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

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I think you're right. Stills photography is dead as a viable market from what I can see. Sure, there are still older people (like me!) who do this sort of thing, but the total size of such a market is small and it's getting smaller. Commercial stills photography is all but dead apart from weddings and such like - but again, that's just too small a market to sustain the number of brands we still have. Video is probably the saviour, but I don't have a good feel for that since, frankly, I don't understand it all!

Even for weddings, videography is essential. I've been to some receptions where a video slideshow and presentation was shown of the rehearsal and ceremony shot just hours before. Talking about pressure to get it all together and edit the video! Yikes. To be a wedding photographer nowadays requires being competent and creative with video too, often needing a stills photographer, videographer, sound person, plus an onsite editor.
 
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But if we look at the history of photography, Olympus has always been right there at the front of the pack when it comes to pushing photography forward. It only really changed when Olympus corporate leadership stopped supporting it.

Your last sentence is the hope of OM Digital Solutions. Without the baggage and restrictions put on by the corporate structure of the primarily medical equipment company Olympus Corp., one has to hope that the new company will be more agile and better able to grow their photography business. That's our hope too.
 
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You don't even often reply to my arguments or questions, and keep repeating the same doom & gloom over and over. So I don't scream anything, but try to ask and argue, but you have your style.

Thom Hogan article said that the mirrorless camera market will likely be 4-5 million per year in the future, and similar estimates have been put out by the manufacturers. Why should ILC market be compared to phones market? Makes no sense.

Phones are very clumsy to use as cameras, and have limitations. That won't likely go away even with Alice, if that will ever even be popular.

They both take images, photo and video.
Smartphones are profitable in the hundreds of millions of units sold.
The entire ILC market will be between 4-6 million units.
In any other industry reliant on software, firmware, processors, etc., that’s enough market for a single, profitable player.
Just one.
We see that sensors are pretty much down to two suppliers, and Sony gross revenues are subsidized by their smartphone sensor sales.
 

piggsy

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Except it is not an incredibly obvious move since this only gives you maximum resolution of your sensor if you stick to the 1:1 crop. As soon as you go for a non-square crop (which for most of us would be most of the time) then I think you are now getting less resolution out of your sensor than you would had you used a non-square sensor to begin with.

Or put another way, a 4:3 ratio sensor will give you more pixels than cropping 4:3 out of a 1:1 ratio sensor of the same size. But now I need to run some math and see if that is true.

Edit: Ya, if I did my math right, a 4:3 crop out of a 1:1 sensor would only give you about 78% of the sensor area than if you used a native 4:3 ratio sensor. If your native 18mm x 13.5 mm 4:3 sensor is 20MP, then with the same pixel density, your 4:3 crop out of a 1:1 sensor (15.9x15.9 mm) would give you less than 16MP.

This has been litigated so many times it's truly tiresome and if you are curious at all I would encourage you to look to anyone else to continue the discussion. But when designing the sensor, you're looking at a density over a given area, not blindly maintaining the same pixel density of a crop aspect sensor by spacing out the exact same receptors to hit the same mp target.
 

JDS

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The biggest requirement for OM is to get the operating costs way down to stay alive- asking them to do a bunch of product development right now is asking for bankruptcy given the volumes. Then, they need to unlock innovation blocked by the bureaucracy at Olympus, as they are going to have to get product development done on a shoestring given the dwindling market. Finally, focus on the niches that can resist smartphones for the midterm at least- that looks like long lens scenarios to me (wildlife, sports, motorsports & aircraft), grab some additional volume from small/light (travel & outdoors). It seems like they are doing all three.

FF? That’s like asking Lotus to do a sport utility to attack Mercedes- the failure (and of course it would fail, even the people on this board wouldn’t take the risk to jump into that system) would kill them.

One more thing- I like Robin, but taking his advice on managing the business and choosing product development priorities would be really stupid...
 
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JDS

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One last thought- everyone wants a new sensor, but either the market volumes will be there and it will happen, or they won’t and it won’t. Nobody (including OM) will fund the development of a new sensor unless they know they can sell a ton of them.
 

piggsy

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The biggest requirement for OM is to get the operating costs way down to stay alive- asking them to do a bunch of product development right now is asking for bankruptcy given the volumes. Then, they need to unlock innovation blocked by the bureaucracy at Olympus, as they are going to have to get product development done on a shoestring given the dwindling market. Finally, focus on the niches that can resist smartphones for the midterm at least- that looks like long lens scenarios to me (wildlife, sports, motorsports & aircraft), grab some additional volume from small/light (travel & outdoors). It seems like they are doing all three.

