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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

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Panasonic should run, not walk, to the exit doors of the 4/3 ballroom. The party is over, even if there are still a few stragglers at the punch bowl.

Being “good enough” doesn’t sell high end goods. To peddle cameras in the all important >$2000 range you need irrational size and capability.

It should state clearly that Micro 4/3 will be kept alive, so as to dissuade fears; Also, if Olympus really comes undone after JIP takes over, Panasonic would be in a position of lone supplier of high quality camera bodies for a large market of good condition and excellent quality Olympus glass. People like me who find m43 is the PERFECT balanced system would feel happier knowing Panasonic bodies are still being made and maintained, so we could keep using m43 smallish lenses for years to come. The alternative would be a switch to Fuji X which, while being a good option quality and cost-wise, will inevitably mean larger and heavier equipment.

Well I'm sure there is a debate going on in the company right now, with one faction saying 'cut your losses' and the other wanting to continue and "take" a bigger market share by assuring Only customers that the format will continue.
Whatever they do, they should do it quickly.
I would say one thing has become clear, that making m4/3 bodies bigger heavier and as expensive as cameras with larger sensors was not the way to go.
IF, there is a place in the new market for m4/3, I would think "Compact, Light weight, extreme reach, with high image quality, all at a moderate price, would maximize those chances.

The fact that Panasonic has said nothing, when it is a marketing no brainer to be 'the good guy' and reassure customers that Panny m4/3 is alive and well, makes me wonder. If they wait much longer, it becomes a reason to lose confidence.
There should be a place for small very capable cameras, but who knows in this environment.

I agree with you Mike!
Panasonic should announce to the world that they are continuing with their support of the M4/3 format. They could well keep (more than) their present share of the format.
I would certainly be interested in a GX8 Mk 2 (only six digits)

As I suggested in your original post about Olympus getting rid of its camera division, I think in hindsight we can see why Panasonic went with the new mount in partnership with companies that did not include Olympus.

Without Olympus, m4/3 is an orphan mount, and Panasonic doesn't strike me as a company that would throw good money after bad.

There may be some new products - things that were already in the pipeline - but I think the best-case scenario for that mount will be Panasonic carving out a niche for a small number of products (video?) to keep those going.

The alternative is to keep selling what they made without putting any additional $ into the mount. And that would not require an announcement.

Mike if I was going to go all in on streaming I would check out the Marantz ND 8006 as my source. CD, and all kinds of streaming including Amazon though not sure of their hi res source. I have one of their CD players playing through a Van Sistine DAC and pre and it really works.

I think the G100 announced the very same day as Olympus’ memorandum tells us all we need to know. M43 will likely remain as their lightweight under 4K video sensor.

I wonder why the Lumix name never caught on. Other than Lumix reps and ambassadors, everybody else refers to Panasonic instead of Lumix.

Panasonic should buy some Olympus technology from JIP. If they stay in m4/3s, they could do worse than adopt some of the high-speed AF and IS technology from Olympus bodies.
They could release some niche non-interchangeable lens cameras akin to the Konica Hexanon or Rollei 35 or Stylus Epic, but all based on m4/3 sensors. Largish sensor compacts, in other words, the way Sony and Fuji are doing but at lesser price point.
Panasonic should hire some of the orphaned Olympus engineers, but maybe not the ones who came up with the menu system, and I say that as someone who doesn't mind it that much.

Given Panasonic's strengths in video, I think it makes sense for them to continue m4/3 development as a video-centric product line, much like there was room for both 16mm and 35mm formats in the filmmaking era... They could also capture some of the specialized stills business such as wildlife, birding, etc. that is also the "long reach" strengths of m4/3 and there will always be users that prefer the size/weight advantage for travel, etc... But I think that Olympus is otherwise "done" (sadly) as Panasonic did video better and the vintage design legacy that Olympus fostered simply ran out of devotees over time - the discontinuance of the Pen-F last year, which otherwise "got it right" bore this out... They also missed the window for a XA-style fixed lens digital compact which I expect would have done really well, Ricoh took that niche with the GR series... Panasonic is big enough and tech resourced to continue the m4/3 niche for some additional years...

