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JoT

Olympus to Sell Camera Division

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After more than 80 years manufacturing cameras Olympus is giving up. The company that brought us the groundbreaking Olympus Pen, Olympus Trip, OM-1 SLR, Zuiko lenses and the OM-D EM5 can no longer turn a profit in its camera division.

The division is being sold to Japan Industrial Partners Inc a private equity fund which buys distressed assets and turns them around. JIP bought Sony's Vaio computer division who are now branded as Vaio and making a decent go of it as an independent business, so perhaps there is hope.

What about the four-thirds / micro four-thirds format which Olympus developed with Eastman Kodak? Other than Olympus only Panasonic Lumix adopted the format so there is some concern about its survival. For someone like me who isn't an expert amateur the four-thirds system gives me all I need in a mirrorless camera with a wide range of lenses and image quality good enough to print a photograph at A3 or larger. It also allows my kit to be very compact and lightweight.

An interesting comparison between standard lenses, APS-C lenses and micro-four-thirds lenses showed that the micro-four thirds equivalent of a 300mm telephoto, 14-28mm zoom and 50mm prime lens weighs 0.85kg against 7.5kg for the standard lenses and 2.25kg for the APS-C lenses while the volume is only 7.2% of the standard lens and 42% of the APS-C.   

The format does have some disadvantages but these can usually be worked around (depth of field for example).

Back to Olympus - JIP may make a go of it but it is unlikely they will have the resources to keep the innovation at Olympus levels - who knows?

Personally I am sad, having owned an OM1-n and a selection of Zuiko lenses since 1974 and having the OM-D E-0M5 digital mirrorless micro-four-thirds camera and several lenses (not to mention having bought rolexgirl an OM-D E-M10); I hope they survive.  

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Thanks for that information, John. I have always had respect for Olympus cameras - indeed, I wrote a topic for the Forum about the original Olympus Trip camera not all that long ago. It is sad to see the Olympus camera division being swallowed up; the danger being that it will ultimately be regurgitated as stripped assets with nothing constructive to show for it. 

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51 minutes ago, Always"watching" said:

Thanks for that information, John. I have always had respect for Olympus cameras - indeed, I wrote a topic for the Forum about the original Olympus Trip camera not all that long ago. It is sad to see the Olympus camera division being swallowed up; the danger being that it will ultimately be regurgitated as stripped assets with nothing constructive to show for it. 

It certainly is sad, one of the reasons given is the dramatic improvement in the quality of mobile phone cameras, many people have just stopped buying cameras, especially compact cameras, and there aren't enough enthusiasts around for the higher priced and more complex offerings.

Other camera companies are also struggling such as Nikon and we might see more casualties to add to the likes of: Bronica, Contax, Yashica, Konica / Minolta, Rollei

My micro four thirds digital kit which all fits into a small bag (times by 2 to get 35mm equivalent) photo taken with my mobile phone :laugh:

  • 12-40 f2.8 Pro zoom
  • 25 f1.8 prime lens
  • 45 f1.8 portrait lens
  • 60 f2.8 Macro
  • 40-150 f4-5.6 kit lens
  • OMD E-M5 camera body

large.1990999390_IMAG17642.jpg.40c9725d36243823e67c8c52c1c12695.jpg

 

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I still have my old Olympus Trip somewhere..

I always regarded these as THE brand to own, when it comes to the everyday camera.

How sad..

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2 hours ago, JoT said:

It certainly is sad, one of the reasons given is the dramatic improvement in the quality of mobile phone cameras, many people have just stopped buying cameras, especially compact cameras, and there aren't enough enthusiasts around for the higher priced and more complex offerings.

Other camera companies are also struggling such as Nikon and we might see more casualties to add to the likes of: Bronica, Contax, Yashica, Konica / Minolta, Rollei

My micro four thirds digital kit which all fits into a small bag (times by 2 to get 35mm equivalent) photo taken with my mobile phone :laugh:

  • 12-40 f2.8 Pro zoom
  • 25 f1.8 prime lens
  • 45 f1.8 portrait lens
  • 60 f2.8 Macro
  • 40-150 f4-5.6 kit lens
  • OMD E-M5 camera body

large.1990999390_IMAG17642.jpg.40c9725d36243823e67c8c52c1c12695.jpg

 

Hi John just bought one of these with a Olympus M.Zuiko ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R need another lens have you tried the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 EZ Lens have tried to find a book but can only see one for the mk2 do you know if it is the same menu system and be worth buying any advise about camera settings would also be thank full for any tips it's a nice camera to hold like it better than the Sony a6000 that i have.thanks john

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@bowie I haven't used that lens so can't really comment how it performs it is also a discontinued lens I think although there are a few around, Curry's has one for £157 which is pretty good  https://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/cameras-and-camcorders/photography-accessories/lenses/olympus-m-zuiko-digital-ed-12-50-mm-f-3-5-6-3-standard-zoom-lens-21019315-pdt.html

My other half uses the pancake version of the 14-42mm lens, it is very compact and performs well, you lose a bit on the focal length at either end but for me it wouldn't be an issue.

