technology [of the OM-D series] is that you can use both sets of lenses and many others besides. There is a lot of choice and the lens ranges are complementary. After that, it is down to individual choice on ergonomics and other performance characteristics. We might say that we have strength in the more conventional look and feel of the body for still images, while Panasonic may argue they have more strengths in video. PN: Are there likely to be any products for the old Four Thirds system? MT: The official response is still ‘never say never’. I would, however, ask all users to try the OM-D series as it offers many advantages over mirror-based products from whomever. PN: What’s your take on the state of the current imaging market? MT: It’s no secret that basic compacts are declining but system cameras and high-end compacts are growing. This is a natural effect of saturation of compacts and of other image capture options. Photography as a whole remains buoyant. We see plenty of younger people getting excited about photography through non-conventional image capture who then move on to cameras. PN: What’s the biggest challenge faced by Olympus at the moment? MT: It is a nice position to be in that the products are well accepted – that has not always been the case. The challenge is to ensure that message gets to the widest possible audience. PN: You once mentioned that the Micro Four Thirds manufacturers work together to offer a complete set of lens lengths – so rather than Olympus and Panasonic both making the same length lens, each company would fill in the gaps – is this actually a formalised approach? MT: I mentioned the complementary ranges before. That is no accident and it makes sense. It is a classic Japanese approach to work together but also be in competition. PN: Why are Olympus lenses sold without hoods? MT: Simply – not everyone wants a hood. PN: What piece of marketing has been most successful for Olympus in the past few years? Why do you think it worked? MT: There is impact, and then there is longer term [success]. In a world of multiple messaging there is no doubt that the bold creative of the Kevin Spacey ads that launched the PEN were effective and ‘on brand’ as they say – whether you liked them or hated them – they stood out and were noticed. It is rare for companies to let agencies really go for something stand out today and whatever people say, it can still work. After that, it is doing the hard work of running events, seminars and workshops to show people what the cameras can do and let them try for themselves. There are a lot of people involved in making this happen. There is no substitute for direct experience and if you get it right, people will share information with their peers which is easier than ever now and potentially more potent.
the OM-Ds are. A woman who works in opera and a press photographer who does film set work both reminded me of this recently. A quiet revolution. PN: Is there a specific age group or type of photographer that’s responded best to theOM-D series? Why do you think this is? MT: It has been evenly spread across gender and age, and I think that is why it is proving so compelling. Older traditional users like them, but so do younger newbies. They are well designed, work very well and are lovely to hold and use. PN: What’s the best piece of photography advice you’ve ever heard, and who gave it to you? MT: Don’t give up the day job. No names. PN: Olympus has always had a relationship with ‘well-known’ photographers – why has this approach been important for the brand? MT: They do not have to be well known, but they do have to be good and potentially influential. I think it is fair to say that digital veered the whole industry towards an obsession with technology. It sounds corny, but it should be about the image. The end result is why most people take pictures and it offers the strongest emotional impact, whether it is a picture of a war zone or your new baby. Good photographers remind us of this. PN: Some might say that convergence between smartphones and cameras (certainly compacts) is inevitable – do you feel there’s still demand for a traditional ‘camera’ without connectivity? MT: I wouldn’t worry about connectivity too much. Like many things, it will simply become embedded in everything and we can choose to use it or not. Try not to see cameras in isolation, but consider what happens in other categories from cars to TVs – there are many solutions and we often opt for more than one to suit various needs. I take photos on my phone and my PEN – there, I said it. PN: The OM-D series has seenmany professional photographers swap their DSLRkits for Olympus outfits – what’s your reaction to this?Why do you think this has worked/been so high profile? MT: One of the great things about the core
to connect with photographers? MT: I love and hate it. Speaking as someone who started work before the fax machine and saw it come and go – I loved and hated that too. If we all expect immediate responses, it makes resourcing tricky for companies, but I have seen the positive effect social media has on photographers’ abilities to showcase their work and inspire others. If you can cut through the noise, Twitter lets you inform and entertain people – but we are all finding our feet in terms of how it is used. PN: The camera market famously has a rapid turnover of products: do you think the pace will slow at all? Can you tell us anything about what’s coming next or which area is being focused on by Olympus’s imaging department? MT: It is already slowing due to both a performance level being reached that ticks most boxes and common sense. Products coming out faster than shops can swap them over was madness. We are now focusing on enhancing the overall experience, as performance is there for 95% of users. PN: What would be your dream camera feature? What’s the most requested feature that’s yet to appear on an OM-D? MT: Requests are largely nuances nowadays: small firmware tweaks or design issues. Telepathy with the user – that is the future – a camera that can interpret what I am trying to achieve but then, where would the fun be without repeated failure followed by the odd gem? For the amateur user, that’s part of the challenge and the thrill. How boring it would be if we could get the perfect shot all the time. PN: Do theother sectorsofOlympuseverprovide technology for the imaging division (and vice versa)? Is there one factor or characteristic that would identify an Olympus product, whether a camera, microscope or voice recorder etc? MT: All areas of the company share by pushing the boundaries in design and optics. As far as shared characteristics: quality. Simple as that. PN: Are there any other camera or technology manufacturers whose approach (both to marketing and product design) you admire? MT: That is a fascinating area. I bore people to death with the growth and death of empires and disruptive technology’s effect on the status quo. I am also fickle and cynical, so could answer this differently in five minutes’ time. Outside what we are doing for technology, look at SpaceX as an approach and Elon Musk’s other enterprise, Tesla, for marketing and sales. It is brave, but he also has no vested interests to protect. We do not, repeat not, see that as a way forwards for us – we want a healthy dealer network! There is no substitute for direct experience and if you get it right, peoplewill share information with their peerswhich is easier than ever now
Free digital mag forOlympus users Olympus Magazine is an essential online resource for Olympus camera users. Each month it’s packed full of photo ideas, technique and interviews with leading Olympus users. Sign up for free by going to www. olympusmag.co.uk .
BELOW The E-M1 is the latest in the OM-D series. See Issue 38 of Advanced Photographer magazine for a full review.
PN: Is social media important to Olympus’s marketing? How is Olympus using social media
π To find out more about Olympus, go to www.olympus.co.uk.
Issue 2 | Photography News
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