Olympus announces intent to sell imaging business to JIP

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pake

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When you are buying an ILC body, you are buing a computer and the value doesn't come from HW anymore. It comes from SW updates which will constantly improve cameras performance and features in coming years. The biggest showstopper for Olympus is currently the fact that you will likely never get any of that.
I'd guesstimate 90% of the cameras on the market are already complete once they're put out on the market. The software updates are only bonuses (unless they fix an actual mistake/error in the code).

Constantly improve performance? I think I've seen that only once in m4/3 history and that was with the E-M1's AF-C. Better to get things right before releasing the camera than fixing it in the post. :p

Obviously it would be great if camera makers would give us new updates every 6 months and keep on adding features to old cameras. It would also be nice if Trump wasn't the president of USA, there were no hunger and wars in the world and we had a cure for cancer... :cloud-9-039:
 
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BDR-529

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I'd guesstimate 90% of the cameras on the market are already complete once they're put out on the market. The software updates are only bonuses (unless they fix an actual mistake/error in the code).

Constantly improve performance? I think I've seen that only once in m4/3 history and that was with the E-M1's AF-C. Better to get things right before releasing the camera than fixing it in the post. :p
It appears that for Olympus customers the "m4/3" history covers only Olympus cameras and lenses.

Meanwhile elsewhere. One morning other m4/3 customers woke up and discovered that Panasonic just gave image centric G9 customers full set of GH5 professional video features (among other goodies) https://www.panasonic.com/global/consumer/lumix/g9_firmware.html. And as per today M1.3 is at least 600€ more expensive but has no video specs worth mentioning at that price point.

I assume that Olympus survived this long thanks to loyal customer base who never looked around and were happy in the 2010 era ILC world where camera was what you bought. Thats it. If you wanted some new features, you had to buy another camera.

Olympus is a good example of the state where ILC industry is in 2020 after smartphones killed off real camera sales. ILC manufacturers can only afford to launch new models every 3 or 4 years and even then a "new" model is just a lukewarm facelift of previous version. Only really huge players can afford to launch something really new once or twice in a decade. I still belive that even the shift from SLR FF to mirrorless FF turns out to be so expensive investment for even the largest players that they are never able to recover from it in a world of declining sales and prices.

Since all real development is now in SW, the only way to keep these HW revisions relevant in fierce competition is by constantly adding new features to them and improving old ones year after year.

Remember company called Nokia who once ruled the whole smartphone industry? They were the king of HW design and production efficiency but ignored SW development and OTA upgrades entirely. Enter Apple who's smartphones were for years inferior in every HW category (even cameras) you can measure but offered excellent usability, desing and all those cool features.

ILC industry is now facing it's own Nokia moment and unfortunately it's pretty obvious that Olympus is not the Apple of this story.
 
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RS86

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I assume that Olympus survived this long thanks to loyal customer base who never looked around and were happy in the 2010 era ILC world where camera was what you bought. Thats it. If you wanted some new features, you had to buy another camera.

Since all real development is now in SW, the only way to keep these HW revisions relevant in fierce competition is by constantly adding new features to them and improving old ones year after year.
I really think you need to think again how to word your sentences. Here you basically say all of us in this forum as stupid loyal customers who cannot compare and look other brands. I can assure you I have done that and I am sure others have too.

Usually you need to buy another camera when you want new features. And if you didn't know Olympus is known for many firmware updates even to old models. Even now they made the new streaming software to support E-M1.
 

comment23

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I don’t have any idea what the proportions are but I would guess that for plenty of people video isn’t a huge consideration. Sure Olympus could do better video but I don’t agree with the idea that better addressing that would suddenly provide salvation.

Likewise, better menus would be nice but I don’t see any significant (my definition :p ) usability difference from Olympus to any other camera brand. They’re basically all a series of lists and sub-lists as deep as the features of the model and the degree of control and customisation. Now if one manufacturer was to totally overhaul the concept of menus (and maybe Olympus is closer than others here with the SCP) then that kind of thing, done well, could reinvigorate a brand.
 

whumber

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Reading some of the posts from these Olympus doom mongers I get the strong impression that they are not clued up in their knowledge of business matters. Did anyone in the car industry lose sleep when the previous owners of Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche etc decided to sell up?
If Olympus had been sold to Canon or Sony like when Porsche was sold to Volkswagen then I think people would be far more comfortable. Instead, imagine if Porsche had been sold to Bane Capitol instead.
 
