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petrovich 18th December 2011 08:58 PM

Olympus interview
Just saw this on DP Review.

Might be of interest to some of you.

This is not a word-for-word translation, so please don't take it as gospel, but for anyone who is interested, I did a loose translation of the Olympus-related stuff (the original Japanese PDF is here
https://www.impressjapan.jp/pr/monit...71201_free.pdf ):

The interviewee is Haruo Ogawa, Olympus marketing division director.

The headline says they are working on a mirrorless camera with emphasis on the viewfinder.

They are also working on a successor to the E-5.

Key points for the interview:

They are working on a new mirrorless camera that is different from the PENs, and they will announce it "soon." It will be compatible with the PENs. It will be a camera that you want to hold in your hands all the time.

The key is in the viewfinder. Reviewing customer questionnaires, they learned that many users are interested in having a viewfinder that is easy and pleasant to look through. The new mirrorless will have an "epoch-making" viewfinder.

The E-5 successor is already being developed.

Ogawa begins by apologizing to the customers for causing them a great deal of worry during the recent series of events. He promises Olympus will continue to strive to develop and produce fine products.

Ogawa says that the feeling at Olympus is that the mirrorless market in general is going too far in the direction of marketing to "camera joshi," [literally, "camera girls"]. Mirrorless cameras hold many possibilities, but currently they all seem to be heading in this one direction. This market does of course exist, but Ogawa fears that concentrating exclusively on this one group will shorten the life of the mirrorless camera market. Olympus has been re-examining the camera user base as a whole: how four thirds users feel about the PEN cameras, etc. They reviewed user questionnaires and found that a lot of people want a good viewfinder.

The interviewer asks what specifically the PEN users are concerned with. Ogawa replies that from his point of view, it's easier to frame photos, easier to magnify the image, and easier to focus a camera with an electronic viewfinder. You can also see the effects of the art filter you have set, the WB, and so on. Even so, he still uses a DSLR, and that is because there is a special "something" about a DSLR.

The interviewer interjects that it's the optical VF. It's certainly different from looking through an electronic VF.

Ogawa replies that they examined their technology at Olympus closely, and they realized that they could create something that wasn't perfect, but a prototype that contained a lot of possibilities, and they want to develop that. Just as they created a new breed of camera with the PEN series, they want to do the same with this new and different mirrorless.

The interviewer keeps pushing for more specifics. "This will be an epoch-making camera, right?" "This is big news, right?"

Ogawa says, "All I can say is, when you look through the viewfinder, you'll understand...." He asks the interviewer not to ask him to reveal any more than that ... but he keeps pressing.

Ogawa says it's not all about the VF. Fuji came out with a superb hybrid viewfinder. In their own way, Olympus wants to create a camera that, as a total package, is a pleasure to hold and shoot with. The E-P1 didn't have any particular eye-popping features, but it made you say, "Wow, this is a nice camera." That's the kind of camera they want to make.

The next series will represent a new stage in the mirrorless camera, but it will be fully compatible with the PEN series. They want to expand the mirrorless concept, rather than limit it to the more feminine cameras they have been making up until now. It will be a camera for women and men, for beginners and high-end users alike. Ogawa reiterates that it's unfortunate that the phrase "camera joshi" forced cameras in a feminine direction.

Here, the interviewer points out with a laugh that it was Olympus that started that trend!

Ogawa replies that the Japanese phenomenon of "camera joshi" ("camera girls") are not "girls" as we usually see them. They are women who like retro-looking cameras and other similar objects.

The interviewer talks about how many women now prefer analog film cameras, with lots of buttons and dials.

Ogawa replies that the PEN series and XZ-1 are in line with that trend. They don't so much revive the past, but they use a delicate or subtle design, where digital cameras have tended to have a more rough or crude image. He thinks it's a good thing when different companies put out different types of cameras, but unfortunately, they have recently tended to kill that individuality by all going in the same direction. Olympus wants to change that.

