Olympus Shuts Down the Circus and Ends the Speculation

The constant merry-go-round of ifs, buts, and maybes put Olympus in poor light, but the nonsense has finally stopped.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard all of the speculation surrounding Olympus and its camera division. Depending on who or what you believed, Olympus was either about to flourish or sink without a trace. Soon, a circus descended on the Olympus HQ, and there was widespread confusion about the future of the company. It seemed as though not even top officials knew what was going on, but now we know that Olympus is here to stay thanks to an official statement finally released. After the break, we will take a look at the circus that unfolded over the week, and just what other camera companies can learn from this debacle.

The whole crap show surrounding Olympus began about a week ago when the company released a future road map for the company. The document made no mention of its camera division and instead talked only about its ‘imaging division,’ which focuses on the medical field. The internet picked up on this and ran with it, and before we knew it, the word on the street was Olympus and their cameras were doomed. Olympus did respond to the hysteria, but it was not in the form of an official statement, it was more like a passing comment that all is okay with the camera division. It was not enough to shut down the big top entirely, but it settled things down a little.

A few days later, an article on The Dead Pixel Society shared information from an interview the current CEO of Olympus gave to Bloomberg. In the interview, Yasuo Takeuchi backtracked and said, despite recent comments which stated the imaging division of Olympus is fine, the camera division may need to be sold off to balance the books. Ouch! You can imagine the horror that spread throughout the photography industry. This brought the Olympus hysteria circus back in full swing, and, of course, an Olympus Doomsday picture was painted. A short while later, on the same day, an article shared by 4/3 Rumors shed light on statements that high ranking managers at Olympus gave. According to the managers, Olympus’s new imaging department strategy would be to release two camera bodies and three lenses per year to reinvigorate the market. “What in the world is going on”, we all cried! Which statement is true? That’s all we wanted to know.

It was hard to believe the once-great camera company that recently celebrated a 100-year birthday could be in such disarray. It appeared nobody at the company knew what was going on. The mixed messages gave an even greater sense that Olympus was in turmoil and there would be no hope for them. When a company puts out mixed signals about its levels of stability and future intentions, confidence levels of everyone from investors to consumers are going to plummet, and that’s precisely what happened. This whole circus could have been avoided quite easily though through the release of on official statement, and finally, late last night (November 20th, 2019), that’s exactly what happened.

Olympus OM-1

Via PhotoFocus, M4/3 Rumors released an article with the official statement from Olympus, and the official word has helped put the matter to bed once and for all. The official statement from Olympus says:

“As announced in our Corporate Strategy, Olympus is further focusing on our Medical business and follows the strong ambition for all of our businesses to be profitable and contribute to our overall business objectives. In that regard, we are continuously evaluating our overall portfolio, as announced in our Corporate Strategy on November 6, 2019.

“For Imaging, however, we currently have no plans to sell the business. The task is therefore to stabilize and strengthen its market position. To achieve that, we are actively running marketing activities, and have already established a clear and exciting product roadmap for the coming months and years. We are actively pursuing future technology developments that will enhance photography and video for creators. Furthermore, Imaging is and will continue to be an important technology and innovation driver for our other businesses.

“Our Imaging business features a unique product portfolio. Olympus products are compact and lightweight, feature market leading image stabilization and autofocus. Many of our high-end products are also splash-proof. No other product offers customers this level of optical excellence paired with the highest mobility.

“Just last month we launched our new OM-D E-M5 Mark III – a light yet feature packed addition to our semi-pro camera portfolio, inheriting pro-features like a high precision AF from our OM-D E-M1 Mark II model. Furthermore, we have announced the development of M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO earlier this year to be launched by next year. Customers can follow our break-free campaign on various channels and worldwide.”

Olympus EM1X

This whole debacle has been embarrassing for Olympus. Hopefully, they (and other manufacturers) understand this could have been solved a week ago with the release of an official statement. Instead, more instability was brought to an already fragile industry because of poor communication. There was no need for this incident to reach such a fever pitch.

It’s no secret the camera market is in decline, and it’s no secret camera manufacturers are struggling more than they have in the past. In this day and age where news can spread around the globe in seconds, companies must know how to communicate clearly and effectively. Giving interviews to news outlets where words can be misconstrued and twisted is not the way to go. Hopefully, in the future, official statements of intent will surface before any circus arrives in town. For now though, let’s rejoice and celebrate the fact that one of the most storied camera brands will still be around for years to come.

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.