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RS86

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If Olympus had been sold to Canon or Sony like when Porsche was sold to Volkswagen then I think people would be far more comfortable. Insteady, imagine if Porsche had been sold to Bane Capitol instead.
But would FF companies who have APS-C lines start supporting M43? Ditch APS-C for it? M43 sensor & FF together makes more sense, but I doubt they would.

So if someone like Canon or Sony would buy it, I'd see it probable that they would just take the assets and technology they need and not support M43 much more.

I think both alternatives are about as good or bad (with the uncertainties), this JIP one maybe even better one.

Best solution might be someone like Samsung to buy it and start camera business again. Then we might see FF in real threat if we'd see phone technology to be implemented in M43 even more than we see computational stuff now in Olympus.
 
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Well personally I find no problem with the menus and can find help from internet easily.

I have read that some other brands don't have best menus either, and Olympus has the SCP which is essential.

Rather than changing something that all their cameras thus far have (and users are accustomed to), I think they definitely should not put resources on changing the menus, but things that are important.

Someone suggested that the SCP could be altered to be customized and I find that a great idea.

Or other firmware updates like you said. And of course new cameras.
The SCP is loaded with JPEG-centric items that waste valuable touchscreen real estate. It should be user configurable, especially on the Pro cameras like my E-M1X. We get a video with Joe Edelman raving about how easy it is to have the My Menus, yet the one shortcut on the SCP to the Menu system doesn't actually take you to the My Menus! It takes you to Button Functions! So the consolidated shortcut can't be accessed by the main user interface shortcut. Nice.

And how often do we change the in-camera setting from Adobe to sRGB colour space...while shooting?
The entire right 2 columns of the SCP should be user configurable like the My Menu system. Instead, all they did with the Em1X and EM1.3 is kludge on another preset in addition to the Custom Mode Dial settings, with no swift way to access. There are now 3 shortcuts to customization in the in-camera OS:

1. Mode Dial C settings
2. SCP
3. My Menu

But none of them talk to each other. You cannot even see in each setting if it resides in a Custom Mode, but you get a nice star if it is in a My Menu. Huh? An icon for one customization, but not another. The Olympus Menu system is complex and inconsistent.

The SCP should be the gateway to all shortcuts. That's the point of a touchscreen (or it D-pad mouse proxy).
 

BDR-529

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I really think you need to think again how to word your sentences. Here you basically say all of us in this forum as stupid loyal customers who cannot compare and look other brands. I can assure you I have done that and I am sure others have too.
There is no need to get insulted if I'm not trying to insult anybody.

Just look at the numbers. ILCs are becoming more and more expensive to develop because it's all about SW and processing power instead of traditional optical design.
Luckily this SW and HW development is not dependent on sensor size so for example Panasonic did get a full benefit from any R&D they did for MFT when they introduced mirrorless FF cameras.

At the same time total ILC markets are shrinking at increasing pace and a small MFT-only player like Olympus is never able to recoup R&D investments if they can get volume only from existing Olympus owners. Olympus must win customers from other brands and FF/crop sensor ecosystems and this is de facto impossible with their current product line at current price levels.

When I look at the two latest bodies which Olympus launched and the price point that was chosen for them, it's clear that Olympus board who accepted this product roadmap was indeed counting heavily on "stupid loyal customers". Well, maybe they did also grossly miscalculate how crowded the FF marget got this soon and how fierce competition this created.

Situation would have been pretty different if for example Nikon Z6 would sell at 2300€ and not 1370€ as it does today.
 

AmritR

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There is no need to get insulted if I'm not trying to insult anybody.

Just look at the numbers. ILCs are becoming more and more expensive to develop because it's all about SW and processing power instead of traditional optical design.
Luckily this SW and HW development is not dependent on sensor size so for example Panasonic did get a full benefit from any R&D they did for MFT when they introduced mirrorless FF cameras.

At the same time total ILC markets are shrinking at increasing pace and a small MFT-only player like Olympus is never able to recoup R&D investments if they can get volume only from existing Olympus owners. Olympus must win customers from other brands and FF/crop sensor ecosystems and this is de facto impossible with their current product line at current price levels.

