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Olympus should of went full frame with their DSLR line!

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Jonathan F/2, May 2, 2012.

  1. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    After going mirrorless and specifically Olympus, I'm incredibly impressed by the quality of the Olympus image output and processing. Olympus glass is also top notch. In retrospect, I think Olympus would of been better off going full-frame with their DSLR line and M43 for their mirrorless line. I think I'd be an Olympus DSLR shooter if that was the case.

    To me, that would of been the best of both worlds for Olympus. I'm sure they could still do it, but having to redo the whole DSLR line at this point would be somewhat futile! What's everyone else's take? :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  2. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    In retrospect, it seems as though the market has told us that the 4/3 sensor was not ideal for a DSLR. I view the mirrorless :43: system as a natural evolution which puts the smaller sensor to its ideal advantage. Without 4/3 it's unlikely there would have been :43:, which I feel represents a "sweet spot" between image quality and camera size that is ideal for nearly any non-professional shooter (and even works for some pros).

    I agree that Olympus has the background and engineering capability to create a wonder FF DSLR. However, they would have had a very tough time competing with the big boys' larger marketing budgets. Look at how tough it's been for Sony (which is much bigger than Oly) to try to gain traction in that segment.

    I would be very surprised if we see a revival of DSLR from Oly any time in the near future (especially with the weakened state they are now in due to the accounting scandal). Frankly, that suits me fine because I'd rather have the company's best and brightest focused on :43:.
  3. Ryan

    Ryan Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2011
    I always thought the same when m4/3 hit the shelves, but in the end I'm glad they dont go full frame it would cost so much to engineer new lenses to fill up that sensor, not to mention making the body bigger to house it.They have most of the lenses, and even though the e-5 is no slouch...they now have a much better off sensor to install in the e-7 and if they choose..the revival the of the e-##/e-###
  4. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Yep, their digital lenses were never designed for anything larger than the 4/3 sensor (which is the same as the m4/3 sensor of course). They were able to make their exceedingly fast lenses and keep them to reasonable sized in part due to being designed for the 4/3 sensor already.
  5. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I know what you mean. A small FF DSLR with a few superb lenses is still my dream camera, and it would be following the footsteps of the OM-3 and OM-4. The OM-D, nice as it is, just doesn't offer that combination of simplicity, excellent design and performance.

    The problem is that back when Olympus was getting into DSLRs, they couldn't realistically have made a mass-market line-up using a FF sensor. The costs were simply too high.

    Today thanks to Canon, Nikon and Sony, sensor costs have dropped precipitously. But they lack the capacity to release a 3rd lineup of lenses that would be needed for such a body.

    For a while, I was hoping Sony might make it happen, but Sony's FF DSLRs were behemoths and in any case they are now completely out of the DSLR market. In fact, they're the first large player to entirely abandon it.

  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    That's pretty much what I was going to say, Ryan. A Full Frame DSLR would require a completely different lens lineup. I can't imagine the resources that would tie up for Olympus, nor would I pool my own resources into buying a new collection of pro-grade lenses when I already have wonderful Four-Thirds lenses. Especially now during a paradigm shift in the camera industry, when DSLRs in general are giving way to Non-Reflex.

    If they did develop a larger sensored system though, I would hope it would be 4:3 aspect and not the wasteful "Full Frame" 35mm format based off the extra-wide 135 double-frame. A Medium Format or S2 (Leica) sized sensor would make more sense to me.
  7. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Are you prepared to spend $10k+ on a camera body? FF is at least an expanding niche. Medium format is not. In fact indications are that Leica and Pentax are now in the uncomfortable position of having the sensor they use discontinued by its manufacturer.

  8. My opinion... If the micro 4 3 system were a FF system, it would have failed to deliver enough to the table to set the system apart from the competition.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Rumor has it Nikon is aiming to bring a sub-$2000 D600 FX/FF camera. Olympus tech, high ISO and image processing would be mind blowing in a full-frame camera! Seriously, the E-M5 is so good, I really don't see the point of APS-C sensors. The next step from M43 to me full-frame.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    The M43 system by itself is good, no need to change that. I'm just saying in the DSLR market, with the tech in M43, it'd be nice to see that applied to a DSLR camera. For example, the 5 axis IBIS is really revolutionary.
  11. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    The Olympus OM system was very niche, they failed to bring a AF SLR system to market, so there were no AF lenses for the new system to rely on. It's the same problem that the Contax full frame system had, also the Leica DMR, although the DMR was a crop system.
  12. CUB

    CUB Guest

    Olympus is completely dependent on Panasonic for sensors and the two companies' m4/3 manufacturing is closely linked. Without Panasonic there would be no m4/3 and Olympus would never have survived on sales of 4/3 DSLRs and lenses.

