Robin Wong's Ten Things OM Digital Solutions must do...

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I thought this had been posted earlier, but I couldn't find a mention of it. So, here it goes. Robin Wong says that OM Digital Solutions must do these ten things. I thought he had excellent points.


I quickly watched Robin’s video and took a few notes. Really great suggestions. I concur.

The 10 things:

1) New image sensor - not necessarily higher resolution, but improve dynamic range and high ISO noise. Wasn’t I just saying this?

2) Fulfill the lens roadmap - before the split, Olympus tempted us with the announcement of an 8-25 f4 and a 100 macro. Must release those. Robin also suggests they release weather sealed versions of their f1.8 primes. I agree.

3) Upgrade EVF and touchscreen display - higher res EVF and add multi-touch to touchscreen.

4) Rework menu and UI - an old complaint of mine. Don’t make us dig so deep to find obscure, but essential features. Robin suggests they hire someone from Apple to help rework the menu and UI. I've always wished for this.

5) Improve video features - absolutely. Olympus has lagged far behind other manufacturers in this. IMO, the future is in hybrid cameras.

6) AI and computational photography - Olympus Subject AF is good, but they could and must do more.

7) 1” sensor for TG-series - yeah. The TGs are good, but they could be great with a larger sensor.

8) Enhance marketing strategy - Olympus overemphasizes wildlife photography, because Robin says this is a tiny segment of the universe of photography. They should be aiming at wedding, portrait, landscape, and the other sectors which make up the vast majority of photographers.

9) Work closer with Panasonic - solve compatibility issues such as dual or sync AF and weather-sealing. The camera market is shrinking and no company can do it alone. Must identify allies and work with them.

10) Be less conservative - Olympus has been too conservative. They must be more daring and innovative. He cited the Air-A01 that Olympus did not release widely and while wasn’t hugely successful, they didn’t push it. Now the Alice Camera is pushing this innovative approach combining a smartphone with a 4/3rd sensor and micro-four-thirds lens mount. Olympus could have been there. OMDS, take off the blinders.

Anyway, I found his video to be very interesting and thought he made excellent points. I hope OM Digital Solutions is listening. If they implement even just a few of these suggestions, they could really break out of the envelope.
 
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doady

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I saw this and I disagreed with #8. I'm not a wildlife or sports photographer, I don't care about telephoto, but it is undoubtedly the main advantage of their system, so if anything it's a market they have ignored too much. Like, 150-400mm F4.5 Pro only came out this month and it probably should have come out years ago. And they recently came out with 12-45mm F4.0 Pro, next will be 8-25mm F4.0 Pro, so when will we get a telephoto lens that completes the F4.0 Pro series?
 

retiredfromlife

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I like point 9, something I have often cursed. The lack of full compatability.
After all it is not a thriving market. I think they would sell more not less if they co-operate more with each other.

Edit,
While I think wildlife photography may not be the most popular type of photography manufacturers have to focus on strengths. Imagine if car manufactures never tried to sell a life style of some sort, the adds would not be worth watching. Just watching the forums including this one there is still want for better specs and wildlife is s good way to show off specs.

Most people buy better than they need, be it cloths car watch etc. We all like the best.

About the only thing that I am almost sure about cameras is that forums & youtube presenters do not represent the mainstream buying public. But then again I seem to get it wrong most of the time, so I will leave to those with their investments on the line to make the decisions and just hope it plays in the end to suit my needs.
 
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A few thoughts: OMDS pretty much already stated they are sticking with the lens roadmap, the new macro lens in particular has been pretty much teased already in the first issue of their magazine, it is coming and so is the 8-25 f4. I'd also wish for reedesigned f1.8 primes with weather sealing, that would be interesting indeed and the system is lacking sealed, yet compact and lightweight prime lenses. However pretty much the only interesting camera which would benefit is either the E-M5 Mark III or its predecessor, so without more compact weather sealed bodies, I am not sure how attractive such lenses would be.

Regarding their marketing, I think it is very obvious why they are concentrating on wildlife and macro, it seems the MFT system can really shine and play its strengths there. Looking at the overwhelming demand for high quality telephoto lenses, even those which easily cost way over 6000 Euros, it seems pretty obvious OMDS is right to concentrate their marketing efforts in these segments.

