Robin Wong Shares 10 Things Needed for OM Digital Solutions to Succeed. I Agree!

Posted Mar. 6th, 2021 by Daniel J. Cox

The omnipresent Olympus guru, Robin Wong, shares his perspective on what it’s going to take for the new OM Digital Solutions to succeed.

1) New image sensor

This has been my number one complaint of micro 4/3 for a very long time. The current Olympus and Lumix micro 4/3 sensors are over four years old. We need a serious advance in the technology for the smaller sensors, and when it happens there’s no looking back.

2) Fulfill Olympus lens roadmap

This one I’m not quite sure about. Quite frankly, I have virtually every lens I can use. But building out a large and deep lens collection is imperative for any serious camera manufacturer to succeed. Both Nikon and Canon have a vast array of lenses to fill the need of just about any photographer. Thankfully since Lumix and Olympus have worked together on the lens mount, we have a abundance of lenses for micro 4/3 bodies. But it never hurts to have as many options as there are for Nikon and Canon. The new Olympus 150-400mm and the 100-400mm are a good start.

3) Upgrade camera LCD and EVF

This suggestion is imperative. Unfortunately looking through the EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) of an Olympus camera is a very disappointing experience. I often have to tell people that are new to Olympus that they have to trust the picture will be much, much better than what they see in the EVF. There are pluses and minuses to mirrorless cameras, and the EVF has always been one of the negatives. However, a quality viewing experience through the EVF is possible. Nikon, Canon, and now the new Sony cameras have proved that point.

4) Rework menus and user interface

This one is imperative. I have finally been able to find most items I need in the Olympus menu system. But… it’s a frustrating experience! The best menu system I have ever used is in the Panasonic Lumix bodies. A very close second and maybe equal is Nikon’s menu system. I would love to see the Lumix menu system in Olympus bodies.

5) Improve video features

This is another set of features that is an absolute must have. Like it or not, moving and still images are merging. I predicted over 10 years ago that stills would eventually be taken from video footage. That is now happening. Lumix pioneered 4K Photo Mode and eventually went to 6K Photo Mode. There are even newer cameras that have the capability for 8K and 12K video that can be used for even higher quality stills. I don’t necessarily believe still photography will go away completely. But the writings on the wall indicate soon all cameras will be just that, cameras. Neither still nor video camera. A camera will need to be both.

6) AI and computational photography

This has to be one of the most important items on the list. The iPhone has proved this almost to the point of no return. I recently purchased a new camera called Alice. I know, what a name, but it’s a micro 4/3 sensor body that attaches to my iPhone. All of my micro 4/3 lenses can be used on this camera. Its claim to fame is the fact they’re building a serious body that accepts micro 4/3 lenses but gives us similar iPhone AI and computational photography capabilities. If all camera manufacturers do not step up to this challenge, Apple will virtually replace them.

7) 1-inch image sensor for TG-Series (I don’t really care about this)

This would be a nice to have, not a need to have. Would I buy a camera with a 1-inch sensor that is as tough as the TG series? I think there would be a good chance. But only because I would take it underwater with me. Otherwise I would use my iPhone.

8) Enhance marketing strategy

OK so this one hurts a little. Robin is not happy that Olympus has been targeting wildlife and natural history photographers. I’m just joking about this hurting. But I do disagree with Robin on this one. Not because I’m a wildlife photographer, but because Olympus is targeting a niche market. Many successful companies today zero in on one particular area and then produce goods to fulfill that niche. Without a doubt, the micro 4/3 system’s smaller lenses are its biggest advantage. Micro 4/3 excels at taking large lenses and making them smaller. Full-frame manufacturers are producing camera bodies that are virtually as small as the micro 4/3 cameras. But it’s the lenses that make the difference.

9) Work more closely with Panasonic

This should’ve been put at probably number two. Ever since micro 4/3 came on the scene, I’ve been a fan of both Olympus and Panasonic. I’ve always said that they need each other to succeed. A couple of years ago a Panasonic executive was interviewed. He lamented the fact that the relationship with Olympus was like being married and sleeping in different rooms. Or something to that effect. This comment suggested to me that Olympus was less than enthusiastic about their relationship than Panasonic. At the time I could kind of understand that, but I still felt they should work more closely together. I think that’s even more important today than it was when they first started out. They need each other to break the stranglehold of the larger companies. If Nikon’s Phase Fresnel glass technology is adaptable across their entire lens line, micro 4/3 could be in serious trouble.

10) Be less conservative

I personally think this one mostly fits into the AI and computational photography category. But overall OM Digital Solutions needs to think outside the box. And when they get an idea, get after it. This is one of the reasons I left Nikon. It just took them forever to adopt new technologies and I finally got tired of waiting. Hopefully the new OM company can be more nimble and react much more quickly as a smaller entity.

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