-4 at eBay. Thom Hogan’s website bythom.com.

Do you think Thom analysis is correct?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Share
  • Mark

    Well, I think that m4/3 will survive but may just go on as a niche market thing. If you want quality then the bigger sensor wins. Whatever magic or voodoo comes to the m4/3 sensor can just be applied to a bigger sensor.

    Now the mirrorless design options has some great possibilities in the photo market. I see a huge future for it with bigger sensor cameras. Imagine a full frame (35mm sized) sensor camera with a mirrorless design, better yet a medium format sensor camera mirrorless? The reduced weigh and bulk would be near priceless. I have a Phase One camera and I have flashback of my days when I owned a Bronica SQ. Reduced the bulk and give me a digital Mamiya 6 and now I become a really happy camper.

    My 2 cents.

    Mark

  • Thanks for a thoughtful piece Thom.

    I share many of the same frustrations as others here, but I dome from a different perspective. I don’t have a DSLR or a MFT camera. I am still using compact cameras. I do what I can with what I have, and I know the limitations, but every time I have tried a DSLR, it doesn’t work. Just too big. Taking pictures with a DSLR is a totally different experience than with a compact camera. I cannot just take a DSLR with me like I can even a sizable compact. I can stash a compact in a coat pocket, but don’t dare leave a DSLR on the ballfield at little league.

    Size matters a lot to me. Maybe too much, but for my purposes, it is critical. The problem is that my Panasonic FZ 100 has a sensor that is 0.27 square centimeters. A Pentax K-r is 3.72 square centimeters, or almost 14 time the size. Somewhere in the middle should be a system that is small enough for my needs but way better than my compact.

    Average the two, and you get 2.0 square centimeters. MFT is 2.24 square cm, so close enough. I don’t care that the quality will not be as good as the Pentax. That is not my point of reference. My point of reference is the compact, and the MFT sensor is more than 8 times larger. The Pentax is 1.7 times larger than the MFT, which is far less compelling.

    So MFT is in theory about the perfect camera for me. But for many of the reasons you point out, it is not working. Although I am replacing a compact camera, the MFT is a substitute for a DSLR, not for a compact. I don’t want a compact camera with interchangeable lenses. I want a smaller DSLR.

    It is not so much a price point that Olympus needs to hit as a quality point. My price comparisons are not to compacts but to the T3i, E-5 and K-r. But instead, the focus is on the low end, which needs to be included, but with a path for improvement.

    There are other differences in wants and needs. Olympus does not have a built-in flash on the EP models, and many DSLR photographers don’t want one. But people who don’t want to carry around a DSLR also don’t want to carry around a flash.

    And a built-in EVF is critical. Looking through a viewfinder focuses the view and eliminates the background. I don’t mind taking snapshots with an LCD screen, but it does not feel like composing a photograph.

    In the end, there still will be a quality difference between MFT and better DSLRs, but it is a sweet spot thing. Given the boisterous defense of MFT cameras by advanced photographers here, it seems clear that MFT is good enough for not only me, but also for lots of other people. At some point, the limitations of printers comes into play.

    It really is too bad that Olympus is drifting. If they would figure out what the market actually is, things should fall into place. Same as a DSLR but smaller. Include the components needed to keep it compact and complete. Compete with the K-r, 60D and D7000, not the entry level stuff. It really should not be rocket science.

    I would be curious about your take on the upcoming Pentax mirrorless. I have almost given up on MFT, and have hopes for Pentax. Oddly, on a dimensional basis, the K-r is smaller than a GH2, and the K-5 is only 10% larger. In fact, for those of us looking for small and quality, Pentax seems to stack up well. Using the GH2 as the basis, size and weight of the candidates look like this

    Camera Dimension Weight
    GF2 0.30 0.93 (with 14 mm lens)
    EP2 0.36 0.90
    K-r 0.97 1.51
    GH2 1.00 1.00
    K-5 1.09 1.88
    D7000 1.26 1.98
    60D 1.43 1.91

    I realize that different lens size affects real world numbers, but it is hard to get all excited about the GH2 when it is the same size as a Pentax DSLR.

    If you have any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them.

