Interview of Aki Murata, Chief Operating Officer of OM Digital Solutions (OMDS).

RS86

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Here is some more confimation from Aki Murata, Chief Operating Officer of OM Digital Solutions (OMDS), that OMDS will focus on M43 and keep doing Tough cameras.

He repeats the earlier claim from another OMDS officer, that there will be a big announcement coming later this year regarding a new product, and the way he says it, it seems it will be a new mid- or high-end M43 camera. It can't be the tough camera that will "put a lot of people's minds at rest.".

Also he says how M43 has an advantage for computational photography with the fast speeds of hardware, and how they will focus on on the strengths that M43 ILC system has compared to smartphones and FF.

And like I thought, one possibility for them is to combine the entry-level line's with higher line products, as the gap to smartphones gets smaller.

"We announced the carving out of the camera division from Olympus last June, and I think a lot of people were worried that it meant Olympus cameras would be different in the future, or our R&D philosophy or our product roadmap would change. I would like to state, once again, that we decided to split off from Olympus, which is a big medical company, in order to better manage our business and do what’s best for our camera customers. In this new company, OMDS, we have senior leaders in place who will bring fresh perspectives to company challenges, and this is a perfect start for a new chapter in the 85-year history of Olympus cameras.

The challenge is proving it. I can say whatever I like, but people need to be able to believe it. Not only existing Olympus users, but non-Olympus and non-Micro Four Thirds photographers. We need to make those users realize that they can invest in our system with confidence. The best way to do that is by introducing innovative products, and I can confirm that will be an exciting product announcement from OMDS later in 2021. I think that will put a lot of people’s minds at rest.

Our Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Setsuya Kataoka gave an interview in February where he mentioned new products, and today I can confirm that the announcement will be this year."

...

"Is there a practical limit to resolution in the 4/3 sensor format? At what stage do more pixels stop being useful?

The Micro Four Thirds system is not limited to 20 Megapixels. Our Pro lenses have excellent resolution and performance, enough to work well even with a 100 Megapixel sensor. However, increasing number of megapixels significantly impacts processing speeds and high ISO image quality. There is also a risk of function and feature limitations. Therefore, we carefully consider the best balance of resolution, image quality, performance and price, always with the best interests of the customer in mind."

...

"How much longer do you think there will be a market for entry-level ILCs like the OM-D E-M10 IV?

I think that the entry-level line will always exist, unless people lose interest in photography, and I don’t think that will happen. The only questions are how entry-level is defined, and what features do people expect to see in those cameras? The more that smartphones camera features evolve, the smaller the gap will become between phones and current entry-level cameras will become. And when that happens, our definition of entry-level in the camera market may need to change.


In the past, the term ‘entry-level’ was used to describe any easy to use camera which delivered good picture quality but the pictures from smartphones aren’t bad, if you just want something for casual and everyday use. And if the smartphone takes over that role, then they’ll become the entry-point to the world of photography. The hallmark for all camera manufacturers, not just us, is to understand the needs of customers and introduce products that encourage more people to take up photography as a hobby."

...

"So do you think that what we currently call the ‘entry-level’ class will evolve to become more advanced, and more expensive?

Yes, that’s definitely one possibility."

https://www.dpreview.com/interviews...urata-of-omds-olympus-we-re-more-flexible-now
 

Generationfourth

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I read that article earlier and I'm interested to see what they announce. Since the EM1X and EM1iii are relatively new and I don't think we'll see a greatly improved sensor in the immediate future I really think it will be an announcement that is more computational/AI. My speculation (FWIW- which isn't much) is something along the lines of what we see with topaz denoise and/or adobe super high res but having the TruePic processor do it in body. I'd be happy with the compromise.

I also would love to see continued FW updates for AF and subject AI tracking. I'm not a video guy at all but would love 4k60 in my newly acquired em1iii.

The only other thing I can think of is a revisit of the rangefinder type (penF successor) to compete with Fujifilm's offerings, but I feel like Oly gave that up and will solely focus on wildlife/action/bird.
 

agentlossing

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I like that he mentioned computational imaging beyond things like hand held hi-res. I feel like M4/3 sensors have a lot of room to grow and implement smartphone-like features into processing, and it sounds like he agrees. Let's hope something cool comes out of that.
 

Dogbert62

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What if they moved towards subscription based FW with regular updates....
How about buying/renting modules like starry sky or bird AF.

