Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 and PEN Mini E-PM2 Close Up

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Only reporters were granted access to Photokina a day prior to the official fair opening, in order to witness premiers of new digital cameras by several great manufacturers who have decided to reveal their aces at the last minute. These included Olympus, who presented two new mirrorless PEN devices.

Introduced as the PEN Lite E-PL5 and PEN Mini E-PM2, these cameras are successors to models that were brought out last year. Several big major specifications sum up these two products – they were given a 16 megapixel Micro-Four Thirds sensor from the Olympus OM-D flagship, as well as the same device’s processor, which is evident after taking only a few photos.

In the beginning, users mostly objected to PEN’s sluggishness while focusing, bracketing and storing of photographs. When it comes to the third series (presented a year ago), these shortcomings were removed for the most part. The models launched today are approximately 50 percent faster than the third series and users should have nothing to object to.

Both devices have been given a capacitive touchscreen which facilitates using options that will speed up users’ workflow (e.g. by selecting one of 12 art filters on the screen) while the bigger model’s display (PEN Lite E-PL5) can be flipped out. This enables taking images while holding it below the waist, above the head, even for creating self-portraits. The touchscreen is by far the most useful novelty on the display, especially since we’re used to touching such small screens in order to operate them. 

While both models are lighter and smaller than their predecessors, however, the PEN Mini E-PM2 really is a great deal more compact than the “bigger” camera, also presented Monday.

This could be an interesting device to those who do not find the option of flipping out the display an important feature, especially since it’s cheaper. Still, its miniature nature might be considered a flaw, given that it does not seem the least bit natural when held in hand with its somewhat more massive lenses.

Both of these new PEN models also follow this year’s Photokina big trend – connectivity. Thus, they come with Flash Air microSD card support, which is Toshiba’s technology for transferring images to mobile devices. With the new microSD, PEN cameras become Wi-Fi routers and, after installing a free application to smartphones and tablets with Android OS and iOS, the photographs can instantaneously be transferred to these mobile devices. Of course, this means you can post them on Facebook, Instagram, send them in an email or any other option which is a market must for digital cameras today.

In practice, this operates immaculately, but it is logical to raise a question: why hasn’t Flash Air been built irrelevant of the microSD card on the motherboard? It’s clear that additionally purchasing such a microSD card lowers the basic price of these cameras, thus users who do not want this option will cut a few corners. However, the fact is that there are quite a few exhibitors at this year’s Photokina who offer connectivity by default.

To sum up, the new PEN models represent a serious upgrade over last year’s Olympus cameras, both practically and technically.

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