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Future pro camera from Olympus: wishlist and discussion

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by With_Eyes_Unclouded, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    New rumors abound concerning a forthcoming pro-level camera from Olympus. For example:

    43 Rumors | Blog | New E-X and E-XXX Four Thirds camera rumors...

    For starters, I believe it's time for Olympus to put the Four Thirds format to sleep. There is simply no point anymore and it's counterproductive for given both the company's financial situation and the general market drive. I'd like to listen to your opinions for this.

    Having said that, my personal wishlist for a "pro-level" :43: from Olympus would include:

    • A possible new sensor. We know that Panasonic (and perhaps others) work on new generation sensors for :43:. I personally don't care for more than 16Mp resolution. OTOH, if there is a way to gain at least one stop of DR, and/or improve high ISO noise performance by one to two stops across the range, this would be ideal. Being multi-aspect would not hurt either.
    • Implementation of phase AF on the sensor. This is perhaps the quantum leap for :43:.
    • Fully weather sealed body. Of course a range of weather sealed lenses would be in order too...
    • Dual processors for increased performance.
    • Larger buffer size; more processing power will also help here.
    • Dual card slots with intelligent handling; e.g. selection of overflow, RAW+JPEG, backup, storage according to custom selections (e.g. "set1 stores in card #1"), etc.
    • Complete custom set customization and support for transfering and controlling various camera setups via computer/tablet/etc.
    • Ability to transfer system info to cards (like above) so you can duplicate setups across two camera bodies.
    • Much extended flash support
    • Improved EVF (>2 million dots, also more processing power will help)
    • Clever power handling and support for a new heavy duty grip with perhaps dual battery support
    • Native Four Thirds lenses compatibility. This will be a major thing for people upgrading from an E series camera. Also will extend the selection of high quality glass.
    • It goes without saying, that all suggested bug fixes to the existing EM5 should be implemented, as well as all current features, like IBIS, current live screen, etc.

    Such a camera would probably be quite larger than the EM5, but not by very much I think. Probably a cm in each dimension?

    I should point out that I didn't include anything about video support, because it's not my thing really and because I see Panasonic as having the upper hand on video support. I guess I view Olympus more as the "photographer's :43:" (and probably being wrong about it...).

    So what do you think? Could a camera like this be available next year? Do you think Olympus will have one or more interim editions? Perhaps a final Four Thirds addition to the E-series and another improved "prosumer level" :43:?
  2. silversx80

    silversx80 Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 27, 2012
    North Carolina
    I don't think Olympus will so readily leave behind their loyal 4/3 users. They have instilled brand loyalty, and their business model cannot afford to dismiss those customers to Canikon. The one thing that Olympus has going for the 4/3 line is that nobody is complaining about the form-factor. Simply replace the internals with the most recent development when the 4/3 users are itching for an update. I don't suspect Olympus will do different.

    It seems, however, that the OM-D line will be the new flagship with each generation offering another advancement. I still don't think that the technology is ready for CDAF to communicate with HG and SHG lenses without changing firmware on lenses within the next year, and Olympus has stated they don't intend to do that. There is too much invested in those lenses to fully move their production to :43:.
  3. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    I agree with you but there are two separate sets of considerations: technical and marketing/company investment.

    From a technical standpoint, should a :43: camera address:

    1) Phase detect AF
    2) Seamless Four Thirds lenses integration

    what would be the problem with the existing base of FT Olympus users? Both of the above are technically feasible in mid-term future.

    There is a third point, and that is the OVF. But I honestly believe a really fast 2-2.5Mp EVF should take care of that (while introducing a whole lot of advantages over the OVF).

    I have to ask, and that's a honest question, how big is the Four Thirds installed base anyway? I sincerely don't know what percentage of Olympus market share today is from Four Thirds and what comes from :43: users. Also on the high prosumer/semi-pro/pro levels, the name of the game is stealing customers from other systems. I'm afraid I don't see any real reason for, say, a Nikon user converting to something like a future top-notch E-series DSLR. But I know of several Canicon users switching from their mid level/semi-pro DSLRs to the EM5.
  4. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    The number of still loyal 4/3 users is a fraction of a fraction and ever yen spent on the production line for an E-3 mark III (E-5 = E-3 mark II) is money not spent on m4/3.