    • pdc

      A great perspective on the issues. Based on what you need and want the MFT standard should have delivered the product for you, but it hasn’t to date – G2/GH2 too big, GF2/E-PL2 too limiting. The sensor size should produce the kind of quality you will appreciate – the Pentax NC-1 at 1/2.33 won’t. Stay tuned until at least April. By then we will know Nikon’s moves (and expect some surprises there), and the Panasonic/Olympus responses to user feedback. What you don’t mention are lenses – if you want auto-focus, low-light performance and telephoto you are going to be dealing with bulk that simply will not fit in your pocket, so you are likely going to have to compromise on image quality if you must have a pocketable camera system.

  • What the…? I’ve been reading this guy’s name all over the camera blogs and thought I’d give him a read. Again, what the…? he writes like a blog poster so I will respond like one. There’s a lot of BS in there. ‘… Olympus has basically continued the “we don’t really know what we’re doing” trend…’ Ok so you don’t like olympus but now how can anyone trust what you have to say? ‘Olympus gets on these “this is the new standard” kick… ‘. he’s writing about Olympus’ 35mm OM cameras. New standard!?! ‘… abandons it instead of fixing it’. OM bodies started in 1972 and stopped being made in 2002. that’s 30 years. I’m sorry I can’t read anymore of this. I have nothing to learn from this guy. Over 2 dozen books to his name and I’ve lived this long not reading one. I will find a way to make it though. To those that made it through the whole article, Good on you-I couldn’t. I’ll just keep waiting for that going out of business sale and the I told you so’s.

  • thenewbie

    Tom Hogan’s article was largely negative. Any article that is biased in any direction is not intelligent. Olympus’s design aesthetic and quality are superior to any mirror-less camera currently available.
    –Lenses largest highest quality 4/3, m4/3 lens lineup available
    –Body quality(EP-1 best body design, functionality)
    So, what above would a photographer not like? Olympus is not making poor quality cameras. Compared to Panasonic, it’s plastic verse steal. Plastic = cheap.

    Naming confusion: Panasonic is the poster boy for this. How many camera names does Panasonic have, and how many cameras are they ALREADY killing? Panasonic is already on 2nd iteration for all camera models. Tom, please open your eyes and read these forums.

    Sell: Tom, such bold statements. You are alienating all Olympus forum readers.

    Sorry, Tom has lost some credibility in these eyes.

    –thenewbie

    • > Tom Hogan’s article was largely negative.

      Learn to read. It wasn’t an article I wrote. It was SOMEONE ELSE collecting a number of things I’ve written and putting them in one place. It’s not all the things I’ve written about m4/3.

      > Any article that is biased in any direction is not intelligent.

      That’s equivalent to saying that anyone with an opinion is not intelligent. You have an opinion, so…

      > Olympus’s design aesthetic and quality are superior to any mirror-less camera currently available.

      That’s debatable. Personally, I’d say Panasonic’s designs have been better, though Olympus’ image quality in JPEGs from the same sensor is better.

      > Compared to Panasonic, it’s plastic verse steal. Plastic = cheap.

      You might want to disassemble your Olympus. You’ll be very surprised to find that the “metal” on the E-P1/2 is actually just a veneer and not structural. Moreover, that veneer dents very easily, as I found out more than once so far. In about the same amount of use, my GF-1 looks to be in better condition than my E-P2. You might also want to take a closer look at the GF-1 body. Just as much metal on it as on the E-P2, and thicker.

      > Naming confusion: Panasonic is the poster boy for this.

      No doubt. But saying “the other guy is inept, too” is not exactly a great debating tactic. The points being made here are centered on Olympus, not what anyone else is doing. Most of Olympus’ problems are Olympus caused, after all.

      > Tom, such bold statements. You are alienating all Olympus forum readers.

      The statistics say otherwise, but you’re entitled to your opinion.

      > Sorry, Tom has lost some credibility in these eyes.

      Given your statements on “steel,” you’re not showing much credibility in mine, either.

    • Vlad

      Did you just state that the article is biased because it is negative?

