Olympus Sells Imaging Division

Richard

All-Pro
Feb 1, 2013
Marlow, UK
I haven't pressed the shutter on an Olympus camera in almost twenty years, but I have a great deal of affection for the brand and I'm sorry to see this latest development. Even if it's not actually the end of the road for Olympus, it looks like terminal decline from here.

All of our family photos in the 1970s were taken on an Olympus Trip 35, a camera which I inherited from my father when he bought himself a 35 RD (which I now own). After that, the first camera I bought new was an OM-10, followed by an OM-2 and finally an OM-4. Of those, I kept the OM-2 for sentimental reasons. That was the best camera I ever owned, actually.

Along the way I also had a half-share in an XA-4 with my Dad, and also an autofocus AF-1.

In all, I used nothing but Olympus film cameras for about ten years, and I've never felt that I missed out by staying loyal to that one brand.

So I'm sorry to see the old firm pulling down the shutters for the last time, if that's what is happening.

-R
 
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William Lewis

Veteran
Feb 10, 2020
Hayward WI
William Lewis
The problem I had in the end with Olympus was cost/performance. I had a nice Pen E-P3 and some good lenses but they were long in the tooth and the Pen F I wanted was way too much money.

In the end, last fall, I sold almost all of my m4/3 kit (one body for adapted LTM lenses left) and bought a D7100 & all my manual F mount lenses (25, 28, 35, 50, 105 & 135) on Ebay for less than a Pen F would have cost and is, arguably, better performing though all older. I can't be the only one priced out of their otherwise very nice system.
 
Apr 18, 2014
Boston Burbs
David
Here's a link with some thoughts on the sale (not my thoughts).


I hope in the end the brand and system continue. Not just because I'm invested in it and really do like the system. But because I truly do believe is offers something different from any other. Time will tell.
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
Too many cameras with similar features, but a broad range of prices.

Most people are going to look at the MPixels on the sensor, resolution of the screen, and resolution of the electronic viewfinder.


Looking at the Olympus line- the $500 body compares well with the $1600 body using those metrics, and the latter is just too big for people buying u43 to get a smaller camera. My EPM1 is my grab and go compact, and the EP2's (one Visible, the other full-spectrum) work after all these years. They are compact, like the original Pen cameras. An Olympus Pen-F electronic would be nice, but for $900 I can get a full-frame Sony A7-II. Looking at the Pen F, the processor in it is a "VII" while the less expensive cameras have an "VIII". So- with that, I get the impression that it has not been updated in a while. Olympus has a habit of dropping prices very quickly once new models are out, my EPM1 was under $200 with a lens and flash (new) once the newer model came out.
 
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Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
Troy, NY
Unfortunately, I've had experience working with "turn-around specialists." Typically, the first thing they do is "take out cost," which means firing as many people as they think they safely can and keep the company operational. Then (usually concurrently) they get rid of "loser" products -- ones they are not making money on . . . and so on. Sometimes they try to figure out a new direction that will be profitable. But the first move is usually "stop the hemorrhaging."

Olympus also makes medical and surgical microscopes and imaging solutions . . . things that need lenses.

This raises the question: who makes the lenses . . . the actual glass elements that go into camera lenses and medical and surgical imaging solutions? One would think that the same outfit would make the lenses for both divisions . . . how does that impact the new spin-off, or is it a non-issue.

Check out these images from Phocal: Review - Thoughts on the EM1X.................. just gorgeous, made possible by excellent gear and a discerning photographer.

Even though I don't currently use Olympus gear, I hope they will continue for a long, long time.

Cheers, Jock
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
The EM1x weighs 2.2lbs, looks like my Nikon D1, weighs almost as much, and as per the specs- uses 12bits/pixel like my D1. Most high-end cameras have moved to 14-bits/pixel, which gives much more room for post-processing.