When I look at the two latest bodies which Olympus launched and the price point that was chosen for them, it's clear that Olympus board who accepted this product roadmap was indeed counting heavily on "stupid loyal customers". Well, maybe they did also grossly miscalculate how crowded the FF marget got this soon and how fierce competition this created.

Situation would have been pretty different if for example Nikon Z6 would sell at 2300€ and not 1370€ as it does today.
I think a mistake on the part of the M43 consortium was that they limited the size of the lensmount, with long term consequences. If the made it 10mm wider they would have been able to fit an aps-c sensor. Or even larger, and then 35mm would be possible as well. Check how smallish the Nikon Z50 is, despite the large z-mount.
And then they now could have had up-to-date apsc-sensors off the shelf, and let the cam when mounted with a m43 sensor crop accordingly.
But, but, the other brands are in trouble just the same.
In another comment I remarked that Nikon should reinvent it self, but actually the entire industry should.
 

RS86

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There is no need to get insulted if I'm not trying to insult anybody.

Just look at the numbers. ILCs are becoming more and more expensive to develop because it's all about SW and processing power instead of traditional optical design.
Luckily this SW and HW development is not dependent on sensor size so for example Panasonic did get a full benefit from any R&D they did for MFT when they introduced mirrorless FF cameras.

At the same time total ILC markets are shrinking at increasing pace and a small MFT-only player like Olympus is never able to recoup R&D investments if they can get volume only from existing Olympus owners. Olympus must win customers from other brands and FF/crop sensor ecosystems and this is de facto impossible with their current product line at current price levels.

When I look at the two latest bodies which Olympus launched and the price point that was chosen for them, it's clear that Olympus board who accepted this product roadmap was indeed counting heavily on "stupid loyal customers". Well, maybe they did also grossly miscalculate how crowded the FF marget got this soon and how fierce competition this created.

Situation would have been pretty different if for example Nikon Z6 would sell at 2300€ and not 1370€ as it does today.
It really doesn't matter at all if you tried to insult or not. It doesn't ever in life if you accidentally say something insulting to a person.

You did (and I got two likes for it so others see it like that too), and you did it again in this post.

Good luck as a new poster on this forum with this kind of behaviour. You have some good points in some posts, but this ruins it for me and in my eyes makes you look more like a FF troll insulting Olympus users.

Also maybe now you know Olympus has made many firmware upgrades and is known for it, so your earlier argument is moot.

(And it doesn't even insult me, I just say what I see and don't like.)
 
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PakkyT

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I think a mistake on the part of the M43 consortium was that they limited the size of the lensmount, with long term consequences. If the made it 10mm wider they would have been able to fit an aps-c sensor. Or even larger, and then 35mm would be possible as well.
When the original Olympus E-1 came out, I don't think a FF digital existed yet, so compared to APC they decided they could go a little smaller and make great smaller lenses for the system that would be close enough in performance.

And that is kind of a silly argument in general. By the same argument are you saying all the FF manufacturer made a mistake by not making their lens mount big enough to eventually be able to mount a medium format sensor? After all, no company designs a whole system around a sensor size thinking "let's half ass this system, so we better make the mount so we can eventually release a good system". No they commit to a size that for them at the time they think will be successful.
 

BDR-529

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And that is kind of a silly argument in general. By the same argument are you saying all the FF manufacturer made a mistake by not making their lens mount big enough to eventually be able to mount a medium format sensor? After all, no company designs a whole system around a sensor size thinking "let's half ass this system, so we better make the mount so we can eventually release a good system".
Nikon was one of the last manufacturers to specify their mirrorless FF Z-mount and that became way much larger than others. They simply ignored any option to build compact FF bodies and decided to optimize Z-mount for speed instead. Nikon claims that the combination of 16mm flange focal distance and 55mm throat diameter is required for F/0.95 lenses which are sharp at the edges too.

Sony E-mount is way much smaller at 18/46mm so who knows, maybe that will come back to haunt them in the future but at least they can build very small FF bodies.

As you mentioned, the key selling point of MFT was to be a very compact, very light and also very inexpensive ILC option. It was never intended to compete directly against FF cameras. MFT mount is by no means too small because F/0.95 lenses for MFT exist and that's pretty much as fast as they come. One could still claim that it's amazingly close to Sony E-mount at 19,25/38mm so the size benefit is not that huge but back in 2008 when specification was released full frame mirrorless wasn't even a thing yet.
 
