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The Everyday Sling might just be the perfect pack for not carrying too much gear, combining comfort with Peak Design's signature modern style.
|Mr. Hirofumi Imano, Division manager of Product Strategy at Olympus, photographed at the company's Hachioji facility.
[photo: Barnaby Britton]
After the CP+ show in Yokohama closed last week, editor Barnaby Britton journeyed out to Olympus's design facility in Hachioji to speak to executives and engineers. Among the people he spoke to was Hirofumi Imano, Division Manager of Product Strategy. In a broad-ranging interview, Mr. Imano explained the company's strategies for competing in a tough market, the genesis of the OM-D line, opportunities in video, and why he thinks Canon and Nikon might not be making high-end mirrorless cameras.
Note: This interview was conducted through a translator, and edits have been made for clarity and structure.
Well, obviously shipments from manufacturers are down, compact cameras especially but also interchangeable lens cameras are declining. This is a fact. At the same time though, there is still growth in the mirrorless market and more and more people are taking and sharing photos. So in terms of the imaging business overall, we have a great opportunity.
Our key interest lies in mirrorless cameras, represented by the OM line and the PEN line, but although we know that the market for compact cameras is shrinking,there's still demand for niche products like our TOUGH lineup.
|The Olympus Stylus SP-100 is a 50X super-zoom camera with a built-in dot sight for accurately tracking moving subjects at the long end of the camera's zoom.|
There are many things that a camera can offer which a smartphone can't. For example bright, large aperture lenses such as that employed in our Stylus 1 and our SP-100 that offers a 40X optical zoom and dot sight, which is more user-friendly than competitive cameras at long focal lengths. So there are some segments of the market which are not being eroded by smartphones. This is why our focus is on mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and high-end and special purpose compacts.
People’s basic desire to record their lives and express their personalities through creative expression won’t change. It’s a human instinct. More photos are taken on a daily basis now than ever before, as we’ve discussed.
The camera is and will remain the most credible device for self-expression through photography and we will keep on striving to include the latest optical and digital technology to realize this. We need to make our cameras reliable and responsive.
It’s definitely important for us, and in fact for the entire industry to expand the number of people out there who are interested in taking photos with cameras. Whether that’s young people, women, men - expanding that community is very important. At the same time it’s very important for Olympus to attract enthusiasts. These two areas are equally important and we have been successful at attracting entry-level customers with the PEN lineup, and we’ll provide more enhancements to this lineup, both in terms of technology and features.
OM-D has been very well-received by photo enthusiasts, and has been praised for image quality as well as customization and build-quality. With the lineup that we have now, of PEN and OM-D products we’re capable of cultivating both low and high-end customers.
We had a sense that as SLRs became DSLRs and sensors replaced film that the cameras were getting chunkier and chunkier. What we really wanted to achieve with the OM-D series was to use the optical heritage that we have, and combine that with the digital technology that we’ve been working on such as 5-axis image stabilization to achieve the maximum possible image quality while maintaining portability.
|Hirofumi Imano pictured with (l-r) the OM-D E-M10, E-M5, special edition E-M5 with crinkle finish and the flagship OM-D E-M1
[photo: Barnaby Britton]
We now have a 3-camera OM-D lineup, and we’ve been getting a lot of praise for the reliability of the cameras, and also for the image quality which people are saying is equal and in some cases better than DSLRs. We’re seeing this kind of feedback from our customers and we want more and more people to join the system and enjoy shooting with these cameras.
The OM-D series definitely inherits things from the OM-line, most importantly maintaining portability without compromising image quality. One of the slogans of the original OM was 'from photomicrography to astrophotography’ - meaning that you could use the cameras to shoot subjects varying from bacteria to the cosmos. We’re still working on developing the OM-D system but definitely yes - a lot is inherited.
I started out as an R&D engineer working on our voice-recorders, back in the days of tape. After my experience with recorders for the past ten-fifteen years I’ve been involved in product planning for our cameras, also industrial design and user interface, before moving into product strategy. The first cameras I worked on were one of our first weatherproof compacts, the Stylus 710, and the Stylus Verve, which was a stylish, unique compact shaped like a raindrop.
It’s hard to predict the future but more and more, especially in the US and Europe we’re hearing requests for more improvements in our cameras’ video capabilities, both at the enthusiast and consumer level. The design of our lenses, and systems like image stabilization are impacted by the need for our cameras to shoot video as well as stills. We wouldn’t say that we’re 100% there yet, but we’re actively working to optimize video performance in our lineup of both cameras and lenses.
We stepped into the Micro Four Thirds format with this in our minds - it’s a format optimized for still as well as video. Some things are still on the horizon, but we’re already considering video in the design of our lenses, for example the MSC focusing system.
There is definitely very big business opportunity. There’s increasing demand, and the technology is improving. There’s equipment out there for professionals, and also for a consumer audience such as the various sports-cam style cameras which is really gaining traction in a lot of markets. But whether you’re shooting stills or video, the image comes through a lens, and as an optics manufacturer we’re setting very high standards. Perhaps this is an area that we can cultivate in our business - lenses for professional video gear.
