Thursday, March 8, 2012

Olympus E-7... Make it Sooner rather than Later

There are rumors swirling all over the internet that Olympus plans to introduce one more 4/3 camera. An E-5 successor that has the new 16 MP sensor from the OM-D, plus the new 5-axis IBIS and the improved HD video.

The rumors seem to all say that this will happen sometimes late next year, in order to maintain a three year timetable between 4/3 flagships.

But I think Olympus must do this much sooner. In fact, the sooner the better.

Olympus, if they indeed intent to keep 4/3 customers, and maintain a market for their outstanding HG and SHG lenses CANNOT afford to wait for competitors to copy their new features.

And this is precisely what has happened over the past ten years.

Olympus comes out with some really nice feature, then within a year everyone else has it too. Here are some examples:

* tilt screens
* image stabilization
* dustbusters
* liveview
* art filters
* digital levelers
* AF micro adjust

At one time, those things were pretty much exclusive Olympus features. Or at least Olympus had a big head start. Now, everyone has their own version of them. Give your competitors enough time, and they will invent their own versions without infringing on any patents you have.

Right now, Olympus is the only manufacturer who offers 5-axis IBIS.
Within six months, everyone will have their own version.

Sony and Pentax will have it, and Canon, Panasonic and Nikon will find some way to "improve" their lens based IS. (Samsung and Fuji are still cluless about IS.)

Right now, Olympus has a 16MP sensor that compares very favorably to many APSC sensors. Why wait until APSC sensors leapfrong over M4/3 again? Exactly what does Olympus gain by waiting another year?

Everyone who wanted an E-5 has already bought one.

What's left are the folks who never saw the advantage is putting down $1700 to get a weathersealed E-620 or E-30.  But... with a new sensor and improved IBIS, those people might be ready to upgrade now.

Lets face it. Unless Olympus gives them an upgrade path, many of them will end up being Canon, Nikon, Sony or Pentax users.

"Are there enough 4/3 shooters left to make another 4/3 flagship camera profitable?"
And the answer is... "it depends."

It depends on if Olympus can develop an E-7 without spending a lot of money, and if they can get potential buyers to pay a high premium price for it. And I think the answer is a resounding yes.
The E-7 does not need a new body or "better ergonomics" than the E-5 already has. The E-3/E-5 body is wonderful, and the weather sealing is phenomenal. The tools and dies are already there. Reuse the same body.

The only changes should be internal, and these are relatively easy to do, since the technology is already being used in the OM-D. All an E-7 would need is the new sensor, the new IBIS, better video, a better LCD, new firmware, and improved processing engine and a couple of new art filters thrown in. This is all relatively cheap and easy to do. Voila! We now have a very nice E5 upgrade.

And this is the ONLY way to get fast AF with those wonderful HG and SHG lenses. (I think the only high grade lens that can do fast CDAF is the 14-54mm II. The wonderful 12-60mm, 50-200mm, and all the SHG lenses are painfully slow.)

The OM-D is a wonderful camera, and it is an upgrade from the E5 in one way only....  image quality. In most other ways, it is a "side-grade." Something very wonderful, but something very different.

The OM-D cannot stand alone as a system camera for people who are heavily invested in HG and SHG lenses. For that, they will need an E-7.

And the sooner... the better.
Before the sleeping giants wake up.

43 comments:

  1. Hi Marty,

    I totally agree. I would pre-order an E-7 now.
    Currently I have an E-520 and a lot of lenses like 12-60 and 50-200SWD. I know that the body is miles behind the lenses. For good weather/light its really ok. Now I need a bad weather/light body :-)

    Gerrit

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  2. Can you please email this message to the boffins at Olympus. You are 100% correct that the only changes the E-5 need have already been developed. They just need to whack them in.
    I really hope they do release an E-7 and soon...at LEAST let us know one is on the way. Why keep us in the dark? If there's no inclination that there is a better body on the way then agreed...people will go to one of the Giants.

