why isn't olympus as highly regarded as it should be?

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by Mike Henley, Jun 30, 2004.

  1. Mike Henley

    Mike Henley Guest

    I'm slowly finding that i'm becoming, without intending to, an olympus
    collector. They seem to have made some wonderful cameras over the
    years. When I research the best compacts the Olympus XA and Olympus
    Stylus (mju) were insane hits. When i think of rangefinders I totally
    love my Olympus RC and the RD/SP seem highly regarded too. When
    researching SLRs (though i have no intentions of buying one, but if i
    bought then) the OM range (OM-1 to OM-4ti) seems very cool. The Zuiko
    lenses are quite nice too.

    It seems this brand has made more classic cameras with timeless
    designs than most others. Yet it doesn't seem to be as highly regarded
    as its cameras are. why?
    Mike Henley, Jun 30, 2004
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  2. Mike Henley

    Justin Thyme Guest

    I dunno why either - go back maybe 20 years and Olympus and Pentax were the
    two big names amongst pros and serious amateurs. As you say, the Zuiko
    lenses were very highly regarded. Likewise Pentax glass was always
    excellent - I don't think lenses come much better than the Pentax 50mm F1.4.
    The last few years though have seen Canon and Nikon virtually duopolise the
    serious camera market, and I'm not sure why. Certainly the fact that Olympus
    no longer offer a consumer SLR with interchangeable lenses would have
    something to do with their demise in this field. Doesn't explain why the
    companies have yielded to Canon and Nikon though. I hope the tables might
    turn a little back toward Olympus with their new E1 dSLR - it's features
    tend to set itself apart from the rest of the dSLR market. I also think the
    Olympus compact digitals are amongst the best compacts in the market.
    Justin Thyme, Jun 30, 2004
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  3. Mike Henley

    Photodad2 Guest

    Justin, how old are you? I ask because you seem to have an interesting view
    of the past.

    I started working in photography in 1975 as a clerk at a large camera store.
    I began shooting professionally in 1977. I can assure you that Nikon and
    Canon were already established as the "Professional" lines way back then
    (along with Leica). In fact, Nikon virtually ignored the consumer market at
    that time.

    For a line of equipment to be considered "professional grade" it has to
    offer bodies that can withstand the punishment pros give them, including
    shooting hundred of rolls a week without breaking down. Nikon excelled at
    this, as did Leica. Canon always lagged behind in this respect. I started
    out a Canon user, but quickly switched to Nikon for this reason.

    Olympus certainly offered excellent cameras and good glass, but they never
    offered a camera with full professional features, such as a true motor drive
    (not just a motor winder), or interchangeable focusing screens. Their
    selection of lenses, though of high quality, was limited. And their bodies
    just could not withstand the punishment a working pro gave them.

    Pentax offered good glass, and for a time excellent bodies, but the quality
    of their cameras deteriorated very quickly in the 80's. And they also never
    offered a full professional line of lenses or accessories.

    Today, the situation is even more polarized. Pros aren't looking for the
    latest gimmicks. They're looking for reliability and versatility, along
    with high image quality.

    While the current F5 certainly can't compare to the F or F2 in reliability,
    it is still the best on the market (IMHO). And Leica and Canon have not
    kept up in terms of the versatility of their entire line. That's why Nikon
    dominates the professional 35mm market, and will continue to dominate the
    digital market with help from Kodak and Fuji.

    Walt Hanks
    Photodad2, Jun 30, 2004
  4. It is true that in that time, Nikon did not make any consumer F mount
    lenses, but they did make consumer bodies (Nikkormat, FM, FE, and before
    that the Nikkorex series). Of course, with the introduction of the EM,
    Nikon also introduced consumer glass (E series).