  • Oscar

    You know what ? I am just switching to Nikon. What a reliability !! If Olympus had something better than noisy cameras I would totally stay with Olympus but I want something that is going to be there when I need it, specially now that I am getting into professional photography.. Sorry Olympus ! Use your ideas to keep your customers faithful.

  • JosephD

    I had an EP2 for a few months and liked quite a few things about the camera. But the sensor just isn’t that good, most notably the dynamic range. I sold the camera off (luckily) just before the price plummeted.

    Since then, I keep hoping Olympus will release something with a better sensor, only to find they just keep using the same old one. There’s always some incremental improvements, mostly because of better image processing, but nothing that can overcome the limited dynamic range of the sensor. The resolution isn’t really a problem, I don’t think. Look how much buzz Fuji has gotten with their 12 megapixel compact.

    I’d also really like a regular 4/3 body to use with some of the great lenses Olympus came up with it. They release one new body, a high quality professional camera.. with that same damn sensor.

    It’s maddening.

  • TR

    I disagree with the doom and gloom outlook. I think Olympus m4/3 will hit a home run when they release a high-end body. Something like the IQ of E5 with an EVF and cool Pen styling. IF Fuji can do it why can’t Olympus, but with interchangeable lenses? Even if the high-end sales aren’t great it will give credibility to the whole PEN line.

    4/3 was never quite small enough to outweigh the problems of the smaller sensor. M4/3 has that potential. Yes, they need to get out of their sensor agreement and work with Kodak, but that will happen with time.

    After a success with a pro m4/3 I would expect to see a full frame Olympus camera with OM mount. Or am I just dreaming?

    • ihateidiots

      For a company that will “hit the home run”, they sure are losing lots of money. Let us all face the one empirical fact: If Olympus is doing well, why are they using money?

      • Well, to play the devil’s advocate, the E-PL2 seems to be selling okay, as are the m4/3 lenses. Maybe not a home run, but a solid single.

        The problem is that you have to execute across all products. Even with the E-5 it appears that 4/3 is mostly history. In talking to large dealers, they’re not moving many 4/3 lenses any more. So Olympus’ top end is jammed. And there’s still plenty of 4/3 inventory in the pipe line, too.

        At the low end, their compacts have lost ground to even the miserable things that Nikon produces.

        Bottom line is you can’t keep an imaging division going on two cameras (the E-PL2 and the XZ-1). It doesn’t matter how good those two cameras do (and neither is a home run that I can see), you need breadth and depth and a consistent story to customers.

  • calxn

    I think everyone here see the same problem with Oly, which can also be extended to Pana and m43. Outside the initial introduction of m43, there has been nearly zero innovation in m43. Every 6 month, Oly and Pana repackage the same camera, add a new art filter, touch screen, or auto-this and that. In the same time period, Nikon has released the D7000 and Pentax released the K-5 and Sony released the a33 and a55. Each and every one of those cameras featured vastly improved dynamic range, better ISO, and loads of new unique features to each camera such as next gen metering systems, pellicle mirror, pro level focusing.

    Consumers are not dumb. Camera stores and sales people are not dumb. They see the same trend that everyone on this forum sees but are afraid to admit it. Oly and Pana are just going through the motions right now. Some may cite the addition of Schneider and Zeiss. Sorry, that’s all about business. Both those glass makers see m43 being bought by alternative lens fans. They both see a market to make some money. It’s not any indication they see m43 as the new standard in mirrorless.

    Go into any Best Buy in the US. Sales people will steer you away from m43 towards NEX. The same goes for Wolf, Ritz, etc. My younger sister bought a NEX because the Wolf salespeople actively pushed her away from m43 towards NEX. I’m currently traveling through Asia. NEX and Samsung’s mirrorless are in many stores. I’ve only found one store that sells ONE m43 camera. Among tourists, I see 60% carrying DSLRs, 39% carrying P&S (including ultra-zooms), 1% carrying NEX. 0% carrying m43. This is just a survey of what I saw in HK, Macau, Thailand, Myanmar. I’m sure the mix will change once I get to Japan where the majority of Oly’s and Pana’s targeted market (teenage Japanese school girls) resides.

