Olympus Shows Off Two New Advanced Compact Cameras at CES Including Model with F/1.8 Lens

January 6, 2011

Olympus released two compact advanced cameras at CES in Las Vegas late last night. For starters, there is the 12.3-megapixel Olympus PEN E-PL2 ($599), the fourth generation camera in Olympus’ PEN rangefinder-style, interchangeable lens cameras which use the Micro Four Thirds imaging sensor.

(Editor’s note: Olympus was supposed to ship PDN an E-PL2 to test out before last night’s launch but as of this writing, the camera had not arrived. Look for a test of the camera — hopefully — in an upcoming issue.)

More intriguing than the E-PL2, perhaps, is the new 10MP Olympus XZ-1, a compact camera with an f/1.8 lens that’s designed to compete with the new wave of advanced cameras with fast lenses including the Panasonic LUMIX LX5, Samsung TL500, Nikon P7000, and Canon S95 and G12. The XZ-1, which was shown in prototype at the photokina show in Germany last year, will sell for $499.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key features on both new cameras.

New features on the E-PL2 include:

    •    A new Movie & Still Compatible (MSC) ED m14-42mm f3.5/5.6 zoom lens (28mm-84mm equivalent) featuring a high-speed, silent autofocus during still shooting and high definition (HD) video capture;
    •    New 3-inch  460,000 dot LCD – for bright and easy image composition;
    •    Live Guide II – preview HD video and still image effects on the E-PL2’s high-resolution LCD screen;
    •    Art Filter Variations and Enhancements – choose from different art filter looks to create something new, now with full manual control;
    •    ISO 6400 – take low-light photos with the camera’s increased ISO sensitivity;
    •    New Ergonomic Body Design – shoot stills and videos with a more ergonomic grip and updated button placement and functionality for ease of use; and
    •    Face Detection with iDetect – a new function that makes it easier to capture the spirit of your subject, automatically making a person’s eye the focus point of the image. The E-PL2 further reduces the chance of blurred subjects in images by recognizing up to eight faces, tracking them within the image area, and automatically focusing and optimizing exposure for sharp portraits.

Features on the XZ-1 include:

    •    Full manual controls in a slim, stylish pocket-sized camera;
    •    Range of new features together with 10-megapixel CCD sensor with the TruePic V Image Processor;
    •    iZUIKO f1.8-2.5 6.0-24mm lens for improved shooting in low-light scenarios, enhancing image clarity and drastically reducing grain. Also featuring Dual Image Stabilization and an AF Illuminator to maximize performance in low-light settings; and
    •    The XZ-1 offers six Art Filters, each of which uses different settings to create photographic effects that would otherwise require additional lenses, filters or complex editing. Additionally, the Live Guide on-screen setting offers quick tips for shooting different subjects (kids, pets and flowers, for example) assists the photographer with some of the more complex in-camera settings (aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation, for instance).

For more details on both cameras, see the full press release for the Olympus PEN E-PL2 here and the release for the Olympus XZ-1 here.