by Ian Burley
Detailed refinements result in 's' version of the E-PL1
Olympus has revealed an enhance version of its Pen E-PL1 Micro Four Thirds hybrid or compact system camera, dubbed the E-PL1s. Perhaps the biggest step forward is not the camera body but the kit zoom lens. Widely criticised for its slow and audibly noise autofocus mechanism, Olympus has replaced the original m.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 by a new version that incorporates the same type of fast and near-silent AF motor already found in the m.Zuiko 9-18mm, 14-150mm, and 40-150mm lenses.
Not only is the AF in the new m.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II snappier, but it lends itself for use in video recording mode far better, being much less audible in use and smoother in focus transitions. The focus mechanism is now internal.
As can be seen in the product photos in this article there now appears to be a bayonet fit for a petal-style lens hood, which the original lens omitted. The new 14-42mm kit zoom is also 25% lighter at 112g. We understand that the 14-42 II will become the default standard zoom for Pen cameras globally in due course, but for now it's only shipping in Japan from early next month.
And so to the E-PL1s body; for now it appears to slot in between the existing base E-PL1 model and the much more expensive E-P2. All E-PL1s bodies will get the new 14-42 II where a kit zoom is bundled. The maximum ISO speed has been raised to 6400, and mirroring the new E-5 DSLR, there is a new battery design with a fourth contact terminal for safer charging. The new battery is designated the BLS-5 and the matching charger is called the BCS-5. The charge capacity remains identical to the current BLS-1 battery.
Cosmeticall, the silver band found on the top and side of the original E-PL1 has changed to the body colour on the E-PL1s. The E-PL1s will be available in red, white, and black but initial sales will be restricted to Japan. We'll bring you details of plans for any distribution outside Japan when we get them.