I obviously don’t have any real inside information to back this up, but since Olympus has been losing money for a few years now, maybe Panasonic saw the end of Micro Four Thirds and that’s why they moved on to invest in the L-Mount Alliance with Leica and Sigma.

In April Panasonic's position was stated: https://shrtm.nu/1Ef2

Even if they are the only major manufacturer to continue with m43 they are fairly well positioned at this time with a comprehensive range of bodies and lenses. It would be nice if they could take over some of the Olympus optics, but that is of course unlikely. Since they can't take over the Olympus lens rage, they should aim to produce their own versions of some of the more outstanding Olympus lenses. The 17/1.2, 75/1.8 and 300/4 from Olympus will be missed. As they have a 200/2.8 a 400 instead of the 300 makes sense. Also something like the 12-100 would be greatly appreciated. Still, they have an excellent range and there is also reasonable 3rd party support. While their current sensor is getting old in digital terms it still performs and I'm sure a more modern sensor is in the works at an unknown stage.

A reasonable strategy, given their proclivities would be to produce, as they do now, a near professional video centric body, a similar stills centric body, a lower specs'd SLR style body and a parallel RF styled body. And, of course, they just announced a 'vlogger' body.

Since I acquired a Panasonic G1 early on I've had 3 digital systems, two of them full frame. I have been tempted to get rid of the FF SLR style system a number of times, but I will not get rid of the m43 system as long as it exists in the current technological framework.

Hi Mike,

I have an extensive Oly kit spanning 4/3 and m4/3, plus some Lumix pieces, so am not especially rational or neutral when considering this.

My early days since the announcement take is unless a miracle keeps the Oly camera line alive and valid, m4/3 will implode from lack of products, new product development and support after sale.

Not knowing how Oly and Panny divide the m4/3 landscape I'll guess it's 2/3 to 1/3 and because Panny now has a second L-mount system to tend, they've necessarily diverted resources from m4/3 and in this economy, there's no reversing that move. They can keep it on life support as long as they care to but I do not see them coaxing new buyers into m4/3 by themselves.

Panny's rapid departure from four-thirds is a distressing precedent. To be fair their m4/3 investment is vast by comparison. Do the accountants care?

If I'm wrong, then I'll be the happiest guy in Happytown because I won't need to educate myself on a system to migrate to, nor dispose of a mountain of orphaned gear.

". . . now that Olympus is jettisoning its cameramaking business?"

We 'Murkins do love to catastrophize!

I've read all sorts of stuff about this, all of it speculation based on essentially zero information.

As an insider in a major LBO years ago, I know many outsiders figured the company would be sold in bits and pieces for scrap.

Oddly enough, the actual situation was worse than thought outside, and yet, with strategic sales of under performing bits, reorganization, competent management, etc. a profitable, stable business was created - with a good stock price. Some of the sold off bits also became successful suppliers, as well.

How can we know What JIP intends to do, let alone what they actually will do, when they get into it?

If they get into it; all we have now is the intent to sign a letter of intent. Pretty vague.

What is Panny to do? Agree that the Oly brand is toast, when they don't know if it is or isn't? We have no actual information about the profitability of Panny's µ4/3 business. Nor do we know how important it may be as support for the newer formats.

Might as well speculate as to the actual nature of ETs.

µ4/3 has made a lot of sense to me since the E-M5. I hear endless stuff about how APS-C is the larger format with inherent better IQ. I really think that's perception - which is powerful and important for sales - rather than reality.

The height of a UPS-C sensor is 15 mm, a whopping 15% greater than µ4/3, which is basically - nothing, from a performance standpoint. APS-C is a 3:2 format, like FF, so it has a higher pixel count than a same height 4:3 format would have.

I've spent way too much time looking closely at DPR studio test shots. I can't see any inherent, consistent advantage of one format over the other.