I think most companies like a subscription model. If the argument is that the main HW is becoming mature, this could be a way to bleed more monies out of existing users

just a thought...
Dogbert62
 

dwkdnvr

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A subscription model is an interesting idea - providing some ballast and predictability in revenue between 'major' announcements. I'm not entirely sure what the subscription would be though - it's not like "$10/mo to continue to use your camera" is likely to fly. And I don't know that there is enough functionality in FW updates to really drive a revenue stream, either. Maybe we all just have to accept that sponsoring ODMS or our chosen provider on Patreon is going to become part of the deal.

I'm on board with the 'computational imaging' idea, but I wonder whether OMDS has the resources to really make it fly. Software development like that isn't necessarily cheap, and in order to be a true differentiator it has to be in-body - if it's proprietary desktop/mobile software you run into the barrier that people already have their workflow set up and won't necessarily be thrilled at having some features only accessable via external software. Squeezing features that compete with current external post-processing functionality into the camera is a tall order. I really do think that making phones a bigger part of the system is a great idea in theory and would help with this, but once again the up-front costs/investment/timelines to get the interaction seamless is significant. OTOH, with ProCapture already implemented, they have a solid base for developing new "process an image sequence" style pipelines. Maybe that's the subscription idea - you have an FPGA or GPU that can handle 1 'special module' at a time, and use of the special compute functionality is $X/mo or something.

I certainly wouldn't want to be a camera manufacturer right now - it's an incredibly tough proposition to figure out how to get folks to spend $$$ on your gear at the moment - both due to getting squeezed from below by phones and how easily they integrate into social media, but also due to competing with their past selves: pretty much every camera made in the last 5+ years is objectively a capable camera, and unless you're doing production video work or printing larger than 13x19 any ILC will likely produce very good to great results. I've been churning through the 'change systems?' question recently, but the ONLY reason for this is concern about the future of OMDS and 'fear' that if my current body breaks I may be facing a system change anyway.
 
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It seems like the people at OMDS are reading forums and comments on websites, blogs or Youtube:
"The challenge is proving it. I can say whatever I like, but people need to be able to believe it. Not only existing Olympus users, but non-Olympus and non-Micro Four Thirds photographers. We need to make those users realize that they can invest in our system with confidence. The best way to do that is by introducing innovative products, and I can confirm that will be an exciting product announcement from OMDS later in 2021. I think that will put a lot of people’s minds at rest."
Pretty much aimed at a lot of the all around doom sayers, who keep claiming this company and the system as a whole is dead. However he is right: The only way to (re)gain confidence, is to introduce new products and keep working on your PR. The OMD Magazine, which was a good quality piece of read, is just a small part of that - while it didn't offer anything new, they didn't need to put it together, yet they did. The monthly Olympus newsletter also keeps coming in unchanged with decent content.

With Panasonic having confirmed a new GH model this year, I think we can pretty sure say there is going to be a new camera by OMDS later this year, as I doubt they'll stay in Panasonic's shadow when it comes to new products.
 

RS86

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It seems like the people at OMDS are reading forums and comments on websites, blogs or Youtube:
"The challenge is proving it. I can say whatever I like, but people need to be able to believe it. Not only existing Olympus users, but non-Olympus and non-Micro Four Thirds photographers. We need to make those users realize that they can invest in our system with confidence. The best way to do that is by introducing innovative products, and I can confirm that will be an exciting product announcement from OMDS later in 2021. I think that will put a lot of people’s minds at rest."
Pretty much aimed at a lot of the all around doom sayers, who keep claiming this company and the system as a whole is dead. However he is right: The only way to (re)gain confidence, is to introduce new products and keep working on your PR. The OMD Magazine, which was a good quality piece of read, is just a small part of that - while it didn't offer anything new, they didn't need to put it together, yet they did. The monthly Olympus newsletter also keeps coming in unchanged with decent content.

With Panasonic having confirmed a new GH model this year, I think we can pretty sure say there is going to be a new camera by OMDS later this year, as I doubt they'll stay in Panasonic's shadow when it comes to new products.
Heh, yeah, many of the things that Aki (funny as that name is a Finnish name also) said, reminded me of the things that circulate around forums. So like you say, they do observe what is going on, and seem like wanting to learn from it. It wasn't long ago some people here said something like "nice words/promises again, but I want something concrete". (This is also interesting in terms of importance of forum contribution, if this really happens more than we think.)

The GH6 wasn't officially confirmed as far as I know, but I have not had doubts that they won't release it. GH-series has been such a success, and M43 has clear strengths especially in video. And imo 8K is mostly a gimmick, other than cropping ability in video.

