Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Olympus PEN trio

Olympus Malaysia recently announced a user gathering last weekend at Sunway Giza to commemorate the launch of their new PEN series, namely the EP-3, EPL-3 (PEN lite) and EPM-1 (PEN Mini). Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the gathering because I had some assignments.

Fortunately, an Olympus rep turned up at my shop today to showcase the 3 latest models. It was indeed a joy for me to see the three models side by side. The 5th generation Micro 43rd mirrorless cameras are finally here!

L-R: PEN Mini + 14-42, EP-3 + 12/2.0, EPL-3 + 14-150

The PEN mini is indeed a sight to behold despite being a mock up unit. Simple and elegant in design, despite sacrificing some functionality that is evident in the flagship EP-3.

It looks cute on the back too. There's an EVF port for the VF-2 below the hot shoe. A movie record button is to the right, while a four way control and integrated thumbwhel is evident below it. Sleek, nice and simple. I like it!

The PEN lite packs in the same 12.3 MP high speed MOS sensor as its bigger EP-3 sibling. Indeed, manufacturers now are racing against the clock to create the smallest mirrorless camera in this market segment.

The amazing thing is that they've managed to make the PEN mini body fractionally smaller than their best selling compact, the XZ-1 (sans lens of course).

Sporting a sleeker and smaller body than its predecessors (the EPL-1 & EPL-2), Olympus have finally attempted to produce a M43rds body with an articulating screen.

On the camera top plate, everything has been jam packed yet still retaining its functionality - a pop up flash, hot shoe + EVF port, mode dial, shutter release button, and ON/OFF button.

The PEN EPL-3 tilting screen is great to get alternative angles for both photo and HD videos.

Look at how tiny the EPL-3 is in your hand. Cameras have gotten so compact nowadays.

*Look, it extends!* Offering an awesome 28-300mm equivalent field of view, this lens is a general purpose superzoom great for travelling purposes.

The EPL-3 and EP-3 with their body caps off, showing the new Truepic VI sensors inside their tiny chassis.

The first generation PEN had  numerous Autofocus issues. Its good that the engineers in Olympus have worked non stop to create a truly amazing camera in autofocus. Although I am yet to fully comprehend the title of the 'World's fastest Autofocus' in this camera, I'm pleased to report that the autofocus speed and accuracy has been noticeably improved, rivalling even the most popular entry and prosumer level DSLRs today.

The implementation of the 3" 614k OLED touch screen has been wonderfully executed. You can even tap the touch screen to instantaneously take a photo. The touch screen isn’t as good as an Ipod, but its getting there.

 The EP-3 - exposed! ;)

 An internally placed pop up flash is better than having nothing at all. Great for reducing contrast and lightening shadows in harsh light.

Here are some full resolution JPEGs from the EP-3. The new sensors in the PENs are a far cry from what the 43rds and M43rds system started off with.

I hope I'll be able to give the new PEN cameras a trial run if there's a loan unit available. In the very near future, come what may, the future photographer's work horse will be an Olympus PEN instead of the full frame monsters that some of us use.


A copy of the article is also available here on a newly launched website, the Zuiko Followers.



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