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  • Gary Crallé

Olympus Throws in the Towel

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

When I gave a presentation at a Travel Media Association of Canada monthly meeting several years ago I predicted that cellphones would eventually triumph over traditional camera gear due to the sheer amount of R&D money going into them compared to what camera manufacturers could afford and were doing.

Cellphonography has come a long way and is now pioneering what's called computational imaging, which is using software to improve images and create what doesn't actually exist in the camera, such as 360 degree views.

As Nat Geo photographer Jim Richardson said during a PhotoShelter webinar a few weeks ago, camera manufacturers are making superb but stupid devices (compared to cellphones). Incidentally, Jim loves his Olympus system for what it can do, just like me. The equipment will continue to provide great images, but like everything, needs to maintain updates or risk becoming a state-of-the-art steam engine. Sigh.

Cellphones are the most recent extension of the original Kodak Brownie which owed much of its popularity to its labour-saving picture processing: 'Take the picture and leave the rest to us.'

Except for serious photographers, no one has ever liked complicated or heavy cameras. Even many (non-macho) pros would prefer not to strain and sweat the gear.

Within Olympus Corporation, the $1.7B 2013 accounting scandal was a nasty kick to the corporate plexus. The company was forced to cut ties with employees and affiliates around the world — including me — to shrink its losses.

But I love the cameras and cherish my association with Olympus products and people, from being an Olympus VIP (Very Important Photographer?) back in film days to signing on as an Olympus Visionary with the newer digital system.

Olympus introduced several industry-leading ideas, but has never quite been able to fully capitalize on them. The marketplace can be cruel, but Olympus will always be known as one of the greats.

Anyway, it's not over. The new owners, Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), will have an opportunity to take the Olympus Imaging Division into the future. Onward and upward.

I love my Ollies.

Photo by a security guard outside one of the royal tombs, Valley of the Kings, Egypt 2007

Photos and text

© Gary Crallé 2020

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