• Olympus refreshes its venerable PEN line with new PL and PM-series bodies, as well as three new Micro Four Thirds lenses.

Olympus Intros New E-PL5 and E-PM2, Plus Three Lenses Ahead of Photokina

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Olympus refreshes its venerable PEN line with new PL and PM-series bodies, as well as three new Micro Four Thirds lenses.

With all the attention being lavished upon the Olympus OM-D E-M5 of late, you could be excused for almost forgetting other Micro Four Thirds cameras exist. But Olympus certainly hasn't forgotten—today they're announcing two new bodies, the E-PL5 and the E-PM2.

As many expected, there's no sign of a refresh for the formerly top-tier E-P3, with the OM-D line taking over as the new company flagship. Still, there's plenty to talk about with these two, so let's get down to it.

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These cameras actually have a lot more in common than not, so we'll cover the shared specs first and then discuss the differences. Both of them are equipped with the same 16-megapixel CMOS sensor found in the OM-D, and also snag that camera's TruePic IV image processor and its insanely fast autofocus system. (We've seen this kind of thing from Olympus before; last year, the E-P3, E-PL3, and E-PM1 all shared the same sensor, processor, and AF module as well.) Both sensors can record images at sensitivities of up to ISO 12800, both capture 8 frames per second in burst shooting (up from 4.3fps in previous PEN models), and both have 3-inch capacitive touchscreens with improved viewing angles and bright-light performance.

As in previous PEN generations, the differences between models are mainly ergonomic and control-related. The mid-range E-PL5, for instance, has a removable front grip that can be swapped out for other colors or shapes. Meanwhile, the E-PM2 gets a front grip (a first for that series), but it's fixed. Similarly, the E-PL5 has an articulating rear LCD that can be flipped up for self-portraits, while the E-PM2's screen is fixed.

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On the software side, Olympus is bundling both models with a Toshiba FlashAir SDHC card, which can create its own wifi hotspot to share files with computers and mobile devices. The company says that new iOS and Android apps are also on the way. In-camera RAW editing allows users to alter white balance, exposure, and more without resorting to Photoshop, while the number of art filters has been increased to 12 with the addition of a "Watercolor" mode. You can now do art filter bracketing as well, creating a number of different looks instantaneously from a single exposure.

A few other bells and whistles may also make a big difference for users. Lens IS Priority means that the E-PL5 and E-PM2 will let the user choose between in-body and in-lens stabilization when both are present. A video teleconverter mode crops the sensor by up to 4x during full-HD video recording to provide greater telephoto reach. In another trick inherited from the OM-D, the size of focusing points can be adjusted for added precision.

The E-PL5 will be available in white, silver, and black, while the E-PM2 can be had in white, silver, black, and red. Estimated pricing for the E-PL5 starts at $650 for the body only and jumps to $700 with the inclusion of the M.ZUIKO 14-42mm II kit lens. The entry-level E-PM2 kicks things off at $550 body-only, and also goes up another $50 to $600 for the kit. Both should be available for purchase in October.

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But what are cameras without lenses? Luckily for system users, Olympus is announcing three new lenses for the Micro Four Thirds mount.

First up is a 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens, which boasts a dust and splash-proof design, a 7-bladed circular aperture, and an accessory hood that locks at both the top and bottom so you never have to take it off the lens. This beauty comes in at $500 and should be shipping by early October.

Decidedly less conventional is the 15mm f/8.0 (fixed-aperture) manual-focus "body cap" lens. At only 9mm thick, and featuring a simple three-element optical design, the lens is being referred to as an "accessory," and the company suggests that its price will reflect its minimal feature set. A shipping date and exact pricing are unknown at this point, but you can expect to hear something from Olympus soon.

For the last new lens, Olympus has revealed that a 17mm f/1.8 prime is indeed under development. Though release date and pricing are as yet unknown, the new lens appears to share the build quality of the high-end 12mm f/2, as well as its sliding manual/autofocus ring toggle. The company predicts the lens should be commercially available in the "first half of 2013."

Finally, Olympus is also releasing a new "limited edition" production run of the much-loved 12mm f/2.0 in black, at a street price of $1100.


