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Photokina 2012 - репортаж с выставки

Olympus - interview (English)

We talked to an Olympus representative - Toshiyuki Terada, Product Planning, Olympus Imaging Corporation, Japan

Перевод этого интервью

Dimitri Kroupski: When we talked last time in Amsterdam, you launched the OM-D camera with a lot of new technologies. It was easy to ask questions because many things were new and exiting. At present, when new models are maybe not so revolutionary, the questions are mostly about marketing and plans. In the new PEN cameras, you used some technological achievements from OM-D: the processor, the art filters, and what about the stabilisation system?

Toshiyuki Terada: The current one is same as in EP-3.

DK: So how do you yourself evaluate the new models?

TT: The most important thing to consider in a new product is customer satisfaction. When introducing the product, we have to decide which type of product is designed for which type of customers. This is really important for the manufacturer because nowadays, if we see a compact camera, and almost everybody have a camera like that, then to consider to divide the customers into some sort of sections, and to define a target group is really important for the marketing. You can see that our products with interchangeable lens system are totally different from the customer group for OM-D and PEN type of camera. Of course the PEN type is a photographer-oriented camera, with a higher technology compared to other products, then the reason that the OM-D is a technology driven kind of product. On the other hand, if we consider the customer group for PEN cameras, they like to have a nice image quality without any difficulties, this is the one with a fast priority for this group of users. If we consider the new product in the PEN series, one of the biggest demands is better image quality without any difficulties, and also an improvement of the connectivity to social networks. Those two are I think the demands to meet. Then we decided to implement the same engine and the same sensor as the OM-D to improve image quality, and also we introduce a new mobile phone application, so-called OI Share, to use a Toshiba Flash-Air card, it's a really nice solution to connect to social networks. We already have a connectivity solution - PEN Pal, which can send image data to Android or iOS mobile phones. I think at that time we were the first manufacturer to connect to a mobile phone directly from the camera with PEN Pal. This time, we're using our own Olympus imaging share software on a mobile phone together with Toshiba card, so we have a swift solution to connect the camera: Wi-Fi, Eye-Fi and Flash-Air card to connect to dedicated software.  

DK: All those solutions imply the use of some sort of card; why don't you implement Wi-Fi capabilities into a camera?

TT: At this time, not everyone is using the connectivity features, even among the PEN users. We have seen the market trend: most of the people like to connect to mobile phones, why not implement it? But still, because of the current market situation, we decided to make it an optional solution. I don't know about the future, maybe most of the people will like to use it because of the easy connectivity, then we should implement it. It's one by one. We see the market, and if we see that most of the people like to use their mobile phone to upload to social networks, why not?  

DK: I think Olympus is one of the companies that don't wait for the market reaction, but you implement your own ideas. The whole conception of mirrorless cameras was an invention of Olympus and Panasonic, so you were not waiting for the market then.

TT: In the fundamental camera performance, like the image engine and the lens design, we always try to advance other manufacturers, but application-wise, without seeing the market direction, it's dangerous for business. Of course we are a camera manufacturer, and the camera-oriented technology should be advanced, but again, application-wise we should somehow meet the market. 

DK: Let's start discussing the models with XZ-2. It has many new features, can you tell us what are the two most important ones? Not five or ten, but just two.

TT: One is a combination of the image sensor and lens. It makes image quality better. It has a bigger size BSI CMOS, with a higher shutter speed. In the combination with this lens, customers can get better image quality without blurring. Then, there's this multifunction control: in XZ-1, some journalists asked why we didn't use focusing like this. But this clicking made the focusing harder to use. We needed a smooth movement. Then if you change here (shows), than you can change smoothly.  

DK: Can you customize other functions as well? Like aperture, for example.

TT: Yes of course. The function for this setting, smooth moving, zooming or focusing. This is the first model that Sony probably doesn't have, and other manufacturers can have a look at this. It's really good for enthusiasts. This is a customised function button: if we push here, you can customise it. This is an improvement over XZ-1.

DK: Some people expected you to use a bigger sensor in this model: it's a kind of a trend now.

TT: But the benefit of this camera is the bright lens. With a bigger sensor and a bright lens, you would have to use a much bigger lens. Image quality of a lens like this is superb compared to our competitors. The lens itself is the same as in XZ-1. Also, there's this detachable grip. XZ-1 doesn't have a grip, just a smooth front, and some of the photo enthusiasts were asking for this kind of grip.

