Olympus, the third way

Some reminders

my OM2

In 1972, 0lympus had presented a SLR camera M1, rapidly recalled OM1 after some protests of Leica, a compact and innovative camera which allied reason with passion. From this date Olympus has rejoined the four other major actors of the world of the photography of the seventies: Canon, Minolta, Nikon and Pentax.

Each OM camera with its technological innovations, the quality of Zuiko lenses, flash or macro possibilities has impressed many photographers.

Olympus has missed the autofocus mutation and stop to produce SLR body and lenses since 1987.
Independent manufacturers also stopped to propose lenses for OM camera and orphan photographers kept their old equipment or changed of brand.

my first digital camera: Camedia 1000 L

In the same time Olympus centered its activities, with success, on the silver compact market then on bridge-camera IS.
The knowledge accumulated with the OM series was a key factor of success.

From the beginning of the digital period, Olympus has been one pioneer and with its experience on bridge-cameras IS, it has proposed, many digital compact and some SLR digital with non-interchangeable lens and with optical viewfinder: Camedia 1000L, 1400 L and LX then Olympus E10 and E20. Each of these models has been one leader camera during its sale period.

Even in 2003, the comfort of a direct reflex view through the lens is incomparably superior a false view through a small rough and vague LCD.

The new digital SLR Olympus

In 2002, Olympus and Kodak have announced the birth of a consortium 4/3 to propose a new lens "universal" mount and some digital SLR cameras built around a 4/3" CCD. This may constitute a new standard for the digital photography for next years.

Today (September 2003), Nikon and Canon mounts share the market of the digital SLR cameras under their own brand or though the products of Kodak and Fuji.
Canon controls itself 80% of this photographic market. No other mount has succeeded to enter on this market. Pentax is not again present; Contax or Leica propose only mock-ups or design drawings. Minolta waits and the Sigma SD9 has only marginal sales.

To impose a new mount becomes more and more difficult and users of fabulous OM cameras have had all the time to change of SLR manufacturer and for some of them to go to the challengers.

the Olympus E1

The Olympus E1 and its new four Zuiko lenses have been presented in July 2003. Olympus foresees to sell 90 000 E1 cameras before the end of 2003.
This SLR camera offers a lot of interesting technical functions.

  • Magnesium body with splash and dust protection
  • Progressive 5 millions of pixels CCD with a resolution 2 to 3 time superior to the other digital compact cameras.
  • Integrated automatic CCD cleaning by oscillation to eliminate dust.
  • Recording on CF card simultaneous in RAW and Jpeg mode

The success of this camera risks to be dependent of its positioning in term of price and the durability of the new system. Today it concerns again a bet on the future: a courageous bet from Olympus that can be only encouraged and a bet from new buyers.
The capital of sympathy of the mark has been decreased by the desertion of the OM cameras and Olympus may count only on its know-how, its reputation and on the adoption of this mount by others manufacturers. In 12 or 18 month, the success and the durability of this mount will be acquired if the cameras and lenses offer is more extensive.

We can only wish the success to this enterprise, would be only by what it not being healthy that the market is concentrated on one or two marks and because the E1 is one the most beautiful and the better finish current digital cameras.

pierre j.

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Created August 2 2003
© Pierre J.