Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why I Don't Hate Olympus

I've noticed that, in my most recent string of posts, I've been hating on Olympus and Panasonic a lot, especially Olympus. I feel that I should clarify my position and explain why I don't HATE Olympus.

Far from it. I like Olympus a great deal. They have legacy that very few companies have. Perhaps it's because Canon and Nikon became so intertwined with journalistic work, but they are seen as the "working man" sort of camera. You buy these cameras because you need them, not because you are an artiste.

Olympus is one of the few Japanese companies with a sort of art air about them. Yes, they're riding a lot of the good will associated with their old cameras, just as Pentax is riding the good will associated with the K1000, but so what? They have legacy and a sense of artistic importance in their name.

Moreover, while other companies have been pushing hard into video, such as Panasonic, Olympus remains about the picture. I like this core philosophy. Granted, they have no idea what to do with this philosophy, but at least they have it. It was this core that triggered their move towards the 2X 4/3's format. While that move would prove not as wise as they likely thought it, it was not a bad idea when it was first thought up.

No, I do not hate Olympus. But Olympus makes it very hard to love them. They have a truly different idea from everyone else on the market, and yet they have done NOTHING but fuck it up for the past four years. They totally borked their 4/3's market by essentially saying that the E-5 would be the last, have done nothing in the Micro-4/3's market to replace those sales, and are offering nothing to differentiate itself from their 4/3's brother, Panasonic.

If they offered a small, pro-level camera, they'd have camera aficionados lined up around the block for it. If they pushed their 4/3's lenses harder for Micro 4/3's, I don't think sales of those lenses would have collapsed so entirely. If they fostered the aftermarket more, pros would be less averse to entering the system.

Olympus has a great core, but the manifestations of that core are abysmal. That's why I both love and hate Olympus.

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