I am also unsure about the hype regarding this Alice camera. Yes it is there, but has it been or will it be (I honestly don't know if it's for sale already) a financial success? I mean this isn't the first concept of such an add-on camera for phones, even though it seems to be the most thought out one. Since you still have to carry the Alice Camera itself, the lenses of your choice, attach these things to your smartphone, launch the app...casual shooters will keep their pure smartphones for ease of use and quick snaps, photographers will keep their cameras. Maybe my view on this is too narrow and limited, but at least I can't see any benefit from this product in my use cases.

Last but not least of course sensor and EVF needs to improve. The former at least for a psychological effect: The 20 MP sensor soon will be five years old, launching another (higher end) camera with the same sensor simply seems kind of... odd, as if OMDS would be standing still, while the other companies are moving. The latter of course is a no brainer, we essentially still use the EVF technology from either the original E-M1 or the E-M10 Mark II, with the competition constantly improving generation by generation. At least stepping up to current standards, OLED, high refresh rate and 3.7 million dots would be good starting point. Again I am satisfied with both the current sensor and more or less the current EVF, but just thinking about buying the next OMD camera with the same, almost recycled, components we had since years, isn't really motivating at all.
 
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Lcrunyon

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I saw this and I disagreed with #8. I'm not a wildlife or sports photographer, I don't care about telephoto, but it is undoubtedly the main advantage of their system, so if anything it's a market they have ignored too much. Like, 150-400mm F4.5 Pro only came out this month and it probably should have come out years ago. And they recently came out with 12-45mm F4.0 Pro, next will be 8-25mm F4.0 Pro, so when will we get a telephoto lens that completes the F4.0 Pro series?
Wildlife photography is my favorite genre, but that bias aside I think you are spot-on. Olympus needs to compete where it has competitive advantage, and focusing their innovation on nature and wildlife does that best, in my opinion. I’m very glad that OMDS realizes this, and the 150-400 proved the viability of their plan. In fact, sports and wildlife had been on Olympus’ radar for at least a few years before the transition, as stated in many past interviews. Someone said earlier in this thread that Olympus had not always been so focused on wildlife, which I think is why they had been putting more effort into it during that time. Part of the reason for the focus has also been because it had been an area needing catch-up.

That all said, Olympus didn’t ever really neglect the other genres (I’m not counting video, which is good for many genres), and OMDS will probably do the same (only now with better video). I think much of it just comes organically from the innovation used for sports and wildlife, while paying some attention to a few others just make sense. While I said wildlife photography is my favorite genre, I’ve dabbled in all of them. I have a pretty complete kit (I’m sorry to say), and I have never had to leave the Olympus brand for any genre specific items. Maybe there are a few niche products that Olympus doesn’t have, like a tilt-shift lens for example, but I haven’t ever felt lacking for any particular genre. I think that regardless of the genre, we can point to a specific Olympus feature or product that is aimed towards improving photography in the genre and making it a compelling option.

Perhaps one of the most important drivers for this is that M4/3 is still a good choice for travelers who want more than what a smartphone can deliver. I have a personal definition for travel photography: it’s all the genres mixed together, only with less time. Portraiture, landscape, food, street, architecture, etc.… I’ve done all of it when I travel. Even if it isn’t stated, OMDS does not appear to be abandoning travel photography (I say this because the E-M10 will still continue), and that means they won’t abandon any other genre either, even if they do focus much of their innovation to nature and wildlife.
 

John King

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The sheer horror #4! Apple!

The people who manage to hide absolutely essential items so well that they are all but impossible to find when needed.

Apple make Olympus look straightforward and simple.

And I understand that Apple users will neither understand nor agree with me.
 

Lcrunyon

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The sheer horror #4! Apple!

The people who manage to hide absolutely essential items so well that they are all but impossible to find when needed.

Apple make Olympus look straightforward and simple.

And I understand that Apple users will neither understand nor agree with me.
There’s a lot Olympus needs to do fix on their menus, but I don’t think any of it requires outsourcing. Heck, give me a couple hours with the people responsible and I will have fixed 90% of those issues, for free.
 

Hypilein

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Alice Camera has absolutely no appeal to me, and I can't really see anyone who it would appeal to. The current smart phone photographers do it for convenience. But having to attach a camera to your phone and pair it (does this really ever work smoothly?) is the polar opposite to convenient.
People who already own a camera will hate the terrible ergonomics. This thing is hyped because it's new. Also I think they are claiming to harness the processing potential of the phone, but the reality is, a lot of that processing is only possible with the native camera and lenses built into the phone, because they are profiled to the absolute maximum (think DFD but probably 10x more complex).

