Must I utter... "Maitani"
Decades after I became an OLY fanboi, I realized that all these cameras that I loved (the OM1&2, the XA, the Pen, etc) were children of the same industrial designer, Maitani (or at least this is the mythology that Olympus built). This link calling it the 'cult of Olympus' and connecting it to him, more or less sums it up -- http://camarasclassicas.blogspot.ca/...f-olympus.html
It is pretty rare where one person puts his stamp on a range of products from a large corporation. This is pretty easy to see his stamp by googling "Olympus camera designer" and trying this with other Japanese brands. Maitani will come up as one of the top links, but I do not see this for the bigger companies. This does not mean that they are superior or inferior, but it does mean that one person likely controlled a fair bit of the esthetic and functional considerations of Oly cameras from that time compared to Canon or Nikon. To me this means that the Oly cameras may have some different things about it (eg shutter speed ring, minimalist viewfinder info) that you either love or you hate. Maitani was a minimalist -- my first OM2 seemed rather feature-poor compared to my friends' Canons and Nikons of the time, but to me this minimalist quality was attractive and still is. It keeps the camera out of my way. So try an Olympus before you buy one. If I had to bet I would think you might have stronger feelings about the Olympus over the Nikons, I am just not sure which feeling it would be.
As a last comment, I feel that the older 1.4 50mm lenses are 'piled on to' a bit excessively. OK, maybe I am just jealous as both my 1.4s have serial numbers <1,000,000, but they seem pretty good to me. I have a couple of 1.8 lenses (of varying ages) and I prefer the 1.4s and generally think they are great. Again, maybe the clouds will part for me if I try a newer one, but I am not waiting for it to happen.