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The lounge Relax, take a break from photo and camera talk - have a chat about something else for a change. Just keep it clean and polite!

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Old 14th February 2011
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Thom Hogan on the future of Olympus.

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

What does the future hold for Olympus?

Thom Hogan is a writer and commentator on things Nikon but has shown interest in the micro 4/3 line.
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Old 14th February 2011
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Re: Thom Hogan on the future of Olympus.

Seems like a reasonable analysis to me: certainly there is a lot I would agree with, particularly the bit that Olympus has managed to create sufficient uncertainty over the future of it's products and this is killing sales.

For instance, why buy an E5 when, arguably, Canon/Nikon/Pentax have better offerings at cheaper prices. The only reason I can see for buying Olympus is you've already heavily invested in the system. I take no pleasure in saying that, I've long counted myself as an Olympus fan. I have an E30. I would like better high ISO performance. However, there is no way I'm going to buy the E5 simply because it doesn't offer much more over what I've already got and certainly not enough more to justify the expense. Plus the Pentax K5 is cheaper.

Today I went for a walk around some of central London's Camera shops. I took in Jessops flagship store in New Oxford Street, Jacobs across the road, Spectrum on Tottenham Court Road and Cameraworld in Well's Street plus a few other places that sell cameras including PC World and John Lewis.

No one had the E5 on display. There were a few EPL2's but only the cameras, no micro 4/3rd lenses were on display anywhere. Whereas the Nikon D7000, Canon 60D and Pentax K5's and their associated systems were everywhere.

A year to 18 months ago when Jessops reopened their flagship store in New Oxford Street they had a prominent Olympus stand with the E420, E620, E30 and E3 on display. They had stock of various lenses that you could look at. Now, they had a EPL2. Similarly, Cameraworld used to have number of E system camera's on display along with a range of lenses: I bought my E30 from them. Now nothing.

Spectrum still had an E620 and E520 in the window, but had more Pentax/Nikon/Canon kit ie bodies, lenses, flash. When I went inside asking to look at the Pentax K5 along with the 16-50 F2.8 and 50-135 F2.8 lens and casually remarked that I had an Olympus E30 system and was thinking about switching, the response was "good idea", the "Pentax K5 is much better." However, they didn't want my Olympus kit in part exchange presumably because they couldn't sell it. Spectrum used to have a lot of Olympus kit and used to have good things to say about the system.

Now I'm well aware that camera shops have always had more Canon/Nikon kit than Olympus. The point being now they have even less than before. As I said earlier, I've long counted myself as an Olympus fan going way back to the 1970s when I used to play with my Dad's OM1's before I bought one for myself. When I went digital I bought into the whole Olympus designed for digital E system philosophy. What bothers me now, apart from uncertainty over the future of the E system, is that I see no sign that Olympus is remotely concerned that long term loyal customers are getting fed up and are looking elsewhere.

So going back to the start, it's no wonder that sales are down.
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Old 14th February 2011
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Re: Thom Hogan on the future of Olympus.

Quite simply, if the new management are in any way uncomfortable with Olympus continuing in the consumer imaging market, I suspect they will look to divest themselves of that aspect of their business.

But who will they divest it to? A few years back, the answer would have been simple: Panasonic! Fast forward a few years and Panasonic has done extremely well in terms of the expertise it has developed with both Leica (lenses) and Olympus (camera systems). I'm not sure what Panasonic has to learn from Olympus at this point (it's hardly like the Sony takeover of Minolta where Sony knew almost nothing of DSLRs).

Interesting times, though I have utmost confidence my cameras and lenses will continue to work through them.
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