What is wrong with Olympus?

Started 7 months ago | Discussions thread
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Mal_In_Oz
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What is wrong with Olympus?
7 months ago

This is a rant about Olympus and how they are treating EM5 owners. If you are precious about Olympus as your favourite camera maker then I suggest you move onto the next forum post because I am about to unleash all hell on them.

What has spurred me to take an antagonistic stance is the release of the EM10. Not because of what it is, but because of what it isn’t. The EM10 is likely to be a very good camera for budget buyers. Looks good with a good sensor and will have some new features. Fabulous. Awesome for buyers not looking for EM5 level features.

But for existing EM5 owners, and there are plenty of us, or even new buyers looking for a state of the art pockeable camera, it is a disappointment. It means a true update to the EM5 is either not going to happen or not going to happen any time soon. If this was a true replacement then it would have been heralded as such. But all the talk of a cheaper line in the OMD range has been preparation for the let down, to keep expectations under control. So we are going to get less features in the EM10, that is a given. And logically means its not a suitable replacement for the EM5.

So what’s wrong with the EM5 anyway. “Why not just go and shoot with what you have?” you want to ask. My main gripe is the lack of focus peaking. There are many good old lenses we could use, and even some awesome new lenses in the Voightlanders and SL Magic ranges that are begging us to have better manual focus implementations like just about every other manufacturer has. For me it’s the 25mm SLR Magic T0.95. I would love to use it more reliably, but so far its been a struggle for anything that moves on the EM5. I have tried focus peaking on the NEX 5N and was starting to enjoy that implementation before I sold it due to other issues with the camera.

It’s not like Olympus don’t have focus peaking developed. They now have it in the EP5 and EM1 so it should be as simple as a firmware update to implement. The clever work-around possible through an art filter is a partial solution but has its own drawbacks, to do with lack of colour options ( I prefer yellow) and often not bold enough to see clearly. I can work around the JPG issue by shooting in JPG and RAW (the first JPG has the ART filter applied) and then produce another normal JPG from the RAW. But this is tedious in camera, and possibly even slower using Olympus Viewer on the PC.

And its also not like Olympus didn’t know about focus peaking right back in early 2012 when the EM5 was released. Sony had already implemented it in their NEX range, and as a firmware upgrade. The only response from Olympus at the time was that the zoom to focus was better. The fact that they implemented it in later cameras suggests they already knew better. I think their response at the time was shameful.

But there are other new features that I would like to have in a refresh of the EM5. Features like silent shutter, better video options and built in WIFI for remote control (i'm hearing a few murmours of agreement in the audience...). These are good camera features that we have been waiting a long time for and may or may not be showing up on new models. I don’t mind paying (reasonably) for them, if I can keep my very small, weather sealed, built in EVF and IBIS camera.

You might argue that Olympus are a small company and can only develop so much. Our EM5 replacement will come when they can get to it. Well why don’t Olympus commit to a replacement then? The reason is because they want us to flip flop between models, having to buy this model for this feature, then have to buy a different model to get another feature, and so on. This is not a customer centric view of the world. Olympus are deliberately milking us by manipulating features and product timings to suck money out of us. They have a customer base now in the EM5 and want to create a checker pattern of options rather than a straight forward upgrade plan. (Personally I think they screwed up expecting every EM5 owner to jump to the EM1, even as good as it is. The trouble is that the EM1 is not “pockeable” in the way most of us want).

This is nothing new. Nikon and Canon have done similar things. Pity the poor APSC camera buyers that are still waiting for a decent lens line up. Most prime lenses are developed for FF and not capitalising on the small form factor possible with APSC. And what about Nikon, it’s been four and a half years and they still haven’t developed a D400 for their D300/D300S users.

What I am leading to is a point about Olympus, and what is happening in the decision makers heads. Olympus seem to have taken a stance of screwing over its customers like the big boys do. But I don’t think Olympus are in a position to do this. Olympus are struggling to get market share and really should be focused on quality of product, and quality of service. Provide what the customers are asking for. Show commitment to the future. Things that give us all a warm fuzzy feeling and make us proud to be “early adopters” and become good recommenders of Olympus.

I wonder how similar this situation is to when Olympus failed to develop AF in the late 90’s. Were they being pig headed then about AF as they are now on focus peaking in particular, and firmware upgrades in general? Did they hold off the AF feature except in certain models, basically alienating all their customers from what should have been a ubiquitous feature? I don’t know, but there do seem to be parallels.

Right now, I feel let down, and looking over at the Fuji camp wondering how good it might be over there. I think Fuji have the right approach as a company and I am very tempted to try some of their wares. It would be such a shame though because Olympus are in the space to develop the compact cameras that I want.

Rant over.

 Mal_In_Oz's gear list:Mal_In_Oz's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus PEN E-PL5 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH +5 more
Nikon D300 Nikon D40 Olympus E-M1 Olympus PEN E-P5
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