Photo Geek Weekly Episode 54 – Olympus and Innovation

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On this episode of Photo Geek Weekly, Don is joined by veteran photo tinkerer Chris Niccolls to discuss the new Olympus OM-D E-M1X as Chris has had the camera hands-on, and the podcast continues with the value of our social media accounts, why a 1TB memory card might be “too soon” or at least “too cheap”, and work ethics: does extra effort matter when you’re pressing up against a deadline? All this and more – thanks so much for listening!

Story 1: DPReview TV: Olympus E-M1X Review (via DPReview)

Story 2: 500px Bans Photographer for Photos Not Being ‘Photographic’ Enough (via PetaPixel)

Story 3: Longsys launches Lexar-branded 1TB SDXC card (via DPReview)

Story 4: Is ‘Done is Better Than Perfect’ Actually Helpful? (via fstoppers)

Picks of the Week:

Don: MicroFogger – a great little tool to add atmosphere to a macro shoot!

Chris: LG C8 series OLED 4K Television

Bonus: DPReview TV: Creating better macro photos with Don Komarechka

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About Author

Don Komarechka is the host of Photo Geek Weekly and Inside the Lens. From auroras to pollen, insects to infrared, much of Don’s photographic adventures reveal a deeper understanding of how the universe works. Exploring the world that we cannot see with our own eyes has been a common thread in Don’s career as a professional photographer.

8 Comments

  1. As a note Sony are the largest shareholder in Olympus – it’s easy to imagine some of this tech might be licensed to Sony after ‘field testing’ in an Olympus body.

    • A great point, Barry! I remember that happened as a result of accounting scandals a few years back, right? The more cameras that have these features, the more pressure there will be from every manufacturer to offer up something comparable.

  2. Don, Chris – I need to take some issue with your discussion on the Olympus E-M1X. You kept comparing the E-M1X with the EM1 MK II. Put the battery Grip on the EM1 MK II and it is nearly the same size as the new E-M1X. The weight climbs to within a few ounces of the new camera. Or if you put the battery grip on the GH5 it is the same weight as the the E-M1X. Also while the new camera is bigger it is still smaller than the Big Boy’s from Canon and Nikon. The weight is roughly a pound lighter than the 1DX without a lens. Once we start putting a lens on the cameras the weight advantage keeps improving.

    Will the camera sell? Don’t know. But I have to believe that the marketeers at Olympus did enough homework to convince their management to go ahead with the very expensive development of this camera.

    P. S. Don – I have your book Sky Crystals. I got it for Christmas. It is great! Anyone interested in macro needs to think about buying this book.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful response, Rich. Part of my issue is that I haven’t seen the insides of this camera – would be great to see a full teardown from Riger Cicala at LensRentals – did it NEED to include the grip as mandatory for the technology inside? The percentage of EM1 mk II users that purchase and have the grip on their cameras at all times is likely to be a small percentage of actual sales, so you alienate people who would rather just go for the smaller body.

      A super telephoto lens would be a significant weight reduction, but I don’t know that a sizable number of people who have already invested in larger (and more expensive) gear would be willing to make the jump, especially when they don’t know if there will be a follow-up camera of the same caliber or all the bells and whistles they have accumulated over time. Up-and-comers might think differently, but there are fewer of those now than there used to be on the “professional” stage.

      Olympus needs to head back into the R&D cycle to get a successor to this camera in the works, not because it’s a bad camera but because people don’t like adopting a “first generation” product when they already have established systems. Because this camera is in a class of it’s own, it needs a “round two” to really be the big push in terms of consumer confidence I think… but all of this is clearly debatable!

      As an aside, it’s not unheard of for software vendors to release as a version later than 1.0 for the sole purpose of gaining consumer confidence that the software has been updated beyond it’s initial release for bug fixes, etc.

      Also, thanks for the compliments on Sky Crystals! There are only a few physical copies left before the only option will be the eBook version.

