Olympus Releases PEN E-P5, PEN Lite E-PL6

Olympus E-P5 with M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm f/3.5-4.5 Lens
Olympus E-P5 with M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm f/3.5-4.5 Lens

After weeks of rumours, Olympus finally launches the much anticipated PEN E-P5. Continuing from their highly successful PEN series of Micro Four Thirds cameras, the E-P5 maintains the retro styling that has now become very popular with camera manufacturers.

The E-P5 is modelled after the 50-year old Olympus PEN F SLR, and the E-P5 is launched to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the legendary ancestor. Like the OM-D E-M5 launched last year, the E-P5 has the same high-end technologies including the same 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, AF system, 5-axis image stabilisation and more. It also has a mechanical shutter capable of speeds up to 1/8000th of a second – the world’s first on a digital compact camera – according to Olympus. This allows photographers to achieve shallow depth of field in bright daylight conditions or when the situation calls for super high shutter speeds.

For photographers who would like to use manual lenses, the E-P5 features focus peaking, highlighting the in-focus areas in either white or black pixels. Like many recent cameras, the E-P5 now has WiFi connectivity built-in. Using the Olympus Image Share 2.0 app, you can use your smartphone as an external display, remote or GPS for the camera.

YS: Ugh, focus peaking! This brings to me one point:The E-P5 (and the G6) are both very nice cameras, and unfortunately, they both carry the problem of having features that the higher-end (and only slightly older – the GH3 is not evey half a year old) model should have but doesn’t. This is a real marketing problem when aiming at enthusiasts – no one likes having to decide between two cameras that are supposedly one bracket apart, but the higher-end model is lacking desirable features the lower-end one does. The consumers deciding on buying such a camera normally freeze up and don’t buy. I have seen this happen enough, so Olympus and Panasonic need to be careful of the message they send out to prospective buyers in this rather small market (DSLR shipments still dwarf that of mirrorless system cameras).

CK: In other news, Olympus also launched the PEN Lite E-PL6 in Japan. This is an update to the E-PL5, adding several features that are on the newly released E-P5 including a shorter shutter lag, intervalometer and time-lapse shooting. It’s also compatible with the VF-4 viewfinder and how feature a dual-axis electronic level.

Like the EP-5, the E-PL6 also has the same 16-megapixel CMOS sensor as the flagship OM-D E-M5, bringing the high quality imaging system to a more mass market level. It also features WiFi connectivity so that you can view or control the camera via the Olympus Image Share app on your smartphone.

Photographers (like YS) who like to complain about the relatively large AF area of the E-M5 will be happy to know that both cameras now have smaller AF areas via the Super Spot AF feature. This allows you to more accurately focus on even extremely small subjects.

YS: This better be present on the E-M6.

CK: The PEN E-P5 will be available in May 2013 for US$999.99 (body only) or US$1,499.99 (with M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f/1.8 lens and VF-4 electronic viewfinder). The E-PL6 will be available from end of June 2013.

(Image Credit: Olympus Press Images)

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