Olympus round-up: New PEN DSLR and Stylus Tough cameras
By Alan Brandon
February 14, 2010
Olympus is starting 2010 with a herd of first-quarter camera releases including a new PEN DSLR, the E-PL1, and two new Stylus Tough models, the 8010 and the 6020. All three models feature one-button HD video capability and image stabilization, plus additional tweaks and features. In addition, Olympus has also announced optional underwater cases for each of the cameras.
PEN E-PL1E-P1 and E-P2 cameras released in 2009. The E-PL1 is meant to be the entry-level model in the series, in the sense that it is intended for point-and-shoot photographers who are looking to move up, but who may be unfamiliar with traditional DSLR features and controls. Like its siblings the E-PL1 features interchangeable lenses, a 12MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, and a compact chassis. The E-PL1 also boasts a new Live Guide user interface, a built-in flash, and a dedicated movie button for shooting HD video.
The new Live Guide screen interface is designed to make it easier for point-and-shoot photographers to control the camera settings. Using the up and down arrows on the back of the E-PL1, you can cycle through photographic adjustments for color, exposure, and sharpness to get the look you want. There’s no need to learn technical settings such as f-stops, shutter sped, or white balance. Live Guide lets you see the results before you take the shot so you get the image you want. Live Guide also includes on-screen shooting tips so you don’t need the camera’s manual.
Olympus makes it easy to switch between still photo and video shooting modes on the E-PL1 by providing a direct video record button on the back of the camera body. There is no need to navigate a menu or change a mode dial, simply press the record button to instantly start shooting 720p HD video. To switch back to still picture shooting, just press the shutter button. You can easily switch back and forth between modes using you index finger and your thumb.
The E-PL1 is the first model in the Olympus PEN series to feature a built-in pop-up flash. The camera is also compatible with a range of optional external flashes, including the Olympus FL-36R and FL-50R, which can be controlled wirelessly by the E-PL1 for pro-type strobe lighting capabilities.
The new PEN also offers the ease-of-use features found in the rest of the line such as the i-ENHANCE mode for taking pictures with excellent clarity, and Art Filters including a new Gentle Sepia filter that can be applied to movies as well as still-images.
Like its predecessors, the Olympus PEN E-PL1 is equipped with an accessory port that can be used to attach the high-definition VF-2 Live Viewfinder or the SEMA-1 Stereo Microphone Set.
As a Micro Four Thirds camera, the E-PL1 packs a 4/3in. (3.4cm), 12.3MP sensor, plus the Olympus TruePic V image processing engine as well as in-body, multi-mode dual image stabilization.
New Stylus Tough models
In addition to the E-PL1, Olympus also unveiled new models in its Stylus Tough line of rugged point-and-shoot cameras. Joining the previously announced Stylus Tough 3000 are the Stylus Tough-8010 and Stylus Tough-6020. Like the other models in the rugged Tough line, Olympus claims the 8010 and 6020 are shockproof, waterproof, crushproof, and freezeproof. Both cameras feature a 14MP image sensor, one-touch 720p HD video recording, and a powerful 5x wide-angle optical zoom lens (equivalent to 28-140mm in 35mm photography).
The difference between the two models is that the Tough-8010 can withstand a 6.6ft (2m) drop and the Tough-6020 can survive a 5ft (1.5m) drop thanks to the Stylus Tough series’ shock-absorbing technology, which minimizes the impact on the lens and circuitry. The Tough-8010 can also withstand 220 pounds of crushing pressure.
Because the Toughs are meant for action photography under extreme conditions, they include dual image stabilization, and AF Tracking technology that locks your subject in focus and continuously adjusts the focus and brightness whether you or your subject is moving. The 8010 and 6020 also include the Olympus “Pet Mode” feature which automatically tracks your extreme pet.
The Tough-8010 and Tough-6020 both offer Tap Control capability in which you can control camera features by tapping the top, back, or sides of the camera body. This feature allows you to use the camera even with gloves on.
Underwater housingsIf you’re looking to take your PEN E-PL1, Stylus Tough-8010, or Stylus Tough-6020 on a more extreme adventure, Olympus also announced two new underwater camera housings for these new models.
The PT-EP01 underwater housing is designed for the E-PL1. Olympus says it is the world's first underwater housing created for a Micro Four Thirds camera. The housing holds an E-PL1 equipped with a 14-42mm or 9-18mm lens, and is able to withstand depths of up to 130ft (40m). Olympus claims the housing is lighter and more compact than units for conventional SLR cameras, weighing in at about 2.4lbs (1.1kg) and measuring 7.1 x 6.1 x 6.5in. (17.9 x 15.6 x 16.6cm).
The PT-EP01 lets you take advantage of the PEN E-PL1’s underwater macro and underwater wide scene modes, which Olympus says compensate for underwater conditions to produce clear, vivid colors. The unit also supports the Olympus UFL-2 dedicated underwater flash using the company’s wireless remote control flash system.
Although the Stylus Tough-8010 is waterproof to 33ft (10.1m) under water, and the Stylus Tough-6020 is waterproof to 16ft (4.9m), Olympus has announced the PT-048 waterproof housing for those photographers who want to take these cameras even deeper. The housing is designed specifically for the 8010 and 6020, and is waterproof down to a depth of 130ft (40m). The PT-048 provides full control of camera functions, and both Tough models feature underwater shooting modes.
AvailabilityThe Olympus PEN E-PL1 will be available in March for US$599.99, including the camera body with a 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 zoom lens.
The Stylus Tough-8010 and Stylus Tough-6020 are available now for US$399.99 and US$299.99 respectively.
For more information visit getolympus.com.