    • calxn

      Perhaps Oly can improve their financials if they started selling those trinkets that Japanese school girls like to stick on their cellphones and cameras. Perhaps along with the inevitable EPL-3 (with newly added art filter), they can sell EPL-3 sock cases.

  • Miroslav

    Sorry guys, I won’t reply to anyone, I cannot keep up with this number of comments :). I’ll read all in the next few days, so I may say something somebody else already did.

    Thom is mainly right as far as I’m concerned and I think he should work for Olympus :). Or just consult them from time to time :).

    Although we didn’t see the numbers broken up by camera type, the problem with their bad 2010 is caused by many factors. Don’t forget the ongoing economic crisis and currency instability. It stopped many people, me included, from buying more photo gear. Olympus also has too many P&S models that are known for bad processing engine and that do not follow competition fast enough – where are fullHD video, AVCHD, touchscreens, stacking and panorama modes – to name just a few features? The transition from 4/3 to m4/3 has been poorly executed as well. Many 4/3 models were discontinued but were not replaced with corresponding m4/3 versions. Lens roadmap is not informative enough and changes often. There are no concrete assurances to people who have invested in 4/3 gear that they’ll be able to use it on new bodies.

    The solutions?

    -less P&S models, their better differentiation, better image processing and more up to date features
    -market m4/3 cameras as “smaller than DSLR, but with same image quality” or “all this goes into this”. That’s the essence of mirrorless, together with proper WYSIWYG live view and video implementation. Explain that to people, so that I don’t have to :).
    -a promised body/adapter that will be able to utilize fully those excellent pro 4/3 lenses. There is no need to make m4/3 versions of SHG lenses. They will be big anyway. Sony has shown the way: make adapter with semi transparent mirror that enables PDAF on mirrorless bodies and the story about “pro” m4/3 lenses is finished. They exist, they just have to be adapted to mirroless bodies.
    -a DSLR-lookalike mirrorles body. For common folk ( people not reading stuff like this :)), it’s synonymous for “serious” camera. It’s how you sell 1000 USD camera to people who know nothing about them and buy based on price and look.
    -a rangefinder mirrorless body ( PEN ) with EVF. That’s how you please enthusiasts who then spread the word and recommend the system to novices.
    -make a clear strategy. It doesn’t have to be published by the media, but when looking back someone says “Olympus were right to do this”, then others will know they did have a strategy.

    Of course, I hope they won’t sell their imaging division just because of one bad year. That’s not serious business thinking.

    Lastly, Thom could do us all a favor and tell what Nikon is up to, so that admin can tell us what Panasonic and Olympus are up to so we could go shopping or save for new spring models :). It’s just tiring waiting for April :).

  • Loba-Loba

    Finally Oly got it right with E-5. Finally we can see a vast improvement with lenses which have around for years. Punch these lenses in E-5 and they autofocus better. Image quality is significantly improved. And after a few years let’s toss everything to the dust bin since 4/3 has a bleak future.

    Company runs on sales. This is driven by marketing. For years Olympus has idiots running their marketing strategy. That department runs inefective ads- silly commercials which not only uninteresting but also do not pust their products’ strength. They are clueless to what that is. Pick an Oly DSLR box and see what are the highlights there- mostly rubbish. They don’t know why people buy camera and they don’t know who normally buy their camera.

    That is a good thing in a way. I always buy stuffs from such company which has great engineering and lousy marketing such as AMD and Suzuki. I get good stuffs at cheap price. The problem is, Oly is overdoing it to the point they are shooting themselves in the foot. You don’t cancel 4/3 and tell the world you are abandoning people you believed in you. You did that once with OM and (at the verge of) doing it again. Does reputation has any meaning to Oly?

    Let’s look at the wonders of the E-5xx cameras. Those days we have a flagship E-1 or E-3 and a line up of excellent entry level DSLRs. With lousy marketing, this line still sells and making marks in the industry. Then came E-4xx which offers something below par at just a few bucks less. Dumb.

