Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Olympus Product Announcements: OM-D E-M10, 14-42mm Pancake Zoom Lens, 25mm F1.8 Prime Lens and Fisheye Body Cap Lens

Moving into the mirrorless interchangeable lens system world, Olympus has poured dedication into advancing the Micro Four Thirds camera and lenses. The highly successful Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the multiple award winning OM-D E-M1 have made it clear that generally the crowd still leans positively toward DSLR-styled camera with a good viewfinder and ergonomics (not being too small, and still handling well in hand). We know well that the E-M5 was a mid-range enthusiast camera, and the E-M1 was targetted towards professional and serious enthusiasts. Therefore, today Olympus announced a new OM-D camera, the OM-D E-M10 which is slotted into the "premium compact" category. To accompany the OM-D E-M10, there are several new lenses announced together, namely the new M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ Pancake Zoom, the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 prime lens (FINALLY!!!) and a new body cap lens, which is also a Fisheye 9mm F8. 

In this blog entry I shall be writing a brief introduction to these new products, as well as my first impression and quick thoughts. A more thorough review will follow very, very soon. 

Let's take a look at each of the products.

OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10





The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is categorized as a "premium compact" camera. First and foremost, it is designed and constructed to be very small and light, a product trend and design philosophy which have worked successfully for many high-selling products (think about I-Pod Nano, Ultrabooks, Mini-Tablets, Macbook Air, etc). The OM-D design philosophy challenges the norm of traditional DSLR, why does a camera have to be huge, bulky, black, plastic-ky and in all honesty, ugly? Why can't we have a camera that does everything that a camera is supposed to do, and more, looking stylishly stunning, small and lightweight and more importantly, not feel cheap like any other conventional DSLR?

The E-M10 was a beauty to behold. It was very similar to E-M5, I must admit, after all it is still sharing the same design philosophy. The E-M10 is noticeably smaller (though not by a huge margin) and lighter. The E-M10 also feels very compact and solid in hand. Every part of the camera was very well designed, every curve, smoothed rounded edges and the leather-like grip texture on the body. The camera body was actually metal, not plastic and holding it gave me that reassuring and confident feeling. 

Although this OM-D E-M10 is a premium compact camera, it still packs in quite respectable amount of great features. The following is the highlight of some features:

1) 16MP LiveMOS Sensor with Truepic 7 
Similar image processing engine from OM-D E-M1, producing amazing image quality

2) High Speed, Large Electronic Viewfinder 
Similar EVF panel as the E-M5 but improved refresh rate of 120FPS, and Adaptive Brightness Technology like the E-M1

3) 3-Axis Image Stabilization In Body

4) Blazingly Fast Autofocus 
With 81 AF points spread out across the frame, similar to E-M1. Olympus still claims the world's fastest AF. 

5) WIFI Connectivity 
Full remote control of the camera via WIFI connection from smart devices, as well as wireless image transfer, just like the E-M1

6) Many, many new and advanced features from OM-D E-M1, also made their way to the E-M10, such as focus peaking, intervalometer (time-lapse movie shooting up to 999 images) and in-camera HDR shooting

For full specification kindly visit Olympus Official Website here (click). 

As you can see from the highlights above, though the OM-D E-M10 is a premium compact camera it does not lag behind in terms of camera performance and features. It is offering the best image processing Olympus has, which is the Truepic 7 from E-M1. All the features that made Olympus OM-D system great such as the world's fastest AF, incredible image stabilization system and new advanced shooting features all found their way into the new E-M10. 

This is surely an interesting strategy, unlike other camera manufacturers that cut out many important features from their high end cameras, stripping down important aspects such as performance, image quality and even crucial features to bare and simple entry-level offerings. 

The following video shows the quick release mechanism of the ECG-1 EXTERNAL CAMERA GRIP for Olympus OM-D E-M10. 


Just in case the body of the E-M10 is too small, or if you have large hands, or handling larger lenses (such as 75mm F1.8 or 12-40mm F2.8 PRO) then I highly recommend adding the new External Camera Grip ECG-1. The External Camera Grip adds a beefier grip for better holding and handling of the camera. It also comes with quick release and lock-on mechanism which allows for quick battery and memory card changing if required.


OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Pancake Zoom


And then, there is an AUTOMATIC LENS CAP, LC-37C, which is designed for specific use on the new M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Pancake Zoom lens only. The short video clip below shows the attached Automatic Lens Cap opened and closed as the camera was turned on and off. 



Knowing the OM-D E-M10 is designed to be very small, it makes no sense if the E-M10 is bundled with the conventional standard zoom kit lens. To fully make the combination truly compact, Olympus has designed a new standard kit lens in the form of a pancake lens. The new M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ pancake zoom lens is the world's slimmest, the right combination to go along the OM-D E-M10.

