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Hands on with the Olympus OM-D

Take a closer look at the Olympus OM-D camera, sporting retro looks and interchangeable lenses.

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Lexy Savvides
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Take a closer look at the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, sporting retro looks and interchangeable lenses.

The three kit configurations of the OM-D are with the 14-42mm lens (AU$1399), 14-42mm lens and 40-150mm lens (AU$1599), or a 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens (AU$1499). It's also available as body only for AU$1299 — the camera comes in either silver or black. The OM-D will be available from April 23, 2011.

To Pen or not to Pen? The OM-D is somewhere between the Olympus E-series range of digital SLRs and the Pen series of interchangeable lens cameras. In the hand it's definitely smaller than we were expecting, though it is comfortable to hold and very light.

Olympus says that it took user feedback from the Pen cameras into consideration when designing the OM-D. Photographers wanted more lenses, a built-in viewfinder and a robust design with weather sealing, so the company delivered. It's a camera that will definitely appeal to enthusiasts and professionals looking for a smaller body.

It has a faux-prism hump above the lens, which may seem counter-intuitive because it's mirrorless, but it's actually used to house the electronic viewfinder. As for speeds, Olympus says that the OM-D's autofocus is 35 per cent faster than that found on the E-P3. The pre-production models we played with certainly locked on to focus quickly and accurately.

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Turning to the side, this is the OM-D with one of the kit lens configurations, the 12-50mm. With this unit attached the camera is a little top-heavy.

As you can see on the top panel there are two control dials, which are used for adjusting shooting settings like aperture and shutter speed.

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With the optional battery grip attached (HLD-6) the OM-D suddenly turns into a serious SLR wannabe. The grip allows for vertical or horizontal shooting, and it's weather-sealed just like the body.

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A 3-inch OLED screen features prominently at the back, able to tilt out from the camera body as shown. The viewfinder that sits above it packs a punch with a 1.44-million-dot resolution.

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Like most other Olympus cameras, Pen or otherwise, the OM-D comes with the requisite art filters, which apply different creative effects to images. There's also full PASM control as well.

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Pictured here are two 12-50mm lenses in either silver or black, to match the available colour choices for the camera body, plus a Four Thirds to Micro Four Thirds adapter. This is splash and dustproof as well. Did we mention that Olympus is big on all-weather?

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The OM-D is compatible with a range of Pen accessories such as the macro arm light.

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One part of the two magnesium alloy plates that make up the OM-D. There's this front panel, as well as a top panel.

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There's no flash in the camera body, so the OM-D has to make do with this attachment. Luckily, it's bundled with the camera, and also weatherproof.

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You might be wondering why the OM-D looks so retro. It comes down to the designers drawing inspiration from the OM cameras of old.

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With the 14-42mm lens attached, the OM-D is very light. Also announced at the same time as the OM-D were two new prime lenses, a 70mm f/1.8 and 60mm f/2.8 macro. The 70mm features a metal construction just like the 12mm lens that is also available for Micro Four Thirds cameras. The 60mm macro is splash and dustproof. Unfortunately, there were no models of either of these two new lenses at the local launch.

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