Yoshihisa Maitani, designer of some of the most noteworthy Olympus cameras, passed away in Japan yesterday evening at the age of 76.
July 31, 2009: Yoshihisa Maitani, designer of some of the most noteworthy Olympus cameras, passed away in Japan yesterday evening at the age of 76.
Maitani displayed an early interest in photography and, by the age of 16, held four camera design patents. After joining Olympus in 1956, he spent his first two years with the company working in various positions before being assigned to the Development Group. In 1958 he was asked to design a ø¢â‚¬Ëœcheap’ camera to fill a gap in the company’s range and came up with the first Pen camera, which was launched in 1959. Refusing to compromise on the quality of the lens in the original Pen, Maitani instead cut costs in other ways, including through choice of the 35mm format.
Maitani went on to introduce technological advances like automatic exposure (Pen EE) and the first fully automatic motor-drive/rewind half-frame camera (Pen EM). In 1966 he developed the first half-frame SLR camera, the Pen F System along with the first camera with TTL metering, the Pen FT. Early in 1967 he turned his mind to SLR cameras, coming up with the Olympus OM-1, which was introduced in 1972. He was also responsible for the Olympus XA series of rangefinder ø¢â‚¬Ëœcapsule cameras’. The key factors common to all these cameras were their small size and uncompromising image quality.
After retiring in 1996, Maitani lived to see the release of the Pen E-P1 camera, which carries on his design philosophy today.