Does Olympus Need to Go Full Frame?


We’ve seen loads and loads of rumors on the web along with many clear signs of evidence pointing to something really big coming. And by really big, we mean full frame. At the time of the publishing of this piece, Olympus has just announced their OMD EM1 camera with a Four Thirds sized sensor. Besides the obvious marketing push that a full frame sensor can give a company or camera system, it only seems like a matter of time until Sony wipes the floor with the rest of the industry and releases a full frame mirrorless camera. And with that said, the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera world will experience the same shift that the DSLR world took where everyone always complained about the smaller sensors in Olympus cameras.

But in many other aspects, the company could find a home with others.

While a full frame sensor works out really well with still photography, videographers will tell you all about how much of a pain it is to work with. Full frame sensors can deliver a beautiful look, but getting anything in focus and pulling focus is one of the toughest jobs ever. Micro Four Thirds has something closer to a Super 16mm sensor in size, and so many videography folks love it for that reason. Indeed, it is why the GH3 was so popular amongst videographers.

But then that would mean that to survive, Olympus would have to get more serious about video, right? I mean, they already have some excellent audio recorders. In the end though, their heritage is as a photo company. And as fast as Olympus can develop excellent technology like with their FAST AF system, other systems are only bound to catch up. Olympus’s strength though lies in its glass–but only the most savvy amongst photographers totally understand that lenses are where it all matters. Sadly though, not many companies market their lenses as strongly as their cameras: and even Olympus is guilty of this. And while reviewers everywhere will tell you that Olympus has the best glass in the mirrorless market, consumers often also only buy one lens and are set with that for a while.

Then consider the APS-C market: how can they compete with the likes of Samsung’s marketing budget/consumer savviness, Fujifilm’s X Trans Sensor, and Sony’s innovation? They left the DSLR world a while ago for the mirrorless world–but it was only a matter of time before everyone else caught up or surpassed them.

Olympus surely seems like they’ve got quite the uphill battle to face with their photography division. And somehow or another, they’re going to need to innovate and create something that no one else has that is extremely marketable–and it will need to be a hit with the mass market.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.