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Wednesday, 01 December 2010

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Poor Olympus. They never seem to get it right. Always making high quality, innovative products but somehow fail to complete the lineup and compete with the big 2. Pro lenses for the E series DSLR's are too expensive and they blew it by not coming out with a line of fast primes for the M43 cameras. Adapted lenses are OK but 12mm, 24mm and 40mm F2 autofocus primes would have really made the whole thing more interesting (and practical).

Mike, this is all well and good and I hope you feel better soon, but how is that K5+31 coming along!? I'm sort of waiting on your take on it before boosting Hoya's profits a little more.
Take care, Nick

Nick,
I haven't received the K-5 yet. Still waiting.

Mike

Olympus is toast I fear.

For Olympus is the loss across the entire company or in the photography division? They do a lot more than cameras and lenses and by word of mouth they have been selling a lot of Pens. Their DSLR sales are down of course. The new E5 is a super fantastic camera, but likely to appeal only to those who already own Olympus cameras.

Leica has been doing well but I wonder about the momentum of M9 sales in the long term.

Hope one of those M9s will wind up under my tree...

"For Olympus is the loss across the entire company or in the photography division?"

Andrew,
If you click through the link I've provided, you'll know as much as I do.

Mike

Rob,
If there's one thing I've learned in this business, it's that Leicas don't grow on trees.

Mike

The Hoya factbook for the latest results have a picture of both the K-5 and 645D along with a nice quote:
"We normally show photographs of endoscopic devices on the Quarterly Report. This time we are also showing photos of our new digital cameras,the 645D and K-5, because they are very good products."
Seems even Hoya's CFO is proud of their new cameras. 10% market share is also mentioned but I cannot make out if this is Pentax's market share of the SLR market or SLRs market share of all camera sales.
Link: [url]http://www.hoya.co.jp/english/investor/fs20101115_3e.pdf[/url]

Regarding Pentax (Hoya) and Olympus, I've been trying to check out their latest weather resistant cameras/lenses (K and E models, respectively) as a possible supplement to my digital rangefinders (thanks, Mike, for some direction).

Besides reading and talking with others, I need to touch and feel a camera as an important part of my decision process. My age might be showing, but for me, this means visiting a reputable and knowledgeable dealer, not ordering online to try something out. However, it's not easy to do this for either brand. Olympus dealers are not plentiful, and there's only one Pentax dealer within a long, long drive of this major metropolitan east coast area. [My local Leica dealer says he expects Pentax to eventually go to online sales only, and that they already give Amazon first dibs on products.]

Olympus and Pentax frequently come close to my target needs in many ways, but miss in other critical areas. Unfortunately, this seems a catch-22. The companies are accountable for not generating more customer appeal, but as sales lag, dealers stock fewer of their goods, and the decline in store sales accelerates.

One hopes that eventually they hit the mark with a product or two, and reverse the trend. Leica seems to have done that...for now. (Note that overall sales for Leica almost doubled, but sales for the photo division...cameras, lenses and accessories...increased almost 140%.]

I'm amazed that Leica is posting gross sales of $146 million; who is spending money on those cameras?

...growing up, and in the "biz", I knew people that might have had a nice M3 or M4 and a few lenses (for "personal" work), while their professional gear was a Nikon or a Canon; or more likely, a Hasselblad or a Mamiya or a Calumet/Cambo 4X5. Every time we saw a "photographer" laden down with Leica equipment, we never knew who it was, so we played the guessing game: "doctor or lawyer".

With $146 mil in gross sales, someones gotta be buying that stuff, but still can't believe it's a professionals decision in this day and age of dropping dayrates and "shutter-Moms" giving stock away....

What happened OLYMPUS? The inevitable result
of refusing to listen to its customers.Will
they ever learn?

@Crabby...

Well, the Leica Photo Group only accounted for $87.7 million Euro, or about $115 million dollars. Feel better now?

BTW, count me among the non-doctor/lawyer, non-professional, non-collector group in Leica sales.

Poor Olympus. I dumped my Nikon Ftn for an OM-1 shortly after they came out. Olympus, Maitani really, had a clear vision then and for another couple of decades, and fulfilled it very well.

The E-1 was a pretty good first DSLR at the time, although certain shortcomings for my specific needs led me elsewhere. Since then, they seem like blind people stumbling around in a room full of random stuff.

