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08-01-2013, 07:35 PM   #1
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Thom Hogan - 4/3 Camera Manufacturers

A good analysis of the 4/3 camera market and the manufacturers.


08-01-2013, 07:55 PM   #2
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Lots of hot air and no lift.
08-02-2013, 03:17 AM   #3
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A lot of the same things could be said about Pentax, or Sony for that matter. The difference being that four thirds companies have strapped themselves to a mount that doesn't allow for larger sensors, if over time the price of larger sensors comes down. Eventually that could squeeze them pretty hard...
08-02-2013, 03:35 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
A lot of the same things could be said about Pentax, or Sony for that matter. The difference being that four thirds companies have strapped themselves to a mount that doesn't allow for larger sensors, if over time the price of larger sensors comes down. Eventually that could squeeze them pretty hard...
Well no, because the price of smaller sensors will even drop more and sensors will get better and better so the reason to go larger gets less important over time.

Also with electronics we see that smaller is better so...

anyway i think with the release of m4/3 to EOS speedbooster will help m4/3 quite a bit also with the support of blackmagic.

08-02-2013, 04:32 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Well no, because the price of smaller sensors will even drop more and sensors will get better and better so the reason to go larger gets less important over time.

Also with electronics we see that smaller is better so...

anyway i think with the release of m4/3 to EOS speedbooster will help m4/3 quite a bit also with the support of blackmagic.
Not to mention the release of the GX7 and 42.5 f1.2 lens by Panasonic yesterday - pretty poor timing for that article I think!
08-02-2013, 05:37 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Well no, because the price of smaller sensors will even drop more and sensors will get better and better so the reason to go larger gets less important over time.

Also with electronics we see that smaller is better so...

anyway i think with the release of m4/3 to EOS speedbooster will help m4/3 quite a bit also with the support of blackmagic.
I hope for the best, but Olympus in particular, seems to be in bad financial shape and has really damaged their reputation as a company with the deceptions of the past.

The larger versus smaller sensor debate has been beaten to death, but certainly if Olympus gets locked into a format where the max they can charge for a camera is less (say 600 dollars), because it is seen as lower end because it uses a smaller (cheaper) sensor size, that will hurt them. My impression is that the OM-D has not done very well because of the high sticker price, even though it is a nice camera. The days of a 1500 dollar APS-C or four thirds cameras may only be visible in the rear view mirror.
08-02-2013, 07:43 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
My impression is that the OM-D has not done very well because of the high sticker price, even though it is a nice camera.
My impression is that the OM-D has done extremely well, in spite of its high sticker price. But I don't have access to the sales numbers, so who knows?

I don't buy the argument that the M4/3 sensor size is somehow going to sink the format economically. If M4/3 dies out, that won't be what caused it. Sensors for M4/3 cameras can never become more expensive than APS-C sensors, because if it ever really came to that, they could always just start putting APS-C sensors into M4/3 bodies. Why not? But even that's a bit far-fetched. As long as there's any reasonable production volume at all, it should be cheaper to make M4/3-sized sensors simply because you can fit more of them on a silicon wafer.

Maybe one could imagine a scenario where everybody is totally obsessed over sensor size (like we have been over megapixels), and the camera-shopping masses reject M4/3 on that basis, but I honestly don't see it happening. The difference in size between M4/3 and APS-C is not that much, so if M4/3 is rejected for being too small, then APS-C will be rejected as well, and everyone will consider nothing less than FF acceptable. We're a long, long way from that happening.
08-02-2013, 09:13 AM   #8
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The real issue for all cameras regardless of format is that they compete with phones, mini tablets and tablets - and with the new usage paradigm for casual shooters. One of the original premises of MFT - that it is suited to pocketable, thin, mirrorless cameras - is superceded by the pocketable, thin mirrorless camera already in my pocket, which also links directly to the preferred dispaly medium (FB, Instagram, a personal Wordpress or Tumblr blog). Consumers are totally owned by phones. There simply isn't enough volume in the advanced amateur and up portion of the pyrmaid to support all the mounts, formats and players competing for the survivor scraps.

So are Oly and Panny strong enough even together to keep the M4/3 standard going?

08-02-2013, 09:15 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tony Belding Quote
My impression is that the OM-D has done extremely well, in spite of its high sticker price. But I don't have access to the sales numbers, so who knows?
I've heard its done poorly. It's too expensive, the interface and dials are inscrutable, it really requires the grip to work, and its DR and other aspect of the smaller sensor take away from its engineered value.

APS-C sensors are widely adopted by 5 major players (Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Fuji) so their economy of scale produces such large volumes it likely eliminates the inherent cost advantages of m43 sensor production.

A US$1,299 kit is far too expensive.
08-03-2013, 06:24 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I've heard its done poorly. It's too expensive, the interface and dials are inscrutable, it really requires the grip to work, and its DR and other aspect of the smaller sensor take away from its engineered value.

APS-C sensors are widely adopted by 5 major players (Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Fuji) so their economy of scale produces such large volumes it likely eliminates the inherent cost advantages of m43 sensor production.

