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The Olympus E-System on its way to be successful
Dennis Hissink : April 1st 2004 - 02:39 CET
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OlympusThe Olympus E-System is the world's first digital SLR-system based on the FourThirds standard defined by Olympus and Kodak. All components of the system and the complete range of accessories are precisely attuned to each other. Because of this professional photographers benefit to an optimum from the many advantages of digital SLR technology. Right now, six months after the official introduction on the market, numerous accessories are available, like interchangeable lenses and flash systems. Olympus received a Golden DIWA Award from the DIWA Awards organization, for their Camedia E-1 camera and a Golden DIWA Award for the E-System. An interview with Ulrich Götze, European Marketing Manager Digital SLR-systems Olympus Europe:
The Olympus E-System on its way to be successfulThe Olympus E-System has caused a true sensation in the press over the last few months. What is the meaning of this system for Olympus?
The development of this system has been one of the largest investments in the Olympus' history. It not only marks our return to the digital SLR segment but also gives us access to a branch of industry that will become very important in the near future. The overwhelming enthusiastic reactions from consumers as well as the retail trade, and the many positive test results show we are going in the right direction.

Does this show from the sales numbers?
Yes, our official dealers have received the Olympus E-System with great enthusiasm. We had some delivery problems when we started delivering, because the orders were larger than even our most optimistic estimation but now sales are excellent. And we are convinced they will continue like this. The reason for this optimistic expectation is the extremely positive feedback from photographers who are using the system for quite a while now.

You also introduced a worldwide supporting program for professional photographers at the same time the sales of the Olympus E-System started. Can you give us some examples concerning this service?
Our worldwide supporting program is set up as a leading service for the professional market. Since October last year, professionals that subscribed themselves at the Olympus E-Master program can benefit from a comprehensive service package. Not only do we offer a very fast repair service, at which subscribed members get priority, but we also offer free replacement equipment during the repair time (if available on stock). A user's ID will be provided at the start of the repair process, so one can follow the repair status. Beside that we work with a service team consisting of photographers to achieve an excellent technical support. Users can also take the opportunity to have their equipment looked at once a year. In addition registered professional photographers have access to a special Olympus Global Professional Support Web site, with a separate part for online support and a database with information about the Olympus products for professional digital photography. Last but not least professional photographers can always count on our service, regardless of where they find themselves at that moment. We are still working on an enhancement of our service package.

Just now you mentioned professional photographers. But what services offers Olympus the amateur photographers?
Beside the exclusive supporting program for professionals, we have set up two additional programs. Business users can register as Olympus E-Professionals and will receive an extra cost-free service period of 12 months, beside the normal guarantee. Additionally repairs on cameras and accessories will be handled extremely fast. All Olympus E-Professional members will be provided with free loan equipment (if available on stock). Beside that they can have their camera checked once a year and they benefit from our technical support. And finally we have set up the Olympus E-Club program for amateurs so they will also benefit from a specially tailor-made rendering of service.

Are there any other advantages tight to these membership programs?
By the end of February every member will receive the first edition of the exclusive E-Magazine that contains a number of interesting articles about different subjects. Four editions will appear every year. All members can also register their different components of their E-system. Which means we can offer a tailor-made service and members possess a proof of ownership in the unlikely event that something goes wrong. It is also possible to register for a cost-free electronic newsletter with which we keep our customers informed about the latest developments concerning the Olympus E-System. More information about membership programs is available at the web site www.olympus-pro.com, where the benefits are conveniently arranged.

What exactly is the Firmware Update Service?
With the online firmware Update Service Olympus puts the emphasis on fully computerized solutions. Within a few minutes the firmware is checked and, if necessary, replaced by an up to date version. Thus enabling the busy professional photographer to immediately work with the improved system. The only thing required is the latest version (1.1) of the Olympus Viewer- or Olympus Studio-software and an Internet connection.

So far Olympus is the only company offering an SLR system based on the FourThirds standard. In the future will other companies also develop systems according this standard?
Yes, very recently three large companies, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (better known as Panasonic), Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. and Sigma Corporation, announced that they will join the FourThirds consortium and that they will develop products conform the FourThirds standard.

At the time of the introduction Olympus promised to enhance the system on a regular basis. Which new products have appeared on the market so far?
We have kept our promise. At the end of last year we announced an advanced wide-angle zoom lens, the ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm (f2,8-3,5) and a professional Macro flash system, consisting of a ring flash, twin flash, ring adapter and flash controller. All these products are available in the mean time. At PMA we introduced a bright telephoto lens, the ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 150mm (f2,0). And furthermore during this year we will introduce even more new products.
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