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Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus

 

 

 

Olympus lays down its compact system camera marker with three new Pen Micro Four Thirds bodies and a pair of new lenses

Read the press releases:
Olympus unveils the Olympus PEN Mini
Olympus announces the new Olympus PEN Lite
Olympus launches the PEN E-P3
Olympus announces two more compact M.ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses

Now with an OLED touch screen, built in flash, and interchangeable hand grip, the new Olympus Pen flagship - the Pen E-P3

It's fair to say that Olympus has been playing catch-up with its Micro Four Thirds partner and competitor, Panasonic Lumix. Lumix cameras already offer touch screens, full 1080 video, very fast autofocus, articulating screens, and Panasonic has also been ahead in bringing fast prime (fixed focal length) lenses to market. But today Olympus has, largely, caught up. A new, faster and higher sensitivity 12MP LiveMOS sensor, combined with a new dual-core TruePic VI image processing engine, is featured in three new Olympus Pen models revealed today. These ingredients serve up what Olympus claims is the world's fastest (single action) autofocus for a mirrorless camera, full HD video capability, better image quality and a better live view experience. The new flagship Pen E-P3 also gets an OLED touch screen, the mid-range Pen Lite E-PL3 has a tilting LCD screen, and the entry level Pen Mini E-PM1 is a very slim, compact and light weight design. And we have full details of the two new fast prime lenses (12mm f/2.0 and 45mm f/1.8) lenses, plus a new FL-300R flash unit.

Feature obvious cues from the highly successful Sony NEX, this is the new Olympus Pen Lite E-PL3

We're reporting from Vienna, the venue for the European launch of Olympus' latest Pen line up. Later today we'll be let loose in the city with the new E-P3 and we're told that we will be able to post original camera image samples from these cameras. The E-P3 will be the first to ship, followed later in the year by the Pen Lite E-PL3 and, in early autumn, the Pen Mini E-PM1.

The new ultra-slim, compact and light entry-level Olympus Pen Mini E-PM1

Features common to all the new models

All three new cameras share the same uprated 12MP LiveMOS sensor manufactured by Panasonic, dispelling rumours that Olympus had found a new sensor supplier. This has been mated to a next-generation TruePic VI image processing engine.

I'm told that the new sensor offers an improvement in sensitivity of around 1EV, which should deliver a noticeable improvement in noise and dynamic range performance. 12800 ISO speed setting is now available. The frame read-out speed of the new sensor has been doubled to 120 frames per second. This has enabled Olympus to re-engineer its contrast detect autofocus system and cancel a perceived weakness in AF speed that has dogged earlier Pen models. Olympus now says its AF, in single focus action mode at least, is now faster than anyone else's, including Panasonic. It's so confident about its new AF performance it calls it FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology). There is also a better quality live view experience and reduced black out time inbetween shots.

Apart from basic speed improvements, the AF system now uses 35 focus points instead of 11, and the points cover a greater area of the frame and are smaller for more precise focus targeting. Olympus also claims to have improved its continuous AF tracking system, which can now cope with subjects momentarily disappearing off the frame. Eye-detection, including a user-selectable preference for the left or right eye, is now featured to supplement the familiar face detection facility. You can also choose to let the AF system check focus continuously without pressing the shutter release. There is also a return to favour of an AF-assist light using a super-bright LED. Different preferred AF modes can be set for still and video shooting

Other party tricks made possible by the new dual-core TruePic VI image processing engine include a pseudo 3D shooting mode and playback capability when connected to a compatible 3D TV. There is much emphasis on image detail extraction based on experience with the Olympus E-5 DSLR which manages to produce images with more detail than your average 12MP camera. There has also been some work done on automatic tone control to improve highlight and shadow detail performance in high contrast situations. With two cores, TruePic VI uses one for processing the image and one for serving the live view system, results in better live view quality and faster shot to shot performance. Art Filter processing speeds have been improved significantly with TruePic VI, too .Art filter intensity is adjustable and can also be bracketed. And how about a 2x digital 'tele converter' mode?

The welcome upgrade to full HD video means you can now record 1080 60i AVCHD clips up to 29 minutes long. All the new Pens have built in stereo microphones, and of course external microphones can be used via an Accessory Port adapter. MJPEG 720 30p capability has also bee retained. There is improved control of the shutter speed during video shooting, and improved image stabilisation for movie recording.

New fast prime lenses

The new retro-style m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 portrait telephoto lens

Apart from the 17mm pancake lens, Olympus has until now not produced any other single focal length m.Zuiko lenses for Micro Four Thirds photographers. Fast prime lenses have been at the top of many users' wish lists. Today Olympus unveiled two such lenses; a 12mm (24mm equivalent) wide angle with a maximum aperture of f/2.0, and a 45mm (90mm equivalent) f/1.8 portrait lens, the fastest (brightest) interchangeable lens Olympus has yet produced since it entered the digital system camera market in 2003.