This is the one https://shop.olympus.eu/en_GB/lenses/om-d-pen-lenses/m-zuiko-digital-ed-14-42mm-f3-5-5-6-ez-pancake

They can normally be found pre-owned for about £120, MPB have a few. There's also this clever lens cap which opens when the lens is activated https://shop.olympus.eu/en_GB/lenses/accessories/lc-37c-lens-cap

I found these blogs very useful when I got my E-M5 helped me set up - the menu is pretty good when you get used to it, a bit daunting at first but you will soon get the hang of it

 http://thumati.com/chronicle/2013/4/7/setting-up-olympus-omd-em5

https://robinwong.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-robin-wongs-om-d-camera-cheat-sheet.html

and this video

 

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Thanks for the reply and advise lot to take in will have a look at all the links next week start a 12 hour shift tonight and sons birthday thanks for taking the time to reply much appreciated :thumbsup:

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It is indeed sad. I hope that there is some future in the u4/3 format. There really isn't anything that beats using a camera rather than a phone. Time taken, composition, waiting and the result of actually wanting to print some out or use as a massive shot on your computer wallpaper.

My EM10 has been on numerous holidays and stood up quite well. I don't really baby things; they are there to be used. Not that I don't care, just that if it picks up a scratch cosmetically, that is ok.

Olympus still has the imaging division which concentrates on making high quality optics, I guess cameras is a bit of a side business too far for consumers rather than big institutions. If someone can turn the camera division around, I'd be happy. I feel there is still a market for high grade prosumer cameras.

 

@bowie I have a 12-50mm that isn't being put to much use. If it's of interest to you drop me a PM. I upgraded to a 12-40 pro and sold my 14-42 pancake. The nice thing about the 12-50 is electronic zoom making for buttery video. It also has a nice macro mode which is useful and produces good shots.

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The dedicated camera market worldwide has shrunk very rapidly since 2010 as ever better smartphones have effectively replaced bread-and-butter compact cameras and, increasingly, lower end interchangeable lens cameras as younger people, who grew up with phones and primarily post photos to Instagram, or wherever, have no introduction to dedicated cameras or need for them for snapshots.

The net result is too many camera models on the market from too many manufacturers in too many sensor formats...as well as mirrorless vs DSLR.

There is simply not the volume of sales to be profitable and, contrary to what Millennials seem to think, profitability is essential for business survival.  In fact I believe not one camera division of any brand is profitable at the moment. They're all losing money on cameras.

Canon makes its profits from business equipment.  Nikon makes its profits from medical imaging, as does Olympus.  Sony makes its money from many things, not least sensors that find their way into most cameras made not only by Sony, but also other brands like Nikon. Similarly Panasonic has a wide portfolio and atm seems to be make alot from electric car batteries.

Add to this the sky-high prices for new camera equipment, running into £ thousands for Full Frame (have you see the prices for Canon's R-mount lenses? :jawdrop1:) the market will likely be even smaller in the future.  Covid19 issues are likely to restrict travel for some time and travel was a always a big stimulus for buying new camera equipment, so that won't help.

It's sad to see Olympus sell off its camera division and I'm afraid I have little hope that JIP will do anything more than cut, cut and cut wherever it can and exploit any tech and other assets by selling or licensing it off.  The days of MFT look numbered to me, especially with Panasonic now investing in the L-mount.  That doesn't mean MFT cameras and glass will stop working of course, so we can still enjoy using it all.

I think Olympus won't be the last to pull out. Indeed I think no manufacturer is 'safe'. Even Canon or Nikon may come to the conclusion that their camera divisions will not be able to return to profitability, in which can they will have to throw the towel in at some point.  I'm sure there will be far fewer brands and less choice in the future.  Fuji may have had the best idea by producing their excellent Medium Format cameras and lenses with its advantages in light gathering, dynamic range and definition, albeit aided at pros and prosumers with deep pockets.

In the end a camera is a tool to do a job, even as a hobby. Tech change and market change are just things we'll have to live with and adapt to.

 

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@RTM Boy interesting observations, thank you

I had my OM1-n and lenses serviced last year maybe that's the way I will go :laugh:

 

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4 hours ago, JoT said:

@RTM Boy interesting observations, thank you

I had my OM1-n and lenses serviced last year maybe that's the way I will go :laugh:

 

Indeed,a cracking camera the original version of which was launched at Photokina in 1972 (Photokina is probably no more also).  Definitely worth hanging on to and using.  Film is great. Although digital is super convenient and has many advantages, I miss shooting, processing and printing my Ilford FP4, or HP5 or XP2.

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If anyone is on e-group.uk.net there is a chat with Mark from Olympus UK on Saturday 4 July, he may have some answers, though I'd doubt it. Might be good to hear his opinions

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