Is Olympus going in the wrong direction?

Leolab

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Skimming through this thread it's obvious there are a wide variety of views on what directions OMDS should take. I may as well add my thoughts into the mix.

Coming as a dual system user, I just can't see any advantages of OMDS going into FF other than being a premium third party lens supplier. I just find that this segment is already the most competitive with respect to bleeding edge technology and being fought out by the three largest camera manufacturers with a fourth alliance trying to vie for the small remaining marketshare.
But OMDS will have retained many of the lens design expertise for large sensor ILCs so they can either design and manufacture for other mounts eg. L-mount if allowed to join that alliance or just farm out design work, which happens a lot in the industry anyways.

If (and this is a massive if) they are to try another format, I agree with one of the previous posters in suggesting that they should try medium format. It's a much smaller market that is vastly different to m43, with high margins and without the expectation to create a really big ecosystem as it's not expected to address every niche like the mainstream FF market.
Here I think OMDS can really shake things up by creating a very compact MF system which Fujifilm and Hasselblad have already entered into but I think OMDS can do it better with their history of compact systems. But the resources required remain very large and I'm just not sure JIP will inject the type of capital required for a committed crack at it.

So I think we're 'stuck' with m43 mount. Which IMHO really isn't a bad thing as the rest of the internet seem to want to insinuate. Of course ppl on this board already know this.
We have a well considered modern, high bandwidth mount that is appropriately large for an excellent IBIS system, supported by a large number of third party lens and accessory manufacturers in addition to OMDS and Panasonic.

Where I think m43 and OMDS can go is at least maximise the image circle that is guaranteed available on all m43 lenses, which is 21.6mm in diameter. Panasonic already does this with their mutiaspect ratio sensors for some GH products but that's only maximising things for video in the wider aspect ratios.
I'd like to see OMDS take this approach further doing multiapsect ratio all the way from 16:9 to 1:1.
That means using a sensor sized at least18.8 X 15.3mm instead of 17.3 X 13mm so alternatively an APS-C sensor @24X16mm would also work but with an active area of 18.8X15.3mm so there are some wasted real estate going this route.

For the benefits, you'd get:
APS-C vs oversized m43 vs normal m43:
3:2 = 384mm² vs 216mm² vs 199mm²
4:3 = 341mm² vs 225mm² vs 225mm²
16:9 = 324mm² vs 199mm² vs 168mm²
1:1 = 256mm² vs 234mm² vs 169mm²
Depending on the aspect ratio, it ranges from a small improvement (3:2) to almost equaling APS-C (1:1) from an initial gap that was less than a stop to begin with.
The additional engineering required would be for the IBIS unit to support the larger mass of a larger sensor.
Incidentally a 43MP Sony Semi APS-C stacked sensor is rumoured to be floating around, which also has a higher pixel density than 20MP m43 sensors, so that can be a candidate and it'd remove m43's dependency on a special sensor designed just for m43. They can basics utilise any APS-C sensor which covers a much larger volume market but of course we’re interested in the high pixel density stacked ones.
As an added bonus, third party designs eg. some from Sigma are used for both APS-C and m43 such as the 56mm f/1.4. These lenses with large enough image circles can also be used in both m43 and APS-C mode.

Beyond that, for the lens system I think OMDS can focus on three areas:
- Macro
- Telephotos in a moderate size
- Fast but not uber fast small primes eg. f/1.4 series that’s been rumoured but keep it on the small side and WR.

As for features, make weather resistance common for all their products.
Continue to lead in ibis and experiment more with computational features like live composite and pro capture.
Now that seems like a great differentiator...the multi-aspect ratio idea, and the concept of leveraging the advances made in APS-c sensor design...would love to see this personally, I really like the multi-aspect mode on my LX100
 
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By the way, the Olympus-leaning-into-lens-development route some might have speculated about is (probably) not happening. Though maybe you can still say that's what should happen...? I don't know. To be honest, I don't know the relative sales and gross profit for cameras vs. lenses and relative R&D costs either so I couldn't really say.