The 12mm f/2.0 with the focus ring in the up position for auto focus operation.

 

Here the focus ring has been snapped down to reveal the distance scale for manual focus mode. Also note the aperture depth of field scale.

The 45mm lens is also competitively priced at around £300. The 12mm lens weighs in at a not inconsiderable expected selling price of £700, but in partial compensation it has a neat feature called snap focus, which lets you switch from autofocus mode to manual focus by pulling back the focus ring on the lens. This also reveals the distance scale so you can estimate focus when using the lens for candid photography, for example. And another feature that traditionalists will welcome is the return of a depth of field/aperture scale.

New FL-300R flash

Olympus has introduced a new extra compact wirelessly-controllable flash unit, the FL-300R. Its novel design allows it to be tilted at the hot-shoe base for bounce configuration. It has a guide number of 28 at ISO 200.

Model-specifics

While there are many common features to all three new Pens, there are also very specific features for each model and these will be covered in more detail in your illustrated product tour pages that follow this page.

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Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus

Four Thirds User editorial team Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Olympus has today revealed three new Micro Four Thirds Pen compact system camera models and two new ... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Well, the news is finally out - officially at least. I will be using the new E-P3 and hope to pos... (more)

Ned Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I'm excited. <3 Very excited.... (more)

thestickman Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I think this is definitely the right step - especially for the lower Pens as I doubt many home users... (more)

knikki Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Good news and the Pen 3 looks good Ok big question PRICE? The lens prices are out but at what... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Ian Can you do some tests for me of the new AF? Principally: Tracking - moving objects Focus ... (more)

Kees Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Preorder price with kit lens is $899 (at .... (more)

hschnee Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I'm also very interested in AF speed with FT (especially SWD) lenses. Also, do you have any ph... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Good point +1 - very interested in grips...... (more)

rogerioi Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
You can see the optional grip here: [url]http://www.dpreview.com/previews/olympusep3/[/url] be... (more)

fluffy Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
[I]Very[/I] interesting. I'm not sure how much the E-P3 will give me over the E-PL2 (I can never en... (more)

John Perriment Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
My one big disappointment is with the tilting screen of the E-PL3, which seems to tilt in horizontal... (more)

thestickman Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I've never really understood the top/bottom hinge on an LCD - surely the most frequent use (for non ... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Hi everyone, am on the bus back to the airport car park. Will post some samples taken today but the ... (more)

fluffy Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I need to disagree with you and John P. The vast majority of my movable screen use on the GH-1 ha... (more)

Ned Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I'd like to see what the price points are on the E-PL3 and E-PM1. Those are obviously going to be... (more)

fluffy Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Based on recent pricings I'd $700 and $600.... (more)

John Perriment Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Hi Steve, don't get me wrong, it's still a welcome feature - it's just that (for me) it could hav... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
B Ian... (more)

nrdlnd Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Am I the first to say that I'm rather disappointed with the cameras? I'm still waiting for Olympus t... (more)

Ned Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
It looks like the new lenses are adopting that retro look of skinny silver lenses. :) The way I u... (more)

John Perriment Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I share your desire to see a Pen (or whatever it may be branded) with a built in EVF but that was... (more)

John Perriment Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Congratulations on recently passing a thousand posts, Ned. Here's to the next 1000! :D... (more)

Ned Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Yay! Thanks John. You know that three new PENs are bound to get my mouth running, lol! :o... (more)

mhobart Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Thanks for the info about the MSC lenses upgrading to the R (FAST AF) via firmware. When I got a... (more)

Raj Surin Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
The pen is getting mightier... @Ian.. good to get your hands on reports on the new pens..Thanks.. ... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Ian Had an idea - either I can come down to you in Hemel or I'd be happy to host you up here at... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I'm sure we can sort something out, Andy - it would be excellent to meet up for the first time to... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
When the main screen goes off, the touch screen functionality stops too, but you can have the VF-... (more)

hschnee Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I like the EP-3 a lot! It may be what I finally buy to replace my E-410 . . . Now that I've read ... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
A lens range diagram was shown but didn't include any future plans. The main information provided... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
OK, I have been playing with various Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds lenses in the office here usi... (more)

hschnee Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Thank you, Ian! A bit disappointing that AF with FT lenses does not appear to be improved. :( ... (more)

knikki Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Out of interest Ian how much of a difference is there in the Final Image between the P3 and the E-PL... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
The new lenses will work with all MFT bodies, including Panasonic, straight away. The faster A... (more)

nrdlnd Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Let's explain. I have the E-P2. I do mostly use it for two purposes; macro photography with the o... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Here are some short video clips taken last Thursday on the E-P3: [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watc... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
Have a look at [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR6dP7fQXRI&feature=player_embedded"]12-60SWD... (more)

Ian Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I will do some AF action recordings today with various camera body and lens combinations. I do this ... (more)

hschnee Re: Three new Micro Four Thirds Pens from Olympus
I look forward to the tests, Ian! Is it possible to perform them in varying light levels (bright, me... (more)