    So unless Panasonic shows some interest in full frame DSLRs (unlikely) Olympus is stuck with m4/3.
  13. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    People forget that there was a Leica branded 4/3 camera and the first sensor were Kodak sourced.

    It certainly would've been possible. A 1.3x Canon APSH sized sensor, would've allowed the use of OM lenses and Leica R lenses with adapters.

    Kodak even made one for the Leica M8.
  14. CUB

    CUB Guest

    The Leica branded Digilux 3 4/3 camera was 100% Panasonic made. Only the badge said Leica and I feel pretty sure that the badge wasn't made in Germany.

    The Kodak sensors almost brought about the death of 4/3. The only reason 4/3 (and, by definition, Olympus) survived was Panasonic coming to the rescue with sensors that were much better than Kodak could supply.

    The Leica M8, M8.2 and M9 all had/have Kodak sensors. But Kodak sold its sensor division to a venture capital firm in 2011 and the relationship between Leica and the company that bought it has apparently soured. So it appears likely that all Leica M digital cameras from the M10 onwards will use sensors sourced from elsewhere.

    In 2012, no problem exists to which "Kodak" is the solution.
  15. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    The Panasonic L1 and Digilux 3 were actually a rebodied version of the Olympus E330.

    I'm not saying that they should buy Kodak sensors today, but back when 43 was invented, they could've gone the higher end route and Pana/Leica could've been partners.
  16. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Don't think it is fair to describe the OM system as niche, certainly not when it was launched in the early 1970's. It was a fully fledged system, with breakthrough design in terms of physical size of both the bodies and the lenses

    check out this site to see just how extensive the system was


    check out the list of lenses available for the system, and if you ever get the chance , pick up and handle some of the OM primes, they are wonderful examples of clever engineering

    Don't have figures but I would guess they were probably number 3 or 4 in terms of sales and brand recognition in the SLR market in the 70's and through into the 80's.

    However, they lost their way somewhere, maybe out marketed by Canon and then Nikon.

    by the time the 2000's came along Olympus had all but left the SLR market, and realising that digital was going to be the next thing, and not having a large legacy customer base, they sat down with a blank sheet of paper and came up with the 4/3 format, which they deemed to be a good compromise that would allow them to play once again to their core values of small bodies coupled with excellent optics ( I have seen it said that Zuiko lenses were admired highly by Leicas lens designers).

    The E series of cameras despite being launched with some superb lenses, was sidelined by the marketing juggernauts of first Canon and then Nikon. However Olympus did stick with it and hence we now have micro 4/3.

    FF will never happen with Olympus... they don't have the resources to launch a whole new system

    • Like Like x 3
  17. It would have been "neat" but it still would have failed. There's not enough there to bring enough to the table to sway marketshare away from Nikon and Canon; both of which manufacture their own FF sensors. Let's not forget the HUGE investment and risk involved.... the logistics of maintaining multiple systems too.

    Case in point, not a single implementation of IBIS has really been widely accepted by professionals nor swayed marketshare away from the big two. Sony/Konica-Minolta, Pentax, and Olympus all used IBIS. Just like many of the features that make micro 4 3 a success are the same features that don't carry enough weight to convince people/business to replace their rather large investment of lenses and equipment with another.

    It is the same type of reasoning why Leica had to abandon (to the dismay of many loyal users) the R-system. The features that made it a good system to some made it a bad system to those that flocked to Canon and Nikon. Can't compete? Create your own market.... Just like Leica is trying with the S system and Olympus/Panasonic is accomplishing with the micro 43.

    Personally... I think Panasonic and Olympus started something really great. Competing in a market that had so much un-tapped potential using pre-existing technologies they already had. Don't think anyone could have played the game any better.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Someone mentioned a larger than 35mm camera as a suggestion. Boy.... talk about a market with almost ZERO expansion and high costs. That's a niche market. Also, sensor manufacturing costs are NOT linear as the sensor gets larger.

    Also note... Pentax took a stab at both... smaller than micro 4 3 and larger than FF. Not doing too well.
  19. I guess that I see it from the point-of-view that Micro 4/3 probably wouldn't have existed if 4/3 had not gone before it.
    • Like Like x 2
  20. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Nikon was on the verge of going caput had they not gone full-frame. It was the fact they went with a larger sensor that saved them. Plus Sony doesn't have a solid support system for professionals. Olympus does have a professional service system. Pros want FF, low light and fast cameras. I think if Olympus were to offer a bigger sensor, they could of competed. Olympus cameras have the build quality, image output and quality glass to be a player.
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