I think Panasonic would be wise to just keep quiet for the time being. 2020 has been a crazy year so far, in all regards, and it ain't over. By making predictions or commitments for an uncertain future, they might wind up with egg on their faces. Of course, all those Youtube prognosticators don't seem to mind egg, so who am I to say?

I can't seem to find a good source as to whether Panasonic's imaging division is profitable or not.

But, I think Panasonic is selling video capabilities, with still imaging as a side benefit. They are not just selling to photographers; much more diversified audience.

(And I'm not really sure if the market agrees m/43 makes sense. Olympus lost money for 9 out 10 years…)

So my take. Many of us succumb to our inner wow when we see a well done retro rangefinder style camera. (think Leica, Fuji X100 series and even the Olympus Pen F). So Panasonic how about you give us a fixed lens version in satin chrome with a modernized version of the 20 1.7? Remember it has to be jewel like, no shortcuts.

Its potential market share just doubled, and are very competitive in the video space. Why quit now?

Panasonic and Leica have moved on to full frame. That is all you need to know.

Short answer from me: I don't know, Mike.

What follows are speculations and generally unverified thought shards.

I have been in and out of the M43 system twice, currently exiting again. Although I began with the first digital Oly Pen most of my M43 cameras have been Panasonics. I have been satisfied with all of them, including my most recent, and final M43 camera the GX9. The size/performance ratio was the most attractive attribute to me, especially some of the lenses which are superb optics for that half-size target sensor.

But with stocks of gear from five brands and eight systems something's gotta go. For me, it's the M43 kit. It simply doesn't hold the same value proposition. All of the developments over the past years have been in the packaging (i.e. body designs and features) rather than in the sensor, which is stuck right about where it started. It's simply not the best sub-frame camera for me.

Which is a shame. Panasonic makes good cameras and lenses. But I think they've painted themselves into a corner with those little sensors that have outlived their competitiveness.

Where will it go? I suspect it will depend on how the four-thirds licensing pie is organized. But it will also certainly depend on a camera marketplace that is certifiably under water indefinitely. I know there are many enthusiastic M43 system owners here at TOP. To them I'd say just enjoy the system! You'll certainly have some great bargains available i the coming year(s). Whether or not Panasonic decides to maintain the system is hard to say, especially if their sensors remain frozen in time.

I should hope that, if Olympus does vanish off the scene, this would put Panasonic in an even more viable position with MFT. They could continue to produce MFT concurrent with their FF line—cross pollinating the technology from both. I've seen several comments such as 'MFT won't survive if only one major manufacturer is making bodies for the mount.' Why would that be? That was the case with most manufacturers for decades when the mounts were proprietary. Also, there could be a middle way where Olympus ceases production of bodies and just continues with their outstanding lens line (assuming that, in addition to MFT, they would also make optics for other mounts). This would be a face saving measure that, no longer tied to the bodies and one format, they continue with the MFT but also scale the line and the economics of return to Nikon and Canon mounts as well. I would think that could be a happy road ahead where we save the format and also Olympus gets to expand on their strengths.

Simple. They're going to focus on FF, where all the YT "buzz" and profit margin is.

Because using the latest and greatest FF camera will make you a better photographer, right?

The M4/3 product line will likely be relegated to a line of video-centric hybrid cameras, like the G100 or GH5S.

Brands. Funny things are brands.

They exist to make money for themselves. If we benefit by what they make, then we like the brand. Until we don't.

We're as disloyal to brands as they are to us. Panasonic currently is making reliable tools to help me enjoy my hobby. So I like them. Even so, I guarantee you that they will leave this market once it becomes a place where money making becomes too lean or too risky.

Surely that time will come within the next five years. Then I'll be sad. But the people behind the brand will move on and make another brand just as good. Then I'll sidle up to that brand for a while.

Nobody owns tomorrow.