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    Replies
    1. I started with the E-1 and now have the E-3. I did not see the improvements in the E-5 being big enough for me to buy. (I didn't do video.) I can not be the only one who have been waiting long, too long.

      With out more info soon, I will be jumping to Canon.
      I'm gone unless I KNOW that Olympus will not blow off its DSLR users any longer!

      Delete
  3. Great article. Come on Olympus, where can I order an E7? I'll order right now. I've still got my E620, E30, E5, and all of the 'Standard' and HG(Pro) lenses. I want to buy the SHG(Super-Pro) lenses too, but I need to know that 4/3s is going to continue.

    Michael
    Sydney, Australia.

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    Replies
    1. well, if you have done that, tell me too. E7.....
      Chris
      Brisbane,Australia

      Delete
  4. Marty,
    I have read Robin Wong and you fairly often - this is my first posting, anywhere.
    I have been an Olympus (OM) die hard since February 1973 when I was discharged from the military. I have had several film cameras and went digital when the E-10 was introduced. I purchased the E-20 and still have them and the lenses and accessories that you could possibly get with these cameras. I purchased the E-1 as soon as it was available, the E3, the E-510 and the E-5. The only one of the E series that isn't working is the E-510 as it fell from a roof of a hi-rise apartment building. I have only 2 of the standard lenses plus the ec-20 teleconverter. I have 4 of the High Grade lenses and the macro extension and the EC-14 teleconverter and in the Super High Grade I only need (don't really NEED) the 14-35 to complete my needs as a wildlife/action photographer.
    If Olympus cannot produce a successor to the E-5 (E-7) before fall of this year.....everything goes.
    Nikon D4 or Cannon 1D X will be in.

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  5. I would have to agree. Olympus wake up, the demand is there. Don'f fall asleep at the wheel again.

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  6. YES, it is true, we hope to buy the e-7. I use the E-30, E-3, 12-60, 50-200 as a self flying aerial photographer. And why? Speed and ergonomy!!I do not have the time searching buttons or waiting for the focus. Go on OLYMPUS!

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  7. Like the rest of you, I am seriously invested in 4/3 lenses, and I'd love to see an E7. But I don't think it will happen.

    The problem is because 4/3 cameras and lenses can only be sold to existing 4/3 users... which are around 5% (or less) of all ILC camera users. Virtually no Canon or Nikon shooters will abandon their brand to buy an E7.

    Only those who are currently using an E520, E30 or E5 will want one. (I seriously doubt that anyone who recently bought an E5 would even upgrade.)

    M4/3 is a whole different story. Olympus can market these to any ILC camera user and any P&S user who wants to move up. In fact, many Pen users currently use "other brand" DSLRs, thanks to the easy availability of cheap lens adapters.

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    Replies
    1. I have an Oly E500 and an E5 and a lot of Oly glass to go with it. I bit the bullet the other day and bought a Nikon D5100 to continue with night sky imaging with the support of a range of Nikon lenses. With all this taken into consideration I would seriously consider going after the E7 given it would have a new and more sensitive sensor that will deliver improved results under low light levels and at higher ISO's than the E5 is currently doing.

      Delete
    2. I have several Canon APSC cameras. No full frame lenses. I would love to consider Olympus as I have used an E5, and loved it, but I wont commit to the E5 if its the end. Its gotta be a new E7 or else i will stick with canon and get a 5d or 7d.

      Delete
  8. As with many of the comments above, I am totally with the sentiment of your article. The sooner the new Oly pro camera body comes out the better, and I don't want it to be a pro version of the OM-D but rather a 'full size' body with the technologies of the OM-D incorporated and improved upon. I don't think Olympus can afford to wait for a year's time before releasing any E-5 successor - some potential sales have probably already been lost in the Olympus scandal, the lack of visible future committment to the 4/3rds specification, the arrival of the OM-D, and the length of time since the release of the E-5 in a rapidly changing world.
    I am a committed long term Olympus E-series user, having made various upgrades over the years, and I would have a serious interest in any E-5 successor, but I will not wait for long.

