Photokina 2012 Recap: Taking Olympus’ Latest PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2 Cameras for a Test Drive

September 26, 2012

By Bob Rose

Claiming to offer the worlds fastest touch autofocus (AF) shutter, Olympus announced two new PEN compact system cameras at photokina last week: the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and PEN E-PM2.

Utilizing the same 16.1-megapixel High-Speed Live MOS Sensor and new TruePic VI image processing engine found in the larger flagship Olympus OM-D E-M5 body, the company promises to have full size Micro 4/3 performance in a compact package.

Due this fall, the E-PL5 and E-PM2 are priced at $699.99 and $599.99, respectively, and include a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens.

Mighty PENs?
Unlike earlier models, these new PENs not only feel good in your hands, their controls have been better placed so that the average user can reach the right buttons (and not touch the wrong ones as accidentally as before).

In addition, a single button “Live Guide” function allows a more graphic control and function navigation by accessing and swiping across the 3-inch, 460K dot high-definition LCD screen with Anti-Finger Print coating.

The Touch Release with Fast Autofocus provides a very clever way to point and set focus on a subject (including one in motion) while simultaneously firing the shutter. Even in the dim light of the trade show floor, I was able to touch the screen and watch the camera in a fraction of a second snap into focus and then take the shot.

Both cameras share the same quality imaging engine and should deliver full HD movies, as well as still images with vivid color and wide dynamic range. In-camera image stabilization means that you’ll get more sharp images with any of the extensive range of available lenses, and 12 “Art Filters” (on the PL5) let you express your creativity lending special effects.

The PL5 also allows you to tilt the rear mounted 3-inch LCD down 65 degrees for high-angle work, up 90 degrees for low angle shooting, and rotate 170 degrees for easy to frame self-portraits. It also has an interchangeable grip that allows further personalization and customization by choosing from other optional grips.

New Lenses
One feature that was unavailable to try at the show is the Olympus Image Share application. It links both iPhone and Android smart phones to a bundled Toshiba FlashAir SDHC memory card, so you can upload pictures to your favorite social network or store them somewhere in the cloud.

Olympus was also showing a few new and very cool lenses. A limited edition black Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm f/2.0 lens will be available in early October with an estimated street price of $1,099.99.

And an M.Zuiko Digital 60mm f/2.8 Macro should be shipping even sooner at a street price of $499.99. This lens is slightly longer than a normal lens but the design allows full internal focusing all the way from infinity to 1:1 live-size. Two macro flash systems complete the package for any serious macro photographer.

I also got to play with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 17mm f/1.8 which is due sometime in early 2013. But I’ve saved the best for last: a 15mm f/8 lens which serves dual purpose as a Body Cap and a lens.

The Body Cap Lens is just 9mm thick and turns any Micro 4/3 camera into a super compact pan-focus snapshot camera. Manual focus and close focus are possible and a lens-protection barrier is provided so the lens can be mounted permanently on the camera.

US pricing wasn’t confirmed but we were told to expect it to come in well below a street price of $100.

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