OM System Brand

The OM System brand was officially launched today. OM Digital Solutions Corporation held a world-wide announcement event this morning at 8 AM EST. While many people were assuming this event was being held in relation to the announcement of new products, the company dedicated this event to the launch of its new brand, OM System. A new camera is indeed under development. This was confirmed in the announcement today… with details to follow at a later date.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Photographs have been added to serve as visual breaks.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 169 mm, efov 338 mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, ISO-2000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 31.3 metres

There’s little doubt in my mind that there will be some photography-related websites that will state that this morning’s announcement was a ‘non issue’. And, the more skewed the website happens to be towards relatively inconsequential things like larger camera sensor-size, the more negative that they will be about today’s announcement.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-3200, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4116 pixels on the width, subject distance 2 metres

While in corporate life I spend many years working in the areas of marketing and strategy development. I found todays announcement of the OM System brand to be very important from a strategic standpoint.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3976 pixels on the width. subject distance 4.1 metres

Today’s announcement by OM Digital Solutions clearly stated their strategy as the company continues to move forward. The first important detail is the company’s choice of generic strategy.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/500, ISO-6400, handheld in-camera focus stacking, out-of-camera jpeg with minor adjustments done in the Nik Collection, noise reduction using Topaz Denoise AI

Unlike large brands like Canon, Sony and Nikon, the OM System brand has no intention of being a broad market competitor. There is no interest in trying to be all things to all photographers. Instead the OM System brand will implement a Focus Differentiation strategy.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3568 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.6 metres

At the core of Focus Differentiation is delivering specific features and capabilities to a segment of the market that has very unique needs. The value proposition is built entirely around meeting the needs of this specific, target market better than any other competing brand. Inherent in an effective Focus Differentiation strategy is choosing to ignore the needs of other market segments that are not aligned with a brand’s core strengths and technologies.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-6400, Bird Detection AI, full frame capture, subject distance 7.1 metres

This means that the OM System brand will not be expanding into full frame products. Nor will it pursue the development of ‘me too’, conventional, vanilla products.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, +0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-1000, cropped to 3349 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, subject distance 71.9 metres

The stated intention of the company is to create products and services that enable its customers to ‘do the impossible’ with their camera gear through unique features and capabilities. And, to do that while making photography more enjoyable and exciting.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, ISO-200, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3966 pixels on the width, distance to subject 14.9 metres

For those of us that have come to love our current Olympus camera gear this should be music to our ears. Indeed… a symphony. In the future we will be getting more of what we love about our current Olympus camera gear. Incredible image stabilization. Dust reduction. Weatherproofing. Durability. And, industry leading technologies like Pro Capture, Live ND, Live Composite. Handheld Hi Res, in-camera Focus Stacking, and much more.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2500, subject distance 4.9 Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking

During this morning’s announcement, Shigemi Sugimoto, the President and CEO of OM Digital Solutions Company, reconfirmed the company’s commitment to the M4/3 format. He explained that many of the industry leading technologies that are currently available in Olympus cameras are made possible by the M4/3 format.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.7 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2000, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 24.8 metres

The company’s positioning statement of “Break Free” was noted numerous times during this announcement video. Explained as being able to break free from large heavy camera gear. To break free from technological restrictions. To break free from restrictions caused by inclement weather and other environmental conditions.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res mode

There was also a confirmation that OM Digital Solutions intends to continue to develop more advanced algorithms to further push the envelope of what is possible through the marriage of hardware and software. I took this to mean that the OM System brand intends to stay on the leading edge of computational photography.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-100 f/4 IS @ 24 mm, efov 48 mm, f/5.6, 4 sec handheld, ISO-200

There’s no doubt in my mind that the majority of photographers will continue to misunderstand and under value OM System products in the future. The brand will likely remain a favourite target of internet trolls. It’s easy to disparage something that one doesn’t understand or need.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/10, 1/2, ISO-64, Live ND

I found it particularly interesting that at the 3:15 point in today’s announcement video, the company stated, “We are the dark horse. We don’t run in the race. Never have. And, never intend to.” This self-definition is something that originally attracted me to Olympus products. Although not specifically stated so clearly in the past, it was something that I felt strongly about the original brand.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, +0.3 EV, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3373 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, subject distance 51.3 metres

If these words resonate with you and the work that you do… then you’re likely part of the target market for OM System products. If they don’t… then you should buy a different brand.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/400, ISO-400, Kenko 10 mm and 16 mm extension tubes used

For the work that I do and the creative philosophy that is core to my approach, nothing else even comes close to what my Olympus camera gear delivers. Based on this morning’s announcement OM System products will continue to deliver that to other photographers in the future.

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are indicated. This is the 1,081st article published on this website since its original inception.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 308 mm, efov 616 mm, f/8.5, 1/4000, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Pro Capture H, Subject distance 5.6 metres

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15 thoughts on “OM System Brand”

  1. Hi Tom,
    Like you I’m a big hands guy, and like you, I have been using Nikon 1 cameras with the CX 70-300 lens. Unfortunately, mine is becoming unreliable with autofocus over around F160mm, and my V1 seems to be having trouble writing to the SD card, so it’s about time to upgrade.