TWO NEW OLYMPUS PEN® CAMERAS PUT MORE POWER IN YOUR HANDS WITH THE WORLD’S FASTEST TOUCH AF SHUTTER

Compact Portable Bodies Deliver Amazing Image Quality with OM-D E-M5™ Sensor, In-Camera Creativity Expands with New Art Filters

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., September 17, 2012 – Today, Olympus announces two new PEN compact system cameras, the latest in its award-winning line of Micro Four Thirds® products, designed to help both advanced and emerging photographers take their creative power to a whole new level. The Olympus PEN E-PL5 and PEN E-PM2 deliver amazing image quality by packing superior image technology, blazing fast processing speed and total creative control in classic bodies that combine the portability and ease of use of a point-and-shoot without the complexity of a DSLR.

In addition to advanced shared technologies outlined below, each new model offers unique features of its own:

• Olympus PEN E-PL5: This powerful performer boasts significant improvements in functionality and ease of use. It features an all-metal body in silver, black or white and is portable enough to travel across the world without sacrificing DSLR image quality and the control that experienced photographers expect. Inherited from its predecessor, the E-PL5 has a swiveling monitor with a greatly expanded swivel range of approximately 170° up and about 65° down, making it easier to shoot pictures from low or high angles, and offers the ability to flip the monitor up for self-portrait shooting.

• Olympus PEN E-PM2: The ultra-compact, simple and stylish, smallest and lightest Olympus PEN is designed for people who want to try an interchangeable lens camera for the first time. Available in silver, black, white and red, the E-PM2 offers an intuitive vertical touch navigation menu displayed by pressing the MENU button to provide a fast and easy way to switch modes with fewer steps.

Superior Image Quality and Low Light Performance

Both new Olympus PEN cameras share the same 16.1-megapixel High-Speed Live MOS Sensor and new TruePic VI image processing engine as the award-winning, flagship Micro Four Thirds system camera, Olympus OM-D E-M5. Armed with this technology, the new PENs are outstanding low-light performers with a maximum ISO of 25,600 and a dynamic range that has also been increased, enabling finer expression of gradations between dark and bright areas with a wider range of intensity. An AF Illuminator and accessory FL-LM1 flash, included with both cameras, adds to their low-light performance. Photos and HD videos will be crisp and clear thanks to three modes of in-body image stabilization and the award-winning Olympus Dust Reduction System.

Blazing Speed

Tapping in on the chosen subject within the frame of the cameras’ LCD monitor instantly focuses the subject and automatically triggers the shutter for instantaneous in-focus image capture thanks to the Touch AF Shutter function. The combination of the speedy response of the touchscreen panel and the FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) AF system, the same technology that made the Olympus OM-D the world's fastest autofocusing camera, gives users the power to capture precisely the image they want at precisely the moment they want it. With instantaneous focusing, the camera won't shake the moment the shutter is released, assuring maximum clarity and stability, even when shooting moving subjects. Maximum frame rates have also increased more than 2X with a maximum frame rate of 8 fps in Single AF mode.

Ease of Use

Both new models have a 3-inch, 460,000-dot high-definition LCD screen and an Anti-Finger Print coating to reduce smudges. The display offers a wide 176-degree angle of view and is bright enough to compose images even in harsh midday light. Capturing the shot you want is easy with the E-PL5 swivel LCD that rotates up 170 degrees for simple self-portrait shooting. The intuitive and practical touchscreen makes navigating the camera’s menus and graphical user interface effortless. Going through a day’s photos is as easy as scrolling through the images and enlarging photos with the tap of a finger. Change the feel of each camera to suit your preferences with a detachable grip included with the Olympus E-PL5, and the Olympus E-PM2 grip is built-in. A convenient button on top of the E-PM2 calls up the Live Guide function instantly from any shooting mode for intuitive assistance whenever needed. My Sets on the E-PL5 Mode Dial allow further customization to suit the user’s shooting preferences.

Creative Control

The Olympus E-PL5 and the Olympus E-PM2 bring a new level of freedom to the creative shooting experience. A new Water Color effect joins 11 available in-camera Art Filters (Diorama, Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Cross Process, Gentle Sepia, Key Line and Dramatic Tone) and adds to other brilliant, easy-to-use functions, including Variations and the new Monochrome effect. In-camera RAW data editing selects various settings for RAW data editing and previews the images before applying changes. The customizable Self Timer programs the shutter release to go off at select intervals to ensure the perfect shot. A small single AF target can be selected for pinpoint focusing beyond the existing 35-point area selection. Users can get creative while shooting in 1080i Full HD Movie with fade effect, so you can transition from art filter to art filter without stopping the movie. While shooting a movie, the Movie Teleconverter function magnifies up to 4x without image deterioration.