    I think that good glass on a cheap body is much better than the other
    way around.
    Philip Homburg, Jun 30, 2004
  5. focussing screens and up to 5 fps motordrive connection.
    greetings , Gijs
    Gijs Rietveld, Jun 30, 2004
  6. Mike Henley

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Olympus failed to keep up with the market and ended up selling P&S
    cameras - which are quite highly regarded but not by serious photographers.
    THe E1 comes under the too little too late heading. Olympus is trying to
    break into the market with a smaller sensor than any of the other SLR
    manufacturers are using and terribly high prices for what you get (a 300 mm
    lens for 8 grand is not going to cut it, even if it has the effect of a 600
    mm lens because the sensor is so small) Unless Olympus cuts prices
    drastically I would say they are as good as off the board.
    Tony Spadaro, Jun 30, 2004
  7. Mike Henley

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Actually the F5 is a lot more reliable than the F2 -- if it wasn't Nikon
    would be out of business. As to Nikon being more reliable than Canon, I
    still see Ae-1 Canons in use. The only 2 Nikkormats I've even seen are on
    friends shelves - unrepairable.
    Tony Spadaro, Jun 30, 2004
  8. Mike Henley

    Matt Clara Guest

    I still have a Nikon F that works fine.
    Matt Clara, Jun 30, 2004
  9. Hmm. Wouldn't the FT-b be the contemporary to the Nikkormat?

    As I recall, Nikon grabbed the pro SLR market in the '60s. In the
    '70s, Pentax, Canon, and Olympus decided to take them on with the
    Pentax LX, Canon F-1, and Olympus OM-1. Canon eventually made it in
    the market; the others didn't. I think it was basically a matter of
    market timing and luck that this happened.
    Stephen H. Westin, Jun 30, 2004
  10. Mike Henley

    Lourens Smak Guest

    Funny, I actually think the E-system is cheap when compared to similar
    quality offerings from Canon or Nikon. Basically you get the E-1 plus 3
    lenses, for the price of a D1x body.

    Lourens Smak, Jun 30, 2004
  11. Mike Henley

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Sorry - That's what I meant. Slip of the brain pan.
    Tony Spadaro, Jun 30, 2004
  12. Mike Henley

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Perhaps you would, but you'd get a body and three lenses out of the four
    they make - the last one costs an arm and a leg. It's a bit silly to compare
    the E1 with the D1x or the Canon top of the line models either. Essentially,
    if you were to buy a 10D you would have a better camera, and a larger sensor
    than the Olympus. It's a loser.
    Tony Spadaro, Jun 30, 2004
  13. It's worse than that. People who (a) care about image quality and (b) buy a
    lot of E-1 glass are going to be _really_ unhappy when Canon figures out how
    to mfr full-frame sensors at even slightly more reasonably prices.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Jun 30, 2004
  14. Mike Henley

    Skip M Guest

    There could be a couple of reasons for that.
    First, Oly never did pursue the pro market with the tenacity of Nikon and
    Canon, and Pentax in the medium format range. That allowed those
    manufacturers to trumpet images taken by well known photographers, get the
    cameras in front of the public at venues like political conventions and
    sporting events, and generally overwhelm the likes of Olympus and Minolta.
    Second, in the case of Oly, they've been absent from the interchangeable
    lens SLR market for many years, now. They led the market in fixed lens
    SLRs, or what are commonly called "ZLRs" (Zoom Lens Reflex) cameras, and
    their digital versions, the E-10 and E-20 are generally regarded as being
    among the best of the type, especially the optics.
    Skip M, Jun 30, 2004
  15. Mike Henley

    Skip M Guest

    While some of what you said was arguable, I must take exception to the above
    Canon certainly has kept up with Nikon in terms of the versatility of the
    entire line, in fact, they are thought by some to have a better lineup of
    lenses than Nikon, and their bodies give nothing away to Nikon.
    If you are talking lenses, Canon has IS in every available fixed focal
    length super tele, the 300mm f2.8L, 400mm f2.8L, 500mm f4L and 600mm f4L,
    plus the 70-200 f2.8L and 100-400 f4.5-5.6L, plus the 28-135. Nikon offers
    their VR in the 24-120, 70-200 f2.8 and 80-400 f4.5-5.6. If you consider
    image stabilization to be a gimmick, rest assured that many pros don't,
    attested by the number of Canon 70-200 lenses on the sidelines of the
    recently completed NBA finals, and the number of their 400, 500 and 600mm
    lenses on the sidelines at any NFL game.If you are talking bodies, the Canon
    EOS3 and 1 series are as good as anything Nikon has to offer, or has had.
    Yeah, Eye Control is a little gimmicky, and that's probably why Canon left
    it off of the 1v.
    Canon currently dominates the overall digital market, and particularly the
    pro market, too. Nikon currently does not offer a camera with the
    capabilities of the Canon 1D mkII, nor the 1Ds. The Kodak 14n has some
    sensor issues, and the Fuji is built off of the N80 body, not of pro
    robustness, by any means. The Nikon D70 is probably a better camera than
    the Canon Rebel D, but those are not pro cameras, nor are the D100 and the
    Canon 10D.
    Leica never had the broad lens line, or camera line that any of the Japanese
    manufacturers have, or had, and really had no intention of competing with
    Skip M, Jun 30, 2004
  16. Mike Henley

