Is Olympus going in the wrong direction?

Leolab

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They need something like the ‘shot on iPhone’ campaign. But adapted and down scaled to suit the smaller target audience than basically everyone on the planet.

Incidentally, what piqued my interest in the system, being a Nikon DX user previously, were the full page adverts for the original E-M5 I saw in the photography press I was consuming around 2013/14. I eventually got myself an E-M10 to scratch an itch and the rest, as they say, is history.

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interesting thoughts from John and others wrt marketing. I also remember the marketing campaign focused on the size advantage like the first ad above. I also remember walking jnto my local camera store and the EM5 was tiny yet super capable sitting next to all the big plastic DSLR blobs…the only other camera i looked at was some version of Nex series which also was tiny…the Olympus‘ looks and IBIS won me over…at the time no other competitor had that mix of features and it really made Olympus stand out…incidentally i was at same camera store last week and their shelves are full of mirrorless stuff from Fuji to Panny toOlympus to Canon, Nikon, and of course Sony…the Olympus stuff just does not stand out like it did…

Incidentally their marketing budget (and many other things) comes from their SG&A line on their financial statements, and that is one area that has been targeted for reductions by Olympus in 2020, not sure what OMDS will do with their marketing budget though moving fwd. In a lot of cases the mktg ‘story’ targets the segment that the manufacturer wants to go after or has a heavy focus on areas/features where they have a distinct advantage…will be interesting to see what ads OMDS chooses to run or if they choose not to run any, that will also be telling of what their mktg budget is…btw its REALLY expensive to run nationwide or global campaigns, and in a lot of cases that money could have been allocated to other things (R&D…)
 
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Brownie

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Yeah, APS-C is dead, no point in discussing it further.

This will be announced tomorrow, 10:00 a.m. EDT.

https://www.sonyalpharumors.com/sony-zv-e10-specs/

  • 24MP APS-C Sensor
  • Kit lens will be a Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6
  • XAVC-S 4k 25p 100mbps
  • FHD 100p
  • Standard and Active stabilization
  • Auto exposure with face priority
  • Product feature autofocus mode (will lock focus on faces unless there is a product shown closer to the camera)
  • Button for Bokeh mode (priotitizes lowest aperture)
  • Dedicated button to swap between S&Q/Photo/Video
  • USB-c tether direct streaming to pc. (Plug and play)
  • fully articulating screen
  • Sony A5xxx body with no EVF
  • Price around $899 (900 Euro)
This will be Sony’s high end vloggers and streamer camera.
 

Armoured

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Yeah, APS-C is dead, no point in discussing it further.
I also find the claim that APS-C is dead or that it was only ever about being an 'inexpensive entry-level option' bizarre. It's not true now, and it doesn't seem like it was true historically.

And even if the claim that it was 'just' an inexpensive entry-level option to get customers to move up into full-frame - well, so what? If that's where the volume was, and they could make money on them, that's really all that needs to be said. (That's without even getting into the more complex arguments about shared technology, economies of scale, and consumer life-cycles i.e. targetting entry-level consumers so you can keep them when they trade up).

I'd also note that the idea that 'all the profit is in the pro market' because (gross) margins are high is not obvious (or just plain wrong) - because gross margins leave out some of the costs and the volumes aren't high enough. (Does anyone think all those formerly well-known pro manufacturers disappeared just because their margins weren't high enough?).

Note, saying this doesn't guarantee APS-C a great future - it's clearly getting squeezed from below in the same way that M4/3 is suffering - and the huge volume days for cheap entry level aps-c's is gone.

But dead? Not yet. I think for Nikon it has a potential strong niche going forward, and with a single mount and more economies-of-scale in mirrorless than in DSLRs, and a shared mount, and an upgrade path for customers, why not? Now they do need to have some more dx lenses 'made for dx', and some bodies that really build on the inherent advantages.

Anyway back to Olympus: the position of eg Nikon with DX to me shows how much of a challenge this will be for Olympus. Even if eg aps-c fails completely for Nikon in three years, frankly it won't be that big of a loss; they'll have dedicated some engineering talent to products that didn't go very far, but they can just move on to a solely full-frame product line (at lower volumes).

Olympus has nowhere to go without m4/3. And I don't think it has the resources to move to a larger format (unless bought out by a deeper pocketed group, a la Konica-Minolta...).

