Here at DigitalCameraRoundup.com we'll always have a special soft spot in our hearts for Olympus. After all, it was because of an early Olympus digital camera that we decided to start the world's first all-digital camera magazine back in 1997 (aptly named "Digital Camera Magazine").
Though having a rather traditional history with a 1919 start as a maker of microscopes and then a move into cameras in the mid 1930s, Olympus (which started out as Takachiho Seisakusho) was always on the lookout for new and interesting technologies. The company did gastrocameras, fiberscopes, blood testing systems, videoimagescopes, and even consumer technologies such as cassette recorders, all in addition to a series of innovative camera products.
Olympus was one of the early adopters of digital cameras and had a digital SLR (the 1.4 megapixel Camedia C-1400L) as far back as 1997. The history section on Olympus' website reports, "Initially, digital cameras were treated as peripheral devices for computers. However, the priority for Olympus was to develop digital cameras with sufficiently high resolution to be used in place of conventional film cameras. This work in 1996, led to the introduction of the first affordably priced high-resolution digital camera. Users were impressed by the high quality of the images, and the camera became a major hit. Olympus continued to improve the image quality and resolution of digital cameras, and within a few years the digital camera market had overtaken the conventional camera market. [see a history of Olympus digital cameras]
These days, in 2009, Olympus has a large lineup of consumer and advanced digital cameras. They are informally organized as the "easy & fun" cameras, mostly the FE series (8-12 megapixel); the "design & performance" Stylus cameras (8-12 megapixel); the ruggedized Stylus Tough family of waterproof cameras (8-12 megapixel); the "power & versatility" SP series of 10-12 megapixel cameras with greatly expanded capabilities, impressive zooms (up to 26X optical), and full manual control; and finally the Evolt digital SLRs.
Another interesting aspect of Olympus is that the company caters to special
interests more than most. Special underwater cases are available for a number of Olympus
cameras, making them a favorite of scuba divers.