Olympus cameras are no more – What now for Micro Four Thirds?

Olympus cameras are no more. To be more precise, cameras produced by the company Olympus are no more. The company has just announced that the sale of their camera business to Japan Industrial Partners will be concluded come September. Olympus, alongside Panasonic, was one of the founding fathers of the Micro Four Thirds standard, meaning this news could have implications for the camera world at large.

The slow demise of Olympus

And so it has finally happened. After first admitting that it could happen over a year ago, and then later refuting those claims, it is now official. Olympus is exiting the camera business. But are Olympus cameras officially dead? Not necessarily. This isn’t a story about a company leaving the camera industry such as Samsung did but of one selling off their camera business.

And the company buying them, Japan Industrial Partners, wouldn’t have acquired them just to shut them down. But they have said they would, and I quote, make the business “more compact, efficient and agile”. This is the same company that bought out VAIO many years ago. I can remember seeing VAIO laptops in shops during their heyday but now it appears they’re only selling two models in select markets. Make of that what you will. I certainly wouldn’t be recommending an Olympus camera to anyone at this very moment.

To not be misleading I do want to mention that Japan Industrial Partners has announced that they will be supporting and selling existing models while also developing new ones.

What now for Micro Four Thirds?

What does this mean for Micro Four Thirds? It now all depends and what Panasonic decides to do. The system has been losing steam in the last years. According to Wikipedia there were only 18 Micro Four Thirds bodies released in the last five years. Compare that to the 34 that were released in the five years prior and you’ll see what I mean.

Panasonic is in a slightly different position to Olympus in that they don’t exclusively rely on the Micro Four Thirds system. Their full-frame mirrorless cameras have attracted a lot of attention. On the bright side, it does look like the GH6 is an actual thing. But further down the line who knows what might happen. But one thing is for sure, the Micro Four Thirds has lost a key asset in its struggle against APS-C and full-frame cameras.


Engadget, Reuters

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