[CES 2011] There have been rumors lately regarding the new PEN E-PL2, a compact interchangeable lens camera from Olympus, so I was eager to get my hands on it and I was even more curious about its unique “Medusa-like” accessory. The good looking 12.3 megapixel digital camera features a f3.5/5.6 28mm-84 mm (equivalent) MSC lens with a high speed and silent autofocus, which is great when you shoot video. Additionally, the Micro Four Thirds Olympus flagship offers 720p video capture, good performance in low light with an increased ISO sensitivity (6400), access to the user friendly GUI in photo and video mode, the addition of two new Art filters and an improved face and eye detection feature (iDetect).
Interesting optional accessories can be purchased to enhance the photo creation experience:
The Macro Arm Light (MAL-1) is constituted of two bright LED lights placed at the extremity of two flexible metal arms that can be extended up to 17 cm. The MAL-1 is mounted on the hot shoe and powered by the E-PL2 to provide lighting for macro shots or close up of small items. (see picture above)
The PENPal is a Bluetooth enabled device mounted on the E-PL2 (picture above) holding up to 2600 photos (2GB) and able to transfer them wirelessly to other Bluetooth enabled devices such as smartphones (BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone 7) or other PENPal-equipped cameras. I got a demo from Sally Smith Clemens, Product Manager, Olympus, and I was surprised to see that the transfer was done pretty fast. (see picture below, the image has just been sent to the smartphone via PENpal) – Price: about $80
The Olympus E-PL2 Kit will be available in January 2011 for $599.99. It includes the E-PL2 Body, M. ZUIKO MSC DIGITAL ED m14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zoom, USB Cable, Video Cable, Li-Ion Battery Pack (BLS-5), Li-Ion Battery Charger (BCS-1), Shoulder Strap, OLYMPUS [ib] software CD-ROM, Manuals and Registration card.
Features include (from the press release):
MSC Lens – the new Movie & Still Compatible (MSC) ED m14-42mm f3.5/5.6 zoom lens (28mm-84mm equivalent) features a high-speed, silent autofocus during still shooting and high definition (HD) video capture;
Sensor: high-performance 12.3-megapixel Live MOS Sensor (eight times larger than the average point-and-shoot camera sensor
New 3” 460,000 dot LCD – for bright and easy image composition;
Video recording HD 720p aspect 16:9,SD VGA aspect 4:3 , format AVI Motion JPEG -30fps
HDMI output (no cable)
Live Guide II – preview HD video and still image effects directly on the E-PL2’s high-resolution LCD screen
Art Filter Variations and Enhancements — choose from 6 different art filter looks to expand your creative horizons or overlay different art filters to create something new, now with full manual control;
ISO 6400 – take great low-light photos with the camera’s increased ISO sensitivity;
New Ergonomic Body Design – shoot stills and videos comfortably with a more ergonomic grip and updated button placement and functionality for ease of use
Face Detection with iDetect – an amazing new function 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.
Lenses available (to be purchased separately):
ED m17mm f2.8 lens (34mm equivalent), the super wide-angle zoom ED m9-18mm f4.0-5.6 lens (18-36mm equivalent), the high-power wide to telephoto zoom ED m14-150mm f4.0-5.6 lens (28-300mm equivalent), the wide zoom ED m40-150mm F4.0-5.6, or the super telephoto ED m75-300mm f4.8-5.6 (35mm equivalent 150–600mm).
Additionally, the MMF-2 Four Thirds System Lens Adapter makes the E-PL2 compatible with all Olympus Zuiko Digital Specific lenses and other Four Thirds System lenses from Sigma, Panasonic and Leica. Olympus OM film-based lenses can be attached to the E-PL2 with the MF-2 OM Lens Adapter, and third-party adapters have been developed for lenses from most other manufacturers.