Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Remembering Mr.Yoshihisa Maitani and The OM Legacy.

Hello Folks,

This is a short post dedicated to the late Mr. Yoshihisa Maitani, whose legacy as a camera designer extraordinaire can still be felt even today. Look around the camera industry today and one can't help but notice his '' Small & Practical '' concept in camera design is everywhere. The Man is indeed a legend , and some of his cameras are truly beautiful and ingenious.

Mr. Yoshihisa Maitani  ( 1933 - 2009 ) .

Once in a while when going through my old cameras, I will make it a point to pick up the OM-1 and just to hold it on my hands. Its a unique feeling of joy and astonishment at a piece of craftsmanship and design that's so beautiful that I personally consider it an ART. That feeling is still here ever since I first laid hands on a used unit way back in the late 70's. Few could afford it when it first came out and back then I was only a Secondary 1 student. I have to sell off my Pen half frame EE and half a years saving just to get one. This was my Third SLR since my Brother gave me his '' Exa IIa '' in the 60's and my Uncle's '' Minolta SRT-101b ''. It was a wait that was well worth,  ever since I first saw the Advertisement in a Photography magazine.

Here's an updated as of 1/1/2019. A recent article in Imaging Resource on why Olympus isn't going Full Frame ( https://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2018/12/12/a-full-frame-olympus-not-just-no-but-heck-no ) carries some Rare pics of the Master himself are added below.

 The Ads that got me on a journey to the realm of Olympus ... !!

So, Who is this '' Maitani '' that the Photo World were taking about and why is his design so Revolutionary ? A Genius  whose work and ideas, took the camera world by storm ... !!

Mr. Maitani started working for Olympus from the 50s until 1996, Maitani was the genius behind three of the most influential 35mm cameras ever: the Olympus OM-1, the Olympus Pen-F, and the Olympus XA. What they all had in common was that they were exceptionally small, and they delivered uncompromising image quality. Not only that he also design The World First Half Frame slr in the  '' PEN F '' and the unique Clamshell   '' XA ''.

His design were different , innovative , practical , ergonomics and last but not least economical. For the first time  back in the 60's and 70's , most folks were able to buy a good compact camera at an affordable price ( The Pen ). Over 17 million of it were sold world wide.

The Mighty '' PEN ''

Here is an quote from his philosophy on camera design :

"A camera is just a tool for taking pictures. As a designer, I want to design a camera that becomes an inseparable part of the photographer, a camera that dose not get in the way. But I take pictures too and I have come to realize that because the contemporary camera is at its state-of-the-art limits, surpassing those limits is a problem that the photographer will have to solve by himself."
"We have a saying in Japanese that fire and water are good servants, but bad masters. Although the camera should be an inseparable part of the photographer, it is still a tool. It can be a help or hindrance depending on how it’s used."

The Man himself and his works ... !!

And here's a list of cameras that he design that won '' The Good Design Award '' of Japan

@ Pen F  1966
@ Pen FT 1967
@ OM-1 1973
@ OM-2 1976
@ Pen EF 1981
@ XA2 + A11 1981 Grand Prize winner
@ OM-30 1983
@ XA3 Quartzdate and XA4 Quartzdate 1985

All pics below are from the official Olympus Japan website and are taken from the History and Wallpaper section respectively .

    Here's another of his Philosophical quotes on Photography :

    '' Photography has many different roles and education is one of its most important. The photograph is valuable in conveying what only you can see and therefore, understand. The photograph’s value is in its ability to act as an extension of the human eye. There will always be a need for photographs as long as people use their eyes."

    This pics below are a collection of Catalogs , Brochures , Leaflets & Stickers from my very own collections . Look how gorgeous they are ... !!

     And here are two very '' RARE '' display Stickers that I bought way back in the 70's. Made of Aluminum and printed in scratch proof colours that are meant to last. Two stickers with a total of 8 pics depicting the '' OM ''  series of cameras. Its hard to part with this items, but I woudn't mind exchanging it for any OM-1 or OM-2 camera with a Kit lens. Any Takers ...??

    Some more pics and wallpapers from the Olympus site and a few from the Net. Such a Beautiful design even by today's standards. Even the New EM-5mkII was design with an inspiration from the OM-3Ti.

    A Thing of beauty is joy forever ...!!


    Here are some unique looking camera design ( and a slide projector ) from Oly that you never thought existed ... Far Out !!


    Finally some Celebs and Ambassadors for Olympus from back then ... Bring it on !!

    And The Man whose works got me started on the '' Birding '' journey ... Sir Eric Hosking.

    Last but not least, here's some pics that says it all ...The '' OM '' System of which Mr. Maitani is a large part of  ... A salute to a Genius !!

    Thanks for being here, do as usual, take grace in any mistake that I might have made along the way. Remember to just go out there have Fun ... !!

     Here's my favorite personal quote when it comes to Photography ... Done with an Oly wallpaper .

     '' Film is still Awesome '' ... !!

     Regards ... Uncle James.



    1. Nice write up on Mr Maitani. It was his design and ideas that my late father bought the OM2 in 1978 (which I inherited before my father's passing in 2009). I have through the years owned the OM1and the OM lenses, as well as my favourite, the XA.

      Mr Maitani, I salute you.


    2. Hi Bad8dog,

      Hey, Glad you kept you dad's OM2 and since add more olympus cameras. Yes, The XA was a revolutionary in design and concept. along with other Maitani cameras.Thanks again for dropping by you 're a Budding photographer yourself. Keep it up Brother !!

      Regards ....Uncle James.