Olympus may go back to producing DSLR cameras if mirrorless sales continue to tank

Olympus E-620

Olympus E-620

In a recent interview with AmateurPhotographer at CES, Toshi Terada from Olympus confirmed that they may go back to producing DSLR cameras one day:

"Nobody knows 10 years away... once we can get a very nice share [in mirrorless] we may expand the business to DSLR again, but at this moment we are just concentrating on mirrorless and we have no plan to go into DSLR."

Mirrorless sales seem to be falling in Europe and in the US. Maybe in the future the Western world will continue to be dominated by DSLR cameras while the East will be all mirrorless. A recent NYTimes article suggested that only Nikon, Canon and Sony will survive the smart phone camera age. Mirrorless cameras may not have been the silver bullet solution everybody has hoped for.

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  • madmax

    What Terada actually said was:

    ‘Nobody knows 10 years away… once we can get a very nice share [in
    mirrorless] we may expand the business to DSLR again, but at this moment
    we are just concentrating on mirrorless and we have no plan to go into
    DSLR.’

    Nothing to do with the title of this post.

    • Global

      Actually, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Rather, the title could be extended, “… or even if mirrorless sales improve.”

      • Kynikos

        So “if things are different, they wouldn’t be the same”.

    • SteveHood

      Yes, totally misleading title. Admin needs to pay less attention to analysts.

  • mooh

    With all the resources they dumped in, it’s pretty surprising to find that they still consider the M43 system a venture with a retreating route available. Since they weren’t doing well with DSLR back then, so it’s dead end either way.

    Now that the market’s saturated with various offerings, hope they could realize that the only real breakthrough point is continuous innovation – which was exactly the virtue of what they did with the EP-1 that ignited the sales wagon a few years ago.

    • mooh

      Thanks to madmax’s correction below, looks that Olympus’s team is indeed not that stupid as the post’s misleading title suggests.

      Still, innovation is the only way out.

    • Global

      We’re only 1 generation from m4/3rds being as good as the current high end APS-C cameras, which are only one generation away from the current full-frame cameras.

      I wouldn’t say that M4/3rds is dead — just because it lags. The key point is going to be price & marketing. Olympus needs to stay visible (which costs huge sums of money), but it also needs to keep the cost of its cameras down (to compete with the well known APS-C brands).

      Its a very narrow thread to walk. But they can do it. Sony carved out a place for itself — despite ridiculous odds. And while they are still struggling, they have a good chance of making it. Same goes for Olympus, as well as Fujifilm, and even the annoying Nikon 1.

      I think what Olympus needs to live…… is for Panasonic to die. But more practically, I think they should merge and have a co-operative effort on M4/3rds and just own it completely.

      • Sky

        “We’re only 1 generation from m4/3rds being as good as the current high end APS-C cameras” – I read exactly the same back in a day, around 2006, about 4/3.

        “The key point is going to be price & marketing” – Mirrorless get more marketing than they deserve by their market share. Wherever you go to read anything about photography you get mirrorless pushed in your eyes whatever you want it or not. Every single major photography portal shows extremely pro-mirrorless attitude to the point where it becomes totally unreasonable (only positive change in recent months I’ve seen is Petapixel posting their first article in a year with actual facts about mirrorless decline instead of usual pro-mirrorless propaganda on how it’s supposedly “future of photography”). Yet it didn’t change ANYTHING for their decline.

        “I think what Olympus needs to live…… is for Panasonic to die.” – With Panasonic dead m4/3 would slip off. Right now they’re the major innovators on m4/3 market. If not GH-series and all they money they put in marketing majority of people wouldn’t even consider m4/3 to start with. You need to realize that system supported by two large manufacturers is always much safer than the one supported by one – if Panasonic goes out any chances for m4/3 expansion go out of the window as well, pushing Olympus into hands of Sony.

  • kassim

    Please Oly, bring in the true OM-D.

  • Hubertus_Bigend

    The one thing that’s missing in Olympus’ product policy is continuity. It won’t help Olympus to bring back the DSLR in a couple of years, because most customers already jumped ship years ago when only the E-5 with an outdated 12 MP sensor was left in the lineup. They should have brought on successors for the E-5, the E-30 and the E-620 as soon as the E-M5 sensor was there. The E-M1 was too late for many people, the more so as it’s too expensive for the former E-620 or E-30 buyer, and some people would still prefer the DSLR for good reasons, too. Most of them now use Canon or Nikon. (Personally, I’m hoping to get an E-M1 until the end of the year, if I can manage to save up the money somehow.)

  • John

    Sorry Oly, I’m already waiting for the Pentax full frame, and one man can only hope for one unicorn :)

  • Sky

    “Mirrorless cameras may not have been the silver bullet solution everybody has hoped for. ”

    EVERYONE hoped for? Buahaha, you’ve got to be kidding me. Speak for yourself. Majority of people are against the mirrorless. They voted with their wallets.

    • Neil

      The majority of DSLR buyers are clueless and buy what’s being shoved to them in Best Buy and similar places. Shelf presence is responsible for most sales and word of mouth. Mirrorless was really started by edge companies that had little marketing presence. It’ll take a while for them to gain traction.

      • Sky

        Majority of mirrorless buyers are clueless too and they buy first little thing shoved to them in a camera store.
        Same flawed logic.