Putting a better processor into a real camera and then creating those kinds of lens profiles for mu43 would be a cool thing though.
 

retiredfromlife

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The sheer horror #4! Apple!

The people who manage to hide absolutely essential items so well that they are all but impossible to find when needed.

Apple make Olympus look straightforward and simple.

And I understand that Apple users will neither understand nor agree with me.
I can just image updating my iphone and bricking the camera every time till the bugs get fixed. Sounds good to me. :doh:
 

John King

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The sheer horror #4! Apple!

The people who manage to hide absolutely essential items so well that they are all but impossible to find when needed.

Apple make Olympus look straightforward and simple.

And I understand that Apple users will neither understand nor agree with me.

Loren, I have had to ferret out some of Apple's network settings from time to time when their network discovery fails (surprisingly common :hide: :hiding: ). It's almost impossible to prevent a Windows computer from connecting to a local access point. On a couple of occasions, it has taken more than a hour to get Apple computers to discover such an access point.

There’s a lot Olympus needs to do fix on their menus, but I don’t think any of it requires outsourcing. Heck, give me a couple hours with the people responsible and I will have fixed 90% of those issues, for free.
Sitting with the camera in one hand and the manual in the other works very well IME.

I think the 'problem' is really an echo chamber effect on the net. I have never had any problem with the menu system that could not be resolved by simply reading the manual.

I do understand that reading and writing are dying skills. Teachers who cannot read, write and spell see nothing wrong with children who cannot read, write and spell ...
 

Lcrunyon

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Loren, I have had to ferret out some of Apple's network settings from time to time when their network discovery fails (surprisingly common :hide: :hiding: ). It's almost impossible to prevent a Windows computer from connecting to a local access point. On a couple of occasions, it has taken more than a hour to get Apple computers to discover such an access point.


Sitting with the camera in one hand and the manual in the other works very well IME.

I think the 'problem' is really an echo chamber effect on the net. I have never had any problem with the menu system that could not be resolved by simply reading the manual.

I do understand that reading and writing are dying skills. Teachers who cannot read, write and spell see nothing wrong with children who cannot read, write and spell ...
I’ll avoid the PC vs Apple talk... However, I will say that I don’t like a lot of the menu design choices in smart devices in recent years. I find them very messy and lacking any organizational logic that fits with the way my brain works. Fortunately, they can be customized.

I always read manuals, and I’ve explored in excruciating depth every setting on my OM-Ds, reading forums and watching tutorials until I understand every aspect of every feature. Then I practice and experiment until I understand even more. This does reveal problems — ones where Olympus could have explained much better in the manuals, menu design choices that don‘t make any sense, menu redundancies that cause confusion, etc. The video menu section is particularly bad, though it isn’t the only area that needs work.

Nevertheless, most of these issues are ones casual users will never even know are there. At the most general level, Olympus menus do what they’re supposed to do. There is a logic behind the structure and organization, and there are multiple ways to have shortcuts to menu items you want to have more accessible, such as my menu, presets, button customization, and the super control panel. That’s why I think it wouldn’t take much to fix the problems that I do see.
 
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mauve

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[...]
Sitting with the camera in one hand and the manual in the other works very well IME.
I think the 'problem' is really an echo chamber effect on the net. I have never had any problem with the menu system that could not be resolved by simply reading the manual.
[...]
I completely agree, and I would add that you need the manual only for deep configuration options that should be sorted out before actually shooting. Then, on the fly, the super control panel is all you need to tweak this basic configuration, and the manual isn't needed anymore for those transient shifts from the basic settings.
This approach works extremely well for me, is very logical, and that's what I miss most from other manufacturers' cameras. Even Panasonic's feel clumsy in that regard.
M.
 

BDR-529

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I thought this had been posted earlier, but I couldn't find a mention of it. So, here it goes. Robin Wong says that OM Digital Solutions must do these ten things. I thought he had excellent points.

Robin Wong forgot to tell only one quite essential thing which is "Then What?"

Even if OMDS manages to pull off all of his ten commandments, they are left with a lot more competitive niche product than before but a niche product nevertheless. Even during the last good year for MFT and Olympus (2019) they had under 4% share of ILC camera markets (0,33 million shipped bodies vs total ILC shipments of 8,66mio according to Nikkei)

Niche manufacturer can stay profitable by serving their customer base well enought to create entry barriers for competitors which enables them to charge premium prices. This kind of manufacturer can't stay afloat by trying to be a little bit of everything for everyone unless they manage to do it at cut-throat price level which is the exact opposite of what we have seen from Olympus.

