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Olympus OM-D E-M5 — Why Not Offer a Monochrome version?

Thinking about the brutal competitive market out there for camera manufacturers (how many hundreds of “me too” cameras are on the market?!), the Olympus OM-D E-M5 hits a home run for now, but by next year who knows? Digital photography just keeps getting better once in a while.

The only two truly interesting cameras to me this year are the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Nikon D800/D800E. Everything else has been a big yawn, especially the Canon 5D Mark III, which just inches forward from what we had 3 years ago.

So the thought occurred to me: how does a camera company get attention to its products and acquire a cult-like following (like Apple). One answer is to be the best (Apple) and have Steve Jobs in charge (bless his departed soul); this is hard to do for very long, or even once. Well, it’s just about impossible.

Another approach is to cater to a smaller but motivated and enthusiastic audience, and here is where an Olympus OM-D E-M5m would come into the picture: a 16-megapixel E-M5 with a monochrome sensor would provide image detail on par with or very close to a Nikon D800. It doesn’t matter if Olympus were to sell only 10,000 of them (which would happen at the E-M5 price point)— there is marketing hay to be made in so many ways.

I also have to believe there is some way (or ought to be some way to put a thin-sheet electronic RGB color overlay over a monochrome sensor that can be switched on/off instantly to filter for red or green or blue as a whole, and thus create filtered monochrome and/or RGB images. Not per photosite, but one large color filter over the sensor (can be clear or some color), so that there is no Bayer pattern demosaicing degradation.

See my gear page for Olympus and Panasonic Four Thirds lenses.

Olympus OM-D E-M5
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