(Note: even though I don't think aps-c is 'dead', I'm not at all suggesting moving to aps-c size format would make any sense at all for Olympus. It makes sense, IMO, for Nikon and Fufi as part of their product lines - but they are in different situations than OMDS).
 
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Brownie

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How can it be the wrong direction if I've got the kit that works for me? Size & weight when I need it, and big honkin' pro lenses when I don't care so much about size & weight.
Because if it doesn't work for the masses, it won't be around for very long. And then it won't work for anyone.
 
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APS-C isn't dead. Its primary consumer market went to smartphones. All suppliers have scrambled to reconfigure the format, Canon with the worst showing of all.

The kicker was volume FF sensor production, driving down costs, which combined with mirrorless design, dramatically reduced camera body size.

If video is a driving force, a Super 35 sensor would also make sense for Olympus. Close to m43 dimensions and at least a full stop advantage.

There are at least 21 different sized sensors used for video. Take your pick.

In large part because of Panasonic, m43 achieved a standard of sorts in the videographer market compared to APS-C. That gives the format staying power (as with BlackMagic) including a host of third party cinema lenses available which are not similarly seen with APS-C.
 

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jhawk1000

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Olympus is doing well for me now. Who knows what the future will bring to Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, and a host of other brands? Worrying about what-ifs is not what I want to do. As I always told my clients who would come in with a legal problem and would ask what if questions many possibilities down the line, "I can probably give you an answer on one what if but not on all the what-ifs in the future." I sincerely hope that Olympus continues to manufacture and support m43 but if it doesn't I guess I will either be gone from this earth or have to get another hobby.
 

DeeJayK

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Olympus is doing well for me now. Who knows what the future will bring to Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, and a host of other brands? Worrying about what-ifs is not what I want to do. As I always told my clients who would come in with a legal problem and would ask what if questions many possibilities down the line, "I can probably give you an answer on one what if but not on all the what-ifs in the future." I sincerely hope that Olympus continues to manufacture and support m43 but if it doesn't I guess I will either be gone from this earth or have to get another hobby.
Good points, Mel.

On your last hypothetical I see a third option: continue to use the m43 gear you already own.

As it stands, my primary camera (the E-M1) was introduced over 6.5 years ago and in that time I've found no compelling reason to upgrade to either of its two successor models. I have no reason to think that it won't continue to produce images sufficient to my needs for many years to come. Likewise with the lenses I own. Any potential decision to abandon the format that OMDS or Panasonic make will not render my gear useless.

- K
 

DeeJayK

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It's closer to half, or just a little under. A 24MP sensor become 11.8, the 61MP sensor ends up at 28, I think. If the new A7 IV comes in at the expected 30MP, a cropped sensor shot would probably be around 14MP.
Your math is off by a bit here, Tim.

A "full frame" sensor measures 36mm x 24mm or 864mm squared. A m43 sensor measures 17.3mm x 13mm or 224.9mm squared. The area of the m43 sensor is 26.03% of the area of a "full frame" sensor. This is where my 3/4 approximation came from.

So a m43 sized crop of a 24MP sensor would yield ~6.25MP and a similar crop of a 61MP sensor would be ~15.9MP.

- K
 

Brownie

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Your math is off by a bit here, Tim.

A "full frame" sensor measures 36mm x 24mm or 864mm squared. A m43 sensor measures 17.3mm x 13mm or 224.9mm squared. The area of the m43 sensor is 26.03% of the area of a "full frame" sensor. This is where my 3/4 approximation came from.

So a m43 sized crop of a 24MP sensor would yield ~6.25MP and a similar crop of a 61MP sensor would be ~15.9MP.

- K
That's not my math, it's posted by Sony. My post was the difference between FF and APS-C, not M-4/3. Looking back I misread your post. Mea Culpa.
 

ac12

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Some thoughts by format:

