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

PakkyT

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? 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.

Yes, I did not say you couldn't communicate with it. As you mentioned, my complaint was that the things you could do with it were limited to the same things you could do with any of the Olympus cameras with the app. You can do such exciting things /s such as activate the shutter or change some basic settings. Wow! And you were still locked down to the same restrictions as any other Oly cameras (for example, 4 second max exposure time).

Here was a product that looked like it would be perfect for innovative use ideas especially for remote photography or using multiple cameras. But you were limited to only Wifi and Bluetooth control and only could connect to one Air at a time. There is a USB port on the camera which I believe was for charging only; why no direct connection for control? This device seemed like it would be idea to build into something that could run autonomously and controlled by an onboard micro controller but to do that even with the microcontroller sitting right there with it where it would be easy to direct connect, you still had to use radio connections. This camera seemed tailor made to be built into the nose cone of a submarine or rocket. And if you wanted to use two or more of them (front and back of the submarine) you couldn't control both from one Wifi device.

These are some of the reasons why I think the Air ended up being of limited interest to only people who were happy to put it on a pole and use an Android app with it, but not for the people who probably initially looked at it and thought this will be great for multiple camera project or my autonomous device only to find out Oly just put a standard camera in a tube shape and while the form factor was perfect, ability to control it without a smart phone or use more than one was limited.
 
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1) A new sensor is always nice, but I don't think you can erase the sensor size disadvantages.
No, of course not. Even if you could "catch up" with some new technology, it will get used with larger sensors and they'll move ahead again. So the only solution getting rid of those disadvantages is to move to fullframe or APS-C. Otherwise the best one could do is just to accept the shortcomings and focus on the strengths which come with the smaller sensor. There was some talk about improvements in sensor technology like backlit sensors or some organic(?) material which could improve the output. So even if a new sensor most likely won't catch up, it will help to improve the IQ.
 

BDR-529

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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.

And here's one thing where Robin is outright wrong.

Each of the segments are alone just as "tiny segment of the universe of photography" as wildlife photography but if one camera manufacturer tries to please all of them at the same time, they would end up with something that doesn't please anyone. Also a camera designed by a committee.

Small sensors have an advantage over FF when it comes to long focal lengths but on the other hand they are not competitive at wide end so it makes zero sense to put a lot of effort on winning over, say, landscape photographers who are likely to choose FF or even medium format anyway..

Olympus did do the right thing when they studied what kind of competitive advantage MFT has against avalanche or mirrorless FF cameras and quite correctly identified a group of users who need to carry around a camera kit with very long focal length lenses. Yes, this group alone is marginal but there are also sports photographers and other niche groups with similar needs. OMDS has to concentrate on giving 100% to customers who see FF as only 70% answer to their needs.
 
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mauve

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These are some of the reasons why I think the Air ended up being of limited interest to only people who were happy to put it on a pole and use an Android app with it, but not for the people who probably initially looked at it and thought this will be great for multiple camera project or my autonomous device only to find out Oly just put a standard camera in a tube shape and while the form factor was perfect, ability to control it without a smart phone or use more than one was limited.
I agree in a way, but being real, see my answer here : https://www.mu-43.com/threads/robin...digital-solutions-must-do.110705/post-1457393
M.
 
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Yes, I did not say you couldn't communicate with it. As you mentioned, my complaint was that the things you could do with it were limited to the same things you could do with any of the Olympus cameras with the app. You can do such exciting things /s such as activate the shutter or change some basic settings. Wow! And you were still locked down to the same restrictions as any other Oly cameras (for example, 4 second max exposure time).

Here was a product that looked like it would be perfect for innovative use ideas especially for remote photography or using multiple cameras. But you were limited to only Wifi and Bluetooth control and only could connect to one Air at a time. There is a USB port on the camera which I believe was for charging only; why no direct connection for control? This device seemed like it would be idea to build into something that could run autonomously and controlled by an onboard micro controller but to do that even with the microcontroller sitting right there with it where it would be easy to direct connect, you still had to use radio connections. This camera seemed tailor made to be built into the nose cone of a submarine or rocket. And if you wanted to use two or more of them (front and back of the submarine) you couldn't control both from one Wifi device.