Hm, I ask myself, if Micro 4/3 market is robust enough in the long run to stay interesting for corporations like Panasonic. I live in Europe and the market here is less friendly for small cameras than in Asia and maybe in US. Olympus is going to stay in Japan, so not much more room for Panasonic there. Given the steps smartphones are doing, I do not think small sensor photography is not going to thrive.

MFT as a system is mature: Several housings and many lenses are available. Image quality is excellent for most of us enthusiasts usage. Panasonic cameras are, to me, straight forward and pleasant to use. System is worth survival.
As living in Sweden I can't help compare with the sad demise of SAAB cars: Loved by everybody but purchsed by few...
In the old film days of all brands I preferred my Contax 139 and G1. Contax is today gone. (Even if there is an illusive Zeiss digital in hiding below horizon :-))
In reality sales/profit and nothing else decides the future of m43.

Why would Panasonic want to say or do anything? Japanese camera companies aren't very communicative at the best of times. No company would want to make a statement that could cause trouble further down the line if this pandemic and recession cause unexpected changes in plan, which is quite likely in fact. Besides, the camera industry seems to have bet most of the farm on full-frame mirrorless cameras as the way of the future. I don't think this is all that appealing but I doubt the tidal wave of money and marketing can be resisted either. M43's future is a little cloudy.

M4/3 fits Panasonic very well. They have full frame and 4/3s. These are very complementary. APS is a bit too close to full frame to make a meaningful difference, except maybe for Canon with it’s 1.6 crop. Fuji is fine with only APS. That is a good compromise. Panasonic would make a big mistake if they give up on 4/3. They are dominating it now while in full frame they can never be even number 3. But I think in a system with Leica, they can do okay as a cheaper alternative.

In the last fiscal year (pre Corona!) Olympus had just sold some 340.000 cameras. Panasonic sold less. Consequently, I am afraid, it would make sense for Panasonic to focus on the L-mount offerings.

It seems that Olympus were straying away from emphasising the main advantage of M4/3: lightness and compactness of both bodies and lenses. A lot of the punditry is still about the technical advantages of larger sensor formats: yes I get that, but the lenses and most of the bodies are bigger and heavier. That won't go away.

For anyone who want lightweight gear and enjoys photography as an activity, smartphones do NOT give a viable alternative. They are horrible to use ergonomically, and offer limited flexibility. Sure, what they do, they do well. I use one for the odd snap of my friends to be shared on Facebook or whatever. But if I want a more complex photo that will last, I need a camera with a viewfinder and proper controls. M4/3 offers the right formula.

It seems that Olympus's problems were management issues as much as anything. I'm not sure if current events strengthen Panasonic's position or the contrary. Only time will tell.

There are many more companies involved in Micro Four Thirds. Here is their official 2020 brochure. And there are more that aren’t official member of this organization. Mainly Chinese.
https://www.four-thirds.org/en/common/pdf/catalog2020_en.pdf

The problem for Panasonic is two-fold: internal and external.

Internally, they've been under mandate to increase margins to a set corporate goal. They were given both time and concealment by corporate by the moves that put the organization under a much larger group. But I doubt that Panasonic can say anything useful to customers until they've satisfied the internal goals, which we can't see publicly any more.

Externally, I scratch my head at what message Panasonic wants to send if they can send one. Consider the GH5, S1H, and Varicam: m4/3 mount, L mount, EF mount. All are catering to the same type of customer, though at differing price points. But this is not at all as clear an offering as their big video competitor, Sony, who is one-mount-for-all now. Even Canon is going to have to go one mount at some point, I'll bet. So saying anything m4/3 that deals with the video side will simply make other groups in Panasonic complain internally.

Meanwhile, the G m4/3 cameras have basically grown in size over time. They're running counter to trend, which is smaller/lighter. Saying anything to customers that can be interpreted as "committed to the same" boxes them in. Given that we have small, light full frame cameras now (though not so much from Panasonic), and we're going to get smaller and lighter ones, the pressure would be on to explain what you get for the two stop sensor differential.

Finally, who exactly in Panasonic is going to make any statement, and to whom? Despite being on the Panasonic press list, what I get from them is infrequent and inconsistent. It often appears managed from above.

