Why some pros are switching to Olympus

If one is to believe the discussions in photography chat rooms these days, the assumption would be that full frame cameras are the only choice of professional photographers. This is simply not true. This article provides some links to information about why some pros are switching to Olympus and the micro four thirds system. Interestingly, some have left full frame cameras behind.

As my articles have stated many times… the decision to buy camera gear is an intensely personal choice that is fully dependent on the needs of an individual photographer. The intent of this article is not to suggest that you buy Olympus gear and ditch what you currently own. It is simply to provide a counterbalance to all of the hype and assumptive thinking that is rampant in photography chat rooms today.

As a photographer you should examine your equipment needs carefully and choose the format and brand of gear that best meets your needs. That could be medium format. Or full frame. Or cropped sensor APS-C. Or micro four thirds. Or even a smaller sensor camera. The key is to buy whatever camera equipment is the best fit for your particular needs.

So, here are some links to articles and videos produced by various professional photographers. You can read and watch their explanations about why switching to Olympus and the micro four thirds format made sense for them. Whether this is something you want to consider… or not… is your decision.

Since some of these links provide samples of the work of many professional photographers, we did not add any photographs to this article. If you find some of the work of these professional photographers of interest, you can always investigate them and their work further.

Matt Suess
Goodby Sony! It wasn’t you, it was Olympus. Why I Switched, Part 1.

Tim Boyer
Why I Switched to Olympus

Petr Bambousek
Olympus for Wildlife Photography – Reasons to my Switch

Joe Edelman
Goodby Nikon ! Why I switched to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the micro four-thirds format

Kelley L. Cox
Why I Switched to Olympus

Scott Bourne
Why Did I Switch to Micro Four Thirds While Living in a Full Frame World?

Andy Rouse
Professional Photo interview with Andy Rouse

Switching to Olympus, or to any other camera brand, from what you currently own is a big decision. It is one that should not be taken lightly. Before making any switch, define your needs carefully and do your homework. You’ll then make a decision you won’t regret.

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4 thoughts on “Why some pros are switching to Olympus”

  1. Hi Tom
    At first, I did not want to comment on this, but here I am. As you maybe remember, I use all formats, starting at Nikon 1 up to Hasselblad H6D 100.
    I do not take discussions seriously, which conclude that FF is for pros and nothing less will do. I take it, that a pro takes what he needs to fulfill his/her Task. E.g. if he or she is doing something for web, FF might not be necessary. Equally, I do not believe m4/3 is enough and that it is.
    This notwithstanding, the list of pros changing from FF to Olympus seems to me a bit arbitrary. I went through it summarily and have the impression, that weight was more than often very important, especially with those rather older, smallish men 😉 I know that myself very well and I know too, that there is a point in future I myself have to go that way. That of course does not mean, that I shall be saying, that FF (or MF) does not offer higher quality. It will be more question, if the smaller format will be “good enough” (whatever that individually means).
    Further, one or two essays are not current, so last generation of FF mirrorless were not available and additionally perhaps, trust in Olympus was not as low as it might be today.
    Thirdly I would mention, that lists of pros and cons often look as rather objective at first, but they are (often) not – in one list of pros weight was mentioned more than once in various forms, which gave this in itself not weighted list more weight to one aspect.
    I was considering Olympus maybe 5-6 years ago, but decided otherwise. Firstly I was 5-6 years younger and could carry heavy bags into the mountains and secondly, Oly was just too small to hold, too cute… Nikon1 was not bigger, but somehow solid to hold. There are Limits to measurments, a lot is left to feels. Well, to each his own…
    I still use Nikon 1 on occasion and my daughter recently “upgraded” from a 6mp Fuji to one of mine 18mp Nikon1 V3’s. , mainly for her movies. Those movies are strictly professional btw., she has a physiotherapy and makes them for her patients.
    Btw. I noticed you were in Italy recently. I was nearby in Alps. Maybe one day.

    1. Hi Robert,

      As you comment points out… everyone has their unique needs when it comes to photographic equipment. I appreciate your comment “I do not believe that M4/3 is enough”. I would never second guess your choice of gear for the work that you do. From our standpoint, the Olympus gear and Nikon 1 equipment we own suits our needs perfectly and we have no need for any other camera gear.

      I appreciate that many of the pros that I picked were bird and nature photographers. For many of them the weight and size of their gear was one of the common considerations when choosing camera equipment. Other factors such as weatherproofing, handling, and specific creative features were also noted, to name a few.

      The individual reasons why these pros chose to move to Olympus did not concern me. The point of the article was simply to provide a counterbalance to the thought that many people have that ‘pros always use full frame’. I chose these particular pros as they entered into my own purchase decision making process. Many are award winning photographers whose work I enjoy. For me, my choice of photographers for the article was not arbitrary… but personally relevant.

      Yes… we were in Italy and also Ireland in 2019. It was my wife’s bucket list year :-).