If you have a lot of money invested in u43 lenses, and want a camera that is as big as Nikon's and Canon's pro-lines, maybe that's the target audience? Whatever they were thinking, it did not work out for them and they need to sell the Division. They screwed up with their product line.
 

tonyturley

Hall of Famer
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
I've tried DSLR style cameras from both Olympus (E-M1 Mk I) and Panasonic (G80). While I'm not a fan of the mid-body EVF location, both cameras seemed to be about the same size and weight, and were very comfortable to hold. They were neither too large nor too small. I guess with both companies moving to the high $$$ large DSLR style bodies, they have been aiming for the prosumer and/or professional markets. I guess it didn't work so well for Olympus.
 

gryphon1911

All-Pro
Feb 6, 2015
Central Ohio, USA
Andrew
I've tried DSLR style cameras from both Olympus (E-M1 Mk I) and Panasonic (G80). While I'm not a fan of the mid-body EVF location, both cameras seemed to be about the same size and weight, and were very comfortable to hold. They were neither too large nor too small. I guess with both companies moving to the high $$$ large DSLR style bodies, they have been aiming for the prosumer and/or professional markets. I guess it didn't work so well for Olympus.
I had a few theories that I discussed with others but not sure if I went through them here.
To summarize:

  • Olympus over promised on key features and under delivered (AF, low ISO IQ). Olympus said that the EM1.2 could compete with flagship DSLRs in AF. I tested this first hand with a Nikon D500 and the firmware 3.0 EM1.2 Olympus under delivered
  • Olympus support was never at a level that a "pro" could count on like Canon or Nikon. even Sony lags a bit in this area, but they are trying to make that better.
  • They never successfully countered the marketing that the 135 sensor was superior. They should have made it a point to expound on the virtues and benefits of a smaller sensor and its benefits.
  • Their marketing was counter productive. They would say that small and light is the way to go from one side of their mouth, then from the other side, they would bring out cameras and lenses no smaller than the relatively equivalent APS-C or FF equivalent.
  • I live close to one of the largest camera retailers in the midwest. I've been to every feature fair and event they have had over the last 8 years. I've never seen Olympus there once. I would inquire and the store management said that no matter what they did, they could not get the rep to show up. Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Tamron, Sony, Fuji all were there giving demos, talking with customers, giving show discounts.
  • Olympus was perceived as a "parts recycler" for the last 4-5 years. They would come out with killer features like ProCapture or hi-res modes, but they would be stuck with sensor tech at the mercy of Sony. Heck, even Nikon designs sensor chips, buses and internals and may have Sony make them, but at least Nikon tries to push what is there.
Olympus had a lot of potential, but they just could not break out of the 8 ball they put themselves behind.

My thoughts are that Oly should have cut the camera lines down to 2 - something between the EM1.2 and EM5.3 and an entry level PEN if they wanted to stay in the camera game. Otherwise, they should have shut the whole thuing down, kept the R&D going and licensed the IBIS tech and other stuff to the highest bidders.

Now, I fear that within a few years, teh Olympus brand from the camera perspective will be more like Yashica and Kodak are now. Mediocre imitations of themselves if they still exist at all.
 

Jonathan F/2

Veteran
Aug 21, 2011
Los Angeles, USA
I had a few theories that I discussed with others but not sure if I went through them here.
To summarize:

  • Olympus over promised on key features and under delivered (AF, low ISO IQ). Olympus said that the EM1.2 could compete with flagship DSLRs in AF. I tested this first hand with a Nikon D500 and the firmware 3.0 EM1.2 Olympus under delivered
  • Olympus support was never at a level that a "pro" could count on like Canon or Nikon. even Sony lags a bit in this area, but they are trying to make that better.
  • They never successfully countered the marketing that the 135 sensor was superior. They should have made it a point to expound on the virtues and benefits of a smaller sensor and its benefits.
  • Their marketing was counter productive. They would say that small and light is the way to go from one side of their mouth, then from the other side, they would bring out cameras and lenses no smaller than the relatively equivalent APS-C or FF equivalent.
  • I live close to one of the largest camera retailers in the midwest. I've been to every feature fair and event they have had over the last 8 years. I've never seen Olympus there once. I would inquire and the store management said that no matter what they did, they could not get the rep to show up. Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Tamron, Sony, Fuji all were there giving demos, talking with customers, giving show discounts.
  • Olympus was perceived as a "parts recycler" for the last 4-5 years. They would come out with killer features like ProCapture or hi-res modes, but they would be stuck with sensor tech at the mercy of Sony. Heck, even Nikon designs sensor chips, buses and internals and may have Sony make them, but at least Nikon tries to push what is there.
Olympus had a lot of potential, but they just could not break out of the 8 ball they put themselves behind.