FF? That’s like asking Lotus to do a sport utility to attack Mercedes- the failure (and of course it would fail, even the people on this board wouldn’t take the risk to jump into that system) would kill them.

One more thing- I like Robin, but taking his advice on managing the business and choosing product development priorities would be really stupid...

Who even knows the damage done by Olympus management, which was, well, at the very least: openly criminal and completely content with being that way. Imagine if you worked in the camera imaging division and had some hot new idea, but it didn't involve accounting trickery or payoffs to connected individuals? You'd get run out of there on a rail.
 

pdk42

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Regarding "Olympus bureaucracy and accounting criminality" - sure I'm get that these are factors. I wouldn't want to deny them or ignore them. But OTOH, the financial muscle of Olympus has been funding the imaging division for a long time. And over that time there has been A LOT of money spent on R&D - just think of the technologies, the camera designs, the lens designs, the sheer rate of product releases, firmware updates, ... All that was possible because Olympus Corp was the sugar daddy to the camera business. That's gone now. Sure, OMDS will have some new agility, but they won't have the dollars to go with that agility. I'm sure that cost-cutting is a major part of their short-term strategy.
 

RS86

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They both take images, photo and video.
Smartphones are profitable in the hundreds of millions of units sold.
The entire ILC market will be between 4-6 million units.
In any other industry reliant on software, firmware, processors, etc., that’s enough market for a single, profitable player.
Just one.
We see that sensors are pretty much down to two suppliers, and Sony gross revenues are subsidized by their smartphone sensor sales.

Sorry, but I trust Thom Hogan's expertise a thousand times more than a camera forum member known to being mostly negative about the future.

"Ultimately, the size of the remaining buying market will determine the cost of those products at retail. I've written before that I think the bottom of the market can't be less than 4m ILC units a year without there being casualties, but all signs currently point to 5m units being the bottom that was actually hit. Every camera company will be eager to see if they can push the volume back to 6m units or higher, as there's meaningful profit to be had at that point.

So, when new product rumors hit that seem at first like they are "out of bounds", I'm a little less likely to make that conclusion these days. What I'm hearing, and what I'm seeing, is that all the concurrent problems—smartphones, margin erosion, pandemic, supply chain, etc.—have the Japanese camera companies fully re-energized and working to tackle really tough problems.

I'll put that into specific terms. While the Internet still is predicting the demise of the former Olympus Imaging group, I'm not at all worried about OM Digital Solutions R&D, or their development, engineering, and manufacturing of new products. My worry about the new entity is how well they'll manage sales and marketing, and particularly so given how much the Japanese home market was the primary outlet for the Olympus product. I'm not sure that OM Digital Solutions can survive with just a Japanese sales and marketing thrust, the volume is just too low to stay fully competitive, and the Japanese consumer market is not as robust as other markets. Thus, I've been paying attention to how OM Digital Solutions is working in the US, Europe, and other markets. So far, so good, but it's unclear how much of that is being driven by the new company rather than the vestiges of the old."

https://www.bythom.com/newsviews/crazy-rumor-specifications.html
 
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pake

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One last thought- everyone wants a new sensor, but either the market volumes will be there and it will happen, or they won’t and it won’t. Nobody (including OM) will fund the development of a new sensor unless they know they can sell a ton of them.
Well... If they don't bring out a new sensor soon, they're doomed. 95% of the people want a new sensor and if they're not getting one, they will (eventually) turn their focus elsewhere. Why? Because they feel m4/3 has stopped developing and others are getting further and further away (when speaking about IQ). It's do or die for Olympus.

I'm not saying it's all about the sensor but it's also about the message that the new sensor (or lack of) gives.
 

AmritR

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I'm not sure if this will have tilt/articulating screen. Or if this will succeed.

"Why Micro Four Thirds? Isn’t it dead?

Alice uses the Micro Four Thirds lens mount because it is a (relatively) open standard, it is the most compact of the popular professional systems both in terms of lens size, lens weight and camera thickness, and there is an extraordinary variety of lenses available at a vast range of costs, focal lengths and speeds. We believe that many (though not all) of the disadvantages of the system compared to full-frame systems can be compensated for using computational techniques at a lower cost and weight."

https://alice.camera/

A bit of kicking in an open door. People always liked, and still do, instant camera’s. Be it Polaroid in the past, or the Fujifilm Instax today. And smartphones are a variation of instant camera’s as well. Within seconds you can share an image. You can even make a picture directly in Whatsapp, and share it.