      Tom

  2. Tom,

    Thanks for this post. Maybe, it’s against a flood of trolls’ and shills’ floodgates of posts about this and that FF/MF/bigger is better opinions, but I think it needs to be aired.

    Joe Edelman summed it up well — “I wanted to make photography fun again”. It’s not to say that Nikon doesn’t mean it’s not a fun brand to patronize but I think, to each his own (or more aptly, to each season his own tool). I want to take a page off the smartphone success book (if there’s such a thing) and say that’s lighter is a good route to go (and that the best camera to use is one you have with you). I hike and used to be more afraid of bringing out the D800 + long lens or having it swinging from my Peak Design Capture clip on my belt or camera bag strap while ascending or descending rock faces. I don’t mind the weight carrying it from site to site but I do mind seeing it swinging/keeping it from banging around so in my case, mirrorless was a route to go. I guess it’s different for everybody. As your caveat says, the post is not intended to convince DSLR users to abandon their gear to switch to Oly.

    P.S.
    A bit of digression here but I’m noticing in FB Marketplace (a rather good place to observe trends I must say) locally, I’ve been noticing quite a bit of Nikon DSLRs and lenses being off-loaded at rather low (getting lower) prices. Could be a case of get rid of them before they end up really low-priced? It is the aftermath of the rather grim statement of Nikon that you took note of (DP Review also took special note of it by the way): “it hopes to ‘fundamentally transform’ its Imaging Products Business to ‘generate enough profits to justify [the Imaging Products Business] existence as a business unit.'”

    P.S. 2:
    I just hope there’s no fire stoking this smoke: https://www.dpreview.com/news/0471099604/olympus-issues-statement-disputing-rumors-its-imaging-division-will-shut-down-within-a-year. The photographic world is going to be poorer without Oly (or Nikon for that matter) in it

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

    1. Hi Oggie,

      Thanks for adding your perspectives to the discussion! I thought it was important to give readers some information about why some pros have been deciding to moving to the micro four thirds format. To me there is nothing better than seeing someone explain that on a video, or to read articles written by them. Especially when some of those pros have won awards with their work. Whether a similar camera gear decision makes sense for an individual photographer or not, is a matter of personal needs and priorities.

      To your first P.S., we are seeing the same thing in Canada with the value of used DSLRs softening. Pro, double gripped bodies and other higher end cameras that are in good condition seem to still be holding up reasonably well, but other consumer oriented models have been taking the biggest hit. As the move to mirrorless continues I think we will see the used value of DSLRs continue to drop.

      To your second P.S., I took the time to actually read the entire 40 page Olympus document “Notice on Formation of Corporate Strategy”. This document does focus on the company’s core medical business and explains why the bulk of its R&D investments will be in the medical field, and why the expansion of this business is critical for Olympus. Olympus dominates the gastrointestinal endoscopic equipment business with 70% global market share and over 20,000 patents.

      There is really no mention of either the Scientific Solutions Division or the Imaging Division in this November 6 2019 strategy document. So, it would be easy to assume that these two divisions are headed for the dustbin. I think it is important to remember that any company will put its focus on its core business first in terms of strategy formulation and implementation. In the case of Olympus it appears to be working. In the first half of 2019 the company achieved record-high operating profit of 50.9 billion yen. The price of Olympus stock has been improving dramatically over the past year as it currently at a high.

      I also took the time to read the entire Sina Finance article.

      Olympus has stated that the strategy it intends to create and implement for the Scientific Solutions Business and Imaging Business will be revealed at the end of its third quarter. It makes sense to me that a company like Olympus would focus it efforts with its largest, and most important business segment first. No doubt some people see some business segments not included in a corporate document, or covered in a media interview, assume the worst.

      The fact that Olympus is performing well with its turnaround strategy with record profits, and that its stock has been upgraded by many analysts indicates to me that there is no logical reason why it would suddenly just walk away from one of its business units like cameras. Could it happen at some point? Absolutely. Just like it could happen with other companies like Canon, Panasonic, Fuji and others where cameras are not their core business. Whether the Olympus Imaging Business survives will depend on its own profitability, but also to the extent to which it supports the company’s core medical business in terms of being its ‘skunk works’ for imaging innovation.

      I find it fascinating that for some reason many camera owners seem to think that the world revolves around their brand of camera. Truth is, for most companies their camera business is not that significant and that most of them could decide to exit at any time. Some like Panasonic have folded their camera business into a larger business unit so we have no way of knowing how well, or poorly it is doing.

      Where does this lead? Where it always has… photographers should buy the cameras that make the most sense for their needs. Then go out and enjoy using them. My wife and I were originally thinking we would sell some of our Nikon 1 gear… after all it was discontinued in July 2018. After taking another good, hard look at all of our Nikon 1 gear we decided not to sell any of it. It is simply far too much fun to use! I feel the same way about my Olympus gear should something happen down the road. Hopefully every photographer feels that way about the gear that they currently own. If they don’t… that says something about their purchase decision.

      Tom

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