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Olympus Is Selling Its Camera Business to Japan Industrial Partners

Olympus has announced that it is selling its camera division to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP). This is the same company that acquired Sony’s Vaio computer division, and it is now looking to absorb popular Olympus brands like Zuiko and OM-D. Olympus began its journey in 1936 with the manufacture and sale of a camera using the Zuiko lens. Since then, the company has introduced innovative products like the Olympus Pen and even shifted its strategy to manufacturing high-value interchangeable lenses soon after smartphones started affecting camera sales.

Olympus hasn’t announced the financial details of the deal, but the company has published a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that confirms the eventual sale to JIP. A definitive agreement is expected to be signed on September 30 this year. One of the reasons why Olympus sold off its imaging business was because it recorded operating losses for three consecutive fiscal years up to the term ended in March 2020. The company says it tried to ‘cope with the extremely severe digital camera market’ by improving the cost structure, re-strategising products based on demand, and restructuring the manufacturing bases, but the imaging business continued to incur losses.

The company in its MoU says it hopes that under JIP, the imaging business will become more compact, efficient, and agile. It looks to “continue to offer high-quality, highly reliable products; and also continue to provide supports to the imaging solution products that have been distributed by Olympus.” It should leverage from Olympus existing Zuiko and OM-D brands (for lenses and cameras respectively) and make innovative products that cater to the needs of today. JIP is the same company that absorbed Sony’s struggling Vaio PC business in 2014. Reports suggest that this deal was worth between JPY 40 billion and JPY 50 billion.

The last product launched by Olympus was the OM-D E-1 Mark III mirrorless camera – the successor to the Olympus OM-D E-1 Mark II that was introduced in 2016. Some of the key highlights of this E-1 Mark III include a compact and lightweight design, accurate AF (autofocus) especially the Starry Sky AF, 4K video recording along with high-speed movie recording at 120fps, and more. The Starry Sky AF mode found on the camera helps in taking some brilliant images of celestial bodies.

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Tasneem Akolawala

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