FF:
  • If FF is to replace APS-C, they need to get lower priced non-pro cameras and lenses into the FF landscape.
    • The consumer market is price sensitive, and won't pay $$$$ for the pro gear.
      That is why they buy the APS-C cameras, it is cheaper than FF.
    • The dSLR line has less expensive non-pro lenses (both OEM and 3rd party), the mirrorless does not yet have it.
      Nikon and Canon are still fleshing out their mirrorless lens landscape, so the less expensive non-pro lenses are in the future.
    • Better to scavenge your own FF and APS-C sales than lose that market to the other company.
APS-C:
  • In order to keep the high margin FF pro gear, I think the mfg will continue to sell the lower margin APS-C gear for the consumer market. So even though APS-C could be replaced by low cost FF, I don't see APS-C going away.
  • I know little/nothing about Sony and Fuji APS-C, so will not comment about them.
  • Lenses:
    • In the dSLR lenses, Nikon has a couple pro level lenses. I don't know about Canon.
    • But yes, APS-C dSLR lenses has been and still is a sad stepchild of BOTH Nikon and Canon.
      • A classic lens is missing. NO ONE has a current production DX equivalent of the FF 70-200/2.8, which would be about 45-135.
        The closest is the Tamron FF 35-150/2.8-4.
      • Nikon only has ONE DX prime 35/1.8 (not counting macros).
        Canon has a couple more, but they don't have an EF-S normal lens.
    • In mirrorless, Nikon is LAGGING way behind Canon. Nikon currently has only three Z-DX lenses. :(
  • Cameras:
    • Once Canon came out with their mirrorless APS-C camera (the M50), Nikon was forced to reply in kind (with the Z50).
      Nikon could not afford to give the consumer market to Canon.
    • When you go into Costco, what you see are APS-C cameras, not FF. This is because of the lower price point of APS-C vs. FF.
    • When Nikon and Canon drop their dSLR line, the APS-C mirrorless will be their entry point cameras.
m4/3:
  • Lenses:
    • We have an embarrasment of riches, to the point that we can get picky.
    • We have the somewhat low cost non-pro lenses and the expensive pro lenses. But how about something in the middle.
      • Most of us do not need a f/2.8 zoom or f/1.2 prime.
      • The f/4 pro lenses are an attempt to fill this gap.
      • We need a set of primes in between the current old f/1.8 lenses and the expensive f/1.2 lenses.
    • The fact that we have both non-pro and pro lens lines lets us choose what we want. We are not stuck with just one choice.
      • While the FF dSLR lenses have the pro and non-pro lenses, the mirrorless not yet and no 3rd party lenses.
  • Cameras
    • Can the EM10 and EM5 lines be merged, to reduce the number of cameras?
      • You still need an entry level camera to get people into the line, similar in function to the APS-C cameras. So I don't think the EM10 can go away, unless the EM5 DROPS in price.
  • Video
    • I agree that people today are more into video than stills. So video capability has to be maintained and expanded.
    • I've been surprised at the number of times where I've seen video people using a dSLR in video mode, rather than a traditional video camera. Not being a video guy, I don't know why.
  • Marketing
    • Just like the white Canon lenses that you see at sports and news events, the more Olympus gear can get in front of the public, the more Olympus becomes "acceptable." People want to use the brands that the pros are using. Although I really don't like the idea of a "green" or "red" lens, just to make a marketing statement.
      • For the pros, m4/3 will have to continue to provide the FAST expensive lenses, just as Nikon and Canon are, which most of us can't afford/justify.
        • A 35-100/2 (or similar) would be one such lens.
      • An EM1X-mk2 will also be needed for the pros, for that extra bit more than the EM1-mk3.
    • IMHO, right now, m4/3 has a window of opportunity, vs. mirrorless APS-C.
      • Nikon and Canon are concentrating on fleshing out their mirrorless FF cameras and lenses, and very little on the APS-C line.
        • I would not buy a Nikon Z50, right now. The current lens selection is way too limited (for ME), there are VERY few Z-DX lenses on the lens roadmap, and there are no 3rd party lenses. IOW, the Z-DX lens situation is bad and the future does not look much better.
      • Olympus or Panasonic individually have more m4/3 cameras and lenses than both Nikon and Canon APS-C combined.
Technology
  • phone technology
    • Watching the Olympics, I saw the iPhone ad showing how good the LOW light capability is.
      • I don't know the technical details and IQ trade-offs, but that capability leaves the traditional cameras in the dust.
      • This is a real-world issue. I've been at parties where the iPhone is able to see and shoot, where I NEED a flash.
    • The phone camera is becoming more and more capable, and in the process making traditional cameras less needed, by the average person. The camera mfg NEED to adopt some of that technology.
    • While I don't use it, I think the ability to easily and quickly transfer images to the cell phone to share is important today.
 
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GBarrington

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Because if it doesn't work for the masses, it won't be around for very long. And then it won't work for anyone.