    I dipped my toe in the M4/3 waters a while back with an Olympus EP3 plus mid-range zoom, but found the focusing wasn’t anywhere near as good as the Nikon kit. My budget is small, so could you give me any idea of which Olympus M4/3 camera and lens would satisfy ‘minimum requirements for BIF shots please.

    Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    1. Hi Rog,

      As you know the auto-focusing on Nikon 1 cameras is very good. One of the things that you may want to consider is seeing if you can buy some used Nikon 1 gear. Perhaps a V2 or V3 with another CX 70-300. This would likely be your most affordable option with gear that you already know and really like.

      If you already have a mid-range M4/3 zoom (i.e. the M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.6 II?) and you’re not completely happy, your other options would be either the 40-150 mm PRO f/2.8 with an MC-20 teleconverter, or the 100-400 mm f/5-6.3. Not sure where in you are located. In Canada these two options would both be over $2,000, plus a camera body.

      I’ve never even held an E-M5 or E-M10 so I can’t comment on those bodies. My wife uses an E-M1 Mark III and quite likes it. I find it too small to shoot comfortably with my M.Zuiko 100-400 so I have really only photographed birds in flight with an E-M1X. Depending where you live you may be able to get a reasonable discount on an E-M1X, or perhaps find a good used body.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

      Tom

      1. Tom, that’s actually super-helpful. I now have a bid on the only CX70-300 on auction in the world. Next trick will be making a hoodman loupe stay on the J5 I have.

        1. Hi Rog,

          I hope you are able to purchase the lens. As you know they are in very short supply on the used market, and almost nothing in new ‘old stock’. We still have our extensive Nikon 1 kit, including two copies of the CX 70-300. We’re in no rush to sell any of it.

          Tom

  2. A refreshing read after seeing the usual specification hunters bemoaning that there were no new product launches. It is very encouraging to hear them state clearly what their core business aim is and not fall into the trap of copying the likes of C, N or S. Always enjoy your insights into phography and Olympus/OM Systems in particular.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thank for you adding your perspectives to the discussion. Like you, I believe that the best opportunity for success for OMDS is to focus on the unique benefits of its products and services, rather than become a ‘me too’ brand.

      Tom

  3. I agree, Tom.

    However, the name “OM System” dates back to the early 1970s. I can upload an image of a brochure that I have had since then, from when I bought my first Olympus SLR, an OM-1.

    Regards, John

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for pointing that out! I did discover that after this article was written. If I would have known earlier I would have included that information. Being able to link back to the past using the OM System name will provide a sense of brand continuation for long time users.

      Tom

  4. Hi Thomas, you are very much right it is normal from a marketing point of view to re-brand after an acquisition of this type, they bought a brand not with the intention to kill it but to build on it. Personally I am happy to hear that OM will continue the Olympus philosophy of innovation in the m4/3 format, besides it would be kind of boring if all the horses in this world were white.
    Regards,
    Mauro

    1. Hi Mauro,

      When OMDS bought the Imaging Division from Olympus, the brand name was not included in the purchase. So, it was clear that rebranding would need to be done at some point. It is always hard to know whether ‘rumors’ are accurate or not. OMDS executives have publicly stated that a ‘wow’ camera is in development, and will likely be introduced in 2021.

      It is my guess (and that is all it is) that OMDS is rebranding to OM System at this time so the new ‘wow’ camera will bear this new branding. This will help OMDS make a very strong statement in the marketplace.

      Tom

  5. One of the reasons I was attracted to four thirds originally was the more open mount. Competition between corporations by each having their own mount isn’t in the consumers interest at all. Besides growing up on my OM-1 as a child. It wasn’t until micro four thirds and electronic viewfinders that I fell in love with digital photography.

    It is so lovely to read a positive take on the announcement. I look forward to seeing what they do with thier next camera and no doubt I’ll buy one. I regularly get tempted by bigger cameras and inevitably I don’t play long. I was talking to Mainline Photographics and a very dear friend there said “you have been spoiled by Olympus”, and they are so right. A small light camera that I can carry in my hand with a wrist strap all day long with incredible sharp optics and amazing depth of field.

    This announcement reaffirmed why I will keep adding to the system…

    Thanks for your posts. I am a regular reader. Love your work.

    1. Thanks for adding your perspectives to the discussion Len!

      Like you, I feel spoiled by Olympus. I have large hands so I find the comfort and ergonomics of the E-M1X to be perfect. I’ve only been using Olympus for a little over 2 years and I can’t imagine wanting to use anything else. It truly is ‘go anywhere, photograph anything’ equipment.

      Tom

  6. Thank you Tom, for stating the real truth behind the recent OM announcement. I completely agree with your overall assessments of the announcements. Many detractors will not recognize the fairly typical Asian style of a quiet, minimalistic philosophy of life. They do not need the hype of a Western style announcement to promote a new product that does/will speak for itself in the long run.

    1. Thanks for your supportive comment John… much appreciated.

      I thought it was important to discuss the strategic implications of today’s announcement as there will likely be some negative, gut reactions in the marketplace.

      Tom

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