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  9. Come on Olympus! I am an Olympus user. My mother gave me her OM-1. I used for 10 years! Then I bought the E-510 with my first extra pay (and saves). The E-510 was stolen, then I brougt another one. After 5 years it stopped working. Now I'm using a Eos 50D with 24-105 f4. I'm sure that my Zuiko 12-60 is better. But I'm starting to like the results, the fact is that I'm enjoying whole pack. Maybe bacause I love to take photos. I need to take photos! I'll make it with an Oly or any other. So, come on, please... Come on!

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  10. Hopefully an E-7 will be announced soon. Invested fairly heavily in 4/3rds glass.

    Olympus should think beyond strict "profit margin". Preserving 4/3rds with a professional flagship is of paramount importance so as not to alienate its current professional user base. One thing is certain; If Olympus does not release the E-7 I will never purchase another Olympus product. Nor will my wife be buying a micro four thirds camera either.

    Get with it OLY. If no announcement is made at Photokina then I am finished with your company eternally and lesson learned.

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  11. I have my own deadline for Olympus to come out with an E-5 replacement, which would be by the end of this summer. If they don't, I'll be most likely switching to Canon, as they have a good range of weather sealed zooms in the ranges I'm interested in, and much better focusing than Olympus. Nikon is also a possibility. My ideal combination would be a Canon 7D with the 70-300 "L" lens.

    I really love my Olympus lenses and cameras, and don't want to leave, but I also don't want to get stuck with a bunch of equipment that has no future upgrade path. The micro 4/3 cameras are a very, very poor substitute for a DSLR.

    Thank you for writing about this Marty.

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  12. I totally agree. The new Om-D is great but i do not need a mirrorless for work. I need a reflex, a solid reflex. I'm not buying a E-5, it' so close to my E-3, I need a new great Camera!!

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  13. I, too, hope for an E-7 body sooner rather than later. Owning both the E-5 and E-M5, I find reasons to work with both. The big glass for 4/3 is critical for assignment work, given its phenomenal IQ, and the strength and balance with the E-5 body is excellent. Coupling those with the new sensor and IS of the E-M5 would certainly be a reason to upgrade.

    Given that 4/3 and M4/3 lenses are best in the f/8 range, I would hope that a professional body would permit ISO100 shooting, and-dare I dream-an X-sync speed with 3rd party strobes in excess of 1/250 second.

    I hope Olympus finds enough of us in love with their 4/3 lenses to upgrade the internals of the E-5 and give us a reason to stay with the system.

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  14. I would buy a E7 if it has a 14to16MP sensor and a much better high Iso performance up to about 12000 Iso.

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  15. I too am an "OLY FILE" as I have 4 of them including an EP3 which I carry everywhere, an E5 / E30 / E330 along with a full array of lenses etc. The reason I am reading this blog is that last night I was advised by an industry source that the new E7 will be released at Photokina in September and that it will have a new 22 megapixel sensor. This makes sense as even the Sony Nex 7 has a 24 megapixel sensor and to bring out a new flagship with only 16, would be commercial suicide. The only way I would leave OLY would be to move to a FF camera, and SONY is also about to release one of these...........so watch out Nikon and Canon

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  16. I recently-ish purchased an E5. I have 3 SHG lenses and 2 HG lenses. I would pre-order an E7 without hesitation as soon as it came out...
    ...come on Olympus...

