Is Olympus going in the wrong direction?

Leolab

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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.
I am not sure when you tried to pull together a FF kit last but the cost thing was absolutely true before many of the 3rd party mfg started making lenses for FF...nowadays...its not exactly as easy to say

Tamron recently came out with a super nice, high-quality weather-sealed series of 2.8 zooms for FF, all focused on keeping size down,
- The 17-28 2.8, the 28-75 2.8, the 70-180 2.8 cost less than the Panny 8-18, Olympus 12-40 and Olympus 40-150 by ~$500 combined. You could reach ~300 with APS-C crop mode at ~20MP with the 70-180
The Sony A7Rii is currently only $150 more than the EM1ii
The Samyang 35mm 2.8 and 75mm 1.8 combined are $375 less than the Oly 17 and Oly 45
So I could walk out the door with ~700$ additional in my pocket

Unfortunately so far the macros available for FF are big and expensive, someone will solve that soon though.

While the FF kit will certainly weigh more (the above kit is ~450g or 20% more than the comparable Oly kit above), and be slightly larger, you do gain f2.8 and 42MP...so tradeoffs to be made

Things are changing rapidly in FF land, as a matter of fact there are more e-mount lenses available than m43 now...something that was surprising to me.

Reason i raise this is that while we may be happy with our choices, the folks Olympus needs to convince are folks who do the calculations above, and when price and 'specs' favor one path, it becomes a harder sell. Which is why we are discussing the 'future' of Olympus
 
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Leolab

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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.
Interesting

When Olympus divested their Imaging business to OMDS, I assumed that most of the technology know-how (IBIS, image processing, miniaturization...) stayed with Olympus. I am sure OMDS can use what they currently have but to develop it further I am guessing that they may be ham-strung. These technologies are the bread-and-butter of Olympus' highly profitable Endoscopy division, which is many many times larger than their imaging business. Olympus has stated that they shared technology across their divisions (imaging, medical...) for leverage, i just don't see them divesting the technical know-how (people, centers-of-excellence...) to OMDS that is essential to their Medical core business...Imaging was a small bit-part of their business, it had historical significance but not necessarily business significance.

I suspect what typically happened in Olympus prior to OMDS is that a core technology was developed at a corporate innovation center driven by a big business need (like advancing share/capabilities in Endoscopy) and then leveraged out to additional applications like Cameras

For OMDS to maintain that competency to out-innovate in these areas would be VERY expensive when they are in cost-cutting mode.
 

JonSnih

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I suspect what typically happened in Olympus prior to OMDS is that a core technology was developed at a corporate innovation center driven by a big business need (like advancing share/capabilities in Endoscopy) and then leveraged out to additional applications like Cameras

For OMDS to maintain that competency to out-innovate in these areas would be VERY expensive when they are in cost-cutting mode.
One thing is what was presented to the public, second is what was real picture inside. They claimed that R&D went first to cameras and later on to endoscopy products. Imaging group was known as a notorious loss-maker. However the medical division with its counterfeit scandals is not encouraging either. If OMDS can live freely as a stand-alone legal entity... good for us, m4/3 dwellers.
 
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I think we all agree that m43 currently has an advantage over FF in the telephoto range.
As has been pointed out here the sony 200-600 lens is about the same size as the Oly 150-400, and with the new FF sensors (60MP+) in crop mode with a single button push you can get 900mm equivalent in Apsc, which is comparable reach to the Oly. I am sure the Oly optic is higher IQ but at more than 3x the price it really should be.
I think that even in pure telephoto reach terms, FF has some potential ways of evening the field a little including simply using APSC lenses (since some of these FF mounts have both) in crop mode for smaller size and more reach, if they wanted to they could even make a m43 crop from the sensor with a button push and sell m43 sized lenses…if demand is there they will likely go down that path…what if Sony makes such a lens, what will Olympus do, how will they respond…hopefully they are pondering these questions.
The possibility of using crop mode in FF cameras seems almost always overlooked but is extremely interesting. Imagine FF cameras with native FF, APS-C AND m4/3 crop factor lenses for full flexibility to adapt to all possible use cases. I guess that such development would strongly support OMDS moving towards purely being a lens manufacturer.
 