I'll be surprised if we get a clean, clear, consistent, and meaningful statement from Panasonic.

I'd be completely unsurprised if Panasonic were allowing JIP to slim down Olympus before purchasing it themselves.

That would allow intellectual property and talent to be pooled, thus allowing the best possible M43 camera.

It would allow new economies of scale as internals for both Lumix and Olympus cameras could be identical, while the externals target different markets. And it would allow rationalisations of overlapping lens line-ups.

It would allow Panasonic to target the retro shooters that wouldn't buy a Lumix camera due to its lack of heritage, and it would give them the use of a legendary lens brand reducing its reliance on Leica.

And it would bolster confidence in the m43 format.

Whatever happens, I think Panasonic should keep faith with the format. With a successful implementation of its TOF focus and organic sensor technologies the quality differences between m43 and its competitors will become even more trivial, but the size advantage will always remain.

If put to the test I imagine the technical capabilities of MFT exceed the talents of most photographers....kind of like a bag of expensive golf clubs are never given justice by the weekend duffer. Cameras to those of us who make a living with photography are tools....MFT works great for some jobs, larger format for others. Maybe another comparison....a Jeep Rubicon for the guy who never takes it off road....just drives it around town enjoying ownership. Like we all learned years ago in retail sales....you sell the sizzle, not the steak.
Looks like Oly needed to put a little more sizzle in the package.

I hope Panasonic continues to support MFT.

MFT makes a lot of sense to me. A large enough sensor, lighter gear (including lenses for equivalent focal length), deeper DOF at the equivalent focal length (pretty useful for a lot of nature photography). Plus the IBIS on many of its cameras helped me to get, from a moving boat, one of my very best shots of the last 12 months, which I'd never have managed with my Nikon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisbertram/48392983641/

So, I'm certainly hoping that they don't give up on the format.

I seem to have a weight/size hangup when it comes to cameras & lenses and this has involved both the companies you mention in your post. On my way from many years with excellent semi-pro Nikons toward the Fuji X system, Olympus stepped in-between with its very small EM1 coupled with a comparatively monstrous 12-60mm lens that was excellent optically but also highly weather sealed. The combo became soaked on more than one occasion in my redwoods country and this competence really endeared me to them. But the camera was always too small for me and awkward to use. And the tiny sensor and my 44" Canon printer didn't get along very well either!

Now for Panasonic and what they should do. I would tend to say the mirrorless camera world is really focused now on the two full frame arenas: A huge number of MP's or 24MP's (APS-C is excellent too, and I still love my Fuji X-Pro 1).

There is probably more to Panasonic's willingness to jump into the Lion's den and begin slugging it out with the biggies Canon, Nikon and Sony, then most of us know about. First, I assume they knew this is where the action was and wanted their share of it. Second, maybe despite their excellent video cameras in m4/3, they knew the better days of this format were already past.

So, in search of a new camera for some photography in Redwood National Park, 50+ years later after having been active in it's creation, I joined the L-Mount Alliance and purchased a full frame 47MP Panasonic S1R camera and 24-70mm F2.8 and little Sigma 45mm F2.8. Based on my learning to use this new beast, I would say Panasonic is on its way for continued success. But be careful...

Remembering that I mentioned "weight/size" at the beginning of this missive - I can't for the life of me figure out why, at 77, I would pick one of the heaviest mirrorless cameras of the lot to be my new toy. But I can only so far say I'm happy I did. Funny how an xtra pound can draw so much attention, but it fits my hands beautifully and the layout & ergonomics gives Nikon a run for its money too. It feels like it can handle the rain and will given ample opportunities to prove it! The Hi-Res feature can produce breathtaking results...on and on I could go.

Before this becomes a review (of stills capability only), my feelings about Panasonic are: milk m4/3 the best you can and continue with your good start at "full frame". You'll be OK!

