Admittedly, I haven’t touched either the Olympus EPL-2 or XZ-1 at the time of writing this posting. However, they are two very exciting cameras that are bound to be hot on everyone’s list. Those of you that have been reading the site for a while know that I hated the EPL-1 (more than once) to the point of even refusing to link to it through Amazon and B&H because I wouldn’t tell anyone to buy it. It seems like Olympus has listened to what I clamored for originally, and threw in some amazing accessories as well. If not, it at least will make the decision between the two top dogs in this category a bit more difficult.
Editor’s Note: Olympus asked me to remove the charts and graphs from the earlier posting, and so this is my update.
Here are some graphs that I pulled from the presentation I was given before CES 2011. FYI: MSC means Movie and Stills compatible lens. And once again, we’re wishing that the LCD screen would be better, but you’ll see that the versatility and strengths of these little cameras more than supplement the flaws. Wireless flash control is also possible: which many of you know I love. The EPL-2 is 12.3MP and will be sold at $599.99 available in January 2011.
- 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;
- New 3” 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 to achieve the perfect result effortlessly;
- Art Filter Variations and Enhancements — choose from 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; and
- 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.
Art Filters from the E-5 brought to the PEN series (Dramatic Tone, Diorama and Pin Hole) with each filter having variations in strengt
XZ-1 Looks Powerful. Yes, it has a higher res screen than the EPL-2.
- Front (around the lens) and rear dials for control like the Canon S95.
- F/1.8-2.5 4x zoom
- TruePic V
- 1/1.63″ CCD Sensor
- 610K Dot 3″ OLED screen
- Dual IS
Any accessory that the EPL-2 can mount, the XZ-1 can as well. That means that the new MAL-1 macro ring light can be used with either model. For clarification, this isn’t supposed to be a ring flash: it provides continuous lighting so that you can view the results in real-time. As many macro shooters will know, using the LCD screen for macro shooting can be very helpful. Both arms extend up to 17cm.
Then there is the PenPAL, which connects to the camera and wirelessly transmits the images via Bluetooth. While I haven’t totally seen how this works, it surely is exciting technology and can aid greatly with the issue of wanting to share images instantly with a point-and-shoot and not being able to. Olympus states that it is, “A sleek communication unit for storing up to 2600 images and transferring them via wireless Bluetooth to other Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as a mobile phone, PC or even another PENPal-equipped camera. From there it’s easy to share them with friends in online communities or via e-mail.”
I do know that when the images are sent that they are compressed for the web: so there will be no RAW image transmission. And for guys like me that strive to get everything right the first time: that’s just fine.
Your other alternative is an Eye-Fi card, which we love.
The Dials! They’re Back!
Olympus brought back the dials of the other Pen cameras over to the EPL series. Additionally, the XZ-1 seems like a suped-up Canon S95 with both front and back dials plus a faster lens, pop-up flash and accessory port. The LX-5 may also have met it’s match with more accessories.
If Olympus’s menu is simple to navigate, then they’ll have a winner.
Fast Lenses and New Designs
F/1.8 on the XZ-1 and a more professional look to the EPL-2 will make these cameras the object of desire with many people: more on this in the next section.
The Need for a Family Camera
I’ve been recently advising loads of hobbyists, photographers, enthusiasts, etc. And I often hear from men that they need a camera that will give them versatility but that they’ll be able to put into Auto, hand off to their wives so they can use it, and then let the kids use it too.
These are those cameras. They will have loads of power, interchangeable lenses (if you want them) and loads of accessories for different needs. Want a better photo than what your phone can give you? Snap it with the camera and then transmit it to the phone and share it. Want to shoot better flowers? There is an accessory for that. Want to get into small studio shooting? There is wireless flash control.
These two cameras have so much potential right now and though I may sound a bit like a fanboy as I did with the Pentax K-5 and K-r, my hat goes off to Olympus and hope that something doesn’t screw this up for them.
Thoughts? Am I just a crazy fan boy that used to use Olympus? Let us know in the comments below.
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