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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.
The possibility of using crop mode in FF cameras seems almost always overlooked but is extremely interesting. Imagine FF cameras with native FF, APS-C AND m4/3 crop factor lenses for full flexibility to adapt to all possible use cases. I guess that such development would strongly support OMDS moving towards purely being a lens manufacturer.
https://pro.sony/ue_US/products/digital-cinema-cameras/venice

In pro video, many cameras like the Sony Venice use multiple shooting formats off a single sensor. End-user pays to unlock each format (once).

Other than size of body and lens, the larger sensor in crop mode nests the format. So m43 fits within Super 35 fits within FF.
 

ac12

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The possibility of using crop mode in FF cameras seems almost always overlooked but is extremely interesting. Imagine FF cameras with native FF, APS-C AND m4/3 crop factor lenses for full flexibility to adapt to all possible use cases. I guess that such development would strongly support OMDS moving towards purely being a lens manufacturer.

The problem with that sensor flexibility is "the lowest common denominator." You will always be lugging a FF camera and lens around, no matter the lens you attach to it.
So just like a 40-150/2.8 zoom. You are lugging a 150mm lens around even if you only need 40mm.

That would be a FF camera with digital zoom; 1.5x at the APS-C setting, and 2x at the m4/3 setting.
 

doxa750

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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
Do you have EM1 III? I believe that you can access files on EM1 III if even the camera is fully shut off if you have BT and WiFi connection enabled. I have never done this, but have read from a guy who take photos for a living who does this between his camera and laptop. If I find that thread, I will confirm.

Edited: I found this it and here is his quote about EM1X and EM III connectivity "The LE Bluetooth allows me to access images and video on the camera even when in gear lockers (unsecured location), or packed away in the cargo van while en route to the next location. It takes ~10 seconds to do the handshake and power up, but then full AC WiFi access to both SD cards. I can pull images into Illustrator or After Effects on my MBP, or sort, tag, share video and images all without having to reach/dig out my camera every time. Camera bag in the overhead bin, three rows back on a long flight? No problem can sort, edit, post from the camera without leaving the seat.?"
 
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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…)
You're lucky to have a camera store, the only place around here that sells cameras is Best Buy and all they have is a couple of models of Nikon and Sony. Have checked with Olympus and Panasonic and was told there are not any dealers near here, guess the closest is KEH in Atlanta, about 120 miles from here. Oh well, mail order has worked pretty well so far and have purchased several lenses from members.
 

DeeJayK

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Do you have EM1 III? I believe that you can access files on EM1 III if even the camera is fully shut off if you have BT and WiFi connection enabled. I have never done this, but have read from a guy who take photos for a living who does this between his camera and laptop. If I find that thread, I will confirm.

Edited: I found this it and here is his quote about EM1X and EM III connectivity "The LE Bluetooth allows me to access images and video on the camera even when in gear lockers (unsecured location), or packed away in the cargo van while en route to the next location. It takes ~10 seconds to do the handshake and power up, but then full AC WiFi access to both SD cards. I can pull images into Illustrator or After Effects on my MBP, or sort, tag, share video and images all without having to reach/dig out my camera every time. Camera bag in the overhead bin, three rows back on a long flight? No problem can sort, edit, post from the camera without leaving the seat.?"
Interesting. It does seem like this offers much of the functionality I described. Particularly the ability to select photos to download to the smartphone and queue them to be downloaded when the camera is turned off.

To be honest I never considered the E-M1.3 that thoroughly because I don't like funny articulating screens and I'm to cheap to pay the asking price. But I may keep it in mind once the E-M1.4 (or E-M1.5) comes out and the 1.3 gets more affordable.

- K
 
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The problem with that sensor flexibility is "the lowest common denominator." You will always be lugging a FF camera and lens around, no matter the lens you attach to it.
So just like a 40-150/2.8 zoom. You are lugging a 150mm lens around even if you only need 40mm.

