Olympus is committed to the Micro Four Thirds system because it gives photographers a smaller, lightweight alternative to full-frame cameras. That was the message from the head of the company’s imaging business, Shigemi Sugimoto, when I spoke to him in an exclusive interview at Photokina.
He believes that the recent flurry of full-frame camera announcements is good for the imaging industry. As well as igniting photographers’ interest in cameras, it’s encouraging more people to move towards mirrorless technology.
More importantly for Olympus, Micro Four Thirds cameras are more easily distinguished from full-frame models. Their size and weight advantages are more apparent alongside cameras with bigger sensors.
Lens mount size was a hot topic at Photokina 2018 and Sugimoto was keen to point out that the Micro Four Thirds mount is nearly double the size of the sensor, which means that Olympus’ lens engineers have plenty of freedom for designing large aperture optics.
According to Sugimoto, Olympus is aware that its users want more high-quality telephoto lenses. It’s an area that the company wants to ‘improve and grow’. So it looks like we can expect some new long lenses in the near future.
Not content with keeping camera and lens size and weight down, Olympus wants to further reduce the need for photographers to carry a tripod so they can be more mobile. That means that the Image Stabilization (IS) system is a key focus for development.
The challenge when trying to enhance an IS system is maintaining the balance between size and stabilisation performance. Using current technology to improve the system could mean making the cameras and lenses bigger to enable a greater range of sensor or lens element movement. However, Olympus has the basis of new technology that will allow cameras to stay the same size while telephoto lenses can be made relatively small and light.
As you’d expect, Sugimoto was tight-lipped about exactly when we can expect to see any new products. However, the company is 100 years old in 2019 and a major announcement has been promised for the next Photokina trade show which takes place in May next year.