Olympus Shows Massive $157 Million Loss in Imaging Division Last Fiscal Year

Olympus Shows Massive $157 Million Loss in Imaging Division Last Fiscal Year

It's no secret that the market for cameras has been shrinking for a few years now, and with that, camera companies are certainly feeling the squeeze and looking for ways to gain more market share or even reinvent themselves. Among those facing the pressure is Olympus, who fiscal report for last year indicated a $157 million loss. 

The news came in Olympus' financial results for the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2019, in which the company showed a $157 million loss in its imaging division, with a 19% percent YoY decrease in revenue, including 23% decreases in mirrorless and 18% in compact cameras, though the report indicates a 14% gain in "others." The report attributes the losses to "reorganization of production bases [causing] constraints on supplies of some products" and increased competition. The company forecasts further losses in the next fiscal year, though they do project that the overall losses will be less than half of those from this past year. 

The year was a strange one for Olympus, with the release of the E-M1X leaving a lot of photographers puzzled by its extreme capabilities, but a size and price tag more deserving of APS-C and full frame cameras. Luckily for the company, their other divisions did very well last year, bringing in more than enough profit to easily erase the losses of the imaging division. Still, it remains to be seen if the company has long-term plans to use those extra funds to attempt to bring the imaging division back to profitability or if we'll eventually see the demise of the Olympus camera brand. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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E-M1X way to much money for what it is.

How much should it cost and why?

FF Mirrorless Equiv / crop factor

This should be the rule for price limits. As you lose IQ you save money 👍.

Sounds like the E-M1X is priced perfectly then:

E-M1X, $3000. 1D X Mark II, $5500. D5, $6500.

A9, $3500... It's priced very badly, considering that the af isn't anywhere near the standards of the competition.

That’s why I included mirrorless 😎.

A9: $4500, EM1X: $2250 ($3000)
A7III: $2000, XT3: $1350 ($1400)
A7RIII: $3200, GFX 50s/50r: $4050 ($5500/$4000)



...you can get far better gear for $3000...

I'm not talking about the competition. I'm talking specifically in relation to this camera, its build quality, the level of weather sealing, the R&D costs, the technology inside of it, the cost to manufacture it, etc. Why should it cost $1500?

Even if we brought in outside competition it wouldn't change much. For $3000 in the mirrorless world, you won't get the same weather sealing, the same image stabilization, the same shooting speed, an incorporated grip, etc. It sure as hell won't be as small and light a total kit. You'll get a well-performing full-frame camera at $3000, but it's not an apples-to-apples comparison because this is built to be a M4/3 equivalent to robust cameras more along the lines of the D5 or 1DXii.

For all intents and purposes, this camera does not have any actual competition because it's the only camera in its class given the combination of features at its given sensor size. How do you go about pricing something like that?

Not. Olympus can ask what they want. It's the consumer that speaks with his wallet. And what I see on DPR is that for a specialist tool this isn't selling to bad. I believe that Olympus also gives a 500 euro discount at this moment (just like any other camera company at this moment). And for 2500 euro I think it's a good deal. Comparing it with the original price of the E-M1 Mark II, additional grip and extra battery (2000+300+70).

None of that matters when your money is better spent elsewhere.

Is your money "better spent elsewhere"? That depends on what feature set you value and how you value them. Like I said, there's no other camera like this on the market right now. You can argue that a number of full frame or APS-C options are technically better, but that also comes at the cost of a larger camera, larger lenses, and if you're talking about similarly priced cameras, it also comes with lower FPS and no integrated grip.

It's a niche product and I think it raised a lot of eyebrows when it was announced because you're right. From a pure image quality standpoint, there are better kits out there at a comparable price, but this brings other features into the mix that you simply don't get at this price along with the fact that comparable focal lengths are going to be half the size and weight, which could be useful for people.

"It's a niche product and I think it raised a lot of eyebrows..."
You're correct about that. I suspect the E-M1X will become to Olympus what the Df is to Nikon. You may never see a price cut on this model, but there will be other bodies with most of the same capabilities more practically priced and sized.