That would be a FF camera with digital zoom; 1.5x at the APS-C setting, and 2x at the m4/3 setting.
When going for a day of shooting, the Lumix 12-60 is usually my choice or the 14-150 if a longer lens is needed and they have worked out well so far on my EM1.1 or Pen F.
 

Armoured

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The possibility of using crop mode in FF cameras seems almost always overlooked but is extremely interesting. Imagine FF cameras with native FF, APS-C AND m4/3 crop factor lenses for full flexibility to adapt to all possible use cases. I guess that such development would strongly support OMDS moving towards purely being a lens manufacturer.
Obviously far more usable with a mirrorless kit (just a matter of viewfinder cropping and magnification, completely different than for dslr). And sure, a nice capability for those who already have some aps-c lenses they might want to use.

But I strongly doubt that many FF camera owners would spend much to acquire aps-c lenses, let alone m4/3 or other crop factors, specifically for use on a FF camera. Almost all of the time, they're going to get the FF lens and crop themselves afterwards (if needed).

If anything, the experience for those lens mounts that handle eg fx/dx suggests the opposite - that serious aps-c users are willing to buy and use FF lenses (at least long lenses) when they need something more than the standard kit and basic telezooms, despite the extra size, weight and cost.

Now there's also a criticism here, that arguably the canikonys etc have not been diligent in filling out their aps-c lens offerings. Okay, I partly agree with that, they probably have left some users underserved by not playing fully to the strengths of the smaller format - size and weight - and by preferring to push serious users to move up to FF. (This is where I think eg Olympus/m4/3 has some room right now - Nikon for one is clearly lagging in filling out its dx lens offering, as it wants everyone wavering between the two formats to go fx).

But it's a big leap from there to suggest that there are many FF shooters who would spend serious money to buy 'crippled' lenses that don't use the full sensor. I'm sure there would be some - I just doubt it'd be a big enough market to be worth it. And this would be even more so with eg an m4/3 image circle - no way many FF users are going to lay out much cash to be limited to one-quarter of their expensive sensor.

I've used Nikon fx and dx and still do - for my uses, there are only a few dx lenses where I might consider the size/weight advantage to be big enough to even consider this from time to time (and not at the long end). And I doubt I'd ever buy a dx lens specifically to use on a FF camera.

That said, I do find the jump down to dedicated m4/3 body and lens a significant enough size/weight drop. So perhaps if eg a Canikony came out with bodies/lens series that really targetted being as compact as possible (instead of mostly shrunken versions of their grotesque behemoths), that would stir up some interest - although quite possibly undercutting OM/m43's current size/weight advantage and business.
 
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Obviously far more usable with a mirrorless kit (just a matter of viewfinder cropping and magnification, completely different than for dslr). And sure, a nice capability for those who already have some aps-c lenses they might want to use.

But I strongly doubt that many FF camera owners would spend much to acquire aps-c lenses, let alone m4/3 or other crop factors, specifically for use on a FF camera. Almost all of the time, they're going to get the FF lens and crop themselves afterwards (if needed).

If anything, the experience for those lens mounts that handle eg fx/dx suggests the opposite - that serious aps-c users are willing to buy and use FF lenses (at least long lenses) when they need something more than the standard kit and basic telezooms, despite the extra size, weight and cost.

Now there's also a criticism here, that arguably the canikonys etc have not been diligent in filling out their aps-c lens offerings. Okay, I partly agree with that, they probably have left some users underserved by not playing fully to the strengths of the smaller format - size and weight - and by preferring to push serious users to move up to FF. (This is where I think eg Olympus/m4/3 has some room right now - Nikon for one is clearly lagging in filling out its dx lens offering, as it wants everyone wavering between the two formats to go fx).

But it's a big leap from there to suggest that there are many FF shooters who would spend serious money to buy 'crippled' lenses that don't use the full sensor. I'm sure there would be some - I just doubt it'd be a big enough market to be worth it. And this would be even more so with eg an m4/3 image circle - no way many FF users are going to lay out much cash to be limited to one-quarter of their expensive sensor.