One would need to watch a 65" TV from 1.2 metres away or closer, and 100" TV from 1.8 metres or closer, for it to be better than 4K, because of human eye capabilities. Recommended distance for movie watching for 65" for the angle, is ~2 metres. 8K seems mostly ridiculous. It's for pixel peepers and croppers, and for TV companies to make more money again.

https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/by-size/size-to-distance-relationship

OMDS releasing a new camera has been more of a doubt for me, but I haven't doubted that so much either. I'm pretty sure they will try to make the company profitable while they have the resources for some time, and after their try they might have to end it. But I have seen it probable that they will release some new camera and lenses, and not plan to end it after selling stock. I have had the hunch that Olympus required the new company to try at least in their contract, and not ruin their long legacy in photography (the basis for this is that the Olympus company will continue, and do not want to tarnish their name, and the great Japanese pride of course.)
 
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phigmov

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I'd be interested to know about what it takes to survive and thrive in the market - m43 kind of squandered their lead. Fuji & Sony of ate their lunch. I have no idea how Fuji are financed but to kind of come from (almost) nowhere and build upon their x100 into a deep & broad range of cameras/lenses has been breath-taking to witness. Sony/Konica/Minolta have always had the expertise and they didn't let their initial mirror-less false-steps with NEX hold them back and kick into high-gear with their A7 stuff. Even Nikon & Canon sparked up after their lackluster 'M' & '1' series stuff which showed a lot of potential but took many many years to achieve any kind of momentum in their modern mirrorless offerings. Pentax did all sorts of wild (& entertaining stuff) but they have found their niche too with their rugged apsc stuff (& foray into full-frame at last).

Meanwhile, it seems like Oly has its fans & followers but struggled to build on that (& I have 5 of their bodies and several lenses).

Fingers x-ed they can keep on keeping on!
 
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hoodlum

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I'd be interested to know about what it takes to survive and thrive in the market - m43 kind of squandered their lead. Fuji & Sony of ate their lunch. I have no idea how Fuji are financed but to kind of come from (almost) nowhere and build upon their x100 into a deep & broad range of cameras/lenses has been breath-taking to witness. Sony/Konica/Minolta have always had the expertise and they didn't let their initial mirror-less false-steps with NEX hold them back and kick into high-gear with their A7 stuff. Even Nikon & Canon sparked up after their lackluster 'M' & '1' series stuff which showed a lot of potential but took many many years to achieve any kind of momentum in their modern mirrorless offerings. Pentax did all sorts of wild (& entertaining stuff) but they have found their niche too with their rugged apsc stuff (& foray into full-frame at last).

Meanwhile, it seems like Oly has its fans & followers but struggled to build on that (& I have 5 of their bodies and several lenses).

Fingers x-ed they can keep on keeping on!

Fuji got extremely lucky and benefited from the Instax line. That has help them to fund their ILC endeavors. It will be interesting to see how much longer this Instax fad will continue.
 

doady

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The idea of 100 megapixel sensors makes me wonder if I should get the 8mm F1.8 fisheye instead of rectilinear ultra-wide lens. Maybe software will become more and more important than hardware. That could close any gaps between m4/3 and full frame systems too.
 

PakkyT

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I would like to state, once again, that we decided to split off from Olympus, which is a big medical company,

My favorite part of the quotes. As if the imaging division leader one day say, "heyyyyyyyy, I have an idea, let's split off from Olympus and start our own company." and then all the employees were like "Yah! Yah! ... Old Time Hockey" and they all ran out of the building.
 

RAH

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Since the EM1X and EM1iii are relatively new and I don't think we'll see a greatly improved sensor in the immediate future I really think it will be an announcement that is more computational/AI. My speculation (FWIW- which isn't much) is something along the lines of what we see with topaz denoise and/or adobe super high res but having the TruePic processor do it in body. I'd be happy with the compromise.
I am also scratching my head concerning how recently the latest E-M1 (and E-M5) version came out. So, perhaps what he is talking about is not hardware at all? Perhaps a firmware update, but a big one? For example, adding HHHR to the E-M5.3? Would that even be possible? I mean, does its processor have the power? I want it!! :)
 

dwkdnvr

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I am also scratching my head concerning how recently the latest E-M1 (and E-M5) version came out. So, perhaps what he is talking about is not hardware at all? Perhaps a firmware update, but a big one? For example, adding HHHR to the E-M5.3? Would that even be possible? I mean, does its processor have the power? I want it!! :)
I guess it's an interesting gambit - add a significant feature to your "mass market" camera in an attempt to re-generate enthusiasm and drive some of the folks sitting on the sidelines to upgrade. The cynical part of me feels that this would undercut the E-M1 line and so they wouldn't do it, but maybe it's a stop-gap measure that can be done without having to invest in product development.
Leaving aside the question of whether it's technically feasible, of course - the lower burst capability and overall processor limitations might make it a non-starter.
 