    I'd say they're much better off figuring out how to do PDAF off the sensor, so they can offer a body that works well with both 4/3 and m4/3 lenses. That's a camera with a far larger market. There's certainly no hurry - anybody who's still using 4/3 today isn't going to be the sort looking for the latest and greatest...

  5. silversx80

    silversx80 Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 27, 2012
    North Carolina
    I do agree that Olympus should be putting more effort into getting the HG and SHG glass to work with :43:, and I believe they are, but we're still stuck with a few current trends (obviously they'll likely change in the future).

    1. The P&S market has been destroyed by cell phone cameras.
    2. The most proliferated professional camera(s) is/are Canikon.
    3. Camera companies are only in it to make a profit.

    #3, is by far the most important trend, and will not likely change (unless UNICEF gets into the business). Where is the money to be made? Consumer grade... pro-grade is a wash.

    Consumers want what pros use, but cannot afford it. They'll see the great, consistent results the pros get, and buy that brand. I'm talking about the consumer looking to upgrade from their current P&S, or cell phone, not the one who's harking back to the days of their high school photography class. Those people usually start with a product that reminds them the most of what (and how) they remember cameras.

    Pros, typically, want great glass. They're not interested in nostalgia, gimmicks, or "fun factor" when it comes to work. They need dead-nuts reliability, consistency and gear which will perform so well as to earn them a profit and a living wage. Gear that is more expensive will need have a long usable-life.

    If the pros feel that their gear is being abandoned, they will cease to invest and choose another brand that seems it will have a longer track record. If the pros leave, the results leave. If the results leave, the (new) consumers will not be impressed. If (new) consumers are not impressed, their money will not buy the consumer-grade product. If the consumer-grade product is not bought, there is no profit. No profit means buh-bye.

    Here is the kicker, the R&D investment for the legacy 4/3 gear has been returned. What's more, if Olympus puts the E-M5 internals in the E-30 body, they can leave out a few critical items. First, they don't need the fast CDAF, since no lenses are compatible with it. That means they can remove the processor for that, the touch-screen will be unnecessary and the EVF has no point. They barely would need to re-tool production lines for the E-30 mk.II. That camera would sell and the profits would be a wash, but pros would feel their investments are still supported.

    It's still a few years off for legacy 4/3 glass to be supported by :43: at no detriment to any performance metric. Until then, Olympus will lose long-term customers if it does not update the 4/3 camera bodies. They will likely have a full return of their investment to update the E-5/30/620 bodies one more time each. I believe we'll see an E-650, E-50 and E-7. Once :43: is able to support the SHG and HG glass, then we'll likely see another iteration of legacy 4/3 bodies with the on-chip focusing feature, to ease the Luddites into the new format.
  6. Does Olympus still make 4/3 lenses or even have a large backlog of such lenses left to sell? It would seem little more than an act of goodwill if they were to go to the trouble of making new 4/3 bodies or even fully compatible Micro 4/3 bodies just to allow the use of lenses that are already in circulation.

    It seems to be no surprise that the two mirrorless cameras that offer PDAF for DSLR lenses are made by companies (Sony and Nikon) that still manufacture and sell large quantities of said lenses.
  7. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    I asked almost the same question, because, sincerely, don't know the answer: what is the DSLR market percentage that Olympus holds? And, more importantly, what is the current turnover from this market? I mean, what's so dramatic about abandoning this format alltogether?

