Today Olympus Agreed on Transfer of Imaging Business with JIP

Today Olympus and JIP reached a final agreement. You can read the full details in the following press text. It’s the end of a glorious history :(

Olympus Agreed on Transfer of Imaging Business with JIP

Tokyo, September 30, 2020 – Olympus Corporation (“Olympus”) today concluded a definitive agreement with Japan Industrial Partners Inc. (“JIP”) regarding the transfer of the Olympus Imaging business. Under the agreement, Olympus will transfer its Imaging business to a newly established wholly-owned subsidiary of Olympus (the “New Imaging Company”), through an absorption-type split. This is to be followed by transferring 95% of the shares of the New Imaging Company on January 1, 2021, to OJ Holdings, Ltd., a special purpose company established by JIP.

Olympus began the manufacture and sale of cameras using the Zuiko lens in 1936 and became one of the world’s leading camera makers. Olympus was among the first companies to make small, lightweight compact cameras with professional quality, such as the award- winning Olympus ‘OM’ and ‘Pen’ series. Driven by the desire to make people’s lives more fulfilling around the world, the company applied innovative technology and unique product development to distinguish itself in a highly competitive industry.

In recent years, however, the market has shrunk rapidly due to the evolution of smartphones, leading to a significant downturn for the digital camera market globally. Despite taking various steps to improve its cost structure and efficiency, Olympus’ Imaging business recorded operating losses for three consecutive fiscal years up to March 2020.

Under such circumstances, Olympus concluded that, by carving-out the Imaging business and operating the business under JIP, its business structure would become more compact, efficient, and agile, and it is the most appropriate way to realize self-sustainable and continuous growth. With a loyal following and long history of innovative products, the New Imaging Company would be committed to building on Olympus’ accumulated expertise and to continue providing customers with innovative, high quality cameras under the new business structure.

“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all our customers for their patronage and support of Olympus products, and for their passion devoted to photography. I have the utmost confidence that this transfer is the correct step forward in sustaining the value of our products and services,” said Yasuo Takeuchi, President and CEO of Olympus Corporation.

“At the same time, I am certain that this opportunity is the best choice for our long-time patrons, new customers and photography enthusiasts. Under the new company, the development, manufacturing, sales and service functions will continue tight collaboration to introduce new products that will satisfy customers,” Takeuchi added.

Olympus Agreed on Transfer of Imaging Business with JIP

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The agreement applies to Olympus’ global Imaging business, which includes all R&D and manufacturing facilities currently dedicated to its Imaging business. The New Imaging Company will continue to provide high-quality, highly reliable products. Built on a solid foundation, including the Zuiko and OM brands, which are grounded in optics and digital imaging technologies cultivated by Olympus over many years, the New Imaging Company will be appropriately positioned to further pursue new developments.

Head of sales and marketing, R&D and designing departments for imaging products will be relocated to the headquarters of the New Imaging Company in Hachioji, Tokyo. Production will continue at the location in Dong Nai province, Vietnam, where imaging products are currently manufactured. The New Imaging Company will continue to provide customer support for the imaging products which have been manufactured and sold by Olympus.

Following the transfer of the Imaging business, Olympus will concentrate on Medical and Scientific Solutions, in our ongoing efforts toward making people’s lives healthier, safer and more fulfilling.

Information on the New Imaging Company is as follows.

  •   Company name: OM Digital Solutions Corporation
  •   Location: Hachioji, Tokyo
  •   Representative Director: Shigemi Sugimoto
  •   Business operations: Operations involving the manufacture and sale of digital cameras (primarily mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras), interchangeable lenses, IC recorders, and other audio products
  •   Capital: Not fixedFor the details about the company split and the transfer of shares, please refer our corporate disclosure “Signing of Definitive Agreement for Divestiture of Imaging Business.”(https://www.olympus-global.com/news/ir/2020/)

 

New Sony A9III camera will have a new 50MP sensor and record 8K30p to compete with the Canon

Looks like Canon did piss off Sony with their EOS-R5 launch. Who cares if 8K is really needed and who cares if you can use it only to heat up your food…Sony really didn’t like the fact that Canon got the full spotlight. That’s why Sony will rather quickly answer with the new A9III in very early 2021. This camera will do exactly what the EOS-R5 can do (8K) but without the overheating and a heavy extra price tag of +$1500 compared to the Canon.

