OK, Olympus, now you have caught everyone’s attention, it’s time for a revamp

Written by Gary on August 22nd, 2009

The Micro Four Thirds and the Olympus E-P1 and Panasonic GH-1 have caught the imagination of the photographic world and finally there is a product that even Canon and Nikon users are finding real value in and which can change their approach to photography.

Some people become so connected with a brand that they just don’t want to hear anything negative – post comments like these in an open forum and fanboys will erroneously consider you a troll – I am far from that, so I post here.

I have loved Olympus gear for well over 30 years and appreciated their different approach to design – just see here for a sample of my collection of toys, but I still want it to be the best it can, and so, here I put forward constructive comments which I am sure Olympus are fully aware of without me blogging about them.

BUT, now it’s time to get some basics improved.

First, the Four Thirds lens system:

  • although I love the Four Thirds lenses for their great optical quality, it’s time to make some changes to ensure improved compatibility with MFT cameras.
  • why not adopt the MFT lens mount pin system for all future Four Thirds cameras and lenses, and make them backwardly compatible with older Four Thirds cameras and lenses – this should be EASY and simplify production costs by creating uniformity while giving us end users greater flexibility – a win-win no-brainer!
  • revamp the ZD 50mm f/2.0 macro to give it contrast detect AF capability with MFT, and provide focus ranges (eg 1m to infinity, close focus to 1m) which will allow faster AF.
  • revamp the high end lenses to give them SWD – eg. the ZD 150mm f/2.0
  • if possible make lenses with both SWD and contrast-detect AF capability.

Revamp the flash system:

  • having used the Canon 580EX II speedlight, the Olympus flashes are MUCH easier to use with very intuitive controls instead of having to memorise weird user interfaces that the Canon has.
  • BUT, the remote TTL capability needs to allow the flashes to have MASTER as well as the current SLAVE mode – this should then allow it to work on any FT or MFT camera, not just those with pop-up flashes with remote TTL capability.
  • the macro flash system main controller needs to be made more compact while it needs to have capability of being used as a MASTER flash in remote TTL – successful macro flash often needs background lighting. In addition, the ring flash is often used as a fill-in flash for a main light.
  • in addition, the macro flashes need to have adapters to allow them to fit almost any lens.
  • market a new multi-TTL flash adapter which allows more that one wired TTL flash to be used concurrently – one sitting on the adapter in the hotshoe, while the second can be mounted on a flash handle or hand held – this will allow fill-in flash and a bounced or direct key light.
  • market a TTL-capable radio trigger system similar to the Pocket Wizard system if PW insists on not providing an Olympus-compatible system.

Micro Four Thirds cameras:

  • whilst the E-P1 is a great innovative camera, Olympus really needs to work on the speed of its contrast detect AF system to make it even more attractive. Perhaps they should do a trade with Panasonic – get Panasonic GH-1’s AF speed and give Panasonic the very nice built-in image stabiliser system which could be used on Panasonic cameras when there is no optical IS lens attached.
  • I am sure Olympus is dreaming all kinds of wonderful camera designs for the MFT system – perhaps optical range finder style models with aperture rings and focus distance on the lens, weather-proofed models, etc, but I wonder if they could be kind to me and make an infrared photography dedicated model and perhaps an astrophotography-dedicated model?
  • please make all future MFT and FT cameras compatible with aperture rings such as on the Leica-D lenses?
  • please make all future MFT cameras with an optional setting of SILENT still image mode – use the electronic shutter that is used in video mode instead of the mechanical shutter, and when using the electronic shutter, could we have a faster x-sync as well – similar to the Canon G11?
  • how about ensuring that the image aspect ratio modes work like the Panasonic and extend the width of your image rather than just trim it? – of course, you would have to use the slightly larger sensor to achieve this.
  • given that it seems MFT lenses to be super compact need to have compromises in image quality such as distortions, perhaps there should be the option on activating a more powerful lens-specific optical aberration correction software to the images in the same way Panasonic has achieved?

It was a smart move to decide against raising the megapixel count, and concentrate on image quality, and innovation, and I guess you will be forced into adding movie modes to all future dSLRs just to be up there with the rest, but now it’s time to deliver on the basics.

Mr Olympus, it’s time – time to really make it count and leverage the good will that has been generated by your quality and innovative products that are bringing back fun and versatility into photography.


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