Following on from my last ranting blog, which is based on a lot of social media buzz about how sthooooopid oly are in ditching the hobby DSLR range, I wonder what features we would all like to see in a 2012-13 upgrade possibility as a DSLR from Olympus? An E530 or E700 possibly for us and PEN owners to upgrade to?
Here is my wish-list for the "E700"
1) FT. Stick to FT; even the kit lenses out perform micro.
Give the E5 or later top end some feeder customers, and give the E3 and E5 owners a back up body!
2) At least 14 mpx for a 2012-13 launch. Ignoring the "space race" arguements , more mpx has practical advantages: for example with an electronic shutter, using a crop ara of the sensor for much higher FPS while still producing usable images is good for sports, scientific applications or just plain enjoyment. While on needing more mpx to allow for cropping "in-camera", digital zoom for that matter, with built in image enhancement from the crop area rendering to an 8 or 10 mpx output.
I crop about two thirds of my "keeper" shots in "post" processing, and there are some gems to be had from cropping. The GH2 has an innovative use of the larger sensor to deliver better one shot panormas for examplke. Having just a bit more mpx to work from is like having two f stops and 40mm extra FT on the front end.
To be serious in 2013,Olympus will need 14 megapixels as a bare minimum; they can't keep on trying to educate the market that 12 is plenty. The market will leave the lecture hall.
3) A single replacement for all the current "E" hundreds. This would be a senisble marketing strategy: this would mean that you capture 400-600 and E30 upgraders already in the system as well as being able to focus all your NPI yen into a camera which can perform at the price point of the D90/450D and the likes today. Oly' could base some variants, suggest titl screen and HDV, on the same body and core production line tooling, rather than having three lines.
4) Great ergonomics: improving grip from even the reknown 520. Great hard buttons and user interface: and more on that below:
5) Compact size: smaller than the 600. This is a stregnth, keep it going, stay on FT's script.
6) A big view finder: the optics or EVF (god help us) prism-hood area does not need take up a huge increase in volume like we see on the otherwise over grown E3 and E5.
7) Communications: an "i Olympus": FaceBook ready, flickr auto sync....okay I am not generation "i" but I crave this: put up a VGA sized image with high contrast and sharpness on the internet in no time. This means WiFi and even a 3G/ LTE capability. Then maybe some more generation "i"s will buy in.
8) user definability and programmability. In respect of things like toggle buttons which can be user defined, and other things like combinations of more than two image storage types. Also complete user definable modes which can be selected very quickly: for example, user defined output for web ( as in 7) with a high contrast, highly sharpened VGA image output. Sports, with a default range of 30-50m, IS on, high ISO and highest available shutter speed and FPS. BW mode, tripod mode and so on and so on.
I have taken some torturous routes to customise the 450, see previous blogs, for things like fill in flash one touch which are a pain! Also being able to set output to a prefered image treatment: sharp, high contrast, colour balanced etc, even curve work which can be optimised in post and then back programmed into the camera as an option or like a third JPEG output.
9) Improved AF; focal range locking ; much better C-AF and the option for traditional ground glass-split prism manual focusing as an upgrade/ version of the camera: why not?. There is just too much good OM glass and other usable stuff from the SLR boom of the 1980s lying around! Focal range lock would be a useful short cut to getting more performance out of the current rather simple AF system, and would help live view immensely.
10 ) Touch Screen - Button User Interface picking up on 8 and 9 and 7, 6, 4........a really good user interface, in both hard buttons and a touch screen. . Simple things like pinch zooming in LiveView and Playback, double click-touch to select focus target, two wheels, a "super toggle" button for the right thumb to get onto easily. A front mounted focus range lock toggle button. Focus hard lock with a simple means to do this for fingers off waiting for the subjec to come into shot....As in 8, the abiloty to communicate directly, and programme the camera from a laptop while retaining other settings or defaults as a fall back.
Shape and Package
All this in a sub 1000USD body....throw in a new kit lens with f2.8 performance.....and do that 100 f2.0.... I don't need a flip screen or video...make those later upgrades or a G2/GH2 set up, the same camera basically, two different OSs so to speak.
The WIfi or maybe just the 3G could be put in the extra battery and features "drive" which would plug into the base. This could also have an SSD drive with a SATA cable.....more SD ports....okay it would be cash to splash, but a good upgrade. Even the thin iPod touch and most slim smart phones have WiFi so why not us?
Another market such a camera would address, apart from E400-600 upgraders and new buyers, would be E5 owners (E6 by then?) looking for a back up body, or actually considering the camera as a feature-pack and mpx upgrade. Of course, PEN users would see this as an upgrade and need to start buying new glass, while keeping their PENs as back up/travel camera.
The deployment of an EVF would be difficult for many, and given it needs to stay full FT, a bit of an irrelevancy without some ehanced benefits in this feature anyway.
Olympus: ask a thousand users to consider various options, mine are just the obvious ones above, and then come back to them with a MOSCOW purchasing regime: what MUST they have, should and would. Coupled to a high intent to upgrade from Ex00s and other marques, this would be using ears to the market.