The 14-42mm Pancake Zoom shares the same lens architecture as the current 14-42mm kit lens, with the same lens elements and groups, thus ensuring similar optical performance. 

Although the pancake zoom lens is very slim, it still has the standard zoom ring as well as the manual focus ring. Looking at other manufacturer's pancake zoom lens design they normally exclude the manual zoom ring to slim down the lens. Olympus has not taken this shortcut and yes you can still manually focus with the new M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ lens if you need to. 

The EZ on the lens stands for Electronic Zoom, which ensures smooth and quiet focusing during video recording.

Specification of the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Pancake Zoom lens:
Manual Focus Ring and Electronic Zoom Ring on Lens
Lens Construction 7 groups, 8 elements
Closest Focusing Distance 20-25cm
Maximum Magnification Ratio 0.225x
Filter Thread 37mm
Size 60.8mm Diamater and 22.5mm length
Weight 93g

OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO 25mm F1.8 LENS



I have been waiting for this lens since FOREVER! The 50mm classical focal length (on 35mm format equivalent) is a must have lens for me, and I am glad Olympus has finally released this prime lens in their M.Zuiko prime lens line-up. 50mm to me is very versatile, if I were to just have one lens with me I will surely bring this one. It can do a tight landscape, portrait as well as very decent close-up shooting. Knowing it is a prime lens, it is no surprise the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 will perform very well under low light shooting conditions with the wide open aperture of F1.8. Furthermore this will surely aid in creating shallow depth of field to isolate the subjects better. If there is one lens that I say is a MUST have for those who have just bought into the Micro Four Thirds system, looking to create images that are better than their kit lenses, no doubt this new M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens would be it!

I have always been loud voicing my difficulty in using the 17mm F1.8 lens, now the 25mm F1.8 is the answer to my prayers!

I acknowledge there is the Panasonic 25mm F1.4 lens, which many Micro Four Thirds shooters love but to be honest that lens is NOT cheap. It is a great lens no doubt but the corner sharpness is not great shooting wide open (I do place my subjects off-center a lot) and when I was testing it on my PEN E-PL1 it does have focusing inaccuracy issues. Knowing Olympus lenses, the M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 will have no such issues used on Olympus camera bodies, and it is priced very similarly to the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens, which is one of the lowest priced Micro Four Thirds lenses out there.

Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 lens Specifications
Lens Construction 7 groups 9 elements
Closest Focusing Distance 25cm
Size 57 Diameter, 42mm length
Filter thread 46mm

 OLYMPUS 9mm F8 FISHEYE BODY CAP LENS


Olympus already has a body cap lens, the 15mm F8 which I somehow forgot to review oops  and this time things get a little more fun with the new Fisheye 9mm! Fisheye lens is probably not the most used lens by the majority of people, but it is handy to have one just in case you need that extra wide, distorted effect. This particular 9mm Fisheye Body cap lens may just a body cap lens but it actually has actual lens glasses inside, with 5 elements in 4 groups arrangement! Since there is no electronic contact, the focusing can only be done manually via the lever control but this should not be an issue, shooting at F8 with a very wide angle fisheye lens. This should be quite an interesting lens to have around. 

There you have it, that was quite a handful of new products just announced from Olympus. I have them all with me and I cannot wait to start shooting with them. 

As usual I will be doing my blog review, and do give me some time to go out and shoot. I will start with the E-M10 and 14-42mm Pancake zoom lens, and then the 25mm F1.8 lens. Let's hope the weather will be great in Kuala Lumpur and I will grab some nice shots for my reviews! Hands are getting unbearably itchy already. 

38 comments:

  1. Nice. Would like to see the photo took by the fisheye cap. :)

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  2. O.O I cannot wait for the 25mm!

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  3. Wonder how it competes with the Panny 25mm f1.4...

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    Replies
    1. I have high expectations!

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    2. > Wonder how it competes with the Panny 25mm f1.4

      it has a lens hood included... Olympys is on a spending spree !

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  4. when are you coming to kuching to let us touch the new camera?? hehehehe..

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  5. The body cap lens looks really interesting indeed!

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  6. "... unlike other camera manufacturers that cut out many important features from their high end cameras, stripping down important aspects."

    Nice preview. Just a small note. Your point above is not entirely accurate although I agree with you on Truepic 7. They did leave out the 5 axis. Unless of course if you regard this as an unimportant aspect of performance.

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    1. I have tried the 3-Axis IS. It is VERY good and I cannot tell the difference between the 3-Axis and 5-Axis yet.