In terms of ergonomics, we tend to find that at the enthusiast level, our customers have a more or less uniform idea of what they’re comfortable with, regardless of where they are in the world.
When it comes to the functionality that people want there are slight differences in the feedback depending on territory, but honestly it largely remains the same. Especially when it comes to our interchangeable lens products. That said, more of our customers in the US and Europe are vocal about wanting more advanced video functionality than in Japan and Asia, and our Asian customers are more vocal about ergonomics - things like how the dials feel. They’re very picky.
One reason is maybe the perception, on behalf of customers and maybe even sales associates in stores that cameras from the bigger brands are better. The other thing is sensor size - DSLRs have APS-C and full-frame sensors inside them, but the mirrorless market is mainly APS-C and smaller, and for a long time it was mainly just Micro Four Thirds. Maybe there’s a perception that bigger sensors equals bigger image quality, which has hindered growth in the mirrorless market in the USA and Europe.
I think our reason to exist in this industry is to push the envelope with a system that maintains a good balance between image quality and portability. By pushing the envelope we firmly believe we can expand our customer base and also capture enthusiast photographers who might not be having fun with their bigger, bulkier DSLRs.
|The OM-D E-M1 is Olympus's flagship mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, and was voted best of its type of 2013, and best product of 2013 overall by dpreview readers.|
As an optics manufacturer, we know that it isn’t as simple as saying 'a bigger sensor always delivers better image quality than a smaller sensor'. It's more complicated than that. It’s a combination of multiple factors including lens resolution, sensor and image processing. We have to keep on communicating to our customers, and to retailers, that things aren’t as simple as they might have heard.
In Japan, currently 50% of the market is mirrorless, but a few years ago it was the same situation here as we’re currently seeing in the USA and Europe. But we just stuck firmly to our position, and kept on communicating to customers that there’s another option, which is small and light and takes beautiful images.
Well that’s his view! We’ll keep on communicating the benefits of mirrorless but Canon and Nikon dominate the interchangeable lens camera market and if they did come out with serious, reliable mirrorless cameras, I agree that yes - it might stimulate the market and boost sales of our cameras. Maybe it’s intentional that they haven’t launched enthusiast-focused mirrorless cameras, because they’re dominant. They’ve been maturing their systems for years. Maybe it’s strategic that they’re staying away.
The future is very challenging, but it’s exciting too. We’ll have to work hard.
Aug 23, 2015
Feb 24, 2017
Feb 1, 2017
Jan 24, 2017
Olympus has released a major firmware update for two of its OM-D cameras as well as the PEN-F. It adds support for Profoto's TTL flash system and also brings numerous new features and bug fixes. Read more
Olympus OM-D E-M1 owners are reporting issues using their cameras after updating to firmware version 4.2. Olympus has suspended FW 4.2 and has issued a statement with more information. Read more
The new Olympus OM-D E-M1 II is quite a camera. Capable of shooting at up to 60fps at full-resolution, and packing high-bitrate 4K video and in-body stabilization, the E-M1 II is a powerhouse. But if you already have an E-M1, is it worth the upgrade? Find out
Olympus unveiled the details of two fairly significant firmware updates, both of which will be available for download, for free, come November. The flagship Olympus OM-D E-M1 will receive firmware version 4.0. while the not even one-year-old OM-D E-M5 II will receive firmware version 2.0. Read more
Olympus has announced that it is is producing a new limited edition 'Titanium' OM-D E-M5 II camera. The Titanium E-M5 II will offer all of the same features and specs of the regular version, with its top and bottom plates swapped out for dark metallic versions that match those of the OM-3/Ti from 1994. Worldwide, 7,000 copies of the Titanium model will be made, though how many will be available in the US is yet to be announced. The company is also readying firmware updates for both the E-M1 and E-M5 II, related mostly to underwater shooting. Read more
The Everyday Sling might just be the perfect pack for not carrying too much gear, combining comfort with Peak Design's signature modern style.
When the Fujifilm X-T2 arrived, it was more than just a modest upgrade to the already impressive X-T1. While the new X-T3 hasn't changed the overall design of the camera, this model is way more than an upgrade; rather, it's a quantum leap.
The Movie Maker is a compact, motorized slider designed for phones, action cams and small mirrorless cameras. We think it's a fun little kit and a good value proposition for the cost, provided you can work around a few of its weak points.
Nikon's Z7 is the first camera to use the all-new Z-mount, the company's first new full-frame mount since 1959. We've put together our first impressions based on quality shooting time with a pre-production camera - check out what we've found.
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|My Garden by Mitchmeister|
from The Secret Garden
|Crowded Skies by Rushlin|
from Seven types of aircraft - lighter than air
Sigma has said it will create a full-frame Foveon camera and will adopt the Leica L mount for its system. It will be able to adapt or convert SA mount lenses to the L mount, for existing users.