Sharing in a Flash

Using the OLYMPUS Image Share application, which is compatible with both iPhone® and Android® smartphones and the Toshiba FlashAir® SDHC memory card, it's easier than ever to upload pictures to your favorite social network. Both PENs can set up the FlashAir using the built-in smartphone connection capability for an effortless Wi-Fi connection between PEN and your smartphone. The OLYMPUS Image Share application makes it easy to upload images to a smartphone by selecting them from thumbnails, apply Art Filters on the smartphone and share. Images can also be enjoyed by friends and family by issuing a one-time password to connect several smartphones simultaneously to the cameras.

Is It a Body Cap or a Lens? It’s Both.

Olympus also introduces an intriguing new lens for its Micro Four Thirds line. The BCL-15 f8.0 Body Cap Lens serves as a body cap when carrying the camera around without its interchangeable lens, and transforms to become a pan-focus snapshot lens to capture images. The lens is so thin – just 9mm thick – that it can easily be mistaken for a camera-mount body cap. With three glass lens elements in three groups, it can be used as a wide-angle lens equivalent with a single focal length of 30mm (35mm camera equivalent). In addition to daily use as a “pan-focus” lens featuring a wide angle, fixed f8 aperture and shallow depth of field, it is compatible with manual focusing using a lever and capable of close-up shooting as close as 30 cm. A lens-protection barrier is provided so the lens can be mounted permanently on the camera and even put in a pocket together with the camera.

Coordinated Accessories to Enhance and Protect Your Camera

New Olympus PEN accessories provide sturdy protection for users to enjoy convenience, comfort and style wherever they go. The CS-38B is a genuine leather body jacket designed exclusively for the PEN that protects the camera body without detracting from its design. The body jacket's genuine leather and rugged construction combines casual with contemporary styling and is available in four colors.

The accessory MCG-3PR Camera Grip for the E-PL5 is available in three patterns – Dot, Hounds tooth Check, and Stripe – and makes it easy to accessorize with style. A matching LC-37PR Lens Cap, compatible with both new cameras, is available in the same three patterns and allows the E-PL5 user to have a color-coordinated combination.

The CBG-8 is a versatile camera bag that can be hung across the shoulder, carried by hand or used as a bag-in-bag. It has a detachable inner pocket, which is partitioned to enable storage of other items in addition to the camera and lenses, such as a smartphone, while the outer pocket is large enough to accommodate a tablet PC or A4-size file folders.

U.S. Pricing, Availability and Product Configurations

The Olympus PEN E-PL5 and the Olympus PEN E-PM2 will be available in October and ship with the Body, Flash FL-LM1, Li-ion battery BLS-5, Li-ion battery charger BCS-5, USB cable, AV cable, Shoulder strap, OLYMPUS Viewer 2 (CD-ROM), Instruction manual and Warranty card. The PEN E-PL5 will also ship with the MCG-4(Changeable Grip).

U.S. Pricing / Product Configurations
Olympus PEN E-PL5 Body Only Estimated Street Price: $649.99

Olympus PEN E-PL5 Body with MSC M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL ED m14-42mm II R f3.5/5.6 Zoom Lens
Estimated Street Price: $699.99

Olympus PEN E-PL5 (Available in silver, black and white). A complete list of specifications can be found at the Olympus website: http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/product.asp?product=1628&page=specs

Olympus PEN E-PM2 Body Only Estimated Street Price: $549.99

Olympus PEN E-PM2 Body with MSC M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED m14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Prime Zoom Lens
Estimated Street Price: $599.99

Olympus PEN E-PM2 (Available in silver, black, white and red). A complete list of specifications can be found at the Olympus website: http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/product.asp?product=1629&page=specs


OLYMPUS INTRODUCES THE NEW M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL ED 60MM F2.8 MACRO LENS FOR SHOOTING IN A WIDE RANGE OF CONDITIONS

60mm f2.8 Dust-and-Splash-Proof “Nature Macro Lens” Joined by a Limited Edition Black 12mm and the Future Release of a High-Quality 17mm Expand the Micro Four Thirds® Family

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., September 17, 2012 – Today, Olympus adds to the Micro Four Thirds family of lenses with the release of the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm* f2.8 Macro lens, a single focal-length macro lens with a dust-splash-proof body that’s ideal for harsh weather conditions. Also joining the expansive list of Olympus® lenses is a limited edition black version of the popular M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm f2.0 high-grade snapshot lens and an M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8 high-grade lens currently under development.