A US$1,299 kit is far too expensive.
It was back ordered in the US for 4-5 months when it was released - how long did Pentax users have to wait for the K50/500 duo? Available release day everywhere is the likely answer - if not, I'm sure it wasn't that long of a wait.
08-03-2013, 06:35 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
It was back ordered in the US for 4-5 months when it was released - how long did Pentax users have to wait for the K50/500 duo? Available release day everywhere is the likely answer - if not, I'm sure it wasn't that long of a wait.
Back orders are foregone revenues an generally bad management. They also effectively shorten the product life cycle.

I have heard from a major retailer it has sold poorly. Olympus imaging is losing buckets of money right now. The company's whole camera division is on financial life support from its medical device side.
08-03-2013, 06:53 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
It was back ordered in the US for 4-5 months when it was released - how long did Pentax users have to wait for the K50/500 duo? Available release day everywhere is the likely answer - if not, I'm sure it wasn't that long of a wait.
Long backorder periods don't necessarily say anything about how successful a product is. When a company is capital-starved it can't batch-build a warehouse inventory of product prior to release date. It can't build on spec. It can only build to supply orders in the chain.

If demand for a new product exceeds the planned production schedule and advance orders are above expectations and there is no warehouse buffer of made product, said company is production-limited. It can't just miraculously open three more production lines to meet demand. It can only produce what it can produce in the planned production, so there is a long back-order period. If the capital starvation is so severe that even contemporaneous planned production is capital-limited then everything is back-ordered.

Rather than a surprise hit, Olympus might just as easily have an ordinary product - the OM-D - on its hands that it was forced to make to order. Given Olympus' recent financial revelations what is the more likely conclusion?

Pentax on the other hand, using ample Ricoh capital, may well have been building K50 and K500 bodies since April and have a ready supply of warehouse stock to support initial demand. Pentax's planned production schedule might benefit from access to ready capital and unit sales, revenue and profit will also be as planned if the product is accepted as planned.

Last edited by monochrome; 08-03-2013 at 07:00 AM.
08-04-2013, 09:12 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
The larger versus smaller sensor debate has been beaten to death, but certainly if Olympus gets locked into a format where the max they can charge for a camera is less (say 600 dollars), because it is seen as lower end because it uses a smaller (cheaper) sensor size, that will hurt them.
Is Olympus locked in? They are now sharing technology with Sony who is encouraging other companies to use the E-mount (Hassy for example). There is a very real possibility that Olympus will release an E or A mount body. We know from the released agreement between Sony and Olympus that Olympus will be making glass for the E/A mount.

Sony has no problem with Hassy making an E mount. Don't be surprised if Olympus makes an A-mount.
08-04-2013, 10:47 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
Is Olympus locked in? They are now sharing technology with Sony who is encouraging other companies to use the E-mount (Hassy for example). There is a very real possibility that Olympus will release an E or A mount body. We know from the released agreement between Sony and Olympus that Olympus will be making glass for the E/A mount.

Sony has no problem with Hassy making an E mount. Don't be surprised if Olympus makes an A-mount.
The problem is not really the body, but that their whole lens line up is targeted at four thirds. I just don't think their lenses would cover even an APS-C sensor well. Beyond which, they would destroy any good will they had with their fan base if they switched mounts (again).
08-04-2013, 02:18 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I've heard its done poorly. It's too expensive, the interface and dials are inscrutable, it really requires the grip to work, and its DR and other aspect of the smaller sensor take away from its engineered value.
It's expensive, but it's not "too expensive" if people are buying it. Think about Apple. The OM-D was definitely a trendy camera there for a while, as it got voted Best Camera of 2012 on DPReview.

The dual command dials are excellent. The interface is my biggest complaint about the OM-D. It has a massive menu system and multiple ways of doing many things, and it's easy to get lost. I had to sit down with the manual, and also get tips from forums a few times, and go through the whole system and set it up to my liking. Since getting everything configured the way I want, I find it's pretty usable: perhaps a nuisance, not a disaster. It's definitely not newbie-friendly, though, and not as nicely organized as Pentax's firmware.

It doesn't require the grip to work. I don't have the grip, and I don't have any problem using it. It's similar in size to a lot of old 35mm film cameras, and nobody complained about them needing an additional grip to work. I do think it's optimized for somewhat smaller hands than mine, but then I have large-ish guy hands.


QuoteQuote:
APS-C sensors are widely adopted by 5 major players (Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Fuji) so their economy of scale produces such large volumes it likely eliminates the inherent cost advantages of m43 sensor production.
Well, as I noted before... If push comes to shove, and they can't get M4/3 sensors at a reasonable cost, they can always start putting APS-C sensors in future cameras. It would actually improve performance when switching between different aspect ratios. (In fact, I think Panasonic already released a camera that did this, though I don't know exactly what the specs were for its sensor.)

I personally would love to see Pentax do something similar to the OM-D, but just slightly scaled-up and using APS-C. It would need a new mount, but they could provide an adapter to use K-mount lenses as well.
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