With doors at Photokina opening to the press this morning, Olympus unveiled its intention today to develop two new interchangeable lens cameras, including the company's first offering taking advantage of the jointly developed Micro Four Thirds standard.
In addition to a forthcoming Micro Four Thirds product from the company, Olympus provided a few technical details concerning a new advanced amateur model on track to join the company's E-system DSLRs early next year.
New mid-tier E camera in early 2009
The bulk of today's announcement addresses the launch of a new E model designed to bridge the gap between Olympus's consumer and professional DSLRs and grab a share of the growing advanced amateur/semi-pro segment.
As it currently stands, a considerable technological and functional gap exists between the consumer-grade E-520 and the professional E-3 in Olympus's lineup. Per the announcement this morning, the idea will be to offer a new mid-tier Four Thirds system camera marketed to advanced shooters seeking a camera with more creative control and an interface and feature set tailored to shooters already familiar with SLRs.
Technical details on the new product concept are predictably slim, though Olympus did provide a few key pieces of information. Most notably, the new model will inherit the E-3's high-speed, 11-point AF system. In-body image stabilization from the professional model will make its way down as well, as will a 1/8000 top shutter speed, an articulating LCD, the E-3's Dust Reduction technology and some measure of weatherproofing, and a live view system with a contrast detection AF option that Olympus is billing as "high speed."
The new concept E camera has yet to be named, and pricing is still up in the air as well (though given current street prices for the models that bookend this one, something in the $1000 to $1200 seems like a reasonable guess). Per Olympus, an official launch will be coming in Q1 2009.
In the meantime, the company will be showing prototypes of the new camera under glass during the show. We'll provide a follow-up to this announcement with more information and actual concept photos as available.
Olympus presents concept for Micro Four Thirds product
Olympus has been relatively quiet about product details falling out from the Micro Four Thirds partnership with Panasonic. In addition to a preview of Olympus's latest Four Thirds system camera, however, the manufacturer will also be presenting mock-ups of a soon-to-be-released model in the Micro Four Thirds system.
At this point, Olympus is not ready to officially discuss technical specifications, release dates, or pricing for the new product. As with the new E camera, we may be able to provide some informed speculation about where Olympus is heading after seeing the the displayed concept camera.
UPDATE: Olympus has shown off under-glass demo versions of both of these concepts. Read the full story here.
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