Olympus to exit, or at least scale back, from the digital camera market?

Kevin

Code Monkey 🐒
Nov 3, 2018
104
Pennsylvania, USA
Well, here's something unexpected... Olympus might be looking at either exiting entirely or at least scaling back from the digital camera market. This follows the news that investor Robert Hale has been added to the board of directors. The move from China to Vietnam for their camera manufacturing seems to be a part of the financial concerns.

Translated via Google:
The digital camera business is low profit, and in the April - December quarter of 18 the operating loss of the business fell to a loss of 13.1 billion yen (a profit of 1.5 billion yen in the same period last year). In the stock market, the view that "Value act that participates in management may suggest to withdraw or shrink from digital camera business" is expanding. Will Olympus's "adventure" that makes storyline shareholders participate in management really succeed?
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
124
bart
I hope they won't, they really pushed the camera business forwards with mirrorless, then really allround capable mirrorless (starting with the e-m5), huge improvements in IBIS, and the best waterproof compacts around...
 

phigmov

Top Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Hopefully they can refocus on the top/middle end bodies and glass. Be a shame to loose another camera brand... maybe Ricoh will buy out their imaging business a la Pentax? :)

They also design/make (do they make their own lenses or just design and badge?) some great lenses - you kind of wonder if they could release glass for other mounts (given the m43 market is unlikely to grow significantly) ?
Sigma seems to be doing OK and their camera-range is an absolute train-wreck of neat-tech but low uptake.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey 🐒
Nov 3, 2018
104
Pennsylvania, USA
The translations are coming over odd for some of terminology but the "value act" part is essentially foreign investors, like Hale's group, are becoming more active in the Olympus management and is leading to speculation that that their increased presence is leading the company to concentrate on their other more profitable divisions.

A few weeks ago their Pen-F was flagged as being discontinued so now the betting game starts on whether that means updated models are coming or if it's the end of at least that series.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
Well they have really slowed down on releases. I think its probable.
Slowing down releases is actually not surprising at all. If they're concentrating more on the enthusiasts and up 2-3 or even 4 years in some cases would make more sense (at least IMHO). Really hate it when I buy a camera 5-6 months after it's released just to see rumors of the next version 6 months later.
The translations are coming over odd for some of terminology but the "value act" part is essentially foreign investors, like Hale's group, are becoming more active in the Olympus management and is leading to speculation that that their increased presence is leading the company to concentrate on their other more profitable divisions.

A few weeks ago their Pen-F was flagged as being discontinued so now the betting game starts on whether that means updated models are coming or if it's the end of at least that series.
Yes the ValueAct investors almost seem like they WANT the camera to go.

The Pen F is one of those that could really be an every 4 years camera, kind of like the X-Pro Fuji, a high end "special" camera with unique features. But I hope they've added something to the E-M5 mkIII that will make the wait worth it.
 

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
69
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
But I hope they've added something to the E-M5 mkIII that will make the wait worth it
After the E-M1X release I'm not hugely optimistic anymore. (Particularly if it's true that they had to make that camera as big as it is in order to add the features that it offers over the E-M1 mkII...)

The new E-M5 will get the 20MP sensor, but I'm not expecting anything groundbreaking anymore... :/
 
Last edited:

donlaw

Hall of Famer
Sep 14, 2012
124
Texas
Don
I really like my EP-5. Still a great carry around all day camera. It would be sad to see them exit.
 
Last edited:
Jan 31, 2011
164
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
If they're concentrating more on the enthusiasts and up 2-3 or even 4 years in some cases would make more sense (at least IMHO). Really hate it when I buy a camera 5-6 months after it's released just to see rumors of the next version 6 months later.
I get that, but I was just looking at dpreview and the list of Olympus cameras. one release last year, one the year before, a couple the year before that... Its a BIG slowdown from the heady days of 11-12 a year. I'm waiting for an updated TG camera. They never bothered updating the TG870, will they bother with a new TG5? Maybe. I'm not hopeful. Maybe its going to be all about the enthusiasts, in which case I'm out, cant afford them.
 

marlof

Trying to focus
Dec 25, 2010
124
The Netherlands
Marlof
To me, this article felt a bit like click bait (an investor may suggest?) but the underlying sentiments I fear are real.

The smaller compact business is on its back in general due to smartphone photography exploding in possibilities. Other than the weatherproof line, Olympus wasn’t one of the top players anyhow.

I further think there are no sensor revolutions to be expected in m43 in the foreseeable future. That this means camera body upgrades are slowing down is to be expected. Next to that, they just moved their factory plant (Olympus Q&A @ CP+ 2019: Finally! Why the E-M5 III is running so late, and why not to worry), which was of influence too. Anyhow, in future, things will probably come down to computational progress. For now they needed a big body with two processors and a heat pipe to make that happen. I am confident that in future this can be achieved in smaller bodies as well.

For me the sensor plateauing is fine, since in all honesty I don’t feel limited by the sensor output in the current crop of m43 cameras. The results are better than I ever got in film. Sure, bigger sensors mean even more technological advantages in sensor output, but I dislike how photography has become all about technical perfection and less about artistical vision.

And smaller sensors have advantages too. I love how the crop factor makes the lenses relatively compact and affordable. I wouldn’t like to carry or pay for an 80-300 2.8 full frame lens. And I do love the extra DOF I get from m43 at larger apertures.

I just hope that the market gives Olympus (and Panasonic?) enough chances to think different.
 
