Olympus just launched a first of sorts that allows people who wants to buy their cameras the ability to customised a camera to their liking.
I tested the website and I must say it is very neat. Even though the number of customisation points is pretty limited to the colour body and leather ascent details and lens that you want, like the black/silver body of their prime lens, at least you can have something that is uniquely you although there is still a chance you will find someone with similar tastes and hence arrive at the same design.
But still, I dig this service IF I am someone who don’t care about how well the camera performs. If I only care how the camera looks to the outside world, then Leica would be the camera of choice or even the Fujifilm X100T would be a nice candidate since my X100 was almost always mistaken as a Leica including award winning Chef Daniel Boulud of DB Bistro & Oyster Bar. Yes Chef Daniel did ask what camera and I pass it to him to play with it during media tour of Epicurean Market by MBS.
Anyway, I have talked about the service inside Techgoondu article so I won’t say as much here. I will just address the elephant in the room.
So what’s the elephant?
Why is Olympus injecting funds and resources to start this service? Is customisation really that important to the point they would retool their production line just to have customisable cameras for the public. Now how many people out there would have a customised camera? I am not saying there isn’t but what is the percentage to justify doing it?
Granted, if I have the chance to customised my X100 I would and I did…by buying a leather half case. And if I want to make it even more unique, I will engrave my beautiful name on the leather. I would buy a leather wrist strap to go with it and if you can find a leathersmith to help you with that (Vietnam got and I did a nice leather bag for my camera insert) even better still as it is cheaper. You confirm will have something unique.
But to build a customised camera body…that will stand out but I would ask, is that all? Where are the new camera bodies? Where are the new improvements when Nikon and Fujifilm has up their offerings on so many levels this year? Pen F you’d say…but how about E-M1 successor?
And I will reiterate what I wrote in Techgoondu. Why only allow people to buy only one lens? What if I want to buy zoom lens with the E-M5 for travel and a 17mm lens for street shooting? Would getting two lens for a set attract discounts? I see so many missed opportunities it is tough to swallow.
Okay! If you are serious about getting a camera set I would suggest go to a shop and see how much you can get if you buy multiple lens with the camera body purchase. I am pretty certain the price would be more palpable if you know how to bargain towards a bulk purchase price. Or if you are avid online shopper, a quick look at Qoo10.sg would let you find the off-the-shelf E-PL7 at 60 dollars cheaper with free delivery (although warranty is sketchy).
In the end, Olympus has failed to show why people should shop with them online when in fact, other than customisation they got nothing new to offer. Between looking good and shooting good, I choose the later anytime. After all, people should see how my images are, not how my camera looked in my hands.
If I got my Michelin stars just by buying the most beautiful kitchen wares and utensils, a lot of people would have done that right? So really…what is more important?
If the refrain is that the service is not for practical pragmatic uncle like me and is for the fashionistas, okay then they have lost half the market. Is that what Olympus wants? Look at how the E-PL series is pitching to women but i guess it is only when they got serious and have the E-M1 and E-M5 did I see some traction. A pity that they lost the plot again….and yes guys do buy the E-PL7 too!