As someone who specializes in off-beat camera equipment, I can tell you that digital Olympus was never at the center of mainstream photography. Their approach is different than that of Canon, Nikon, and Sony. That's why so many of us love their gear. And having been through carve-outs before, I can tell you there is life afterward.
It really comes down to the decisions that will be made over the next two years. When I was with Lowepro, for example, they were sold a couple times. Each investor had their agenda, sales goals, and approach to business. The challenge was, can the two groups come together and move the ball forward? Sometimes new ownership can infuse updated ideas into the brand. Other times, the relationship never gets off the ground. It's really up to the people involved.
We'll have to see which scenario plays out with Olympus. It appears that the new owner, Japanese Industrial Partners, sees this as an opportunity to move the brand forward. I hope they do a better job with Olympus than they did when they acquired Vaio from Sony. Maybe they learned a few things along the way.
And running parallel to this move is Panasonic with their line of MFT cameras and lenses. In all honesty, I don't think they will become major players in the full frame world, especially now that Canon has their mojo working again. But Panasonic has an excellent Micro Four Thirds presence, and they may be able to forge a relationship with JIP that benefits both companies.
What I'm trying the say is: it's not the sale itself that's the issue, it's what everyone does after the sale that's important. And for Olympus, this remains to be seen.
In the meantime, the acquisition adds another storyline to our rebel narrative. Fans of digital Olympus have never been mainstream photographers. When I'm covering events, it's rare that I see another MFT camera there. This doesn't bother me at all. Deep down inside, I kind of like it.
I've been a passionate photographer since I was 11 years old. I shot 35mm Contax when everyone else was shooting Nikon. Now, I prefer Olympus and Fujifilm to the other brands.
It's fun running outside of the herd. There's a lot less dust.
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