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Thom Hogan on the future of Olympus.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by bilzmale, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. bilzmale

    bilzmale Mu-43 All-Pro

    The financial results for Oly show its camera division is losing money and Thom, in his usual fashion, has a point to make. Is he right?

  2. squidbrand

    squidbrand Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 22, 2010
    Hà Nội, Việt Nam
    I think he is for the most part. The Pen lineup is very confusing, and people don't like it when a product confuses them before they even buy it. Their supposed promise to release a "pro" Micro 4/3 body could give them an opportunity to clear their heads and have two distinct, parallel lines of camera bodies, where each of them is really optimized for their target audience. They could even sustain three lines — one for the mass market, one for enthusiasts, and one for professionals — if they can produce enough volume for that to be viable, and if they can make sure the delineations between them are clear. (As an enthusiast, who spends a lot of time dorking out about cameras but doesn't need to shoot all day in rough conditions, I should easily recognize which of their camera lines is meant for me.)

    As a GF1 user who has zero interest in the GF2, I hope Panasonic catches on to this stuff as well.

    The only thing I disagree with Hogan on is the possibility that Olympus will close the imaging division. I don't buy it. Olympus is too rich with history as a camera company for them to dump it. The name itself is reason enough to keep trying new things until something really sticks.
  3. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    He makes some good points - but I think the Japanese are less driven by quarterly results than US companies are.
  4. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2010
    I read that and must say I agree with most of what he says. I'm no financial analyst and have no desire to be one, but I can speak as a consumer.

    I have myself written piece after piece on my blog wondering what on earth Olympus are doing and where they are going. This is a company who I'm really keen to support, and yet I currently own one Olympus product, a 50mm f/2 macro I bought second hand.

    They designed and built one of the greatest lens ranges ever with their 4/3 line, and now seem inclined to just let it slide into oblivion. The E-5 is under-pixeled (is that a word?) and way too expensive. They don't seem in any hurry to deny that its the last 4/3 camera either, which is a marketing disaster. I may well have bought an E-5 if it were cheaper and if I didn't think the lens range was going to disappear, so they have lost a customer here.

    With m4/3 cameras, I must agree with Thom Hogan that they have basically released the same camera 4 times with slightly different cosmetic changes. Their lens range for m4/3 is OK but hardly inspiring, and their latest stunt with the "mock-up" struck me as desperation to show that something was happening.

    They have some of the greatest camera designers ever and theres no denying the the E-P? amd E-PL? cameras are indeed beautiful, if not exactly great in the menu and control department. I persevered with the E-P2 because I thought it was a terrific looking camera, but once the GH2 appeared there was really no contest as far as I was concerned.

    One of his possible scenarios was that Panasonic buy the Olympus imaging division and that sounds like a great idea to me. However it seems that Panasonics inability to even get cameras into shops in the US doesn't bode well either.

    Perhaps one day these rumours about Olympus putting together a hybrid camera or a "pro" m4/3 body may come to something. However where they are at the moment doesn't inspire any enthusiasm that they will. It would be a real shame if they disappeared from the camera marketplace, since they have made a real contribution both in terms of film and digital. Large companies however tend to be fairly ruthless in terms of removing loss making arms of their business, and since the camera division is the one thats loosing money I think we should be under no illusions that it may disappear.

    I would like to hope that they have a sensational product waiting to surprise us all and make us rush to the store with our credit cards, but I'm not sure they do.

    A frustrated Olympus Consumer.
    • Like Like x 4
  5. Christilou

    Christilou Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 25, 2010
    Camberley, Surrey
    I was looking around online this week to see what 4/3rds bodies were available so that I can continue to use my Zuiko 50mm f2 lens with decent autofocus. I'm surprised to see that there are very few about which is not exactly encouraging is it? Seems as though they threw themselves into the micro 4/3rds system with little or no regard for their loyal 4/3rds customers. Perhaps the rumoured pro lenses for micro 4/3rds will be big for them.
  6. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2010
    I would agree with you, and am in much the same position. I'm currently using a Panasonic L10 to use my 4/3 lenses on and while its a good camera with execellent image quality, its a bit long in the tooth in all sorts of ways. As I said I would have considered the E-5 if it wasn't what I consider to be very overpriced.

    Instead I bought a Pentax K-5, which has most if not all of what the Olympus has, plus more MP's and is cheaper. Its got rave reviews and deservedly so as its a great camera. I really would have liked to go with Olympus as I would have avoided having to get involved in another system. However the cost of doing so, with Pentax cashbacks etc. has been hardly more than buying the E-5 body, and I bought 3 Pentax lenses and a battery grip as well.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. wyip

    wyip Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 17, 2010
    San Francisco, CA
    It happened to Konica-Minolta, so I wouldn't dismiss it as a possibility for Olympus. Hopefully we don't get to that point though.
  8. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Many folks are really wanting some "pro" full sized model ala GH2 or even better from Olympus. I really don't understand the need for Olympus to do this. Doesn't Panasonic have this basically covered? Aren't they more in a position to produce such a camera?

    I would argue that what they really need is a high end rangefinder style camera. Bascially a camera that can do what the GH2 does in a rangefinder form. I personally would pay for it, even if it was the same price as the GH2.