Yes, Panasonic and, hopefully, Olympus' new owners should keep making MFTs gear. For me, the MFT is a better choice than the 1.5/1.6 sensors. Why? First, the MFT IQ closely matches the other two. Second, the diversity of MFT lens options are also much better. Third, the smaller lens sizes/weights for MFT, particular for most Pany lens, is a great advantage for air travel and hiking. Fourth, the optical qualities of Oly Pro and P/L lenses are right up there with the best from other makers. Yes, uncertainties now exist related to future Oly cameras and lenses. But only the most pessimistic forecasts now exist that both Oly cameras and their lenses will disappear and the final deal is not settled, so no one yet knows the actual future outcome. What I do know is my GX1, GX8, are G9 are not going anywhere nor are my lens kits for each. I may even add another MFT lens or two plus maybe an E-M1 ii or iii with an Oly Pro 40-100 just because I have liked the E-M1 and the E-M5 that I have owned and the 12-40 Pro I still own. So, YES, clearly Panasonic should keep making MFT gear as a great companion line to their new L series gear and I hope the new Oly owners can just do a logical remix of their camera line then keep doing the same.

Some observations:

Panasonic, like Sony and Ricoh, is a very large, diversified company. It could adapt and/or continue with m4/3. This begs the question of does it want to. Panny is also big enough to just walk away from the camera biz.

Apparently Oly shopped its camera division around before, and it looks like Panny didn't bite. Not that great a sign---a Panny-Oly merger would have seemed to be a good thing, looking from the outside in (so, let's qualify all our ideas as "not really informed...", unless we have the inside dope.)

Panny has a FF model, and arguably the distance between m4/3 and FF is similar to the distance from apsc to medium format. Fuji has already decided to eschew FF and just go with these formats and that spread. Pentax is the only company that spreads the whole field,sub FF to medium format, which is a bit amazing. The trouble here is that apsc and FF live together more comfortably in terms of lenses. Not sure the wide difference between m4/3 and FF does. Note that Fuji isn't doing much to allow users to adapt their medium format lenses to apsc. Once again, Pentax does, very curiously (6x7 lenses can be adapted to 645, and 645 to K mount, which covers apsc and FF).

At this point I think someone needs to come up with a compelling rationale to keep m4/3 going. I'm not sure I see one. This is looking more like an extinction event to me. Not all hominids made it....

Ps While most folks first reactions (including mine) is for Panasonic to say something quickly, we need to remember that there is no deal yet.
With the deal set to close September 30, Panasonic may be limited in what it can say.
I don't see why a positive statement about "Remaining in and continuing to develop the m4/3 platform, would be a problem, however lets suppose Panasonic decides to exit the m4/3 part of their business; saying that now before the Oly deal has closed, could be seen as sabotaging the deal. Because whoever might buy Olympus assets would have to resurrect an effectively dead product line, rather than contributing to an established market, with Panasonic as an active participant.
So if Panasonic says nothing, it makes it a bit more likely that they are negative. Also remember it is Japan, and they just may not be talking.

The other wild card is that I'm sure Panasonic is reevaluating their commitment to still photography. When something like this happens it is good corporate practice to take some time to reaffirm your commitment in light of Oly's decision, and the market environment.

Lets hope they decide in the positive.

It seems to me that Panasonic has already provided an answer with the recently announced DC-G100. I'm not a 'vlogger', but that's a real market and the size and portability of Micro 4/3rds are an advantage there.

Meanwhile, I'm happy with my GX-9 and Leica 12-60.

Just wish I could travel with them...

I think you've got it all wrong Mike. Olympus aren't killing it, they're selling it. If someone is paying good money for it, like the venture capitalists, they obviously see some way to make money - like selling camera gear. I had all my Olympus gear stolen, & I am in the market for more, & having had full frame Minolta then Canon forever before, there is no going back to that after the much lighter & easier m4/3. Horses for courses....

