Most of the people are being labeled either as Canon or Nikon lovers. But what about the other two ‘fallen giants’?
Both Fuji and Olympus have made some serious cameras, placing them on top of the list of the best camera manufacturers in history, especially when we look at the innovative capabilities. They have often been “a first third choice”, and many people cannot help but compare Fuji vs Olympus in order to find their favorite.
So, let’s take a quick review of their cameras and what to expect from them now.
I’m sure you don’t hear this about Fuji for the first time but Fujifilm was – and still is – a company that makes film equipment. Its growth during the 20th century was due to the success of its negatives and slides. In fact, it was one of the few companies (if not the only one) that managed to make real competition to the American giant Kodak. They have managed to transfer all that wisdom to their digital cameras with what they call color simulations. Velvia, Astia, and Provia are some of those that you will find in the cameras of this manufacturer. Their names are literally copied from the famous film reels that made the Japanese company famous. Best of all, we are not limited to using JPEG to enjoy these simulations. They can be applied to RAW files using Lightroom.
The optics is another section in which Fujifilm has transferred the knowledge obtained during decades of manufacturing its own analog medium format cameras and lenses for audiovisual production to its mirrorless cameras. In my opinion, Fujifilm’s XF line has no low-end lenses. I have not tried all of them but, judging by my experience and by the results I have seen from others, they all have a very high-quality standard. Even the 18-55 f2.8-4, which is included in many of their starter kits, is of exceptional quality. Something that is not easy, if not impossible, to find in kit lenses from other brands.
As you know, Fuji’s “mirrorless” design is inspired by analog cameras, either the “telemetric” design like the X-pro2 or the SLR type like the X-T2. One of the keys to this design is that the controls for the most important aspects of the camera are physical. This allows the photographer to assign ISO, aperture, and shutter values before he wants to turn on the camera. To put it in other words, it is a design that has the photographer in mind.
By having fewer parts, mirrorless can be, and are, smaller. It makes them much more comfortable and discreet. In the case of Fuji, there is the added advantage of having an APS-C sensor which allows the targets to be smaller as well.
It is true that Fujifilm does not produce the most famous video cameras. In fact, until the launch of the X-Pro2, the Fuji video was practically useless. It was full of Moiré and gelatin effect as well as having a mediocre image quality. The new models, led by the X-T2 and the more recent X-H1, are showing that the Japanese company is putting the batteries and closing the gap with its competitors.
Compared to its competitors, Fujifilm produces high-quality equipment at a lower price, although this is a trend that is changing.
Both Fujifilm and other brands currently have a global level in their cameras that make them sufficient for 95% of uses. Therefore, to find reasons that do not recommend the purchase of a specific camera of any brand, you have to immerse yourself in the specific needs of the different photographic disciplines. These are the most notable reasons:
1. Although the energy management of these cameras has been improved, as with all mirrorless cameras, an increase in the autonomy of their batteries would be appreciated. Although we can squeeze the performance of these with a correct configuration, sometimes a little more duration is missing in them. It is advisable to always carry more than one battery.
Fortunately, the X series batteries are keeping their general size, considerably lighter and smaller than those of a traditional reflex, so in this aspect, this desire for greater autonomy is compensated in some way.
2. The focus is currently on a par with equivalent traditional cameras, the bodies are high-end sealed, the flash system has recently been expanded, and new developments are expected in this area. Perhaps there is a gap in the field of macro, which although it already has several representatives, could add an extreme macro. This lens is not for general use, though. In another field, that of architectural photography, it could be interesting to have some decentralized lens that, added to the new sensors, could give spectacular results. Finally, the other gap that could be left in the catalog would be that of a large-aperture TV fixed, now that cameras like the XT2 have a grip with extra batteries that give it enough weight and volume to balance these types of sets.
In some of these fields, there is no doubt that there will be news, in fact, it can be seen how Fuji has always prepared its cameras before launching lenses that demand greater performance or functions from their bodies.