Honestly, I'm still really trying to grasp the market for this particular model. On the one hand, your entire camera bag is going to be MUCH lighter than a full frame kit with similar reach.

On the other hand, you're dealing with inferior low-light performance (and obviously VR doesn't help with stuff like sports for which this body seems designed) and deeper DoF at comparable f-stops. So I'm guessing it would be really good for photographers with physical conditions that limit the weight they can handle, photographers who shoot daytime sports, and people who go on long hikes that need a super rugged camera?

It would actually be interesting to hear from people who have purchased this camera and find out their reasoning.

Too much physical camera. M4/3's main advantage is size, this thing is obnoxiously oversized for M4/3. Fit most, if not all of the E-M1X tech in a camera the size of my E-M10 Mk II, and I'll bite.

They probably don't sell enough of them to be able to hit a more popular price point.

i dont remember the last time i seen a photog with olympus gear... or elsewhere than goodwill shelves.
shame Olympus is a good brand

I like mine for travel, the E-M1 + 12-40mm f2.8 is a nice little compact setup and much easier to bring places than something like my 5D + 24-105mm f4L.

Same here, I use the EM1-mkII for travel and love it. That lens you mentioned is a great lens, but I have found that the Voigtlander Nokton manuals are my lens of choice.
It is a brilliant camera, fun to shoot, features beyond reason, and just an enjoyable camera alll-around to shoot.

Hope they ca hang on. I have owned two Oly digital cameras (e-m10 still in use) and several of their 35mm cameras.

I know little about marketing, so speaking to what would appeal to me. I would keep the 4/3 sensor, but put it in a compact similar in size to Sony's RX100 series. Some of the Pen series are similar in size and actually thinner (minus a lens) than an RX100. So why not a compact with collapsible lens?

The second thing that would appeal to me is to somewhat follow Panasonic's lead with a larger sensor. But I would not go FF. I would go aps-c. Looking at the specs or setting my e-m10 next to my a6000, there is no significant difference in size. Oly could offer a small aps-c with Oly features and menu and better grip than the a6000 series and I would buy it. Heck, the grip, if you can call it that, on my Oly is easier hold than the Sony. And I have small hands. I can imagine the Sony is pain for people with larger hands.

I'm not sure that there's much of a future in the compact market as it continues to be gobbled up my smartphones.

As for adding APS-C to their line-up, it wouldn't really seem to make much. Panasonic and Fuji are doing the smart thing by skipping one format between to really differentiate their lines (Fuji doing APS-C and MF while Panasonic is doing 4/3 and FF). APS-C more or less faces the same types of criticisms and stigma that 4/3 does (essentially, that they're not Full Frame). I'm not sure what Olympus would gain by adding APS-C options.

Premium compact (mostly 1" sensors) is doing very well. Make something like the Panasonic GM5, the smallest m4/3 camera with an EVF, but throw in OSPDAF, and steal some of that premium compact money, as general m4/3 seems to have lost all momentum and direction.

Nikon is or was losing money hand over fist as well - 260 million in 2016, and a sales drop of 17% over last year. The E-M1X is a specialized camera, and never intended to be the market savior. Time will tell...

Thom Hogan reports the following numbers (see his article for other brands):
Canon down 23%
Nikon down 21%
Olympus down 24%

Of course while their losses are similar, Olympus Imaging has less wiggle room than either Nikon or Canon and may be in real jeopardy.

Hogan does a great job of putting all this in perspective.

Canon reporting loses, Nikon a while back and now Olympus. With mobile phones able to take decent photos, the non pro market will inevitably continue to shrink, so it'll be interesting to see how the camera companies readjust to the new market.

Just take a look at this and think for a second before posting nonsense over the internet: https://www.instagram.com/wildmanrouse/

This guy used to be Canon Light Ambassador or something alike.

One guy shooting their flagship refutes their own financial report?