  3. Don – A few comments…

    E-M1X according to all the press releases added a second processor. It had to go somewhere Hence the larger body size. I don’t know if they filled all the body space or not. My guess is that they made the form factor big enough to emulate the big Canon 1DX or Nikon D5. It would be really nice to be able to take a vertical format picture without a bunch of weird body contortions.

    Onto the bigger issue of successor releases. Olympus is a smaller company that has had legal problems in the past with kickbacks on sales of medical gear. Their medical and industrial division is a much larger part of their business (one chart I found had the camera part of their business at 7%). I suspect their marketing department did some heavy duty research and decided that jumping into the full frame world or medium format was too risky. I have to believe there are some Olympus engineers and software designers working on follow ups to several of their cameras right now. How much of the technology that is the new E-M1X makes it into the new cameras is anyones guess. They announced a super telephoto along with the camera but it won’t be available until 2020. The engineer in me thinks that the tooling required for a lens of this nature must be really significant.

    Onto the bigger issue what is going to happen to the camera industry overall. One has to wonder if the camera market implodes like Canon is predicting when they will discontinue the camera business. With respect to the other companies:

    Sony is huge! A 40 billion dollar market cap. The camera business is a small part of every thing they do. Not to many folks realize that they are into insurance and finance as well. How important is the camera business too them.

    Canon is huge as well at $31 billion market capitalization. They have a lot of different businesses. But imaging is still a significant part of what they do. They appear to be pushing into the mirrorless realm very quickly. The rumor mill has them announcing another R body this month.

    Panasonic is also giant with $35 billion market cap. They are into lots of stuff as well. Want an electric shaver – they have them. Want a cordless phone – they have them. Want batteries for your Tesla – they make those as well. They have abroad range of products so investing in the full frame world makes more sense to them.

    I wonder about dilution of the market will make it such that that none of the makers of full frame offerings make enough to justify future investment. I’m old enough to remember brands like Miranda, Yashica, Praktika, Exakta, Minolta, and Konica that vanished because they had too small of market share.

    In full disclosure I have A Canon 5D mk IV, a Olympus pen F (plus an Oly PenD half frame) and a OMD-EM1 Mk II and more lenses than make sense for an enthusiast that is at best an OK photographer.

    P. S. The Sky Crystals I got for Christmas was the one you sent to Everett, WA. Many thanks for the extra effort of going across the border to mail it.

  4. Hah, thanks for the continued dialogue Rich! This is exactly what I hoped the comment section on the website would contain. 🙂 And no worries about shipping across the border – most copies of the book were shipped outside of Canada.

    As for your commentary, you’re right about the extra processor – Canon does Dual processors in the 1D series and I’m sure they could use the extra space, but they started doing that on older and MUCH larger processor production nodes. The best we have now is 7nm but Olympus likely only has access to 10 or 14nm processes. Of course better processors have MORE transistors so maybe it’s a moot point, but many efficiencies in design have been found since the Canon 1D and the Nikon D1 that defined this form factor.

    I have a Panasonic television, a Canon printer and scanner, and so many components made by Sony in many of my electronics; I saw a teardown of a Canon Rebel once and the screen was produced by Sony. To all of these companies, Olympus included, photography is not their main business.

    I think if Olympus had rolled out their super telephoto lens at the same time, and put it in the hands of sports photographers who depend on their cameras to make a living, the proof would be in the pudding. Haven’t seen that yet, though. I’d LOVE for the format to take off – it would put pressure on the other flagship-producing camera manufacturers to innovate at a greater rate.

    We’ll see. time will tell!

  5. Don,

    Just got around to listening to this podcast so please excuse my late response. Since this is a geeky gear show, we need to keep our geeky facts correct. In the broadcast you noted the Canon 5D Mark IV was the first Canon Camera with dual pixel AF. Actually that honor goes to the Canon 70D. Keep up the great work my friend!

    • Hah, thanks William! I always forget about the 70D, thanks for mentioning that. 🙂 I still wish the feature had greater industry support, but I guess that won’t happen until it is ubiquitous… and being a proprietary feature I doubt that will happen.

      Thanks for listening!

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