Olympus high-end compact due by summer

The Japanese camera maker puts a delivery date on its first high-end compact camera to use the Micro Four Thirds standard.

Olympus' concept model of a svelte compact camera using the Micro Four Thirds standard.
Olympus' concept model of a svelte compact camera using the Micro Four Thirds standard. Stephen Shankland/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Olympus has set a ship date, albeit one with a lot of wiggle room, for its first high-end compact camera using the Micro Four Thirds technology.

The camera maker first showed a nonworking "concept model" of the camera at the Photokina show last September, and the same model is on display here at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) trade show. Now, though it sports a label, "launching this summer."

The back of Olympus' Micro Four Thirds concept camera.
The back of Olympus' Micro Four Thirds concept camera. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Panasonic, Olympus' partner in developing the Micro Four Thirds standard, has a head start in this market. Its Lumix DMC-G1 went on sale in 2008, and on Tuesday, Panasonic announced a video-enabled sibling, the DMC-GH1, that will ship by this summer.

The Micro Four Thirds standard combines the relatively large, expensive, high-quality sensor in the companies' full-fledged SLRs with a more compact design for interchangeable lenses. The cameras generally are aimed to appeal to point-and-shoot owners who want to upgrade but who are intimidated by SLRs' complexity and bulk.

Panasonic's G1 and GH1 resemble miniature SLRs, with viewfinders and an abundance of buttons, but Olympus' concept is a smaller model harkening back to the rangefinder film camera days of yore.

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