Olympus E-5 – editorial comment

It’s pretty important we understand exactly what the message is from Olympus at this stage. The company is not saying directly that the Olympus E-5 is the last camera it will produce that uses an optical viewfinder, and it is being pretty clear that whatever happens in the future, current E-system Four Thirds users will always have a body available that makes the most of their fine Zuiko lenses. What Mr Terada is saying, though, is that Olympus plans to do away with optical viewfinders when it thinks EVF technology is good enough.

The statement in itself is hardly controversial, but coming as an accompaniment to the announcement of the company’s new mirror-using Olympus E-5, that features an optical viewfinder, it suggests – though does not explicitly state – that the Olympus E-5 will be the last in the line of Olympus DSLRs. No company makes a statement of intent unless it is about to demonstrate that it can be fulfilled, and usually in a relatively short period.

What Mr Terada says makes perfect sense, and I am certain that when EVF technology is good enough many other manufacturers will do the same. I am also certain that it will be a pretty good thing.

However, given that there is much hostility towards electronic viewfinders amongst enthusiasts, and that Olympus is launching a product that uses what it seems to itself consider out-dated technology, I might have kept my predictions to myself.

So, despite strongly denying the truth of our reports at the beginning of the year, and the explanations of why Four Thirds lenses would not work well on non-mirror systems (See Toshiyuki Terada interview here), it seems Olympus is already set on the path. And that’s great for Olympus – leading the way once again with groundbreaking developments that the rest of the industry will eventually follow – but it leaves me wondering how great all that is for the Olympus E-5.

Read our Olympus E-5 news story here