    Solution?
    1. Fire the whole imaging marketing team. Everyone. In every country except Korea.
    2. Define your market. Leave Canon and Nikon to serve the professionals. Focus on the amateurs. I kept on telling my local Olympus people this but they seem to live in a fantasy where profesionnals hang Oly strap around their necks. This is also a person who should be fired.
    3. 4/3 is great for macro and birding. But the lenses speak otherwise. Where is the 100mm macro and can’t you build a reasonably priced 400mm f4?
    4. Oly flashes are great but can we have a cheap version which uses 4 AAs hence will recycle much faster than the sluggish FL36? We don’t mind same appearence (yeah, everyone knows you recycle the mould) to keep price reasonable.
    5. Check if there is anymore marketing people not being fired, then fire them. Some cockroaches tend to escape housekeeping.
    6. Slow down m4/3. Yes the make money. But it is apparent Oly is running out of ideas and innovation. They throw something in for the sake of containing NEX. This might work 3 decades ago, not today. OK, fire the fellow who came with this kind of competitor counter strategy as well.
    7. Sponsor the right thing. Tennis tournaments are hardly beneficial nor even remotely related. Again, this must have been the works of the marketing people.

    The key in this industry is too see the money put in RnD grows. You put it in the wrong concept, you’ll die. You do that right but fail to market it well, you’ll still die.

  • Billy

    Thom,

    If Olympus Imaging Division folds by 2015 maybe some of the engineers can go and work for Nikon and teach them about how to produce accurate colour rendition. I cannot understand why Nikon reds still look orange. JPEG or RAW?

    Every time I go to a F1 GP. I laugh at how orange the Ferrari images look from Nikon cameras!

    By the way. Olympus being an innovator in the D-SLR industry didn’t guarantee large profit margins. Sigma also come to mind.

    When you are first to market, you bare all the costs and the competitors can steal the innovations, re-engineer them and apply them to their product line.

    Live View and Articulating LCDs in a D-SLR. Effective Image Sensor Dust Reduction. Biaxial AF system. Pixel Mapping. Environmentally sealed body and lenses. Digitially optimised bodies and lenses with firmware for upgrades… All Olympus innovations.

    Canon and Nikon have survived by transitioning to digital through conservate upgrades of 35mm film cameras and stealing ideas from lesser sized competitors too. They include incremental upgrades every 18 months or so for new products to test the market appepite as they go.

    For example the video function in the Nikon D90 was a joke and looked like an after thought… Now the D7000 has improved to be in-line with Canon 7D, because of market appepite for that function. Call it clever marketing or staggered release strategy. It is what helped them succeed.

    And only more recently have Canon and Nikon started to replace film optimised lenses for digitial ones.

    As you are aware the electronic industry in Japan survives on partnerships and market share agreements.

    After all where would Nikon be if it wasn’t for Sony supplying them with CMOS image sensors?

    Even their flagship D3X model which costs about 10,000 USD has the same image sensor as the consumer model Sony Alpha 900! Just a different image processing engine gives it the edge in IQ.

    If Olympus and Sigma were to join forces it could offer some interesting semi-professional D-SLR alternatives.

    • pdc

      Thom sure knows how to stir the pot.
      One aspect in all of this that has not been discussed enough are the R&D relationships between companies. What can Olympus offer co-operative R&D, and how can this influence the future direction and success of their imaging division? Perhaps those wanting to jump tne MFT ship should hang in for awhile yet (at least until April).

      A fascinating blast from the past is described here:
      http://www.nikonweb.com/svc/

    • jyzer

      If Olympus would manage to integrate a 3 x 12 MP Foveon sensor, a lot of press/P.R. problems would be solved

    • Vlad

      “I laugh at how orange the Ferrari images look from Nikon cameras!”
      Is that an excuse for Olympus or are you just going off-topic?

      “Olympus being an innovator in the D-SLR industry didn’t guarantee large profit margins.”
      Guess who suffers?

      Nobody argues the innovations that Olympus brought. The whole discussion is about marketing. And you seem to agree with this. >
      “Call it clever marketing or staggered release strategy. It is what helped them succeed.”
      Improving your models continuously certainly isn’t staggering. It is following the evolution of technologies.

      “After all where would Nikon be if it wasn’t for Sony supplying them with CMOS image sensors?”
      No idea. What is your point?

      “If Olympus and Sigma were to join forces…”
      With IFs we can reconstruct the world. But we are here and now.