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AmritR

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When the original Olympus E-1 came out, I don't think a FF digital existed yet, so compared to APC they decided they could go a little smaller and make great smaller lenses for the system that would be close enough in performance.

And that is kind of a silly argument in general. By the same argument are you saying all the FF manufacturer made a mistake by not making their lens mount big enough to eventually be able to mount a medium format sensor? After all, no company designs a whole system around a sensor size thinking "let's half ass this system, so we better make the mount so we can eventually release a good system". No they commit to a size that for them at the time they think will be successful.
Good point. And it’s too easy to judge afterwards. And it won’t change a thing. This is what it is.

I work in telecom/IT, and I’m on regularly confronted with consequences of (recent) short sighted decisions, which were obvious from the start. Often a decision by a bean counter achieving his/her target, (to be fair, the bean counter has no choice, or risk the job). But for the rest of the organization the costs increase, but those costs don’t directly show in the financials, or can’t be related to. Luckily the competitor has the same issues, or worse.
And often decisions which are unnecessary limiting. I recall a discussion about a database item, which someone wanted to limit to 10 characters. I asked the programmer to increase that to 100. Then there was a discussion about the possibility to inject code into the database. So we settled on 50 characters.

Size of the m43 mount feels to me a bit like a result of corporate dynamics like these.
 
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RS86

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Good point. And it’s too easy to judge afterwards. And it won’t change a thing. This is what it is.

Size of the m43 mount feels to me a bit like a result of corporate dynamics like these.
I think it is related to this. Yoshihisa Maitani worked for Olympus for nearly 50 years.

"Maitani’s consistent goal was to make cameras as small as comfortably possible, while keeping the controls full-sized."

And I would think he and Olympus calculated that this sensor size will give enough quality for enthusiasts, or even professionals, especially as sensors develop.

And sensors really developed that far, but no one can predict if the development halts after many years, that is hindsight in full glory.

Personally for me the sensor size (and total system) was why I chose M43 in 2016 as my first ILC system.

https://www.photographyblog.com/news/yoshihisa_maitani_dies_at_76
 
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BDR-529

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When the original Olympus E-1 came out, I don't think a FF digital existed yet, so compared to APC they decided they could go a little smaller and make great smaller lenses for the system that would be close enough in performance.
Just a small piece of history which should explain the background of MFT.

Olympus E-1 (4,9MPx) was introduced in 2003, also one year after Canon's 1Ds (11Mpx) which was the first commercially available digital full frame camera.

Since the price tag for the latter was 2020 equivalent of $12 000 without lenses, it's pretty obvious that four thirds was not designed to compete against flagship ff cameras to start with. 4/3 did - and still does - offer different kind of benefits which are unfortunately mostly forgotten in current mirrorless FF hype.

The crop frame used since 2001 in Canon 1D was some kind of intermediate size between FF and APS-C sensors because crop factor was only 1.3
 
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demiro

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I think it is related to this. Yoshihisa Maitani worked for Olympus for nearly 50 years.

"Maitani’s consistent goal was to make cameras as small as comfortably possible, while keeping the controls full-sized."

And I would think he and Olympus calculated that this sensor size will give enough quality for enthusiasts, or even professionals, especially as sensors develop.

And sensors really developed that far, but no one can predict if the development halts after many years, that is hindsight in full glory.

Personally for me the sensor size (and total system) was why I chose M43 in 2016 as my first ILC system.

https://www.photographyblog.com/news/yoshihisa_maitani_dies_at_76
Good reference point. To me, Olympus reached that goal in 2012, iirc, with the E-M5 and 16MP sensor. Unfortunately I don't think they've moved the needle nearly enough since then, while FF has gotten much more accessible from a price standpoint.
 
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When I owned Oly gear I always dreaded FW updates, given the too high chance of bricking.


Good reference point. To me, Olympus reached that goal in 2012, iirc, with the E-M5 and 16MP sensor. Unfortunately I don't think they've moved the needle nearly enough since then, while FF has gotten much more accessible from a price standpoint.
And much smaller in size.

The playing field was different when the competition was the big, bad, noisy, clunky, DSLR.

APS-C was going to be the commodity sensor. FF yields led to prohibitive prices, or so it was said.

Then along fame the smartphone making every camera at US$1000 and less a money-loser. All those “commodity” point and shoots, gone. All the “crop” formats suddenly vulnerable on margin. Only larger sensors making back their costs, if that.
 
