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Olympus president considers using more Sony camera components to help cut costs

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Olympus Corp. President Hiroyuki Sasa (Bloomberg/Getty)

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Taking advantage of its stronger partnership with Sony, Olympus President Hiroyuki Sasa said that his company is considering sharing more common components with Sony’s cameras, as it seeks to cut costs, according to the Jiji Press in Japan (via Japan Times). Sony, which became Olympus’s biggest shareholder after a major investment, currently supplies Olympus with its imaging sensors, and is also a major supplier of camera components to other companies.

New Olympus cameras like the OM-D E-M1 already use sensors made by Sony. Further sharing of parts in the future is a possibility.

New Olympus cameras like the OM-D E-M1 already use sensors made by Sony. Further sharing of parts in the future is a possibility.

Like its Japanese rivals, Olympus’s camera business has been greatly affected, seeing huge losses due to consumers’ shifting preference toward smartphones (Olympus reported an operating loss of 23.1 billion yen earlier this year, and doesn’t expect to see major growth in the near-term). Olympus has already scaled back production of lower-end compact cameras and development of new DSLRs, focusing instead on its mirrorless cameras like the new OM-D E-M1 and PEN E-P5. To further reduce its losses, Sasa said using parts from Sony is under consideration.

While its camera division is facing challenging times, there’s better news in its medical equipment business, which remains strong, Sasa said. The company is planning to boost sales of endoscopes in emerging markets, such as Southeast Asia.

Whether or not Olympus ends up using more Sony components, it shows that traditional camera companies are looking for new ways to strengthen a business that’s being battered not just by smartphones but other factors like currency and maintaining manufacturing facilities – as we recently reported. Whereas the president of rival camera maker Nikon has indicated that his company will continue to focus on camera manufacturing despite the downturn.