IMHO Olympus did make the correct if also obvious choise of targeting customers who need long focal length which is the inherent competitive advantage of small sensor mount and who also need to carry their kit for hours on rough terrain where small size and weight of long MFT lenses is a clear benefit.

There is only so much OMDS could extend sales by better video specs because Panny has already every potential MFT buyer who take video seriously in their pockets. Unless they target the pro market with a 8k model.
 

PakkyT

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7) 1” sensor for TG-series - yeah. The TGs are good, but they could be great with a larger sensor.

And bring back an EVF!


8) Enhance marketing strategy - Olympus overemphasizes wildlife photography, because Robin says this is a tiny segment of the universe of photography. They should be aiming at wedding, portrait, landscape, and the other sectors which make up the vast majority of photographers.

This is a tough one because then you are competing with systems that arguably can perform better for those things or certainly where m43 has no advantage. By putting an emphasis on wildlife and macro they are in a sense making many of the arguments against smaller sensors a moot point (for example the increased DoF works in m43's favor for these types of photography). But once you start talking about wedding, portrait, etc. while we all know here that the average person looking at real life prints would never be able to tell the difference between portraits on m43 vs. full frame, it is hard to market your m43 system towards those photographer when there are measurable differences between the systems where one can be shown to be better even if that advantage in many cases is negligible.


9) Work closer with Panasonic - solve compatibility issues such as dual or sync AF and weather-sealing. The camera market is shrinking and no company can do it alone. Must identify allies and work with them.

This is even assuming Panasonic sticks with m43 or even the camera business at all. This is a huge company that has made a version literally of just about any past or present electronics device ever thought of. They have no issues dumping those lines when either those items are no longer big sellers or when Panasonic just doesn't want to make them anymore. Rice cookers, VCRs, video cameras, microphones, cassette decks, 8 track tape decks, microwaves, CD players, TVs, optical sensors, business telephones, video game consoles, calculators, automation electronics, and the list is almost endless.


10) Be less conservative - Olympus has been too conservative. They must be more daring and innovative. He cited the Air-A01 that Olympus did not release widely and while wasn’t hugely successful, they didn’t push it.

I have always felt the failure of the Air was primarily due to Olympus's not making it more open sourced and instead keeping the SDK too proprietary and locked down. It stifled creativity of what you could actually do with it so a lot of people who probably had the software skills to make stuff for the Air didn't bother when you were limited mostly to only being able to do in SW what mechanical buttons did on a normal camera. Or basically not being able to do a whole lot more than you could do with a normal Oly camera and the OiShare app.
 

pdk42

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I personally think that if OMDS open sourced the firmware for their cameras, and perhaps provided a validation service for builds (to avoid bricking), they’d have a runaway success on their hands. Photography is full of nerds and the imaginative creativity of the community would push the cameras forward at a rate orders of magnitude faster than Olympus ever did.
 

mauve

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I have always felt the failure of the Air was primarily due to Olympus's not making it more open sourced and instead keeping the SDK too proprietary and locked down. It stifled creativity of what you could actually do with it so a lot of people who probably had the software skills to make stuff for the Air didn't bother when you were limited mostly to only being able to do in SW what mechanical buttons did on a normal camera. Or basically not being able to do a whole lot more than you could do with a normal Oly camera and the OiShare app.
? What ? There's a whole Olympus pamphlet on the Air detailing precisely all the comm protocol ! You can barely be more open than that, considering it's also the same protocol used to communicate with all the other models, give or take a small tweak.
Honestly, you won't find anything more open, except maybe some open source prototype built by an individual out of his garden shed.
M.
 

mauve

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I personally think that if OMDS open sourced the firmware for their cameras, and perhaps provided a validation service for builds (to avoid bricking), they’d have a runaway success on their hands. Photography is full of nerds and the imaginative creativity of the community would push the cameras forward at a rate orders of magnitude faster than Olympus ever did.
It won't happen, for licensing reasons. I'm on limb here, but I'm almost certain Olympus bought an ARM system dev kit from another company specialised in embedded systems, and built their UI on top. Even if they theoretically could open their part, you wouldn't be able to build a f/w without having a license for said system, and these things run in the 10 x thousands easily. Also, Olympus would have to clean their code from all the 3rd party libraries they use, and there's certainly an awful lot of them.
I'm afraid it's a dead end.
M.
 

scb

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Overall, I thought Robin makes some very good points. There's no question at all that things will change as the market for traditional cameras shrink. Companies are going to have to be more creative as it will become (or already is) difficult to stay in the black selling cameras and lenses. I could see the marriage with cell phones may become a option for the masses. They would be able to use their cell phone cameras for day to day stuff, and then add a lens or two for situations where they want or need to. Makes sense to me.