Last edited:

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
124
bart
Olympus recently registered a new compact which uses the same battery as previous Stylus and Tough models. Since the market for regular compacts is virtually dead apart from travel zooms, and Olympus has been much more prolific in the rugged area than the travel zoom area over the past 5 years or so, my money is on a new waterproof camera being released this year. My fantasy is for it to be a 1inch sensored camera that's more developed than the SeaLife DC2000...
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
I get that, but I was just looking at dpreview and the list of Olympus cameras. one release last year, one the year before, a couple the year before that... Its a BIG slowdown from the heady days of 11-12 a year. I'm waiting for an updated TG camera. They never bothered updating the TG870, will they bother with a new TG5? Maybe. I'm not hopeful. Maybe its going to be all about the enthusiasts, in which case I'm out, cant afford them.
It is and they really should have updated the E-M5 mkII in 2018.

After the E-M1X release I'm not hugely optimistic anymore. (Particularly if it's true that they had to make that camera as big as it is in order to add the features that it offers over the E-M1 mkII...)

The new E-M5 will get the 20MP sensor, but I'm not expecting anything groundbreaking anymore... :/
If I recall one review noted part of the size requirement was for dual processors and heat dissipation. The features related were handheld high resolution and over all speed. While handheld high res might be nice, I wouldn't say it's required. And I would never expect the same performance level in an E-M5 mkIII as the "X".

It should have the 20mp sensor and hopefully phase AF with some of the AI bits. Phase AF on a smaller body would create some buzz IMHO. Yes that might take a bite out of the E-M1 mkII, but it's next to be replaced anyway. Personally I've never like the 2-peice add on grip on the E-M5 and I like the grip on my E-M1, so it wouldn't bother me.

To me, this article felt a bit like click bait (an investor may suggest?) but the underlying sentiments I fear are real.....
While I agree with the rest of your post I'll point out that a few of the articles reference "ValueAct" which is actually the name of the investment group, a few even reference the name of the new board member from the group.

So yes it seems like click bait, but they also could be trying to force the issue. Of course it could just be what @kyteflyer noted, enthusiasts centered.
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
124
Lexington, Virginia
Steve
If Olympus were an American company, the camera division would have been dead a long time ago. (I'm not proud of that fact, BTW) Of course, if Olympus were to shutter the camera division, that would effectively be the end of mu43.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey 🐒
Nov 3, 2018
104
Pennsylvania, USA
While I agree with the rest of your post I'll point out that a few of the articles reference "ValueAct" which is actually the name of the investment group, a few even reference the name of the new board member from the group.

So yes it seems like click bait, but they also could be trying to force the issue. Of course it could just be what @kyteflyer noted, enthusiasts centered.
Yeah, some of the English sites are running the item with doom & gloom 'The sky is falling!' type page titles but it's why I made sure I traced back all of the links to the very original source site for the quotes and linked to that (along with making sure to mention Robert Hale now being a director). I would tend to doubt that Japanese financial news sites would wildly speculate on business dealings as much as some American sites would. I may be wrong in that assumption but between the financial losses reported for their camera division, the increased number of foreign investments in the company, and the appointment of Hale to their board of directors, the idea that Olympus would scale back from the digital camera market is a valid speculation.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
If Olympus were an American company, the camera division would have been dead a long time ago. (I'm not proud of that fact, BTW) Of course, if Olympus were to shutter the camera division, that would effectively be the end of mu43.
Sad but probably true on both points.
 

tonyturley

Hall of Famer
Nov 24, 2014
124
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
I've tried to buy into the Olympus line of gear several times through the years. The original E-M5, M1, and M10 Mk II have resided in my house at various times, as well as a rented Pen F. All good cameras capable of good output, and the rugged build quality of the M5 was put to use in some pretty nasty conditions. I never was able to gell with the Olympus UI, although I did keep my M5 for about 2 years. Some nice lenses in the line-up. I don't see myself investing in mu4/3 again, but it would be a shame to see them fold their camera division.
 

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
69
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
The features related were handheld high resolution and over all speed. While handheld high res might be nice, I wouldn't say it's required. And I would never expect the same performance level in an E-M5 mkIII as the "X"
Haha, my point of view didn't come across I guess. (my own fault since I didn't write it down :) )

My point of view is that the E-M1 mkII already didn't add enough value over the mkI for me to make it worth a $2000 upgrade.
Now the E-M1X adds even more things that aren't interesting for my kind of use.

An E-M5 mk3 with 20MP sensor and phase detect AF - at a ~$1000 price point might get my attention on the other hand. (I made that number up - just saying, before any rumors start ;) )
Whatever they will release will definitely be judged by the price vs the competing marketplace.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
.....My point of view is that the E-M1 mkII already didn't add enough value over the mkI for me to make it worth a $2000 upgrade.
Now the E-M1X adds even more things that aren't interesting for my kind of use......
I had a mkI Pre FW 2.0. I haven't had it for a while, but there are certainly things the mkII has that the mkI didn't I know I would miss. Better sensor*, better AF, dual cards, MUCH bigger battery, and lots of other refinements that make it worth while to me (though I wish it still had the tilt screen).

* The 16mp sensor in the mkI is not the same 16mp sensor used in the rest of the Olympus line.
 

Djarum

All-Pro
Jul 10, 2010
123
Huntsville, AL
Jason
I'm still on the E-pl5. How many years will it take PDAF to migrate down to the smaller cameras? When that happens, Olympus or Panasonic can take my money.

I don't need an evf. I even thought about jumping to Fuji but lack of IBIS on their lower end cameras is a deal breaker.
 

Latest posts

Latest threads

Top Bottom