    Canon changed their lens mount from FD to EOS and, in the long run, nobody really bothered. Pros continued to use their film FD mount cameras for a long time after that, thank you. It's not that older Four Thirds DSLRs are going to magically stop working because Olympus decided to abandon the format.
  8. silversx80

    silversx80 Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 27, 2012
    North Carolina
    Hopefully people with access to a treasure trove of market information, and an aptitude to analyze it effectively, will help guide Olympus in the most effective direction. In all likelihood the legacy format will be abandoned, but the more seamless the transition, the more capable Olympus will be able to keep its head above water.

    There's a little more to it than abandoning a seemingly "dead" format.

    It's like getting liposuction. Sure, you're skinnier and look better on the outside, but you've still got an enlarged heart and butter-coated arteries. If the job isn't done right, then you're even worse off than what you began with. If you take time, however, and start a proper diet and exercise program, your results go much further and leave you much healthier in the long run.
  9. You're right, and I also wouldn't think that it is safe to assume that every existing 4/3 user has been waiting for a pro m4/3 body before switching over. Mention the lack of an OVF in a room full of 4/3 users and you'll be decried as much of a heretic as you would in any DSLR forum. The loyalty may not be towards Olympus but rather Olympus DSLRs, or even just DSLRs generally.
  10. st3v4nt

    st3v4nt Mu-43 Veteran

    May 26, 2011
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    A very sensible statement from Mod....:)  Last time I check in local store they don't have ready stock of 4/3 lens anymore. I think it's more profitable for Olympus if they just shift the entire 4/3 lens to m4/3 gradually, the most logical step of goodwill that Olympus can provide to 4/3 lens owner is if Olympus somehow release the PDAF to CDAF adapter like NEX done. Perhaps call it MMF-5 ? :smile:
  11. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    The flip side is true as well. Only a portion of current 4/3 users want or would be willing to pay for an E-7. There are still a good many who got into 4/3 for the affordable prices or the small bodies. I'd guess that group constitutes at least 80% of those with Olympus DSLRs at this point.

  12. Shade

    Shade Mu-43 Regular

    May 30, 2012
    Putting the 4/3 lineup to sleep will be just disappoint quite a number of loyal users. They would feel "betrayed" altogether and if I was one of them, I'd hate Olympus to the guts.

    Not to mention their magnificent glasses such as the 12-35/2, 35-100/2, 50/2 and some others are really a breakthrough and have wasted enough resources in the R&D department to be just flushed down the drain.

    What I think Olympus should do now with their 4/3 system is to get it worked out so that it has advantages over it's m4/3 system that will complement each other well.

    I personally think a step up in sensor size may be possible, and/or perhaps turn the 4/3 into a videocapture device altogether and leave the picture taking to the m4/3 series..

    But thats just my ramblings..
  13. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    People are always asking on forums how many mirror less users do you see. M43 and other mirror less seems to be growing.

    So, I'll ask: how many 43 users have you seen? My answer is simple: zero in several years.
  14. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    If I was a FT loyalist, I'd be pissed off too, but I'd soon had the bravery (I guess!) to recognize this reaction as irrational and childish.

    I'd point everyone to my OP. Should a minimal number of measures be taken to guarantee compatibility with existing lenses, as well as implementation of PD-AF (something BOUND to happen for :43: sooner or later), then, what in the name would a FT user have to complaint about? What other characteristic does an E-series camera provide that an EM-5 doesn't?

    Systems are to be replaced at some point, this is the way technology advances.

    Now back OT. I'd very much like to read everybody's opinion on a :43: that would be considered even by the conservative photographic world as "pro". Any suggestions or disagreements on my original list?
  15. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    The problem is which sort of pros are you trying to attract.

    For photojournalist uses, we need good zoom lenses (the 12-35 is a good start). The body is largely beside the point.

    For wedding/event shooters, we need the lenses plus I suspect a more extensive flash system.

    For sports, we need fast, reliable tracking, something that I doubt will happen for a good long time to come, plus fast long lenses.

    But for most pros to even begin to consider, you need a full support system including guaranteed quick-turnaround repairs and easy availability of loaner gear.

