It seems we can’t go a single day without hearing one of the major camera companies is in such bad shape that they are thinking of closing their doors forever. The company in question this time is Olympus. The iconic company that just celebrated 100 years in the industry is apparently in such a financial mire that the writing may be on the wall for them. If this does happen, it will send shockwaves through the industry. It was confirmed by Photofocus that this rumor is untrue, but with everyone’s sales down it seems inevitable that someone will fall.
In a recent article on Photo Rumors, it was claimed that Olympus could shut down its camera division within eight months. The report goes on to state that the camera division is unstable right now, and that employees in their offices across multiple countries are leaving to find new jobs. The article also states that there could be a sudden closure notice between January and March 2020, and that production equipment could be offloaded to either Sony or Samsung. This, of course, is incredibly depressing to read; nobody wants to see any company shut down like this. We do also have to consider the nature of the site this news comes from. Regardless, if this is true, it will serve as a major wake-up call to the industry.
Olympus has been a staple in the photography industry for 100 years. For them, or any camera company, to shutter their doors would be a terrible thing. There are counter-arguments on the web that say this speculation is false and that some high-level managers at Olympus have repudiated the reports. We hope this is correct, but the sad thing is that the industry is even in this position to begin with. It’s not just Olympus who is financially struggling. We know of the struggles that Canon, Nikon, and others face, too, due to the continued dominance of Sony in the Mirrorless marketplace, and because of the rise of smartphones with powerful AI-aided cameras.
Camera companies need to start changing their business strategies. When it comes to cameras and the gear produced, there needs to be some significant innovation. Olympus’s commitment to the Micro Four Thirds platform is commendable. But, if Olympus wants to survive and prosper in the future, they, along with Panasonic (if their heart is still in it) will need to create some excitement around the platform once again.
There has been no sensor upgrade from Olympus in their cameras since the 20 Megapixel sensor found in the OM-D E-M1 II, a camera that came out in 2016. In fact, this same sensor has been used in both of the company’s new cameras (the EM1X and the E-M5 III). In this day and age, where new sensors sell more cameras, it’s perplexing that they have not pursued a new sensor (at least not to anyone’s knowledge).
There has been speculation that Sony may have some new Micro Four Thirds technology in the form of a 47 Megapixel sensor, so perhaps Olympus has something special up their sleeves in 2020. Let’s hope make it that long (I think they will). If they shutter, it’s a clear indication the camera market is in a freefall that will be incredibly hard to recover from. What do you think about the speculation surrounding Olympus? Let us know in the comment section below.