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Olympus E-3 E-3 specific discussion.

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Old 21st June 2009
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Zuiko Zuiko is offline
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New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

It seems all manufacturers, Olympus included, are continually trying to come up with ideas for new and imaginative features that will set their cameras apart from the competition and gain them an advantage.

They also have a vested interest in continuous improvement of their range in order to keep their loyal followers regularly upgrading. This is all very well, perhaps, for the budget models but for the pro ranges it represents a pretty hefty re-investment on a fairly regular basis for the photographers concerned.

It occurs to me that a massive competitive advantage is waiting to be taken by the first manufacturer to introduce a sensor upgrade service. Take the E3 for example, lovely camera with just about every function you are ever likely to need and a build quality that will probably keep the camera working for at least a century! The only compelling reason to change it would be if a replacement model with a much better sensor was introduced.

Now supposing that, when the new sensor became available, Olympus were able to offer to replace the sensors in existing E3s, for a charge, of course. "But they'll never do that!" I hear you cry, "it would seriously affect their sales of the new camera."

Well, yes and no. True, a number of photographers who would have upgraded for the sensor alone would opt for the cheaper sensor replacement service. But equally as many photographers who couldn't justify the expense of a complete upgrade would be prepared to pay just for a new sensor, so the loss in new sales would be mitigated by increased income from sensor refits.

And it doesn't end just there. Nikon and Canon owners, already disgruntled that Four Thirds sensor technology has finally caught up with their brands, will see the long term financial benefit of migrating to Olympus and sales of the new camera would actually increase.

A bold and daring move? Yes, most certainly, but Olympus are a bold and daring company. How about it, Oly? It's time to take the DSLR market by storm!
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Old 21st June 2009
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Re: New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

An interesting idea, almost like fitting an interchangeable digital back on your E3??

Pete
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Old 21st June 2009
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Re: New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

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Originally Posted by snaarman View Post
An interesting idea, almost like fitting an interchangeable digital back on your E3??

Pete
Wow! Now that's an even better idea!

Imagine, you are going out to take tripod mounted landscapes at 100 ISO and need maximum resolution so you fit the 17mp sensor which will give you 16x12 inch prints at 300ppi without resizing.

That evening you go to your daughter's school concert where the light will be dim, you can't use flash, and you need ISO 6400. No good taking the 17mp sensor, it would be useless at that sensitivity. No problem! Just swap it for the 6mp sensor with large pixel pitch optimised for use at high ISO!
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Old 21st June 2009
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Re: New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

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Originally Posted by Zuiko View Post
Wow! Now that's an even better idea!

Imagine, you are going out to take tripod mounted landscapes at 100 ISO and need maximum resolution so you fit the 17mp sensor which will give you 16x12 inch prints at 300ppi without resizing.

That evening you go to your daughter's school concert where the light will be dim, you can't use flash, and you need ISO 6400. No good taking the 17mp sensor, it would be useless at that sensitivity. No problem! Just swap it for the 6mp sensor with large pixel pitch optimised for use at high ISO!

OK, I have the soldering iron switched on already. Here are the wire cutters, now where is that hacksaw?
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Old 21st June 2009
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Re: New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

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Originally Posted by snaarman View Post
OK, I have the soldering iron switched on already. Here are the wire cutters, now where is that hacksaw?
Hacksaw? On an E3? Surely you'll need an angle grinder?
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Old 22nd June 2009
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Re: New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

Obviously other product categories such computers allow upgrades to CPU modules and/or motherboards as well as memory/disk etc so clearly it's not something that can't be done, especially when it's clear that so many "new models" are mainly just a new sensor today.

I guess a sensor in a camera is part cpu/part memory in the role it plays (obviously memory card is the pure play storage) requiring a bottoms up re-design in order to make it upgradable, but, even if it meant sending it back to Olympus for them to upgrade in the first iteration it would make so much sense and then maybe down the road, "swappable backs" or even more convenient a "switchable" sensor that allowed it to be optimised for a range of shooting conditions coul deveop he concept further.

Seems an obvious step in the design of camera "systems" given we upgrade lenses, flashes, memory cards, firmware so why not the sensor and imaging chips (i.e. the "motherboard") for a minimum of 3 revisions within the same body/chassis and therefore give it a 5-year lifespan at forefront of sensor/processing technology instead of 1-2.

Whoever could do that would be onto a winner, the eco/disposal credentials and sustainability story would be real too. If I were Olympus I'd be looking at a business case of making the flagship body upgradable based on upgrade revenue and market share gain.

What what percentage of current E-3 10MP users would be willing to pay say, 299 for an upgrade to the latest 12MP/Truepic V combo and then in another 18 months upgrade to the next rev thus giving the body a 5 year lifespan by which time screens, viewfinders data transfer buses etc would justify a new body. I'm sure they'd see > 50% take up each time and they'd gain market share which would be the big win plus existing Oly users would be very happy campers and unlikely to leave.
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Old 22nd June 2009
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Re: New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

Yes; I raised this in Ian's thread before Xmas on what we'd all like to see (I have no doubt the results were passed to Olympus).

The fact that no manufacturer offers this suggests either that they would all fear loss of profit in selling complete new models or that there are tech difficulties one doesn't immediately spot.

It would be good if Ian could put the question to Olympus and get a definitive answer on this subject.
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Old 22nd June 2009
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Re: New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

this comes up from time to time

looking back over the whole E range delivered to date it's difficult to see many modelswhere the sensor and motherboard alone would have delivered. 410 to 420 was probably the closest but even then we would be making huge assumptions about the changes implemented to support CDAF which, as evidenced by the 14-54 mkII can obvioulsy require more than meets the eye.

whilst on the face of it the 'engineering' component of the E3 is a significant cost I suspect that in practice it wouldn't make financial sense for either party.

Really really obvious issues include

1. shutter life
2. warranty support on the unit as a whole
3. the support of the 3 control panels for new functionality (the rear lcd is the only easy one)

Whilst it's a nicely put together box, and I can definitely understand why people get used to the ergonomics and physical interface (and thus wedded to them) at the end of the day the 'camera' is the image capture box that you attach your lenses to - and if you are lucky a few other accessories retain their full functionality across model upgrades as well.
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Old 22nd June 2009
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Talking Re: New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

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Originally Posted by Zuiko View Post
Hacksaw? On an E3? Surely you'll need an angle grinder?
Sounds like you have worked at Olympus service centre!
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Old 22nd June 2009
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Re: New feature guaranteed to give Olympus clear advantage

'Cource, in film days all camera bodies were basically the same and we used a particular film depending on what we wanted (fine grain, course grain, fast film). As the sensor is essentially the film in a dSLR I see interchangeable sensors as a great idea. But I would be most surprised if it ever happened.
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