Is the Olympus camera division on the ropes?

Is the Olympus camera division on the ropes? Several sites are reporting they might be forced to forgo their digital camera business. This has of course fired up the comments on various forums. Some in defence and others proclaiming m4/3 is dying.

The situation isn’t helped by Panasonic deciding to change direction.

So what’s the problem?

Well….It would appear to be the investors in Olympus suggesting a new direction. While their latest camera the EM1-X  might be considered an expensive model, somewhere within the rooms and corridors of Olympus HQ it must have been discussed and agreed to release that product at that price point.

It’s interesting that its the investors – reportedly foreign investors – who are asking for change. Does that vindicate the Olympus marketing and production departments? Maybe. It can’t be easy in the digital camera business these days. Despite comments on what camera companies should do from forum users, I think that those very users sometimes forget what they want may not be appropriate for other markets or regions. A few vocal Americans [insert your country here] may not be representative of a global market.

M4/3 may not be the only casualty

I still think that anything smaller than full frame could well be challenged in the current climate. It’s possible, to get some clear product differentiation that Canon and Nikon may give up on their APS sized cameras and cede market share to smartphones.

That would leave Fuji in the APS segment, effectively in a niche. Both in style and sensor size.

Will Nikon continue to produce what is effectively three different ranges of lenses? I’d bet a bag of doughnuts that Nikon will (officially or otherwise) let the DX go. And I say that as an avid DX user. I just hope that they don’t do a CX on it and neglect it to death. Nikon published a road map for their Z series lenses. Let’s hope they have the kahunas to tell us what they might do with DX.

Will other investors want out of the camera market?

If Olympus investors want out, are they the only ones? Will this prompt other investors to think along similar lines and want to change direction away from a declining market?

Let’s face it investors want a return. If that is harder to accomplish in a diminishing market they may very well want out.

That could mean Olympus won’t be the only one in trouble.

It could also mean investors increasingly calling the shots …..

It’s not just cameras that are boring

Apparently it’s not just cameras that are boring…mobile phones seem to be suffering too.

An article on wired.co.uk suggests that mobile phone makers are having similar issues to camera manufacturers. After a few incremental upgrades to phones it would appear people aren’t buying new models as often as they once did.

So are we getting bored with minor changes or have we reached the point where the value in upgrading, for most of us, isn’t there any more?

In the case of mobiles it looks like a combination of things, including increasing flag ship prices are playing a part. Together with the realisation that you don’t have to change your phone every two years when your contracts up. The article also states that cheaper manufacturers are eating away at the mid range market quite successfully.

The mobile industry needs ‘the next big thing’, but doesn’t necessarily know what that is yet. Their money seems to be on 5G. If you live in a rural area in the UK, your glad for any G let alone 5 🙂

Sound familiar?

When Canon and Nikon release their mirrorless cameras there’s bound to be some excitement (and possibly disappointment). But there will be a bit of buzz for a while.

Until the ole hedonic adaptation (or treadmill) kicks in. If that’s a new phrase you never heard of before I’ll try to give a quick unscientific explanation: it’s a theory that people quickly get used to a positive (or negative) event in their life and then return to the previous state of happiness.

In other words the excitement of the new lens, camera or phone (or anything else) will wear off and you return to the level of happiness you had before the purchase.

Bit like getting a quick energy boost from something sugary.

Will a new mirrorless camera be different to what we have now?

Will Nikons' next mirrorless system be abandoned like the 1 series?
Will Nikons’ next mirrorless system be abandoned like the 1 series?

In terms of the name on the front, yes. In terms of having a camera with no mirror in it………?  Think we got those already.

Will Canon or Nikon give us enough of a value proposition to avoid looking at Fuji, Sony, Panasonic or Olympus? If people have already switched I can’t see them returning to the fold. In the UK we still have very subdued consumer spending. A new camera offering will have to be more than “Hey look… we took the mirror out”. It should be “We took all the good stuff you like about our cameras and added a bunch of stuff to make your workflow easier”.

I can’t think of anything compelling that would make me want to buy a new camera at the moment. Apart from a catastrophic impact onto a pavement or some internal mechanical failure. I appreciate there could be certain features that appeal to certain people, but I’m not going to buy the first generation new mirrorless Nikon put out. I would like an idea of where they will take their mirrorless system first. We don’t want or need another Nikon 1 series fiasco.

Whether you like to use DSLR or mirrorless or both, I can’t help thinking that as photographers were in the same boat with the mobile users.

Still waiting for the ‘next big thing’.