ePHOTOzine meets Olympus' Toshiyuki Terada, manager of SLR Product Planning

One of Olympus' camera design chaps was over in the UK recently and ePHOTOzine got the chance to ask him some difficult questions. We despatched Ian Farrell to put Toshiyuki Terada, manager of SLR Product Planning for Olympus, on the spot

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Ian Farrell (left) meets Toshiyuki Terada, manager of SLR Product Planning for Olympus Cameras

ePHOTOzine: How has it been for Olympus and DSLRs over the last 12 months?
Toshiyuki Terada: "The new Pen cameras have been very popular for us this year. Since we introduced the new Micro Four Thirds system, we’ve been finding many new types of customer, over and above the usual type who buys Four Thirds products. Such cameras are becoming lifestyle products. In the past, the SLR belonged to the photo or camera enthusiast, but we see the market for those who want to take good quality pictures with a smaller camera that is easier and more fun to use.

"The world over, photography is hugely important amongst those people who live aspects of their lives on the Internet – the blogging generation. These people want better quality photography than they can get from a compact camera, but in something that is less intimidating and easier to use than traditional DSLR. This is why our Micro Four Thirds system cameras have been such a success for us, I think".

What about traditional Four Thirds cameras? Are they here to stay?
"Oh yes - our Four Thirds system is very important to us. The purpose of the Micro Four Thirds platform is to expand our business by appealing to a different type of consumer with a different type of product. Four Thirds is not going to stop. You can expect to see new Four Thirds cameras from Olympus.

"In fact, we hope that the new breed of photographer I’ve just been talking about, who is buying into the Pen system, will look at Four Thirds cameras too. As they learn more about photography, and their skills increase, they may wish to take their interest further by investing in an E-series camera."

At the moment there are only two Micro Four Thirds lenses. Any plans for more?
"We have already announced plans for a 9-18mm wide-angle zoom and an 14-150mm superzoom – both very lightweight and compact. These will come to the market this year. We also have plenty of other designs in development too, thought obviously I can’t reveal too many details. It is possible to think of lenses that might appeal to enthusiast photographers who are interested in a Pen as a secondary camera – such as fast prime lenses. Why shouldn't we think about those designs for this type of photographer?"

It wouldn’t be right not to talk about HD video. This is a hugely popular feature in DSLRs now.
"Yes. Consumers want a camera that can do both still photography and video equally well. Actually the large sensors in DSLRs have given people the ability to be far more creative than they could be with their camcorders. They can shoot with different lenses, and use really shallow depth-of-field for creative effects. You can even use older OM-series lenses with an adaptor, optics like an 85mm f/2.
"And I think the way that people are using video is changing too: with camcorders people might have shot hours of footage on a trip away, in clips that were several minutes long. I think people these days take shorter clips – seconds long, rather than minutes – to complement their still images. This approach works well when camera owners playback slideshows of their holidays and family experiences on TVs and computer screens. The way we view photography has changed along with the way we shoot it."

Will we see video on the Four Thirds Cameras too?
"I guess so – from a technical point of view, why not? The mirror can swing out of the way and allow video capture. I’m sure this will come in an E-system camera."

Camera manufacturers seem to have their own thing: Canon chase high pixel counts, Nikon are known for high ISO performance. What direction are Olympus moving in?
"I think Olympus have always been a very innovative company. We pioneered things like dust reduction and Live View and we are always considering new technologies that make the picture-taking experience easier from the consumer. These might not always be very high tech, but they make the product easier and more enjoyable to use.

"In the E-PL1, for instance, Live Guide allows you to preview advanced photographic effects in Live View. Art Filters are hugely popular too, and you can even use these in video mode now. New in the E-P2 is the iEnhance scene mode, which analyses a scene for the main subject – a person against a landscape background, for instance – and enhances colour and contrast in only this part. Independent research has shown that when you see an image with part of it colour enhanced, rather than the whole of it, you react to in a stronger way. It’s all about memory, and how our brains work."

Thanks for taking the time to talk to ePHOTOzine. The best of luck with your cameras.

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