My thoughts are that Oly should have cut the camera lines down to 2 - something between the EM1.2 and EM5.3 and an entry level PEN if they wanted to stay in the camera game. Otherwise, they should have shut the whole thuing down, kept the R&D going and licensed the IBIS tech and other stuff to the highest bidders.

Now, I fear that within a few years, teh Olympus brand from the camera perspective will be more like Yashica and Kodak are now. Mediocre imitations of themselves if they still exist at all.
I still think Olympus should of went FF. They could of kept M43 with just compact f/1.8 primes and variable aperture zooms, while putting all those R&D resources making PRO line lenses into an FF body. The first Sony A7 was complete junk next to the E-M1 that was released the same year. Heck, the E-M1 mark I still does a lot of things better than the current Sony cameras! They could of just ran the E-PL, Pen and E-M5 line for M43 (or maybe just the E-PL and Pen), while diverting all OM-D resources to FF. Oh well, perhaps it's better some of these companies die off and let those who are willing to adapt with the times, thrive.
 

gryphon1911

All-Pro
Feb 6, 2015
Central Ohio, USA
Andrew
As much as Olympus was going down the software pipeline they could have maybe saved themselves by dabbling in cellphone tech. Partnering with someone like Apple or Google to put some heavy machine learning and cell technology into a camera for the vloggers and Instagramers.

Put a good editing suite into the camera or allow for editing apps to access the files directly, have a detachable LCD or use the cellphone as the LCD - they could have been a contender!! :)
 

Tilman Paulin

All-Pro
Nov 15, 2011
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
Yeah, I figure what hurt them in the long term was not being able to keep up with current sensor tech.
Having a sensor that's not just smaller than the competition, but also older, not only impacted image quality, but also things that relied on readout speed - like auto-focus...

They tried to make up for the image quality aspect with great lenses. But those came at a price (and size) that didn't make them exactly MORE competitive.
If lenses have to be faster, better corrected and resolve more (for the higher pixel density), buyers have to pay that price on every lens (rather than having one camera with a bigger sensor and lenses that don't require the same level of perfection).

The justification for m43 is getting thin - now that we're getting full frame cameras with sensors that still give you a ~16MP image at a 2x crop... and now that Canon seems to be developing long lenses with a max aperture of f11 (thus probably making the lens similarly small as a m43 lens).

I'm still going to keep using my m43 system, but Olympus kind of made a mess of developing and marketing.
Instead of developing a hundred different tech tricks, they might have achieved more by focussing their development on perfecting basic things like AF algorithms (and no, I don't mean developing an AI that recognizes 3 things that don't interest me. :D )
Doing less (and those things better) is often more...
 
Apr 18, 2014
Boston Burbs
David
The EM1x weighs 2.2lbs, looks like my Nikon D1, weighs almost as much, and as per the specs- uses 12bits/pixel like my D1. Most high-end cameras have moved to 14-bits/pixel, which gives much more room for post-processing.

If you have a lot of money invested in u43 lenses, and want a camera that is as big as Nikon's and Canon's pro-lines, maybe that's the target audience? Whatever they were thinking, it did not work out for them and they need to sell the Division. They screwed up with their product line.
The Nikon D# is a 200-400g heavier and pretty much at least 1cm bigger in every direction, Canon's line is even bigger topping out at over a pound heavier.

But it's always going to come down to the glass. Here's a review from a 1Dx shooter that's pretty good.