According to CTO Setsuya Kataoka (interview from early 2021), referring to the new OMDS company relative to the old Olympus imaging division:
The number of employees has been reduced by about half compared to the previous division. Our global workforce, including the Vietnam plant where we manufacture and assemble our products, is approximately 2,000. Of these, about 280 are in Japan.
...
In the imaging business, lenses are the key, so we have had a lot of optical designers come to work for us. However, we have reduced the number of people in the development department as a whole. Of course, this is partly in response to the shrinking camera market, but we also believe that the future is an era of open innovation, of manufacturing through external collaboration. Of course, we will continue to develop our own core technologies and product points.
https://photorumors.com/2021/02/07/interview-with-the-cto-of-om-digital-solutions/
 

JonSnih

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As far as all focal lengths being 'covered' by Panny or Oly, I still don't have a 21mm equivalent AF small prime, nor do I have access to an 18mm equivalent AF small prime, i don't think we have a fantastic choice of small lens at 35mmEquiv (the Oly 1.8 being sub-par in my experience, the 1.2PRO being huge), the 28mm equivalent is missing a nice 1.4-2 prime (15mm Panny is closer but noticeably tighter, particularly wrt horizontal field of view), no small longer-normal (58-75 equivalent)...
Right. I hope that these new F1.4 primes will fill-in the gaps in Oly line-up. A 14mm, a 20mm and an ultra-wide prime. Maybe a 40mm or thereabouts. Regarding the 28-75mm FF EQ zoom, it is very short + I think that Oly prioritized the 12-something zooms, which appeal to masses more (wider the better).
 

DeeJayK

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...
Where I think m43 and OMDS can go is at least maximise the image circle that is guaranteed available on all m43 lenses, which is 21.6mm in diameter. Panasonic already does this with their mutiaspect ratio sensors for some GH products but that's only maximising things for video in the wider aspect ratios.
I'd like to see OMDS take this approach further doing multiapsect ratio all the way from 16:9 to 1:1.
That means using a sensor sized at least18.8 X 15.3mm instead of 17.3 X 13mm so alternatively an APS-C sensor @24X16mm would also work but with an active area of 18.8X15.3mm so there are some wasted real estate going this route.

For the benefits, you'd get:
APS-C vs oversized m43 vs normal m43:
3:2 = 384mm² vs 216mm² vs 199mm²
4:3 = 341mm² vs 225mm² vs 225mm²
16:9 = 324mm² vs 199mm² vs 168mm²
1:1 = 256mm² vs 234mm² vs 169mm²
Depending on the aspect ratio, it ranges from a small improvement (3:2) to almost equaling APS-C (1:1) from an initial gap that was less than a stop to begin with.
The additional engineering required would be for the IBIS unit to support the larger mass of a larger sensor.
Incidentally a 43MP Sony Semi APS-C stacked sensor is rumoured to be floating around, which also has a higher pixel density than 20MP m43 sensors, so that can be a candidate and it'd remove m43's dependency on a special sensor designed just for m43. They can basics utilise any APS-C sensor which covers a much larger volume market but of course we’re interested in the high pixel density stacked ones.
As an added bonus, third party designs eg. some from Sigma are used for both APS-C and m43 such as the 56mm f/1.4. These lenses with large enough image circles can also be used in both m43 and APS-C mode.
...
I like this idea of maximizing the use of the image circle of the existing mount by using a square 18mm x 18mm sensor.

In addition to offering higher resolution in alternate crops, it would also allow you to take images in portrait orientation without tilting the camera. This would eliminate the need for an add-on grip and thus help to minimize body size.

- K
 
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I like this idea of maximizing the use of the image circle of the existing mount by using a square 18mm x 18mm sensor.

In addition to offering higher resolution in alternate crops, it would also allow you to take images in portrait orientation without tilting the camera. This would eliminate the need for an add-on grip and thus help to minimize body size.

- K
With video a dominant medium a square sensor would not sell. A custom square sensor would be cost prohibitive. Not the "right direction" for OMDS.
 

DeeJayK

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With video a dominant medium a square sensor would not sell. A custom square sensor would be cost prohibitive. Not the "right direction" for OMDS.
What does video have to do with the shape of the sensor? One could still shoot in whichever crop they chose.