    In short, a good body is a nice start, but without the other pieces, I don't really see the point. Pros aren't an especially larger market either, so it's unclear to me that spending lots of money to break into it is a good idea.

  16. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Very good points.

    I guess a number of (real) pros may be totally OK with the existing higher end :43: like the GH2 (for video, perhaps hacked, but anyway...) and EM5.

    What I mean is a camera body (with a solid system around it, no doubt) that could rival, spec and performance wise, semi and pro DSLRs.

    True, real pros are a small(ish) market. But, for every pro I know shooting a 5D or D700/800 there are 10 semi-pros and perhaps 50 enthusiasts shooting the same camera/lenses. :wink: Meaning the market is not THAT small after all. :smile:

    In practical terms, I believe a number of people would be attracted to a pro-level :43: body. For example, wildlife shooters would cherish the portability factor, should fast telephoto glass become available. Wedding photogs, as you say, would need excelent flash support. For sports I don't really see technological developments in tracking being an issue for long. Already there are actual designs (Nikon V1) or designs under development that would address this, and I'm not thinking years.

    From what I see, in a few months, the collection of high quality :43: glass would be almost mature. 24-70mm and 70-200mm equivalents, long portrait (75mm Olympus) lenses, macros, etc. It would not be Canon EOS territory variety wise, but it's stellar compared to less than 2 years ago.

    Finally, I agree that a pro-level involvment is a high cost endeavor. But then again, it's also a matter of company image and prestige. And nobody will argue with a quite hefty price tag for such a camera (I'm thinking 2K retail).
  17. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I think it is very tricky to "go pro", because pros don't want to compromise at all.

    I think Oly needs to go after the semi-pro/enthusiasts from the bottom up, because Nikon & Canon will not be easily knocked off the other end of the equation.

    Given that, I think the evolution we have seen to date makes sense. If they let the E-M5 breathe a little in the market they can decide what is needed for an upscale version (which seems to be their plan).
    • Like Like x 1
  18. st3v4nt

    st3v4nt Mu-43 Veteran

    May 26, 2011
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    Beside the C-AF and tracking which Olympus still lack, that probably can be solved if Olympus willing to use dedicated AF module like PDAF did or some sort of hybrid AF that can merge the benefit of PDAF and CDAF, the hypothetical pro camera body for m4/3 is just a matter of:

    1. adding more fully customize direct button control,
    2. dual memory card slot,
    3. direct built-in wireless and tethered control (via mobile phone or tablet)
    4. full IS support in still and video mode (native or adapted lens)
    5. and of course the pro grade lens shifted/equivalent of 4/3 pro grade lens
    6. and a bit of this and that which current OM-D line still don't have

    Honestly there's a very little improvement from current OM-D that I can think of, considering the pro user already satisfied with the latest m4/3 sensor and True Pic engine performance.
  19. dino8031

    dino8031 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 27, 2012
    Boulder, Colorado
    An improved EVF would be great, larger view with a faster refresh.

    A battery grip that doesn't cost $300, and batteries that take more then 300 shots.

    I couldn't care less about 4/3 support, but I'd love to see a major expansion of the m4/3 lens lineup. More and faster high quality primes, smaller, fixed aperture pro zooms, either f/4's or f/2.8's.

    A menu system that actually makes sense to me.

    Improved ergonomics and an absolutely drop dead gorgeous anti-glare screen.

    Keep the compact size above all else. That's why I switched from DSLR's and why I'll stay with m4/3's.
  20. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    A report from real pros:

    As it were, I was in a photo shop this morning, and met a pro Four Thirds shooter there. He works in newspapers as well as the occassional freelance job (from weddings to model shooting, etc).

    Or should I say "almost ex" FT shooter. He is in wait of his new EM5 (as am I) and plans on selling almost all his FT gear (may keep a couple of lenses).

    His main wishes would be fast glass and fast C-AF for some sports events. Apart from that he is totally happy with the Panasonic and Olympus bodies he already has (with the EM5 being the icing on the cake, as he put it).
    • Like Like x 1
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