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    2. Your comment is very valid. You might never notice a difference. The 3-axis is yaw, pitch and roll. Most will be bad in yaw. So what the 5 axis is doing for you in yaw, so will the EM10. I like that it is not just up down and side compensation.

      Thank you for the quick review Robin! I look forward to seeing sample images from you in the future.

      All the best. David.

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    3. My thoughts exactly David, but let me run some more tests to further verify!

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  7. The E-M10 looks dandy! Would be interesting to compare it with the E-M5. I'm particularly interested in the new kit lens and the 9mm fisheye lens. Love fisheye!

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    Replies
    1. Will be doing my best to shoot and write about them!

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  8. Oly keeps expanding, improving and innovating. All the while maintaining quality - metal construction, excellent design and control. That new collapsible kit zoom is nice, too, and knowing Oly, doubtlessly optically no slouch. Nice article, Robin - and certainly a very interesting new camera. And the new lenses look like gems to me as well.

    Bravo, Oly - it's a great time to be a photographer.

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  9. Great! Now all we need to know is the price and availability.
    I actually found the E-M5 kit for 2800. Am I hoping too much for a price lower than that when they keep the EVF and offer built in flash and wifi and time lapse (maybe panorama and HDR too?), the sum of which is everything an upgrader from a compact would look for?

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  10. I'm not excited, but satisfied. Except for the body cap lens, I don't think any of these are for me.

    I'm glad that the E-M10 has some substantial technology and brings down the price a bit. They're still going to have trouble competing with the US$399.99 deals on low end dSLRs because of the mindset.

    I'm also glad that the 25mm f/1.8 is not a pancake lens. I cringed when I thought that they might migrate the poor 25mm f/2.8 design from Four-Thirds and alter it just enough to work. Thankfully, they did much more. I don't have any use for it really. The Four-Thirds Leica/Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 works quite well on my Panasonic GH3, even with auto focus surprisingly.

    I hope that all of this pushes Olympus into more customers' hands.

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  11. Em10?????..really poison for me.... arghhhh robin..cant wait ur review..the gear and the lens also...

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    Replies
    1. Nik Hadi, free during CNY holidays? Jom Shooting!

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    2. Friday morning got task...couple shoot at kl area..saturday till sunday got wedding event..bz...hahahaa...dunno when can shoot with u

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  12. I don't need another OM-D - very happy with 1 and 5 - but the 25/1.8 could tempt me...

    I have never really bonded with my PL 25/1.4 despite the usefulness of the focal length and aperture.

    I had hoped the long awaited mZD 25/1.8 would be a companion to my 12 and 17 rather than the 45, but I suspect I'll be wanting to try it as soon as it hits the shops. Anyone need a lightly used PL 25/1.4?

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    Replies
    1. You were not alone! I never bonded with that Pana lens either.

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    2. I was once working for PepsiCo, so quite often I had to watch what kind of sodas were served ...

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  13. Robin, by chance does the ECG-1 fit the em5?

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  14. Hi Robin, great camera (like the size/weight) but i'm missing the 5 axis... is there indication of a a mid level OMD as replacement of EM5 in the pipeline? (for my purchasing decision now.. )
    Thks!

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    Replies
    1. the question is not if, but when... so if your decision has to be now - O-MD E-M5mkII is too far away to wait for it, because it is not going to be tomorrow or next month

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  15. This is very interesting... due to the lower price point but still... it has got many premium features... Is it weather sealed btw?

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    1. > Is it weather sealed btw?

      it is not - RTFM

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  16. What is the maximum shutter speed I can use with it? Click here to see the reference.

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  17. Great! Will be buying the E-M10.. exciting :) I have an E-PL5, so that will be a huge improvement.
    I'm not so sure about the new kitlens, in a review I read that the picture quality is not a good as the 14-42mm II R, so why would I want to pay €100 more for a lens with fewer quality. The 14-42 II R still is a small lens and I use my 2 primes more.

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  18. Hi Robin,

    I'm in the midst of picking a micro 4/3 camera within the budget of RM2500-3000. Mainly between GX7, EM10 and EM5. GX7 is pretty out of the equation as i do video often handheld. So it's down to the question, an almost 2-year old em5 or the new em10? What draws me to the em5 is weather proof, macro lens(despite is quite long) and slightly cheaper than em10. Em10 is compact with the new 14-42 lens with nice pressing buttons, & perhaps the new processor for cleaner image? haha. Kindly advise me on this matter.. Thank you very much in advance!

    Regards,
    Leonard

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  19. Hi
    That is so cute, I would of never thought of that. I am definitely making me one or maybe a few! Lol dave burke

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