  • you know my name

    you know my name
    2 days ago | Reply

    I would think if Olympus got four thirds right, they could get micro four thirds right. Problem is they didnt, and they failed to fix it when that was always possible.

    We had E400 E410 E510 E420 E520 E620 all pretty much the same with 2/3rds of a great lens lineup that capitalized on nothing, and the same crappy sensors. Now the same pattern appears for micro four thirds.

    So if it was you what would you do, would you gently brush Four Thirds under the rug which is what is happening, or would you stand and fight? There were rumours that Four Thirds lenses could take bigger sensors than they use, so why not redevelop a body to use a slightly bigger APSC sensor and add the lenses that Four Thirds always needed.

    The investment they must have made in lenses much be quite large, I can’t believe they want to throw all that away and migrate to micro four thirds, and make all the same mistakes all over again.

  • Ashman

    I guess that my biggest problem with Oly is that they are completely missing a huge target market for their existing products. The E-PL1 and E-PL2 are perfect cameras for fitting in-between the “point and shoot” that my wife throws in her purse and my friends DSLR that he takes “real” pictures with. For my dollar, I don’t want to lug a DSLR with lenses the size of my leg around Europe when I go with the family this summer. But I sure do want a camera with interchangable lenses and good low-light performance that I can use to take beautiful vacation pictures. I don’t have $1k+ to spend, and again, I don’t want a heavy huge camera. I’m an educated adult male, who’s done the research and understands the difference between MP and sensor size, and I don’t give a hoot about uploading my party pictures to facebook. There is a need for what Oly is producing, they’re just not in tune with who actually needs it enough to market it properly.

  • Steve

    First you have to be aware of the Japanese Culture. The companies are lead with a strong hierarchic structure. It´s not accepted in the Japanese world to criticize a manager.
    In this dictatorship environment it is hard for marketing employees to convince the upper management more to hear the market than their own feeling. You find this effect in many big Japanese companies. Let´s see if the Britpower may force some habit change.

  • ILO

    Like lawyer from Seattle I also came to m43 from pocket cameras. I like to carry camera along all the time because opportunities come when you expect them least. Couple of years ago I decided it is time to ditch my MiniDV Canon camcorder since it was not handy to carry it along with camera, so after some research I bought Kodak pocket camera. Kodak at that time was a pioneer in HD video in still cameras and it had 720x30fps HD video capability, stereo mikes and CCD sensor slightly larger than typical compact. It made decent 12mp jpegs with excellent colors. I was able to print pretty large pictures which nobody believed were made by compact. But after while I get tired of mediocre video quality, no manual conrols and with Kodak’s inability to produce good quality stills so I started looking around again. And I could not find a decent compact camera with superzoom lenses which made both high quality video and stills. I decided that I need a bigger sensor and better lenses and of course I wanted also manual controls. That is how I came to E-P1. It makes very good 720×30 videos with stereo sound in correct format (MJPEG which is easy to edit), very good stills, has all manual controls and good superzoom 28-600mm which can be replaced with good fast lens when necessary (you cannot do it with compact). And it is compact too, when I go somewhere I always carry it with me and do not even notice.

    Now there is my wish list for next model:
    1. Built-in EVF.
    2. Built-in flash. I normally disable flash on compacts because it make photos look harsh and go for more noise. But sometime turning on flash is the only option.
    3. Faster zoom.

    Now it is ironic that Kodak announced so called MAX – compact DSLR style camera with fast super zoom 28–840 mm/f2.8 and fast CMOS sensor
    http://store.kodak.com/store/ekconsus/en_US/pd/MAX_Camera/productID.221644300. But knowing Kodak’s habit to cut costs by using lousy CPU and low quality SW I do not have much faith in video and/or still quality of this camera, even if lens are actually so good, and it still has smallish sensor – why not put just m43? I am not talking about Kodak only but also about other makers who makes compact super-zooms, including Olympus.