These are some of the reasons why I think the Air ended up being of limited interest to only people who were happy to put it on a pole and use an Android app with it, but not for the people who probably initially looked at it and thought this will be great for multiple camera project or my autonomous device only to find out Oly just put a standard camera in a tube shape and while the form factor was perfect, ability to control it without a smart phone or use more than one was limited.

I thought the Air was interesting and considered getting one to dabble with, especially when still available reconditioned. But I thought the barrel shape and smartphone mount wasn't practical and ergonomic. I feel that the Alice configuration for smartphone integration is more usable. If Olympus had gone that way, I might have been more interested. But, at least they tried to do something different.
 

Mack

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I wish Olympus would address their "blotchiness" issues in fine detail like the fibers in a bird's feathers that go from individual fibers into a "blotch" and then exit out the other side as individual fibers again. Seems to be an issue with the brown colors and sometimes the grays, imho. Could be if they'd address the 20MP sensor and make it bigger then that might be a fix, or their internal image processing needs a bit of tuning.

As to Alice, No! I can do it that in finer scale now with my smartphone being used as the camera, and my smartwatch running the camera at some distance and as a viewfinder. The combo is even smaller than an Alice setup and both are always with me too. Tried it out once with hummingbirds here: https://www.mu-43.com/threads/photographing-hummingbirds-with-cellphone.110378/post-1445548

Also I know from my own experience that using the m43 is better for me to deal with carrying less weight and shooting wildlife than a FF setup. Having larger gear seems to attract unsavory eyes around here as well. Just not safe anymore on the streets here given our rising vagrant situation.
 
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PakkyT

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But I thought the barrel shape and smartphone mount wasn't practical and ergonomic. I feel that the Alice configuration for smartphone integration is more usable.

Ya but in both those cases (air or Alice with a phone mount) you are talking about something that is once again configured like a traditional camera which makes me wonder what is the point? Just buy a traditional camera.

I haven't looked into the Alice thing much but it appears to be nothing more than a m43 camera that transmits its photos to the smartphone. Don't all current Olympus models do that as well? The ergonomics look terrible. Smartphones are already terrible ergonomically for taking photos since you can not put your hands or fingers on the touch screen so you have to only hold it by the edges. Seems like Alice is now taking a traditional camera body shape and crippling it by not allowing you to hold your camera like a camera due to the big touch screen area on the back created by your camera. So what is it I am missing about Alice?

I did get a kick out of their first FAQ (bold emphasis mine): "Alice has its own hardware and software processing pipeline inside the camera tightly coupled to the image sensor, allowing fast readout speeds and enabling cutting-edge multi-exposure AI-based computational photography techniques such as those found in high-end smartphones like the Google Pixel." So are they admitting you would be better off just buying a Google Pixel? Especially since the Pixel is cheaper and the Alice still needs a smartphone to gets all its features.

The Air, at least, had a minimal size and shape with the intention that the end user could incorporate it into a wide range of non-camera shaped form factors where it looks like Alice is meant to only be used on a smartphone in a traditional camera shape but with the grip ruined by the phone's screen on the back.
 

PakkyT

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Well I will agree with you that you were out on a limb there. :hmmm: Do you have any sources to back this up? They have been making digital cameras for decades so I find it hard to believe that after all this time that Oly would still be beholden to another company for their cameras' embedded systems if that is the way they started to get into digital back in the 1990s.
 

mauve

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Well I will agree with you that you were out on a limb there. :hmmm: Do you have any sources to back this up? They have been making digital cameras for decades so I find it hard to believe that after all this time that Oly would still be beholden to another company for their cameras' embedded systems if that is the way they started to get into digital back in the 1990s.
Because that would be incredibly stupid. And Oly designers aren't :
https://www.design-reuse.com/news/33800/olympus-dmp-graphics-ip-core.html
M.
 