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  17. I have an Olympus e620 and E-5. I really enjoy using the e620 due to the size and the E-5 due to the better detail and filters. I use the battery grip constantly and should come as standard with the E-5 or future E=7.
    I shoot mainly in Raw, favorite lenses are 1. SHG 150mm f2 (a real stunner), 2.SHG 14-35mm f2 3.SHG 7-14mm f4 and in fourth place only due to less frequent use a real Zuiko OM King lens 4. OM Zuiko Auto Macro 90mm f2 (I have two of these, one of them used to be part of an medical endoscope kit). I have Leica Lenses (Summilux 25mm f1.4, and a Leica D3 kit lens) but Olympus SHG lenses rock as do some of the HG lenses (50-200mm f2.8, 50mm f2, 12-60mm f2.8). So Olympus please get into gear and produce the E-7 now with features mentioned in this good article or wait and surprise us with something very special (18Mp, new filters, SHG body features,...?) but please do so only with a real commitment not just to move residual lens stock. Thanks, Mike (Auckland, NZ)

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  18. Hi I am Yiorgos from Cyprus

    I am an E620 & E5 user and first time in my life I feel so much anguish about the system I am using... I am of those that I dont care about the small comfortable cameras (Sorry Pen & OM-D). For me size matters and thats why I am in Dslr and not some kind of comfortable small system.

    After all I have the feeling that the company I trusted doesn't respect me and all the E-series users. They should have the...guts and announce if the E-system somehow is alive or not. I don't care if the E-5 replacement comes now or in 6 months or in 1 year or whats the name is going to be, I just have and deserve to know if its coming.

    If all of us were using some other system our conversation would be more about the creativity of photography and how to use our equipment than the models to come because we would feel secured that our investment would be alive for many years.

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  19. Quite simply, there is no excuse for Olympus to preserve its tradition of issuing a flagship E-camera every third year; all of the technology and tooling are on the shelf. This means that the incremental cost to Olympus of making an E-7 will be in its marketing.

    More importantly, however, it buys time to design and test the next quantum leap to the E-9, whatever that may be.

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  20. I agree with most of the other writers. I have some very nice FT-lenses (7-14, 12-60 and 50mm). If Oly stops providing me with a suitable body for them in the future, I would certainly not buy any Olympus product again.

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  21. I could go for this. I have always loved Oly color on every model that I have had. I was looking at going 4/3 several years ago, but did a test drive on an E-520 and the results were not what I needed. I was looking at the 520 mainly as an excuse to buy a new toy. My working system has been Nikon for many years.

    I got a bargain m4/3 E-PL1 PEN back in January - the color is gorgeous and it's put the fun back into shooting for me. And the quality is just wow for a relatively small sensor cam. I have been seriously entertaining the EM-5 for purchase later in the year, but a new incarnation of 4/3 could change my mind again.

    Go poke them with a sharp stock ;-)

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  22. I must be a dying breed here, I'm still using my E-500, 6 years later and it still produces stunning images. Not stunning for a 6 year old camera, stunning period. The ergonomics are so simply spot on, shooting has always been a pleasure and relaxation tool. It is however starting to show it's age. I need faster AF, and better resolution to get the most out of those lovely ZD lenses; my current sensor is nowhere near able to fully resolve the lens. I have been eyeing an upgrade for a while now, and would immediately jump on an E-7 with an upgraded E-M5 sensor in a heartbeat.

    I looked seriously at switching to the pentax K-5 (have a stable of older pentax lenses as well). But all the other systems require serious postprocessing in raw to get the most out of the image. For 95%+ of my shots the excellent JPEG engine in the olympus can do better than LR+PS! I'd rather get it right in camera, JPEG and download than spend hours in postprocessing. Also got a pen recently and the IQ is excellent, noise control is much much better, but it is still a mirrorless, I can't live without a proper pentaprism! Come on Olympus!!!

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  23. if olympus not going to come out E7. Please tell us.... we move to other brand dont waste our time and money..... i lose the money on selling also wont stay in olympus anymore if thier attitute still like that

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  24. I agree totally with this opinion piece. I would purchase the E-7 tomorrow, if available! But I will never replace my 4/3 system with OM-D or any other Micro 4/3 system. If no E-7 is forthcoming,(and soon), I will reluctantly sell 1/2 dozen lenses and a couple of bodies in my first ever conversion to Nikon or Canon (and I'm in my mid-50's).

