Olympus E-P1: Micro Four Thirds Compact Digital Camera

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Engadget: It seems Olympus has a winner in the E-P1, a Micro Four Thirds system-based compact digital camera that brings DSLR-like picture quality and flexibility into a compact digital camera body. The E-P1 might be a game changer and will target enthusiasts that want more from a compact camera but don’t want to carry around large and heavy DLSRs. The E-P1 can potentially replace that bulky DSLR for good. Potentially.

Sounds a bit high to me after Akira Watanabe stated that 12 megapixels are enough. Hopefully more pixels in this case does not mean less quality. The E-P1 can output all those pixels in RAW. 720p (1280 x 720) video can be captured too. Hopefully at 30fps. Storage is via SD. Update: The total pixel count on the Live MOS sensor is 13.1 megapixels with an effective 12.3 megapixels.

There seems to be two lenses currently available: 17mm Æ’2.8 prime lens and a new 14-42mm (28-84mm equivalent) Æ’3.5-5.6 zoom. There is also an optical viewfinder. Not much is known about the LCD that is used. The prime lens is fast but let’s see something faster, around Æ’1.8. Zoom? I’ll need to see longer ranges and faster ones for Olympus to convince me the E-P1 has got the chops. Image stabilization (electronic or optical) would be nice too. Update: The E-P1 has 3-inch LCD and in-body image stabilization.

To get me to open up my wallet the E-P1 will need to work really well in low-light environments (ISO800 with no grain, the E-P1 can get up to 6400) with near-instant shutter response. Olympus is scheduled to announce the E-P1 tomorrow with an expected ship date of July for about US$900. Update: Prices will be US$749 for body only; US$799 with the 14-42mm; and US$899 with the 17mm and viewfinder.

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