Before you can say "holiday shopping," Olympus will unleash three new interchangeable-lens models into its PEN lineup. Of the three models, only one is truly real at the moment: the top-of-the-line replacement for the E-P2, the
The E-PL3, slated to replace the E-PL2, will be 25 percent smaller than its predecessor and sport a tilting, non-touch-screen 3-inch LCD. Ironically, Olympus will be jettisoning the flash--the E-PL series' flash was a response to the lack of one on the original E-P1--following Sony's lead and including an add-on flash in the box. I don't really mind that approach. It will have a smaller set of art filters than the E-P3. Despite the updated AF system, Olympus says the E-PL3 will have a slightly slower response time, likely because of less processing power, but will burst at up to 5 frames per second. It will come in red, black, chrome, and white.
The E-PM1 looks like it might be the closest thing to a compact point-and-shoot that any of the manufacturers has rolled out yet, and that includes the tiny
While both of these cameras sound like they have potential to appeal to more of a mass market than the interchangeable-lens models have thus far, so much depends upon price, at least here in the U.S. If the PM1 could hit $400 I think it might take off. But I doubt it will be that cheap.
As well as new cameras, Olympus also announced a couple of new lenses and an intriguing add-on flash, plus cosmetic redesigns of its current lens lineup. For the enthusiast, the company rolls out its first high-end Micro Four Thirds lens, a 12mm f2 (24mm equivalent) model with a metal body. When you pull down the focus ring it enters a fixed-distance zone focus mode. Though it can only focus as close as about 7.9 inches--I'm a nut for close focus--I really enjoyed shooting with it. (I wish I'd thought to try it on the
A more consumer-grade lens, the 45mm f1.8 (90mm equivalent) has the more typical build of the company's MFT lenses. Though prime it's not a pancake, but it incorporates the same seven-blade aperture as the 12mm and will focus only as close as about 20 inches. That one won't be available until September, and will run $399.99.
And finally, Olympus is introducing a new compact flash to go with the PEN lineup and supplement the old FL-14 that's the same vintage as the