    I think what has really hurt mFT for Olympus is the lack of commitment to come out with high quality glass within a timely manner. It is what saved four thirds for them, I think. Now they just have to do it again for mFT.
  9. MichaelShea

    MichaelShea Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    Algarve, Portugal
    I do concur about the quality of the 4/3 range of lenses and bought a new Zuiko Digital 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 only last year, because I felt it was the best wide-angled lens I could afford to go with my Panasonic G1. I do sympathise with loyal 4/3 owners and agree that the marketing of M4/3 has been confusing and wrongly aimed too far down-market. Originally the plan may have been to run both systems together, but that concept appears to have been ditched. I think that Olympus have taken far too long to produce high-end M4/3 items for which there is undoubtedly a market, but this forum constantly highlights the fact that there are gaps it could yet fill. I hope the company acts very soon, before it becomes too late.
  10. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    When I made the leap to µ43 I went all in and bought a camera from both Panasonic and Olympus, the GF1 & EP-1.

    I enjoyed both cameras, then decided on the Panny when Olympus began running through new models like six packs of beer, made me a little nervous and confused about keeping up with their release plan.

    So, while I really loved the OOC Jpgs from the Oly, I sold it and the kit lens. I went ahead and bought a second Panny body, and a total of three native µ43 panny lenses to use along with my existing legacy lenses, and I shoot nothing but RAW. I can get about as close to the Oly JPGS as I need / want to in PP. From my perspective (age?) it felt somewhat odd to choose Panasonic over such a well know photographic equipment manufacturer.

    I sincerely hope Oly gets their act together on a go forward basis, and I hope the editorial isn't too close to accurate in regard to the future of Olympus. The Olympus equipment has always been beautiful, elegant and nice to handle, still is! The Olympus µ43 gear is beautiful and I think everyone would agree with that.

    I never thought Minolta would exit the photography world, as they were responsible for many firsts in camera design. Now though, I only see the name when I install networked copy scan devices / machines.

    So it can happen. It would be butt ugly, but it could happen.
    • Like Like x 2
  11. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    I agree lack of timely glass has been a major negative for Olympus. But Panasonic is also lagging.

    I do believe a better flagship body would help. A lot. Just imagine if there was an E-5 quality body like the Fuji X100? Buzz helps the whole product line.
  12. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    hmm... olympus have produced 4 models - 2 basic lines and 2 revs - panasonic have produced 7 models - three lines with 2 revs and a strange orphan in the G10

    which one is more confusing ?

  13. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Touché ? The GF1 looked and felt like none of the others, to me. Still does.

    Panasonic hit the street (short time apart) with the G1 and GF1, pretty disparate styles and ergonomics.

    They performed what was at least an upgrade with the GH1, not so much the GF2....

    Their body styles remain separate and apart, for me. I can pick it up and see / feel the difference between the GF1 and the G1, GH1, GH2. And one can still distinguish the GF2 quite easily from the other offerings.

    We also have come to understand that they got a little "push" toward the GH2 when the hacks started... or should we say pointed the way for them.

    At any rate. I see your point, hence the question mark, still and all. I can tell the difference in the GH series from the GF series without picking up the camera.. you know what I mean.

    Ultimately, the design of the Panasonic's suited suited me, or my taste. And the ability to differentiate between the series at a glance was more suited to my sensibilities, or lack thereof.

  14. deirdre

    deirdre Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 9, 2010
    The G10 is explainable by wanting a basic price point model, but I think it was dumb.

    I never understood why both an EP1 and an EPL1 were necessary (aside from product color differences).

    EP1 -> EP2
    EPL1 -> EPL1s -> EPL2

    G1 -> G2
    GH1 -> GH2
    GF1 -> GF2

    The ones I don't understand are the plain G models (1, 2, and 10), except that they're between the GFx and GHx in features.
  15. I'm struggling to think of any camera company at the moment who has consistently timed their product releases and offered enough improvement from one model iteration to another to make it truly worthwhile to upgrade each time.
  16. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Good summary. I'm there.

    Again, I liked the camera that I had. Just had to make a decision, and while the models weren't the entire reason for my decision, but it did play in there...
  17. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    e-p1 and e-pl1 are easy to distinguish from a marketing perspective

    E-P1 was the flagship media attention grabbing iconic statement defining what the direction of the brand was to be

    the E-PL1 was a lowercost model to expand the range

    E-p2 and E-pl2 are merely revs to the original line up

    whether this all worked out is harder to discern... we have no idea of what olympus expectations were and whether they reached their expected targets for the Pen range... maybe olympus losses were from bad decisions and sales in their other cameras.

    I agree that their lens range could have been more aggressive for our own needs but I keep coming back to the fact that none of us really understand the business of making cameras

  18. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    That says it all. Again, I really liked my Oly... Just went off in the other direction.
  19. The problem that the E-PL2 creates is that it has closed even further the minimal gap in specs between the E-PLs and the E-Ps AND is a good looking camera to boot - the biggest drawcard of the E-P1/2 up until this point. I would find it hard to justify buying the E-P2 over the E-PL2 if I was buying into the system now.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. stanleyk

    stanleyk Guest

    May 26, 2010
    The Pentax K5 really is a great camera. You should get the 31, 43, 77. They are pricey but definitely worth it both in build and image quality. The DA Limited lenses are also excellent. The 35 is particularly good.

    I sincerely hope Olympus is OK. I happen to really love the E-P2 and the E-PL2 I just got.
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