PakkyT

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Because that would be incredibly stupid. And Oly designers aren't :
https://www.design-reuse.com/news/33800/olympus-dmp-graphics-ip-core.html
M.

Ah but that is a layer deeper I believe, below the level that we are talking about with controlling something like the Air. Olympus has their FW which is on top of the IP core. I do not see an issue with allowing access to a more of the functionality of the Oly FW level violating any sort of licensing of the IP core. Things like direct connection through USB, allowing full control of multiple units via WiFi when each unit is not confiture as a WiFi access point, and access to controls with full ability to change things like shutter times and whatnot. Just like Oly can add features to a camera with a FW update, they can also UNLOCK a lot of feature by giving users more access to the basic functions of the FW unrestricted.
 

DGoakill

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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 huge in my opinion. One of the things that always bothered me about M43 was this claim of Panasonic and Olympus working together and how both brands lenses were interchangeable......except they don't when it counts with the higher end stabilized lenses. Three of my six Panasonic lenses, the most expensive ones, will not have duel stabilization on an Olympus body. I've also read too many reports over the years of the lenses not fitting correctly on an Olympus body.

If Panasonic decideds to exit M43, there really isn't any advantage for me to switch to Olympus if I want to utilize what I paid for with these lenses. I might as well change systems altogether. What's the difference between having to replace these lenses with the Olympus Pro versions or just moving to Fuji? I'd already have to buy a new body if Panasonic leaves, at least if a future OM body can work flawlessy with my existing line of lenses, then I would most likely jump over to OM and more importantly stay in M43.
 

RS86

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If Panasonic decideds to exit M43

Now that Olympus has only 5 % share in the camera business of OMDS, it seems the "M43 is dead" will continue in the shape of Panasonic doom & gloom. They really can't release a new camera/lens soon enough to get rid of this. I still haven't heard why they would ditch a ready-made system, which has clear benefits.
 

mauve

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Ah but that is a layer deeper I believe, below the level that we are talking about with controlling something like the Air. Olympus has their FW which is on top of the IP core. I do not see an issue with allowing access to a more of the functionality of the Oly FW level violating any sort of licensing of the IP core. Things like direct connection through USB, allowing full control of multiple units via WiFi when each unit is not confiture as a WiFi access point, and access to controls with full ability to change things like shutter times and whatnot. Just like Oly can add features to a camera with a FW update, they can also UNLOCK a lot of feature by giving users more access to the basic functions of the FW unrestricted.
No, I don't think that's how it works (and I'd bet my shirt on it). IMHO, you have a generic / industry standard real time operating system like VxWorks, QNX, RealOS or something like that with modules to access various subsystems (like the IP core, but also modules either for hardware like wifi, sdcards, hdmi, usb etc. or software like vfat filesystem, jpeg library, tcp/ip, web server etc.), and tied to that system a big ASIC which is the only Olympus specific part besides fancy graphics and UX, which they have tuned and for which they control the software. But if you wanted to create a new firmware, you'd need a development stack from the main vendor, with system, libraries, compiler, linker, etc.
M.
 

BDR-529

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What's the difference between having to replace these lenses with the Olympus Pro versions or just moving to Fuji? I'd already have to buy a new body if Panasonic leaves, at least if a future OM body can work flawlessy with my existing line of lenses, then I would most likely jump over to OM and more importantly stay in M43.

Pardon my French but MFT has somehow lost their raison d’être in the mirrorless market during last 3-4 years.

Let's scroll back to 2017 when Olympus M1.2 and Panasonic GH5 sales started.

They were both nothing short of amazing at the time. Not because they were lighter and more compact than FF and APS-C cameras in the market (they were) or because their IQ was comparable to FF sensors (never was)

They were spectacular because they provided IQ comparable to APS-C of the day and they offered amazing performance and several features which were non-existent in anything even close that price range: 5-axis IBIS, 18fps with C-AF, high-quality 4k video and one of the best AF systems of that era (Olympus)

They were affordable, compact, stylish (at least Olympus) and offered features which no cripple-hammered competitor could match.