  • Garry Lee

    I think the biggest mistake Olympus made was in not making the E3 as small as the E1. I had an E1 for years. It was inadequate from the resolution/ISO point of view but was an ergonomic delight. The finest camera ergonomics I’ve ever used.
    Along comes this camera as big as a Canon. Why??
    I use big Canons as well but the small Olympuses were a delight to use in their stead.
    The problem with M2/3 is the AF is USELESS for action. I know, I have Panasonic G1’s as well (for cycletouring).

  • Shanty

    I agree the E1 is the best handling camera i have used..fits better than a glove–why not just use a better sensor in that body and more prime 43 lens…
    after using Oly for 25 years its sad if they throw in the towel now…but it is true about Japanese firms and their management(I know from my dealings in the music instrument business) they have no idea of the ‘real’ market out there…at least not in the west…

  • 1) The success of Micro Four Thirds does not cause the dead of Four Thirds! Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds have still the same sensor size. But Olympus is claimed to publish a clear roadmap for future camera and lenses for one integrated Olympus-System (4/3 and MFT in one system)
    2) Some of the future Micros Four Thirds Cameras will better and better manage existing SHG and HG Four Thirds lenses.
    3) The form factor advantage of M.Zuiko lenses compared to Four Thirds lenses is basically given for wide angel and certain super zoom lenses. There is no need to redesign many of the excellent Zuiko telephoto lenses.
    4) A possible selective update for some of the SHG and HG 4/3 Zuiko-lenses will be beneficial for 4/3 and MFT (SWD/MSC, Software Updates, 11 contacts and compatible adapters as well for the Four Thirds Zuiko lenses [compatible with the 4/3-mount with 9 contacts as well]).
    Conclusion: There is no need to pit Micro Four Thirds against Four Thirds. Quite contrary – there is a chance that they grow together!

  • jack

    I recently declined an offer at Olympus in Center Valley, PA (Olympus US headquarters) for these exact reasons… It is funny to see it “published” by someone else on the net though. I even offered my opinion in the interview and voiced some concerns… they looked at me like a deer in headlights.

    The cameras are an afterthought… Olympus USA still has the EPL1 on their homepage. I would be shocked if the camera division is still there in 2015.

    That said, their OOC jpegs really are the best.

  • Olyfan

    I think many have made some great points about Oly. The discussions regarding Japanese business approach etc has nothing to do with the camera in this market and all speculation. The possibility of a weak economy may have something to do with this and worthy of discussion. Many of these camera manufacturers are struggling and I think Dslr market has reached a saturation point or peaked? The recent news of lens manufacturers such as Carl Zeiss and others to adopt 4/3 is a great addition. Micro 4/3 is a different market and not to be seen as Oly abandoning their product or vision. We can all have our opinions. They are just that opinions with limited vision of what truly is the situation. I am confident Oly is on pace to create wonderful products. Love or hate the organization they are here to stay.

    Cheers

    Olyfan

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

What are Cookies?
A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is stored in a temporary location on your computer to allow our website to distinguish you from other users of the website. If you don't want to accept cookies, you'll still be able to browse the site and use it for research purposes. Most web browsers have cookies enabled, but at the bottom of this page you can see how to disable cookies. Please note that cookies can't harm your computer. We don't store personally identifiable information in the cookies, but we do use encrypted information gathered from them to help provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and also allow us to improve our site. You can watch a simple video from Google to find more information about cookies.

Cookies used by our Website
The 43rumors website, 43rumors.com, uses the following cookies for the collection of website usage statistics and to ensure that we can . These are anonymous and temporary. By using our website, you agree that we may place these types of cookies on your device.
Read how Google uses data when you use our partners' sites or apps: http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/partners/
Google Analytics Cookie Usage on Websites: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/cookie-usage?csw=1#cookiesSet Addthis cookies: http://www.addthis.com/privacy.
Disqus cookies: https://help.disqus.com/customer/portal/articles/466235-use-of-cookies.
Vimeo cookies: http://vimeo.com/privacy.
Youtube cookies: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/171780?hl=en-GB

Disabling/Enabling Cookies
You have the ability to accept or decline cookies by modifying the settings in your browser. Please note however that by deleting our cookies or disabling future cookies you may not be able to access certain areas or features of our site. For information about how to disable cookies in your browser please visit the About Cookies website.

Close