There is a interview with Fujifilm on dpreview, zooming in on digital. Fujifilm tries to bring Instax on the table twice in the interview. But Dpreview is taking the D in dpreview to serious.
Instax is the one which really sells. Another quote: Fujifilm has certainly had the last laugh; the company sold a staggering 8.5 million instax cameras in just 9 months.

I think this is the key to understand the mass market. Most people don’t want a (complex) workflow. They preferred not to in analog film days, bringing rolls of film to a shop, and they prefer not to use a PC either.
That’s probably the power of Instax. If you like a picture of your cat on the fridge, Instax delivers immediately, no need to try to print a picture from your smartphone or camera first. No need to own a (photo) printer.

This ‘Alice’ cam is imo an attempt to make m43 instant as well. It possibly needs some deeper pockets to make it happen though.
Still thinking about backing this Alice project, 🤔
 

John King

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@pake Teemu, I constantly see photographs here that are the equal of anything taken with other formats.

And the lenses are often better, too.

Sorry, but I just do not see the limitations that you speak of.

Even my 2012 E-PM2 with its lovely 16 MPx Sony sensor is still excellent, all these years later.
Is my 20 MPx E-M1 MkII better? Certainly.
Is it earth shatteringly better? No, sorry, it's not.

Is anything else earth shatteringly better? No, they're not.
 

pdk42

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A bit of kicking in an open door. People always liked, and still do, instant camera’s. Be it Polaroid in the past, or the Fujifilm Instax today. And smartphones are a variation of instant camera’s as well. Within seconds you can share an image. You can even make a picture directly in Whatsapp, and share it.

There is a interview with Fujifilm on dpreview, zooming in on digital. Fujifilm tries to bring Instax on the table twice in the interview. But Dpreview is taking the D in dpreview to serious.
Instax is the one which really sells. Another quote: Fujifilm has certainly had the last laugh; the company sold a staggering 8.5 million instax cameras in just 9 months.

I think this is the key to understand the mass market. Most people don’t want a (complex) workflow. They preferred not to in analog film days, bringing rolls of film to a shop, and they prefer not to use a PC either.
That’s probably the power of Instax. If you like a picture of your cat on the fridge, Instax delivers immediately, no need to try to print a picture from your smartphone or camera first. No need to own a (photo) printer.

This ‘Alice’ cam is imo an attempt to make m43 instant as well. It possibly needs some deeper pockets to make it happen though.
Still thinking about backing this Alice project, 🤔
Well, I'm becoming an old git so maybe I'm well off the mark, but that Alice camera looks like a complete fail to me, and it's nothing to do with sensor size:

- No EVF. Surely any serious camera needs an EVF?

- Mostly touchscreen operation - yeuk. Handling and operating a camera is not at all analogous to operating a phone.

- Need to assemble camera and phone to use it - yeuk. What do you do if a call comes in when you're taking shots? These need to be separate devices that each do their own job. OK, you could buy another phone - but where does that put the cost?

I really think it's a completely daft idea and I wouldn't invest in it. Then again, this is the guy who bought a Tesla in 2019 but who thought buying their stock was too risky. If I'd have kept my old BMW and put the money I used to buy the car in Tesla stock, I'd be about a quarter of a million dollars up at this point !
 
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pdk42

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@pake Teemu, I constantly see photographs here that are the equal of anything taken with other formats.

And the lenses are often better, too.

Sorry, but I just do not see the limitations that you speak of.

Even my 2012 E-PM2 with its lovely 16 MPx Sony sensor is still excellent, all these years later.
Is my 20 MPx E-M1 MkII better? Certainly.
Is it earth shatteringly better? No, sorry, it's not.

Is anything else earth shatteringly better? No, they're not.
John - to paraphrase a boss I once had who was probably the most inspirational (and times frustrating) guy I ever met - "Ah John - you're right but you're wrong" (ideally said in a broad Yorkshire accent). Of course you're right - but only at the level of logic and reason. But that's not what drives most camera sales - it's the irrationality of not feeling left behind and to buy what the reviewers are recommending. And the reviewers will always compare with other stuff out there. If you stay still, you die. And for that reason Oly needs a new sensor!
 

