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Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?

  
 
Joseph Marney
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


Just some Friday musings...

As there are discussions about the viability of both m43 and OM System in the future, with some folks suggesting that OM System needs to provide a full frame camera to compete. But the other side of the coin is that a robust competition already exists with Sony, Canon, and Nikon. They are tardy to the party. So, what could they do to stand out?

Personally, I have long preferred the 4:3 image ratio, as compared to the 3:2 ratio of 35mm/APS-C sensors. I've considered a m43 / Fujifilm GFX combo, but (for me) the expense, larger size of the lenses, and lack of longer focal lengths are all drawbacks of the medium format sensors.

Thus, I was thinking...What if OM System introduced a 4:3 ratio, 32mm x 24mm based system? This would allow them to move into the "full frame" market while still having a unique differentiator. They would have a system that allows for resolution and noise characteristics that m43 will never achieve. Perhaps be the first system to introduce a sensor that pivots 90 degrees to offer something to the social media clientele.

I would imagine Sony or one of the other sensor manufacturers could provide a cut-down size that still utilizes the same die. It may also be possible to achieve marginally faster read-out speeds due to the smaller width. Can existing full frame cameras crop to 4:3 ratio with a viewfinder preview - of course. Can m43 and GFX crop to 3:2 - of course. I think it is all about the marketing keeping Four Thirds branding.

They could also adopt the L-Mount, as all of the lenses would more-than cover the sensor.

Olympus was always great about introducing unique features ahead of the competition. And unlike some manufacturers, the new features were actually useful - not just gimmicks.

What do y'all think? Is this something you would buy? Do you think OM System has the resources to execute something like this? What would you call it? Husky Four-Thirds?



Jan 19, 2024 at 02:21 PM
chez
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


Camera…maybe easy. A full set of new lenses…not a chance.


Jan 19, 2024 at 02:57 PM
Joseph Marney
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


chez wrote:
Camera…maybe easy. A full set of new lenses…not a chance.


They could start with the Leica/Nikon approach and rebrand 3rd party lenses.

Beyond that, I wonder how many of their existing designs could scale without reworking the formula.



Jan 19, 2024 at 03:00 PM
chez
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


Joseph Marney wrote:
They could start with the Leica/Nikon approach and rebrand 3rd party lenses.

Beyond that, I wonder how many of their existing designs could scale without reworking the formula.


Lenses make more money than cameras. Not a great business case giving away the lens business.



Jan 19, 2024 at 03:02 PM
Joseph Marney
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


chez wrote:
Lenses make more money than cameras. Not a great business case giving away the lens business.


Definitely. Totally valid, and goes back to my question of whether or not they have the resources - financially or in R&D.




Jan 19, 2024 at 03:03 PM
doady
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


Too much overlap with FF (3:2) and MF (4:3). OM should continue carving out their niche. Still many gaps in the current lineup (PEN F successor, PRO primes, telephoto zooms, fast zooms).

The shift to larger sensors has to get people to continue buying bodies after the end of the Megapixel Race. How much longer can the trend continue? OM already too late to the party.

Btw, I am surprised multi-aspect ratio sensors are still not a standard feature of still-oriented cameras (e.g. LX100).



Jan 19, 2024 at 04:16 PM
Woody Meristem
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


You must want OMDS to go out of business. The cost of developing a new body and a new fleet of lenses only to compete with long established and well respected manufacturers would probably send them right to bankruptcy.


Jan 19, 2024 at 06:03 PM
chez
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


Woody Meristem wrote:
You must want OMDS to go out of business. The cost of developing a new body and a new fleet of lenses only to compete with long established and well respected manufacturers would probably send them right to bankruptcy.


Sony already rescued Olympus over 10 years ago when they ran out of money.



Jan 19, 2024 at 06:16 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


Would be an utter waste of money for OMDS.


Jan 19, 2024 at 07:46 PM
bobby350z
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


GFX, 4:3. Be happy, just need to cough up $$$.


