With the Photokina show set to kick off right about now in Cologne, Germany, major camera manufacturers have a swathe of launches to get the pre-Christmas camera-buying frenzy well and truly underway.
Olympus has come out of the blocks with a range of new hardware, with two new cameras made for the post-Instagram generation, a pair of new lenses, and the perfect second camera for photography enthusiasts.
The PEN Mini E-PM2 is a compact camera designed for beginners to get into system photography, and the PEN Lite E-PL5 for more social use. Both cameras share some serious high-end parts, including the same 16MP sensor and TruePic VI image processor from Olympus’ OM-D camera series. Both boast full HD recording, with stabilisation, and 12 Creative Art filters that borrow more than a little from Instagram (making hipster photographers very happy, no doubt).
Perhaps the most impressive feature of both cameras however, which we got to handle at a recent preview session, is Touch AF Shutter technology. This utilises a touch sensitiveLCD, where a budding photographer can simply tap on the point they wish to focus on, and the PEN does the rest, processing the image with remarkable speed; tradition AF is present, but the Touch AF is instantly familiar to any smart phone user, not to mention great for picking a single face or feature of interest out of a crowd, with a single tap of your finger.
The PEN Mini E-PM2 is made even more user friendly with a simplified system of touch-interface driven camera adjustments, which talks users through things like white balance, ISO adjustments, and more, in plain and simple English.
The PEN Lite E-PL5, on the other hand, is more tailored to those looking for a truly social camera. The LCD display swivels through 180 degrees for a self-portrait mode. It also has a 35-point Fast-AF system to capture images while ‘in the moment’. Both cameras can shoot at up to 25600 ISO.
Similarly social-media driven is Olympus’ new FlashAir SD card. It features 8GB of storage, while also turning your camera into a wireless device. Paired with the free O.I.Share app, this lets you download images to your iPhone or iPad, for further editing or sharing.
Olympus is loathe to put a price on the two cameras, but they’ll be in the realm of $599 for the Mini, and $799 for the Lite, and both should be in stores for November.
Both cameras where their unabashed smartphone inspiration on their sleeves, and
The new Stylus XZ-2 is designed from the ground up as the perfect ‘companion camera’, for DSLR users who want something faster and easier to use in a hurry. It sits somewhere between the two cameras above, with a few added features, such as interchangeable grips, and a 35mm equivalent lens. The big selling point of the camera, though, is the Hybrid Control Ring; combined with a simple button and switch just below the lens, this ring rotates to control camera settings and filters, making camera control supremely easy.
The camera’s rounded out by a 12MP Back Side Illuminated CMOS, and iHS technology that delivers high speed and sensitivity. The XZ-2 is priced at roughly $649, and will be in stores next month.
Finally, Olympus is adding two new lenses to its range. The M.Zuiko Digital ED 60MM Macro lens pretty much does what it says on the tin; designed for compact system cameras, the new M.Zuiko f2.8 lens focuses very fast and boasts pretty impressive edge-to-edge sharpness. We tested the lens during our briefing and found it could an amazing level of detail out of sugar-frosted Danish. It’s water-proof to boot, and thanks to an intermediate focal length makes for a great portrait lens too.
There’s no pricing for the macro lens, yet, but new accessories feature a lens hood and special macro strobe Ringflashes – perfect for those with fantasies of being a CSI.
Finally, the M.Zuiko Digital 17mm lens is only in mock-up at this point, but with a fast, f1.8 aperture, Olympus is aiming this at serious street photographers and reportage types. The lens’ release is aimed at the first half of 2013.