I personally think the screwed it up in other ways. Take the E0M10.2 and E-M10.3. The .2 was either too advanced or the .3 was too simplified. In either case I know too many that still recommend the .2 over the .3. They also don't have a sealed rangefinder or small sealed primes.

I also think the whole industry followed the consumer electronic marketing time line to much, maybe thanks to Panasonic/Samsung/Sony. We didn't really need new cameras every year or even every 2 years, but every 2 should have been the minimum. Sure do a major FW update every year, but not new cameras.

Anyway that's just IMHO.
 
Apr 18, 2014
Boston Burbs
David
I'll add that I think they have also made their cameras WAY to complicated. You know that lovely 1 - 2 function lever? I never found a good use for it on my E-P5 or E-M1.1; on my E-M1.2 I use it so much that I really can't remember what it's set to off the top of my head. But I know I don't have it set to replace the camera on/off switch, why can you even do that?

I love the function of the creative dial on the Pen F and that it separates the mono/color modes from the shooting mode, but do I need it? Do I need the jog wheel on the back which functions could really easily be handled by a function button?

Do I need an exposure comp dial instead of using one of the other dials like every other Olympus camera with two control dials (and since I have it set to flash comp so it forces the Pen to act like every other twin dial Olympus I guess the answer is not I don't).

:sorry: OK, I'm done at least for now.
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
Olympus OM-D E-M1X Overview (current offering, u43 sensor, 17.3 mm × 13.0 mm imaging area)
144 x 147 x 75 mm (5.67 x 5.79 x 2.95″)
Weight (inc. batteries) 997 g (2.20 lb / 35.17 oz)


Nikon D1 (circa 1999, DX Sensor, 23.7mm x 15.5mm):
157 x 153 x 85mm (6.1 x 6.1 x 3.4 in.)
Weight (inc batteries) (2.65 lb)

So 20 years later, smaller sensor, and not much smaller or lighter than the D1. The u43 compares with a 110 format ( 13 mm ×17 mm ) film camera, and the DX compares with half-frame 35 (18x24) .

Nikon's D850 compares in size and weight with the Olympus, is full frame 45MPixels.
Weight (inc. batteries)1005 g (2.22 lb / 35.45 oz)
Dimensions146 x 124 x 79 mm (5.75 x 4.88 x 3.11″)


Both are much larger and heavier than my full-frame Leica cameras. I look at the Pen F and see the camera that I would get. But it seems Olympus did not continue that line. I'll be looking for blow-out sales, be serendipity about it.
Tessina.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


My current u43 cameras work just fine. A little big, but work fine.
 
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William Lewis

Veteran
Feb 10, 2020
Hayward WI
William Lewis
I kept waiting for the second generation of the Pen F to come out so that the first gen would drop in price to a level I could afford. I finally got tired of waiting and shifted to Nikon.
 

Jonathan F/2

Veteran
Aug 21, 2011
Los Angeles, USA
Funny how the Pen F seems really popular here. To be honest I thought the EM5II was the better camera in terms of handling and image quality. The Pen F looked cool, but I didn't really connect with it.
 

Tilman Paulin

All-Pro
Nov 15, 2011
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
Funny how the Pen F seems really popular here. To be honest I thought the EM5II was the better camera in terms of handling and image quality. The Pen F looked cool, but I didn't really connect with it.
Yeah, there were definitely different camps when it came to preference of body styles... Rangefinder style (Pen-F - 1 body), SLR style (E-M... - 10 bodies) and Point-and-shoot-style (E-P, E-PL, E-PM ~12 bodies).

Point-and-shoot style seemed to be quite successful in Japan - that's what they released most bodies of, and that's possibly the majority of what we're going to get moving forward...(?)

-----------------

Either way - I was and still am a happy m43 user. M43 was a great system for me for the last 7 or 8 years.
For some time it was the best mirrorless system - and it's still holding some unique value proposition right now...

Looking into the far future I guess I might end up with Canon.
I like Canon's lens-choices so far (especially the idea of slower and small(?) telephoto lenses).
They're not quite there yet, but until they are m43 will continue to serve me fine :)
 

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