One) Olympus is getting rid of the division, but has clearly stated the new company intends to continue making gear;
Two) Olympus was vying with Sony for the number one spot in mirrorless in Japan, showing there’s clearly a large domestic market for the format;
Three) Panasonic has focused on video, for which MFT apparently is a great format, underscored by the many other video companies using the format;
Four) Panasonic isn’t making much headway with its FF gear, an area where it’s bound to stay number four forever.

So, given all that, why would Panasonic drop MFT and why would they say anything now?

I can't help thinking that Olympus really did put a lot into their pro bodies and lenses-beautiful kit. Must have cost a lot and will not have helped their bottom line. Panasonic, even the Pana-Leica, are not quite to the same standard, although very good. I agree with the others, I see no good reason why Pana will not carry on with format - they now have twice the market share. Of course, if the perception grows that somehow m43 is no longer viable this will impact sales, but isn't that what marketing is for? The trouble as I see it is that Pana do not do much advertising and are not nearly as effective as Olympus in this regard. Having been a m43 user for 2 years, the prospect of returning to way-too-pricey FF creates a feeling of dread. APS is possible, but once one gets to thinking bad thoughts, Fuji can't be too healthy either. Canon and Nikon APS offerings I find difficult to take seriously.

I doubt that Olympus' departure from m4/3 was a big surprise to Panasonic -- I have to believe that they've known for some time that it was coming. And in April, Panasonic said they would continue to support the system. I choose to believe them. At this point, digital is becoming like film -- there's no reason that a variety of formats can't survive, although it will not be like it was in 2000-2010, when new cameras were coming every week and consumers were buying and buying and buying. The companies will be smaller, the products will come slower. In February of this year, Olympus and Panasonic announced that in Japan, m4/3 took the largest share of camera sales *by lens mount.* I think that's important to a Japanese company -- it's not all about what happens in the US. And while Olympus is giving up, there are a whole bunch of companies involved in the m4/3 ecology, and I suspect they will continue.

What is ignored here is that 99.99% of the buyers of the cameras are not camera geeks, know nothing about the business situation of the company, nor do they care. They are not enthusiasts or fanboys who devotedly read "4/3 rumors" or Thom Hogan, they just find a nice looking camera, probably online, that has good ratings.

See this https://www.amazon.com/Olympus-PEN-F-Mirrorless-Digital-Camera/dp/B06VTW3Y2Z/ref=sr_1_3

"Nice - 5 star review! Just what I want!"

I haven't read all the comments, but it should be noted that JIP bought the VAIO computer division from Sony in 2014 and they're still developing and marketing good laptops. I imagine they will do the same with Olympus. JIP must see potential in Olympus and M4/3.

My sense is that Olympus didn't really see this coming, either.

That seems evident from their new factory in Vietnam as well as the large number of expensive new products introduced in the recent past: E-M1 III, E-M5 III, E-M1X, the three f/1.2 Pro primes, 12-45mm/f4, 150-450mm tele-zoom and other optics in announced late development.

At this point, it's similarly unlikely that Panasonic has any defensible idea as to what the camera market might look like in six months, not to mention long-term, so ANY announcements now risk becoming quickly embarrassing.

Although I also use a number of full-frame and large format film systems, I typically carry Olympus M43 kits with me. They remain an optimized combination of size, weight, optics, weather-sealing/build quality, and image quality.

I don't see any comparable replacements on the horizon, so I've stocked up to face the coming M43 famine with spare E-M5 II and Pen-F bodies along with an adequate number of spare batteries and fragile eye-pieces.

Since the original E-M5 and then the E-M1 I and 12-40mm zoom, Olympus gear has been more than good enough for practically all purposes up to 24" gallery prints.

The demise of Olympus photo doesn't mean that we'll suddenly be forced to stop using compact M43 cameras and optics for their intended purpose, making high-quality photos under less-than-optimal conditions.

It likely does mean that there's a high probability is that there will be few, if any, improved products in the future. So, it's just as well that what we now have is more than good enough. Just don't drop it!

Mike, whatever happened to the GX9 review? You started off by comparing it to the GX7, and from there you complained of the GX7 features, not really in my opinion taking a look at the GX9 and what it has to offer??