I agree a custom sensor would be cost prohibitive and that this idea is highly unlikely to be realized, but it's interesting to consider nonetheless.

- K
 
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What does video have to do with the shape of the sensor? One could still shoot in whichever crop they chose.

I agree a custom sensor would be cost prohibitive and that this idea is highly unlikely to be realized, but it's interesting to consider nonetheless.

- K
Video customers using 43 tp 16:9 in landscape would then be paying for much more silicon than needed. They’d balk. It’s been discussed many times in stills but the cost and video overpay makes it a no-go.

This coming from a guy who is a HUGE square format advocate.
 

DeeJayK

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Video customers using 43 tp 16:9 in landscape would then be paying for much more silicon than needed. They’d balk. It’s been discussed many times in stills but the cost and video overpay makes it a no-go.

This coming from a guy who is a HUGE square format advocate.
Is the cost of silicon really a primary factor in the overall cost of a camera at this point? Asking, not asserting anything since I don't know about the economics of camera design/ manufacturing/ sales.

- K
 
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Is the cost of silicon really a primary factor in the overall cost of a camera at this point? Asking, not asserting anything since I don't know about the economics of camera design/ manufacturing/ sales.

- K
Customizing a chip for a specific use is enormously costly. Then it all scales to volume. Someone on another thread here pointed out the economics. Prohibitive.

I read in a Canon financial report years ago that only their sales volume allowed them to design and manufacture their own sensors. And even then they stated that for their P&S models, they had to resort to Sony supply for margins.
 

swifty

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To get to a square 1:1 ratio at the maximum 21.6mm m43 diagonal you'd need just a 15.3x15.3mm sensor. But of course that's not enough for the rectangular formats. The widest rectangular format you'd need is 16:9 which requires 18.8X10.6mm to maximise the 21.6mm diagonal. Which is how I arrived at 18.8 X 15.3mm.
You'd only need a 18.8X18.8mm sensor if you wanted to shoot all the way up to 9:16, ie. 16:9 in the portrait orientation without turning the camera.
18.8mmX 18mm gets you to 2:3 and 18.8mm X 17.3mm gets you to 3:4 (in portrait orientations).
But the trouble with all those is that it is more than the standard APS-C sensor which is 24mm X 16mm so you'd have to get a custom sensor so it becomes expensive.
However 18.8mm X 15.3mm is well within standard APS-C so you can use off the shelf APS-C sensors.
 
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To get to a square 1:1 ratio at the maximum 21.6mm m43 diagonal you'd need just a 15.3x15.3mm sensor. But of course that's not enough for the rectangular formats. The widest rectangular format you'd need is 16:9 which requires 18.8X10.6mm to maximise the 21.6mm diagonal. Which is how I arrived at 18.8 X 15.3mm.
You'd only need a 18.8X18.8mm sensor if you wanted to shoot all the way up to 9:16, ie. 16:9 in the portrait orientation without turning the camera.
18.8mmX 18mm gets you to 2:3 and 18.8mm X 17.3mm gets you to 3:4 (in portrait orientations).
But the trouble with all those is that it is more than the standard APS-C sensor which is 24mm X 16mm so you'd have to get a custom sensor so it becomes expensive.
However 18.8mm X 15.3mm is well within standard APS-C so you can use off the shelf APS-C sensors.
That was kind of the LX100 strategy.

Look at the economics. Bean counters will ask what % of stills are portrait? 15% tops. What % video? 0% for larger formats. How many battery grips are sold? Etc.

Current cameras use all internal space for electronics, so a square sensor makes for a taller m43 body, likely related to IBIS, so add on a costly redesign and remanufacture.

Also, the m43 consortium may have to agree as this is no longer a 43 format.

Adds more problems than it solves. This is a solution for medium format in all reality…those super high resolution portraits and landscapes. m43 will lean more towards videocentric solutions.
 

swifty

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That was kind of the LX100 strategy.

Look at the economics. Bean counters will ask what % of stills are portrait? 15% tops. What % video? 0% for larger formats. How many battery grips are sold? Etc.

