Olympus finally delivers new Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses – Pen E-P3, Lite and Mini cameras, 12mm f/2.0, 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens and a new compact flash

Written by Gary on July 2nd, 2011

Well its been quite a wait but Olympus have finally announced a few new cameras and lenses for Micro Four Thirds which will enthrall many and hopefully lay to rest some concerns of their previously slowish AF performance.

Olympus Pen E-P3 camera:

  • similar physical design to the initial E-P1 including its built-in image stabiliser but added a rotational dial, sub-dial and two new function buttons to the back
  • adds built-in pop up flash
  • revised 12mp sensor with new Fine Detail Processing Technology for greater detail in the photograph
  • a 3″ 614,000 dot 3:2 VGA-equivalent fixed OLED touch-sensitive screen
  • new FAST AF Tracking System with 35 AF areas – “world’s fastest AF” (I presume for contrast detect AF  although apparently rivals Olympus E5 dSLR AF speed)
  • fast shutter response time < 60msec shutter lag
  • new faster and better dual-core  TruePic VI image processing engine
  • AF Illuminator
  • ISO to 12,800
  • up to 29 minutes of full 1080i HD video in either AVCHD or AVI formats
  • 10 Art Filters: Diorama, Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Cross Process, Gentle Sepia and Dramatic Tone
  • 9 Art Filter variations and enhancements, including new Pale & Light Color II, and five Art Filter Effects, including new Star Light and White Edge
  • new Art Filter Bracketing function helps you develop multiple pictures utilizing different Art Filters with a single shot
  • 3D photos using a pan mode feature to produce a .MPO file, the universal industry 3D format for easy display on 3D televisions or laptop
  • compatible with SDHC, SDXC and UHS-1 memory cards
  • can be utilized with the Olympus PENPAL® or various Eye-Fi™ cards for instant wireless uploads to your favorite social or photo sharing websites
  • electronic level gauge
  • stereo mics
  • 3fps burst rate

Olympus Pen Lite (E-PL3):

  • similar to E-P3 but lighter, slimmer, more modern looking body and tiltable 16:9 460,000 dot LCD screen (not OLED), and loses a front dial and the 2nd function button, and comes with a clip-on flash instead of having a popup flash.
  • for some reason it actually has a faster burst rate (5.5fps) than the E-p3
  • it also does not have these E-p3 Art Filters: Loses Pale Light & Color, Light Tone, Gentle Sepia and Cross-Process, and no level gauge.

Olympus Pen Mini (E-PM1):

  • similar features to E-PL3 but loses the flip-out screen and mode dial, along with several of the buttons but essentially all of the camera’s features and functions are maintained in a simplified body that weighs roughly 50g less than the E-PL3.
  • burst rate is 4.1fps but can do 5.5fps with IS turned off

Olympus 12mm f/2.0 lens:

  • at long last a premium quality, fast wide angle prime to give an effective field of view of a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera
  • even better, Olympus has listened to its users and added a “Snap Focus”manual focus ring and scale with DOF markings for manual zone focusing
  • this should be a fantastic lens for street photography, low light photography as well as travel and landscape photography
  • near silent AF for video
  • pricing expected to be $US799

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens:

  • at long last Olympus has added a relatively affordable portrait lens with a wide aperture and 90mm equivalent “portrait” field of view which will allow nice blurred backgrounds for your portraiture.
  • near silent AF for video
  • “The MSC mechanism is great for tracking a moving child or pet, and provides a quick and silent focus mechanism for movies and still photography”
  • pricing expected to be $US399

These 2 lenses along with the recently announced Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 lenses will be fantastic additions to the lens line up – now we need to see the new f/2.0 macro lenses from Olympus.

Lastly, Olympus has added a new compact flash for bounce flash – the Olympus FL-300R flash with remote TTL capability which can be used in tandem with the E-PL3 pop up flash or instead of it.

All very nice Mr Olympus, but personally I would prefer one with a built-in EVF similar to the Panasonic GH-2 which I am sure you must be working on and announcing soon.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. DamenS says:

    Actually, Olympus’ claim that their AF is the “fastest in the world” is exactly that. They are claiming the AF is faster than (and have done public comparisons with) the Nikon D3, Canon Eos-1 etc. But you are right to suspect there must be an “asterisk” in there somewhere. In this case the qualification they make is that you must be using their “MSC” (Movie Stills Compatible) lenses and it is only for single (not continuous) focus.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Damen, it will be interesting to see how fast this new AF system is, even if it is only for AF-S and not continuous AF, it promises to really address a shortcoming with Olympus’ previous Micro Four Thirds cameras, and it will be interesting to see how well it does compared to the Panasonic GH-2. I am looking forward to this, but still want a built-in EVF 🙂