    Sabineellen Guest

    That allowed those
    It's weird... it's like the words "Nikon" and "Canon" impress much more than
    the word "Olympus", but then ask them to name great cameras and many will
    mention an "Olympus" of some sort, from compact to rangefinders to ZLR to SLRs

    Maybe it's a case of marketing indeed. Though it does sound true that Olympus
    might've been more focused on consumers than pros.
    Sabineellen, Jun 30, 2004
  17. Mike Henley

    Skip M Guest

    Oly 50mm f2= $500, Canon 50mm f1.4= $300, 50mm f1.8= $75.
    Oly 50-200mm f2.8-3.5=$1000, Canon 70-200 f2.8L=$1100, 70-200 f2.8L IS=
    Oly 14-54 f2.8-3.4=$500, Canon 16-35 f2.8L= $1325m17-40 f4L=$650,
    And the capper:
    Oly 300mm f2.8= $7000, Canon 300mm f2.8L= $4000
    A Canon 10D runs a couple hundred less than the Oly E-1, it isn't fair to
    compare the Canon 1D mkII to it, with nearly twice the resolution.
    This doesn't even address the idea that there are a plethora of Canon lenses
    offered for less than the paragons, (except for the above mentioned 50mm
    f1.8) listed here, while the Oly system doesn't offer less expensive lenses.

    Skip Middleton
    Oly 50mm f2= $500, Canon 50mm f1.4= $300, 50mm f1.8= $75.
    Oly 50-200mm f2.8-3.5=$1000, Canon 70-200 f2.8L=$1100, 70-200 f2.8L IS=
    Oly 14-54 f2.8-3.4=$500, Canon 16-35 f2.8L= $1325m17-40 f4L=$650,
    And the capper:
    Oly 300mm f2.8= $7000, Canon 300mm f2.8L= $4000
    A Canon 10D runs a couple hundred less than the Oly E-1, it isn't fair to
    compare the Canon 1D mkII to it, with nearly twice the resolution.
    This doesn't even address the idea that there are a plethora of Canon lenses
    offered for less than the paragons, (except for the above mentioned 50mm
    f1.8) listed here, while the Oly system doesn't offer less expensive lenses.
    Of course, Oly offers the 11-22 f2.8-3.5, at $800, a lens that only Sigma
    and Nikon come close to, but at a lower price.
    Skip M, Jun 30, 2004
  18. Mike Henley

    Ted Azito Guest

    As an aside, the OM's were considered good cameras but not capable of
    taking a pounding, and so pros would occasionally go Olympus for the
    light weight with the expectation they'd be retiring bodies early.
    Nikon was the dominant player among true pros because of Nikon
    Professional Services in major media towns. This was a service center
    that you could only patronize if you were a certified working
    professional-you had to prove you earned the bulk of your income from
    photography. A number of slebs lobbied hard for a Pro card and were
    thwarted: legend has it a couple of female pros married to major
    slebs, but acknowledged photographers, had a hell of a time getting
    their card. It was a big status symbol.

    The quality of their optics was a big factor, as well.
    Ted Azito, Jul 1, 2004
  19. Mike Henley

    Bandicoot Guest

    That last sentence is not correct - the Pentax line of top end glass
    certainly covered everything throughout the '70s and '80s. Since they'd
    been the first 35mm SLR to be big in the pro market - before Nikon was -
    this should be no surprise. Nikon had a few more esoterica - but fisheyes
    specially computed for measuring cloud-cover, for example, are hardly
    relevant in this context.

