Bravo Olympus

(commentary)

Long-time readers of my sites—some of which have been with me for 15 years or more now—know that I call a spade a spade. If I dislike something or think a wrong decision has been made, I clearly and sometimes loudly point that out. 

Since a lot of people don’t hear when I make praise for something, I thought for a change I’d separate that out into a separate article, even if in the grand scheme of things what I’m about to praise is a modest, minor feature.

Olympus has discovered and embraced Arca Swiss mounts. Bravo. 

Kirk Enterprises and Really Right Stuff have made entire companies out of the Japanese vendors' inactions, particularly related to how you stabilize a camera. Virtually every serious photographer I know uses Arca Swiss plates and clamps on all their stabilization systems. Why? Simple: it’s the one system that, with everything locked down properly,  you get as near a fusing of metal as you can. Joints are bad for stable support, and loose ones especially so. Arca Swiss essentially removes a joint. 

So to Olympus: the recent 300mm f/4 has a tripod collar that has an Arca Swiss plate built in. Not only does that remove an extra piece—add on plate to the lens foot—it’s the right way to design a lens foot. 

bythom olympus pen-f grip

Now, with the Pen-F, Olympus has introduced an optional hand grip that also has a built-in Arca Swiss plate at the bottom. Not quite as great as built-into the body, but still, here we have a camera manufacturer recognizing what we’re likely to do in terms of adding accessories for a change. 

So bravo Olympus. You actually noticed what a large proportion of your customers were doing. Indeed, with the new high-megapixel pass mode of these recent cameras (e.g. 50mp on the Pen-F), we’re absolutely going to put our cameras on a strong support system, and for most of us that’s going to be Arca Swiss. 

Credit where credit is due: this is the type of decision/feature we want. I wish I could write that more often.

Since some Fujifilm user will write in to complain that I’m not heaping the same praise on Fujifilm, please note that Fujifilm didn’t add Arca Swiss to their telephoto tripod collars, and I did indeed previously write about and praise the add-on grips they produced that had Arca Swiss plates built in. 

Update: one person noted that an Arca Swiss plate on the bottom can be hard on the hand, as you could have a dovetail edge sticking out. True. But the Olympus grip is a right-hand grip: it’s designed for holding the camera with your right hand, and I don’t think the dovetail sticks out past the front of the camera. The only way your left hand would likely be impacted by the plate is if you had it under the camera and were strongly gripping with the left hand. 

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