I have been trying to imagine what panny should squeeze into GH6 to gain the same competitive advantage again and the only thing I can come up with is 8k at half the price of any 8k FF model and LiDAR. Unfortuntely I have no use for 8k which is likely to land GH somewhere north of $2500€.

It's even harder to imagine what entirely new stills-oriented features OMDS could introduce in M1.4 to create that promised "wow" effect M1.2 had four years ago. Curved sensor maybe? Of course OMDS could try 8k as well but panny called dibs first.
 
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RS86

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I have been trying to imagine what panny should squeeze into GH6 to gain the same competitive advantage again and the only thing I can come up with is 8k at half the price of any 8k FF model. Unfortuntely I have no use for that. It's even harder to imagine what stills-oriented feature OMDS could introduce into M1.4 to create that promised "wow" effect M1.2 had four years ago. Maybe LiDAR? Of course OMDS could try 8k as well but panny called dibs first.

What about something like 12-bit RAW with 4K/6K/8K 120p or something? That's something Canon R5 for example cannot do.

This is from 2,5 years ago.

"Bit depth is something we hear spoken of a lot. When the Panasonic GH5 was announced with the ability to shoot 10Bit video, a lot of people went kinda loopy. Equally as anticipated now is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K’s 12Bit RAW CinemaDNG."

https://www.diyphotography.net/bit-depth-explained-what-8bit-10bit-and-12bit-really-means/
 
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BDR-529

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What about something like 12-bit RAW with 4K/6K/8K 120p or something? That's something Canon R5 for example cannot do.

Topping competitors in any one feature would certainly help but the reason why M1.2 and GH5 were so successful four years ago was that they were excellent in several categories, not just one. This would be very difficult today.

GH6 would be a hit among serious videographers if it can introduce even 10-bit unlimited 8k RAW at or below $2500€ mark but at that price level it would never become a high volume model. It would be a profitable niche product for panny and increase their status as ILC video standard though.

Throw in ToF or better yet LiDAR sensor to aid DFD and panny would be finally accepted in the cool kids club but they would instantly add this to all FF models as well.

Curved sensor is the only single feature that would create a "wow"-effect and building one in MFT size would be easier than FF but it would also render every existing lens obsolete so why bother even using MFT mount when nothing that fits will work.
 
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John King

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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.
Paul, almost everyone I have ever met uses a camera, whether in a phone or not, to take happy snaps - you know, those ordinary events that historians just love. And so do the people who take them.

There is all but no 'serious photography' done by anyone, and that has always been the case.

I love my three cameras, and I occasionally take images that have some artistic merit, but almost all are documentary in one way or another.

The arcane discussions that occur are interesting to me, but I'm not going to kid myself into believing that they are 'important' in the grand scheme of things.

And, just yesterday, someone remarked on the fact that all the photos I took of their child's wedding some 10+ years ago with my E-510 and its two kit lenses were far superior (her words) to those of the extremely expensive professional photographer ... he and his assistant were using a couple of 5Ds and a 1D with the f/2.8 pro lenses.

These perceived differences in gear really don't matter much.

And yesterday, I took some lovely family happy snaps at ISO 6400 with my E-PM2 + 14-42 EZ.
Does anyone care that they are noisy and crappy when pixel peeping?
No. Neither them nor me.

Their children will never be that precise age ever again ...
 

DGoakill

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Pardon my French but MFT has somehow lost their raison d’être in the mirrorless market during last 3-4 years.

Let's scroll back to 2017 when Olympus M1.2 and Panasonic GH5 sales started.