        • Ross

          That’s just it. Mirrorless products are not shoved in your face like all the DSLR’s are that sit on the shops shelves from the ignorant & biased camera sellers. It’s the discerning buyer that usually chooses a mirrorless camera & it’s all those other people that just follow all the others, like a flock of sheep, for a DSLR thinking (without thinking) that the only real camera is a DSLR. Dear, dear! Just like a flock of sheep that would jump over an imaginary fence one after another.

    • madmax

      “Majority of people are against the mirrorless” is a stupid statement. Nobody except brainless fanboys and trolls are “against” mirrorless or against DSLRs.

      • Sky

        Read the whole post, not just tiny part of it:
        “They voted with their wallets” is an essential part that you missed and makes your argument completely invalid.

  • Martin Kozák

    Even in Japan the mirrorless share has fallen from around 50 % in 2012 to 36 % in 2013…

    • markz

      I would guess that it’s come off of a high point (50% of the market is basically washing the floor with any other dedicated camera system) but still 36% is still pretty strong.
      because once the new digital pens came out a lot of people went “finally” rushed out and bought them. Thing is becasue they came out when the technology was mature and compact shooters are generally undemanding the original Pen and GF1′s are still, even now, good enough for casual shooting and travel photography so the urge to upgrade is probably not as strong as it is with the more competitive and “mucho” driven DSLR buyers
      I can tell you that my GF1 purchase (OK a panny not an olly) has mostly left my various DSLR’s gathering dust. but it took basically 4 years before anything significantly better came along in the compact system to convince me to upgrade, in the DSLR world at the same point of its life cycle (2003/2004) the technology was advancing fast enough that people were upgrading each product launch

      Not dissing DSLR’s my next purchase later this year will be a FF DSLR and they are still my choice for sport and wildlife and, to some degree, portraiture to but a rather poor choice for travel and every day street work

      • deadlock

        I think you make a valid point – it’s probably not realistic to expect masses rushing into the stores, yet these cameras have a loyal following. But the incentive to upgrade is not as strong. Technologically we’ve almost reached the plateau and it’s just not worth upgrading after every product release or even every two years.

  • jk

    they sound retarded, they should focus on developing FF version of OM-D E-M1.
    D-SLRs are dying and in five years no one will want and make D-SLRs.

    • Sky

      So far everything in pointing in the other direction: In 5 years time next to noone will toy with mirrorless anymore.
      Time when mirrorless was star of an evening is gone. Get a grip on reality instead of living in illusions about supposed death of DSLRs. It’s not going to happen.

      • Ross

        Oh yeah! Let’s keep using that ancient flappy mirror. It’s the way to go! Yeah, right.

        • alreadyupsidedown

          You mean the ancient flappy mirror that allows me to see a precise image of a subject when combined with a pentaprism? That provides infinite resolution? That never lags or blurs? That never has to be adjusted for different lighting conditions? That doesn’t strain the eye at night? That doesn’t consume battery power? That portrays accurate colour, and doesn’t moire? Yeah, lets get rid of that thing…

          Just because a technology isn’t new does not necessarily make it obsolete.

    • alreadyupsidedown

      DSLR’s are not dying, who told you that exactly? The number of inexpensive T3s and D3100s sold by Canon and Nikon dwarfs the entire relm of enthusiast or professional photography combined. The whole ‘The DSLR is dying’ myth is completely fabricated, no camera can touch the value, speed and versatility of an inexpensive DSLR. Of course, I’m not against mirror-less providing some decent competition, they are pretty cool little cameras. But we have to lose this ‘us versus them’ mentality, neither camera style has to ‘defeat’ the other to be a success. DSLRs and mirror-less moth have their own ideal uses, and people just need to accept that and chose the right camera for their needs.

      • http://leicaapostate.com/ J Shin

        But, what about my need to be a part of a world conquest? My daughter’s been beating me on Risk, the Korean Empire was a joke, and Olympus is now my only hope…

    • alreadyupsidedown

      DSLR’s are not dying, who told you that exactly? The number of inexpensive T3s and D3100s sold by Canon and Nikon dwarfs the entire relm of enthusiast or professional photography combined. The whole ‘The DSLR is dying’ myth is completely fabricated, no camera can touch the value, speed and versatility of an inexpensive DSLR. Of course, I’m not against mirror-less providing some decent competition, they are pretty cool little cameras. But we have to lose this ‘us versus them’ mentality, neither camera style has to ‘defeat’ the other to be a success. DSLRs and mirror-less moth have their own ideal uses, and people just need to accept that and chose the right camera for their needs.

  • Linus

    Are all these companies going to cede the consumer market to Samsung and Apple (by which I mean are none of them even going to try to compete seriously in the smartphone market)?

  • hiplnsdrftr

    Uhhh… Admin, reread the statement, you jumped to the wrong conclusion…

  • yonsarh

    good decision by olympus!. if they make new dslr you have my money

  • Hendrik Mintarno

    They should’ve priced the pen system aggressively. The price line between small size mirrorless camera and larger APSC DSLR is quite confusing for enthusiast. 1350 USD for EP5 or 1450 USD for D7100 with larger megapix?

  • saywhatuwill

    I’m actually surprised to hear that sales of mirrorless cameras have been going down considering it looks like it’s the wave of the future, especially with the new Sony A7 and A7R.

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