Breaking New Ground: Olympus Pen E-P1, part 2
The other day I posted rumours of the Olympus E-P1. I hope everyone read through my satire and understood that I was very much in favour of Olympus’s intention to release a small camera with interchangeable lenses. While the film camera industry always had its small camera niche (Pentax 110, the Olympus Pen of course, Canon Canonete, etc.) the digital era gave us mostly P&Ss, with their often much-reduced IQ and overly simplified controls, to fill our need for a small camera.
Recently, Sigma introduced the APS-C sensored DP1 and DP2 in an attempt to tackle this issue, but they have met with mixed reactions. In any case, these cameras offered a fixed lens only. Enter the Olympus Pen E-P1:
Offering a 12MP 4/3 sensor, it is a sleek camera that will fit in a coat pocket, making it the almost-perfect street camera, at least for me. And yes, the lenses are interchangeable. Furthermore, you can use lenses from practically any brand thanks to an ever-growing number of adapters.
Offered in chrome or white, all you can complain about is the lack of a black version. Maybe I’m old-fashioned by I happen to like black cameras. And the best part might be the price. If you buy it with the 17mm f/2.8 pancake and the viewfinder, it’s $900. I consider that a great price. If you already have lenses, the body only is $750.
Just so this doesn’t read like an ad, I want to make it clear that I don’t think this is the perfect camera that will bring all other cameras to their knees. It doesn’t have an integrated viewfinder (although Olympus are planning to release a model that will include one, as revealed by Akira Watanabe, product planning manager of Olympus’s SLR division), there are no fast 50 equivalent lenses (yet), and it doesn’t make coffee in the morning. It doesn’t come in black, either. Actually, I would say Olympus have come very close to making it perfect, if not for all, at least for some applications. Final opinion pending reviews from actual users, although beta testers have reported it responds like a DSLR. I still need to see photos at ISO6400; I don’t doubt Olympus, but I cannot believe that ISO will be usable (although this looks pretty good), but I’d be happy if even ISO1600 were usable.
I wish Olympus luck in selling as many as possible. They plan to target the portion of the market who uses P&S’s, realise their short-comings, but don’t want/need the hassle or bulk of a DSLR. I think they have a point here, and they just might have introduced the first niche-carving camera in many years. Bravo to Olympus for innovating.
Read all the specs and technical details, and see more photos, at DPReview.
All photos: ©Olympus.com.