3. Although the X Pro2 currently has two finishes, black and graphite gray, I think a silver or brushed aluminum finish could be interesting.
So far, the reasons that I currently believe that can make you doubt about the purchase of a Fujifilm camera, as you can see, are not compelling or determining reasons, and the evolution of the Fuji system has been incredible. Fortunately, this very good outlook in terms of technical capacity is not just seeing a scenario typical of this brand, since in general, all firms have different outstanding options.
The crisis of this Japanese company comes from afar. After several financial scandals, it made investments that have allowed it to stay afloat. Especially its medical division, which is profitable. But its photographic division has been racking up losses for three years. Olympus points to one of the reasons that led to this decision that is obvious: the rise of mobile phone cameras.
But Olympus made several decisions in its camera division that eroded trust in the brand. The first of them was to leave its SLR camera division without even making it official. Photographers who had purchased Olympus cameras in this class were never sure if new models and lenses would arrive.
Olympus kept silent while turning its efforts into a much more innovative bet: the creation of the first mirrorless cameras. In 2009 the Olympus Pen EP-1 became the second mirrorless interchangeable lens camera to appear, a type of machine that over time has marked the future of photographic technology.
The first Digital Pen dazzled, among other things by its appearance, but it also provided excellent image quality for the time, although Olympus had neglected its professional photography division. In fact, the company’s first clearly professional mirrorless camera, the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, was released just over a year ago.
For some, Olympus’ biggest mistake was wasting the drastic change that came from abandoning SLR cameras. At that time, one could have opted for equipping the new mirrorless cameras with larger and more versatile image sensors. But the company preferred to continue with its commitment to a single type of image sensor for its interchangeable-lens cameras.
The Micro Four Thirds system, powered by Olympus and Panasonic, derives from the Four Thirds system that was also promoted by both manufacturers, but especially Olympus. Its great advantage is that it allows smaller cameras and lenses to be manufactured. Well, the surface of the image sensor is smaller.
The problem is that the resolution cannot be as high as in cameras with APS-C or full-frame image sensors, such as those used by the rest of the industry. It is also more complicated and expensive to create lenses that allow photos with a shallow depth of field, allowing the background to blur and focus attention on a specific area of the image.
Micro Four Thirds photographers downplay these limitations, but the truth is that photos captured with Olympus’ latest most advanced camera, the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, show too much noise in sensitivity of 6,400 ISO. Something that for many photographers is inexcusable in a machine that costs 1,800 dollars without a lens.
The recent sale of Olympus’ photography division is bad news for both amateur and professional photographers, whether or not they use company equipment because innovation in the sector and the possibilities of choice are being reduced. Whether we like the decisions taken in recent years or not, Olympus cameras since the 60s have brought great doses of innovation.
Three examples of the important role that Olympus has played in the development of photographic technology: its image stabilization systems are the best on the market, the company was the one that created the first digital SLR camera that allowed to frame on a screen, and they bet like nobody for creating mirrorless cameras to overcome reflex technology. A trend that all its competitors follow today.
That’s why even photographers who have never used an Olympus have benefited from the innovations made by this company throughout its history. In the coming months, some expect the new Pen and OM-D cameras to remain as exciting as the current ones. That is the wish that Olympus ultimately expresses in the announcement of its sale. It seems difficult to do so, although it is also true that we have seen stranger things. There’s the unexpected return of the Polaroids to prove it.
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
As is usually the case in life, when you are trying to decide between the two, it all comes to your personal taste. Both Fuji and Olympus have some fantastic cameras and all of their cameras have different uses, qualities, and downsides.
For every Fuji camera, there is a similar Olympus model and vice versa. The best thing would be to understand your needs, find a few models that may suit you, and pick your favorite based on many parameters, such as the size, battery life, aesthetics, price, etc.
Whether you opt to buy existing Fuji or Olympus cameras, you won’t regret it.