Olympus offers a couple of nice, albeit belated Christmas presents – the E-PL2 Micro Four Thirds and a nice fast aperture compact camera

Written by Gary on January 6th, 2011

Olympus has just announced 2 new cameras – the E-PL2 Micro Four Thirds and a nice fast aperture compact camera – the XZ-1.

The E-PL2:

  • a higher featured version of the entry level E-PL1 camera which makes it more of a photographer’s camera
  • new EVF port also allows for the new PENPal Bluetooth accessory for sending small jpegs to mobile phones (excluding iPhones)
  • new twin MAL-1 macro light option
  • larger LCD screen, more controls, and faster AF than the E-PL1 while also providing eye detection AF, 1/4000th sec max. shutter, 1/180th sec flash sync, new battery, Dramatic Tone Art filter.
  • it also comes with the new collapsible kit lens which is lighter, has faster and more quiet AF than the E-PL1 kit lens, and can also take accessories for fish-eye, wide angle and macro capabilities.
  • the above features combined with those existing on the E-PL1 such as built-in image stabilisation, 720p HD video and flash will make this a very attractive camera to many.

The Olympus XZ-1:

  • another very interesting compact in that although it uses a much smaller sensor than Micro Four Thirds, it partly makes up for this by providing a fairly unique fast aperture zoom lens covering 28-112mm focal length range at a maximal aperture of f/1.8-2.5.
  • this large aperture lens combined with sensor shift image stabilisation will go some way to allowing better low light images than is possible from most compact digitals, but as with all tiny sensor cameras, you will not be able to get substantially out of focus backgrounds as you could with a larger sensor camera such as a Micro Four Thirds or a dSLR.
  • nevertheless, it is more pocketable than the above and you can use remote TTL flash or flash on the hot shoe so it has potential as a fairly discrete carry around camera to take when the larger cameras would not be practicable.

Other “compact digital” cameras  announced this week include:

  • Olympus SP-610UZ – 22x ultra zoom with effective focal lengths ranging from 28mm wide angle to 616mm super telephoto, and thus significantly upgrades the range compared to the older SP-600UZ 15x zoom range and adds HD video and 3D pan mode,
  • Olympus TG-310 and TG610 Tough waterproof compacts
  • Olympus VG-120 compact with 2-130mm range and 720pHD video
  • Sony’s 5 new Cyber-shot cameras which have 1080p HD video and 3D mode  (models DSC-TX100V, DSC-TX10, DSC-HX7V, DSC-WX10 and DSC-WX9) and use the Sony’s 16mp “Exmor R” back-illuminated CMOS sensors
  • Sony’s 6 entry level CyberShot cameras (DSC-W510, DSC-W530, DSC-W560 and DSC-W570) with sweep panaroma mode and 720p HD video
  • Casio TRYX with rotating frame design to allow I’m not sure what!
  • a multitude of Panasonic, Samsung, Fujifilm and Canon compacts
  • NB. all of the above cameras have sensors MUCH smaller than Micro Four Thirds, and thus their image quality will be no where near as good, particularly in low light conditions, and thus none are really of much interest to me as I value image quality, but they may be adequate for your needs or as a 2nd camera to always carry with you in case your iPhone is not up to the task.

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