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Olympus' high-end compact prototype

COLOGNE, Germany--At the Photokina trade show here Monday, Olympus announced a higher-end compact camera to be released in the first quarter of 2011. The camera is the first compact model to be equipped with a lens bearing Olympus' Zuiko lens brand that for decades has only appeared with its SLR cameras. Presumably Olympus is trying to telegraph that this is a premium product.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
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Olympus' high-end compact prototype

It's only a prototype, so don't read too much into it, but the amount the lens telescopes out indicates Olympus has a wide zoom range in mind.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
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Olympus' high-end compact prototype

With its lens withdrawn, the camera is more compact than Olympus' Pen line of Micro Four Thirds cameras. Like them, Olympus said, the compact camera will sport a flash hot-shoe. That would put it more in league with high-end compact cameras such as Canon's PowerShot G12 and Nikon's CoolPix P7000.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
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Olympus' high-end compact prototype

The back of the prototype features a wheel interface.

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Olympus' high-end compact prototype

The design is compact. Building a wide zoom range into a small body typically means using a small sensor, though, which can hold back image quality and low-light performance. Olympus didn't share details on elements of the design.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
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Olympus' high-end compact prototype

A front view shows the Zuiko brand name.

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Olympus' high-end compact prototype

An adjustment knob, zoom control, shutter release, and power button adorn the top of the camera prototype.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Stephen Shankland/CNET
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