[It's coming George. I was going to do it in parts but then I realized that would be misleading and I should really publish it all at once. I'm working on it. --Mike]

I was sad to see of the sale of Olympus. I don't shoot much digital these days; when I do find myself looking for the digital camera, I do it with my Iphone in my pocket. I just can't seem to adjust to the phone/camera thing....I honestly don't think about it. Now my "closet" is full of old film classics. All in perfect working order; regularly used. If you feel the need to console yourself over the latest demise, I recommend an Olympus Pen F. A truly delightful camera.

P.S.

A strange thing happened to me, several years ago, when I shifted back to film: I stopped zooming in on images that came from my scans of film negatives. I can't explain it. It just happened. In an instant, it seemed, I transitioned into a method of viewing photos that I think you have been a proponent of for a long time.

P.P.S.S.

I did dabble a bit in micro 4/3. In retrospect, the one digital camera I owned, and now realize it was all the digital camera I ever needed is the Panasonic GH5. The two digitals that I retained, and occasionally hunt for, are a GM5 and Leica C...Both Panasonics. The GM5 generally sports a converted Minox Minotar 35/2.8, one of the lenses DAG was converting a couple years back. Perfect.

I have no idea what Panasonic ought to do. What I hope they will do is to continue the format, and update the sensors. For wildlife and other long tele uses, where you have to lug your gear on your back, there's no comparison between FF and Micro 4/3. And there are already many superb lenses available, with more potentially in the pipeline. As to IQ - I have an 11x14 print on my wall, made from a 2.7 megapixel file out of a Nikon Coolpix 9xx. It's tack sharp. In proportion, a 20 something megapixel Micro 4/3 sensor could produce roughly a 30x40 print with equivalent sharpness. How big do you really need to go?

I think there may be another reason Panasonic stays quiet for the moment. AFAIK much of the IP in M43 belongs to Olympus and likely will go to 'NewCo'. Panasonic will somehow have to deal with them

Another thought:

Is it a given that Panasonic will also quit micro 4/3? I ask because I am not familiar, the extent to which Panasonic relies upon Olympus for sensors. In truth, although Olympus was always in the limelight, I always perceived the Panasonic cameras to be better. if not more attractive and trendy. It seemed to me that Panasonic's main problem was/is that they seemed/seem tone-deaf to marketing considerations. While I cannot justify through technological explanation, I have always thought the rendering of the Panasonic sensors and processors was just a bit better than that of Olympus. Is it possible this was the reason Leica formed a relationship with Panasonic, rather than Olympus?

As to Panasonic not buying Olympus. I'm not surprised, and I don't really think it says much one way or the other about the desirability of Olympus. I cannot imagine the headache it would be to incorporate the two lines together. Many of the lenses overlap and compete with each other. Why give their photo/video sales and marketing stuff such a headache? Olympus might well have some patents that Panasonic would like, but not enough to pay the price for the whole imaging company. Of course, JIP might ultimately sell off some of these components separately, but I can see why Panasaonic would steer clear of an outright purchase. They have their own fish to fry.

It's feasible to make small, weather-sealed full-frame cameras and high-end lenses that may be functional replacements for Olympus's Micro Four-Thirds products.

Sony, Sigma, and Nikon are already making comparable mirrorless camera bodies. Full-frame Pentax Limited FA series auto-focus lenses such as the 31mm /f1.8 and 77mm /f1.8 and the 50mm/2.8 and 100mm /f2.8 macro lenses show that small size, high-end optics are feasible if the user is willing to use f/1.8 lenses with screw-drive auto-focus.

Granted, these were designed 15 or more years ago and focused upon essentials rather than breathless GAS pressure.

In some respects, ballooning size seems more a matter of marketing-driven "must-have" features than technology. Perhaps in this era of shrinking camera system markets, there might be some practical benefits to returning to fundamentals.

Very strange just read about the roadmap of the Olympus like the 150-400 F4.5 lens would come out etc.

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