Jan 19, 2024 at 09:23 PM
 


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amv8
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


I don't think there's a viable market opportunity for OM Systems to make a FF system (4/3 aspect ratio or otherwise). While I like the 4/3 aspect ratio, it is a lot easier for the existing FF players to display/record a 4/3 image (if they aren't already offering this capability).

As already mentioned by others, developing a FF competitor would be a very large R&D undertaking to develop a differentiated body and lens ecosystem. Yes, they could OEM 3rd party lenses which would cut the investment cost, but it would still be a big effort. Additionally, the ILC market is not thriving so you'd be making these investments to compete in an already saturated and weak overall market so not a good business decision from an ROI perspective.

OM Systems has carved out a niche based on a compact/lightweight/weather resistant system, historically leading the ILC market in computational photography (but definitely not a leader overall in computational photography), and targeting certain types of photography, e.g. wildlife.. Also remember that OM Systems was created from a purchase of the imaging division of Olympus by a PE (private equity) firm. PE firms typically focus on operational efficiency and cost cutting so we'll have to see what happens. Another factor is that as with many camera companies, OM Systems don't design/manufacture their sensors so they are dependent on others, like Sony Semiconductor for sensor innovation. The 4/3 sensor market is relatively small so not the highest priority for companies like Sony.

I think there is a lot that OM Systems could still do with computational photography to advance their product line. It will be interesting to see what they come out with over the next year or two.




Jan 20, 2024 at 01:57 PM
Robin Smith
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


Don’t forget the demand for 43 sensors for use in drones. Hardly trivial I would have thought.


Jan 20, 2024 at 05:14 PM
jeffbuzz
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


Sony (Minolta A-mount), Canon and Nikon all had market pressure to use the 24x36mm format because of all the legacy hardware. It was cheaper for those brands to go with 24x36 because all their existing patents and tooling were based on that format. Fujifilm and the Four Thirds cartel started from scratch with no legacy baggage in their respective digital mounts.

Fuji chose to skip over 24x36 and go to medium(-ish) format as their upmarket option. Various rationales for Fuji choosing the 33x44mm format have been punted around. But the most likely reason is to avoid the already competitive 24x36 market. I'm still skeptical if Fuji can support both X and GFX mounts long term. Fuji at least had some distant experience in the medium format market so they weren't starting from zero there.

Micro Four Thirds has a niche where the competition is vertical from perceived "up" and "down" market options of larger sensors and phones. If they went into the 24x36 market they'd have horizontal competition from the "Big 3". The only sensible path would be for OM to join the L-mount Alliance so all they'd have to do is produce a camera to start with and buyers would have a ready supply of L-mount lenses to use. But I really don't see any good reason for OM to do that today.



Jan 21, 2024 at 12:45 PM
Longviewer
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


I had hoped the Lumix S would use a 36×27 just to mess with full framers. A fuller frame sensor? Sad that Pana did not make that move, S bodies are quite nice but just fade into the me-too 36×24 sandbox along with so many others..


Feb 01, 2024 at 01:45 AM
kdphotography
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


I prefer 4:3 over 3:2.

There is only micro 4/3 and medium format digital.

I would welcome more 4:3 camera sensor alternatives---but would not hold my breath



Feb 03, 2024 at 09:52 AM
jeffbuzz
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


From the perspective of lens design efficiency, 4:3 makes more sense. As you're always starting with a projected image circle and cropping a rectangle out of that. Square format is the least wasteful.

Perhaps wafer costs will get down to the point where it makes more sense to just put a square chip in every camera and let the user select the aspect ratio they want.



Feb 03, 2024 at 01:41 PM
Joseph Marney
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


I love the m43 format, but the argument that OM System isn't having to compete with full frame offerings becomes weaker every year. The OM-1 and R6 II are already competing for the same customers, and Canon has been releasing lighter and (contextually) affordable telephoto lenses, as has Nikon. The rumored Z6 III is likely going to be a strong competitor as well. I get that m43 can offer size and weight advantages - I just don't believe customers care about that as much as some here might think. The "Big 3" + Fuji have all determined that having two sensor sizes allows them to increase their market share/revenue.