Here are the rumored specs:

  • Sony will launch a new High End camera in Q1 2021
  • It will be named as an A9x series camera and not A7x (not sure if it’s “A9s” or “A9III”)
  • It has a new ~50 megapixel sensor
  • 8k30p video confirmed with no overheating. It’s still an “infant” 8k mode…meaning it’s not 8k60 which would be crazy and there will be limitations in the quality you can record internally.
  • Other specs similar to A7sIII (EVF, autofocus, and so forth)
  • At least $1,500 more expensive than the EOS-R5 (but price hasn’t be finalized yet) Expect something like $4,999-$5,499

My two cent: Sony should focus on launching the A7IV instead….

Sigma CEO says: “we cannot commit [to] when we will release the new Foveon camera”

Imaging Resource published a very interesting interview with Sigma CEO Yamaki. Here are some interesting points:

Foveon:

So we continue the development of the sensor, but we cannot commit [to] when we will release the product. There are two issues. The first one is there are some design errors in making the full-frame Foveon sensor. We already have several generations of the full-frame Foveon sensor prototypes. But none of them work properly because of the design error. So we have to correct the design error. The Second problem is a challenge in manufacturing.

Starting from this project, we started working with a new sensor vendor. Yes, a new foundry in the US. They are based in a small city called Roseville (California), which is close to San Francisco. They were the subsidiary of NEC, a Japanese company.

[Ed. Note: Some quick Googling suggests this is TF Semiconductor Solutions, previously TSI Semiconductors (2012-2014), and Renesas Electronics America (2010-2011). As Yamaki-san says, the foundry was originally built in 1998 by NEC. Please note, though, that this is just my guessing, based on a Google search :-)]

FP sales

We are doing extremely good in Japan. The sales here are quite good. But in other markets, sales are not as good as I expected.

24-70mm lens:

We still cannot catch the demand. Because the price is half of the Somy version and it’s also one of the top performing lenses in this category, f/2.8 standard zoom lenses for Sony E-mount and L-mount. I believe it’s the top performer, but to be fair, [I should say] it’s one of the top performers. But the price is half that of the Sony 24-70mm.

APS-C L-mount lenses:

we will probably develop brand new lenses for Leica L-mount APS-C cameras.

Sigma APS-C cameras:

No plan to make APS-C L-mount cameras yet. If we continue the fp concept, probably we will stay with full-frame. But this is just an assumption. We don’t have such a plan right now. But just making an assumption for the future, if the sensor has large pixel numbers like 50, 60, 75 megapixels, you can take a very, very good image using APS-C with a crop mode. So in this case, you can use a very compact lens.

Future of the market:

I guess the market would shrink in 2020, even if we didn’t have coronavirus. Probably the coronavirus issue will escalate the problem. Without coronavirus, I assumed that the market would shrink but probably toward the end of this year to next year, I expected it to hit the bottom, and then level out.

Last year, the quantity of interchangeable-lens system cameras sold in the market was 8.5 million units. But actually, the peak time was 17 million units. So last year was about half. But before digital cameras, film SLR sold about four million to five million units. So it was originally a very small market. So I think it was kind of a boom economy starting from mid-2000 to the beginning of 2010, and then it’s going down to the normal level.

I think probably five to six million is a good number to be stable. Thanks to smartphones, more people are interested in taking better pictures, and some of those people would like to buy high-end cameras. So probably, I think the market size for digital interchangeable-lens system cameras would be higher than for film SLRs. And also because the learning cost is very low compared to the film camera.DE: Oh, yeah, much lower costs than film, that’s a good point. Because now, you can see your picture right away. I remember I would shoot a 36-exposure roll, and sometimes none would come out.

But now my feeling is we’re coming back to more like a five-year cycle maybe, for people getting cameras.

Mirrorlessrumors roundup:

  1. I find it interesting to learnt hat they did change the partner for the production of their new FF sensor. The bad news is that it sounds we will not get the camera in 2021 :(
  2. Sigma believes the market for APS-C is small. They will clearly go for Full Frame with the sole excpetion of some new APS-C lenses
  3. I hope he is right in the prediction that says that the market will bottom out by end 2020