Olympus has refreshed its E-P and E-PL lines with the E-P3 and E-PL3 while adding a third model, the E-PM1 to its Pen family of Compact System Cameras. It has also introduced two Micro Four Thirds prime lenses — the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12m f2.0 and M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 — plus a wireless-capable auxiliary flash for the new Pens.
The most significant part of the announcement is a boost in autofocus speed. The E-P1 had notoriously slow autofocus for an enthusiast-class camera, but Olympus says the autofocus system in the new Pens has been re-engineered to “achieve speed rivaling that of the professional Olympus E-5.” A bold claim indeed. Time and testing will tell the true tale.
The three Pen models use the same 12.3 megapixel liveMOS sensor, so some might be disappointed that there’s no resolution boost from the existing models. However, ISO sensitivity maximum is up to 12,800. The video capability has also been improved, and the cameras now support 1080i HD video, capturing footage either in AVI or AVCHD (E-P3 supports both) format. All use a revamped TruePic VI image processor.
The Art Filters, which apply in-camera special effects, was pioneered in the Pen and continues in the new models with a few more effects. Olympus also includes a 3D mode similar to the one introduced by Sony last year — pan the camera slowly while holding down the shutter and the camera takes a series of shots and then processes them into a true MPO-format 3D image.
The E-P1 uses a fixed OLED touchscreen display with 614,000 dot resolution. The E-PL3 and E-PM1 use a three inch LCD with 460,000 dot resolution. It is fixed on the E-PM1 but flips up on the E-PL3.
M.Zuiko Digital ED 12m f2.0 lens — In the world of Micro Four Thirds, a 12mm lens gives roughly the same capture angle as a 24mm lens does on 35mm film cameras, hence this is bordering on superwide territory.
M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 lens — This captures roughly the same field angle as a 90mm lens on a 35mm film camera. The wide maximum aperture would make it a natural for portrait use.
Prices and Availability
E-P3: available in August for $899.99 with MSC M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm II R f3.5/5.6 Zoom or MSC M. Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f2.8.
M.Zuiko Digital ED 12m f2.0 lens: available now for $799.99
M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 lens: September 2011, $399.99