Lots of valid points on costs, and a lot of people here seem to have great insight into OM System's operating and R&D budgets. So, forgive my ignorance, as I am not privy to the same information. Any new endeavor may be beyond their current capabilities at this point, such as meaningful upgrades to existing lines, launching in-house design telephoto lenses at price points and focal lengths between the 100-400mm and 150-400mm, or developing Pro line f/2 zooms.

OM System is already taking a full frame Sigma lens, rebadging it, and selling it at a mark-up, so I'm guessing they see value in that approach. Entering into the L-mount ecosystem would provide an on-ramp without the R&D cost of a new mount and would not have the pressure of quickly developing an entire line of lenses. However, it would offer the *opportunity* of developing an entire new line of lenses - over time.

I also agree a 1:1 sensor could be an even more unique proposition.

Anyhow, the topic is intended for discussion. "What if...?" What if OM System had the resources to invest in a second mount - like Canon, Sony, Nikon, and Fuji? If you translate that into my "wanting OMDS to go out of business"...can't help you with that.



Feb 05, 2024 at 03:00 PM
Sax45
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


It's an interesting idea, and so is the idea of a camera with a rotating sensor.

Personally I think an even better approach would be a 1:1 sensor (24x24). That would allow Olympus to make smaller "full frame" cameras than anyone else, and allow them to have a "vertical crop mode" with much less engineering hassle than a rotating sensor.

Speaking of vertical crop, I think it is time Olympus made a refresh of the Pen F. But this time, give it a vertical M4/3 sensor like the original SLR!

Last but not least on the list of things Olympus should do. They should reach back to their heritage as one of the all-time great fixed-lens rangefinder makers, and make a competitor to the X100V, in the style of the 35RC. If they could make a smaller, cheaper X100V alternative with a similar feature set, I think they would have a big hit, even if it had a M4/3 sensor.



Feb 05, 2024 at 06:10 PM
liggy
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


If you give up on the notion of shooting things that move - the GFX system is great.

Nothing affordable native tele beyond the 100-200 but that is a nice lens and affordable used as are the 50mp bodies.

Love shooting in 65:24

GFX 50S/50R

RATIO RESOLUTION PIXELS
4:3 (standard) 51 megapixels 8256×6192
5:4 48 megapixels 7744×6192
7:6 45 megapixels 7232×6192
1:1 38 megapixels 6192×6192
3:2 45 megapixels 8256×5504
16:9 38 megapixels 8256×4640
65:24 25 megapixels 8256×3048


Edited on Feb 07, 2024 at 12:02 AM · View previous versions



Feb 06, 2024 at 10:00 PM
Geoff D F
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Market opportunity for OM System? 4:3 ratio "full frame" camera?


These "what if" discussions can be fun, but it needs to be recognised that it is never going to happen.

Putting together all the facts as I see it, JIP is likely doing a managed exit from the industry. Olympus had the choice to either end camera production or sell. I guess they chose to sell because ending production would be an admission of failure - tough for a Japanese company. JIP is a company with no real interest in cameras and doesn't have a reputation for turning companies around, so much as extracting value from failing assets.

JIP likely made the calculation about how much money could be made from the Olympus camera division's remaining IP and the goodwill in the brand from the existing user base while doing the bare minimum to keep the Olympus pulse alive. If they can make some money then it justifies the purchase of Olympus assets at a sufficiently low price, with the possibility of upside and reselling the brand if demand for Olympus cameras increase.

If you look at what has been released, the only new products are ones that were already in the Olympus pipeline and likely nearly fully developed by old Olympus like the OM-1, 150-400 pro and the 90mm macro. All the more recent releases are just new skins on old products, or a pretty basic tweak such as a memory upgrade for the OM1 ii to allow the graduated ND software to run. There is every sign that there is the bare minimum of R&D going on at Olympus, which is a sign that JIP doesn't believe in the brand for the long term. The high price on the new 150-600 Sigma is another sign JIP is trying to make money while it can.



Feb 06, 2024 at 11:38 PM
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