They design and build some really excellent, high end lenses for 4/3, but the “pro” cameras that use them aren’t really competitive, late and behind the competition. Even their lesser lenses are above the competition, but their decent middle range DSLRs also tend to lag in features and overall image quality against APS sensor cameras. Whether for that or other reasons, after a couple of early bursts, they seem not to have caught the buying/using public’s imagination.

Now, other than a minor tune-up of the flagship E-3 to E-5, they seem to be letting the DSLRs go. All that time and money creating all that beautiful pro quality glass, seeping away.

They pioneer the exciting new μ4/3 standard, then lose their ability in lenses with the mediocre 25/2.8, while Panasonic brings out their excellent 20/1.7. Sure, the Panny costs more, but I know people who are using it on their Olys, but nobody doing the reverse. And guess what the profit margin on separate lens sales is, compared to camera kits.

I suppose if they get μ4/3 really going, some of the high end glass could be repackaged, but the E-P1/2 aren’t up to that use and the E-PL1 is a move down market.

They produce an endless stream of, undistinguished, “me too”, P&Ss and their higher category compacts hover around worst in class. In the meantime, Samsung discovers that really cool looking cameras that take crappy pictures aren’t the answer and comes up with attractive looking normal designs that take good pics and float up toward the top. (Yup, recently bought an HZ35W/WB650, and it’s excellent for its class.)

I sometimes think about an E-620, 12-60 combo, but really, I think the Canon 60D with 15-85 is a better choice for about $300 more. The irony is that I have EOS gear compatible with the 60D only because it was the only mount other than 4/3 that allowed me to use my Oly MF glass on a DSLR.

I still have my extensive OM gear, but it gets very little use. Meantime, all my digital purchases have been things not Oly. I still wish them well, but won’t buy the wrong thing just for what has become nostalgia.

Moose

Stendahl? Blue Oyster Cult, surely?

Take a look in Hong-Kong and see how the new riches from Mainland China shop. As long it has exclusive, expensive and limited tags, they will buy without second thought. I believe similar things happen in Russia as well.

I have been a corporate photographer, shooting annual reports and other industrial matters for 29 years. I used to work for a long time with the Hasselblad/e6 processed films&polaroids/strobes/assistant(s) combo. Like for many of my fellow photographers, this way of working has been replaced by an EOS1ds/strobes/assistant combo.

Along this, I took a new look at my old leica used up to then for my personal work. After a hiatus of few years,(hey, we had to wait a while for the digital leica!) I invested in a M8, then the M9 and few new lenses, among others the new 18 SuperElmar. All this was indeed not cheap! But it has been partly funded by selling old photo gear.

This new equipment allows me to provide my clients different work, maybe more candid, than before with an ease of use which I feel a bit ashamed...

I must point out also that some clients are amused by a guy working with a Leica, very much in the same way they used to enjoy the presence of an Hasselblad on a photo set. After all, most clients can buy and use a Canon or Nikon themselves... but using a Leica or a Hasselbald? This case may explain the sudden success of the brand among guys like me.

For what it is worth...

I got my M3 while I was a college student. And added 35/2 and 90/2
lenses to the collapsible 50 it came with.

Never been a doctor or a lawyer even since then.

I'm just sayin'. As they say.

David,
I have to say I never understood the "doctor lawyer" cliche when it comes to Leicas. The fact is, Leicas have always been favored by accomplished photographers in far greater proportion than its market share would predict. Minolta used to regularly try to make "pro" cameras, but how many pros actually shot with just the Minolta system? Far fewer than its market share would predict. So does that mean we should say that Minoltas were only purchased by tyros who took pictures of flowers and cats? That kind of prejudice has always struck me as odd (and not just when it comes to cameras). It's the worst sort of stereotyping--the type that isn't particularly accurate, for one thing, but, worse, doesn't have the potential to be useful or helpful even if it were accurate.

Mike

As the voice of reason here :)

A Leica M9 + 50mm cost about US$8K. So that's a very small number of customers to fill the 115M revenue. (In fact less than 15,000).

Consider that Canon EOS made 30M cameras in 20 years (That's 1.5M cameras a year on average).

Anyway, I wish all Camera makes better performance next year. We need the competition.

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