Hasselblad is expanding their X System with their announcement of three new lenses: the XCD 80mm F1.9, XCD 65mm F2.8 and XCD 135mm F2.8, along with a teleconverter. The 80mm F1.9 is the fastest in the system. Get all the details and check out Hasselblad's official sample images here.
Sigma has announced the 56mm F1.4 DC DN lens for Micro Four Thirds and Sony E mounts. The compact 56mm lens becomes the sixth DN lens for mirrorless cameras and will make a handy portrait lens on both systems.
Sigma has announced the 28mm F1.4 Art, 40mm F1.4 Art, 70-200mm F2.8 Sport and 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 Sport lenses for several full frame lens mounts, including Canon, Nikon and, in the first two instances, Sony E.
ON1 has announced the impending launch of ON1 Photo RAW 2019. The new version, due out in November, brings a handful of new tools and features in a revamped interface.
Fujifilm has said it is developing a 100MP GFX medium format camera that will include both phase detection autofocus and in-body image stabilization. The 4K-capable camera will sell for around $10,000.
Leica has announced the S3 medium-format camera – an S2 successor with a 64MP sensor capable of 4K video.
The GFX 50R is a 50MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. It borrows heavily from the existing 50S model but in a smaller body and at a lower price. How does it differ?
Fujifilm has announced its GFX 50R, a rangefinder-styled version of the company's GFX 50S medium-format camera. The 'guts' of the two cameras are the same, with the difference being the design, weight and Bluetooth, all at a considerably lower price.
In this episode of DPReview TV, we get our hands on Fujifilm's GFX 50R which hides a medium-format sensor in a new, more compact body. Watch to get Chris and Jordan's first impressions on image quality, video and more.
Fujifilm is adding a trio of new medium-format lenses to its G-mount roadmap. GFX owners will soon be able to get their hands on 100-200mm F5.6, 45-100mm F4 and compact 50mm F3.5 lenses. Pricing and availability have not been announced.
Micro Four Thirds users will soon get a super fast, constant aperture wide angle zoom.
Panasonic has announced it is developing two full frame mirrorless cameras: the 47MP S1R and the 24MP S1. We've been shown fairly advanced-looking but non-functional prototype cameras, and have been able to squeeze a few details from Panasonic.
Panasonic is developing a pair of full-frame mirrorless cameras that use Leica's L-mount. The S1R will feature a 47MP sensor, while the S1 will be 24MP. Both cameras will support Dual IS shake reduction 4K/60p video capture and will have XQD and SD card slots.
Leica, Panasonic and Sigma are teaming up. Expect L-mount cameras from Panasonic as well as L-mount glass from Sigma.
Ricoh has announced the development of the GR III enthusiast compact, due to ship in early 2019. The camera gains sensor-shift image stabilization and an updated 24MP sensor with phase-detection. The 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens has also been redesigned and a touchscreen added.
The 'I'm Back' is now available for a range of old film-SLRs, such as Nikon's F-Series, the Olympus OM10 or the Canon AE-1.
IRIX has announced its latest lens, the 150mm F2.8 Macro 1:1. IRIX claims the lens features 'close to zero' distortion and stands out with its 150mm telephoto focal length.
The RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM is one of four lenses to launch with Canon's new full-frame mirrorless system, and it boasts the longest reach of the range. Take a look at some of the samples we've gathered thus far as our EOS R testing continues.
Nikon's Sendai factory in the Tōhoku region North of Japan has been churning out cameras and lenses since 1971. We had the opportunity recently to visit Sendai during events to mark the launch of Nikon's new Z mount.
There's no mistaking the Nikon Coolpix P1000 – with a 24-3000mm equivalent zoom, it really is in a class of its own. It's a conspicuous-looking superzoom with one main job: getting you really close to far away subjects. We've put together a gallery showing the kind of results you can expect from it.
A new report from The Verge claims Instagram is currently testing a feature that allows users to re-share posts to their own account feeds.
GoPro has announced its HERO7 camera lineup. The updated action cameras feature new HyperSmooth and TimeWarp modes, as well as improved video and photo specs.
The latest Samsung midrange smartphone offers a super-wide-angle lens in its triple-camera setup.
The Sony 24mm F1.4 is the latest lens to join the company's premium G Master lineup. We've been shooting with one for a couple of days - here's what you need to know.
Apple released iOS 12 a few days ago and some iPhone X users are less than happy with how the new operating system has made their phones look.
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Canon has announced its latest superzoom camera, the PowerShot SX70 HS. Compared to the SX60 that came before it, the SX70 has the same lens but offers a higher resolution EVF, 4K video capture and support for Canon's new CR3 Raw format.
Cosina has announced its eighth lens designed specifically for Sony's E-mount system. The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 lens is due out October 2018.
Sony has taken the wraps off of its new 24mm F1.4 GM full-frame lens, which the company claims is the lightest in its class. Despite its fast aperture, the 24mm F1.4 is remarkably light, weighing just 445 grams (15.7 ounces). The lens will set you back $1400 when it ships next month.