    I am another die-hard Olympus fan, exclusive since the OM-1. But my niche is now live music photography, since I live in the "Live Music Capital of the World" - Austin, Texas. I've been carrying the Oly banner for years at all the local festivals (ACL, SXSW, etc) in a press corps that's exclusively Nikon and Canon. And for the last few years I've been struggling in low light situations with Oly's inadequate sensors/processing resulting noisy raw shots for anything over ISO 800. Heavy post-processing is required, but I'm struggling against the pros who shoot with full frame & APS size sensors, much > 12 Mp, better low light sensitivity and processing, etc. As someone else noted above, great 4/3 lenses, non-competitive bodies. Please, Olympus, don't ignore your faithful, and hurry up!

    Anguished and Distraught!

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  25. I solved my low light shooting problem by buying a Sony A55 with kit lens. This way, I can still enjoy using my E30 and Zuiko lenses for everything else, and I don't have to worry about what I am missing.

    The problem with making the switch completely is you will miss your Zuiko lenses, and every Canon or Nikon lens will feel inadequate in some way.

    So, it was just simpler to become a dual system user...

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  26. I think the message is clear. Oly has had a loyal base because they have continued to respond to customer needs. I'm a pro-sumer who just recently upgraded from E-510 to E-5. I've been wearing my Oly cameras and Zuiko glass with pride since my OM-1, and OM-2n days.

    Corporate governance scandal press aside, I would advance order an E-7 given the speculated improvements in megapixels, expanded ISO range, 1080p video, and advanced OM-D sensor technology.

    Your move Oly.

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  27. If Olympus doesn't upgrade soon they will start to lose people to the other manufacturers. I am in the market for a new SLR (my current camera is a E420 and i think it is time for an upgrade) I was hoping that Olympus might have a new SLR out but they are all a few years old. I am now considering moving to Pentax or Nikon

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  28. I'm in a bad situation right now. My E-3 broke down and using the OMD5(nice cam) with my 4/3 lenses isn't a charm for longer duration. I need a DSLR. A 2nd Hand E-3 or E-5? New one? Or waiting for the new coming DSLR?
    I hope Oly will make some detailed announcement

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  29. There's no Oly Dslr in the future. Forget it...

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  30. David.... I think you are absolutely right. If there was going to be another DSLR from Olympus, then we would have seen it already. The time has come and gone.

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  31. I have invested heavily in Olympus products and I would hope they don't leave their customers high and dry while they trot off in another direction.
    Get the stick out Olympus. Give us that long anticipated E-7.

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  32. Olympus E-620
    ZD 14-42mm +
    ZD 40-150mm +
    ZD 70-300mm +
    ZD 8mm +
    ZD 11-22mm +
    ZD 50-200mm SWD +
    Sigma 150mm Macro

    What to do ??? Whether to buy a Canon or Nikon ???....Olympus, if you think of us?

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  33. Do do anything hasty. There is some word of a new Olympus DSLR coming...

    http://www.dpreview.com/articles/7898773566/cp-2013-interview-with-olympus-toshi-terada

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  34. I will preorder E-7 the same day they open it up...

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  35. Have E1-E5 cameras. I am putting aside some money for an E 7 now. Hope Olympus can come through. I think the dollars invested vs the physical size of the system and image quality are very competitive with other systems.. I used to tote Hasselblads everywhere and I really appreciate the compactness of the 4/3rds system compared to the size and weight of other systems.

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    Replies
    1. I think it is obvious now that there will be no E7.

      When Olympus introduced the EM1 last year, it became their flagship, for both 4/3 and M4/3. The ship sailed and left us at the dock.

      Delete
  36. Unfortunately for me it seems so. I can only watch and mourn for all the lovely Olympus equipment that I have

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  37. I went through all 12 steps of mourning, and have recovered.

    Now I think Olympus made the right decision by moving to a smaller platform with M4/3. M4/3 has delivered on the promise of 4/3, and now all those great lenses are more usable with the EM1 having PDAF on chip.

    I feel bad about spending $4,000 on cameras and lenses that I rarely use now, but the truth is I got good use out of all of it.

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