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Canon created the APS-H 1.3 crop format at the behest of news agencies to allow for a larger digital format closer to 135. This got the most of their existing stable of lenses. Some news agencies had vaults with $250,000 worth of Canon glass and they wanted better images. It became the dominant photojournalist sensor.
 

pake

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It appears that for Olympus customers the "m4/3" history covers only Olympus cameras and lenses.

Meanwhile elsewhere. One morning other m4/3 customers woke up and discovered that Panasonic just gave image centric G9 customers full set of GH5 professional video features (among other goodies) https://www.panasonic.com/global/consumer/lumix/g9_firmware.html. And as per today M1.3 is at least 600€ more expensive but has no video specs worth mentioning at that price point.

I assume that Olympus survived this long thanks to loyal customer base who never looked around and were happy in the 2010 era ILC world where camera was what you bought. Thats it. If you wanted some new features, you had to buy another camera.

Olympus is a good example of the state where ILC industry is in 2020 after smartphones killed off real camera sales. ILC manufacturers can only afford to launch new models every 3 or 4 years and even then a "new" model is just a lukewarm facelift of previous version. Only really huge players can afford to launch something really new once or twice in a decade. I still belive that even the shift from SLR FF to mirrorless FF turns out to be so expensive investment for even the largest players that they are never able to recover from it in a world of declining sales and prices.

Since all real development is now in SW, the only way to keep these HW revisions relevant in fierce competition is by constantly adding new features to them and improving old ones year after year.

Remember company called Nokia who once ruled the whole smartphone industry? They were the king of HW design and production efficiency but ignored SW development and OTA upgrades entirely. Enter Apple who's smartphones were for years inferior in every HW category (even cameras) you can measure but offered excellent usability, desing and all those cool features.

ILC industry is now facing it's own Nokia moment and unfortunately it's pretty obvious that Olympus is not the Apple of this story.
I have had 3 different Panasonic m4/3 cameras (still got one) and our household has half a dozen m4/3 Lumix lenses so if you're generalizing all Olympus customers based on MY text, you are failing - big time.
 

BDR-529

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I have had 3 different Panasonic m4/3 cameras (still got one) and our household has half a dozen m4/3 Lumix lenses so if you're generalizing all Olympus customers based on MY text, you are failing - big time.
Nope. I should have never answered to your message specifically because I was commenting on the whole Olympus discussion.

This panic among Olympus customers makes no sense since everyone is acting as if MFT is a proprietary Olympus mount and not supported by anybody else like Nikon Z-mount etc.

Only in this case the Olympus announcement to "sell" their Camera business to JIP should really have created the panic about "Oh heck, I must sell all my Olympus gear while I still get something. They will become worthless once JIP just shuts down new development and merely sells old stock while it lasts"

Nobody in this forum has stated the obvious which is "Meh, Panasonic and Sigma keep developing new MFT bodies and lenses so I'll just keep using my Olympus MFT set which works fine, and buy new Sigma and Panasonic lenses when they come to market. After X years I might need to switch to a new body but that will be Panny then and the bulk of my money went into Olympus lenses which I can keep using. No harm done here."

And yes, there's now increased risk that also Panny will stop developing new bodies or lenses for MFT but I already mentioned the key reason why I don't think they'll discontinue MTF unless they exit the whole camera business.

Camera industry has now moved to phase where smartphone manufacturers were some 15 years ago: R&D investments are going parabolic but it's no longer about optical, mechanical or HW design. It's all about SW development and exponentially increasing need for processing power.

Panasonic is forced to pour money into R&D if they plan to stay competitive in mirrorless FF market and all this development can be simply re-used in MFT bodies. SW or processors don't care where those megapixels came from, they'll do their work just the same in FF and MFT bodies. Panny is even using DFD in their FF cameras so whatever development they are forced to do there, will instantly apply to MFT bodies as well. And these improvements don't even require support from new sensors.

Olympus had to recoup all R&D investments from MFT sales only which was not sustainable but for Panny these are already sunk cost when they enter MFT cameras. Panny is happy as long as they can get any money our of MTF bodies too. There is already so massive portfolio of lenses available for MTF mount that remaining players don't have to invest heavily - if at all - in lens development to keep MFT relevant.
 
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