Olympus Imaging will definitely have to improve marketing in North America (as well as elsewhere). Seems to me that Olympus has been too willing to be secondary to Canon and Nikon, and even Sony as they have increased their presence. I didn't work in corporate America, so I can't say much, but it doesn't appear that Olympus did enough research to develop a good market strategy, and even years ago, it was hard to find their products in a lot of retail stores that sold cameras. And, they still don't have much of a presence in retail outlets that aren't dedicated photography stores. You can walk into a Sam's Club, or Costco or other places and find Canon and Nikon products but you won't find any Olympus products.
 
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I thought mostly good points. The sensor one is a big one, as is the viewfinder improvement. I'd happily have paid another 500 for my EM1.3 for those.
Beyond that, I think they have it right by focusing on a niche. Spending a lot to try to become competitive in the low-light/portrait/wedding market is probably a lost cause as the FF and MF cameras already have a significant advantage there.
I chanced across the video on FStoppers. The comments there were kind of silly. Several basically saying that their R5 or Z7 worked better than the EM1.2...Well duh, I'd hope that something 2 or 2.5x more expensive is better.
 

tkbslc

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The 10 things:

1) New image sensor - not necessarily higher resolution, but improve dynamic range and high ISO noise. Wasn’t I just saying this?

2) Fulfill the lens roadmap - before the split, Olympus tempted us with the announcement of an 8-25 f4 and a 100 macro. Must release those. Robin also suggests they release weather sealed versions of their f1.8 primes. I agree.

3) Upgrade EVF and touchscreen display - higher res EVF and add multi-touch to touchscreen.

4) Rework menu and UI - an old complaint of mine. Don’t make us dig so deep to find obscure, but essential features. Robin suggests they hire someone from Apple to help rework the menu and UI. I've always wished for this.

5) Improve video features - absolutely. Olympus has lagged far behind other manufacturers in this. IMO, the future is in hybrid cameras.

6) AI and computational photography - Olympus Subject AF is good, but they could and must do more.

7) 1” sensor for TG-series - yeah. The TGs are good, but they could be great with a larger sensor.

8) Enhance marketing strategy - Olympus overemphasizes wildlife photography, because Robin says this is a tiny segment of the universe of photography. They should be aiming at wedding, portrait, landscape, and the other sectors which make up the vast majority of photographers.

9) Work closer with Panasonic - solve compatibility issues such as dual or sync AF and weather-sealing. The camera market is shrinking and no company can do it alone. Must identify allies and work with them.

10) Be less conservative - Olympus has been too conservative. They must be more daring and innovative. He cited the Air-A01 that Olympus did not release widely and while wasn’t hugely successful, they didn’t push it. Now the Alice Camera is pushing this innovative approach combining a smartphone with a 4/3rd sensor and micro-four-thirds lens mount. Olympus could have been there. OMDS, take off the blinders.

1) A new sensor is always nice, but I don't think you can erase the sensor size disadvantages.

2-4) Nice to haves, but none of those are turning away customers. Especially the lenses. M4/3 has the most complete mirrorless lineup.

5) Unless they beat Panasonic to 8K, this is going to be a tough sell. Panasonic and Sony already have the video reputation. It would take a lot of expensive marketing to change opinions.

6) If they can do handheld HDR and noise-reducing shot stacking like a phone can, they can basically erase the sensor size disadvantage. That's better than a new sensor.

7) That is a great idea on paper. In the real world, I don't know how you make an internal and rugged zoom for a 1" without it being a chunky brick. Maybe it could just be a prime lens or 2x zoom?

8) This costs money and in the current market the gains to be had may not be worth the expense. I'm sure there are some clever and cheap options they could use more, like social media and youtube.

9)This takes both parties working together and it is risky. You have to hope that compatibility gains you more sales than it loses you. None of the other brands offer this.

10)Just because someone is trying something again, doesn't mean it was a good idea the first time. Remember Sony and Olympus both couldn't make this work. DxO had a phone add-on camera, too, that failed. I've never met someone that wants to carry around clunky phone accessories.
 
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