Current cameras use all internal space for electronics, so a square sensor makes for a taller m43 body, likely related to IBIS, so add on a costly redesign and remanufacture.

Also, the m43 consortium may have to agree as this is no longer a 43 format.

Adds more problems than it solves. This is a solution for medium format in all reality…those super high resolution portraits and landscapes. m43 will lean more towards videocentric solutions.
To my knowledge no cameras have done multi aspect ratio all the way to 1:1. The LX100’s 1:1 is still cropped-in and not using the full image circle diameter.

Just to clarify, I’m not asking for a square sensor at all. I’m just asking them to use up the full image circle in any ratio (excluding vertically/in portrait) This doesn’t breach any m43 consortium rules any more than a Panasonic GH camera with their multi aspect ratio sensor. It’s the exact same idea taken further.

I do acknowledge that there will be some engineering work accommodating the larger sensor but I doubt this is a big issue. Will the camera size grow, perhaps marginally but doubtful to any noticeable degree in bodies such as the E-M1 series. It’d probably not be appropriate in the smallest bodies but then again we’re talking about a premium feature here, having this oversized sensor.

As for economics, I’ve been following the sensor procurement environment for some time as I find it very interesting although I’m not in the industry.
But if an appropriate sensor showed up in Sony Semi’s catalogue, the APS-C one may be no more expensive than a similar 43 sized catalogue sensor, and very likely cheaper than a custom 43 sensor. A lot depends on volume (within similar sized formats).
Rumour has it IMX671 is making its way to the Sony Semj catalogue. It’s a stacked BSI with 43MP in full APS-C which if used for m43 as an oversized sensor translates to ~24.2MP in 3:2, ~25.2MP in 4:3, ~6.3k video in 16:9 and 26.2MP in 1:1.
If this sensor can be procured for a little more than IMX472, the extra advantage of the oversized sensor is very worthwhile to the paying customer imo and can be sold at a premium.
 

PakkyT

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Just to clarify, I’m not asking for a square sensor at all. I’m just asking them to use up the full image circle in any ratio (excluding vertically/in portrait)
Then that is EXACTLY what you are asking for since you need a square sensor to capture the full image circle.
 

PakkyT

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Why not a circular sensor to make the most of the image circle?

that's a joke yes :whistling:
Because a square is much easier to cut out of a wafer using straight cuts. Cookie cutting a bunch of circles would be impractical. You could certainly make the sensor area circulator but it would still be easier to cut (and mount in the camera) square pieces of silicone.
 

swifty

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Then that is EXACTLY what you are asking for since you need a square sensor to capture the full image circle.
What exactly do you mean by capture the full image circle because I don't think we're talking about the same thing.
Do you mean a 21.6 X 21.6mm sensor so that the whole image circle regardless of orientation is within the sensor area.
Or do you mean a 18.8 X 18.8mm sensor so everything up to 16:9 in portrait or landscape is within the sensor area.
I'm asking for neither.

I'm asking for 18.8mm X 15.3mm sensor to capture a square 1:1 through to 16:9, all with a diagonal of 21.6mm. 18.8 X 15.3mm is not a square sensor.
 

PakkyT

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I'm asking for 18.8mm X 15.3mm sensor to capture a square
OK but then you are not talking about the "full image circle". You are talking about a square crop of the image projected by the lens where some of the projected image is not captured.

When I speak of the "full image circle" then I am talking about what is self evident in the words I used and interpretation is not needed. :drinks:
 

swifty

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OK but then you are not talking about the "full image circle". You are talking about a square crop of the image projected by the lens where some of the projected image is not captured.

When I speak of the "full image circle" then I am talking about what is self evident in the words I used and interpretation is not needed. :drinks:
When I speak about full image circle, I'm only concerned about the 21.6mm diameter of that image circle that would correspond to the maximum diagonal of any rectangle (or square) that would fit inside that image circle. Any rectangles you try to cover with a diagonal beyond 21.6mm will have corners that are not covered by the image circle.
Anyways, just a small misunderstanding. No biggie.
 

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