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Monday, March 05, 2007

New Olympus Digital SLRs

It's March 5th, and, as promised, Olympus has revealed two new digital SLRs. The first is an upgrade of the Europe-only E-400 called the E-410, and the other is an all-new 16-oz. compact DSLR called the E-510 (all the pictures in this post are of the latter). Both have live-view LCDs and the E-510 has in-the-body anti-shake image stabilization.The big news is that neither have Kodak CCDs; both have 10-MP Matsushita LiveMOS sensors. This is apparently the same MN39960 LiveMOS image sensor imager jointly developed by Olympus and Panasonic for the Lumix DMC-L1 and the Olmpus E-330 (or something closely related). The sensors offer live preview on the cameras' LCD screens and low power consumption. So far, this sensor has not been notable for good high-ISO performance, but both new cameras sport a brand new processing engine called "TruePic III," so we should reserve judgement on that until actual test reports start showing up.

On the down side, neither camera has an articulated LCD screen, which will limit the usefulness of the live preview somewhat; I would have liked to see 90-degree articulation for waist-level viewing at least on the larger camera. On the good side, both will apparently be available in North America, and the E-510 (which looks "the business," as the British say) is about the perfect size, shape, and weight for a carry-around, note-taking-type camera—quite close to the "digital OM-4T" that some of our readers were asking for just the other day.
(Click on any of these pictures to see larger versions.)



Blogger Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"the E-510 (which looks "the business," as the British say)"

I agree, it looks really cool, as the 'mericans would say.

7:01 PM  
Blogger ostman said...

I'm glad to see this camera released; as a E-500 owner, I've been very pleased.

There's always a better camera available, at least for all but the richest photographer, but ultimately the 500 has done what I've wanted it to, and the best statement I can make is that I honestly enjoy using it.

The E-500 was a great value. If the new camera takes it up even a notch higher, it'll make its owners happy.


8:19 PM  
Blogger Matthew Miller said...

Yeah, the lack of flip & twist LCD is a killer. Other than that, this looks like it (plus the 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 lens) would be the natural upgrade from my much-loved C-5060. (The E-510 even uses the same battery!)

But without that, and considering the other drawbacks of current live mode implementations on dSLRs, I'm still thinking I'll be better off just going for something with a big, bright viewfinder and practicing my gymnastics.

8:54 PM  
Blogger David Chang - Light and Lens Photography said...

Both new cameras seem interesting from an evolutionary perspective. Slowly, it seems, as it was with film era cameras, cameras are starting to look like one another (at least feature-wise). Canon seems to be the worst offender in terms of copying others lately though... look at the new 1DmkIII: live view and anti-dust a la Olympus et al, and "14 bit" processing a la Fuji. I'm wondering if the next 1Ds model will have anti-shake built in... Canon had its USM and IS hey-day for a while; it seems to be playing catch-up in terms of new features that the smaller players are brainstorming. Can camera David(s) really beat Goliath?

One thing that intrigues me as a photographer which doesn't seem to get any media attention is the new highlight or shadow spot metering. This seems to harken back to the OM days, but I haven't seen a review of how this is implemented. In my mind, this might be the best way to "expose to the right" from the highlight mode, or "exposing for the shadows" from the shadow mode. Kind of like exposing for slides or black & white neg back in the day. Or am I assuming too much on the part of camera engineers?

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are the wide primes Olympus!? The new bodies look great but it's all for naught without a decent wide prime to go with it!

10:57 PM  
Blogger erlik said...

light&lens, that's not a new feature. E-500 and E-330 had the highlight- and shadow-based spot metering.

E-510 does look like a nice camera and with the promised improvements (faster AF and less noise, frex) looks like an even better deal than E-500.

1:45 AM  
Blogger robert e said...

Perhaps they're saving the articulating LCD for the E-1 successor. If the "flagship" is going to use the same sensor (that's how I'm interpreting it, at least), some distinguishing extra features and performance are called for, right? Though "debut this year" seems a vague target.

Then again, it's a little too early in the morning for me to be interpreting marketing-speak:

6:22 AM  
Blogger robert e said...

Oh my! I just realized that the body pictured in the March 5 press release is not the E-510 or E-410, nor any E- I've seen before.

6:26 AM  
Blogger Ira Crummey said...

Late 2005, early 2006 saw SONY make a (somewhat minor) splash while Nikon caused a tidal wave with new models that hit the mark. Late 2006 saw Pentax make quite a come-back attempt with the new K-series dSLRs, I think it is about time for Olympus to have a shot. The E-330 is a revolutionary concept but in a very homely package, these cameras offer most of the features the traditional Olympus SLR owner could identify with, high quality in a small package.


1:09 PM  

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