Olympus: A Final Note

State of the Art 2008: Olympus E-3, 300mm f2.8 with 2.0 Teleconverter

State of the Art 2008: Olympus E-3, 300mm f2.8 with 2.0 Teleconverter

On March 10, 2017 Olympus ceased production of its Four-Thirds lenses. It was hardly a surprise. It’s been more than six years since Olympus released a new Olympus 4/3rds DLSR. Long-time readers may recall that WC used the Olympus 4/3rds system through four generations of cameras. In April 2013, WC faced the inevitable and switched to Canon.

While Olympus’s 4/3rds cameras fell hopelessly behind the technology curve, there wasn’t a thing wrong with their lenses. The Zuiko 300mm f2.8 that WC bought back with his original Olympus E-1 remains the best single telephoto lens WC has ever owned.

The problem was that as good as the glass was, in low light the camera body was purely incapable of achieving focus. And at any ISO setting above 800, the noise in photos was intolerable. Olympus aggravated its problems by stringing loyal customers along with what turned out to be falsehoods about new cameras “very soon.” That never happened. For WC, the scandals that came later were just a vindication of a decision already made.

There was a time – the release of the Olympus E-3, perhaps – when Olympus was state of the art. There was a time the E-3 and the 300mm f2.8 were pretty much the perfect nature camera. But technology marches on. The nine-year old Olympus E-3 DSLR and its E-5 successor are bargain bin stuff on eBay now. If a company doesn’t keep innovating it’s doomed.

WC doesn’t miss Olympus the company, a crowd of crooks and liars. But WC does miss the lighter weight of the Olympus DSLRs and that exquisite 300mm f2.8 supertelephoto. Only babies like change.