The man behind the Olympus OM camera: Yoshihisa Maitani

Yoshihisa Maitani
(Image credit: Olympus)

You know the brand name and you probably know some of the history behind it, but what about the people who made it happen? In this occasional series, we’re looking at the personalities who, through often courageous decisions, got us to where we are in photography today. In this profile, we meet the camera designer who was perhaps more influential than any other... and continues to this day.

When the legendary Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR was unveiled at the 1972 Photokina in Germany, it had the model number M-1. The ‘M’ stood for Maitani, the talented designer who is best known downsizing the 35mm SLR, but who was also behind a string of hits for Olympus through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. In fact, Maitani’s efforts helped turn Olympus into one of the ‘Big Five’ Japanese camera makers, alongside Canon, Minolta, Nikon and Pentax.

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Paul Burrows

Paul has been writing about cameras, photography and photographers for 40 years. He joined Australian Camera as an editorial assistant in 1982, subsequently becoming the magazine’s technical editor, and has been editor since 1998. He is also the editor of sister publication ProPhoto, a position he has held since 1989. In 2011, Paul was made an Honorary Fellow of the Institute Of Australian Photography (AIPP) in recognition of his long-term contribution to the Australian photo industry. Outside of his magazine work, he is the editor of the Contemporary Photographers: Australia series of monographs which document the lives of Australia’s most important photographers.