theswanlogo

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I have to admit I was surprised when I saw The Coffee Time with Jimmy Cheng video called New Olympus Flagship in 2022. I thought it is all but BS - why on Earth would Olympus release a new flagship camera so quickly after the M1X and EM1.3? But then I read about the new GH6 camera supposed to offer 8K video and this involves a new sensor with more MP. Then Aki saying about this innovative product which many consider to be a new camera. Putting all these together my only guess right now is that they will release a high count MP camera to compliment the EM1.3, so something like a EM1.3S. This seems to be, actually, a pattern for all camera companies.
So maybe we'll see an EM1.3S camera with something like 32-36 MP?
 

doady

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E-M1 III had a new processor to enable HHHR, improved IS, live ND, and that only came out recently. E-M1X had those features but it required dual processors for them, because that was the old processor from E-M1 II. I'm guessing there will be E-M1X II with dual processors, but the newer processor from the E-M1 III, and that extra processing power might enable higher resolutions, for both stills and videos. Like how E-M1 III came out after E-M1X, an E-M1 IV will probably come after E-M1X II, with a next generation processor.
 

Phocal

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I am also scratching my head concerning how recently the latest E-M1 (and E-M5) version came out. So, perhaps what he is talking about is not hardware at all? Perhaps a firmware update, but a big one? For example, adding HHHR to the E-M5.3? Would that even be possible? I mean, does its processor have the power? I want it!! :)
EM1X mk2 is what’s coming
 

Phocal

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I have to admit I was surprised when I saw The Coffee Time with Jimmy Cheng video called New Olympus Flagship in 2022. I thought it is all but BS - why on Earth would Olympus release a new flagship camera so quickly after the M1X and EM1.3? But then I read about the new GH6 camera supposed to offer 8K video and this involves a new sensor with more MP. Then Aki saying about this innovative product which many consider to be a new camera. Putting all these together my only guess right now is that they will release a high count MP camera to compliment the EM1.3, so something like a EM1.3S. This seems to be, actually, a pattern for all camera companies.
So maybe we'll see an EM1.3S camera with something like 32-36 MP?
EM1X is almost 2 years old now.
 

theswanlogo

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What I was saying is that is a lot of emphasis on "breaking the 20Mpx barrier". There seems also to be one m43 sensor with high count Mpx ready. So, I guess, whatever new camera will be released, it will have a lot of pixels available.....
Nevertheless, the camera releasing cycle pretty much agrees with your assessment, @Phocal
 
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RS86

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What I was saying is that is a lot of emphasis on "breaking the 20Mpx barrier". There seems also to be one m43 sensor with high count Mpx ready. So, I guess, whatever new camera will be released, it will have a lot of pixels available.....
Nevertheless, the camera releasing cycle pretty much agrees with your assessment, @Phocal
This is what Aki said in the interview. That high megapixel thing does not come without problems.

"Is there a practical limit to resolution in the 4/3 sensor format? At what stage do more pixels stop being useful?

The Micro Four Thirds system is not limited to 20 Megapixels. Our Pro lenses have excellent resolution and performance, enough to work well even with a 100 Megapixel sensor. However, increasing number of megapixels significantly impacts processing speeds and high ISO image quality. There is also a risk of function and feature limitations. Therefore, we carefully consider the best balance of resolution, image quality, performance and price, always with the best interests of the customer in mind."

I think GH6 might have different versions with different sensors, other for 8K (although I still think it's more of a gimmick for other than cropping), and other for lower light, maybe one normal version. But GH is more of a video camera.

I have a hard time seeing that OMDS will make a camera that will lose it's low light capabilities and speed, just because they get 8K or more resolution. They don't have such a camera like GH, which is designed more for video.

High MP has the potential to ruin the system for many things, so I see it very unlikely other than for maybe some certain camera.

And yeah, I also think it could be E-M1Xii.
 

pake

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For example, adding HHHR to the E-M5.3? Would that even be possible? I mean, does its processor have the power? I want it!! :)
Absolutely. It can take the necessary amount of photos, store them in its buffer and start processing them. It might not be as fast as with the E-M1III but definitely doable. But Olympus wants to keep the E-M5 series closer to the E-M10s so they will not be adding that feature. No way in hell. Unfortunately. I'd love to have it.

And regarding the MP race.... I hope Olympus has taken notes from others and joins the "r" (and maybe the "s") world of camera classes. Make an E-M1 with the 47MP sensor and call it E-M1IIIr. Keep the pixelcount on normal E-M1IV & E-M5IV around 20-24MP and take advantage of the faster readout speed. Make an s-version of E-M1X with perhaps 16-20MP sensor with a superfast readout speed that puts even the Sony A1 to shame.
 
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