They were both nothing short of amazing at the time. Not because they were lighter and more compact than FF and APS-C cameras in the market (they were) or because their IQ was comparable to FF sensors (never was)

They were spectacular because they provided IQ comparable to APS-C of the day and they offered amazing performance and several features which were non-existent in anything even close that price range: 5-axis IBIS, 18fps with C-AF, high-quality 4k video and one of the best AF systems of that era (Olympus)

They were affordable, compact, stylish (at least Olympus) and offered features which no cripple-hammered competitor could match.

I have been trying to imagine what panny should squeeze into GH6 to gain the same competitive advantage again and the only thing I can come up with is 8k at half the price of any 8k FF model and LiDAR. Unfortuntely I have no use for 8k which is likely to land GH somewhere north of $2500€.

It's even harder to imagine what entirely new stills-oriented features OMDS could introduce in M1.4 to create that promised "wow" effect M1.2 had four years ago. Curved sensor maybe? Of course OMDS could try 8k as well but panny called dibs first.

Why does it have to have a "wow" factor? I'm not interested in wow. IMO that is the problem with the photography industry across the board. For years they incorrectly stated what mattered in cameras based on a marketing point of view and then once the tech leveled off a few years ago, that all came back to bite them in the backside.

What would wow me is for a camera company to come out with a camera that had no video capabilities at all. I'd pay more for that :laugh:
 

DGoakill

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Now that Olympus has only 5 % share in the camera business of OMDS, it seems the "M43 is dead" will continue in the shape of Panasonic doom & gloom. They really can't release a new camera/lens soon enough to get rid of this. I still haven't heard why they would ditch a ready-made system, which has clear benefits.

I don't understand why they would either. I'm completely content with what I have and if takes them a couple years, I'm fine with that. My concern is that I would still like to invest in more glass, but can't in good faith, until I see some sign of life. Even if that was simply OM saying that they would have a body that current glass would work on natively and fully.
 

pdk42

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Paul, almost everyone I have ever met uses a camera, whether in a phone or not, to take happy snaps - you know, those ordinary events that historians just love. And so do the people who take them.

There is all but no 'serious photography' done by anyone, and that has always been the case.

I love my three cameras, and I occasionally take images that have some artistic merit, but almost all are documentary in one way or another.

The arcane discussions that occur are interesting to me, but I'm not going to kid myself into believing that they are 'important' in the grand scheme of things.

And, just yesterday, someone remarked on the fact that all the photos I took of their child's wedding some 10+ years ago with my E-510 and its two kit lenses were far superior (her words) to those of the extremely expensive professional photographer ... he and his assistant were using a couple of 5Ds and a 1D with the f/2.8 pro lenses.

These perceived differences in gear really don't matter much.

And yesterday, I took some lovely family happy snaps at ISO 6400 with my E-PM2 + 14-42 EZ.
Does anyone care that they are noisy and crappy when pixel peeping?
No. Neither them nor me.

Their children will never be that precise age ever again ...
Oh I agree entirely John. But we’re not talking here about the ability of cameras to take technically excellent images that meet the needs of practically any reasonable photographer - that step was reached about 10 years ago in the digital ILC space. It was reached again with smartphones about 4 years ago.

What we’re talking about here is making a success in 2021 of selling cameras that far exceed that threshold in a market of other cameras that do the same. It reminds me of a guy I work with who’s a hi-fi buff. One day he had a power cable on his desk - a fancy thing with gold-looking wires and pink plastic covering. Inquiring about it, I discovered that it was a cable for his amplifier and he’d paid over £200 for it!! Somehow the hi-fi marketing machine had convinced this guy, doing a modestly-paid job, to spend over £200 for a 3-foot long power cable.

And that’s the job that OMDS and all the other manufacturers must do - to get us to spend our money on stuff we don’t really need. So they need buzz, excitement, new stuff - anything that’s not “this camera will take good pictures” - since they’ll all do that. My idea about open source is that it adds a dimension that could differentiate. There are lots of clever people who’d love to build software add ons for specialised uses and I think it could be a channel for more sales and interest in the brand.
 
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