Loving the new Olympus Pen

August 13, 2011

Shot on the EP-2, with the Panasonc 1.7/20mm.


Olympus EP-1 Preview

July 5, 2009

I had a chance on Saturday to have a little play with the new micro 4/3rds camera from Olympus.  This camera has been much anticipated because it is the first affordable compact digital camera with interchangable lenses that can match and exceed some of the current model DSLR cameras.  These compacts were very popular in the heyday of 35mm film.  So what are the alternatives?  The Leica M8 or the Epson RD-1.  Well the latter is only released to the Japanes market however grey market cameras are available on the web.  This camera has received a mild level of popularity amongst rangefinder enthusiasts, but the lack of local support makes it a risky purchase.  Leica may well be regarded as the pinnacle of 35mm film cameras, however the digital M8 certainly has it detractors.  It is not cheap, and whilst Leica has never been an entry level camera, people saw the M film cameras as an investment.  I happily shoot a Leica IIIa crica 1937 with a 15mm lens attached for specific shots when covering weddings, but what is the longevity of the digital M’s going to be like?  I for one would much prefer to gamble $1 400 on a digital camera (and get a lens with) than $10 000 on an M8 when I know an full framed M9 is not too far off.  The sensor in the Leica is far from state of the art, and Leica is going to have to change their marketing strategy if they are going to keep up with the big boys in the digital world.  We are used to seeing a model change with Leica every eight years or so, but Canon and Nikon have set the trends and turn over needs to be every two years or so.

So what about the Panasonic Lumix G1?  Whilst it shares many of the advantages of the new EP-1, Panasonic missed a big marketing opportunity, in my opinion, by playing it safe with a traditional style DSLR body.  It has proven image quality which we should also see in the Olympus.  So how about the lenses?  The EP-1 comes standard with a 14-42mm zoom lens, and a 17mm pancake prime lens.  The beauty of these micro 4/3rds cameras, and why I feel that they will see alot of wide spread popularity, is the ablilty to take a myriad of different lenses from different manufacturers including the Leica M mount.  Different adaptors are required which are already available, and we have seen this working well with the Lumix G1.

I didn’t have the opportunity to take any shots, as the battery was dead but what really impressed me was the weight.  The camera wasn’t light and tinny, nor was it cumbersome.  It felt solid in the hand, well constructed.

I guess I would already have my deposit down if the EP-1 had a viewfinder, but if it had a viewfinder, it wouldn’t be able to take the lenses I love. Hmm, vicious cirlcle.  I am happy enough using external viewfinders and I guess I will have to see what the Olympus offering is like, after all, the zoom lens doesn’t interest me. The external viewfinder comes standard with the 17mm pancake lens.

I’m sure that this won’t be the last compact micro 4/3rds camera arrive, so it is exciting times ahead for consumers, and professionals who require something small, comparitively light, and discreet.