Halfway to NoWhere

Ranting and Complaints of Life in Taiwan

E-5 Press Conference in Taiwan

My first encounter with Olympus cameras took place during a wild bird photography exhibition at a local department store a few years back. At that time, I was only an amateur photographer who is still trying to figure out the controls on my Canon 40D.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the exhibition was the “moment” captured through the camera – a bird leaping into the air, a seagull landing into the water, and such. While I was trying to figure out what settings the photographers use to freeze the moment, a helpful staff asked me if I wanted to try out the camera the photographers use (most likely because there were no other people around at the moment).

So there I was, standing behind the E3 mounted with a super-tele that’s long enough to see the other end of the exhibition hall. This was the first time I have a chance to try out a super-tele lens with a fast AF camera, and I was IMPRESSED!

It wasn’t later I had a chance to speak with the OLYMPUS people at the scene to learn about the camera. Indeed, I have always been fascinated with a camera that endures harsh environment, thanks to the experience from shooting a parade during heavy rain which nearly destroyed my camera. Again, the rep (and other photographers who owned the camera I talked to) agree that it’s one of the few bodies that needed no rain cover to perform in a downpour.

However, the E-3 is quite a dated machine (by DSLR standards) and people are looking for a replacement. As expected, Olympus released the successor in time for Photokina, and Taiwan is one of the lucky places to have a press event where we actually get to see a working model really fast.

As far as I know, there are quite a number of complaints from the Internet audience about the specs of the new body. While some people decried it for being a E-3 “s”, others went even further and called it a “Pen camera with a E-3 casing.”

Indeed, from the spec listing alone, it’s quite hard to call the long-awaited revelation a “great leap forward.” Granted, you get the improvement in mega pixels, ISO, and video capability; however, the 5 FPS and 11 cross hair AF points hardly set any record, and the addition of art filters is something one can hardly relate with flagship models – though the Japanese rep at the event claimed the feature was implemented due to widespread request from pro users.

While the articulating screen adds a lot more flexibility to accessing impossible angles, it is not something that pro-level users would think of as a priority feature – yeah, it’s nice to have, but something that many can do without.

Again, I tend to agree that the machine would be more appealing if they call it E-3s and make it more affordable. The listed price of USD 1,699 would be a little too high, especially since rival bodies (7D, D300s, etc.) are already dropping in price.

But seriously, I think most people are concerned about whether this baby will be the last of the E-series, since obviously PEN and MFT (micro-four-third) lenses receives the major cut of Olympus’ R&D funding. Even the Japanese rep acknowledged that it “got the greater share”. Therefore, rumors that E-5 will be the last of a great lineage are quite rampant.

There are also speculations that Olympus will be announcing a high-end model of the PEN soon – either this year or early next year. Perhaps a better decision would be to wait and see… it might end up to be a choice between body size vs. weather sealing.

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September 22, 2010 - Posted by | etc.

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