Olympus today relaunched its groundbreaking Digital Pen compact interchangeable digital camera system, giving it a top-to-bottom makeover.
UPDATE: Adorama is now accepting pre-orders for the E-P3 camera kits, 12mm f/2.0 and 48mm f/1.8 lenses. Orders will be shipped on a first-come, first-served basis; credit cards will not be charged until order ships. See product listing on right side of this page for links, details.
The flagship E-P3 is a pro- and prosumer-oriented model that boasts fast performance, an all-metal body, and many new features. The E-PL3 is a smaller camera with a tilting 3-inch LCD monitor that's designed for enthusiasts. The slim E-PM1 is the first interchangeable-lens Pen designed to appeal to more casual photographers. All three cameras share the same 12.3MP Live MOS Four Thirds-sized sensor, which is said to offer improved image quality over previous Olympus Pen sensors. Olympus claims all of the cameras offer fast autofocus and virtually no shutter lag.
All cameras share the ability to capture 1080p HD videos, have a new autofocus system that Olympus claims rivals DSLRs in focus speed, improved and simplified menu navigation, built-in art filters and 3-inch, high-resolution displays.
In addition to the three new cameras, Olympus unveiled two new lenses, bringing the total up to six for the Micro Four Thirds System. The new lenses are a premium 12mm f/2 prime lens that will be marketed to photojournalists and street photographers, and a 45mm f/1.8 prime portrait lens with silent focus mechanism, as well as a new FL-300R Compact Flash that can operate as a wireless remote unit.
Olympus boldly claims the E-P3 has the world's fastest AF speed (less than 60 milliseconds) via Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology (FAST). The all-metal body is rugged and redesigned, and the camera is operated via both traditional knobs and control dials and by a 3-inch, 614k pixel touch screen LCD monitor. The camera offers 35-point AF, and users can select 3x3 points or single point targets for AF either using dials or by touching part of the image on the screen that they want in focus.
Other features include
- 1080 60i HD Video
- AC3 Dolby Digital Audio or uncompressed CD-quality 16 bit/44.1kHz Linear PCM stereo
- ISO 100-12,800
- Contrast Detection AF
- Real Color technology; claimed more accurate color rendering
- Built-in flash
- 10 art filters which can be customized; multiple effects simultaneously
- 3D image capture
- Supersonic Wave dust reduction
- RAW and JPEG recording
- 3 levels of image stabilization
- 324-area multipattern metering
- 1% area spot meter
- 3fps burst mode up to 17 RAW images
- Level Gauge
The E-PL continues as Olympus's MILC mid-range camera. Redesigned to be smaller, lighter, and less expensive than the E-P3 the E-PL3's polycarbonate-bodied camera features a flip-out LCD monitor and shares the same revised sensor as the E-P3. It has six Art Filters, and is 25% smaller than its predecessor, the E-PL2. High-speed shutter allows 4.1 fps bursts, going up to 5.5fps with Image Stabilization turned off. The camera has a sleeker look to it, but is still clearly part of the Pen family.
Olympus Pen Mini
Finally, Olympus's new camera creates a new interchangeable-lens camera category that's geared towards the point-and-shoot crowd. The smallest and thinnest of the Pen trio, the Pen Mini is said to boast a minimalist design, with controls that are more screen- and menu-driven. It will come in six colors, but will offer the same sensor as its two larger siblings. Features will include six popular Art filters and live guides that suggest settings for tyros.
Two new prime lenses
In addition to the three cameras, Olympus announced redesigned versions of its existing 14-42mm, 14-150mm and 75-300mm kit zoom lenses. But more importantly for higher-end photographers, the company announced a pair of metal-bodied prime lenses. Both the 12mm f/2 and 42mm f/1.8 lenses a have pull-back focus rings that allow users to focus manually by turning the focus ring; markings on the lens barrels indicate depth of field. The lenses feature a mixture of Apsherical, DSA, ED and Super HD lens elements and are claimed to produce little aberration, good contrast, minimal flare, and accurate color. Olympus says the 12mm lens is the world's first Dual Super Aspherical lens to be mass-produced.
The E-P3 with the 14-42mm lens is expected to be available for $899.99 next month; pre-orders are being accepted now and will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis. Credit cards will not be charged until the camera is shipped. Other models and pricing is to be announced.