This is not exactly news, but I must say that the release of Olympus E-P2 in a matter of a few short months since its widely popular E-P1 really surprised me.
I think the E-P1 sets a milestone in the development of the M43 (Micro four-third) system, leading to new models by Panasonic’s GF-1 and probably more new cameras in the year ahead. There are also rumors that new players may be entering the game, including big names such as Sony and Fujifilm.
One definite impact we are beginning to see is the number of women buying the camera. The reduction in size of this camera compared to standard DSLRs is one reason why so a growing number of ladies are considering purchasing this slick camera over, say, Canon 500 D or Nikon D5000. First week sales figure in the Japanese market puts it right behind first place 500D.
Readers can look back to an article I posted in June about a press conference for the E-P1. The E-P1 has the retro-look of the original Olympus Pen series combined with the advantages of changing lens and smaller size than the DSLR by removing the reflector.
However, E-P1 was not without its disadvantages. Being the first attempt by Olympus in the M43 field, the size of the body makes it an awkward partner for current four-third system lens for the bigger DSLR bodies. The lack of both a view finder and a flash on the camera body is also an issue. Even though the two are available as options, you can only install one on the hotshoe at a time. So if you have a flash, you can only use the LCD to take pictures (which mean woe to battery life).
In addition, many users reported that the Auto-focus system of the E-P1 is a bit slow (I tried out one of them during the press conference, and that was my impression too).
So within a few months, we see the release of the E-P2. Perhaps this is the company’s attempt to answer some of the complaints with the E-P1.
For specs, we see:
> a buffed-up AF system
> two more art filters
> 12.3 megapixal sensor
> a detachable viewfinder that bends 90-degree for low angle shots
… and other stuff.
Click here to see the Olympus America news release on E-P.
Unfortunately, there’s still the question of an onboard flash that’s left unanswered. Design problems? Bait for the real E-P1 successor sometimes next year? That’s for you to decide. Meanwhile, the Panasonic GF-1 does come with an internal flash (though I think the handling and the looks of GF-1 is not that great). Of course, nobody hates it more when they announce that the white/brown model is limited to Japan, while everyone else gets the black body.
In conclusion, I think it’s better to wait to see what games the E-P2 is playing here. There might be more response from Panasonic (yeah! more Leica-quality lens!), not to mention there may be more new m43 competitors in 2010.
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