Olympus Camera is reborn as OM Digital Solutions

Posted Jan. 5th, 2021 by Daniel J. Cox

On June 24, 2020, the photo world was shocked to hear that Olympus was throwing in the towel on their camera business. This engineering powerhouse had been producing cameras since 1936. But… between the iPhone and Covid-19, they just couldn’t make a go of it. Fast forward to today and we now have a new company called OM Digital Solutions.

For me, the rebirth of Olympus Cameras as OM Digital Solutions is exciting news! I personally felt like Olympus had thrown in the towel too early. But then again I wasn’t the guy writing the checks to keep the camera division afloat. Obviously, you can only convince your shareholders to lose money for just so long. The good news is OM Digital Solutions is now their own entity and has retained much of the Olympus camera engineering staff. Their new president is Shigemi Sugimoto, former Olympus Imaging Division Head. So far so good. Along with the announcement of the deal finalization, they also announced their new website.

OM-Digital Solutions
In the field shooting the new Olympus 150-400mm zoom

I couldn’t be happier. I honestly think that the world of Micro Four Thirds has been a little bit ahead of its time. Having Olympus still in the game gives us another option for a truly professional system in a much smaller package. Congratulations Olympus. I for one am hoping you succeed. Here’s a PDF of the official press release.

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There are 12 comments on this post…
  1. DavidOn Apr. 20th, 2021

    Well, I’m glad it’ll be around for a little longer. I’ve always thought Olympus had a good platform. In the digital photography world, it is finding the niche that sets apart brands. When I was looking at upgrade possibilities last summer, I was ready to buy an Olympus Micro 4/3. It was in my shopping cart. Then, I read Olympus was pulling out of the camera market. I rethought everything. I ended up buying a new Canon 5D Mark III camera body. I do hope they make a good run.

  2. Gary CralleOn Jan. 30th, 2021

    I’ve been with Olympus on and off for decades, as the company went into, left, then returned to the pro market. I was initially 1 of 3 Olympus VIP (Very Important Photographer) in Canada, then later an Olympus Visionary for the Americas. Although I no longer have an affiliation with the company, I continue using much of the latest equipment for all the right reasons, with the main one being a compact system for location shooting.

    Aside from the smartphone challenge, the Achilles heel of Olympus is the need for better low light performance, but this can probably be corrected using similar technology to phones. Computer de-noising imaging programs are already providing excellent results with Oly low light images for me, helping to level the playing field with FF systems.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 30th, 2021

      I agree with your take on Olympus’ only real challenge is a new sensor. I’m hopeful we’ll they’ll find somebody that can give them what they need. Since Sony is the dominant sensor player I doubt they’ll ever design something for MFT that can compete with full frame. I believe Olympus will have to find a new vendor for their sensors. That said, I’ve been wrong before. Sony supposedly has a new MFT sensor ready to go. But even so I don’t think their heart would be in making it as good as possible due to their desire to keep the best for themselves.

  3. Tom MihelichOn Jan. 8th, 2021

    Unfortunately Panasonic gives every indication that they’ve abandoned MFT for FF. And you’re asking a bankrupt company to come out with a new sensor and better AF to boot.
    Meanwhile Fujifilm, a much smaller company than Panasonic, has been releasing new cameras and lenses in two different formats (MF & APS-C) over the past four years and are poised to continue this year.
    I’m looking at Fujifilm eclipsing MFT’s strengths in the near future.

  4. Bob HamiltonOn Jan. 8th, 2021

    As Dan says, lenses are (pardon the pun) only one “element” in the digital imaging equation. Both Olympus and Panasonic have, by now, built up a superb line of “professional grade” lenses which cater for the needs of just about every genre of photography and, with the new 150-400mm lens, which Dan is testing, the buyer’s option for lenses is, in my opinion, pretty well complete. Both companies, therefore, now need to concentrate on upgrading the in camera body sides of the imaging equation and bring the sensor and related software up to the latest technology. They also (Panasonic, in particular) need to match the autofocus capability of the latest professional grade products from Sony and Canon, whose technology is quite a bit ahead of Olympus and very far ahead of Panasonic, especially in the realm of the moving object, such as birds in flight. The laws of physics dictate that, all other things being equal, the image quality from the cropped sensor will never be as “good” as that from a 4 times, or so, larger full frame sensor but that is, surely, not really the name of the game here, which is the goal of obtaining the “best possible” image quality and resolution balance as the main compromise in gaining the benefits of the relative compactness and low weight of the equipment, in particular of the lenses, compared to full frame? There will always be a compromises, or compromises, given the physical size and resolution of the cropped sensor and both Olympus and Panasonic now need to really concentrate on this element of the equation to minimise that compromise as much as possible. If not, despite the quality of the lenses and the relative low weight and size of the equipment, the system will “fail”.

  5. MartinBOn Jan. 7th, 2021

    Daniel, it was current Oly management which did a poor job in promoting the system. And they are still in charge. Do you think they will change? Maybe you know more – you could become a potential visionary – who knows. OM DS should take a chance and use all online media tools available now. This kind of vague letter/message would work in the 90th, not in 2021. They have to visible themself or they will disappear as Olympus did.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 7th, 2021

      Thanks for your input Martin. I do agree with you regarding management’s need to think outside the box when it comes to marketing. I’m hopeful that even with the same management team, being free from a large corporation, will give them more marketing freedom. Along with a different message Olympus needs a new sensor and AF equal to or better than Sony. Without those two elements, OM-D will not breakthrough. Their lenses are a considerable advantage, I’m absolutely loving the new 150-400mm, but it’s just one of the necessary parts for a winning plan.

  6. Scott DereOn Jan. 7th, 2021

    Good luck!! Hoping management make ends meet for a bright future

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 7th, 2021

      Thanks, Scott. It’s looking relatively positive so far. Let’s hope it all continues.

  7. Portrait of Jay Murthy

    jayOn Jan. 5th, 2021

    Thats great news to all mft shooters. Looking forward to shooting with smaller and lighter lenses for many years to come. I was wondering if I have one of the last iterations of OMD hardware , which i had planned to shoot the heck out of it until it no longer functions. Hopefully we can continue to have innovative omd cameras and lenses for years to come!

  8. Mircea BlanaruOn Jan. 5th, 2021

    I hope the new company will never die for the good of entire generations of past, present and future photographers! The strong points of the micro 4/3 system are already known by most of the artists or other users so the only thing the new Company must do is to continue the tradition, I repeat for the sake of the community!!! Arigato and Good Luck!!!

  9. Gregory Lee DonoghueOn Jan. 4th, 2021

    I agree, wish them great success. An innovation worth exploring is finding a way to make the smaller 4/3 sensor better in low light. Now there is a challenge!

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