I've used Nikon fx and dx and still do - for my uses, there are only a few dx lenses where I might consider the size/weight advantage to be big enough to even consider this from time to time (and not at the long end). And I doubt I'd ever buy a dx lens specifically to use on a FF camera.

That said, I do find the jump down to dedicated m4/3 body and lens a significant enough size/weight drop. So perhaps if eg a Canikony came out with bodies/lens series that really targetted being as compact as possible (instead of mostly shrunken versions of their grotesque behemoths), that would stir up some interest - although quite possibly undercutting OM/m43's current size/weight advantage and business.
I use a G9 so I'm used to the large m4/3 bodies. I mainly do wildlife so most of my weight and size is in the lens any way. A truly compact lens with full AF etc. for a FF system would be very interesting at least for me.
 

Armoured

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I use a G9 so I'm used to the large m4/3 bodies. I mainly do wildlife so most of my weight and size is in the lens any way. A truly compact lens with full AF etc. for a FF system would be very interesting at least for me.
I'd like to emphasize that in no way did I suggest Panasonic makes grotesque but shrunken camera bodies; nope, I didn't say that.

So are you saying that you WOULD buy a lens made for a smaller format - aps-c or m43 - specifically and solely to use on a full frame camera?

I just don't think there are that many who will. (I would say I'd be more interested in the fullframe Z system and all that if they were making more truly compact lenses - just that I probably wouldn't buy many/any lenses for DX/m43 to use on a fullframe)

That said, I admit there's always some trade-off - when someone brings out a 70-200mmf2.8 pancake lens, I'd be interested; I just don't know if any 'great leaps smaller' are feasible.
 

Hypilein

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When Panasonic announced they were going FF I kinda hoped that they would make a 2x crop mode available on the high MP bodies. That way you could leverage the tele lenses advantage of the crop sensor and go FF in the standard range where the size difference is not quite as big. It never happened though. Instead Panasonic decided to differentiate both lines by making their FF system the largest available, so I quickly lost interest.
 
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I'd like to emphasize that in no way did I suggest Panasonic makes grotesque but shrunken camera bodies; nope, I didn't say that.

So are you saying that you WOULD buy a lens made for a smaller format - aps-c or m43 - specifically and solely to use on a full frame camera?

I just don't think there are that many who will. (I would say I'd be more interested in the fullframe Z system and all that if they were making more truly compact lenses - just that I probably wouldn't buy many/any lenses for DX/m43 to use on a fullframe)

That said, I admit there's always some trade-off - when someone brings out a 70-200mmf2.8 pancake lens, I'd be interested; I just don't know if any 'great leaps smaller' are feasible.
Yes, that's what I'm saying :) The dream would be something like my current Panny 100-400 for when I need reach and portability, and a normal FF lens for when that is a more suitable tool. But I understand that not many FF owners would see similar value and it would of course require buying more lenses.
 

BDR-529

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When Panasonic announced they were going FF I kinda hoped that they would make a 2x crop mode available on the high MP bodies.
You can crop any area you like from the center of RAW image which is exactly that "crop mode" you described.

Or did you mean something else? Actual support for m4/3 lenses which is not mechanically possible without installing entire lens mount on a removable frame.

You can swap the lens mount on some digital cine cameras but this is definitely not cheap or compact solution.
 

RAH

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Do you have EM1 III? I believe that you can access files on EM1 III if even the camera is fully shut off if you have BT and WiFi connection enabled. I have never done this, but have read from a guy who take photos for a living who does this between his camera and laptop. If I find that thread, I will confirm.

Edited: I found this it and here is his quote about EM1X and EM III connectivity "The LE Bluetooth allows me to access images and video on the camera even when in gear lockers (unsecured location), or packed away in the cargo van while en route to the next location. It takes ~10 seconds to do the handshake and power up, but then full AC WiFi access to both SD cards. I can pull images into Illustrator or After Effects on my MBP, or sort, tag, share video and images all without having to reach/dig out my camera every time. Camera bag in the overhead bin, three rows back on a long flight? No problem can sort, edit, post from the camera without leaving the seat.?"
This is very interesting. I think that the E-M5.3 would be the same, right? I mean, I don't see any difference in how they operate with respect to their WiFi/BT connectivity.
 

doxa750

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This is very interesting. I think that the E-M5.3 would be the same, right? I mean, I don't see any difference in how they operate with respect to their WiFi/BT connectivity.
Rich, I have never done that yet and never have seen anyone said he/she has done it with EM5.3. I have been putting off to try this after reading that post for a while. I plan to try it this weekend with both EM1.3 and EM5.3. I will report my own experiences then.
 

