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Olympus Unveils Digital "PEN" Series with E-P1
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posted on Jun 26, 2009 at 9:44PM

Olympus Unveils Digital "PEN" Series with E-P1

By Emily Raymond
  • 4.75 x 2.75 x 1.43-inch Frame
  • In-camera image stabilization
  • HD video mode (1280 x 720 at 30 fps)
  • 3-inch LCD screen
  • 3 fps burst speed
  • $749 (body only)



On June 16, Olympus unveiled a new category of camera. It is neither a point-and-shoot nor a digital single lens reflex. Reviving the “PEN” series, Olympus is calling its newest digital creation the E-P1. This 12.3-megapixel camera has the same Four Thirds sensor as its E-30 and E-620 DSLR siblings, but the body of the E-P1 is less than an inch-and-a-half thick.


The Olympus E-P1 is the company’s first micro Four Thirds digital camera. Panasonic has two models under the micro Four Thirds standard–the G1 and GH1–but the Olympus E-P1 is the most compact of the bunch with its measurements of 4.75 x 2.75 x 1.43 inches. In addition to its compactness, the Olympus distinguishes itself with a retro look reminiscent of previous PEN cameras.


To achieve the miniscule size, Olympus has eliminated the mirror box and optical viewfinder and shrunk the diameter of the lens mount. Without a viewfinder, the E-P1 relies completely on the Live View from its 3-inch LCD screen. The camera’s lens mount is considerably smaller than standard Four Thirds mounts. New micro Four Thirds lenses are smaller and lighter, but standard Four Thirds lenses can fit on the E-P1 with the use of an optional adapter.


Despite its small size, the E-P1 packs in many of the same features as its DSLR siblings. It has full manual control, dust reduction, in-camera image stabilization, an HD video mode that records 1280 x 720-pixel movies at 30 frames per second, a high-quality voice recorder, 3 fps burst shooting, multiple-exposure capability, and even a digital leveler. To appeal to point-and-shooters, it also has 19 scene modes and 6 imaging effects such as “pin hole” and “pop art.” It also features face detection and an ePortrait mode that smooths over blemishes on faces, handy for HD playback.


The Olympus E-P1 goes on sale in July for $749 for the body only, and $799 when a 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital lens is included. Add an ED 17mm f/2.8 lens and an optical viewfinder, and the package price goes up to $899. The camera comes in silver and white.


The Olympus E-P1 is the most recent and hippest incarnation of the company’s “PEN” series of cameras, which celebrated its golden anniversary this year. The first PEN camera was introduced in 1959 as an affordable and compact option for consumers. Olympus brings this concept into the digital era, claiming that the new E-P1 has “the photographic optics of an SLR and the size and simplicity of a point-and-shoot.”


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