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Olympus E-30: 30-something gets out the vote

On election day in the US, CNET has exclusively revealed a shock new contender: the Olympus E-30, a 12-megapixel dSLR giving us all hope for the future

Those sneaky scamps over at Olympus. While the rest of the camera world scrambled to punt out entire new line-ups before Photokina had even opened its doors, we thought Olympus had been beaten to the Micro Four Thirds punch by partners Panasonic. But in fact it had an ace up its sleeve the whole time, as revealed by Crave US today. What better time to play that ace than election day -- as if we weren't tense enough already! And so, ladies and gentlemen, a new candidate is offering hope for change: the Olympus E-30 dSLR.

Our colonial cousins have taken time out from following today's presidential elections to put together a quick comparison chart between the new E-30 and its older sibling the E-3, alongside the Canon EOS 40D and the Nikon D90. Like the others, the E-30 boasts a CMOS sensor, like the D90 packing 12.3-megapixels. It has the same 11-point autofocus system as the E-3, and a slightly larger 69mm (2.7-inch) screen.

New features include art filters, a set of six special effects you can add to your pictures: soft focus, pale and light, grainy film, light tone, pinhole and pop art. Crave likes the sound of the latter, as we'd love to see our subjects transformed into angst-ridden comic-book characters.

It also boasts the camcorder-style flip-and-twist LCD that Panasonic has made its own on the Lumix L10 and G1. You get a built-in electronic level too, similar to the Nikon D3, which shows pitch and roll and may be useful the next time you're putting up shelves.

There's no word yet on UK pricing or availability. The Yanks will be paying an estimated street price of $1,300 (£820), with a refreshed Zuiko 14-54mm II f2.8-3.5 (28-108mm equivalent) costing about $600 (£380). It'll be out stateside in January 2009, and we'll bring you more news as we get it, whether the E-30 spoils our ballot paper or wins our vote.