DeeJayK

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This is very interesting. I think that the E-M5.3 would be the same, right? I mean, I don't see any difference in how they operate with respect to their WiFi/BT connectivity.
Just looked up the E-M5.3 manual and it does appear to have the same or similar functionality.

Interesting that it seems like more than a few of even us m43 nerds (no offense meant) were completely unaware of this feature. I'd be interested in seeing how it works in practice, the manual includes some caveats (e.g. it doesn't work if connected over a router, transfers can stop if the phone goes to sleep, etc.) that seem like they might make it annoying to use.

Still, if it works at all in the way described in the manual then Olympus seems to be missing a trick by not publicizing/ marketing the feature better.

This is pretty much the extent of what they say about WiFi features of the E-M5.3 on their website:
Screen Shot 2021-07-28 at 7.31.50 AM.png
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Just adding a clause like "— even while the camera is off" to this copy would hint at this potentially powerful feature.

Better would be putting this feature front and center with a video showing how simple it is to use.

- K
 

mawz

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Some thoughts from somebody who has both been in m43 from the beginning (got my G1 in Jan 2009) and recently sold off their FF gear to concentrate on m43.

1. Folks complaining about how big the Oly Pro lenses are clearly not familiar with comparable FF glass. The 40-150 Pro is basically the same size & weight as a typical FF 70-300 f4-5.6 (it's marginally more than the FE mount Tamron, marginally less than Nikon's 70-300E on an FTZ). The Pro lenses are big & heavy when compared to smaller/slower m43 lenses, but smaller and lighter than APS-C or FF options for the most part. If you compare f2.8 Pro zooms to f4 zooms on FF, they're already a lot smaller. This has significant knock-on effects. Price 72mm filters vs 82mm ones...

2. Oly has a wild lead in computational photography. All the other brands except Panasonic have barely paid lip service to this (Sony has actually gone backwards from the MkII bodies which had a LiveND equivalent in the Smooth Reflections app and other capabilities the later bodies lack). This needs marketing, and especially around what it does for people rather than 'hey, cool'

3. If you look at the changes in the Olympus's Ambassador program, especially the rebranding of some as Olympus Explorers (rather than Visionaries), it's clear that OMDS is pivoting towards the wilderness and adventure photographer, which is one area where Oly has been a major leader thanks to the weather sealing and small size/weight for the capability. That is frankly the right place for them to focus on, especially as they grow computational photography capabilities (especially around hand-held long exposure work). I'd love to see some optimizations in the IBIS system to compensate for lightweight tripods for example.

4. Yeah, you can put together some really tiny FF setups. Even more so with APS-C. But there's always compromises. The A7C for example has absolutely terrible ergonomics, an EVF which is lousy and very limited controls. The 28-60 is pretty good optically but the build is light and the handling is terrible (most notably the very notchy zoom ring, making focus pulls near impossible). With m43 our compromise is smaller sensors. All of these solutions work for some of the market, none for all of the market.

It's clear that Panasonic is focusing primarily on video, and the reality is that m43 as a format is not going anywhere due to its continuing strengths in video (where it is one of the two dominant formats). The question for us is stills.

Personally, OMDS is going right where I need them to go. I'm a hiker/landscape/nature photographer and the combo of lightweight kit, really excellent glass and computational solutions to format limitations really works well for me. I want to see Oly go further down that path (in-camera Brenizer method/multi-row pano, producing RAW or 16bit TIFF files from HDR & focus stacking, etc)

One real challenge is the successful pitch by Canon and later Sony that a real photographer needs full frame. The reality is that most photographers buying full frame don't need it at all, they just want it because it's been successfully marketed as what they need.
 
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