Olympus marks its 100th anniversary with this documentary detailing their 100 year evolution

May 14, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Olympus marks its 100th anniversary with this documentary detailing their 100 year evolution

May 14, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2MsEnZkt0c

Founded in Tokyo, Japan by Takeshi Yamashita in October 1919, Olympus is celebrating its 100th birthday this October. To mark this momentous anniversary, Olympus has released the above short film detailing its history and evolution over the past century.

In the video, Olympus pioneers, a used camera shop technician, and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Jay Dickman, share their stories on how Olympus influenced the world of photography. And the company sure has come a long way.

Olympus company wasn’t always called Olympus. It began life as Takachiho Seisakusho, and they focused on making microscopes for the domestic market. The Olympus trademark was registered just two years later in 1921 and then the company was renamed to Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. in 1949.

Their first camera was the Semi Olympus (also known as the Semi Olympus I, although that was not its designation at the time of being sold), released in 1936. It was a 645 medium format folding camera with a fixed Zuiko 75mm f/4.5 lens. It shot a mere 16 exposures on a roll of 120 film.

23 years later, in 1959, they released the original Olympus-PEN, 35mm half-frame film camera. It was quite revolutionary in its day, offering an image size similar to that of today’s APS-C digital sensors. Of course, this, too, had a fixed lens at 28mm f/3.5, so not quite as versatile as the interchangeable lens cameras of more recent times.

Olympus solved that problem in 1972 with the launch of the Olympus OM-1. This was the camera that introduced me to photography as a kid. My dad had one. He wouldn’t let me go near it, of course, but I snuck a look whenever I had the chance, and it was a beautiful thing to hold and look through its viewfinder.

Since moving to digital, Olympus has been through several transitions going from compacts, through DSLRs and to the Micro Four Thirds system we know today. In 2003, the company was renamed again to Olympus Corporation, where they have three main branches. Medical, Imaging and Scientific Solutions.

It’s a far cry between that Semi Olympus and the current OMD E-M1X flagship mirrorless camera. Here’s to the next hundred years.

Unlike Nikon, who celebrated their 100th anniversary just two years ago, Olympus doesn’t seem to be putting out any overpriced, slightly different coloured, cameras or lenses.

Do you shoot Olympus? Did you ever?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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4 responses to “Olympus marks its 100th anniversary with this documentary detailing their 100 year evolution”

  1. Paul Ford Avatar
    Paul Ford

    First “proper” camera OM10.

  2. DougWW Avatar
    DougWW

    Interesting video. Olympus has an admirable history. I’m shooting my 3rd serious Olympus camera now, and have a few of their P&S models over time. Their lenses are superb.

  3. Gary Spiers Avatar
    Gary Spiers

    Still have my complete OM1n kit – loved using that film camera and still do occasionally. The shutter adjustment around the lens throat is ergonomic genius. Also have an Olympus XA rangefinder with it’s dedicated Flash unit. Unfortunately Olympus was slow to move to digital SLRs and I switched to Nikon.

  4. KenS Avatar
    KenS

    The half frame camera was my first ever camera too. My dad, a camera technician most of his life, decided it was “cheaper” for a teenage photographer with half frames given the cost of film and processing. To me, it was the start of a sort of love affair. He also told me to watch this company as they are the ones to innovate while the others follow suit eventually. This has been true to this day.
    I’ve gone through the PenF, OM1 , E20, E520, EM5 and currently shoot with EM1.
    Yes, I still own all of the cameras (except the PenF) and recently bought a pair of film rolls for the OM1.
    The best feature for me is the lighter great to carry around on extended holidays spanning multiple cities. Easy to pack, easier on the back (hey Olympus, there’s a tag line for you!)

    Here’s to another 100, Olympus!