>> Hi, I'm Lori Grunin, Senior Editor with cnet and this is a preview of the Olympus EP1. The EP1 is Olympus's long-awaited micro 4/3rds camera. They showed a concept of it over two years ago and people have been speculating about what the final version would look like for years. This is a pre-production unit and I haven't looked at image quality or tested performance, but based on the feature set and the price and the design, it's definitely one of the more interesting cameras that we've seen this year.
The micro 4/3rds standard is Olympus' and Panasonic's interchangeable lens body standard. That means they're basically big point-and-shoots with interchangeable lenses.
There's no mirror box, so it's not an SLR.
This is cheaper than Panasonic's model, but this also lacks a few things. For instance, there's no view-finder, electronic or otherwise. And while you can get it with a 17 mm lens that has an optional optical viewfinder, there's no equivalent for the other kit lens, which is a 14-42mm; that's a 28-84mm equivalent in a micro 4/3rds standard.
The lens is very cleverly designed, though. Because it sticks out so much when you're zooming, they've got this clever lock mechanism that lets you just suck it back into the body to preserve the slim profile. Other features that you expect are image stabilization; it uses sensor-shift like you have in all the Olympus cameras.
Based off the 50 year old Olympus PEN design, EP1 looks incredibly retro and feels incredibly solid and well built. It has nice, big 3 inch LCD. It'll come in two colors: silver with a faux leather black grip and white with a faux leather brown grip.
It's got Olympus's 12 megapixel Live MOS sensor, though not the same sensor that you'll find in other Olympus cameras - this is a new one. Plus a new generation TruPic V image processor, which in theory delivers better purples, which are very hard with digital cameras, as well as the usual, low noise at high ASO's as well as sharper images all around.
This camera also does video, 1280 by 720 at 30 frames per second or 720p, but it records using a motion jpeg Kodak, which is not the most efficient way to do video.
On the other hand, you can play Olympus's art filters to video now. However the more processor intensive filters really slow down the frame rate. Another nice touch is the EP1 uses SD cards instead of Olympus's XD picture cards. I like the design and I really look forward to testing a final production unit to see how the performance and image quality
stand up and to see whether it's really worth the extra premium that you'd have to pay over a reasonable entry level digital SLR. The price difference is probably going to be 300-400 dollars for a kit. And while it's relatively compact and made like a little tank, it's still not very light.
I'm Lori Grunin, looking forward to testing the Olympus EP1.
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