Photokina 2012: Hands-on Pen E-PL5, E-PM2, m.Zuiko 60mm Macro, body cap lens and XZ-2

We have been examining the new Olympus Pen Lite E-PM5, Pen Mini E-PM2, m.Zuiko 60mm f/1.8 Macro, the new 15mm lens cap lens and the Stylus XZ-2

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The new Pen Lite E-PM5 is just one of a slew of new cameras and lenses revealed by Olympus at Photokina this week

Olympus unveiled a long list of new products at Photokina today. We have had some time examining some of the new gear and this article serves as an overview of what's new, including an annotated gallery of unique product images further down this page.

Key features

Two new Pens

There are two new Pen models, the Pen Lite E-PL5 and the Pen Mini E-PM2. What happened to the E-PL4? As is common with Japanese model naming, the number '4' in model designations is often avoided because it is considered unlucky. Both new cameras, crucially, get an upgrade in the form of the much-praised Sony 16 megapixel sensor first seen on the Olympus OM-D E-M5. And both new pens get capacitive touch-sensitive LCD screens like the Pen E-P3 and the OM-D E-M5, although they are LCD panels rather than the exotic OLED panels used in the earlier models. Nevertheless the new screens are of very good quality and the E-PM5's articulating screen has been redesigned so it can be faced forward for self-portrait use.

The sensor-shift in-body Image Stabilisation system is the same as in earlier Pen models offering 3 stops of shake reduction headroom rather than the 5 stops that the OM-D E-M5 and its voice coil IS system is capable of. The E-PM5 now has user-changeable different size modular hand-grips in the same style as the Pen E-P3 and you can even attach E-P3 grips. The new Pens get all of the same Art Filter modes found in the OM-D E-M5 plus a new Watercolour mode.

An interesting addition is support for Toshiba's FlashAir wireless LAN SD memory card system. Basically, FlashAir cards are conventional memory cards with an integrated wireless LAN hotspot capability so you can connect peer-peer with another wireless device like a computer or a smartphone and access your photos without needing a cable or to remove the card from the camera. FlashAir cards are already on the market and can be used without special software for most cameras with an SD-card port but for ease of use Olympus Image Share software is available specifically for users of the new Pens. Added functionality in the new Pens includes passwords that can be entered using the camera screen and a FlashAir card aware power saving mode.

New lenses

The already previewed m.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro has been officially unveiled here at Photokina and we have learned more about the new lens. It has a novel lens hood design that preserves the compactness of the lens in a convenient way. The hood retracts over the lens barrel when not in use so there is no need to remove and reverse as has been the convention. The lens also has a multi-setting focus limiter dial and an indicator scale for the life-size to on-sensor reproduction ratios according to the focus setting. As we already knew, the lens is dust and splash proof and while it is longer than the familiar Zuiko Digital 50mm f/2.0 when that lens is focused to infinity, as the 60mm lens has internal focusing it is much shorter than the 50mm lens when that lens is set to close focus.

Olympus has also announced a black edition of the m.Zuiko 12mm f/2.0, previously only available in silver and Olympus also confirmed it is working on a fast 17mm f/1.8 medium wide angle lens, which equates to the classic 35mm focal length.

Last, but not least in terms of new lenses is a bit of a surprise; the Olympus 15mm f/8 lens cap. It looks like camera body cap, and is about the same size, adding only 9mm to the depth of a Micro Four Thirds camera body it is attached to. Indeed, you can use it as a lens cap! When I first saw this I immediately thought it was a pin hole lens, but the optics are more sophisticated in the form of a three element arrangement with a fixed aperture of f/8. Focusing is by a lever built into the lens which also doubles as a cover for the lens. There is no communication with the camera so you will need to set the focal length manually in the camera setting for compatibility with image stabilisation mode. It's a wacky product but rather interesting!

The Stylus XZ-2

Olympus has reintroduced its Stylus brand for the XZ-2 premium compact, which replaces the XZ-1 that was originally revealed here at Photokina two years ago. The Stylus brand was formerly used for Olympus' capsule-style compact film cameras in the 1980s for the US market, complementing the mJU brand in other parts of the world. The XZ-2 is not a system camera with interchangeable lenses, but it can use Accessory Port devices that attach to the hot shoe which were originally designed for Pens. like the VF-2 and VF-3 electronic viewfinders, for example. While the XZ-2 retains the same Zuiko Digital 28-112mm equivalent fast f/1.8-2.5 zoom lens originally introduced in the XZ-1, the XZ-2 has a new back-lit 12.3 megapixel sensor and an articulating capacitive touch screen. Video capability has been updated to support 1080 HD resolution. The click-stop exposure control ring on the lens barrel has now been modified to be switchable between smooth stepless operation for manual focusing and the stepped mode for settings adjustment. The camera's user interface has also been extended and face-lifted bringing it in line with the style and functionality of recent Pens and the OM-D E-M5.

Annotated product tour gallery

To see a larger view of the image in each thumbnail image below, including a text description, click in the thumbnail of your choice. A new window will open:

Pictorial guide to the new Olympus products

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