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f2.8 lens features excellent close-up capability with 1X**** magnification and a focusing distance of 19cm. Its dust-and-splash-proof construction enables the user to shoot macro images in a wide range of conditions, including in the rain or near the water, in addition to traditional landscape and portrait photography.

To ensure the best possible imaging quality, 13 lens elements are incorporated in 10 groups of lenses within the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f2.8 with extensive use of special glass materials such as ED (Extra-low Dispersion), HR (High Refractive index) and E-HR (Extra-High Refractive index) elements to completely eliminate the chromatic aberrations often noticeable with telephoto macro lenses. This optical design ensures consistently clear, sharp, high-contrast imaging performance.

Ideal for capturing brilliant still images and high-definition (HD) videos, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f2.8 employs an Olympus developed MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) autofocusing mechanism that features an inner focus system to drive quick and quiet focusing. A shooting distance and magnification indicator window enhance macro shooting control and precision.

A focus limit switch sets the focusing range to enable faster focusing. Three modes are available, including close-up (focusing distance between 19 and 40 cm), normal (focusing distance from 19 cm to infinity) and far view (focusing distance from 40 cm to infinity). The 1:1 mode shifts focusing to 1:1 with one-touch operation. Simply setting the mode according to the application makes it easy for users to shoot quickly and comfortably with various shooting styles and at a range of distances.

The optional LH-49 Lens Hood designed exclusively for the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f2.8 blocks harmful rays of light and can be safely stored without detaching it from the lens. The lens eliminates the hassle of attaching and detaching the hood before and after every shooting session, but also providing effective protection for the lens body. The FR-2 Macro Ring enables compatibility with the RF-11 Ring Flash and the STF-22 Twin Flash Set.

Limited Edition M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm f2.0 in Black

Olympus also proudly announces the release of a limited edition black version of the popular M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm f2.0 large-aperture, wide-angle, single-focal-length interchangeable lens. This high-speed lens offers outstanding imaging performance in an exceptionally compact design that is ideal for shooting dramatic landscapes and street scenes in low-light conditions.

It has a beautiful appearance and a snap ring that enables photographers to pan focus with a distance indicator. Its wide angle of 12mm (equivalent to 24mm on 35mm camera) delivers sharp, clear imaging capability throughout the frame, while fast, quiet autofocusing in both movie and still modes is made possible by the OlympusMSC (Movie & Still Compatible) mechanism, exclusive to Olympus.

Matching its superior performance, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm f2.0 lens features a classically elegant look with a finely textured black metallic outer finish. The new version will be sold in a kit that includes three lens accessories; the LH-48 Metallic Lens Hood (Black), the LC-48 Metallic Lens Cap (Black), and the PRF-D46PRO Protection Filter.

M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8 in Development

Olympus is also developing a new Micro Four Thirds System lens, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8. Optimized for snapshots or street shooting, this is a compact, bright, high-grade lens with large f1.8 aperture that features a high-quality metallic outer finish that exudes quality and outstanding craftsmanship, a snapshot focusing mechanism and a focal length equivalent to 34mm on a 35mm camera. Detailed product specifications and pricing will be available closer to its availability. Olympus plans to release the new lens in the first half of 2013.

U.S. Pricing and Availability

The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f2.8 Dust-and-Splash-Proof Macro lens will be available in early October with an estimated street price of $499.99.

The limited edition black Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm f2.0 lens will be available in early October with an estimated street price of $1,099.99.

For a complete list of specifications, visit the Olympus website.

Ben Keough 9714f09447eba36d48866d15ee9c62a0?s=48&d=mm
Ben is an experienced industry journalist, now managing news and features for Reviewed.com. Most recently hailing from the vast wilds of the American southwest, he is an avid photographer who is deeply disturbed by the lack of wide open landscapes in Boston.