Yeah, it will continue to work. I don't particularly care if OMDS survives, or not. I've bought my gear based on what it could do for me compared to how much it cost. I'm happy and satisfied with my purchases. In the end, OMDS will have to judge the market and navigate a very perilous sea of industry wide shrinking sales. I hope they make it, but in the end, THAT is up to them.

I will cross the "OMDS is gone" bridge if I ever come to it.
 

John King

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I think one salient point that no one has yet mentioned here is that it is far easier to upscale production than it is to downsize to fit the new world order.

All that excess production capacity costs heaps, even just to mothball.

The new world order is around 1980 levels of production for 'real' cameras, or a little more. The halcyon days of 2000-2010 are gone forever, IMHO.

Smartphones are ubiquitous. More so than Instamatics, and far, far superior IQ - and getting better with every passing day.

However, photography using a smartphone is far more painful than even my E-PM2 ...
 

DeeJayK

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Some thoughts by format:

... the ability to easily and quickly transfer images to the cell phone to share is important today.

This feature is one that could persuade me to upgrade, and I suspect also that it would be widely compelling.

The OI.Share app does offer this ability, but I'd love it if the process were simpler. Ideally my camera and smartphone would have some sort of ad hoc wireless connection (be it WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, or some future such standard) which could be engaged automatically with the press of a button that would allow me to transfer a downsized (maybe 1600 x 1200 pixel) version of a SOOC jpg suitable for sharing on social media.

The existing implementation is just clunky enough that I only use it rarely.

- K
 

Tread-Lite

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In case, someone has not yet seen this article: https://www.sansmirror.com/newsviews-2/the-price-is-right.html

Every time I try to piece together an FF kit comparable to mine in quality, features, weather-resistance and coverage, I arrive at a ridiculous price tag that I just cannot justify as an enthusiast.

My kit:
EM-1 II
P 8-16
O 12-40
O 40-150 2.8 + MC-14
O 17 1.8
O 45 1.8
O 60 2.8

I never feel like my gear constrains me in any way, quite the opposite.

I guess, I could get close to it if I went Fuji but that’s about it. I would still end up with a somewhat bigger system, which is a con for me.
 

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BDR-529

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Where did this APS-C discussion come from? Did someone really suggest that OMDS would be better off by switching from one crop sensor to ... another crop sensor that is only marginally different from m4/3?

Actually the only place where margins are still so hight that even a niche manufacturer is able to run a profitable business is medium format.

Better yet the only competitor in relatively affordable and transportable mirrorless medium format category is Fuji. Pentax has one very old SLR design which is certainly not up to current hybrid requirements (and still costs around $5000) and I don't think there's any need to dive into Leica or Hasselblad pricing...

This is the only format where Olympus experience in making extremely compact and light bodies which still house 100% of latest features could really make a difference. If they launch a new mount, they must anyway build an entire lens portfolio and camera body lineup from scratch so medium format is just as easy (or hard) as APS-C.

Sure it would be a niche but likely not that much smaller in terms of revenue than what their m4/3 share will soon be because medium format unit price could however above $6000€ mark and also include a hefty margin.
 

Photon

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Where did this APS-C discussion come from? Did someone really suggest that OMDS would be better off by switching from one crop sensor to ... another crop sensor that is only marginally different from m4/3?

Actually the only place where margins are still so hight that even a niche manufacturer is able to run a profitable business is medium format.

Better yet the only competitor in relatively affordable and transportable mirrorless medium format category is Fuji. Pentax has one very old SLR design which is certainly not up to current hybrid requirements (and still costs around $5000) and I don't think there's any need to dive into Leica or Hasselblad pricing...

This is the only format where Olympus experience in making extremely compact and light bodies which still house 100% of latest features could really make a difference. If they launch a new mount, they must anyway build an entire lens portfolio and camera body lineup from scratch so medium format is just as easy (or hard) as APS-C.

Sure it would be a niche but likely not that much smaller in terms of revenue than what their m4/3 share will soon be because medium format unit price could however above $6000€ mark and also include a hefty margin.
This makes sense to me. And I think a OMD representative did say they anticipated announcing new "projects," which I interpreted as pursuing new business opportunities.

However, they will likely need to also think of competing investments outside of conventional photography such as drone photography, industrial applications, etc. I personally think drone photography could leverage many Olympus strengths such as vibration reduction and computational photography. It is also an application where size and weight matter.

It will be interesting to see what they have up their sleeve.
 

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