DK: In the last years, the trend was to make smaller cameras, which explains the whole conception of mirrorless cameras: to make them smaller, it's more convenient. But then we saw that it's not that convenient, so we attach a grip and a viewfinder, and to make it a good thing we have to make it bigger again. 

TT: Well, it mostly depends on target users. Who are the target users for this product? When we look at the Russian trends, we can see that in Russia bigger cameras are running better than smaller ones. It's probably a cultural thing. Most of the PEN users prefer smaller size, and the attitude to photography of the target users is Power On, then just take a shot. They don't need to touch buttons, maybe just change the aperture. Most of the main customers appreciate a pocket-size camera.  

DK: I have a few specific questions. Many features of OM-D were implemented in lower models, but what will happen to OM-D? Will it go higher, or split in two levels? How will you continue it?

TT: We discussed this with you in Amsterdam, and we cannot say how exactly the product will run. Once we introduced the OM-D, one of the professional level customers liked to ask us to have this type of compact camera for professionals too as the size is very attractive. On the other hand, compact camera customers were asking for more affordable prices for OM-D, so we tried to meet both demands. We can't see where we go in the near future, but we have a possibility to do both.

DK: What about the Four Thirds cameras?   

TT: It's still the same situation, we're studying the market, and there's a lot of consideration inside the company. We're studying several types of solutions for this product. The direction is of course higher image quality with smaller and more compact size like OM-D. It's always appreciated even with 4/3 users. We have to find a solution to combine small size with much higher image quality. We're studying several ideas to make the product more attractive.

DK: So it won't necessarily be a DSLR camera? Just some type of digital camera. Or do you mean you're developing different models?

TT: We like to provide the products for the 4/3 lens users. Most importantly, we like to provide new products that they can use. Ability of fast autofocus is the main point and the main problem. It can be solved in different ways, and it could be a DSLR camera, or it could be not. We are convinced about the 4/3 users, we like the product, we can utilise this 4/3 lenses. Additionally, we are now considering a solution to have a smaller size products. The 4/3 lenses are quite big, so what would the best size of the product be?

DK: What about the new, bright lenses for Micro 4/3? Something like 12-50mm but brighter than the current one, how about bright 12-60mm like in 4/3?

TT: Well, you know the demands on the market. Once we introduced the OM-D, they like to have this kind of lens, but nothing specific at the moment. What we have at the moment, you already know.

DK: Do you have plans about a teleconverter for the Micro 4/3?

TT: Yes, we had the same kind of demands before, and we like to provide a total system, so we need teleconverters, sure.

DK: Our visitors make questions about the new PEN cameras, with an electronic viewfinder, 5 axis stabilisation... but that's exactly what OM-D is!

TT: Yes, the main difference is the design.

DK: Can you tell us something new about the market trends, for both OM-D and PEN?

TT: We can't separate OM-D and PEN cameras, but the CSC on Japanese market goes very well at this moment. The brand share of Olympus on the Japanese interchangeable lens market is a stable 18%, which is the 4th position. And in the mirrorless cameras, we are the top manufacturer in Japan. In Japan, 50% of the cameras are already mirrorless, so the Japanese adapt to the new trends much faster. In Europe, Olympus is usually 3rd or 4th, depending on the country.  

DK: Can you tell the approximate price for the new 15/8 lens?

TT: The price for the lens will be 79 euros. Its combination with Olympus PEN is really nice. Good thickness.     

DK: I think, in general, you're satisfied with the idea of mirrorless cameras.

TT: You know that recently, Canon came to the CSC market, and now being a manufacturer of CSC is a good thing. To make a new market or offer a new possibility to the user, and not the usual bulky cameras, is very good.  

DK: So you're not afraid of other brands coming to the market, like Canon, but you actually welcome them?

TT: Yes, it's good to stimulate the market, the total economy in the world is not very good, so it's good to give a motivation to buy something. For example, the Japanese have money but they don't like spending the money, that's their mindset. But when we introduce the new cameras, I think their motivation will change. We will continue developing with new technologies. 

DK: Frankly, I am personally still not quite convinced with the CSC concept. The bright clean real picture seen through an optical viewfinder still is a great advantage of DSLR cameras.

TT: That is right, but the EVF also have its advantages, and we all know them. Let's see in a three years - we will have new EVFs that should satisfy even the most critical photographers.

DK: OK, so I wish you to make the ideal EVF then! Good luck with all your products, and thank you for the interview. 

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