John King

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John - to paraphrase a boss I once had who was probably the most inspirational (and times frustrating) guy I ever met - "Ah John - you're right but you're wrong" (ideally said in a broad Yorkshire accent). Of course you're right - but only at the level of logic and reason. But that's not what drives most camera sales - it's the irrationality of not feeling left behind and to buy what the reviewers are recommending. And the reviewers will always compare with other stuff out there. If you stay still, you die. And for that reason Oly needs a new sensor!
Paul, you are also right, but you are also wrong ...

I sold one thing or another for about a quarter of my working life. For much of the rest of it, I sold ideas, successfully. Ideas that made very substantial money for my employer. One such saved them AUD$22,500 approx per month. It still is 45 years later (in 1975 dollars ... ).

Where are the wonder cameras that produce such fantastically better images? I haven't seen a single one so far.
As for the new sensor, where are the 80 MPx 135 format cameras? They don't exist. Nor do the lenses that will resolve that on those formats.
The current 135 format lenses struggle, even at the top end, to do justice to the 40-50 MPx 135 format sensors. Most just aren't good enough. Like my old 40-150 MkI. Beautiful on my 5, 10 and 12 MPx cameras, but the plastic 40-150 MkII beats it on 16 or 20 MPx sensors. Later and better design was needed.

Then there's HHHR and the fantastic IBIS, weather sealing, dust buster.

If people can't sell those things, they need to at least do a Lee duBois selling course (I have, a long, long time ago).
If they still can't sell them, they need to get people who can.

I've got to go to bed. My medications are starting to work on me.
 

Lcrunyon

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I think there’s a good possibility that the hurting camera industry could incentivize Sony to make new M4/3 sensors, unlike what seemed to have been the case in recent years.

OMDS has stated that new sensors would be made by Sony, so we’ll just have to see if that pans out. At this point, I don’t think OMDS is lying to us about anything. Of course, they aren’t guaranteeing the future, and we have to take that in stride. However, we wouldn’t be where we are right now if OMDS and JIP didn’t have a plan they think has a good chance of succeeding. I agree with @pake that the market is demanding a new sensor, whether one is really needed or not, and I am sure OMDS is very well aware of this.
 

AmritR

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Well, I'm becoming an old git so maybe I'm well off the mark, but that Alice camera looks like a complete fail to me, and it's nothing to do with sensor size:

- No EVF. Surely any serious camera needs an EVF?

- Mostly touchscreen operation - yeuk. Handling and operating a camera is not at all analogous to operating a phone.

- Need to assemble camera and phone to use it - yeuk. What do you do if a call comes in when you're taking shots? These need to be separate devices that each do their own job. OK, you could buy another phone - but where does that put the cost?

I really think it's a completely daft idea and I wouldn't invest in it. Then again, this is the guy who bought a Tesla in 2019 but who thought buying their stock was too risky. If I'd have kept my old BMW and put the money I used to buy the car in Tesla stock, I'd be about a quarter of a million dollars up at this point !
Oh well, rest assure. Those giys at JIP are wishing they had invested in Bitcoin, instead off Olympus :dash2:

And tomorrow, it might be the otherway around. Lots of speculation and access money to invest/gamble with.

And good points.

Would be nice if it was a single integrated device.
And indeed, a viewfinder is definitely a USP. Or at least their should be a model with a viewfinder.
Same goes for the handling. A grip, maybe a few buttons, dials. But as few as possible. And again maybe a basic one, and a more advanced one.

Sometimes I wonder of for example Instagram (facebook) would introduce their own hardware. A camera with default a Instagram app etc.
Could imo be possible that a company like that would Enter the market and turn things really upside down.
 

retiredfromlife

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For me i would prefer better sensor dust reduction, better sealing and stabilization over a new sensor
Where i live pollen etc gets stuck on the sensor far to often. Dont know if Canons solution to keep muck off the sensor works or not. To me a clean 20mp sensor would be better than a dirty say 26mp sensor

But i guess marketing agsinst other brands has to win out. But i notice even Sony has been using the same sensors for awhile now, and not so many people complainig about that
 

Lcrunyon

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For me i would prefer better sensor dust reduction, better sealing and stabilization over a new sensor
Where i live pollen etc gets stuck on the sensor far to often. Dont know if Canons solution to keep muck off the sensor works or not. To me a clean 20mp sensor would be better than a dirty say 26mp sensor

But i guess marketing agsinst other brands has to win out. But i notice even Sony has been using the same sensors for awhile now, and not so many people complainig about that
The newer, higher-end Olies have extremely effective dust removal.
 
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