Olympus has completely refreshed its PEN range of interchangeable lens cameras with three new models aimed at different areas of the market.
Olympus introduced its first Micro Four Thirds camera in the shape of the Pen E-P1 in 2009 and within six months announced its successor, the E-P2. Since then it has introduced the E-PL1, a PEN Lite which really impressed us when we looked at it last year. The new refresh however introduces three new models: the high-end PEN E-P3 (to be known simply as the PEN); the mid-range Pen E-PL3 (known as the PEN Lite) and finally the PEN E-PM3 (known as the PEN Mini).
All three continue to use the 12.3 megapixel Live MOS sensor seen in previous models. Image processing is done by a TruePic VI processor and all three have an ISO sensitivity of up to 12,800. The autofocus system has been rejigged on the new models and they now have a 1080i HD video mode, newly designed user interfaces and a variety of Art Filters.
The high-end PEN E-P3 model comes in an all metal body and claims to have the “fastest auto-focus of any camera with interchangeable lenses.” It also has a 3in OLED touchscreen at the rear with 610,000 dot resolution. There is also an interchangeable, removable grip available in two sizes. It can capture 3D still images and is compatible with SDXC and Eye-Fi cards. The PEN E-P3 will be available from August.
Next up is the mid-range E-PL3 (PEN Lite) which, according to Olympus, is designed “for people looking to express themselves with state-of-the-art technology in an easy-to-use package.” The PEN Lite, which has a brushed aluminum finish, has a tiltable LCD screen at the rear and will be available in black, red or silver. Like the other models, the Pen Lite features Live Guide, Olympus’ proprietary menu system which aims to make taking great pictures as easy as possible. The PEN Lite will be available from late summer.
The final camera in the new range is the PEN E-PM3 (or PEN Mini), which is the “world’s smallest and lightest system camera with interchangeable lenses,” according to Olympus – though Sony’s NEX-C3 could have something to say about that. The PEN Mini is aimed at snappers who want DSLR quality pictures in a compact body and, like so many compact cameras, it will come in a range of colours including: black, white, silver, dark brown, purple and silver rose. The PEN Mini will be available from early autumn.
As regards pricing, Olympus has only announced details of the PEN E-P3 which will cost £799 including a kit lens, though it will be available body-only too.
Also announced today are two new M.ZUIKO prime lenses: a 12mm (effective 24mm) f/2.0 high-grade lens with an all-metal barrel and featuring a snap focus ring mechanism to switch between manual and auto focus and a 45mm (effective) f/1.8 portrait lens. The former will be aimed at the high-end of the market costing £500 while the latter will be more budget-friendly at £300.