The interviewer asks, "So you are going for something that is different not just from current Olympus mirrorless cameras, but from mirrorless cameras in general?"

"Yes, as a personal possession/personal item," Ogawa replies. [He is being purposely vague, so it's difficult to translate.]

"So you are after a camera that better fits the act of taking a photograph?"

"That's right."

Ogawa goes on to reiterate that the new mirrorless will be fully compatible with the PENs. He thinks it's fun to hold the PENs and even just to look at them, and that's Olympus' "identity." From that perspective, they are working on something truly new.

They move on to the topic of the E-5. The interviewer says that people are worried that Olympus might abandon the four thirds format.

Ogawa says that in the E-5, they built a camera that made the best of the four thirds concept, and they want to continue to evolve that concept of a DSLR. A lot of people seem to be amazed that Olympus can go in these different directions (SLR and mirrorless) in their current state.

The interviewer wants a positive statement from Ogawa that they will definitely continue the E-series.

Ogawa says, "At this point in time, there is no reason not to continue it. We feel that DSLRs are still necessary." He says they are already working on the E-5 successor.

The interviewer says there is a feeling of betrayal among some Olympus users, since they abandoned the OM series in the past, and it's difficult to shake that sense of doubt even to this day. They worry they might be abandoned again. If Ogawa could state clearly that they definitely won't abandon their E-system users, it would assuage those fears.

Ogawa replies, "I've never once said that we have abandoned the E-series."

"A lot of people think the E-5 may be the end of the E-series," says the interviewer.

"In this line of work, if you rob the customers of their dreams, you are finished."

Finally, the interviewer asks, "Several years ago, we saw a mockup of a wooden compact camera. It was an interesting, inspiring camera. What ever happened to it?"

"The higher-ups keep saying they want to make that camera," says Ogawa. "It's very difficult, though. The manufacturing cost is extremely high, so it's hard from a business standpoint. We are keeping it on the back burner, though. Until we have sufficient time and resources, we won't get the 'go' sign, but personally, I would really like to do it."


wanderer 18th December 2011 10:34 PM

Re: Olympus interview
Good! Positive. That sounds like a thought out company strategy.

Zuiko 19th December 2011 02:28 AM

Re: Olympus interview
Thanks for taking the trouble to post this translation, Peter. It's very interesting if a little non-specific. Still, we would expect that from Olympus!

What really intrigues me is the E-5 replacement. Will this be another DSLR, or a MFT body larger than the Pens with a built in EVF (or possibly hybrid viewfinder)? Have Olympus overcome the focusing issues using SHG FT lenses on a mirrorless camera? Sensor based PDAF?

Let's hope the camera division survives independently and with enough resources to impliment this.

Greytop 22nd December 2011 09:35 AM

Re: Olympus interview
I'd also like to add my thanks to Peter for taking the time to post this translation, it's good to hear some positive product development news from Olympus rather than the other rather depressing corporate stuff that has been going on.
This of course may be a strategy (i.e. send out some good positive news) but I'm taking it at face value and it's put a bit more of a smile on my face where Olympus is concerned :)
One point which I think will be crucial is that Olympus up the anti with the image sensor perhaps with a new partner.

Chevvyf1 22nd December 2011 02:54 PM

Re: Olympus interview
Peter, Thank You for sharing this ! Very interesting :)

Nova Invicta 22nd December 2011 05:59 PM

Re: Olympus interview
You have a point about the sensor. Nikon uses Sony for sensors but the J1 & V1 use a sensor from a sensor design company thats exclusive to Nikon and this strategy could be the way Olympus should go as CMOS is a mature technology with detail improvements.
For the E series to survive they need more than just an E-5 replacement they also need a serious amatuer camera in the mould of the Canon 7D.

freedom124 22nd December 2011 09:02 PM

Re: Olympus interview
Fully agree a replacemnt for the E5 while great still needs to be followed with a lower price option as well.

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