    The accessory range for the LX was (is) as extensive as anyone could wish.
    At the time that Pentax was the SLR of choice in the professional market
    bodies weren't 'systems' the way they became later: the time when this
    happened was after Nikon had taken the lead in the professional market, but
    the LX was a more comprehensive 'system body' in its time than anything
    Nikon had then.

    It isn't technology that decides which line would be the choice amongst
    professional shooters, it's which manufacturers choose to pursue that market
    and put marketing/support effort (first) and R&D (distant second) into it.
    Why is Canon dominating Nikon in the sports and press markets even though it
    doesn't in most other areas of professional 35mm SLR work? - because those
    are the areas Canon has _chosen_ as its targets (and its marketing and R&D
    budgets exceed Nikon's, so they can take the market they choose as first
    choice). Why has Canon chosen those markets? - because those are the ones
    where Joe Public most often sees what s/he thinks of as "pro.s" at work, and
    so it is the segment Canon chooses to use as the shop window with which to
    sell the consumer gear from which they make the real money. And it has
    proved to be a very successful strategy.

    Quality of glass comes last in this market - it just isn't important enough
    relative to other factors. Otherwise Leica, Contax, and Pentax would
    dominate it, and Minolta would be a bigger force there than it now is too.

    Incidentally, I've sometimes wondered how far Olympus inspired the Pentax
    MX. The MX is OM sized, and light, but more robust. This plus its clear
    placement as a 'cut-down' professional body (and its lack of battery
    dependence) makes it a clear choice as a 'second' or back-up body for many
    LX users (you can even interchange the focusing screens if you really want
    to). Was this a Pentax attempt to lure those Nikon users who also used OM
    as their lightweight system by saying 'come to us and you can have both
    small-and-light and bigger-and-more-versatile bodies within a single line of
    lenses'? Interesting to speculate.

    Bandicoot, Jul 1, 2004
  20. Mike Henley

    Jeremy Guest

    My recollection is that Pentax introduced the MX, ME and ME-Super to go
    head-to-head with the Olympus OM line. Olympus announced the end of the
    line for OM cameras about 2 years ago. Lenses and accessories might still
    be available, but who is going to invest in a system that is no longer being

    I'm not sure what happened to Pentax. When their relationship with
    Honeywell Photographic ended, around 1975, they just stopped "clicking" in
    the U.S. market. I remember many screw-mount users expressing resentment
    over having been abandoned--even though Pentax did provide an adaptor to
    allow the lenses to be mounted on K-Mount bodies.

    I have a brochure from Pentax, listing their lenses when they introduced the
    K-Mount cameras. They had a bigger line-up of prime lenses than they did in
    the M42 days, but they weren't able to market them as well as Honeywell did.

    By the time the MX and ME came out, Pentax seemed to be playing follow the
    leader--by essentially copying Olympus' compact design. They lost their
    footing in terms of advertising. And they continued putting out uninspiring
    new camera bodies. Quite a change from their Spotmatic and ES days, when
    Asahi was the innovator.

    They didn't help themselves any when they came out with those cheap
    "Takumar" lenses in K-mount. The champion of multicoating, and they
    released a line of cheaply-made, uncoated lenses branded with the venerable
    Takumar name.

    Olympus seemed to have a clearer focus with their product line. I first
    remember them making the Olympus Pen, which was a half frame camera. Small,
    lightweight and easy to take along. They advertised every month in National
    Geographic, and seemed to be marketing this straight at the world traveler
    that wanted to take a camera along that would not weigh him down.

    The OM-1 carried on in that tradition of compactness.

    Their Stylus P&S series continued the tradition. Simple, small, light,
    clamshell design--the perfect camera to slip in a pocket. No wonder it sold
    many millions. I still have my original Infinity Stylus, with the 35mm
    f/3.5 lens, and it continues to operate flawlessly.

    Nikon copied the design, with their Lite Touch series, but I read recently
    that Nikon is rumored to be planning to get out of the P&S business at the
    end of this year. It would appear that Olympus is the brand with the
    staying power, when it comes to small, rugged cameras. At least when one
    bought an Olympus, one knew what one was getting.
    Jeremy, Jul 1, 2004
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