Earlier this year, OM Digital launched the OM-1, which achieved the highest weather resistance rating of any camera on the market. PetaPixel received exclusive behind-the-scenes insight into the intensity of the company’s torture testing to ensure this unparalleled rugged design.
Formerly Olympus, OM Digital designs its cameras to withstand many more elements than what is considered “standard” by the rest of the industry with much higher IP ratings. The OM-1 is the only IP53 rated interchangeable lens camera on the market.
IP, or “Ingress Protection”, is a rating given by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) that classifies an enclosure’s resistance to dust or liquid intrusion and is rated by a set of numbers. the IEC IP charter is available on its website.
The first number is rated from zero to six and represents an object’s protection against dust, “solid foreign objects”, and the second number is rated from zero to nine, which represents different levels of water resistance .
The OM-1, for example, holds an IP53 waterproof rating, which is the second highest level of dust protection available and certifies that the camera can continue to operate with water falling in the form of spray at an angle of up to 60 -degrees. The result is a camera that can withstand virtually any weather above ground and continue to operate in temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius.
PetaPixel spoke with Takao Takasu, Vice President, R&D, and Takehito Higashi, Executive Director, Quality Management at OM Digital Solutions Corporation to better understand how the company tests its cameras so they can operate in environments extremes.
OM Digital test facilities
The process of determining a camera’s level of durability should start very early in the product planning process. Takasu and Higashi say that OM Digital determines a camera’s specifications based on the usage scenario and genres of photography it envisions for the finished camera and designs the device to meet those specifications. In the case of the OM-1, it was intended to be a new flagship, and as such the team went the extra mile to ensure it would be more than just a device. Photo.
“As the OM-1 is the flagship model of our new OM System brand, we have taken on the challenge of IP53 with significant improvements in baseline performance so our customers can experience the value we aim to deliver. “, Takasu and Higashi Explain.
“We perform durability testing in stages from the time of prototyping,” the two continue. “At first, simple tests are carried out in our R&D center for operational parts (eg buttons and dials). Then, final tests are carried out on the final assembled product, using test equipment for each level of dust and splash performance.
OM Digital says its internal ratings are conducted under severe testing conditions above the ratings it intends to achieve.
“We use our many years of accumulated know-how and data, examining seal materials and widths and improving how seal materials overlap where multiple components meet, to effectively improve dustproof and splashproof performance,” the two explain.
“Weather resistance testing includes testing for dust and splash protection, high temperature, low temperature, high humidity, and cold/heat cycling. After a test, we confirm whether functionality and performance are maintained,” Takasu and Higashi say.
Takasu and Higashi say OM Digital has many years of experience evaluating weatherability, from its weatherability with film cameras and through its development of the Tough series of point-and-shoot digital cameras. and-shoot. For this reason, OM Digital has extensive splash testing facilities and most of its IP rating testing is done in-house.
Just seeing the IP53 rating that promises spray protection up to 60 degrees doesn’t adequately illustrate how impressively sealed the camera is against liquids. In the video footage provided to PetaPixelit is clear that the cameras are able to withstand a significant amount of water.
In the video footage, the OM-1 is subjected to this level of spray for over two minutes while it is fully rotated and water is being fired at it from various angles.
“Dust tests are carried out in an external laboratory, but since dust tests can generally be validated if the performance is guaranteed in the splash test, it can be said that we have a sufficient internal environment for the weather tests,” the two explain.
In the photos below, it may look like the cameras are covered in snow, but it’s actually a heavy buildup of fine dust. OM Digital lab technicians place the cameras on a rack inside a device that blows large amounts of white dust onto the camera in all directions.
The amount of dust is so thick that barely the outside of the camera is visible. The test is also performed with a lens attached, meaning the lens must be as waterproof as the camera.
After the test, technicians will then inspect different parts of the camera for any signs that dust has entered vital parts.
In these photos, the line between where the dust has collected and the safe and clean areas inside the camera is clearly visible and shows how well the OM-1 is able to keep its internal components released.
OM Digital will also occasionally check lab tests in the field, and Takasu and Higashi confirm that it has done so with its TG series of waterproof compact digital cameras, as the company has determined that the best way to ensure that they could survive the rigors of shooting in the ocean was to actually try it.
Why OM Digital goes all the way
The level of sustainability achieved by OM Digital is certainly impressive, but why go so far?
“When you want to capture a moment, there’s no point if you don’t have your camera with you,” says Yoshihisa Maitani, the designer of the original OM system.
The company takes these words to heart and they are central to the product development philosophy.
“Therefore, ‘cameras you can take with you anywhere’ is an important policy in our product development, and in order to achieve this goal, we focus on developing compact, lightweight and portable products,” explain Takasu and Higashi. .
“If the camera we offer is one that people want to take with them, but they can’t use it due to extreme weather conditions or shooting environments, it will spoil the excitement of the customer’s photographic experience,” the two continue. “We put a lot of effort into developing better cameras without compromising their dustproof and splashproof performance, because we want our customers, regardless of their environment, to be able to capture every moment and enjoy their adventures.”
While Takasu and Higashi can’t discuss plans for future unannounced products, the two say the company’s focus will never deviate from this idea.
“OM System’s goal is to achieve both of these goals: cameras that you can take with you anywhere and that allow you to capture emotions as you feel them,” Takasu and Higashi respond when asked. there was a time when OM Digital will feel them. have reached a level of sustainability that he is satisfied with.
“We will continue to develop products that allow customers to shoot what they have not been able to shoot before.”
Picture credits: All photos provided courtesy of OM Digital for the exclusive use of PetaPixel.