If not a new Pen F Olympus body ….

There are rumors that Olympus will deliver two new Pen F bodies later this year.   But it’s unlikely.  Nevertheless, Olympus should deliver a new compact body because the E-PL6 all the way through to the E-PL10 have been entirely forgettable cameras.   They may have been cheap to retool and manufacture and may even have made money for Olympus but they won’t inspire new customers and are frankly embarrassing.   Panasonic, which has no legacy of being a camera company,  produces a more interesting and more diverse lineup of m43 cameras.  Not only has Olympus ceded videography to Panasonic, Olympus doesn’t even make the smallest m43 camera which is their historic domain.  Lumix introduced the diminutive and freshly designed Lumix GM1 that exuded sophistication and quality like a luxury mechanical watch while Olympus began to recycle one E-PLx body into another and marketed to fashionistas, not to photographers.  The Lumix GM5 with EVF followed a few years later.  Yet, no response from Olympus.

Olympus needs to reclaim this space because every OMD body owner needs a compact camera that is small enough to slip into a breast pocket.  Because if it fits there, it will fit in your pants pocket or coat pocket even easier.  And be deployed with equal ease.  No need for a bulky camera case swinging from your neck.


Lumix GM1 & Lumix 14mm f/2.5 (left), Olympus E-PL5 & Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 (right)

And of course the accompanying lens must also be very thin.   There are currently only 3 pancake style prime lenses in the m43 system.  I don’t have the Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 but the Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ zoom is physically very close.

Screen Shot 2020-05-28 at 1.29.09 PM

The total thickness of my GM1 system is 50 mm, and my E-PL5 system is 61 mm.   A centimeter makes a big difference.   The GM1 just fits into a breast pocket, the E-PL5 not at all.  Olympus should also introduce a new pancake lens, if they could save another 5 mm on lens thickness, the GM1 combination would be a winner.   Except that it would still be the Lumix GM1 and not an Olympus body.


The Lumix 14mm f/2.5 is not nearly as good as the Lumix 20 mm f/1.7 but it is still better than the Zuiko 14-42mm EZ zoom.   And faster.  Olympus, build me a zoom with even greater range and a longer extendable and powered barrel, just as long as it is thin when powered down.   Serious photographers want a travel camera that can produce image quality just like their OMD bodies, not a smart phone and not one of those cameras with a 1″ sensor and a fixed lens.  People have responded that smart phones produce very acceptable image quality, and so do the 1″ sensor compacts.   Maybe for selfies and landscapes.  But what if you want to shoot sports, wildlife or your child performing on stage – then you need a small telephoto lens.  Which you already have as an OMD owner.    But then why not take the OMD body?  A lot of venues will not allow professional looking equipment.

It’s already too late for Olympus to listen to me but the fact is, they shouldn’t have to listen to somebody like me.  They should already know this because this is what Olympus is supposed to be all about.   Compact, ergonomic, fun to shoot, and peerless image quality.

Addendum:  Aug 17/20.

This is probably the most appropriate place to introduce people to the art of Tanaka Tatsuya!












  1. Hi Jim,
    Not considering the Air A01, which is the smallest M43 ILC camera, the main limitation on the thinness of the M43 ILC body is the flange distance and thickness of the shutter/sensor/rear display. So, one has to make the lens thinner, but a BCL isn’t going to do the trick. Do you think it’s possible for Olympus to make a interchangeable lens that retracts into the body when it collapses? It would have to be designed to match up with bodies that had sufficient room in the sensor box. Something to think about.


  2. Hi Jim,

    The flange distance, shutter, sensor, and rear display would determine how thin an M43 ILC body could be. So, the rest would have to come from the lens. As you noted, the thinnest lens (except for the BCLs) is the Lumix 14 f2.8. Do you think it’s possible to design a lens that retracts into the camera body when it collapses? It would probably be compatible with certain bodies that have enough room in the sensor box. The Air A01 would be the smallest M43 ILC, but its shape is not exactly pocketable.


  3. Get a 15mm Body Cap lens. Too soft you say? Look how soft some of Henri Cartier Bressons shots were, didnt hold him back. As the great man said, “sharpness is a bourgeois concept”.


  4. Absolutely agree with Jim. I have Oly EM1Mk2 but my “go- anywhere” kit is a GM5 with Lumix 12-32 and 35-100 lenses. It’s the very essence of M43 and Olympus could easily make a similar setup, which is admired by all the guys at my camera club. But they won’t, because Olympus – who I like, they make great cameras – are hung up on designs harking back to their prime film models. GM5 is actually just a tad TOO small. Bring its sensor/processor up to date, give it a Grip, tilting screen and a joystick and a touch more space for function buttons and it could be perfect, which the GX9 isn’t. Panasonic axed the GM line before it was fully developed. Sorry, Olympus, your EPLs are for handbags.

    Liked by 1 person

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